Equestrianism: Fuchs flourishes as dare-devil in frantic finale

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The Independent Online

Markus Fuchs, the Swiss winner of this year's World Cup for show jumping, brought the Olympia Championships to a sparkling conclusion last night when he rode Tinka's Boy to win the closing Olympia Grand Prix. His winning round included some marvellously smooth corner-cutting, as well as a couple of moments of dare-devil acceleration, which was just what was wanted by the enthusiastic crowds at this enormously popular pre-Christmas show.

"I turned to fence two and thought: I'm an idiot, what am I doing here?" Fuchs said, after his do-or-die effort came off. The Swiss rider finished 1.62sec ahead of Germany's Markus Merschformann on Camirez B, with Britain's Damien Charles third on Canter de l'Odon. Michael Whitaker had been going for broke when Handel II had two fences down in a time that was marginally slower than the winner's, leaving him ninth.

Peter Charles, who had played a waiting game at the start of the show, was firmly in his stride by Saturday afternoon when he rode Carnavelley to win the Ericsson World Cup Qualifier by a convincing four-second margin.

The 41-year-old Irishman had won the previous evening's Accenture Christmas Puissance by leaping the red wall at a massive 7ft 3in on Sagrat, a horse he had never ridden in a competition before. He had also been the runner-up in Friday's World Cup pre-qualifier on Carnavelley, which contributed to a two-day pay packet of £18,000.

Charles, a former holder of the European title and a member of this year's victorious Irish team in the European Championships, defeated the Dutch-born Jos Lansink, who now rides for Belgium. Lansink had aimed for a deliberate clear round knowing that his 10-year-old mount, AK Caridor, was not a particularly fast horse. He was nevertheless a split-second quicker than the Frenchman, Michel Robert, who finished third on Olympia.

Michael Whitaker, who was first to go in the nine-horse jump-off, achieved by far the fastest time on Handel II, but the bay stallion made a single error that left him in fourth place. Tim Stockdale also erred once in the jump-off to finish ninth on QBE Parcival, one place ahead of Richard Davenport on Grand Marnier, who lowered the eighth fence in the opening round.

Davenport, who had accepted a last-minute invitation to the show, nevertheless collected another four World Cup points and remains the leading Briton in 14th place on a score of 28. The 21-year-old Cheshire rider will be looking to increase his total when he competes at this week's Mechelen World Cup Show in Belgium.

Helena Wienberg (who, like Charles, used to ride for Britain) won a somewhat confusing contest for yesterday's new Double Your Money on Kasting Horses Silas. At one stage the announcer said that Tim Stockdale had gone into the lead with his Top Score winner, Glenwood Springs, but the British rider was demoted shortly afterwards with 300pts deducted from his score because he had jumped one joker too many.