Equestrianism: Skelton sets pace with two wins: Flying start for seasonal show jumping festival

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The Independent Online
NICK SKELTON's accord with the mare, Everest Dollar Girl, was shown with telling effect again last night when the Warwickshire rider completed an opening day double by winning the Christmas Turkey Stakes at the Show Jumping Championships here.

The partnership, begun in May last year, was cemented this season. Skelton and Dollar Girl won the first prize in September's Calgary Grand Prix and last night, despite a worrying slip after the second jump-off fence that must have cost them at least half a second, they defeated Germany's Lars Nieberg on Nistria.

Skelton had made a prompt bid to become the leading rider on points at this show for the second year running when he raced round for victory in the Brandy Butter Stakes, the opening contest of the meeting, on Everest Limited Edition. John Whitaker, Skelton's team-mate on numerous occasions, was the only one to pose a serious threat - a swift round on Grannusch left him 0.35 seconds behind in second place.

Limited Edition has been rested since returning from last month's show in Toronto, where the horse gave Skelton three of his four victories and contributed to what the rider regards as his personal 'best year ever'.

Michael Whitaker won the Christmas Candle Stakes after Skelton's determined bid came unstuck when Major Wager ran out after taking a tight turn into the fourth fence. John Whitaker again proved threatening, riding Bikka he finished joint runner-up to his brother, along with James Fisher on Tip Toe.

OLYMPIA SHOW JUMPING CHAMPIONSHIPS: Brandy Butter Stakes: 1 Everest Limited Edition (N Skelton, GB) clear, 47.55sec; 2 Everest Grannusch (J Whitaker, GB) clear, 47.90; 3 Adelfos AC Folien (M Fuchs, Swit) clear, 54.04. Christmas Candle Stakes: 1 Everest Monsanta (M Whitaker, GB) clear, 36.94; 2= Everest Bikka (J Whitaker, GB) and Tip Toe (J Fisher, GB) clear, 37.67. Christmas Turkey Stakes: 1 Everest Dollar Girl (N Skelton, GB), clear, 27.91sec; 2 Nistria (L Nieberg, Ger) clear, 29.25; 3 Concorde C (W Melliger, Swit) clear, 35.29.

(Photograph omitted)