Equestrianism: Riches seem beyond Smith

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The Independent Online
The problems that have side-lined Robert Smith's two best horses, Tees Hanauer and Orthos, could hardly have come at a more inopportune time.

Having won the Pulsar Grand Prix at Valkenswaard in the Netherlands during August, Smith will be jumping for a pounds 400,000 bonus prize at the Monterrey Horse Show, which begins today in Mexico. Were he to win it, he would be competing for a pounds 1m jackpot in Luxembourg next year.

However, Smith, the 35-year-old son of Harvey, may find such riches beyond his reach, because of injury. Tees Hanauer, his winning mount in Valkenswaard, has damaged a suspensory ligament and Orthos has a badly bruised foot. So Smith will rely on Mighty Blue in Monterrey. The horse is capable of winning smaller classes (he proved that point with a final-day victory at the recent Horse of the Year Show) but he would not be fancied to win a grand prix.

The four members of the British Olympic team - Geoff Billington, Nick Skelton and the two Whitaker brothers - will also be jumping in Mexico. Last year John Whitaker won the Pulsar Grand Prix there on Grannusch, who will again be one of his mounts this week.

The Pulsar Crown operates on a three-show cycle: Luxembourg, Valkenswaard and Monterrey. The winner at any of these shows has the chance to collect a large bonus at the next two meetings - pounds 400,000 for one more grand prix victory and pounds 1m for winning three in a row.

John Whitaker will have had those tempting figures in mind this year when he went to Luxembourg, where he jumped a clear first round on Welham in the big class before having a single mistake in the next round to finish third. At Valkenswaard, where he still had a chance of the pounds 400,000 bonus, he had exactly the same scores to finish 10th.