IT was a case of third time lucky for an Ellesmere Port showjumper as she won a national title in Warwickshire.
Sharon Ley, 43, of Whitby, rode to victory on her horse Connie at the Trailblazers Championships at Stoneleigh Park showground.
It was the third time she had tried to win the event after coming up short on two previous occasions.
Sharon said: “It was brilliant. I thought I’d finished second so got a big shock when I heard my name.
“My husband’s face was a picture!”
The Trailblazers Championships are open to amateur riders and culminate in a national final every July.
Sharon, who was competing in the 65cm jump category, booked her place in the finals by coming through two local qualifying rounds at Foxes Riding School, Ledsham.
Competitors from all over the UK and Isle of Man met at Stoneleigh Park for the final.
Sharon initially thought she had finished second but she was promoted to first place because her rival for the title carried over two faults from the first day of competition.
Sharon had feared the two-day event might have been a little too much for her 20-year-old horse, but she said Connie is ‘a horse of a lifetime’.
“She is part of the family and has a big heart – it was just a dream come true,” she added.
The pair also won the Aintree Championships earlier this year, finishing at the top of a field of 40 entrants.
“Showjumping is Connie’s favourite, it can be hard to judge her health and fitness but she is a darling,” said Sharon.
“We’ve had quite a good year when I think about it, so I’m delighted with how it’s gone.”
Sharon, who works at the Essar refinery in Ellesmere Port, has been riding since she was nine but remained competing locally until five years ago when she stepped up to national competitions.
Connie has been kept at Hallwood Farm, Ledsham, for around six years.
Sharon said: “Hallwood Farm have been great, Gilly Hinnegan my showjumping trainer and Anna Davies at Foxes have both been brilliant too.”
The horse and rider are part of the Neston Riding Club as well as Foxes.
They have been together since Sharon bought Connie when the horse was three-and-a-half and she is now focusing on her daughter’s equestrian interest as well as her own.
Samantha, 14, has begun following in her mother’s footsteps and is hoping to start competing for trophies in the near future.
Sharon’s attention now turns to the North West Showjumping Championships in Cheshire later this month.
Qualification for next year’s Trailblazers has already begun and Sharon has a tough decision to make as to whether Connie is up to the challenge.
“If Connie carries on jumping until next year I think we’ll go for it,” she said. “Obviously her welfare comes first, but fingers crossed.”