Belgium’s Raf Kooremans retained his unbeaten record in the indoor cross-country class at this year’s British Open Show Jumping Championships.

A full house at Birmingham’s NEC cheered every rider round Mike Tucker’s track, which comprised seven show jumping fences followed by a cross-country course. And for a long time it looked as though reigning young riders European Champion Amy Young would take the £1,250 prize after a tremendous round on her top horse, Highville.

Despite 4sec to add for two show jumps down, Amy led by a good margin, but Raf — whose one previous British appearance was as a member of Belgium’s European Championship team at Blenheim — meant business from the start.

It looked as though Raf’s chance was gone when his 17-year-old Dutch-bred mare Izanetta lowered three show jumping poles, but a stirring cross-country round, during which they took every short-cut, put them ahead by 0.73sec.

Raf and Izanetta were invited here after winning equivalent classes at Mechelen and Amsterdam World Cup shows.

“The cross-country fences were smaller here, but the crowd cheered louder,” he said afterwards.

Third place went to Oliver Townend, who was ruing one rolled pole and a couple of extra pulls to the narrow final cross-country fence on ODT Mouse, while Australian Matt Ryan’s immaculate clear on Slight Of Hand was rewarded by fourth spot.

Read a full report of this class and all the other action from the British Open Show Jumping Championships in next week’s issue of Horse & Hound