Pessoa proves his prowess in the Pudding

Equestrianism GENEVIEVE MURPHY reports from Olympia Rodrigo
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reports from Olympia

Rodrigo Pessoa gave his older rivals a fine lesson in horsemanship when winning last night's Christmas Pudding Stakes at the Olympia Show Jumping Championships. In the process the 23-year-old Brazilian gave a pleasing birthday present to his father, Nelson, who is 60 today.

Pessoa is resting at home, having suffered a heart attack two months ago. He is making a good recovery and news of his son's exploits will give him an extra fillip.

Pessoa won on the nine-year-old mare, Loro Piana Rosegarden, defeating the Dutchman Wout-Jan van der Schans by more than four seconds. Two Britons were fastest of all, but Nick Skelton erred at the last fence on Everest Showtime and John Whitaker had the first down on Grannusch.

Ludger Beerbaum, the German Olympic champion, made the most of a splendid opportunity when winning the Christmas Stocking Stakes. The fourth last to jump, had seen Michael Whitaker have one fence down during a whirlwind round on Everest My Mesieur. The leader, Spain's Cayetano Martinez de Irujo on Elegast, was some 5.49sec slower than Whitaker, so Beerbaum knew that the time was obviously beatable.

"When you get a present you should take it," Beerbaum said, after riding Avion to victory over the Spaniard, with William Funnell (the best of the British) in third place on Comex. Beerbaum said his nine-year-old mount is a bit wild ("even in the stable he bites") and still lacks concentration in the arena.

The rest of the assessment was more complimentary. "Avion is a natural jumper and a bit special, I think he will make a good Grand Prix horse but time will tell."

Yesterday' opening contest, the Holly Accumulator, provided a clean sweep for French riders who filled the top three places. Herve Godignon took the top prize (by a mere 0.21sec) on Sarcelle de Sisse.

OLYMPIA SHOW JUMPING CHAMPIONSHIPS: Eurosport Christmas Pudding Stakes: 1 Loro Piana Rosegarden (R Pessoa, Bra) clear, 36.34; 2 Leroy Brown (W- J van der Schans, Neth) clear, 40.45; 3 Operette la Silla (J Tops, Neth) clear, 42.73.

Christmas Stocking Stakes: 1 Avion (L Beerbaum, Ger) clear, 49.10sec; 2 Elegast (C Martinez de Irujo, Sp) clear, 53.04; 3 Comex (W Funnell, GB) clear, 53.04.

Holly Accumulator: 1 Sarcelle de Sisse (H Godignon, Fr) 36pts, 37.23sec; 2 Rainbow de Trelon (H Bourdy, Fr) 36, 37.44; 3 Athos du Masou (R-Y Bost, Fr) 36, 38.69.

BRITISH EQUESTRIAN WRITERS' ASSOCIATION AWARDS: Equestrian Personality of the Year: A Bradley; Vivien Batchelor Trophy (oustanding young rider): K Duckitt; Liz Dudden Trophy (for contribution to equestrian sport): Lt- Col W Lithgow.