Gemma Paternoster finished first in the World Class Start and Potential Under 23 Classic at the British Open Show Jumping Championships this afternoon. Paternoster, partnering O’Siris, produced the only double clear of the class. An unlucky four faults from James Billington with Lady des Hayettes relegated him to second position, with Ryan Prater and Vahagn de Lozana finishing third.

The World Class Start & Potential Under 23 Classic boasted a line-up of Britain’s top twenty Young Riders. A nationwide series of qualifying rounds has taken place over the past months and the Championships will take place tomorrow morning. All but five of the 20-strong field were knocked out in the first round – including Britain’s leading lady rider, Ellen Whitaker. Whitaker, 20, was eliminated when her partner of three months, Magic Max, put in two refusals. Her brother Joe Whitaker also had an unlucky day, aboard Desdamona. The pair produced a fast and stylish round but an unfortunate four faults at the last fence cost them a place in the jump off.

Last year’s Under 23 Champion Hannah Paul, who won individual and team gold medals at the European Championships just six weeks after breaking her leg, rode an electrifying first round. However Paul, partnering Lucky, clocked up four penalties in the jump off to finish in fifth place. Stephanie Ward and Bullands Sensation also knocked a rail in the jump off but a speedy round pushed them into fourth place.

The Classic is an exciting build up to tomorrow’s Under 23 Championships. With Ellen and Jo Whitaker determined to make up for today’s disappointments and Paternoster gearing up for a Championship title, tomorrow’s competition is destined to be highly charged.

“We have again been delighted with the interest that the British Young Riders U23 Classic has generated among the best young show jumping riders,” said Vikki Underwood, World Class Start and Potential Manager.

Mike Gill of British Open organisers Grandstand Event Management Ltd said: “The British Open offers these young riders the perfect opportunity to compete in a top class international environment facing similar challenges of their elder counterparts.”

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