Sutton's late turn of speed

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The Independent Online


reports from Stoneleigh

Paul Sutton made the best possible use of the favoured last place in the jump-off yesterday, when he rode Wessex Zakatak to win the RASE Stakes at the Royal Show. The 13-year-old grey, who won the Grand Prix at Richmond in May, went ahead of Comex, the horse William Funnell rode for the victorious British team in the Hickstead Nations Cup last month.

Three fences from home, Sutton appeared to be helped by the commentator, who pointed out that he was one second behind on the clock. The 29-year- old Cheshire rider certainly pushed on with a little more urgency from that point, eventually defeating Funnell by 0.5sec. Third place went to Mark Armstrong on Fernando, who completed the only other clear round in the nine-horse jump-off.

James Fisher took a nasty-looking fall in the jump-off when Tiptoe (a winner at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in May) crashed through the second part of the double and fell on the rider's right leg. Fisher remounted to complete the course without further error, but his leg was naturally very painful.

Next week, Fisher will be riding in Luxembourg before travelling on to La Baule in France, where he will compete as a member of the British squad. He joins Funnell, Malcolm Pyrah, Alison Bradley and Nick Skelton for the French show.

Skelton turned up here unexpectedly yesterday, having accepted a last-minute ride on Tina Goosen's Electrik. It proved a fruitless journey when the horse, who seemed below par, collected 21.75 faults in the opening round. Electrik will now be blood-tested to see if the cause of his poor performance can be pinpointed.

The Whitaker brothers, who were competing with Skelton in Aachen until Sunday, also went out in the first round. John had eight faults on Everest Gammon, and Michael collected 14.25 with the excitable mare, Diana.

ROYAL SHOW (Stoneleigh, Warwicks): RASE Stakes: 1 Wessex Zakatak (P Sutton) clear, 47.38sec; 2 Comex (W Funnell) clear, 47.88; 3 Fernando (M Armstrong) clear, 53.35.