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SHOW JUMPING: Skelton stakes his place in the Olympics.

Byline: KATE HEALEY

TWO Warwickshire show jumpers have been named on a 13 strong long list for next year's Olympic Games in Athens, announced recently by the sport's governing body in Britain, the British Show Jumping Association.

Shrewley's Nick Skelton is one of the veterans on the long list, with John and Lisa Hales impressive stallion Arko III. The hugely talented horse coaxed the 45 year old back from a premature retirement, when he broke his neck in a fall while competing a couple of years ago.

The pair has proved their form consistently this season, including a trip to Canada last month where they were on the second placed British Nations Cup team at the CSIO Calgary International. One of their most recent successes came at the Leeuwarden International Show in Holland, where they headed the Grand Prix.

The nine-year-old Oldenburg horse has also finished third in Grand Prix competitions in both Rome and Geesteren this season, as well as a place on British Nations Cup teams in Rome and Cannes.

Nick was the winner of the first ever Ladbrookes Speed Jumping Challenge at Ascot Racecourse recently, a new idea designed to bring show jumping to a wider audience.

Riders raced down a line of show jumps four abreast in the event, run in between races at the renowned Berkshire course. Nick was the only rider to go clear in the final, riding Pandur, to score an easy win and collect the pounds 6,000 winner's cheque.

Fellow Shrewley show jumper Robert Smith, currently ranked number one in Britain, is also on the Olympic long list. He has been in excellent form recently with Marius Claudius, finishing second in the opening World Cup qualifier in Helsinki and winning the second leg of the series at Oslo, where he beat a world class field by more than two seconds.

He has also been named with Mr. Springfield and Robert will be in action with both horses at the Zuidlaren International Show in Holland this weekend.

Nick will be joining him at the Dutch show with Arko III, Pandur and Russel, who he rode to a win at last month's Horse of the Year Show.

CAPTION(S):

SELECTED: Nick Skelton
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Nov 4, 2003
Words:369
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