Fisher aims for Europe

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James Fisher was quickly into gear with the 12-year-old mare Bowriver Queen, when winning the Land-Rover Stakes on the opening day of the Royal Windsor Horse Show. He jumped one of only two clear rounds in the jump- off to defeat Marie Edgar on Everest Aladdin by 0.87sec.

The class was one of four qualifiers for Saturday's Land-Rover Horsemaster, to be contested by four riders partnering their own and each other's horses in turn. A top prize of £3,300 is on offer plus a £9,000 Rover car for a winning rider achieving four clears.

Fisher's good winter season included a victory in December's World Cup qualifier in Geneva and he was first reserve for the final at Gothenburg in April. He is now a serious contender for the fourth place on the British team for the European Championships in September, for which the two Whitaker brothers and Nick Skelton are automatic choices.

Bowriver Queen spent Tuesday relaxing in a field with some cows and she looked suitably refreshed when jumping two fine clear rounds yesterday. Fisher will be taking her to Italy on Tuesday, to compete at a show in Cervia before going on to the Nations' Cup meeting in Rome which begins in two weeks time.

The meeting in Rome could prove whether Bowriver Queen has the necessary scope for the European Championships. "She's a winner and she keeps getting better," Fisher, 32, said with enthusiasm. "She only needs to improve a little bit more to become the horse that everybody dreams about having."

Michael Whitaker, who had one error on the stallion Everest Elton in the first round yesterday, will be riding Midnight Madness today. The horse, who has not competed since injuring a tendon in Berlin last November, is one of Whitaker's two possible mounts for the European Championships.

Marie Edgar will be defending the national women's title tomorrow.

She has yet to decide between Aladdin and Winstar for her attempt at repeating last year's victory. Aladdin could be her chosen partner as a result of his good form when runner-up here yesterday.

ROYAL WINDSOR HORSE SHOW (Berks): Land- Rover Stakes: 1 Bowriver Queen (J Fisher) clear, 46.68sec; 2 Everest Aladdin (M Edgar) clear, 47.55; 3 Solcum Dillonald (G Glazzard) 4 faults, 47.64. Cob Championship: Montgommery II (V White); Reserve: Broadway (J Osborne).