Burnley’s Sophie Hillier scooped top spot with a speedy performance in the last of this year’s SEIB Winter Novice Qualifiers held at Morris Equestrian Centre in Ayrshire last Saturday.
For the final time this season, 51 hopefuls began the class, and they were all vying for one of the two qualification places on offer for the Championship Final, which will be held at the prestigious Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead, West Sussex this summer.
With the stakes so high, each combination gave their all as 25 first round clears were produced, with 16 going on to achieve a double clear.
Once again, the all-important clock proved to be the decider of the winner.
Sophie jumped two lightning fast and accurate rounds on board her own six-year-old grey mare Stoney Raikes Gindy.
Against a determined field, Sophie held her nerve to knock over two seconds off the time of her nearest rival and she blasted through the finish in 33.52 seconds.
Taking second place was Alister Hippisley-Gratherum who travelled from St. Andrews, Fife with his own six-year-old bay gelding G-Star.
This pair stopped the clock with their double clear in 35.59 seconds.