Equestrianism: Pessoa signals intent with swift clear round

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The Independent Online

Rodrigo Pessoa looked ready to repeat last year's victory in the World Cup qualifier here tomorrow, when he won last night's pre-qualifier with a swift and polished clear round on Baloubet du Rouet. This success over two German riders, Lars Nieberg and Toni Hassmann, means the gifted Brazilian will have the advantage of going last in the major class of this meeting.

It was also a good start to the Verona World Cup show for Robert Smith, who jumped clear in all his four rounds with three different horses. The British rider took two neat short cuts in the earlier Verona speed stakes, which enabled him to win this opening contest of the show without going at a headlong gallop on the nimble Gerry Maguire. The British rider was, however, deprived of a first-day double when his fine clear round in the Fieracavalli jump-off on Marius Claudius, who will be his mount in tomorrow's World Cup qualifier, was defeated by the Italian hero, Gianni Govoni, who did go full tilt to finish 2.05sec faster.

Smith's first time-saving route in the earlier contest involved a difficult left-hand turn into the sixth fence, which the Irish-bred Gerry Maguire negotiated remarkably smoothly. Only one other rider, Italy's Giuseppe Rolli, attempted to follow this route and his horse highlighted the problems by stopping at the fence. Smith took a more well-worn short cut to the last of the 12 fences before defeating Italy's Juan Carlos Garcia and Bruno Chimirri, both by split seconds.

Yesterday's opening contest also provided a good start for Nick Skelton who jumped a clear round on Pandur to finish sixth. Skelton had a single error in the opening round of the pre-qualifier to finish 21st on Arko III.

Verona World Cup Show (Italy): Verona Speed Stakes: 1 G Maguire (R Smith GB) clear 55.12sec; 2 Hamilton (J C Garcia, It) clear, 55.59; 3 Askoll Landknecht (B Chimirri, It) clear 55.77. Selected: 6 Pandur (N Skelton, GB) clear 56.60. Fieracavalli Jump-off Competition: 1 Loro Piana Nirfan (G Govoni, It) clear, 32.97sec; 2 Marius Claudius (R Smith, GB) clear, 34.02; 3 Special Ed (J Henselwood, Can) clear, 34.89. World Cup Pre-Qualifier: 1 Baloubet du Rouet (R Pessoa, Br) clear, 55.75sec; 2 Loreana (L Nieberg, Ger) clear, 57.18; 3 Camirez B (T Hassmann, Ger) clear 57.54. GB: 7 Kalusha (R Smith) clear, 60.51; 21 Arko III (N Skelton) 4 faults in 1st round.

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