Matthew Wright won the opening Express Eventing series qualifier at the Bolesworth Showjumping Classic in Cheshire riding If You Want II.
Former Express Eventing winner Oliver Townend had led the competition until the showjumping phase, when Matthew drew ahead to claim the £3,000 first prize and his place in the series final at the Horse of the Year Show in October.
Matthew said: “This has been great for my horse because he’s 15 years old and didn’t really make the grade at three-day eventing. The great thing about Express Eventing is that it can prolong the career of a horse like mine.”
Matthew will be joined in the final by Paul Sims, 24, who qualified from fifth place as the highest-placed young rider riding Kim Belton’s Power of Dreams.
Paul added: “I’m thrilled. It’s great to be right up there with he top names, and I’ve had such good fun today.”
Stephen Renouard, equestrian director of Express Eventing said: “This first qualifier has set a very high standard going forwards. It was a truly thrill-a-minute competition, shown by the edge of the seat ending we had.”
There are three Express Eventing series qualifiers remaining: Lincolnshire Show on 22 June; The CLA Game Fair on 24 June; The Festival of British Eventing of Gatcombe Park on 6-7 August.
1. If You Want II (Matthew Wright) 21.40pen
2. Neo Du Breuil (Oliver Townend) 23.30pen
3. Fernhill Vriend (Fraser Duffy) 24.30pen
4. Roma ML (Fiona Hobby) 24.65pen
5. Power Of Dreams (Paul Sims) 27.20pen