With 4 outdoor rings, and the Bingley indoor arena in full swing since Sunday (24 August), the first championships of the 2008 easibed BSJA/Scope Festival took place last night (Monday) at Stafford County Showground.

Four qualifying places to the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) were hotly contested in the 32-starter Tri-Zone Newcomers Masters Championship. Sophie Heaven riding Mark Samuels Urminka claimed the top ticket from the 17 initial clear rounds. Sophie is just a few months into her partnership with the seven-year-old and won the class from last draw.

“For the past month, this mare has been very difficult to beat, and with 11 horses in this jump off not qualified for HOYS, I knew we had to be quick,” said the Welsh rider.

Taking the remaining tickets to Birmingham were Scott Brash (Nederland Magic 2nd), Laura Renwick (Oz De Breve 4th) and Stuart Harvey (Vivando 6th). Third and fifth places were taken by the already qualified Utopia VI (Lee Williams) and Handels Kosmos (Anne Bedford).

Pandora Bailey and Visetta (26.72) claimed the Derby House senior British Novice championship with a flying round to overhaul Nina Emery (Scandalous 27.67) and Joanne Smyth Northern Dance Allnight (28.43).

Members of the Old Berks Pony Club show jumping team, Pandora and Visetta also event and compete in intermediate working hunter classes. “After qualifying for this championship, it was my ambition to win, so we left nothing to chance,” said Pandora.

Taking the first title of the show, was Luke Hill, who rode Ilar Max (30.46) to win the AJ Walton Aviation junior discovery championship. A fairly new recruit to show jumping, 13-year-old Luke had it all to do to catch Georgie Roadnight (Rohnan Benit 32.99), and pathfinders Emily Whiteside (My Champagne Supernova), but the Yorkshire rider rose to the challenge.

“Max covers a lot of ground, so it was easy to take strides out everywhere” said Luke. Despite a spirited attempt from last draw, Chantelle Salkeld and Spirit VI (32.17) had to settle for second place.

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