Equestrianism: Smith excels in jump-off

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The Independent Online
ROBERT SMITH and the 13-year-old Senator Almare, with whom he qualified for the European Championship squad at Hickstead last week, continued in fine form when winning The Price Waterhouse Coopers Great Yorkshire Championship on the opening day of the Great Yorkshire Show. "She keeps chipping in," Smith said of the game and careful bay mare who looks to have become the best in his string.

Yesterday Smith defeated another Yorkshire rider, 25-year-old Joanna Andrews on Townhead Karibundi, and the better-known Di Lampard on Abbervail Dream.

Lampard, the first of four into the jump-off, was content to jump another impressive clear round on her great Irish-bred mount without going flat out. Andrews, the runner-up on the 14-year-old Cottage in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Hickstead on Saturday, overtook her with a spirited round on her nine-year-old mare Townhead Karibundi, then Smith went nearly two seconds faster to relegate Andrews to runner-up for the second time in four days.

The only other faultless performance in the opening round had come from Sharon Wild on Dee Jays Rio Grande, who had one mistake in the jump-off to finish in fourth place. Six horses had a single error in the first round - among them John Whitaker's Russian-bred mount, Virtual Village Steps Helsinki, who was clear until he hit the last.

"He was a bit spooky down the last line," Whitaker said of the nine-year- old, who was runner-up in the Lummen Grand Prix earlier this month. The younger Whitaker brother, Michael, also had one fence down when the eight- year-old Prince of Wales hit the first element of the treble.

With the top eight going through to tomorrow's Midland Bank Cock O' The North Championship, time decided qualification for the four-faulters - with Richard Barton on Just Marius, Tracey Newman on Puerto Rico, Nigel Coupe on Suntory and Whitaker on Prince of Wales going through.

GREAT YORKSHIRE SHOW (Harrogate): Pricewaterhouse Coopers Great Yorkshire Championship: 1 Senator Almare (R Smith) clear, 46.56sec; 2 Townhead Karibundi (J Andrews) clear, 48.53; 3 Abbervail Dream (D Lampard) clear, 51.51.

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