Equestrianism: Hassmann hits heights with Lolita

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The Independent Online

Toni Hassmann won his fifth World Cup Qualifier when he rode the precocious seven-year-old mare, Lolita, to victory here yesterday.

Toni Hassmann won his fifth World Cup Qualifier when he rode the precocious seven-year-old mare, Lolita, to victory here yesterday.

Having lost the ride on Goldika, with whom he gained three of his previous World Cup successes during the 2001-2002 season, the 29-year-old German declared that Lolita is his "best horse ever". He defeated the experienced Belgian, Jean-Claude Vangeenberghe on Osta Carpets Andiamo, with Italy's 21-year-old Young Riders European champion, Andrea Herholdt on Nanta, in third.

Britain's Robert Whitaker missed the 12-horse jump-off after an error at the ninth fence on Nicolette. "That was the only fence she touched," he said. "I saw four or five horses hit it harder and get away with it." Later Lolita proved his point, giving the same obstacle a thump without dislodging the back rail.

Whitaker also had one mistake when fishing third in Saturday's Fieracavalli Two Round Competition on Qualite. He will jump in Brussels and Belfast before his next World Cup show at Olympia just before Christmas.

When he rides in London, Whitaker will be hoping to add to the point he gained yesterday on the Western European League of the World Cup - in which case he might yet reach the Las Vegas Final in April.

Wim Schroder of the Netherlands, first in Oslo and third in Helsinki last month, extended his advantage on the League when finishing sixth here. Richard Davenport (whose younger brother, James, collected 12 points and is still best of the Britons) was 24th.

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