Hughes seals Irish double

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The Independent Online

Marion Hughes achieved the second leg of an Irish double on the opening day of the Royal International Horse Show when she rode the speedy grey mare, Flo Jo, to a decisive victory in the West Sands Holidays July Stakes, writes Genevieve Murphy from Hickstead.

She was 3.71sec faster than Sarah Bowen on Yorkshire Gent and Kelly Brown on Alfredo, who finished in an identical time to share second place.

Six horses, from a small field of 22, jumped clear in the opening round. Five were ridden by women, leaving William Funnell as the only man to reach the jump-off. He eventually finished fourth, and would have been runner-up but for a single error.

Robert Splaine had earlier gained the first victory of the day for Ireland when riding Blue Grass to win the West Sands International Chase. "He's a great old servant," Splaine said of his 18-year-old mount, who is little more than 15.1 hands high. "He grows a hand higher whenever he comes to Hickstead."