Britain slip to third place as France take title

Mary Gordon Watson sees home riders fail to capitalise on ideal conditions
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The Independent Online

The European Young Riders' Championship for show jumping, dressage and eventing, which has drawn nearly 200 riders from 16 nations to Hartpury in Gloucestershire, saw France take the team show jumping title ahead of Ireland and Great Britain.

The European Young Riders' Championship for show jumping, dressage and eventing, which has drawn nearly 200 riders from 16 nations to Hartpury in Gloucestershire, saw France take the team show jumping title ahead of Ireland and Great Britain.

The two rounds, jumped in ideal conditions over a straight-forward course, produced a fair contest. Britain's Richard Davenport went clear in the first round and in the second, added just one mistake for a total of four faults with Grand Marnier. Grace Barton, in form in the first round on Mace Park Valhalla with a clear round, collected 12 faults in the second, while Louise Whitaker recovered from a poor performance in the individual qualifier with just one mistake in each round. Jackson Reed-Stephenson on Baileys Pion, whose first round for eight was the discard score, faulted twice to leave the team third after an exciting contest.

The British dressage team achieved a creditable bronze medal on Friday behind Holland and Germany. They are on the up-grade, but the event riders faired less well in their dressage phase of the three-day event in last of the eight teams. They then went into the cross country attacking. Sadly, their first rider, and pathfinder for the entire competition, Tor Brewer, had a run-out at a difficult corner fence. They continued but her horse, Nuit St George, finished lame and will not appear for today's show jumping phase, leaving just three team members.

Despite a fall and refusal for the last of these to ride Cressida Clague-Reading with Arden Beverley Westwood, the team finished in second place behind Sweden, after good rounds by Isla Johnson-Wells on Park Preview (they stand 11th individually).

But without Brewer's score, they will be in bronze position and 94.8 penalties behind Sweden going into today's show jumping and they will need a miracle to maintain Britain's unbeaten record on home territory in these championships for 18 to 21-year-olds, which they last won when it was held in Blenheim in 1994 and on three previous occasions since it started in 1981.

In the individual order, Swedish rider, Katrin Norling, finished on her dressage score of 53.2, contributing greatly to her team's leading position. Ireland's William Clarke stands second with 56.2, followed by Polish rider, Dawid Rakoczy riding Biskwit. Rhian Smith from Bedfordshire rode a dashing round on Bush Powder to finish on her dressage score, 61.6, which pulled her up from 38th position to eighth. The best performance by a British team rider was Isla Johnson-Wells, who goes into today's show jumping in 11th place.

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