Things couldn’t have gone any better for Great Britain’s eventers on cross-country day at the junior European eventing championships in Millstreet, Ireland today (22 July) with all six riders jumping clear inside the optimum time.
Isabelle (Bubby) Upton (pictured top and below) had it all to lose riding Eros DHI, after a dressage test that put her almost six penalties ahead of her nearest rival in second place. Riding her mother’s eight-year-old, Bubby flew around the Mike Etherington-Smith designed course, finishing clear and 15 seconds inside the optimum time of 8 minutes 11 seconds to maintain her lead.
“‘Ero’ was amazing and so straight the whole way,” smiled Bubby. “We were cruising and I had to steady him a bit to the last as we were so up on the time. We had a bit of a sticky moment at the first water where I got my stick out to give him some encouragement and he ended up leaping off the drop and we almost didn’t make the turn out to the angled duck. But after that I said to him, ‘come on, we’ve got to get on with this’ and he was just unbelievable.”
Germany’s Gesa Staas holds her second place with St Stacy, while her fellow countryman, Emma Brüssau is in third with Donnerstag 20.
Phoebe Locke is in fifth with Union Fortunas. She said that she has “no problems” despite her horse only measuring 15.2hh.
Team pathfinder, Richard Coney, is in seventh with Kananaskis, while final team member Imogen White is in 14th with Emill.
“He’s so spooky, but is really clever and an old hand at his job,” said a jubilant Imogen. “I love him to pieces and he was so straight and on it.”
Individual riders Holly Needham and Sasha Hargreaves both enjoyed their team GB debuts, cruising round on Strike A Pose and Playtime to finish in 21st and 31st respectively.
“I never dreamed we would be here,” said Holly. “My horse pulled from the start and we really did fly.”
In the team competition, the top three teams remain unchanged from the dressage.
Germany lead on 95.2, while Britain are in silver medal position, not too far behind on 102.7. France are in third on a score of 136.
The showjumping commences after the trot-up at 11am.
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.