Equestrianism: Marshall's lone ride outwits Whitaker

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HARRY MARSHALL gave Irish supporters a joyous start to the Dublin Horse Show yesterday, when had the distinction of defeating John Whitaker to win the Kerrygold Welcome Stakes by 0.45sec after a squelchy gallop across rain-soaked turf. The victory will, however, have been less pleasing to the officials of the Show Jumping Association of Ireland, who are being sued by Marshall because they allowed him to ride only one horse in the international contests here.

Marshall had demanded to know the criteria for the selection procedure. Having failed to get a satisfactory answer, he is taking High Court action against the association for what he describes as "unforeseen loss of earnings". He claims that an obvious injustice has been done - "To me it's vindictive and I'm going to prove it."

Unfortunately for Whitaker, who jumped another of his swiftly flowing, clear jump-off rounds on 19-year-old Virtual Village Welham, Marshall's one and only horse in Dublin proved up to the challenge.

Perhaps fired up by his altercation with the selectors, the County Antrim rider sent the Cruise Line, a 10-year-old daughter of the wonderful stallion Cruising, in determined pursuit of Whitaker's fast time to gain his split- second victory. Italy's Roberto Arioldi finished 0.06sec behind Whitaker to take third place.

Robert Smith had looked to be in with a fine chance of victory until the 13-year-old mare Senator Almare came to the last fence on an awkward line and had a single run-out. Both Geoff Billington on It's Otto and Nick Skelton on Hopes Are High had jumped clear initially, but they withdrew before the jump-off in which 19 horses (from the 30 who had qualified) jumped again.

KERRYGOLD DUBLIN HORSE SHOW: Kerrygold Welcome Stakes: 1 Cruise Line (H Marshall, Irl) clear, 37.74sec; 2 Virtual Village Welham (J Whitaker, GB) clear, 38.19; 3 Loro Piana Aramis (R Arioldi, It ) clear, 38.25. Kerrygold Speed Stakes: 1 Le Patron (R Tebbel, Ger) 70.25sec; 2 Millstreet Ruby (Capt J Ledingham, Irl) 70.49; 3 Clover Brigade (T Slattery, Irl) 70.25. Best GB: 6 Virtual Village Double Dutch (G Billington) 72.04.