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The 90cm class at the Horse & Hound Grassroots Eventing Championships couldn’t be any closer after the cross-country phase.

Kelsey Love and Castle House Gem completed the course in a time of five-minutes 24 seconds, finishing three seconds inside the optimum time. Her nearest rivals, Tinky Morris and Snow who were on the same dressage score of 25.5 as Kelsey, were one second quicker, but that put them further away from the optimum time and were therefore relegated into second place.

“My friend warned me beforehand that I needed to bear in mind the fact that I needed to finish close to the optimum time in case there was a tie of scores,” explained 19-year-old Kelsey, who rides full-time, specialising in retraining racehorses. “I’m glad I listened to her now!”

Kelsey purchased ‘Ruby’, who is a 13-year-old throughbred X Cleveland Bay chestnut mare, in October 2015.

“She hadn’t evented prior to me buying her,” said Kelsey. “When we first took her out at affiliated BE80(T) level, she had a fear of water, but one day everything clicked and she’s now a cross-country machine.”

The combination are now hoping to step up to BE100 and qualify for the BE90 Badminton Mitsubishi Cup in 2018.

“I walked the cross-country course three times before we went round today, and thankfully it’s paid off,” said Kelsey, who is based in Eye, Suffolk. “I really liked the course — there’s was plenty of variety and it was up to height.”

Kelsey is quietly confident ahead of the final showjumping phase tomorrow.

“Ruby’s a good jumper, and as long as I leave her alone, we should be OK,” explained Kelsey. “But the pressure is on!”

Don’t miss next week’s issue of Horse & Hound for a full report from the Horse & Hound Grassroots Eventing Championships