Equestrianism: Lucky Coupe goes clear for victory

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The Independent Online
Nigel Coupe enlivened the opening international contest of The Horse of the Year Show yesterday, with a whirlwind clear round on Banbury Cross which eventually rewarded him with the Woodpecker Shavings Trophy.

As so often happens, many of the riders ignored the time element in order to give their horses a quiet school during their first outing at Wembley, which did not make for exciting viewing. But 26-year-old Coupe, who has competed here every year since 1986, gave a generous audience every reason to applaud. So did those who filled the next three places: Ireland's Trevor Bartlett on Hillview Lad, Holly Mansfield from Scotland on Easy Touch and John Whitaker with the up-and-coming Virtual Village Heyman.

Coupe had been through a frustrating period of near misses. Only last weekend he had a single error at the smallest fence on the course for the Turin Grand Prix.

Some exceptional young horses have made their appearance here - among them six-year-old Temple What a Flash, who was ridden by John Renwick to win the Horse and Hound Foxhunter Championship.

Renwick, whose last win here was in the Junior Newcomers 10 years ago, thought that his chance had gone when the horse's noseband broke in the first round, leaving a strap on his martingale flapping. But the gelding kept his concentration for a clear first round, followed by another in the jump-off.

Stuart Harvey and the huge black mare, Traxdata Wiston Bridget, thundered round but failed, by just 0.57sec, to match the winning time.

Matthew Lanni, who won the PA Business Systems Senior Newcomers Championship, proved he also has an impressive young mount in the six-year-old Carneville, who is probably the best horse he has ever ridden.

HORSE OF THE YEAR SHOW (Wembley Arena): Woodpecker Shavings Trophy: 1 Banbury Cross (N Coupe, GB) clear, 43.77sec; 2 Hillview Lad (T Bartlett, Irl) clear, 44.54; 3 Easy Touch (H Mansfield, GB) clear, 44.57. PA Business Systems Senior Newcomers Championship: 1 Carneville (M Lanni) clear, 31.22; 2 Ruby Lodge (L Hales) clear, 31.42; 3 Scaletta (T Priest) clear, 31.85. Osborne Refrigerators Cob of the Year: Milky Way (L Coomber); reserve: Just Jimmy (R Walker). Hack of the Year: Absolutely Fabulous (J Keen); reserve: Highland Sing Song (H Baker). Horse and Hound Foxhunter Championship: 1 Temple What a Flash (J Renwick) clear, 34.60; 2 Traxdata Wiston Bridget (S Harvey) clear, 35.17; 3 It's Cinderella (E Murphy) clear, 35.95. Traxdata Challenge: 1 Virtual Village Showtime (N Skelton, GB) clear, 54.76; 2 Dolly (P Charles, Irl ) clear, 55.84; 3 Interview (T Stockdale, GB) clear, 58.87.