Rene Tebbel was the only rider to finish ahead of Britain's Olympic duo, Nick Skelton and Robert Smith, when the German visitor rode Farina to win yesterday's King George V Gold Cup, the closing contest of the Royal International Horse Show.
Skelton opened the six-horse jump-off in this contest confined to men with a fast clear round on Russel. The grey stallion had come here as Skelton's second horse but, when the Olympic-bound Arko III was found to have a mild lung infection, the understudy was given the star role.
It began inauspiciously when he refused in the first round of the Super League Nations Cup here on Friday and Skelton fell off. But Russel, who has been learning fast, has not put a foot wrong since. Having won Saturday's British Grand Prix, he would have triumphed in the King's Cup as well but for Tebbel's faster clear round.
"I didn't watch Nick. You don't have to," Tebbel said. "When he jumps clear you know you have to go fast." He did just that on Farina, a 10-year-old daughter of the great German stallion For Pleasure. Tebbel will be trying for his third Olympic team gold medal in Athens. But yesterday's £10,000 first prize was not his until Robert Smith on his Olympic mount Mr Springfield had a single error towards the end of the jump-off course. Smith looked like beating Tebbel's time until that mistake, but finished in third place.
Molly Ashe, competing in her first show at Hickstead, led a clean sweep for competitors from the United States when they filled the first three places in the Queen Elizabeth II for women riders. Having watched her compatriot Sheila Burke jump a swift clear round, Ashe knew that she would have to get a move on with the mare Lutopia if she were to have any chance of victory. She nevertheless tempered speed with caution, winning by the tiny margin of 0.12sec.
LONGINES ROYAL INTERNATIONAL HORSE SHOW (Hickstead): Saturday: British Grand Prix: 1 Russel (N Skelton) 0.0 faults in 45.56sec; 2 Elise (M Armstrong) 0.0, 47.38, 3 Norit Larino (P Geerink, Neth) 0.0, 48.43; 4 Fabriana (J French, US) 0.0, 52.1; 5 Chippison (M Burke, Irl) 0.0, 52.19; 6 Broere Maroon (W J van der Schans, Neth) 0.4, 45.87. British Speed Classic: 1 Equineige Des Aus (B Maher, GB) 85.33sec; 2 Geolinote du Fief (P Delaveau, Fr) 85.4; 3 Jerry Maguire (R Smith, GB) 86.10; 4 Rododendra del Terriccio (A Bracci, It) 88.59; 5 Be Precise (G Williams, GB) 90.29; 6 Cushty (J Renwick, GB) 90.79.
Sunday: King George V Gold Cup: 1 Farina (R Tebbel, Ger) clear, 54.61sec; 2 Russel (N Skelton, GB) clear, 56.03; 3 Mr Springfield (R Smith, GB) 4 faults, 55.43. Refco Queen Elizabeth II Cup: 1 Lutopia (M Ashe, US) clear, 58.48sec; 2 Caya (S Burke, US) clear, 58.56; 3 Oliver III (J Garofalo, US) 4 faults, 59.34.Reuse content