This month has been all about Royal Highland Show qualifiers with seniors and juniors desperate to claim a qualifying ticket as early as possible – with more qualifiers than ever this year.

The finals, to be held at the show in June, are the most sought-after competitions to take part in for Scottish riders, almost as much so as the HOYS qualifers. The arenas at Ingliston during this show always have a special atmosphere and a lap of honour in front of the crowds wearing a sponsor rug and beautiful rosettes is something to be cherished.

To that end, Highfield of Howe recently hosted some well-filled classes, including the second Young Masters qualifier of the season.

Local rider, Emma Crawford – who has been kept busy producing plenty of young horses – had given her two most experienced horses time off after Olympia. Back out and looking fresh last year’s Young Masters runner-up, Dukes of Hazzard, made it look easy to take the win with stablemate, Ferragamo L, third last year but runner up here, giving Emma the chance to have a crack at the finals for the fourth year in succession.

The Ruby Boutique Amateur qualifier saw one of the fastest jump-offs, where times just kept getting quicker and quicker, with some crazy attempts to finish in the top places.

Lucy Stewart was not going for a place but all out to win when she steered the incredible Cancun round tight into every fence. Everyone held their breath when they met an oxer jumping toward the crowd on a long one and at an angle, but Cancun knew his job, tucked his legs up in all directions and made sure he wasn’t touching a pole with this daring turn one of the reasons they stayed seconds in front of the following riders.

Two whole seconds in arrears was Sophie Maxwell, who has recently returned from a trip down south to the BS Spring Championships where she and Icorland Parisol finished a very creditable fifth in the National Silver League Championship.

Emily Macfarlane, on her own 11-year-old Diamond Discovery-sired gelding, Tharros, only stepped up to 1.2m level towards the end of last year but looked more than capable to slot into third letting Samatha Wiseman on Uptons Kordia settle into the fourth qualifying place.

The RHS Foxhunter asked for accuracy and concentration with the time playing a factor in the first round then just two remaining clear all the way in the jump off. Jumping two quality rounds was Jordan Thompson on Olivia Macdonald-Meyer’s Vangelis S daughter No Snow On Me stopping the clock on 44.82s.

Leo Lorimer opted for a steady clear when both these riders knew a clear would be enough. His time of 53.69s was irrelevant when the big mare Blitzen Ballet left all the fences intact.

Qualifying in third, with four faults, was Charley Hamilton with MHS Loretta Blue in a quick time and in fourth was Alistair Gatherum, also with a pole on the floor on Kyrusa H.

Jordan had a great day collecting two tickets when No Snow On Me took a top four place in the B + C, although this time it was Sandy McLean who scored a one-two with Captain Sharkey and Preben Van De Doornakker, with Moira Young in third on Ragazzo Di Flamenco.

Sandy then travelled onto the Pony of The Year show to contest some young riders classes. With a strong team of horses, including his own and those he rides for QC Sporthorses. He won several classes outright with Gino F and Captain Sharkey, with the latter laying claim to the Under 25 B + C Grand Prix in good company earning him a 'leading rider' award.

Sophie Paxton’s Ignigena Eickenrode thumbed a lift with Sandy and proceeded to be placed in all the B + C classes, with Sophie just narrowly missing out in the Grand Prix when one pole fell. She then headed home to Morris EC to collect an RHS B + C ticket when finishing in fourth.

Winning this class was the on-fire Annabel Shields, who is a regular visitor to Scotland from her Co Durham base. This time she was on board Elgrando PS, but it was at the previous busy Morris three-day show that stood top of the line in an exciting Grand Prix with her evergreen, long term partner, the wonderful Wet Wet Wet, which turns 20 this year.

With both Annabel and her father, Robert, riding under their Hamilton Horses banner, they won at least one class every day, with Robert collecting a Foxhunter ticket on Kamon II.

A lot of nice up and coming horses stood in this line up and should make for an interesting final. Vicky Davidson was second on he lovely Kannan’s Concorde; Logan Creighton had the flashy chestnut stallion, Le Faut in third; and Stephen Lohoar is producing Longlegs, which slotted into fourth.

Second and third in the B + C was James Smith, back from his very successful foreign trip and hungry to qualify as many as possible for the Highland Show. Joyride CMS has been kept ticking over for him by Declan Irvine, slotting into second here, with Jim Wilmer’s big gelding, Wicked Vancouver, fresh and well after a holiday to impress in third.

Jim has been enjoying his show jumping even more recently having horses with various riders and all in the prizes. Alistair Gray wins almost every outing with Tarnside Globetrotter, but has also been picking up the prize money with the chestnut, Larezzo P.

Amy Morris has the nippy Crystalizer and Dee Dee Damour winning and Jim’s daughter, Cara, riding his home-bred Khaleesi, out of the good Irish mare, Killiney, has been winning amateur classes and topping the winter bronze league in her first season against seniors.

Back on the Horse Scotland performance squad for the next two years, Amy Morris, is working hard at her home in the Borders with a team of horses with the more experienced Let’s Hope picking up a Young Masters ticket at Morris.

In the junior sections, Aimee Paxton has already qualified for the 148cm, with Las Vegas also collecting good results at the Pony of The Year show to add to his Scottish Branch title and RHS tickets.

Kengarth Sally Anne travelled to Tillyoch to become North-east champion and qualify, too.

RIHS-qualified Lucy Capper had a strong hand in the 138cm sections with Playboy and Rathcoona James through, but also takes Capability Brown through for the 148cm.

A great atmosphere amongst the juniors at Tillyoch made for an enjoyable show full of qualifiers. Millie Lawson takes two through in the JC/JD qualifier – Orchids Femke and Vagebond – to join Jessica Lawson on Hoofprint Caleb.

Anna Black has Moon Man back out again winning at Muirmill, but collecting a JC/JD ticket at Morris ahead of Marni McMyn on Eye Dior Diva and Imogen Rome with Edern Ace. Charlotte Gaw jumped double clear for her ticket with Parkroe Dundee, at Muirmill, with Beth Stewart also going through on Norbet.

Eleanor Archibald was on form with Bay Friend, at the same venue, but it was with LCS Peachy Beachy she finished third in the JC/JD picking up her first ticket of the season. This time it was Lucy Watson who took the win on her home-produced, gorgeous Millparks Goldie.

Eleven-year-old Sophie Calderwood has been winning with the 148cm Robe Silver Lady but steered the popular and diminutive coloured Dakota, leased from the Lawson family, to assure her place at the Highland in the 128cm. Sophie was beaten on the day by Jessica Lawson on Riverview Sandy.

Another popular pony, My Little Sweetheart, is going well for Jessica Brown getting through for the 128cm jumping clear at Tillyoch.

Lexie Lane is not only heading to the Highland with her 138cm Riot Del Pegulil, but is also reigning 138cm outdoor champion for 2023 thanks to a good win at Muirmill over the Easter weekend.

Micheal McColm travelled to Stainsby Grange for his 148cm ticket on Tobar King, but his other ride, AG Dynamo, is now measured down as a 138cm and qualified from Morris EC behind Lucy Black on Its Bob On.

Myshall Duncan and Rebekka Sutherland have returned to form quickly after a break to pick up an early ticket at Tillyoch behind Gabriel Colquhoun on Oos Paris