Equestrianism: Skelton riding high on Everest

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NICK SKELTON'S Olympic prospects looked brighter yesterday when he rode two fine clear rounds on the former Swiss team horse, Everest Dollar Girl, to be runner-up here in the Show Jumping Championship of Germany.

First of 13 into the jump-off, Skelton went round on his new partner leaving all but one chasing his time in vain. The exception was Brazil's Rodrigo Pessoa, 19, whose clear round on Special Envoy was 1.18 seconds faster.

Skelton's good fortune began on Tuesday night when one rider dropped out, giving him a chance to ride in yesterday's contest which he would otherwise have missed by one place.

He appears to have found the key to the brilliant mare, whom he began riding at the end of May. 'Whenever you get a new horse it takes time to get to know them, now she's getting better every day,' Skelton said of Dollar Girl.

David Broome jumped two clear rounds on Ancit Countryman to finish in fifth place, only 2.09sec behind the leader. John Whitaker reached the jump-off, but had two fences down with Henderson Gammon for 12th place.

Aachen results - in particular tomorrow's Nations Cup - look even more crucial for the British show jumpers now that only four riders and six horses can be chosen for the Olympics. In the past it was possible to take a fifth rider and choose the team of four the day before the competition. Now the selectors will have to pick their quartet when they meet on Monday.

All three equestrian disciplines will be restricted to four riders, with the dressage team allowed only four horses. The three-day event team can take five horses and the show jumpers are allowed six.

The new arrangements do, however, allow for the last-minute replacement of an injured horse or rider. Britain's reserve horses may be moved into 'overflow' stables outside the Olympic complex so that they are available if substitution proves necessary.

SHOW JUMPING CHAMPIONSHIP OF GERMANY: 1 Special Envoy (R Pessoa, Bra) clear, 51.59sec; 2 Everest Dollar Girl (N Skelton, GB) clear, 52.77; 3 Alex (R Tebbel, Ger), clear, 52.92. GB: 5 Ancit Countryman (D Broome) clear, 53.68; 12 Henderson Gammon (J Whitaker) 8 faults, 54.72.

RHEINBRAUN PRIZE: 1 Athlet (W Melliger, Swit) clear, 69.18sec; 2 Garant B '92 (E Sarasola, Sp) clear, 69.56; 3 Gaston M (T Fuchs, Swit) clear, 71.48. GB: 12 Henderson Monsanta (M Whitaker) clear, 88.15.