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Will Furlong held onto his cross-country lead at the Equi-Trek Bramham Horse Trials today (11 June) to take the Bishop Burton College CCI3* under-25  title after a dramatic showjumping phase.

Twenty-two year old Will, who was riding in his first CCI3*, had an 11.6 penalty lead over Gina Ruck going into his round on Collien P 2, which he needed after lowering two rails and incurring one time-fault.

“That was a bit nerve-wracking!” laughed Will who hopes this 10-year-old mare will take him to his first four-star next year. “I was secretly hoping Gina wouldn’t jump clear. My horse doesn’t find showjumping easy as she has a bit of an abnormal technique, but she tried her hardest, especially after her efforts yesterday and it’s a work in progress. She’s also new to this level and I’ve only had her a year so it’s great to win.”

Will Furlong

The pair won by 2.6 penalties over Gina and Rehy Too who jumped a classy clear round to maintain second place. Bramham has proved to be a lucky place for Gina and her self-produced 15 year old — they were fifth here last year and fourth in 2014.

“We nearly did it,” said Gina, who has just moved her yard from Lincolnshire to Banbury and hopes to build up a string of horses. “Rehy Too has always been such a good jumper and he’s done such great things for me. I had to make the decision a couple of years ago whether I was going to keep my young horses and sell him, or sell my young horses to fund him competing at this level as I couldn’t afford both — hopefully that decision is paying off.”

Alicia Hawker and Charles RR climbed three places after the cross-country to finish third. They incurred four-faults, but this proved to be enough to finish on the podium after the influential final phase, rising from 24th after the dressage.

“To come here and be third is totally unexpected,” smiled Alicia, who has just graduated from the University of Bath with a first class honours degree in sports performance. “Charles is a phenomenal jumper, although persuading him to do dressage has taken time and he also used to run off with me across country. There were a couple of times when I seriously thought he would be better with a male rider, but with time and patience we have got it together.”

France’s Marie-Caroline Barbier dropped from third to fourth after knocking three poles and incurring a time-fault.

Charlotte Bacon, who had been third after the cross-country with Last Touch, withdrew from the holding box at the final trot-up.

Full report of Bramham in this week’s H&H magazine, out 15 June.