Early mornings and late nights look set to be the norm at the five-day showjumping extravaganza that is the Blue Chip Championships at Hartpury College.

The beginning of the show was brought forward to a 7am start with a marathon 136 contending the first class, the Woof Wear 1m. Michaela Russell was eventually declared the winner on Unique XVII some four hours later.

Nigel Thorpe galloped to his first title victory in the Blue Chip Joint RLF Power championship on his six-year-old mare Harmonie D. “I’m always second. I thought I’d change that today,” he said.

Spinning back to oxers and urging Sting M ever-faster, Danielle Joliffe had lead the way from the front, but amateur rider Nigel edged ahead after taking out a stride to the last. It was no mean feat, as 25 reached the jump-off from 81 starters after tackling Steve Renouard’s 11-fence track.

Hayley Webster made the ferry journey from the Isle of Wight worthwhile with victory in the Woof Wear Novice Final with Trish and Paul Ansell’s Neutral Tint. Steady at the start, Hayley made two crucial cuts inside fences at the end of the track to secure the title in a seemingly unhurried fashion in a jump-off of 31.

“I didn’t think we were that fast but he has a big, ground-eating stride” said Hayley.

Blue Chip Championships day one results

Woof Wear 1m. – 1, Unique XVII (M Russell); 2, Flash Diamond II (A Strawson); 3, Sting M (D Joliffe). Woof Wear nov ch. – 1, Neutral Tint (H Webster); 2, Zula Maeva (M Russell); 3, Calcourt Illicit Liaison (R Lewis). Blue Chip Joint RLF Power ch. – 1, Harmonie D (N Thorpe); 2, Sting M (D Joliffe); 3, Beechfield Klassik (E Slater). Devoucoux 1.05m. – 1, Alice Springs V (M Townshend); 2, All Rise (K Grimster); 3, Carnival Dream II (L Biddlecombe). Nedz Bed 1.15m winter classic qual. – 1 & 3, Pimosa & Rumors Gucci (H Rees); 2, Trendsetter Teranimo (R Keevil). Halsall Electrical 1.25m qual. – 1, Classic Vision (S Hedges); 2, Arazona (C Webley); 3, Easter Tracks (B Smith). Horse Health nov winter classic qual. – 1, Stirred Not Shaken (L Bubb); 2, Cosmic Savannah (E-J Slater); 3, Sienna’s Supreme (G Wright).