British showjumpers made a blistering start to the Equerry Bolesworth International Horse Show in front of a capacity crowd on Thursday.
The opening four-star international class – a two-phase competition sponsored by Naylors Equestrian – saw more than 50 starters tackle the International Arena class.
And it was Matt Sampson, riding the nine-year-old gelding Djanjo Blue, who set a pace that proved too much for the rest of a 55-strong field.
Matt, one of British showjumping’s shining young talents, clocked a time of 26.99 seconds in the jump-off phase to finish more than a second clear of his rivals.
Matt proved a social media hit before last year’s Bolesworth show, making a series of videos when he sang a song he wrote to show president Nina Barbour in an attempt to secure a widcard entry.
He achieved his aim, and while no song was required this year, he struck the right note to take victory in a class that saw the top four finishers all go under 30 seconds.
Chloe Aston led the chasing pack, finishing almost one and a half seconds behind with the experienced campaigner Kolibri Classic, while Ellen Whitaker and Casaktie took third spot, just ahead of American Olympian Laura Kraut and Sfs Vincomte.
Visitors to Bolesworth are guaranteed a feast of world-class sporting action, culminating in Sunday’s headline grand prix, which was won last year by Ireland’s Anthony Condon.