Brits impress on tough Young Rider European Eventing cross-country day

As predicted by many competitors, the cross-country proved highly influential at the FEI Young Rider European Eventing Championships today (13 July).

There were 43 finishers from 66 starters, and the leaderboard experienced a huge shake up.

Germany, who led the competition after the dressage phase, crashed out of contention when two of their riders, including individual overnight leader Jerome Robine, fell. They have now dropped to seventh.

Three of the Saracen Horse Feeds British team riders jumped clear, but the optimum time proved very difficult to achieve, with just four combinations getting inside the 8min 36sec time.

The best of the Brits is Bubby Upton, who is in individual bronze with Cola (pictured). They finished some 14 seconds inside the time to sit on their 25.9 dressage.

“He was amazing. I’m just so proud of him,” said Bubby. “The course was causing absolute carnage so I was really lucky to have such great teammates to feed back information to me. Cola is just out of this world — he ate it up. I was kicking like billyo because I thought I was down on the clock but he ended up being easily inside — he wasn’t always a naturally quick horse, so it makes it even more rewarding.”

The next best-placed Brit is Heidi Coy with Royal Fury, who are competing as individuals. They were 10 seconds inside the optimum time and are in fifth on 32.6.

“My horse is so cool — he’s such a cross-country machine and I can trust him,” said Heidi. “He’s brave and careful and gets his legs out the way and he’s about 50% blood so he wasn’t even tired at the end — he could have gone round again. The time wasn’t easy at all — I was kicking for every minute. It was one of the strongest tracks I’ve ever ridden — there were a lot of questions and it was big too.”

Richard Coney climbed from ninth after the dressage to seventh with Kananaskis. They added 8.8 time-faults to a 28.8 dressage.

“It wasn’t the most enjoyable track to ride around due to the tight turns, the trees and the deep sand, but I pushed as much as I could and being in the team, it was important to get round with no jumping penalties,” explained Richard. “I went as fast as I could but he’s not the fastest horse in a straight line but he tried.”

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Team rider Felicity Collins (RSH Contend OR) and second individual Rosa Onslow (Diamond Sundance) also jumped clear across country but incurred some time faults to sit in 14th and 16th place respectively.

The final team rider for Britain, Phoebe Locke (Union Fortunus), had a stop at the first water but was otherwise clear, and is now in 36th.

France now lead in the team competition — they are 9.5 penalties ahead of Britain, who have climbed one place into silver. The team competition is likely to remain between these two nations as the third-placed Netherlands squad is on a score of 159.1. Italy is fourth on 203.3 and Ireland are fifth on 210.6.

The showjumping for the young riders gets underway at 1pm (BST).

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 26 July.