Heading towards the clocks changing and better weather, the senior riders now have Royal Highland Show qualifiers to look forward to.

Howe Country Centre has a new series of young horse qualifiers plus finals running in the next two months. The juniors have already been attending some premiers as others head off for sunnier climes on the ‘sunshine tour’ in Vilamoura.

One young lady spotted at the sunshine tour starting her career in horses was Nicole Lockhead Anderson, who ended her time in ponies on a high and now finds herself working for Graham and Holly Smith, based in Melton Mowbray. Given the right opportunities, Nicole will be one to keep an eye on for the future.

Victoria Hewson headed abroad again but to Opglabbeek, then Kronenberg, to land two more wins in 1.20m at their CSI1* shows with her lovely mare, Zenas Flight.

Douglas Duffin spent most of January at the same shows jumping Lankas, Quidam BZ and Fiona Burgoyne’s Fan with the latter impressing and gaining top three finishes throughout in the CSI2* 1.35m classes.

Kirkcudbright’s James Smith has some trek from his base to France where he spent 10 days at Lier, Belgium, with his team. The huge grey Twix De La Roque jumped the 1.4m sections claiming a third, then went on to win when the eight-year-old Carambole-sired For Ever won a 1.3m, then was placed in some 1.35m sections. His impressive Scottish-bred HBF Delmar, bred by Laura Tinto, collected a fourth in the 1.3m young horse classes.

Declan Irvine headed south to Bury Farm to win the winter B and C qualifier on board Richard Duncan and Kirk Ritchie’s Fendiela. They then came home to jump double clear but just outside the money in a 1.4m open at Morris EC.

Also at Bury Farm, Kelly Connor jumped some good rounds on Ben Wentink’s impressive George SCAIS. Having had the ride on this eight-year-old stallion, by Vittorio out of a Carentina mother, they have recently moved up to 1.4m level and look set to be on form for the bigger classes all summer.

The junior riders have been a bit quiet of late despite having two premiers at Morris EC.

At the small pony premier it was the turn of Leicester’s Tabitha Kyle to sweep the board qualifying a team of ponies for both the 128cm and 138cm second rounds. Based at Queenholm Equestrian, 12-year-old Tabitha is a quiet, stylish rider who makes a fabulous job riding all her ponies, including finishing first and second in a 128cm second round with Living The Dream and Borderhill William, which both jumped immaculate clears over a track that caused problems for others.

The only Scottish rider to lay claim to a red ticket all weekend was Dumfries’ Eleanor Archibald who jumped clears both days scoring a one-two on Saturday with My Little Sweetheart and Pondhead Dexter.

Sister Madelaine had to wait until the South View premier to jump a first round clear in a 138cm second round qualifier earning fourth and a Hickstead finalist place on Mitchel Troy Welsh Express.

Shaunie Greig took over the ride on the former Fraser Reid ride, Quilitymaes Z, in January from Jennifer Billington and with SNEC, Aintree and South View under their belts came good at Morris EC’s 148cm premier to just rub one pole off in the final round of the Charles Britton Winter JA qualifier, which gives her her first ticket for the final at Hickstead, in June.

Amy Morris has struck up a good relationship with the Connemara Tobar King, which was initially produced by Sandy McLean. They accounted for a 1.15m but also slotted into third in a Blue Chip Sparkle JC/JA although they had already won this class twice bore at South View and Aintree.

Katie Woods Young has had the ride on the spotted Apache Joe for three years now and is virtually unbeatable at the moment, frequently heading the bronze league standings. At Morris’ 148cm premier they came home with two reds in 1m sections.

The senior shows have been busier than usual, with Morris seeing huge entries for their category two shows and bravely offering 1.4m opens to encourage riders from further afield and give home-based competitors something to aspire to.

It was good to see four jump double clear in the 1.40m with Lucy Guild flying round to post the quickest time of all on the incredible Hugana VanT Heike and pick up the £250 first prize.

This little mare had earlier warmed up with another win in the 1.3m, during which Lucy found out she had won the leading Scottish showjumping horse and rider combination at the Scottish Equestrian Awards.

Well done to Kinross’s Shannon Kelly who was sidelined for a while with a broken back and at one point feared she would never ride again. Not only is she back on board but she was on winning form in the 80cm with Prince Van De Waterhoeve and Amadeus VII. Determined to get back to where she left off, this has been a promising start for Shannon who recently became engaged to fellow competitor, Leo Lorimer.

Declan Irvine was fourth in the 1.4m at Morris just outside the money, but another ride brought some pennies home. The coloured Bishoptons Utah, by Utah Van Erpekom, was foot-perfect in two foxhunters and will contest the second rounds later in the year.

At SNEC, Alistair White carried on the form that has seen him already gain qualification for next year’s amateur finals at Aintree. Riding the Scottish-bred Hanleen O’Tess bought from Harry Aird, Alistair won two more 1.05m. Alistair and partner Angela Wiltshire love the Aintree finals and plan their year towards it.

With Alistair helping Angela in the warm up earlier in the day, Angela’s mount Whiskey Girl jumped a good round to top the 70cm open.

Sandy Laird is back out and on flying form with the consistent Dali V winning two classes at Morris before heading a 1m at SNEC backed up by Big Spender, which took the final 1.15m.

Edinburgh’s Sarah Beattie has found an exciting new partner in the shape of Sonya Cunningham’s Dandy Man MFS. Sarah is over the moon at getting the chance to ride this gelding who was successful for Sonya and so far has been seen winning a 1.1m at SNEC but also jumping a Highland show qualifier. They are going to have some fun this summer.

Greg Taylor is doing a nice job producing Jim Wilmer’s Just White for the future. An economical round saw them stand at the top of the line in a Discovery, then Greg swapped onto the 12-year-old Valdiron which seems to have found his niche as a speed horse, winning four 1m classes in a row between Muirmill and SNEC.

Rosie Pindar hit form riding for Achilty Sport Horses when the nine-year-old Zacharov mare, Z Yazz, won two British Novices, then the grey Gambler A, topping a Newcomers and to finish off, her HOYS finalist, Hanleen Beatrice, won both the 1.2m and 1.3m opens.