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Top class showing at Hickstead

This year’s Royal International showing classes look wide open with old hands and new faces heading for Hickstead

A clash between established performers and “new recruits” will make for intriguing showing classes at this year’s Royal International.

Entries and quality are well up to scratch, despite initial threats of a boycott when the levy on qualifying classes was introduced at the beginning of the season.

David Bartram (Beamish) and Jack Cochrane (Mountain Ember) are neck and neck in the working hunters, each having several HOYS qualifiers in the bag.

“But anything can happen at Hickstead,” said David, who is also a weights contender.

Sadly, last year’s working hunter champion, Gail List’s lovely grey, Heatwave, died earlier this year. Other absentees include Tim Fairburn’s Horse of the Year Show winner Scotch The Rumours, who has retired to the show jumping ring.

Last year’s heavyweight hunter winner, Imperial Imp, is back with owner Bill Smith and has been on form, as has Mister McEvoy (David Tatlow), who took the title in 2001, only to injure himself before the Winston Churchill supreme.

But one of the hot favourites will be the Royal champion, Spot On (Loraine Homer), who should relish the International Arena.

The Dick Saunders Memorial Trophy surpeme championship is the target for ridden ponies. Show pony classes are wide open, particularly since last year’s Winston Churchill supreme, Trelawn Playboy, returned to the ring only recently and is not qualified.This could leave the door open for the 138cm Deaconwood Goldprint.

The cob section again looks strong, but few would bet against Lynn Russell and the reigning Horse & Hound British Isles champion Polaris(pictured)collecting a record fifth title in this arena – which shows him at his magnificent best – and, perhaps, going all the way.

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