The weather is normally really rough at this time of year as we cross over from winter on our way through to the spring but things are already starting to hot up on the show jumping circuit.

Picking up a qualifying ticket for Hickstead was young Charley Hamilton, who made the trek from her Milltimber base to Northcote Stud, near Blackburn, to contest the Winter Novice championship qualifier.

Riding Caroline Ironside’s Loretta Blue MFS – a six-year-old chestnut mare by Zirocco Blue out of a Goodtimes mare and bred at Caroline’s Moray Firth stud in Banff – Charley had had one pole on the floor in the qualifier at Morris EC but made no mistakes to not only secure a qualifying place but take the win.

Produced from scratch by Charley, this mare is now easily jumping Foxhunters and looks to have a bright future ahead.

Charley is building up a useful string, with her good partner Amadora JX back and starting to work his way up the classes again alongside Inishannon Red Squirrel, the Northcote 1.25m winner Faluna and another bred by MFS stud, but owned by Charley, Mademoiselle De Haar, coming up through the novice ranks.

This year sees the inclusion of the Royal Highland Show qualifiers again after a two-year break with the first of those being allocated to Alnwick Ford, in Northumberland.

Travelling from Ayrshire, Codie McGowan was determined not to miss out and attacked the jump off of the RHS Classic qualifier with gusto on board her super mare Ciska Vd Spithoeve Z. Turning, galloping and daring Ciska to take a flyer, their time could not be beaten leaving them in the enviable position of having qualified so early on in the season.

The second qualifier was held at a busy Blue Ridge, just outside Falkirk, where it was the turn of coach, David Harland, to earn his place in the final with a fast, accurate round on board John Jamieson’s home-bred JJs Sure To Fly, a 10-year-old roan gelding out of JJs Indiana that grandson Lloyd competed and by JJs Surefly, which was ridden initially by John’s daughter, Linda.

Runner-up on this occasion was Amy Morris, who is making her presence felt in seniors already in this her first season off ponies. Riding her big sister’s Let’s Hope – formerly ridden by Kathleen Hamilton – they finished on a clean slate to take the other ticket on offer giving Amy her first ride in a senior final at the Highland.

Looking set to have an exciting year is Horse Scotland Performance squad member, Graham Babes, from Kilmarnock. Building up a team of useful horses from his Darwhilling Farm, Graham frequently heads south with trips to Aintree and Northcote recently proving fruitful.

Glencoe hit form to finish second in a Grand Prix at Aintree, only just beaten by Lara Whiteway on Novila Jovial Z.

Monks I Am Casall, a very handsome son of Im Special De Muze, earned a Blue Chip ticket for second place in a B and C qualifier and a young team of horses including Canali Z, Its Easy and Quarteria all winning or being placed makes for a very promising team for 2022 for this young man.

Another travelling from her Ayrshire base was Charlotte Geddes, who is now full time back in Scotland and based at her family’s Rosemount stables, near Monkton.

Keeping busy teaching, riding and doing some freelance work, Charlotte found time to head south with three horses to earn some prize money. The Scottish-bred Liberneta LS, by Julie Smith’s Nemiroff, was seen winning at Aintree whilst stablemates Meet Me Halfway and Liberty H have both been in the money frequently.

Back at the helm at Morris EC, Billie Williamson managed to find some time out to travel with her own 18-year-old Drenrow Master Blaster to bring home some rosettes from Aintree before scoring a double on home turf where they won two 90cm opens.

Husband and wife team, Logan and AJ Creighton, also headed south, with Logan scoring on Invite Me DHH, Le Faut and Calini; whilst AJ has been jumping good rounds on Cooper.

James Smith is building a new team and looks to have some useful partners in the shape of Kensignton Vd Zwinkhoeve, which he took on from Ciara Miller, last year and was seen winning a Foxhunter at Northcote.

He has only had the ride on the Mylord Carthago-sired Good Friends for a matter of weeks but they have stepped up to 1.4m with clears at Aintree and Northcote.

Susan Deasy’s attractive grey, Pixie Van De Bucxtale, a daughter of Kafka Vd Hefink won three classes for James won two newcomers and Blue Chip Karma qualifier at Aintree and £500 prize money for her efforts.

Yet another rider from Ayrshire has also been on a winning streak. Harmen-Lily Lindsay takes time out from running her popular Equipparel HL stand to ride Trance Dance Fancy Pants and Glasgow Z. Both horses were placed consistently at Aintree and Northcote with Fancy Pants, an 11-year-old by Vivaldi also coming home to win at Blue Ridge.

On absolutely blistering form at home is Biggar’s Alistair Gray, who is partnering Jim Wilmer’s Tarnside Globetrotter. A former Bronze League finalist and big winner for previous owner Richard Nichol this 14-year-old gelding will be keeping Jim happy winning almost every class entered in the past month. Fourteen wins so far sees them catapult to second place in the Bronze League table after just a few months together.

Lucy Stewart had given her top winner, Cancun, a short holiday but he came back on winning form to score twice at Blue Ridge. In his absence, Jortel La Vie has been keeping the red rosettes coming home in Newcomers and Foxhunter classes and Glow DK has been scoring in the 1.1m opens.

Some of the juniors have been travelling further afield while chasing the pony premiers, with a few already qualified for the coming summer finals.

Dumfries-based Madelaine Archibald is now through to the Charles Britton JA Winter Classic Final. Riding the Selby family’s super mare, Bay Friend, who has been a great servant to quite a few juniors now, Madelaine may have rubbed one pole out in the jump-off at South View but this was good enough to ensured she went through to the finals.

Fergal Holohan steered the Cruising-bred 148cm Little Flexible round clear all the way for a convincing win in the Winter JC qualifier, also at South View, to book his place to Hickstead this summer.

Marni McMyn was another to go clear in all three rounds in a Winter JC, this time at Aintree, with her own Hoofprint Caleb to pick up a ticket to the finals.

Just missing out on some top prizes but with a fairly new team being produced, Millie Lawson travelled home from South View to discover she’d been nominated for the Youth Performer of the Year award through Horse Scotland.

Bonnie Seath is also on form, winning with The Bullseye; Pebbles Walker looks set to have a good partnership ready for this year in Maily 17; Aimee Paxton has taken on big sister Sophie’s ride Las Vegas; and Abi Gladstone is doing a good job with Pegasus seen recently tackling a strong winter JC.