Robert Murphy riding Newbridges Chablis brought the Voltaire Design Under 25 British Championships Final to a thrilling close as the only rider who could beat the early challenging target set by Harry Charles, who pulled off a brilliantly accurate round on Vivaldi du Dom.
This prestigious class, which has been won by the likes of Scott Brash and Jessica Mendoza, attracted a particularly strong field this year, many of them the sons and daughters of well-known horsemen such as Michael Whitaker, Graham Fletcher, Mike Saywell, Duncan Inglis, Peter Charles, the late Tim Stockdale and Badminton Horse Trials course-designer Eric Winter.
However, the best was saved until last. At just 18, Robert, the son of former leading jumper Peter Murphy, was one of the youngest in the class and he set a scorching pace, confidently taking out strides and turning on a sixpence, to snatch the win from Harry by 0.5 seconds.
“There were a few options, but you had to take risks – I tried to mimic Harry’s round,” explained Robert, who was presented with the Tim Stockdale Trophy in memory of the popular rider who died last month.
Last year, Newbridges Chablis hit three fences, but Robert, whose aim for 2019 is to get into the Young Rider team, explained: “He’s quite a sensitive horse and he didn’t settle well in the stable, but he’s had some more mileage since then and things were quite different this time.”
Harry, 21, has had a brilliant year, winning the Young Rider European title, making his senior Nations Cup debut with a double clear and winning a couple of international classes. “I know my horse inside out. He’s not the quickest, but he’s super careful and this jump-off track really played to his strengths.”
Eight riders went through to the jump-off. Jodie Hall McAteer’s spirited challenge on Fantom, clear in 31.1 seconds, was good enough for third place.