Senator's class is enough to hold off Catapult

Robert Smith looked to have a potential show jumping star in Senator Marius Claudius when he rode the young stallion to win yesterday's Aon Five and Six-year-old Horse Championship on the opening day of the Horse of the Year Show.

Robert Smith looked to have a potential show jumping star in Senator Marius Claudius when he rode the young stallion to win yesterday's Aon Five and Six-year-old Horse Championship on the opening day of the Horse of the Year Show.

Smith said that the six-year-old is "fabulously careful, really fast and very classy", points demonstrated with telling effect by the Dutch-bred son of Concorde, who zipped round the jump-off course for victory by 0.96sec over Billy Twomey on the six-year-old mare Catapult FC.

Both had made a big impression earlier this year, with Senator Marius Claudius winning the Walwyn Novice Championship at Windsor and Catapult taking the Six-year-old Championship at Hickstead and the Foxhunter Masters at the Festival of Show Jumping.

Competition between these two Dutch-bred horses will be renewed in this evening's Foxhunter Championship, in which both Smith and Twomey have two mounts. It promises to be a vintage year for this great annual contest for horses that had won less than £500 when they set out on the difficult path to qualifying for Wembley.

Nick Skelton, who broke a vertebra in his neck earlier this month, will be at the ringside to watch Arko III. This bay stallion, normally partnered by Skelton, who regards the six-year-old as his great hope for the future, will be ridden by Michael Saywell.

Amanda Edwards, whose husband Carl is riding for the British Olympic team in Sydney, will also be a strong contender with the black mare Candy Lupe. Carl believes that this seven-year-old could prove to be even more talented than his Olympic mount Bit More Candy. The two are related, both having been bred by Charles Edwards, Carl's father.

The 16-year-old Lee Williams produced another impressive performance to win the Young Riders' Stakes on Zerano III.

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