Equestrianism: Stockdale jumps from TV to victory

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The Independent Online

After the "most stressful" two weeks of his life, Only Fools on Horses trainer and co-ordinator Tim Stockdale seems to be finding the show jumping circuit a piece of cake compared with the television reality series.

He proved that point with aplomb here yesterday, winning the Welcome Stakes, which was the opening international contest of the Horse of the Year Show. Stockdale's victory was achieved with his long-term partner and wonderful servant 18-year-old Fresh Direct Glenwood Springs.

"He's no good at little local shows but he seems to grow in stature at the big ones, he knows they're important," Stockdale said after beating another Briton, Robert Bevis on Wexford, by 0.75sec.

This year Stockdale's riding career was interrupted by injury as well as the TV show. He broke ribs in a fall at Lisbon in June with his best mount, the grey mare Corlato, who broke a bone in her humerus. Stockdale began work on Only Fools on Horses the next day, which was not exactly a rest cure. He says that the celebrities were "wonderful" but that it was stressful. For 14 days he worked from 6.30am to 1.30am. Having been out of the saddle for two and a half months, he only just managed to scrape into the Horse of the Year Show and qualification for the Christmas show at Olympia is already looking "dodgy".

The Dutchman Eric van der Vleuten on Audi's Paloma put paid to a second home victory when he overtook Michael Whitaker on Insultech Portofino to win the easibed Stakes by 0.86sec.

* Germany's Ingrid Klimke and FRH Butts Abraxxas were just 0.3 of a penalty point ahead of Britain's Pippa Funnell on Ensign after yesterday's first day of dressage at the Boekelo Horse Trials in the Netherlands. The world champion, Zara Phillips, is back in 31st place on Ardfield Magic Star.