Equestrianism: Ledingham sets the pace

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CAPTAIN John Ledingham followed the advice of a fellow Irish army officer, Comdt Gerry Mullins, when he repeated last year's victory in the Silk Cut Speed Derby on Castlepollard, writes Genevieve Murphy from Hickstead.

Mullins had defeated the exceptionally fast time set by another Irishman, Robert Splaine, but in the process he incurred a 10-second penalty for two fences down on Lismore. Splaine still led when Ledingham came in last of the 32 competitors.

'I'd watched Robert's round and I didn't think it could be beaten,' Ledingham said. 'But Gerry said it was possible, I needed to be careful over the first part of the course and then up the pace.'

The pace he moved up to was a breath-taking gallop over the last half dozen fences, with caution abandoned. 'I don't know how he jumped the last, he took off a mile away,' Ledingham said of the eleven- year-old Castlepollard after snatching the pounds 2,000 first prize.