Equestrianism: Skelton exploits early advantage

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The Independent Online
NICK SKELTON believed it was an advantage to be drawn early when he won yesterday's Samsung Electronics Speed Stakes on the opening day of The Royal Windsor Horse Show. The ground was to become heavier during the contest, with the rain providing its usual unwelcome soaking at this long- established fixture in the Home Park.

Skelton won on Virtual Village Cartegene, one of the eight-year-old horses he is bringing on quietly for the big international shows of the future. At the moment, he has no thoughts of aiming his good youngsters for the World Equestrian Games to be held in Italy in October.

Yesterday Skelton defeated 23-year-old Andrew Davies on Captain Wellington and the New Zealander, Samantha McIntosh, on Riccarda. Davies, who is making a name for himself on the home circuit, is trained by David Broome.

Tim Stockdale, temporarily out of action with a broken knee after being kicked by a horse, was at Windsor for the announcement of a new sponsorship deal. Traxdata, who make CD equipment, are injecting pounds 1m into show jumping this year. This includes support for three riders - Stockdale, Ireland's former European champion, Peter Charles, and an up-and-coming rider, Stuart Harvey.

The riders have been given a three-year contract, which takes them up to the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, which is the goal for both Stockdale and Charles.