A clear round inside the optimum time secured the overnight top spot for Doriel Watson and her own Claude II in the Horse & Hound Festival of Eventing 100cm section.
The pair were lying sixth after dressage on a score of 30.25, climbing five places to take the lead after cross-country.
This was Claude’s first time at 100cm level, but the “opinionated Irish cob” proved unphased by the bigger fences and stormed around Angus Smales’ Keysoe course to finish one second inside the optimum time of six minutes 26 seconds.
“It is very unexpected — he never ceases to amaze me,” said Doriel, who works as a riding instructor at Trent Park Equestrian Centre in north London.
“Jumping the fences is the easy part, but he can be quite nappy and I have to ride him a bit like I stole him out of the start box.
“I thought it was a really good, inviting course with enough questions with enough questions, but nothing that was designed to terrify the horse or rider at that level.”
Doriel has had Claude for three years and the pair have also enjoyed success at British Eventing 80cm and 90cm level.
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Snapping at the combination’s heels are Katy Mousdale and Not The Dun Thing in second, who are 0.4 penalties behind Doriel and Claude.
Stacey Page and Armarni Lad added nothing to their dressage score of 31.25 to rise from ninth after dressage to third ahead of tomorrow’s showjumping phase.
Dressage leaders Sophie Wall and Primitive Pronto jumped a confident clear, however a costly 6.8 time faults for going too fast dropped them down to 14th place after cross-country.
The 100cm section will conclude the 2018 Horse & Hound Festival of Eventing, run in association with KBIS, tomorrow.
The first combination is set to start at 3.55pm, with the winner due to be decided by 5pm.
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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