Equestrianism: Whitaker's early win

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The Independent Online
JOHN WHITAKER got Britain off to a fine start in the German Nations Cup yesterday when he won the Commerzbank prize with a typical corner-cutting round on the 18-year-old grey stallion, Henderson Irmino. But it was the later competition, for the Mercedes- Benz prize, that had far more relevance for assessing Olympic form.

This was won by Spain's Luis Alvarez Cervera on Banesto Let's Go B '92, the last of 70 horses into the vast arena, who triumphed with the fastest clear round. As the horse's name suggests, Servera has already been chosen for his country's Olympic show jumping team.

The Spaniard will also be competing in the three-day event at Barcelona with Lucinda Green's former mount, Mr Chrisalis. He will therefore miss Sunday's Grand Prix here to ride at Savernake Forest in Wiltshire where many nations, including Britain, are having their final Olympic three-day event trial.

For the first time the Mercedes Benz prize was judged on time in the opening round. Tim Grubb, who jumped a splendid clear on the wonderfully consistent eight- year-old, Denizen, had led for Britain two-thirds of the way through but he was eventually nudged back to fourth, behind Cervera, Germany's Ludger Beerbaum and Switzerland's Thomas Fuchs.

Denizen has had two weeks' rest while Grubb, who is based in New Jersey, went home to compete in the American Grand Prix Association contests. He gained a third and fourth place there, which gives him the lead of points awarded on the American circuit.

Grubb's main concern yesterday was to qualify Denizen for today's Show Jumping Championship of Germany. He will now be among the 35 riders contesting the title - as will fellow Britons David Broome, on Ancit Countryman, and Tina Cassan on Genesis, who both made a single error, with Cassan also incurring one and a half time faults.

John Whitaker is through, finishing 34th with eight faults on Henderson Gammon, but Nick Skelton, 36th, will only participate on Everest Dollar Girl if one of the other qualifiers drops out. Skelton was clear until lowering both parts of the final double. Michael Whitaker, who had a disappointing 11.25 faults on Monsanta, will miss today's big contest.

MERCEDES BENZ PRIZE: 1 Banesto Let's Go B '92 (L A Cervera, Sp) clear, 75.69sec; 2 Almox Grand Plaisir (L Beerbaum, Ger) clear, 75.91; 3 Dylano (T Fuchs, Swit) clear, 79.21. GB: 4 Denizen (T Grubb) clear, 81.25; 15 Ancit Countryman (D Broome) 4 faults, 79.61; 27 Genesis (T Cassan) 5.5 faults, 92.52.

COMMERZBANK PRIZE: 1 Henderson Irmino (J Whitaker, GB) clear, 58.11sec; 2 Prospert (M Robert, Fr) clear, 59.33; 3 Rasman (L Beerbaum, Ger) clear, 60.05.