Lars Nieberg sped round yesterday's jump-off course to win the World Cup qualifier by 1.26secs. The German's mount was Loreana, a 13-year-old mare who moved into his yard five months ago and is one of five grand prix horses at his disposal.
"She's careful and has a big heart," Nieberg said, having defeated the Frenchman Reynald Angot and Belgium's Jos Lansink in a six-horse jump-off.
Angot's mount, known as Tlaloc when part of the winning French team at last year's World Games, has reverted to his earlier name of Dollar de la Pierre.
Neither of the two British riders reached the jump-off, though Nick Skelton (above) completed a fine round in the first World Cup qualifier he has contested with Arko III to finish equal seventh. Robert Smith, who had won the last qualifier at Oslo two weeks earlier on Marius Claudius, made two errors. Smith has retained ninth place in the new world rankings, with Michael Whitaker moving up from 17th to 10th. The value of Whitaker's prize of an Audi car was translated into useful rankings points.
VERONA WORLD CUP SHOW (Italy): World Cup Qualifier: 1 Loreana (L Nieberg, Ger) clear, 37.47sec; 2 Dollar de la Pierre (R Angot, Fr) clear, 39.09; 3 AK Caridor (J Lansink, Bel) clear, 46.65. Best GB: 7= Arko III (N Skelton) 4 faults in 1st round. Fieracavalli Jump-off Stakes: 1 Acajou (T Hassmann, Ger) clear, 34.15sec; 2 Kalusha (R Smith, GB) clear, 34.16; 3 Checkmate (M Michaels-Beerbaum, Ger) clear, 35.51. Standings on Western European League of World Cup: 1 E Van Der Vleuten (Neth) 33pts; 2 J Lansink (Bel) 32; 3 M Kutscher (Ger) 25; 4 R Smith (GB) 21.