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The nights are drawing in and that can only mean one thing for show jumpers – all roads lead to the LG Arena, Birmingham, for Horse of the Year Show.

The seven- and eight-year-olds took centre stage during the evening performance and the Old Lodge stallion everyone is talking about, Super Trooper De Ness, continued his brilliant run of form to clinch the championship for Nicky Boulter.

This seven-year-old son of Vigo d’Arsouilles produced an immaculate double clear with an impressive turn of pace to hold off his nearest rival, the eight-year-old Iolanthe (Daniel Neilson) with Canora (Julie Andrews) back in third.

It was up to the amateurs to provide the opening jumping spectacle earlier in the day and they didn’t disappoint. Clywd-based Ian Wynne headed a thrilling 11-strong jump-off for the BSJA Amateur Classic Championship with a determined round on Ann Wolley Dod’s nine-year-old Don Douglas.

“It was a good track, but harder than last year when there were more related distances then and it took you round — there were more options this time,” said Ian, who qualified for the championship with a win at Arena UK on this Demonstrator gelding he’s had since a yearling. “His turn backs were all very smooth but I didn’t think I was quick enough.”

European pony gold medallist Pippa Allen scored one of only two double clears in the Squibb Demolition Pony Foxhunter with Duncan Inglis’s pretty bay Wicked II — who by all accounts can live up to her name.

By carefully studying the jump-off course plan with father Peter, she spotted a crafty turn inside to the penultimate oxer and saved herself the valuable seconds she needed to beat pacesetter Natasha Dean (Sequoia True Legacy).

“She’s evil but awesome,” said Pippa of the seven-year-old mare she’s been riding for a year.

The Tri-Zone Newcomers Championship went to Matt Sampson with another seven-year-old, V Anubertha.

Chasing Anthony Condon and Adelgonde-Z’s fast early lead in the jump-off, Matt pulled off a razor sharp turn back to the final double. For a second it looked like Graeme Thame’s gelding would struggle to clear it, but a brave effort aided by Matt’s skilful guidance saw them through both elements and home.

“Even though he was able to get away with that turn, he’s actually quite behind,” said Matt. “He was a late starter and this was only his third championship. He jumps really high and tries his best for you.”

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