Annabel Shields gets 2017 off to a flying start at Liverpool

Annabel Shields got 2017 off to a great start, continuing on her 2016 winning run with the Mr Blue 14-year-old Wet Wet Wet to commandingly land the Liverpool International under 25’s championship.

The pair – winners in Roosendaal and Morris Equestrian Centre’s winter premier grand prix – set off in determined style to claim the win by more than two sec.

“I thought it was going to be hard class, there were some top top horses and riders, but I asked the question in the jump-off and he came up with the goods,” said Annabel.

Last to go Millie Allen and the Balou du Rouet stallion Balou Star threw in a spirited challenge to net second place in the 21-horse two-phase competition.

“It’s a brilliant way to start the year. He’s maintained his form and he’s naturally quick - I think he has his own satnav! - so we only had to move up a gear,” said Annabel, 24, who has ridden the grey gelding for just over a year.

“He’s very consistent and knows his job, I don’t have to do much with him at home.”

Six double clears were recorded, with Jessica Hewitt claiming third spot on Zaronda. George Whitaker and the impressive, big-jumping Darius X took fourth with Sven Hadley fifth on Summas Taloubet and sixth going to Jordan Thompson with Uni Stop.

Jessica went on to claim her own win in the amateur 1.20m speed, taking victory with 1.09 sec in hand on Celtic Cavalier.

“He’s quick, covers the ground and is always looking to jump which makes him easy to ride in a jump-off,” said Jess, who has ridden the coloured Cavalier Two For Joy/Ballinvella 13-year-old since the end of September.

“He’s very good at landing and turning, I can take a stride out and spin back and he’s ultra-careful.”

Olli Fletcher steered the home-bred 11-year-old Its The Business daughter Little Business into second with Melissa Garry on Hotesse in third. Tabitha Dean claimed fourth aboard Ibrador Van De Rhamdia Hoeve with the USA’s Rosalie Biedron fifth on Dree Boeken’s Grossos Roeschen and Camilla Bingham slotted Billy Belle into sixth.

Photos © Trevor Meeks/Liverpool International Horse Show