Four national championships are decided on the first afternoon of the Horse of the Year Show, where some lovely young horses were on display in the senior finals.

Veronique Whitaker is not usually known for her speed in the jump-off, but the lady from Oxfordshire was inspired in the grade C championship, beating what looked like an impossible target set by one of the favourites, Irishman Dave Quigley, by almost 1sec.

Veronique’s ride, the seven-year-old Dutch-bred Tropicana, was a Horse & Hound Foxhunter finalist last year and is also through to this year’s Thomas Bates Seven-Year-Old Championship.

“I knew this horse was fast, so I decided to show people how quick he can go,” she said.

The earlier Great Leighs Newcomers title went to Cumbria’s Simon Buckley, who led all the way in a 15-horse jump-off on the Irish-bred Lakeland Gold Diamond.

The 18-year-old Pony Club member, a former pony European gold-medallist, gave a superb display of riding.

“It was horrible waiting all that time,as I thought everyone who came in would beat me,” he said.

The 128cm and 138cm ponies made a welcome return to the show after an absence of several years.

The 128cm title also went from first draw to Cumbria, in the shape of 12-year-old Coral Mowbray and her lovely Irish-bred skewbald mare, Coralass, while another 12-year-old, William Whitaker, kept the family name flying with a great jump-off round on Mystic Starlight Express, the pony on whom he also shared the 138cm championship honours at the recent Arena UK Festival