Drama on cross-country day at the European three-day event championships, but British team are looking good

Great Britain is still leading the European three-day event championships at Pau, France, after a predictably dramatic cross-country day.

France, the home team, is 21 penalties behind, while the bronze medal is likely to be a tussle between the third-placed Italian team, having their best championships for many years, and Germany, who are 19 penalties behind in fourth.

The withdrawal of the overnight individual leader Ingrid Klimke, whose horse Robinson’s Concord, was found to be lame in the D-box, left the way open for the defending champion, Pippa Funnell, to take the top spot.

After a brilliant cross-country round on a course which was certainly not tailor-made for a big horse like Supreme Rock, Pippa has a fence in hand over a closely-bunched group of riders. They include Heidi Antikatzides, Pippa’s team-mate William Fox-Pitt, German anchorwoman Bettina Hoy, her team-mate Inken Johnanssen, Spaniard Enrique Sarasola, French anchorman Didier Courreges and French individual Michel Bouquet.

Jeanette Brakewell proved, yet again, a cool pathfinder for Great Britain, but Leslie Law ran into trouble at the first water complex when Shear H20 landed slowly over the angled trough and could not get the four strides he needed to the bank out. He then ran out again, at the second water complex,when this time he got to close to the exit.

William Fox-Pitt, drafted into the team at the last minute and somewhat dismayed to find himself in the high-pressure anchorman slot, rode brilliantly on the enigmatic Stunning, another horse to have a known problem with water. Wisely, he took the slow route out of the second water knowing that the former New Zealand racehorse would get the time.

France lost their number three when Rodolphe Scherer’s stallion Quack was withdrawn lame from the D-box, but the other three riders, most notably Frederic De Romblay, who had a stunning round on Baba Au Rhum, 10th, rode fast and clear, if somewhat untidy, rounds.

The Italian disappointment was Fabio Magni¨s fall in the first water complex and subsequent stop at the influential double of narrow houses on two hillocks at 10, but the rest of the team went well.

The two German male riders both had difficult rounds: Andreas Dibowski had his first ever cross-country faults with Ginger, two stops at 10, and Bodo Battenburg had a near unseating and subsequent run-out at the bounce into the first water and then parted company with Sam The Man on top of the bank of the second water.

Two horses died. Swiss rider Jennifer Eicher’s Okeechobee suffered a suspected aneurism and collapsed on the course; the first Irish team rider Ann Hatton had a fall in the second water complex when Monatrea Bert fell backwards off the bank.

The horse appeared to have damaged a hind leg and was put down at the local veterinary hospital.

Click here to read results after dressage and cross-country phases.