Equestrianism: Short-cut seals clear victory for Skelton and Arko III

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The Independent Online

Nick Skelton and Arko III produced a wonderfully polished clear round at their second show since the Olympics (and their first on home soil) when they won the Vinopolis Stakes at the Horse of the Year Show here yesterday.

Their round included a neatly executed short cut to the eighth of 11 fences, where Skelton must have saved the 1.15sec by which he defeated Robert Whitaker's fine performance on Nicolette. Third place went to Harry Smolders, the young Dutch rider who went so well at Sheffield in April.

"It's the first time this year that Arko's had no pressure on him, he's having fun here," Skelton said. The 10-year-old stallion's immediate schedule will include four World Cup qualifiers - Syracuse in the United States, Toronto, Belfast and Olympia - but they will also be relatively relaxed compared with the Olympic build-up. Since Skelton's other two mounts have only just returned from Kuala Lumpur, Arko will probably be his only ride here.

Ireland's Billy Twomey won the earlier HOYS.co.uk Cup on 13-year-old Whinnie Jackson, who is still on the upgrade despite his advancing years.

The gelding did not start jumping until he was seven. Twomey had ridden him for his former owner, Malcolm Pyrah, before Sue Davies bought the horse a year ago when he was still in Grade C. This year Whinnie Jackson had a fine spring, during which he won the grand prix in Mauberge. "Then I rode him in the Super League Nations Cups in Rome and Lucerne and that unsettled him a bit, it was too much too soon," Twomey said. "But he's had a break since and he feels brand new again."