This proved to be a very popular weekend especially for novice combinations, many of whom were having their first outing of the year and were contesting their first Blue Chip qualifiers.
With 40 tickets on offer to the Blue Chip Championships over five qualifying classes, competition was certainly keen to earn one of the coveted tickets to the April finals at Hartpury College.
First winner was Yorkshire rider Olivia Morritt who topped the Eskadron Discovery qualifier riding her former eventing pony Aherlow Fred.
Olivia has been competing Fred in show jumping classes over the past two years, the pair qualifying for the Scope championships last season.
“This is our first Blue Chip year and this course flowed well for us.
Fred likes to be ‘set up’ at fences rather than gallop, so I was always looking where to save time to the next fence,” said 14-year-old Olivia.
Also taking their Blue Chip tickets were, Beth Tabernor (Culfaddes Summer Breeze), Chloe Durnall (Morris of Lisaeran), Benjamin Griffiths (Fizzy Pop), Olivia Brennand (Ardnacashel Delight), Charlie Nelson (Hoofprint Caleb), Celine Griffiths (Ganty Wills Girl) and Katherine Tasker with her Aintree arena eventing winner Squeaky.
Red Morgan and Pocahatas (Susie) headed a tight finish to the JC/JA Sparkle jump-off.
Just three produced initial clear rounds to contest the jump-off where Red set an unbeatable target.
“Susie has a big stride and covers plenty of ground, so we picked up plenty of speed and kept going forward,” said Red, who has been riding Susie since October.
Also qualifying for Hartpury were next placed Charlotte Hollinshead (Crossword) and Megan Woodcock (Glencroft Beal Na Blath).
Gill Pollard set great courses over the weekend and the jump-off for the Pikeur winter novice proved one of the best of the weekend, Isabel Darby and Minnie The Minx (Leia), competing in their first Blue Chip competition gaining a 3 second winning margin.
Leia proved quite a challenge when Isabel got her two years ago, but after a year of riding club and workers, the pair have settled well into show jumping.
“Leia is much more laid back now and she loves to jump and turn, so we saved plenty of time,” said Isabel.
Taking the next qualifying tickets were, Belle Garrigan (Tamiko Summer Joker), Celine Griffiths (Ganty Wills Girl), Emma Wall (MS Apaches Coco Chanel), Charlotte Hollinshead (Korado), George Cowley (Jack Rabbit), Pamela Hewitt (Katie Killeen Classic) and Isabel Thomas (Kincon Rose).
One of the newest partnerships Ashley Barratt and Go Active (Molly) claimed victory in the Horse Quest UK Sapphire, the pair taking the lead at the half-way stage in the six-strong jump-off.
Ashley, a member of the Peak Branch of the Pony Club has been riding Molly for just four months and this was their first British Show jumping outing.
“We only came for experienced, but we had two fabulous rounds.
The course was great and really suited us and I knew Molly was capable,” said Ashley.
Also qualifying were Katherine Tasker (Request), Olivia Ratcliffe (Faith), Alana Irving (Valley Freeman), Amelia Brennan-Vaccaro (The Midnight Fox) and Natalia Mason (Fernlea Silver Knight).
After taking third place in the Blue Chip Sparkle, Megan Woodcock and Glencroft Beal Na Blath (Glen) produced the only double clear to win the Horse Quest UK Coral qualifier.
Megan has carefully produced her Irish bred from his novice days over the past two years and they enjoyed a great 2017 season, the pair qualifying for the Blue Chip, National and Scope championships.
“We have really got it together now. Glen is normally careful so I can trust him to have a go,” said Megan.
Also qualifying for the Blue Chip finals and adding a second ticket over the weekend was Katherine Tasker and Request.