Just when Scottish show jumping started to become really exciting – with qualifiers, riders returning from abroad and class numbers going up – the threat of the Covid-19 put the whole country into lockdown.

This forced BS to cancel all shows until their review which is mid-April, but also resulted in the loss of many county and agricultural shows, including the Royal Highland.

Before all this disruption, Scottish riders were doing very well at home and abroad. Two young ladies who had eventful trips were Victoria Hewson and Annaliese Aitken.

Victoria headed out to Vejer de la Frontera, in Spain, but having a break down on the way disrupted her journey, resulting in a detour and many added miles but when there, Zenas Flight jumped some clears in the CSIO4* classes whilst Calanthe Slot moved up to 1.35m.

Horse Scotland performance squad member, Annaliese Aitken, managed the outward-bound journey better and fitted in several days at Vilamoura before travelling onto to the MET tour at Oliva. There she jumped clears on all three of her horses India, Eagele Z which had been second in the Grand Prix at Vilamoura and Frau Antje in the 1.4m class before she had to make a mad dash to get to the boat home before the borders were shut.

Stephen Lohoar finished his trip to Vilamoura by tackling the 1.5m Grand Prix and James Smith kept himself busy with a team of horses with two wins coming from Elmo Brown and Harmonia in the 1.35m sections.

Douglas Duffin jumped the bigger classeson Quidam BZ but it was Ailsa Black’s former ride, the Emerald daughter, Endyana EH Z, which impressed jumping clears in the 1.3m classes.

Travelling alongside Douglas was dentist Hazel Hiram, who enjoyed the show with her own Jalisco Royale jumping 1.1/1.15m.

At South View, Sean Curran impressed with his cool, accurate rounds in the Winter B and C to take the class on mentor Alex Barr’s Enzo. Sean also rode Innovate HBF, another to be bred by Laura Tinto, to a double clear and seventh in the Winter seven-year-olds.

Alana Hood collected a red and a blue at this venue with her own Scherzinger FB in two foxhunters then steered Quality Cruse round for fourth in the Winter six-year-olds.

Kelly Connor is enjoying the ride on Holly Haig’s John VDL who slotted into third in the Winter six-year-olds.

Mark Turnbull beat some tough opposition to secure his win in a 1.4m with the homebred and produced Ashton Dakota who stayed on form to finish third in the final day’s Grand Prix.

Mark was also second in the Blue Chip Dynamic B+C handicap on Lucy McAngus’ Elpaola who went on to finish fifth in the Winter 1.35m with this one looking a useful addition to Mark’s string just now.

Also in the line up of the 1.4m was Declan Irvine, on Fendiela, in sixth and Alex Barr, with Mandelay Bay, seventh.

Back at home and ironically everyone was chasing the Highland Show qualifiers blissfully unaware the finals may not go ahead. Nevertheless, it was great to see these classes filled and popular with some super-fast jump offs.

The Scottish National Equestrian Centre, Broxburn, opened with an RHS Novice qualifier in which fifty-two entered. Fastest home was Biggar’s Alistair Gray on the former Jack Whitaker ride Elvis IV, This seven year old recorded a time of 36.82s to push Emma Crawford on her Numero Uno nine-year-old Gina Gold into second in 37.03s.

Alex Barr qualified in third with the British-bred Talkabout Me, with James Smith delighted with his latest ride, Laura Tinto’s stallion, Johnnie Walke,r VDL in fourth.

Lucy Guild was first and third in the 1.3m open on Hugana Vant Heike and Irresistabe Bella split by Alistair Gatherum, on G-Star, but it was Sean Curran, on Enzo and Fraser Reed, Hunterstone, who earned their Young Masters tickets.

Emma Crawford earned her second ticket of the day courtesy of Dukes of Hazzard who has had an easy winter since his HOYS appearances. This time, they headed the B+C qualifier ahead of Kelly Connor, who dropped Ben Wentink’s stallion, George SCAIS, down a level to make it look easy claiming the second ticket on offer.

Thirty-seven started in the Classic qualifier and it was good to see Lucy Stewart back in the saddle and in form after a shoulder injury. She galloped round on Glow DK to drop Natalie Devin on Coulters Candy a recent winner of two classes at Blue Ridge, to second with both girls happy to qualify so early on in the season.

Lucy went on to win two classes at a following Muirmill show proving she means business again.

Claire Leitch hasn’t had long to get to know her latest ride, Incredibola, but that didn’t stop them winning the B+C qualifier in front of Trevor Nicholson, on Hongkong.

The pony riders didn’t have too far south to go to tackle their winter second rounds. Richmond EC was the venue and it was here that National Equestrian Awards ‘Youth Performer of the Year’ Millie Lawson rode three clears on Noah’s Lady to earn her Royal International ticket in the Winter 138cm.

The following day Ruby McCornick found herself qualifying despite a pole on the floor with Kiltormer Curragh with both Ruby and Millie coming home to also add a Highland show 138cm final ticket to this.

Anna Black has been having a good winter with the Scottish-bred Miami Sandyman, which also has a pass for the RIHS in the Winter JC then won the Liz Fox JC, at Highfield, ahead of Phillipa Archibald and Bay Friend.

Ciara Miller, on Going Platinum and Cassi McDade, Cydagh Aladdin, also qualified.

Three went through at Highfield for the Liz Fox JC led by Sophie Cobban, on Beezies Topic, then Jenna Ross, on Little Star VIII and Julie Davidson, on Antrim Master Ted.

Amy Morris, on Tobar King, Ciara Miler, on Spot the Okehurst, and Cerys Edge, on Chivas, were the only first round clears in the 148cm qualifier, with Amy quickest to take the win.

Charlotte Gaw, on Coltstown Dun Cruiser, jumped well at Richmond for a place then just a pole on the floor in a Highland qualifier, they then didn’t quite get it right at SNEC before heading to Highfield and returning a super double clear to qualify for the 138cm final.

Joining her from this qualifier was Ruby McCornick, Kiltormer Curragh and Pebbles Walker on Peanut V.

Anna Black got her second ride through in the 138cm section this time with Its Bob On joining Millie and Noah’s Lady from SNEC.

Three made it through to qualify for the 128cm final at Highfield of Howe. Eleanor Archibald’s Pondhead Dexter now joins her SNEC qualifier, My Little Sweetheart, then Taylor McDaid, on the smart coloured pony Dakota VII, and Jackson Stewart, on Billibob.

Malcolm McColm, on Tynebank Royal Jubilee, goes through from SNEC along with Savannah Roper on Styx Evo.