It was a day of ups and downs for Britain’s young rider European eventing team on cross-country day at Millstreet, Ireland today (22 July).

Dressage leader, Sam Ecroyd, needed to jump a clear round but unfortunately came to grief at the second water, riding Tallaher Sunrise. Twenty-year-old Sam was last out on course for the British team, and a clear round inside the optimum time wouldn’t just have meant that he would maintain his individual lead, but the team would narrowly jump into gold medal position too. Sadly it wasn’t meant to be and Sam fell off when his horse whipped left-handed at a water cascade rail (pictured top, jumped by Alex Kennedy).

“The sun decided to come out for the first time this week as I started my round,” explained a gutted Sam, who had also been held for an hour at the start following falls on course. “My horse spooked and I came off.”

Germany’s Hannah Knüppel put in a fast and clear cross-country round on Carismo 22, to rise from second into first, while Ireland’s Susie Berry put in a great round on Morswood to finish in second, despite collecting 2.8 time-faults.They are on a score of 41.2.

“He was very good,” said Susie, who is based with Piggy French in Britain. “I accidentally stopped my watch half-way round which didn’t help and then he hit a bit of a wall so I nursed him home.”

Susie is 5.2 penalties behind Hanna, but the German had two fences down at last year’s championships, so it is all still to play for.

Best of the Brits is young rider debutante Alex Kennedy (pictured), who rode from sixth to third on Lissangle Cavaletto B, to wind up just 0.1 of a penalty behind Susie. The pair flew around the testing course, designed by Mike Etherington-Smith, to finish bang on the optimum time of 8 minutes 49 seconds.

“My horse was incredible,” smiled Alex, who is second rider to British eventer Mille Dumas. “It was like he knew where he was going. There was no room for faffing on the course and you had to be awake the whole way. I’m pleased it’s over but I’d now happily do it all again!”

British team pathfinder, Katie Bleloch, is in 12th riding Bulano, thanks again to a speedy clear.

“He was so straight and there wasn’t one hairy moment, which is a nice thing to have achieved,” said Katie.

Felicity Collins has risen some 23 places to 15th, after a classy round on the eight-year-old RSH Contend OR.

“He was so strong but he answered every question,” said Felicity who was physically exhausted after piloting her keen horse around the track. “I’m so proud of him.”

Individual riders Libby Seed (Philanderer) and Lizzie Baugh (Quarry Man) also enjoyed two good rounds.

Lizzie incurred 1.6 time-faults to wind up in 17th.

“He was awesome, especially as I’ve only had him for six months,” explained Lizzie. “I was told to attack the course and that’s exactly what I did.”

Libby finished spot on the optimum time but was awarded 20 penalties after a wobble at a corner at fence 14b.

“We got to the bottom of the first part after we had been held before the fence,” explained Libby of the youngest son by Jumbo and who still does stallion duties at West Kington Stud. “So I put in a wiggle to give us more time to get to the corner, but we definitely didn’t cross our tracks.”

Although being contested, the penalties still stood after the cross-country, but they were later taken away, putting Lizzie into 11th.

The team standings have all changed. Reigning champions France, who were leading, have dropped to seventh after a day of refusals, falls and time-faults.

Germany added just 0.6 of a penalty to their dressage score to end up in gold medal position on 125.7. The Netherlands has risen from fourth to second to lie on 127.9, while Britain has maintained their bronze medal position, finishing today on a score of 142.3. They have more than a 25 penalty lead over Ireland in fourth.

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The young rider showjumping begins at 2pm tomorrow following the final horse inspection.

Keep up-to-date with all the action from the championships at horseandhound.co.uk, plus don’t miss the full report in Horse & Hound magazine, out on 27 July.