Visit www.saddletude.com for virtual coverage of the Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead, in association with Horse & Hound Online.
The first day’s show jumping classes at the Royal International Horse Show are traditionally confined to national championships and this year was no exception, with a large crowd around the sun-bathed International Arena enjoying some terrific sport.
Oakley Coachbuilders Winter JC championship
Emma Darnbrough has been trying to win here for her entire junior career and the 16-year-old, who lives near Haydock Park racecourse, at last achievedher ambition when her pure-bred Connemara, Willowpark Skywalker, gained a last-draw victory in the opening class, the Oakley Coachbuilders Winter JC championship.
Scotland’s Jemma Kirk took the 122cm show hunter pony title twice here during a spectacular showing career before deciding that she would like to start show jumping two years ago.
The 13-year-old from Edinburgh has proved equally successful over coloured poles, gaining her biggest ever success when she jumped the only double clear on her lovely Irish-bred Guinness Special.
Jodie Ward, 12, finished off a great day by winning the Oakley 128cm Championship on Duncrynes Jungle Bunny.
The York-based rider produced a terrific jump-off round on her grey mare to hold off a strong challenge from Coral Mowbray and Corralass, who were trying to take another title back to Scotland.
Hunter Wilson Novice Championships
Some lovely young horses were on display in the Hunter Wilson Novice Championship and the honours went to perhaps the most impressive of the lot in Mary Marsh’s ride, Croft Loretta.
Cheshire-based Mary jumped the sole double clear on this lovely Dutch-bred mare, who is already through to the Wembley grade C final.
First day’s showing champions
NFU Mutual Hackney pony
NFU Mutual Hackney horse
Sandal-BMW Show Hunter Pony