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Piggy French became the first winner of the £25,000 Liberte Self Drive Horse Box Hire Shropshire Slam at Weston Park this weekend. Riding Chicago II, French finished on her dressage score of 43.8 pen in the CCI two-star. “It is very exciting,” she told HHO, “I did wake up this morning with a huge smile on my face.”

French had been aiming for the Shropshire Slam since winning the CCI two-star at Weston Park last year with San Calido and the CIC two-star at Sansaw in June with Chicago II. “I knew I had the horse for it and it was definitely the aim. I can breathe again now.”

The cross-country course, she said, seemed a very long way when she first walked it. “Before Saturday the weather was terrible and for a two star 10 minutes on bad ground is too far. But full credit to the organizers – the wind came on Friday and dried the course out and it was fine.”

After knocking three show jumping poles on her other ride Holly Blue Curtis, French was “twitchy” about entering the ring on Chicago II. But the pair jumped a foot-perfect clear to take the title ahead of Oliver Smith (The Magic Moment) and William Fox-Pitt (Irish Moon). She also finished ninth on Holly Blue Curtis.

French has not yet decided what to do with the £25,000. “I still have my lorry to pay off but will definitely go away somewhere for a week,” she said.

Meanwhile Marina Lawson-Smith and Fancy That II took the individual Rowen Barbary Horse Feeds JRN Championship. Lawson-Smith had been a member of the winning Central team last year and her victory yesterday ensured the central team headed the leaderboard for a second year.

“It’s absolutely brilliant,” Lawson-Smith told HHO, “I’m not sure it has actually happened. I always wanted the team to win, but winning it myself didn’t actually cross my mind.”

She has been riding 11-year-old Fancy That II for eighteen months and hopes to do juniors on him next year. “The course was quite technical but rode very nicely,” she said.

Her lead was hotly contested – the top four riders all finished within three penalties of each other, highlighting the prowess of Britain’s younger riders. Fergus Payne and French Gypsy produced a better dressage score than Lawson-Smith but after clocking up 1.2 time pen on the cross-country finished on the same score. As the rider with the better cross-country score Lawson-Smith was declared winner, with Payne in second place.

Nigel Taylor and Oscar Night won the Liberte Self Drive Horse Box Hire CCI one-star on their dressage score of 45.5 pen while the final title of the event, the Jump Savings Fund British Under 21 Championship, went to Ben Hobday riding Uptons Who.

Don’t miss Horse & Hound’s full report including photos from Weston Park in this Thursday’s issue (12 October, ’06)