Equestrianism: Babington maintains rich run of form

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The Independent Online

Kevin Babington continued the consistent form he has shown this year with Carling King when he won yesterday's King George V Gold Cup, the closing contest of the Royal International Horse Show.

The Irishman, who commutes between his United States base in Pennsylvania and Belgium, where Carling King is staying for the summer, jumped the only double-clear round for the victorious Irish team in the Super League show in Rome, and was again the only rider to jump two clear rounds yesterday.

Babington defeated two Britons: William Funnell on this year's Falsterbo Derby winner, Cortaflex Mondriaan, and Andrew Davies, on Limbo V. Both carried forward four faults from the first round, but were clear at the second attempt.

Heavy rain on the two previous days had left the ground unpleasantly sticky and, as a result, some of the best horses were withdrawn. "If you have any doubts at all, don't go," Derek Ricketts, the Great Britain team manager, had said to his top riders. Three of the four who jumped for Britain's winning Nations Cup team on Friday - Nick Skelton's mount, Arko III, Richard Davenport's Luc and Robert Smith's Mr Springfield - were among those who pulled out, leaving a depleted field of 23 to compete for the handsome trophy that was first presented in 1911.

Michael Whitaker, who had given such a stirring performance with Sir Dino on Saturday when he became the first show-jumping rider to win the British Eventing Grand Prix, had a far less happy King's Cup with the mare, Fleur, who was retired after three errors. Whitaker will, however, have a little more time to establish a rapport with Fleur before he rides her in the Dublin Super League Show from 6 to 10 August. With luck, he may also have some better going.

Ricketts confirmed Whitaker's place on the Dublin team immediately after the King's Cup. He will be joined by Robert Smith, Nick Skelton and William Funnell for this final outing before Ricketts selects the quartet for next month's European Show Jumping Championships at Donaueschingen in Germany.

Helena Weinberg won the Queen Elizabeth II Cup for women riders, after achieving the only double-clear round on the 11-year-old Albfuhrens Ramonus. Weinberg was runner-up twice during the years when she was riding for Britain before taking the German nationality of her husband.

This was the first Queen's Cup win for Germany as well as for Weinberg, who defeated Sweden's Helena Persson, on Classic H. Britain's Helen McNaught was third on Lexicon.

ROYAL INTERNATIONAL HORSE SHOW (Hickstead, Sussex): Saturday: British Eventing Grand Prix: 1 Sir Dino (M Whitaker, GB) 212.74sec; 2 Drunken Disorderly (M Kyle, Irl) 217.13; 3 Berlington Bertie (F Whittington, GB) 223.27. Refco Speed Grand Prix: 1 Lanz (P Eriksson, Swe) 98.86sec; 2 Give Me Remus (B Twomey, Irl) 100.30; 3 That's Life (M Hecart, Fr) 4 faults, 105.56.

Sunday: Longines King George V Gold Cup: 1 Carling King (K Babington, Irl) clear, 58.13sec; 2 Cortaflex Mondriaan (W Funnell, GB) 4 faults, 52.97; 3 Limbo V (A Davies, GB) 4 faults, 54.73. Hasseroder Queen Elizabeth II Cup: 1 Albfuhrens Ramonus (H Weinberg, Ger) clear, 63.68sec; 2 Classic H (H Persson, Swe) 4 faults; 59.19; 3 Lexicon (H McNaught, GB) 4 faults, 61.96.

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