Olympics-Equestrian-Britain's Maher leads qualifiers ahead of jumping finals

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Equestrian - Jumping - Individual - Qualification
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(Corrects first paragraph to make clear name is Darragh Kenny (and not Kenny Darragh))

By Shadia Nasralla

TOKYO (Reuters) -Britain's Ben Maher on his horse Explosion led the equestrian show jumping qualifiers on Tuesday, followed by Ireland's Darragh Kenny and Israel's Ashlee Bond, ahead of the individual finals on Wednesday.

U.S. rider Jessica Springsteen, singer Bruce Springsteen's daughter, did not qualify after knocking down one obstacle on the course which features a statue of a sumo wrestler and flowers which seemed to spook some of the horses.

Egypt's Nayel Nassar, who is engaged to Jennifer Gates, daughter of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, had a clear run of the 17 obstacles in time, securing a spot in the individual finals.

Riders often grunted more than their horses on Tuesday when jumping over the fences, some of which are 1.65 metres high, in the all but silent Baji Koen Equestrian Park in Tokyo, which was also the site of the equestrian contests at the 1964 Olympics.

Israel's Alberto Michan and Syria's Ahmad Saber Hamcho suffered falls, albeit without any apparent injuries to horse and rider.

Germany's world number one Daniel Deusser and world number two, Switzerland's Martin Fuchs, also qualified for the individual finals. Fuchs's compatriot Steve Guerdat, world number three, did not earn a place in the individual final.

Team medals will be decided on Saturday when riders start with a clean sheet after the individual contest. The U.S., Belgium and Germany go into the teams final as medals contenders.

(Reporting by Shadia Nasralla; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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