Carl Hester produced a powerful, mistake-free performance for 74.32% and third place in the grand prix special at the European championships.

“Yesterday I was riding for the team and I couldn’t risk any mistakes. But today I could go for it,” said Hester.

“Back at Aachen in 2004 I think I finished second to last, but he just keeps surprising me every time. I’ve so enjoyed seeing him improve over the last year,” he said.

Fifth overall after two days of individual qualifying, Hester is in a strong position for tomorrow’s freestyle.

“I’ve got the same music as the world cup and I scored some good marks with it in the qualifiers. But until I’m in the arena I don’t know if I can turn up the gas. And after today’s prize giving he might be very wired as he’s such a sensitive horse,” said Hester.

Fiona Bigwood scored 67.840% also riding for Britain. Bigwood was looking confident with Mr G de Lully, until mistakes in the one-time changes dropped her marks to threes and fours and then a break in the extended trot led to fours and fives. Her temporary score midway through the test had been more than 71%, which would have seen them through to the freestyle tomorrow.

Emma Hindle dropped down to 66,120% in her test after the horse did not perform one piaffe and then missed the last of the one time changes.

“Wie Weltmeyer decided he could not possibly poo and piaffe at the same time, so he just didn’t,” explained team chef d’equipe David Trott.

Anky van Grunsven won the grand prix special with Keltec Salinero. The pair went ahead with 76,160% but could not retain yesterday’s form.

“He was nervous in the ring and almost took off coming past the cameraman. He’s unbelievable though because even though I could feel he was scared he still doesn’t want to make any mistakes,” she said.

Even with a tense Salinero, who lost marks in the piaffe and was sometimes a little short in the neck, Anky was still unbeatable.

Second were Germany’s Hubertus Schmidt and Wansuela Suerte who improved on yesterday’s score for 75,720%.

“When she’s going like this every step is under control,” said Schmidt.

Bronze for Spain and Sweden

In the team competition Sweden has been awarded a bronze medal in addition to that claimed by Spain.

Team Sweden did not make an appeal against the decision to award Spain the bronze medal. But, in the interests of sportsmanship, Spain’s team chef d’equipe Bobby Bobadilla requested on behalf of the Spanish Equestrian Federation that the bronze medal be awarded to Sweden as well as Spain.

The FEI upheld the Spanish request and announced Sweden the joint bronze medallists. In an emotional ceremony today, the Spanish team presented the Swedish riders with their awards. Spain was also awarded the Trophy For Fair Play at the ceremony.

The bronze medal was previously awarded to Spain because FEI rules state that, in the event of a tie, the scores of the third riders within each team will decide the result. Third rider Louise Nathorst of Sweden scored 68.625% whilst Ignacio Rambla of Spain scored 69.500%.