The top team placings remain unchanged at the European Show Jumping Championships in Mannheim, Germany, after course-designer Christa Jung set a particularly straightforward track. It had 34 riders — over one-third of the field — jumping clear, including the entire Dutch team.

Germany leads with three riders in the top 10, but Marcus Ehning suffered a second humiliating elimination in as many days on Noltes Küchengirl, who refused at the first upright element of the treble (12a).

However, the second leg of the team competition promises to be gripping, for the reigning team champions do not have a fence in hand over the Netherlands or Switzerland, who have no margin over Great Britain. Just 4pen covers the top 18 riders.

“I think the next course will be more gutsy,” commented David McPherson (pictured), best Briton in 12th place on 3.05pen on Peter Nagel-Tornau’s 12-year-old stallion Pilgrim, who “felt fantastic”.

“I feel the intention today was to sort out the lower-placed nations and tomorrow will see a different tack.”

For the first time in several championships, the British looked on a level playing field with their continental colleages. Ellen Whitaker is 14th on Locarno, while her uncle John, at 52 the most senior rider, is 26th, on a strong Peppermill who incurred a time fault. Michael Whitaker is 29th after Suncal Portofino just caught 12a with her hindlegs.

But there is devastation for the French and Irish who will not be going to Hong Kong. France, world champions in 2002, have not missed an Olympics since 1932, but the team has finished 12th in Mannheim and will not make the final cut in which the top 10 nations compete for the medals.

Neither Ireland’s Cian O’Connor nor Jessica Kürten could repeat their first day feats of clear rounds and it looks as though Jessica, along with the leading French riders, will be fighting for individual Olympic places through the FEI rider rankings.

Their losses were Norway and Italy’s gain, who have improved to seventh and 10th respectively. Belgium and Sweden, the Olympic silver medallists but in danger of dropping out of the Super League, have risen to fifth and sixth at the expense of the courageous Spaniards, now eighth, and Ukraine, ninth.

Christine Liebherr (SUI) continues to look every inch an individual champion and is still stalked by the maestro Ludger Beerbaum (GER) and new sensation Stefan Ede, who will also be chasing an individual place in Hong Kong after Austria’s relegation to 11th.

Team standings:

1, Germany 5.18pen
2, Netherlands 7.37pen
3, Switzerland 8.13
4, Great Britain 10.43
5, Belgium 12.45
6, Sweden 14.65
7, Norway 17.26
8, Spain 17.69
9, Ukraine 17.96
10, Italy 18.53.

Individual rankings:
1, Christine Liebherr (No Mercy, SUI) 0
2, Ludger Beerbaum (Goldfever, GER) 1.11
3, Stefan Eder (Cartier PSG, AUT) 1.12
4, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (Shutterfly, GER) 1.54
5, Vincent Voorn (Audi’s Alpapillon-Armanie, NED) 2.01
6, Jeroen Dubbeldam (BMC Up And Down, NED) 2.24
7, Jos Lansink (Al-Kaheel Cavalor Cumano, BEL) 2.42
8, Christian Ahlmann (Coster, GER) 2.53
9, Gregory Wathelet (Lantinus, UKR) 2.53
10, Gonzalo Testa Ornat (Mme Pompadour, ESP) 2.93.

Full results on