Equestrianism: Fletcher shines at Wembley

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Tina Fletcher repeated last year's victory when she won the Saffron PPC National Grade C Championship during the opening session of the Horse of the Year Show at Wembley Arena, this time riding the consistent seven- year-old McCoist.

Last year, as Tina Cassan (she married in April), she was first on Spartacus and third on Finchpalm Fujiyama. A repeat victory had seemed no more than a remote possibility two weeks ago, when McCoist had a virus, but the horse made a timely recovery.

Fletcher, the winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Cup in 1992 and 1993, showed her determination when jumping clear to defeat Mark McCourt on six-year-old Exander by 1.22 seconds.

Christina Hall and her five-year-old pony, Murphy's Girl III, made the journey from Aberdeen to compete in just one class: the Woodpecker Junior Newcomers Championship.

The 15-year-old Scottish rider won the title, albeit by a whisker, for both James Wingrave and Laura Stephenson finished a split second behind her in second and third places. Robert Whitaker, the 14-year-old son of John Whitaker, was almost two seconds faster than the winner when having one fence down to finish fourth with Mister Boombastik.

Murphy's Girl, the winning pony, had belied her youth and inexperience under the bright lights of Wembley Arena, where she was ridden steadily over the first two jump-off fences to give her time to get settled before before the rider "let the handbrake off''. The response was impressive.

Sarah Marc became the second rider to win a class two years in a row when she rode Bobby's Bracken to victory in the Squibb and Davies National Junior Foxhunter Championship.