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Skelton Makes History As Speed Jumping Springs Into Life At Ascot

Nick Skelton, the 7/2 joint second favourite, made history at Ascot Racecourse yesterday, winning the Ladbrokes Speed Jumping Challenge - the world’s first ever Speed Jumping event.

In a dramatic final Skelton, riding Pandur, crossed the finish line second behind 20/1 shot Duncan Inglis on Lavaletto, but took the inaugural Ladbrokes Speed Jumping Challenge trophy by virtue of the fact that he successfully negotiated the course without knocking down a single fence. Inglis, meanwhile, lowered three.

One of the architects behind the concept of Speed Jumping, Skelton boasted the remarkable record of being the only rider on the day to get through all three races without knocking down a fence. He was rewarded for his historic victory with a cheque for £6,000 whilst Inglis collected £4,000 for taking the runner-up spot. Mark Armstrong on Rex and Geoff Billington on Timbuctoo finished third and fourth respectively.

Skelton was delighted with his win - a complete reversal of the second semi-final staged just an hour earlier where he finished runner-up to the 9th Seeded Inglis.

“All the horses and jockeys have done brilliantly,” he said. “Everyone who competed enjoyed themselves, and I cannot thank Ascot and Ladbrokes enough for hosting it. Overall I think it was a great success.”

Robert Smith and Keith Shore, perhaps the greatest threats to Skelton’s title hopes, were both eliminated at the semi-final stage after comfortably qualifying from their heats earlier in the afternoon. Riding Kalusha, top seeded Smith was the bookies favourite at 3-1 but only managed third in a tight semi-final whilst Shore, the joint 7/2 second favourite and No.3 seed, failed to book his place in the final four after finishing last in his Semi on the much-fancied Pakko.

The Ladbrokes Speed Jumping Challenge comprised four Heats of four with the top two in each race progressing to the Semi-Finals. The winner and runner-up from each Semi went through to contest the Final, which was shown live on BBC TV.

Each race saw the riders negotiate seven identical fences over a furlong-and-a-quarter of Ascot’s National Hunt Course - the first past the post with the fewest fences down being declared the winner.

The full results were as follows (fences down in brackets):

Heat 1
1. Robert Smith, Kalusha (-)
2. Duncan Inglis, Lavaletto (1)
3. Peter Charles, Mulligan (2)
4. Chloe Bunn, Buddy Bunn (2)

Heat 2
1. Nick Skelton, Pandur (-)
2. Geoff Billington, Timbuctoo (-)
3. John Whitaker, Petite Jolie (1)
4. Damien Charles, Racal B (3)

Heat 3
1. Mark Armstrong, Rex (-)
2. Keith Shore, Pakko (-)
3. James Fisher, Socks (1)
4. Di Lampard, Leo Z (2)

Heat 4
1. Tim Stockdale, Fresh Direct Landed Gentry (-)
2. Scott Smith, Landwind 19 (-)
3. Michael Whitaker, Haddon House Carlson (1)
4. Richard Davenport, Hors Bors Des Isles (3)

Semi-Final 1
1. Mark Armstrong, Rex (1)
2. Geoff Billington, Timbuctoo (1)
3. Robert Smith, Kalusha (1)
4. Scott Smith, Landwind 19 (2)

Semi-Final 2
1. Duncan Inglis, Lavaletto (-)
2. Nick Skelton, Pandur (-)
3. Tim Stockdale, Fresh Direct Landed Gentry (-)
4. Keith Shore, Pakko (1)

1. Nick Skelton, Pandur (-)
2. Duncan Inglis, Lavaletto (3)
3. Mark Armstrong, Rex (3)
4. Geoff Billington, Timbuctoo (3)



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