Tullaher Sunrise, the mount of British rider Sam Ecroyd, needed to score a personal best in the dressage at the young rider European eventing championships in Millstreet, Ireland today (21 July) to take the lead, and that is just what he did.
“He’s never done a test like it,” said 20-year-old Sam of ‘Carlow’, a nine-year-old owned by Sam’s mother, Penny, who scored 35.7 (76.18%). “He’s good at dressage, but the team both at home and at these championships have put so much work into him to make the marginal gains we needed to produce a mark like that, and we couldn’t have done it without them.”
The last few riders to go in the first phase were snapping at Sam’s heels, but none could quite get in front of him.
Third-placed Frenchman, Victor Levecque, looked like he could take a commanding lead over Sam, but four small mistakes dropped him and his horse, RNH MC Ustinov, down to a score of 38.3.
Hannah Knüppel and Carismo 22, of Germany, again came close to Sam, but had to settle for second at this stage of the competition on a score of 36.
Ireland’s Susie Berry, who is based in England with Piggy French, produced a very consistent test on Morswood to slot into fourth place on 38.4.
The next best-placed Brit is fellow team rider Alex Kennedy, who is currently lying in sixth riding Lissangle Cavaletto B, on a score of 41.3. British individual rider, Lizzie Baugh, is 26th on 47.7 riding Quarry Man, while team member Katie Bleloch is 28th on 48.3 riding Bulano. Final team rider, Felicity Collins, did a good job on a tense-looking RSH Contendor to score 52.7, but was understandably disappointed with her mark which leaves her in 38th. The final individual rider for Britain is Libby Seed and Philanderer, who sit in 35th on 52.2.
France lead the team competition on 121, some 4.1 penalties clear of second-placed Germany, with Britain closely behind in bronze medal position on a score of 125.3. Ireland are in fifth on 136.2, behind the Netherlands.
Weather conditions were poor all day, with torrential rain falling throughout the afternoon session of dressage, which could play a huge part in the cross-country tomorrow.
Sam Ecroyd said: “It’s a proper championship cross-country track, and it won’t be a dressage competition, particularly with the weather we’ve had today and the impact it could have on the ground. When I walked the course this morning, I thought it could take more rain, but we’ve had an awful lot of it, so we will have to wait and see.”
The young rider cross-country follows on from the junior competition and will start at 2pm.