Britain’s attempt to win a seventh consecutive European Championship team gold medal got off to a flying start when all the British horses passed the first trot-up this afternoon at Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy.

Daisy Dick (pictured) and Spring Along will be the first combination to do dressage for the British team, with Oliver Townend (Flint Curtis) doing his test tomorrow too.

Reigning European and World Champion Zara Phillips (Toytown) will do her test on Friday, with Mary King (Call Again Cavalier) filling the anchorman slot as the last team member.

The British individuals are Georgie Davies (Fachoudette) and Rodney Powell (Langarth Darcy).

Britain’s strongest rival in the team competition will probably be Germany, the gold medallist at last year’s World Equestrian Games.

Frank Ostholt is likely to lead the German team’s effort, and he can dream of an individual medal too after the recent good form of his Aachen CIC*** winner Air Jordan 2.

He is joined in the team by the consistent Hinrich Romeike and Marius Voigt-Logistik, Ingrid Klimke, with the talented but inexperienced FRH Butts Abraxxas, and Peter Thomsen and The Ghost Of Hamish, 10th at Badminton this year. Ingrid is first to go for the German team.

Germany’s first-phase specialist Bettina Hoy rides as an individual this time, having not had many runs this year. But the 1997 European Champion should be in the hunt for the individual medals with Ringwood Cockatoo.

Apart from the fight for medals, a fierce sub-battle is likely to develop among those countries still trying for Olympic qualification. The top two teams, excluding those European nations already qualified at last year’s World Equestrian Games (Germany, Britain and Sweden), will qualify for Hong Kong.

France will be the favourite to take one of those spots, with Italy, Ireland and Belgium among the eight countries battling it out for the other one.

Click here to visit the European Eventing Championship website

Click on any of the British riders names to read a profile of them

Log back on to www.horseandhound.co.uk for daily updates from Pratoni, and don’t miss Horse & Hound next Thursday (20 September) for a full report and colour photographs.