Reigning pony teams national champion, 29-year-old Emily Bennett (pictured) opened her bid for selection for the first World Pony Driving Championships by scoring a clear win at the Yeomans Toyota Brighton Horse Driving Trials.

With a new pony leading her black Welsh section C and D team, Emily tookfirst place in the dressage, held her lead through the three-section marathon and clinched first place with an impeccable double clear in the cones – the only one in her class.

“It’s one in the bag!” said Emily, who is sponsored by Day, Son & Hewitt.

This year, the main showground was moved further into the attractive setting of Stanmer Park, to great effect. All seven obstacles, designed by Anthony Petitpierre, were new and extremely well presented.

“I think Anthony has done a great job,” said technical delegate Tony Bache. “The obstacles are varied, interesting and well built. The ‘casualties’ we had were driver, rather than obstacle, error – people driving too quickly or choosing not very sensible routes.”

Certainly, the obstacles claimed some scalps, including pony pair driver, Rachel Stevens; horse pair competitor, Wilf Bowman-Ripley, horse team driver Philip Owen and open horse competitor Derrick Mayes.

Brighton is one of the four selection events for the World Championships in Austria in August, which will feature pony pairs and singles for the first time, as well as teams.

Read the full report in this week’s Horse & Hound (15 May), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.