The British team is in fourth place overnight at the European dressage championships in Turin, Italy (30 August-2 September). Germany lead, with The Netherlands snapping at their heels and Sweden just ahead of the British.

Britain’s Anna Ross-Davies made a strong championship team debut on Donald McTaggart’s Liebling, being in sixth place with 67.42% after day one of the grand prix team competition.

Team-mate Fiona Bigwood’s 14-year-old Mr G de Lully was affected by sneezing throughout his test and had mistakes in the walk and two-time changes, leaving him with 65.17%.

Team selector Judy Harvey said: “Anna was under a lot of pressure here, but she did a great job. Fiona was unlucky because she didn’t have enough time around the arena before having to start her test.

“The most important thing is that we qualify for the 2008 Olympics and we’re still in with a really good shot of that.”

The team need to finish in the top five here to qualify. Our remaining riders, Laura Bechtolsheimer (Mistral Hojris) and Emma Hindle (Lancet), will compete tomorrow, after which the team medals will be decided.

Judy added: “We have our two top combinations in tomorrow. We’ve learnt a few things having watched the competition today — like the best route around the arena to settle the horses before they go in, which is important for Laura’s horse as he can be nervous. They need enough time to get used to the arena.”

The last competitor to go today, Ellen Schulten-Baumer, put Germany into the lead after an impressive 71.67% test with no big mistakes. The Netherlands’ Hans Peter Mindhoud had previously led from second draw with 70.46% on Exquis Nadine. Germany’s Monica Theodorescu is in third on Whisper — their stunning performance was only marred by errors in the tempi-changes and a walk/passage transition.

Provisional results after day one of the team competition:

1. Donatha S (E Schulten-Baumer) (GER) 71.67%
2. Exquis Nadine (H P Minderhoud) (NED) 70.46%
3. Whisper (M Theodorescu) (GER) 69.88%
4. Hexagons Ollright (L van Lieren) (NED) 68.54%
5. Isidor (L Nathhorst) (SWE) 67.75%
6. Liebling II (A Ross-Davies) 67.42%

1. GERMANY (3393)
3. SWEDEN (3324)