Hendersyde Park Horse Trials offered a weekend bursting with top equestrian sport, including the prestigious Scottish and Northern Championship series.
The Agnew family kindly open their grounds once a year to host the trials, creating a sumptuous display of sculptured cross-country fences and a colourful showjumping arena, which makes it one of the most attractive eventing venues in Scotland.
The competitors were treated to beautifully-prepared courses, where the going was near perfect.
The Gormet Group Scottish and Northern Championship Intermediate Novice section was keenly contested by riders who had qualified during the year.
The championship classes have the showjumping last, which creates a nailbiting end to the competition.
Amy Lawson-Croome and Sappalot were heading the leaderboard following dressage and cross-country, so they went last into the showjumping phase.
She was just 0.4 points in the lead and a single pole down scored four faults, which dropped her to third.
Durham-based Will Murray rode a textbook showjumping clear round to secure first place on grey gelding Victor B.
The pair finished on their dressage score of 29.1. Borders-based rider Emily Parker also jumped double clear on Athlone Acorn to pick up second slot. Murray has ridden Victor B for three years. The gelding is owned by Victoria Gibson and was sent to Murray to sell on, but stayed to join the team.
He was very pleased with the win, telling The Southern: “Victor can be quite quirky, but has lots of talent and has clicked this year.
“Hendersyde is a great course, the jumps are up to height and the championship class asked some good testing questions for novice horses stepping up to intermediate.
“The three real questions were the new log drop to corner, the water complex with the carved otter to jump in the middle and the second water splash with the imposing logs either side.
“The water splash looked the stiffest test, but it rode well and the ground was perfect.”
Murray is no stranger to the area, having lived in Kelso while working for Caroline Powell and he now has his own yard in Durham from where he events and shows.
There were two other Scottish and Northern Championship classes.
The Central Carpets BE 100 was won by Stuart Sloan on Tinkas Flash.
The showjumping was once again very influential, with Sloan’s clear round moving them up from fifth place to clinch the top spot.
Sloan is a dentist living in Glasgow, but Flash is kept at his parent’s farm in Dumfries.
The pair compete in Working Hunter shows – they won the Intermediate class at The Horse of the Year show and the Royal International Horse Show last year.
Sloan said: “Flash is not straightforward, he gets very excited before the dressage, but loves the cross-country phase and settles quickly. The track was a good challenge, one of the most difficult we have done.”
It was Sloan’s first visit to Hendersyde and he would like to come back next year.
The Belhaven Scottish Championship BE 90 was won by Hawick rider Alexandra Meikle on Damdeasy who went double-clear within the time to finish on a dressage score of 24.
Stirling-based rider Daniel Scott had a bonanza of a weekend, winning the BE Novice section L on Zen Roundthorn and coming 2nd on Casmo Z.
He won the BE Intermediate Novice section N with Dwina De Cavron, finished fourth and sixth in the Scottish Championship BE 100 class and carried off a seventh place on Fame Van Thiunas in the Intermediate Novice Scottish Championship section K.
Local rider Kirsty Brewis also had a successful weekend, picking up fourth place in the Dalton Demolitions Intermediate Novice section N on her own chestnut gelding Harbour lights and second in the BE 90 section D, riding Ian Stark’s Markus III.
Livy Agnew and her team had a bumper entry for the BE 90 sections and the higher levels were also well supported, with many riders coming back year after year to compete in such a well-prepared venue.
Hostess Livy said: “We try to make changes and developments each year to keep the tracks fresh and interesting.
“The kindness and generosity of our sponsors and helpers is what makes it all work. They put in so much effort, but it is worth it to see riders enjoying their sport and youngsters developing their skills.”
The event raises much-needed money for charity and this year the funds will go to the Borders Children’s Charity, as well as Ancrum athelete Gemma Scott to build a custom racing wheelchair.
Gemma attended the prize giving with her recently-won medals to thank the team for their generosity.
Full results can be found at www.britisheventing.com.