Equestrianism: Skelton by a nose: Major Wager profits

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NICK SKELTON achieved his fourth win of the Olympia Show Jumping Championships when he rode Everest Major Wager to win yesterday's Christmas Stocking Stakes, defeating Germany's Franke Sloothaak by a split second.

The result could well have gone the other way since Sloothaak's mount, the mare San Patrignano Dorina, slipped on the turn to the final fence and almost landed on her nose.

The same two riders were again the principle players in the Modern Securities Puissance with Skelton on Limited Edition and Sloothaak on Mister sharing first place. Both had cleared the wall at 6ft 11in and both failed at 7ft 3in.

Limited Edition hit the top of the wall and pecked on landing, dropping Skelton over his left shoulder. The judges decided that the Briton had crossed the finish when he hit the ground, which meant only four faults for lowering the obstacle instead of elimination for a fall. When Mister carved a large hole in the wall, also for four faults, they became joint winners.

A slip from Dorina, this time out in the exercise arena, had robbed Sloothaak of the chance to win Saturday's Volvo World Cup qualifier, which was the major contest of the meeting. It was won by Michael Whitaker, with a brilliantly timed round on Everest Twostep, who was last to go in the jump-off and had no need to go flat out.

Sloothaak's problems in that competition only came to light yesterday. Dorina had been jumping well outside until tackling an oxer just before she was due into the arena. She slipped on take-off, caught a pole with her stomach and stumbled as she landed. Having frightened herself, Dorina had three fences down in the opening round of the World Cup and dropped out of contention.

Results, Sporting Digest, page 31