Kilmarnock based Graham Babes has been rewarded for his consistency and hard work when he was the proud recipient of the Performer of the Year trophy presented at the National Equestrian Awards evening.

Graham has been competing abroad for most of last year and this year is currently on the 'sunshine tour' in Vilamoura where he has a team of horses all finishing in the money including his top ride, Boucheron, which stayed 0.2s clear of GB’s Laura Renwick, on Arkuga and a further 2s ahead of Oliver Fletcher with Disckoboy to win a 54 starter 1.4m class collecting €2000 for the effort.

Glencoe was also clear but one pole on the floor saw them settle for 10th place overall but this horse also scored a victory in an accumulator later.

The lovely Ma Fluer kept Graham on the winners’ podium when they looked impressive winning the seven-year-old class.

Douglas Duffin is also in Vilamoura with a string and although an outright win has eluded him so far, he has scored six top placings and plenty of very good rounds including a second in a 1.5m Grand Prix with Quidam BZ.

Fiona Burgoyne’s Fan continues to improve jumping the 1.3m to 1.4m classes whilst dentist Hazel Hiram is enjoying watching her Linares BG and Garthago jump the bigger tracks and collect some money.

Travelling from her home of West Kype, near Strathaven, full time nurse, Gillian Anderson, had a cracking show in Lier, France. Her super little mare Congeniality B was the quickest round a 1.3m 2* speed class with stable mate JJ’s Chaccomo finishing in third, with both horses jumping well all weekend.

In between riding for the Gatherum family's Edenside yard, Fraser Reed was thrilled to be invited to compete in the Al Shaqab inter-nations camp in Doha, where he had the chance to ride and train with some international riders, jumping clear in the teams for third place.

Fraser and his mount Higgs will now head off to Sentower Park to compete as an individual at the Youth Nations Cup.

Shaunie Greg will head off to Opglabbeek in April as part of the Pony Nations Cup team as she starts her 2019 season with Casino Royale which is already qualified for the Winter JA finals.

Closer to home and the weather may not be heating up but the competition seems to be fierce as the Royal Highland Show qualifiers come around.

The Cabin EC, Inverurie is always a popular and well supported venue but its championship show outside in February sunshine was a hit with all attending. Declan Irvine and Richard Duncan always take a team there and once again were in the money in most classes from the smaller club classes through to a good win in a 1.3m open with the former Nigel Coupe ride, Dragon.

Husband and wife team, John and Margo King, were on form when John headed two 1.15m classes on his faithful servant Turlood Errigal Touch and Margo won a 1m and second in a 1.15m with her ride of just a couple of months, Lenny B.

One of the most consistent little horses on the circuit, Sue Hendry’s coloured gelding, Tomahawk, was retired at this show and what a lovely gesture it was paying tribute to this 22-year old which has hardly ever left The Cabin without a win, rounding off with a 90cm red ticket.

In her first full year in seniors, Kailee Benson has struck up a good partnership with the Chacco Blue-sired nine-year-old, Just Chacco, which accounted for a British Novice but has since stepped up to Newcomers.

Another young lady in top form in the junior ranks with her own Apache Joe, was also seen winning in the horse classes. Katie Woods Young looked at home on Catho Z when flying round a 90cm to win.

The Scottish National Equestrian Centre offered some of the first RHS junior qualifiers of the season.

Sisters Eleanor and Madelaine Archibald booked their appearance when Eleanor not only won her 128cm qualifier with Pondhouse Dexter but also finished runner up with My Little Sweetheart.

Madelaine laid claim to the 138cm section with the only double clear on the 19-year-old Mitchel Troy Welsh Express, leaving Sophie Cobban, on Lennon Prince, with one pole on the floor but happy with her qualifying ticket.

Onto Blue Ridge and it's good to see this centre back open for business after a voluntary closure due to strangles.

Given the all clear, they fired ahead with some good schedules and, with Claire Lockhead helping out, offered some fun, entertainment and top jumping for the juniors.

Eleanor Archibald stayed in top form with Pondhouse Dexter at this centre to win her second RHS qualifier.

Jackson Stewart was one place out of the qualifying tickets at SNEC but a double clear here gave him his ticket on his brother, William’s former ride, Soxs Pocket Rocket.

Millie Lawson was clear in the first round to slot into third and qualify at her first ever attempt at this class on Riverview Sandy.

Madelaine and Mitchel Troy Welsh Express accounted for the 138cm section once again but it was Amy Morris who slotted into second.

Amy has been enjoying wins at the premier shows on the 148cm Tobar King, which is currently sitting at the top of the silver league table. Amy’s ride in this class was Forest Bramble, which is up for sale.

Tess McMyn picked up her qualifier in third with Trick or Treat and Lewis Lawson joins little sister Millie at the Highland after his performance on Mr JK.

At SNEC, seniors had a chance at early qualification with Alistair Gatherum taking the win in the Andrew Hamilton Novice qualifier on board last year’s fifth placed finalist, Edenside Elvis.

James Smith slotted into second with the Scottish-bred HBF Delmar bred by Laura Tinto. Laura rode this seven-year-old’s sire Double Up 2.

Lucy Stewart is seemingly never at home with her team of horses, headed by the amazing Cancun which wins at every show every weekend. She now has this horse qualified for the Airth Castle final following on from a win at Muirmill then winning again at SNEC where Margo King and Aldato’s Choice were delighted to qualify in runner up position.

Lucy is also through to the Young Masters final although she was beaten to the win in the qualifier here by Lucy Guild on her nippy Hugana VanT Heike.

Less than a second split the first three in the Willie Sheret B and C qualifier, with Ailsa Black fastest on Zara Zig followed home by Nicky Williams half a second slower on Elo II and Rosie Pindar three hundredths of a second behind Nicky on Hanleen Beatrice.

Rosie may have missed out at SNEC but she dominated the Airth Castle qualifier at Highfield of Howe scoring a one-two with Devine Gift and Hanleen Beatrice.

Morris EC may not have had any qualifiers but its three-day show in March was well attended. Jonathan Dixon featured in most classes even filling the top three places in a 1.3m on board London Times, Florentine and Fireball.

Holly Johnston scorched round the smaller opens for several red tickets on Gantico, Lux Jazzy, Gogobantus and Carquois Du Ceve.

Hannah Hunter grooms for Trevor Nicholson and Aileen Craig but took her turn in the saddle to ride a lovely double clear and head a foxhunter on the Ben Nevis-sired mare, Glen Nevis

Kelly Connor’s Bailande Van De Kapel, which was sidelined for nine months after colic surgery, made a winning comeback in a 1.05m and should be back to bigger classes soon.

It was also good to see Jordan Thomson back in the ring after a freak fall at home saw him have to sit part of the winter out. Hazel Hiram’s Paquito VanT Merelsnest won at Morris EC for him amongst other placings over the weekend.