Markus Fuchs leads the top 20 riders who are going into today’s British Open Championship final. The Swiss world number two held a narrow lead over Ireland’s Billy Twomey and home star Michael Whitaker at the end of the final qualifiers on Saturday in Sheffield’s Hallam FM Arena.

A big crowd enjoyed theaction, which began with a win for Nick Skelton and Pandur in the Easter Egg Stakes, a qualifier for Sunday’s knockout. However, Nick has not made it through to the open final. “I’m not too worried, though. I’m really waiting for the outdoor season,” said the man from Warwickshire.

Billy Towmey won the major points class, the Steel City Shield, with a wonderful round on the mare Anastasia. Without looking as though he was hurrying, the Cheshire-based rider cut almost half a second from the leading time set by Robert Smith with Lucky Sky.

The Meadowhall Classic jump-off class went to the crowd’s favourite, John Whitaker, who conjured up a great round from an extremely spooky Carmen. He finished more than 1 second ahead of Mark Armstrong on Elise.

Although no one could clear the big wall at 7ft 1in in the puissance, it was still an entertaining competition. In the end, the honours were shared between Andrew Hamilton (Teddy Bear), Scott Smith (Amanda Lear), Michael Whitaker (Decapo) and John Whitaker (Lactic Two), who each took home £2,375.