Others may have won the sashes and rugs, but the biggest cheer of the show was earned by Elizabeth Galliers making her debut at the Blue Chip championships.
The diminutive 11-year-old partnered Cottown Little Rupert and they jumped a double clear in the Eskadron pony discovery championship much to the delight of the crowd.
A mammoth 106 contended the discovery title and Shropshire-based Elizabeth was one of only two riders in the 128cm section to jump a first round clear to reach the 28-strong jump-off. And Elizabeth carefully guided Rupert into another clear round, verbally encouraged all the way round by the spectators who erupted into rousing cheers as she cleared the last. They finished in eighth place.
The nine-year-old Rupert was purchased two and half a years ago by Elizabeth’s mum Suzanne.
“He was up in John O’Groats and it was a bit of a gamble to buy him, but it worked out well,” said Elizabeth, who qualified at Maelor Equestrian Centre to get to the Blue Chip finals.
The newly-crowned Voltaire Design novice champion is lucky to be alive, let alone competing following an accident in the field
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The pair started off doing working hunter pony classes in the nursery stakes and finished fifth at the Royal International Horse Show. They only started showjumping last October starting at 70cm, but soon worked their way up with the help of trainer Vanessa Marmont.
“I have to keep the canter, good lines and not rush him,” said Elizabeth, who will focus mainly on showjumping this year with Rupert this year.
“He’s cheeky but he’s very loyal and level. He gets excited in the ring but he always tries his hardest and helps me out at the fences,” added Elizabeth. “He’s so easy at home I can ride him bareback but his party trick is taking off his headcollar – and if he has a friend with him, he’ll take his headcollar off as well.”
Don’t miss this week’s edition of H&H magazine, out 18 April, for a full report from the Blue Chip championships, as well as all the normal reports, news, features and interviews.