Emma-Jo Slater is top at Blue Barn

Emma-Jo Slater travelled to Kent and hit immediate form to take the SEIB winter novice for Hickstead qualification at Blue Barn Equestrian Centre with new ride Wood Field Clover.

And it was close, for the smallest of margins separated the first two. A field of 32 initially contended a testing course to chase the two coveted Royal International qualifiers on offer, with 12 achieving clear round to access a hotly-contended jump-off.

But Emma-Jo is a specialist in this type of novice competition, and guided Misha Pitt’s Wood Field Clover – a seven-year-old mare who has joined Kim Barzilay’s Buckinghamshire yard to be sold – into the top spot.

Michaela Huntington chased hard with the Dutch-bred mare Gina Trojka S, a For Fashion/Emilion six-year-old, to come within 0.01 sec – the tightest of margins – for the second qualifying place. Michaela started Gina in competition last March, finished third in the British novice final and has qualified both Blue Chip power and Karma finals after winning both qualifiers at Houghton Hall.

Julian Mincher just missed out with third place on new ride Gaudi II, a Dutch-bred six-year-old with Ukato/Goodtimes bloodlines bought in the New Year from Rachel Burr.

NB: Qualifications will be updated pending official grading of results

Photo courtesy British Showjumping/E-P-Pix Photography