Great Britain have finished fourth at the European Dressage Championships, having lost out on the bronze medal by an agonising two points.

As predicted, Germany scooped gold with an incredible 13-point margin — such was the strength of their early lead that they had the gold in the bag before the final German rider, world number one Isabell Werth, had even entered the arena. But she and the 12-year-old Don Schufro mare Weihegold OLD pulled off a flawless performance, scoring a whopping 83.74%.

The battle for silver and bronze was much closer, coming down to the final riders for Denmark, Sweden and Britain.

Carl Hester and Nip Tuck produced an excellent test under intense pressure for Britain, scoring 74.9%. The only blip came as ‘Barney’ left a leg and lost balance in his rein-back at C.

But it wasn’t quite enough, as Cathrine Dufour and Atterupgaards Cassidy posted 78.3% to elevate Denmark to silver, and Patrik Kittel’s 73.85% with Delaunay was enough to secure bronze for Sweden. The Netherlands finished fifth, behind Britain.

We’re just a snip off bronze and obviously I’m gutted for the team, but on the other hand you have to look at the sport as a whole — Denmark and Sweden haven’t won a medal in a long time, and this is really healthy for the sport,” said Carl, diplomatically.

“Things haven’t really gone our way all along, especially with losing Gareth — that was a real blow. But fourth is by no means a disaster — it just feels a little different to be going home without a team medal.”

This is the first year since 2009 that Britain have not won a team medal at a dressage championship. But all three British team members have the chance to compete for an individual medal, having all qualified for the special, which begins at 10.45 BST on Friday.

Don’t miss the 31 August issue of Horse & Hound, with full reports, analysis and expert commentary from the dressage, para dressage and showjumping European Championships in Gothenburg.