After three months of intense qualifying competitions across the UK, Britain’s top 20 young riders are preparing to make the journey to Sheffield for the British Young Riders Under 23 Classic (7 April). British Equestrian Federation’s World Class Start & Potential Programme is supporting the class for a second year, offering more than £2,000 worth of prize money and training vouchers valued at £1,450.

Invitations to the Classic were distributed to horse and rider combinations who scored the highest amount of points throughout the qualifying series. Last year’s winner, Hannah Paul has qualified once again along with America’s Rookie of the Year, Ellen Whitaker. Whitaker, who will also be competing in the British Open Championships themselves, won the last qualifier held at Addington Manor Equestrian Centre. James Billington from Nottinghamshire, Joe Whitaker from South Yorks and Gemma Paternoster from Yorkshire have also qualified.

Many of these young riders are hotly tipped to be the show jumping stars of the future – not least Ryan Prater from Milton Keynes and Georgie Strutton from Steyning, who both won a qualifying competition. Also forming part of the competitive field will be Sophie Heaven from Cardiff and Emma Shaw from Stafford.

The U23 Classic is designed to promote and develop young talent within British show jumping by offering training as an incentive, as well as a generous prize fund. But the British Open Show Jumping Championships as a whole will undoubtedly be an inspirational experience for the young riders who will also get the chance to see many of their mentors in action.

The British Open Championship follows a unique format with a championship class every day and the final on Sunday afternoon. A wide range of additional show jumping classes will be held during the four days including the breath-taking British Open Puissance on Saturday evening.

For more information visit: www.britishopenshowjumping.com or contact the box office (tel: 0114 256 5656). Groups of 12 or more should contact (tel: 0114 256 0440).

Riders competing in the U23 Classic

  • James Billington (Notts)
  • Mark Bunting (Warwicks)
  • John Crippen (Bucks)
  • Amanda Derbyshire (Lancs)
  • Philippa Dobby (Lancs)
  • Sophie Heaven (Cardiff)
  • Andrew Mizon (W. Yorks)
  • Tim Page (Suffolk)
  • Gemma Paternoster (Berks)
  • Hannah Paul (Herts)
  • Natalie Phillips (Leeds)
  • Michael Potter (Notts)
  • Chris Sadler (Kent)
  • Emma Shaw (Staffs)
  • Christopher Smith (Cheshire)
  • Georgie Strutton (W. Sussex)
  • Alex Thompson (Notts)
  • Stephanie Ward (E. Yorks)
  • Ellen Whitaker (S. Yorks)
  • Joe Whitaker (S. Yorks)