A winter of dressage paid off for Horse & Hound Festival of Eventing’s overnight 100cm leaders Sophie Wall and Primitive Pronto.

The pair performed a smooth test for a mark of 29, including eights for their centre lines, and were one of just three combinations in the section to perform sub-30 tests on the first day of the three-day-event (26-28 May), run in association with KBIS.

Sophie, a student at Northumbia University, has been competing in British Dressage Team Quest competitions over the winter.

Sophie said she was “very chuffed” with her horse and didn’t expect to be leading after the first phase.

“He isn’t a spooky horse and he just listens when he gets into the arena,” said Sophie, adding while he was surprised to see so many people, the atmosphere didn’t phase her “gentle giant”.

“It was boiling in the warm-up, so I only did 10 minutes and took him for a walk up the lane.”

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Sophie has had the 16.3hh 11-year-old gelding, by Primitive Proposal, for five years and enjoyed success at British Eventing 100 and novice level.

There is no room for error on Keysoe’s cross-country course tomorrow, with three penalties separating the top-10.

Close on Sophie’s heels is Zara Harrison and Ballynacarrick Rebel Lad , on 29.5, with Kelsey Love and Castle House Gem in third on 29.75.

Angus Smales’ 3,055m course features 23 jumping efforts, with an optimum time of 6 minutes 26 seconds.

“There is a lot of galloping, so it will be a fitness test,” said Sophie, adding she hopes the course will suit Primitive Pronto.

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The full report from the H&H Festival of Eventing in Horse & Hound will be in this week’s issue of the magazine — on sale Thursday, 7 June and follow online at www.horseandhound.co.uk