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Cilla Perchard managed to hold onto her overnight dressage lead at the Horse & Hound Grassroots Eventing Championships at Keysoe in the 80cm class riding Urgo.

The pair finished just two seconds over the optimum time to pick up 0.8 time-faults, meaning they have a two-phase score of 28.55.

“I was so pleased with how ‘Nero’ went across country today,” said Cilla, who runs a livery yard in Jersey. “I was slightly worried about the water complex at fence 10 and the ditch later on in the course beforehand, but I needn’t have been.”

Of course, hailing from Jersey, Cilla and her horses (she is competing another in the same class) had to make a monster journey to Keysoe in Bedfordshire in order to compete.

“It takes 11 hours on the boat to get to mainland Britain, and then it took another three or four hours by road once we were on dry land,” explained Cilla. “As it’s such a long way, Surah (four-star event rider) and Brett Bullimore allowed us to base ourselves at their yard when we arrived early in order to let the horses have enough time to recover from their trip. They have both been so kind, as have their yard staff, and a great help at the event itself — it felt a bit strange having an international event rider washing my horse down at the end of the cross-country!”

Nero, a 14-year-old warmblood by Negro, was a catch ride for Cilla, after his usual rider and owner, Inga Edinburgh, a friend and client of Cilla’s fell pregnant.

“I’ve never competed Nero before, and Jersey doesn’t really have any cross-country facilities, but when I saw this championship first advertised, I thought we should give it a go,” explained Cilla who used the sea to fitten up her horses. “Nero only started jumping a couple of years ago, bu he’s fantastic.”

Cilla thanked her helper Gail Liron. “I couldn’t have competed this week without her,” she said.

Talking of her hopes and chances of holding onto top spot in the final phase, the showjumping tomorrow (29 May), Cilla wasn’t getting ahead of herself.

“We have no idea how Nero will perform tomorrow as it’s a bit like going into the unknown with him, but fingers crossed and we’ll see,” said Cilla.

Second place is held by Honor Gordon riding Made Of Gold. They are on a score of 31.

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