Smith has had a long wait before getting his 18-year-old partner back on the road less than two weeks ago. In January, when he was coming back into work after recovering from an injury sustained last year, the horse had to undergo a serious operation for colic, and then needed another long rest.
Tees Hanauer, the Grand Prix winner here last year, showed that he has forgotten nothing in his absence when, second to go in yesterday's seven- horse jump-off, Smith rode him to a swift clear round. Tom Slattery, who followed him, was being cheered home as a likely home victor on Coille Mor Hill until over-running Smith's time by the tiny margin of 0.06sec. Another Irishman, Edward Doyle on Windgates King Koal, filled third place.
Smith is riding here as an individual and was therefore not eligible for the British team in today's Kerrygold Nations Cup. Ronnie Massarella, the Great Britain team manager, has named Nick Skelton to go first on Virtual Village Hopes are High. He will be followed by Di Lampard on Abbervail Dream, James Fisher on Renville and John Whitaker on Diamond Cliff.
Whitaker's mount, who will be jumping in his first Nations Cup, had looked too impetuous before the treble in yesterday's contest when he made the first of two errors. Abbervail Dream was clear, but Lampard then retired him after an early jump-off error.
Both John Whitaker and his 14-year-old son, Robert, recorded wins earlier in the day. John's victory was achieved with an inspired round, which combined accuracy with breathtaking speed on the grey stallion Virtual Village Randi, with whom he had won here on Wednesday.
Never one to swagger, Whitaker looked mildly bemused when a fellow competitor told him: "You are the one who makes it all worthwhile, it is a pleasure and a privilege to watch you." Horse and rider were in perfect harmony as they sped round the arena, clearing fences from a rhythmic stride. They won by 3.75sec, with the talented County Galway rider, Tom Slattery, taking the first of his runner-up prizes - this time with Clover Brigade.
Robert Whitaker's win on the 13-year-old mare, Correlli Bravo, was gained by a mere 0.27sec from David Broome's son, Matthew, on Shoot for the Stars. Both are now qualified for tomorrow morning's championship for 148cm ponies.Reuse content