A SPECTACULAR double clear by female rider Emma Smith secured her the Bega Showjumping Cup on Sunday.
The Cup was a highlight of the Bega Cheese New Year Showjumping Celebration where more than 200 riders competed over four days.
Eighteen riders lined up, including a throng of eager locals, to contest for the prestigious cup.
Many riders posted four, or more, penalties in the first round, which saw the clear riders in a tight battle for the second round.
Showjumping stalwart Jenny Beresford said a good first round for a half-dozen competitors led to an epic showdown for the second round.
“There were five or six competitors out of the 18 who started did the first round clear,” Jenny said.
“Those riders had an advantage straight away.”
Cup favourite Clint Beresford was relegated to third place after a final jump fault in the second round.
Jenny said he really had to “throw down the gauntlet and have a go at the final rail” after Smith’s blistering run.
Jenny said Smith’s double clear was posted early in the second round putting pressure on all the riders following her.
“He knew the time was tight so he had to have a crack at it.
“Emma did it in 50.18, but she was faultless, it was unfortunate that Clint hit the final rail as he completed in a time of 49.99,” she said.
Jenny said Smith has been competing in the cup for many years and her tall chestnut stallion was a perfect horse for the course.
“He’s a big striding horse so he covers more ground which helps to post such a good time.
“Anybody following her knew they were in for a big challenge.”
Second place went to Jess Stalling, who also posted a double clear, but in the slower time of 55 seconds.
Meanwhile the contest’s youngest rider Lane Clarke, 15, found himself in fifth spot ahead of his father Brett.
Jenny said Clint had been contesting the cup since he was 17 and had been the youngest rider to take part until Lane stepped up to the challenge.
However, Jenny said Lane was a dominant performer throughout the overall competition (see story page 41).
Jenny said Clint’s coach Grant Hughes was also in contention and finished seventh on his horse Yakity Yak.
The course put riders to the test with some near-Olympic level jump heights, especially leading into the final round.
Former Olympian and course designer Gavin Chester said he was really pleased with the layout.
“The high level jumps really push the riders and it will get some good cantering from the bigger horses,” Chester said.