GEMMA Tattersall claimed her first British Open title after a thrilling finish to the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park in Gloucestershire.

In doing so, Sussex-based Tattersall not only collected a £16,000 top prize, she also extended her overall lead to 13 points after five legs of the Event Rider Masters Series.

Tattersall, who is part of the Great Britain team for the European Championships in Poland later this month, clocked the competition’s quickest cross-country time aboard Arctic Soul, with Sweden’s Ludwig Svennerstal finishing second on Balham Mist and rising British star Alexander Bragg third with Zagreb.

Paying tribute to 14-year-old gelding Arctic Soul, Tattersall said: “He is extra special. He is, I think, the best cross-country horse in the world.

“He is so versatile, and we both went for it today. Every stride and every fence we saw together.

“It was a tough course, but he is a very experienced horse now. He knows his job.

“I have always dreamt of being British national champion. I was third here in 2010, and that was such a massive boost to my career. It was when people first really started noticing me.”

Yorkshireman Oliver Townend, one of Tattersall’s Great Britain team-mates for the Europeans, won his fourth British intermediate title when he guided former racehorse Khoi Traveller to victory, climbing the leaderboard from 33rd place after dressage.

Townend’s superb cross-country round saw him finish ahead of Matthew Heath and Sportsfield Lord Livesey, with Tom McEwen and Royal Roxy taking third.

“Four days ago, I wasn’t going to bring him (Khoi Traveller) here because he came late to eventing and I thought his dressage was a little bit behind,” Townend said.

The British novice crown went to Ben Hobday on Shadow Man II, a combination that led after dressage and remained on top of the pile despite a strong challenge from former world number one William Fox-Pitt and The Graduate.