Equestrianism: Lundback wins jump-off at Windsor

Helena Lundback, the diminutive Swedish show jumper riding Madick, defeated her only rival, the Dutchman Harrie Smolders on Exquis Walnut de Muze, in a jump-off to win the Rolex Grand Prix at Windsor yesterday.

A tight time, 51 starters, and a well up-to-height jumping course, made it tough to win this contest, which was for those who did not finish in the top 25 in the Alltech FEI European Jumping and Dressage Championships. Lundback had finished that event in 27th place, making her just eligible to compete against riders from 22 other nations, and won with a second brilliant clear round after Smolders had faulted twice.

Both horses jumped for their teams on Friday, with Smolders looking for consolation after narrowly missing a bronze medal. With only three left to jump, he must have felt his was the only clear, but Lundback had watched most of her rivals jump and had a clear plan, which she was able to execute with cool precision. "The short time put riders under stress," said Lundback, who finished fourth in the individual World Championship in 2002. "Many were too fast, letting their horses get flat, so it was of great benefit going late, so I could work out what to do."

But the success was fully earned. Every obstacle caused faults, and she plotted a tight route without losing vital accuracy but harnessing the considerable power of her mare. "She's explosive. Ludger Beerbaum has been a very big help with her, but he never thought she was this good," she said of the German.

Of the 15 Britons to jump, Tina Fletcher fared best with Promised Land, the fastest of the 4-faulters who included John Whitaker on Casino 43.

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