A photograph of an amateur whipper-in spectacularly crossing over a large ditch has been deemed the best tumble in the UK.

The picture of Sam Matthews has been crowned the winner of the inaugural Countryside Alliance (CA) Tumblers’ Club competition.

Hundreds of photographs were sent in from hunting photographers across the UK and Ireland for the competition.

Judges eventer Harry Meade, Alexandra Henton from H&H’s sister title, The Field, Henrietta Rutgers of the CA’s hunting campaign and Paul Graham from sponsors Pol Roger chose the winning shot.

It was taken by Ella Meadows at a joint meet of the Weston and Banwell Harriers with the Taunton Vale Harriers on 14 December 2014.

Sam is an amateur whipper-in with the Taunton Vale and was out on Banjo, a horse owned by the hunt’s joint-master Debbie Banwell.

“I might have been showing off a bit and when I was told the rhyne was a difficult jump I thought I’d give it a go,” said Sam.

“As you can see I took the bridle with me and from then on it’s a bit of a blur,” he admitted.

Both rider and the horse were fine after hitting the deck, but Sam was a little bruised.

Ella Meadows often follows the Weston and Banwell on a quad taking pictures of the day.

“I saw they were heading for the ditch so ran across to get into a good position. I managed to get a series of images of the fall, from Banjo getting into the ditch to Sam’s flip — it was quite impressive,” she recalls.

The CA’s Henrietta Rutgers said the judges felt the winning picture “embodied all that could happen out hunting”.

She said it was a “very close call” between the winner and runner-up’s photo but “we felt the winning photo captured the essence and challenges that hunting brings.”

The runner-up was Nollaig Hurley’s image of Colum O’Brian’s fall with the Kingdom Hunt Club; in third place was Paul Buddin’s picture of Edward Carter’s fall in the Bicester with Whaddon Chase country.

Graham Dixon’s picture of Roger Nixon and Adrian Cherry’s double whammy of tumblers David Cross and David Gilmore where highly commended.

The competition has been made an annual event, with winners — both tumbler and photographer — receiving a magnum of champagne.