Whitaker leads British triumph

John Whitaker led a clean sweep for Britain yesterday when he rode 18- year-old Virtual Village Grannusch to win the Kerrygold Classic on the second day of the Kerrygold Dublin Horse Show.

In a complete reversal of the form on Wednesday, when no British rider reached the jump-off, Whitaker was followed home by two compatriots: Robert Smith on Senator Tees Hanauer and Di Lampard on Abbervail Dream. Two others (Nick Skelton on Showtime and Geoff Billington on It's Otto) jumped clear initially to finish eighth and 12th.

Grannusch, who was victor of both the Dublin and Calgary Grands Prix in 1994, has now won about pounds 600,000 in his 10 years with Whitaker. The horse still gets wound up when competing, but he takes nothing out of himself in his stable or when out in the field at home, being totally relaxed in both settings. Smith had been leading yesterday until Whitaker performed his familiar corner-shaving act to defeat him by 0.79sec, with Lampard a close third. Both Smith and Lampard are riding with extra confidence, having earned their places on the squad for this month's European Championships at Mannheim through the new series of team trials.

Smith won a junior team gold medal back in 1977 when he and his brother, Steven, were part of the winning quartet - but he is still waiting to ride on a senior championship team. His patience may well be rewarded at Mannheim, where the team of four will be chosen from the five squad members.

Leslie Burr-Howard of the United States prevented a second British monopoly of the prizes when she won the Kerrygold International on Ulane du Plessis, with Lampard on Flaminka and Whitaker on Randi in second and third.

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