Williams shows promise

Lee Williams gave notice of future intent during yesterday's third day of the Horse of the Year Show, when the 16-year-old Welshman from Flintshire rode Zerano III to win the Horseware Ireland Rambo Cup.

Lee Williams gave notice of future intent during yesterday's third day of the Horse of the Year Show, when the 16-year-old Welshman from Flintshire rode Zerano III to win the Horseware Ireland Rambo Cup.

This was the first senior international victory for Williams but, considering his remarkable record as a junior, it was not in the least unexpected. He was the winner of team and individual gold medals in this year's Junior European Championships; last year he won team gold and individual silver.

Robert Whitaker, who was also a member of those two victorious junior teams, had looked like recording the first win of the week for his family - in the absence of his father (John) and uncle (Michael) who are both competing in Sydney.

But 17-year-old Whitaker, having taken the lead with a swift clear round in the 18-horse jump-off on Qualisca, was to see his time immediately bettered by Williams. "I didn't see Robert jump, but I saw his time come up as I went into the ring and I knew what I had to do to beat it," Williams said

After Whitaker was pushed back to runner-up by a 1.28 seconds margin, the two teenagers watched with relief as Liz Edgar (their only remaining rival) completed her fast round on Debutante in a slightly slower time to fill third place.

Williams said that Malcolm Pyrah, now in Sydney as the British team trainer, had helped him more than anybody else - especially this year. One imagines that Pyrah, who described the performance of the Olympic riders as "abysmal", would have enjoyed watching his younger pupil yesterday.

The 10-year-old Zerano, whose partnership with Williams began two years ago, is the undoubted star in a string of eight horses. So far none of the others are in the same class as this small bay gelding, who is so willing and able to comply with histalented rider.

Keith Doyle and seven-year-old Laughtons Dream gained a clear-cut victory in the later JLT/Reliance National Grade C Championship, defeating Lynne Bevan on Far and Away by 2.86sec. This speedy grey gelding was acquired just over a year ago by Peter Doyle, Keith's father, who specialising in producing young horses (some of them home-bred) and selling them on.

Now based in Hampshire, Peter Doyle came from Cavan in Ireland and it was through his persuasion that Keith switched to riding for Ireland about 10 years ago. If Laughtons Dream is not sold, the horse could prove yet another good horse forthe Irish.

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