Equestrianism: Inspired Smith snatches win

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The Independent Online
Robert Smith gained his first victory in the Kerrygold International Grand Prix yesterday, on the closing day of the Dublin Horse Show, having ridden with inspired determination after his defeat by 0.06sec in the same contest last year. The Briton also took the award for the leading rider of the show

Smith's father, Harvey, had won this event on four occasions. "But then he's had more goes than me," Robert pointed out after his victory on 17- year-old Senator Tees Hanauer.

The last of four into the jump-off, Smith had watched Capt John Ledingham take the lead with a swift round on Kilbaha and he knew exactly what was needed when he defeated the Irishman by 0.15sec.

Third place went to Jan Tops of the Netherlands on Operette la Silla, with Michael Whitaker fourth after a single jump-off error on Virtual Village Absolom.

Paul Duffy's course for the first round had proved a demanding test. "It was big and crunchy all the way round," Smith said, after Tees Hanauer's sixth grand prix win in just over a year.

Di Lampard on Abbervail Dream and Nick Skelton on Showtime made single errors in the first round, both dislodging a rail on the middle element of the treble to finish eighth and 10th respectively. Geoff Billington was clear on It's Otto until the last of the 14 fences. He also collected 0.75 of a time fault for 20th place.

This was a great improvement on Billington's second Nations' Cup round on Friday, in which he had a refusal at the last part of the treble before being jumped clean out of the saddle at the last fence. Billington was relieved to have a good round in the grand prix, since the selectors will be choosing the squad for this month's European Championships today.

Smith, already assured of a place in the squad having earned it through the new team trials, will have an open mind as to whether he will ride Tees Hanauer or Orthos in the championships. "I've always believed that either of them could do it, so we'll see which one is going best when we get there," he said.

Results, Digest, page 25