Equestrianism: Cool Webley takes young riders' title

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The Independent Online
Caroline Webley must have been the only rider to receive instructions over the telephone during yesterday's Young Riders' Championship of Great Britain at The Horse of the Year Show here at Wembley Arena, where she rode nine-year-old Masterly to victory.

"Go for a good clear and don't panic," Tony Webley told his daughter from the family home at Redditch in Hereford and Worcester as she prepared for the three-horse jump-off. Having followed the paternal instructions, she watched her two opponents - Ben Dunning on Miss Party Piece and Marie Warwick on Wallstreet Blues - achieve faster times at the expense of one mistake apiece.

Louise Whitaker, who was well fancied to add this title to the national women's championship she won this year, surprisingly had two errors in the opening round.

Webley, an 18-year-old who regularly competes against Louise, has the Whitakers to thank for getting the ride on her winning mount. Tracey Fletcher, who owns Masterly, offered him to the Whitaker family but, as they had plenty of horses, they suggested Caroline might be a good alternative choice.

Earlier, Tina Fletcher repeated last year's victory when she won the Saffron PPC National Grade C Championship, this time riding the consistent seven-year-old McCoist. Last year as Tina Cassan (she married fellow show jumper Graham Fletcher in April) she was first and third, but a repeat victory had seemed a remote possibility two weeks ago, when McCoist was found to have a virus. The horse recovered, and Fletcher, who won the Queen Elizabeth II Cup in 1992 and 1993, showed her familiar determination when jumping clear to defeat Mark McCourt on six-year-old Exander by 1.22sec.