Brother and sister Robert and Louise Whitaker fought out the finish of the Osborne Refrigerations Winter Grade C Championship, the major class of a day of show jumping finals that started this year’s Royal International Horse Show.

In a 10-horse jump-off, Robert laid down the gauntlet from an early draw on his forthcoming Horse & Hound Foxhunter finalist, the Darco stallion Ublesco, and no one could get near him. Louise decided to go for a clear on the careful coloured Nureev and was rewarded by second place.

This has been a great week so far for Robert, who is still celebrating being part of Britain’s winning young rider European Championship team. He is also due to make his Hickstead Nations Cup debut as part of Britain’s team on Friday.

The other senior title, the Winter Novice, went to Wrexham-based teenager Victoria Thornley on her good Irish mare, Country Princess. This was Victoria’s first visit to Hickstead and she was justifiably delighted, saying: “I just wanted to get round. I never expected to win.”

Matthew Sampson confirmed last year’s HOYS form when he and Strawberry Fair
galloped to victory in the Winter 138cm final. “That was the class I’ve always wanted to win,” said 14-year-old Matthew.

Nine-year-old Rosie Gunn gained her biggest ever win with a flying clear on Get Ready Freddie in the Winter 128cm Championship, while another Hickstead first-timer, Amanda Derbyshire, gained the major victory she has deserved for so long when Lakeland Little Atlas took the Oakley Coachbuilders Winter JC title from final draw in a five-pony jump-off.