Three British riders finished in the top 10 at NAF Saumur CCI3*, France, with Oliver Townend improving on his fourth place after dressage on Fenyas Elegance to take third. Mathieu Lemoine (pictured) beat his compatriot Astier Nicolas into second place, the pair having held those positions from the outset.

“She’s an exceptional mare,” said Oliver, who must have caught the selectors’ eyes ahead of the European Championships. “The French boys did a great job, and the winner has been particularly impressive in every phase.”

Nana Dalton’s double clear with Abbeylara Prince secured sixth, a significant rise from 21st after dressage, while Emily Llewellyn’s belief in Worldy Du Hans was confirmed in ninth.

“I saw him in France a year ago and wanted to have him, so we persuaded the owners to sell,” said Emily, who knocked just one part of the treble. “He’s done everything I’ve asked and more.”

Oliver Townend produced a remarkable display on Fenyas Elegance, given that the mare has only been in his yard a fortnight. Having brushed aside the disappointment of his other horse Note Worthy being eliminated after finishing fifth in the dressage, Oliver steamed round the cross-country with the chestnut mare.

She is a real professional, and tries so hard,” said Oliver.

So often we have seen Oliver on a less-than-careful showjumper, but Fenyas Elegance looks the real deal. She pinged round a troublesome track to keep the pressure on the two Frenchmen, who responded with clears. Wiltshire-based Astier had a slightly nervous moment when he missed his stride at an upright and had to take a longer route to the triple bar, but he kept his cool although he accrued one time-fault.

While the cross-country phase proved largely uneventful, with 25 of the 32 runners going clear, only six left all the coloured poles up. These riders took home the first six prizes.

Read the full report from Saumur in Horse & Hound magazine, 28 May 2015