A seven-hour journey paid off for a Dumfries-based family when their Dartmoor stallion, Rushfield Bailey, claimed a first Olympia victory in the inaugural BSPS Heritage championship.

After a good show, Rushfield Bailey’s excellent conformation marks moved him up from fifth to win, pipping the ‘ride’ section leader, Jonathan Stevens with the mannerly Dales stallion, Waterside Black Prince, by three marks.

“We are in complete shock,” said Bailey’s owner/breeder Christine Anderson.

The eight-year-old by Springwater Happy Days, fourth here last year, won at Royal Highland and Great Yorkshire, was champion at Ayr and stood fourth at HOYS on his third appearance there.

The new format saw four judges — who did not confer — with 200 marks at their disposal, and in a universally-popular move, ride marks were displayed on the main screen above the arena.

As well as several seasoned campaigners, there were quite a few Olympia debutantes forward, and they accounted for the next three places. They were headed by Jonathan Stevens’ ride, the six-year-old Dales stallion, Waterside Black Prince, who produced an enthusiastic show to score the highest ride mark — 91 — of the day to take reserve.

Gemma Stanford’s seven-year-old Highland stallion, Tower Clyde, gave a polished performance and also scored highly for conformation to take third with Mathew Lawrence, and Alex Bates partnered the Welsh B flat and working contender, Bronheulog Harvey, to take fourth, just two marks adrift.

Lynda Buchanan-Jackson’s home-bred Shetland, Blackator Rhonda, was fifth with Elizabeth Evans, and Jack Starkie produced a lovely show at his first attempt with the consistent Dartmoor stallion, Pumphill Bennet, to take sixth, just one mark adrift.

Pick up a copy of Horse & Hound on Thursday 22 December for a full report on all the action from Olympia