Equestrianism: Surface angers riders

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The Independent Online
David McPherson, who has been based in Kent for 10 years but still rides for his native South Africa, won yesterday's Speed Classic on the second day of The Royal Windsor Horse Show. He was delighted with his winning 12-year-old French-bred gelding Flip, though not with the going in the main arena.

On Wednesday, riders had declared the ground to be just about perfect but yesterday, after overnight watering, it was a different story. "The ground is appalling; it's a disgrace to a show of this stature," McPherson said. "It was impossible to open up round the corners because it's so greasy and slippery." Nick Skelton, who finished out of the money, said that his opinion of the ground was "unprintable''.

Such grumbles are part of the continuing story of the Windsor show, which has a marvellous setting beneath the castle and is expected to hold top- class international show jumping next year.

McPherson, who was individual 12th for South Africa in the 1994 World Games, won the Speed Classic from Guy Goosen (the winner of puissance contests at Wembley and Olympia last year) and Emma-Jane Mac (who will be defending her national women's title today).

Rob Hoekstra, another rider who has made his home in Kent, won the earlier Windsor Stakes on the mare Collette (and, in the process, defeated John Whitaker on the Russian-bred stallion Randi).

Hoekstra, who came to England from the Netherlands 20 years ago at the age of 18, has ridden for Britain on two Nations' Cup teams - one of them in Prague, where he jumped a double clear round on Roseanna.

The ground was also given the thumbs down by Hoekstra, as was the meagre prize-money. He collected just pounds 200 for his victory.

ROYAL WINDSOR HORSE SHOW: Speed Classic: 1 Flip (D McPherson) clear, 63.45sec; 2 Fiorella ( G Goosen) clear, 63.87; 3 Eternity (E-J Mac) clear, 64.32. Windsor Stakes: 1 Collette (R Hoekstra) clear, 42.93; 2 Randi (J Whitaker) clear, 43.24; 3 Carnavelley (K Cooper) clear, 49.45. Osborne Refrigeration Hunter Championship: Sheer Delight (D Tatlow); Reserve: Regal Max (A Hood). Riding Horse Championship: Guy's All Hart (R Ramsay); Reserve: Bennochy Fair Time of Aston (C Gilbert-Scott ).

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