As 2018 draws to an end, one rider to have made his mark on the international scene and will have 2019 to look forward to is Kilmarnock’s Graham Babes.

With the full support of his family and long-term owner, Patricia Fraser, Graham has been super consistent from start to finish enjoying spending most of year abroad gaining invaluable experience with a team of mostly younger horses.

Heading back off abroad to compete at Lichtenvoorde and Opglabbeek, where he started his tour with a first and second in two star 1.4m classes with Boucheron and a superb win in the 1.15/1.25m young horse sections with Ma Fleur JX, Graham only managed a few weeks at home but this was long enough to showcase his talents to a home crowd.

Morris EC’s Development Classic Show was well supported this year with strong numbers throughout. Knowing the calibre of horse and rider forward for the final class of the show the grand prix, Raf Suarez set an upstanding track with questions asked from start to finish of distances to power fences making sure riders would really earn their prize money.

Drawn near the end on his second ride, Graham’s round on Boucheron was easy but determined and a strong enough round to drop Robert Murphy down a place with Newbridges Chablis.

Also at Morris, Graham stormed home on his world class six-year-old Ma Fleur JX to pick up one of just two tickets available for the winter novice final with an outright win just fractions ahead of Cameron Rogan who looks to have found a superb new partner in the shape of the former Lindsay Bingham-produced chestnut mare, Adalia.

Carlisle’s Jonathan Dixon had a full team of horses at each of the Morris shows sharing the rides with Sandy McLean.

His Diarado sired seven-year-old Guus Geluk was outright winner in the winter Grade C qualifier, beating Rosie Pindar on Hanleen Beatrice, then only just missing out by finishing fourth in the winter B and C. Taking over the ride on Jonti from Alex Hempleman, this Grade A Lando gelding won three out of the four classes entered over both Morris shows including two 1.3m opens.

It was the feisty bay gelding, Fireball, which was his winning ride in the Scottish Open Indoor Championship when they saw off challenges from Alistair Gatherum, on G-Star and Declan Irvine, who was having a busy show with novices but swapped onto Dior Van Overis Z, for a third place here.

Riding the chestnut mare, Coalition, for Jonathan Sandy has collected all their foxhunter double clears for next year and topped their show off with a win in the Blue Chip Karma qualifier.

Other winners at Morris were Annabelle Shields, who took the winter B and C qualifier on Creevagh Carisma, followed home by Keith Shore on Djoel and Graham Babes again this time on Glencoe.

Young Charley Hamilton has really blossomed under the tutelage of Johnny Aird and continued to win against the seniors this time flying round the winter 1.25m qualifier on Amadora JX to hold onto the lead throughout.

Paul Barker was on tremendous form as per normal for him at this centre taking home the majority of prize money in a few classes mostly thanks to the super speedy and versatile Happy Boy.

Reigning Scottish ladies champion, Lucy Guild, was delighted with her weekend with her Scottish Equestrian Awards-nominated Hugana Van T Heike. Winning the CWD Saddles qualifier and a 1.3m, they then went on to win the CWD final against Paul on Happy Boy in a fast and furious jump-off.

Quite a few headed off to Aintree for the National Amateur and Veteran Championships, where Lucy Stewart maintained her HOYS form by winning two of the finals on board the fast Cancun. Galloping flat out in both classes, she managed to win the title and rugs for both the 1.15m fun class and the 1.1m national amateur final. They then headed home to fly round and win two 1.2m classes at Morris.

Scottish course designers, Mark McGowan and Diane Beaumont, were in charge of the tracks at Aintree, creating some interesting courses throughout.

Megan Cowan was on her usual form with her diminutive partner Tullycars Peek A Boo to head an 85cm qualifier, finish third in another then stand on the podium in second pace with Stuart Muirhead in the thoroughly entertaining pairs relay dressed as characters from Toy Story.

Stuart relied on his fabulous mare Merllyns Mondena for a win and a sixth in the 95cm sections.

Alistair White was seen in the lower placings out of huge numbers in the 1.05m and 1.1m classes rounding off his show with a very good seventh in the 1.1m final on Hanleen O’ Tess.

Partner Angela Wiltshire collected an eight in a veteran warm up with Whiskey Girl, while Katherine McKellar steered RJM Lucky Lad into a fourth in a 1.05m qualifier.

Racheal Ann Clark, Natalie Devlin, Astell Easdon and Lucy Rennie were all there and thereabouts but just outside the top awards this time.

At home it’s good to see the Scottish Equi Complex, at Lanark, open its doors to affiliated events after a few year’s absence. Hopefully, this venue will run more shows next year.

Fiona Burgoyne has been enjoying being an owner more recently, but has also been travelling with the eight-year-old Indigo Van De Roshoeve at shows such as Weston Lawns and Hickstead. Back on home soil they stood at the top of the line up in a 1.15m at their local centre SNEC.

Nicola McArthur is busy with her Equisport Therapy business but managed to find time to steer the four-year-old Cleverson sired Cleverson Eda to win the Horsequest Novice UK qualifier at SNEC as well as take the ticket for the highest placed four-year-old in the class.

Bellfield stables’ Nicky Williams just missed out in the winter novice qualifier with Cool Berlin, but borrowed Katrina Frew’s ELO to win a 1.3m at SNEC.

Fintan Hunt scored a double at Blue Ridge with his two CES Seaamanchip, which won a 1.1m and the ever-consistent Broomhill Freddie, which scorched round a 95cm to take the top prize.

Kelly Diamond makes a good job riding the home bred horses for Bob Yeoman and Fiona Horne’s Tapitlaw Sport Horses. She won two classes at a recent SNEC – a 1.1m with Marata and a 1m with the seven-year-old Zenith UHS sired Zenata.

Emily Ryder was the other dual winner at this venue with her own Scottish bronze champion, Pippa Du Perron. This little mare laid claim to the 1m and 1.05m sections.

Strathaven’s Gayle Marsh has been producing her own Scottish bred six-year-old Honoloulou LS, quietly jumping their third double clear in a British novice for their first win at SNEC.

Juniors were offered a fabulous ‘trophy’ show at The Cabin EC where the 90cm winners were Jenna Ross with Clailu Saffron; Katie Woods Young has had a brilliant year with Apache Joe so deserved the 1m and 1.10m sashes; Miller Walker on Cosmic Chaos took the 11 and under; while Rachel Wilson with Miss Bardot and Jasmine Hodge on Breezies Topic took a trophy apiece.

Savannah Roper was the winner of the winter 128cm sash with Styx Evo while Natasha Hamilton on Aristo Justice took the 138cm equivalent and older sister Charley headed the 1.2m section with her 148cm Castlebaldwin Golden Arrow.