Annabel Shields made an impressive start to 2017 as she opened day two of the Equestrian.com Liverpool International Horse Show in stylish fashion at the Echo Arena.
The County Durham rider was in dominant form as she swept aside a high-class field to land the Liverpool International Under-25 Championship, sponsored by ClipMyHorse.TV.
Riding Wet Wet Wet, the 24-year-old proved a class part in the two-phase competition as a jump-off time of 27.68 seconds secured a £1.000 top prize by a clear margin from closest challenger and last to go Millie Allen, who clocked 29.86 seconds on Balou Star, while Jess Hewitt and Zaronda II finished third.
“It is a brilliant way to start the year,” Annabel said. “He has maintained his form. He is naturally very quick, so it was only like we had to go up one gear. He was very good.
“He is very consistent. He knows his job, and I don’t have to do much with him at home. He comes to shows and seems to do the business every time.
“I looked at it today and thought it was going to be a hard class. There were a lot of top horses and top riders, but I asked the question in the jump-off and he came up with the goods.
“I’ve had him just over a year. He has done a lot of two-star shows and grands prix, and he is very consistent in terms of jumping clear rounds, which is what counts.”
Sunday’s second class – the Amateur B competition, sponsored by Your Horse – went to Yorkshire rider Jess Hewitt.
The one-round speed event saw 29 starters tackle the course, and it was Jess who proved a clear winner aboard the 13-year-old gelding Celtic Cavalier as their time of 50.54 seconds was more than a second quicker of any challenger.
Oliver Fletcher and Little Business were best of the rest, finishing second in 51.63, with third place going to Melissa Garry, riding Hotesse.
Reflecting on her round, Jess said: “He is quite a quick horse. He covers the ground really well, and his turns are always excellent.
“I thought there might have been a few quicker ones today, but he is normally quite quick. His turns are really good after a fence, and he is very consistent.
“I’ve ridden him since the end of September, and he has been a really good horse. He is consistent and ultra-careful, which is always helpful.”