Ellen Whitaker held off a strong Irish challenge to win the major class, the Welcome Stakes, on the opening day of the Chester International Show.

It looked as though the prize had to go to Ireland after first Edward Doyle (Carrigh Clover) and then Clem McMahon on Gelvin Clover held the lead, but from the end of the nine-horse jump-off the young rider from Yorkshire was cool personified on the stallion AK Quinten to take the £2,500 first prize by 0.18sec.

Ellen, who has just returned from a successful Spruce Meadows tour in Calgary, Canada, carried the hopes of many other British riders.

“They’d all backed her with the show bookies, but I wouldn’t let them tell her. The pressure would have been too much!” said her father Steven.

Cheshire rider Keith Shore earlier pleased the local crowd with a great one-two in the Cats and Pipes by UED international class. Keith headed a mammoth jump-off field on Skew News and also picked up second place with Pakko.

The opening Bidston Hall Farm Stakes also went to Britain. Michael Whitaker produced a fantastic round from an early draw on the good mare Renzerin VD Rampaarden and try as they might, none of a huge field could beat the world number six rider.

There was also an enormous entry in the latest round of the Royaton Products Seven-Year-Old series. Although many were clear in round one, only six could repeat the performance to gain maximum points towards the final at HOYS in October.

For full results visit: www.scopeequestrian.com