Britain leads the Nations Cup at Boekelo, the Netherlands, after today’s cross-country (Saturday, 8 October) shook up the leaderboard.

Team GBR held third after dressage, but Sue Benson’s cross-country track proved influential and it was all change at the top.

Oliver Townend got Britain off to a good start with a clear and just 2.4 time-faults with Cooley SRS. This performance left him fifth individually and best of the Brits at the end of the day.

Second team rider Flora Harris had a fall at fence 5ab, two tables on a 90-degree turn, with her 2015 Bramham CCI3* winner. This put the pressure on the last two British competitors, but both delivered.

Laura Collett had 3.6 time-penalties on the inexperienced Mr Bass, but was appealing her time-faults as she and British chef d’equipe Philip Surl believed she was five seconds inside the 10 minute 50 second optimum, as did performance manager Yogi Breisner. However, the penalties remain on the leaderboard at present, which puts Laura 13th individually — should they be removed, she will move up to ninth. (Read about the outcome of this appeal)

Only eight pairs went inside the time today and Izzy Taylor had the equal fastest round on Trevidden, moving up from 22nd after dressage to sixth.

Two Aussie falls

Australia were the dressage leaders, but falls for both Paul Tapner (Bonza King Of Rouges) and Sammi Birch (Hunter Valley II) put paid to their team chances. The only Australian who remains in the top echelons is Sam Griffiths, now 10th on Beaurepaire Nemo. Emma Dougall, fifth after dressage, dropped out of contention after a run-out at fence 11b on Fernhill Tabasco.

“It’s disappointing because it was my error not his — he was very good and didn’t deserve it,” she said.

The German team, second after dressage, had a mixed day and slipped down to fourth in the Nations Cup after pathfinder Anna Siemer had a fall at fence 7b with Chloe 21 and Ben Leuwer (NZB Port Royal) incurred two run-outs at skinnies, including at 7c. Fence 7abc, which consisted of three triple brush arrowheads on an S-bend with no alternatives, proved extremely influential.

However, Germany’s other two riders hold two of the top three spots individually. Stephanie Böhe, seventh after dressage, now sits in first place with her recent Waregem CIC3* winner Haytom after stopping the clock at 10 minutes 33 seconds, the same time as Izzy Taylor.

“I had respect for the course, but I wasn’t nervous,” said 23-year-old Stephanie, who was the penultimate rider on course. “He’s a big character and really motivated — he loves cross-country so much.”

Andreas Dibowski was also fault-free today and moved up from 10th to third with the experienced FRH Butts Avedon.

The USA’s Lauren Kieffer is sandwiched between the two Germans in second, her 2.4 time-faults on Rio reserve horse Meadowbrook’s Scarlett costing her the lead.

“I’ve had her since she was four and we have quite a partnership — I really trust her,” said Lauren, the last rider to go. “Going last gave me the opportunity to see what was and wasn’t working.”

Mark Todd holds fourth for New Zealand with the grey Kiltubrid Rhapsody, who had 4.4 time-penalties today.

“He’s quite a new ride to me — I’ve not had him that long,” said Mark. “It’s his first long format three-star and he’s not thoroughbred so I was a bit unsure how he’d cope. The twisty course didn’t suit him — he’s too slow to turn and too slow to get away from fences — but he was very good and kept galloping all the way to the finish.”

Toddy is also spearheading the New Zealand team effort — they are in third, with the Netherlands in second place. Britain has a 26-penalty lead ahead of tomorrow’s showjumping, but there is only 2.6 penalties between the home side and the Kiwis.

Continued below…

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Britain’s dressage leader Bella Innes Ker had a smooth round with Carolyn at the pair’s first CCI3* together, but they incurred 14.4 time-faults to drop to 16th.

Three riders were taken off course in ambulances today. Germany’s Anna Siemer remains in hospital for observation, while Dutch rider Jordy Wilken was taken to hospital after his fall at the rolltop at fence 20, but then discharged. Italy’s Pietro Sandei, who fell on landing at fence three in the arena near the end of the day, was taken off course in the ambulance but did not need to go to hospital. There were no serious horse injuries.

Full report from Boekelo in H&H next week, out Thursday, 13 October.