Gert Schrivers of Belgium took the lead on the first day of dressage in the 2006 World Four-in-Hand Driving Champions at the World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany.

Schrivers, 43, a harnessmaker from Oostmalle, and his interestingly-bred black Arab cross Friesian four-in-hand scored an impressive 46.21pen to finish at the top of the first half of the championship contenders. Germany’s Christoph Sandmann is currently lying in silver medal position on a score of 46.59 ahead of Sweden’s Jan-Eric Pahlsson in the bronze spot on 53.50.

Unfortunately, Britain’s Karen Bassett had a disastrous start to the championships as the leaders in her Trakhener four-in-hand refused to settle into their work and broke pace persistently throughout the test. Karen had a torrid time and the performance was well below par, resulting in a disappointing 80.13pen.

Fellow British Team member, Dick Lane made the most of the experience and looked as if he was enjoying himself, as he always does when driving his four grey Lippizaners, but fared only slightly better in the eyes of the judges with a score of 67.07pen.

Few of the medal favourites appeared on the first day and the top drivers such as three-times world champion, Ysbrand Chardon, of the Netherlands, Zoltan Lazar of Hungary and the home favourite Michael Freund of Germany will perform their dressage tomorrow. George Bowman, who is leading the British team once again in his 16th world championships, will drive his dressage at 13.11 tomorrow afternoon toward the end of the order.

Read the driving reports in full in next week’s Horse & Hound (7 September)