A delighted Vere Phillipps proved invincible in the advanced section at Eglinton last week to win the Polly Phillipps Memorial Trophy, with his late wife Polly’s former ride Coral Cove.

“I’m like a cat with a saucer of milk. If I wanted to win anything this year, this was it,” said Vere. “Polly won the advanced here with him in 1997 and then won it again on Biras Creek the following year. She loved this event.”

Vere also won the trophy with Coral Cove in its first year, 2000, when he finished third behind Ian Stark with Jay Bee and Arakai, as the trophy goes to the highest-placed British rider who has never represented Britain in a senior team. Winning the class this year put the icing on the cake.

As for Coral Cove, now 16 and with 15 three-day events behind him, it is very much a question of one day at a time.

” I want to go to Burghley and then retire him,” said Vere, “but he’s getting stiffer now and, if he doesn’t trot up completely sound after this, I shall aim him at one-days instead. I wouldn’t want him to go out on a low note.”

Vere says that he has benefited hugely from training with Scottish-based Les Smith, and it showed at Eglinton where Coral Cove’s test put him in equal-fourth.

The old horse was, predictably, clear in the show jumping and then scampered effortlessly round the revamped cross-country track with the fastest time of the day.

Read the full report from Eglinton in this week’s Horse & Hound (17 July), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.