For the first time in 40 years, The Netherlands beat Germany at the European dressage championships held in Turin, Italy (30 August – 2 September).

Top performances from Hans Peter Minderhoud (Exquis Nadine), Imke Schellekens-Bartels (Hunter Douglas Sunrise) and Anky van Grunsven (Salinero, pictured right) were enough to put the pressure on Germany’s Isabell Werth, who was the last to go.

Isabell needed 78% on Satchmo in order for Germany to win again, but they fell short of this with 76.71% after a mistake in the first trot half-pass in an otherwise solid performance.

Anky said: “We thought before we came here that team gold was a possibility. We had a really good team and apart from Laurens [van Lieren — the drop score with 68.54%] we had no real mistakes. You have to have no mistakes if you want to beat Germany.”

Isabell Werth added: “It was very close and I’m sorry we lost gold, but The Netherlands have been fighting for this medal for a long time — congratulations to them. Today it is their show and tomorrow is another day.”

Britain finished in fifth place, meaning they have qualified for the Olympics in Hong Kong 2008.

Laura Bechtolsheimer was best of the Brits riding Mistral Hojris to 69.583%, despite a mistake in the one-time changes. Their highlights were the passage and extensions. Team-mate Emma Hindle scored a respectable 68.042%, but also had a mistake in the one-time changes, plus the canter zig-zag.

All four British riders finished in the top 30 and so are through to tomorrow’s grand prix special (1 September).

The fight for bronze was close and Sweden took the honours, finishing 3% ahead of Britain. Switzerland just pipped Britain to fourth place by 0.3% after a stunning 74.58% test by Silvia Ikle and Salieri, who scored consistent nines for their piaffe/passage tour.

The Danes fought hard but their top rider, Andreas Helgstrand, was missing his world medallist Blue Hors Matine. He scored 70.25% on the eight-year-old Gredstedgaards Casmir, but the team still had to settle for sixth place and so do not qualify for Hong Kong.

Individuals are still able to qualify, with riders being selected from the world rankings until all the places are filled.

Don’t miss the full report from the European dressage championships in next week’s Horse & Hound (6 September)

Team result

GOLD: The Netherlands 222.083
SILVER: Germany 220.792
BRONZE: Sweden 208.000
FIFTH PLACE: Britain 205.042