A pair of Melton riders swapped friendship for rivalry as they pushed each other to a superb one-two at the Horse and Hound Festival of Eventing.
Sarah Nicholls, riding CSH Sioux, stormed back to win the 90cm Championship at the three-day event for grassroots riders, just ahead of her friend Hannah Parr, and Tinkers Boy.
It proved a spectacular debut for Sarah and her seven-year-old mount as the combination teamed up together for the first time in a three-day event.
They sat in seventh place after the opening dressage phase, but a clear cross-country round inside the optimum time, followed by one of just 13 clear show jumping rounds, propelled them to the top prize.
“I can’t believe we won,” she said.
“I knew ‘Simon’ was capable as he can do a good dressage test and is reliable across country, but showjumping is my weakest phase.
“I was hopeful, but I tried not to let my emotions get in the way of how we performed.”
She bought CHS Sioux as a four-year to develop and sell on, but fate chose a different course.
“He just kept getting better and better, so I’ve kept him,” Sarah added. “I couldn’t fault Simon this week.”
Hannah and Tinkers Boy, known as Colin at home, made a better start and chalked up a good dressage score of 28 to lie second out of 57 combinations.
The freelance groom and rider then guided the eight-year-old Irish gelding to a flying clear round in the cross country.
The pair were too fast on the clock, picking up 3.6 faults to drop to fourth overnight, but another precious clear in the show jumping lifted them back up to second in the final standings.
“It was an absolutely incredible weekend away with friends and beyond any dreams that we finished second,” Hannah said.
“We’ve had Colin since he was four. He was bought for my auntie, but I’ve taken over the ride as he’s such a sharp quirky horse at times.
“He’s been hard work to produce at times and needed a lot of time and patience to make him confident!”