A little bit of confusion did nothing to hinder the performance of Italy's team yesterday at the Washington International Horse Show in Landover.

The $10,000 Crown Royal International Gambler's Choice open jumper class has no standard course -- riders choose their own fences and accrue points if they clear them safely. Riders can jump the fences in either direction.

The horse and rider with the fastest time and most points wins. But there is a catch: 200 points are added to riders' scores if they clear the big "Joker" fence in the center ring after their round. If they miss it, 200 points are deducted.

Like last year, this class confused the international teams. When Lorenzo Toscano and Claudio Minardi walked the course with their Chef d'Equipe (coach/manager) Duccio Bartalucci, the riders thought "the Joker" was part of the original course. They had to alter their strategy when they learned "the Joker" would be jumped later.

In the end, Toscano and the 8-year-old Irish sport horse Money Lender blew away the competition. Money Lender racked up 1,450 points with the "Joker" fence. Toscano, who rode third out of the 28, is a professional rider for the Arma dei Carabinieri (military police). He was unfazed by the sudden change of plans.

"In Italy you may jump the `Joker' fence any time. . . . My horse was [fantastic]. Very handy and very fast," said Toscano, 30.

Peter Wylde and Macanudo Lapeti of Team USA were second, with 1,440 points, while Italy's Minardi was third on his horse Dime de la Cour. Peter Leone and the class sponsor's horse Crown Royal Lataro were fourth, with 1,390 points.

Kimberly Frey (Hume, Va.) and Samoens were in eighth place. Frey is the leading rider in the individual jumper division going into this weekend's competition.

Notes: Teddi Jo Mellencamp, 17, the daughter of singer John Mellencamp, had a good day with her junior hunter What Goes Around, winning both the Small Junior Hunter and the Small Junior Hunter Stakes classes.

Results

The $28,000 Samsung Nations Cup -- 1, United States; 2, Switzerland; 3, Italy; 4, Canada.

Nations Cup Series World Standings (1999-2000) -- 1, Italy (13 points); 2, Ireland (12); 3, Switzerland (11); 4, United States (8) 5, Germany (7); 6, France (5.5); 7, Brazil (5).

The $10,000 Crown Royal International Gambler's Choice -- 1, Lorenzo Toscano (Money Lender); 2, Peter Wylde (Macanudo Lapeti); 3, Claudio Minardi (Dime de la Cour).

Small Junior Hunter -- 1, Teddi Jo Mellencamp (What Goes Around); 2, Clara Linder (High Hearts); 3, Paige Johnson (Monserrat).

Small Junior Stake -- 1, Teddi Jo Mellencamp (What Goes Around); 2, Paige Johnson (Monserrat); 3, Cayce Harrison (Sands Of Time).

Lyrik Challenge Trophy -- What Goes Around (Teddi Jo Mellencamp).

Junior Working Hunter Champion -- Doubletake (Eva Gonda); Reserve Champion Practical Magic (Maggie Jayne).

Grand Champion Hunter -- Doubletake (Eva Gonda).

Large Junior Hunter -- 1, Eva Gonda (Doubletake); 2, Daniela Curto (Graceland); 3, Alexis Taylor (Castaway).

Large Junior Stake -- 1, Maggie Jayne (Practical Magic); 2, Clara Linder (Country Swing); 3, Emily Williams (Groovin).

Junior Jumper Table II -- 1, Frankie Chesler (Lugano); 2, Eva Gonda (El Camp'n Invitation); 3, Jennifer Jones (Let's Dance Jil).

Pony Equitation Classic Finals -- 1, Elizabeth Coughlin (Millbrooks Tiny Bubbles); 2, Gina Marie Ciccotelli (Brighton Day); 3, Aimee Aron (Dabble Do Ya).

41st Annual Washington International Horse Show

When: Through Sunday. Day program begins at 7:30 a.m.; evening program begins at 7.

Where: US Airways Arena.

Tickets: Available, priced at $6 to $42.

Today's highlights: Day -- Small, Medium, Large Pony Hunters, International Open Jumpers (Hit & Hurry Competition), Junior Jumpers. Night -- U.S. League Final for the FEI World Cup Dressage (freestyle test), International Open Jumpers (Cosequin Puissance).