Britain’s Isabelle (Bubby) Upton put in the dressage test of her life at the junior European eventing championships in Millstreet, Ireland today (21 July). Riding the eight-year-old Eros DHI, the pair posted a remarkable score of 23.9 to go into individual gold medal position after the first phase.
An understandably emotional Bubby, who is 18 years old, burst into tears upon completing her test.
“I was in floods of tears,” she laughed. “‘Ero’ was so with me in the warm-up and I felt like we could produce a good test. The atmosphere can sometimes get to him, so we’ve worked him hard this week, and he came out today and knew exactly what he had to do.
“I was a bit apprehensive of the counter canter movements as a lot of people broke in them, and Ero was getting a bit tired in his test, but it couldn’t have gone any better. He’s grown up, matured and strengthened so much last year and it wouldn’t have happened without my dressage trainers; Judy Harvey, Ruth McMullen and Fiona Bowen,” explained Bubby.
Bubby’s 84%+ score puts her almost six penalties ahead of her nearest rival, German rider Gesa Staas and St Stacy who sit on 29.8.
The next best placed Brit is Pheobe Locke and Union Fortunas who lie in sixth on 38.5, while fellow Brit Richard Coney is in eighth with Kananaskis on 40.3.
Great Britain hold team silver medal position at this stage of the competition, 7.5 penalties adrift of Germany who lie on a score of 95.2.
The German team riders hold second, third and fourth spots individually, while France are in team bronze on a score of 131.3.
Britain’s fourth team member, Imogen White and Emill are in 20th on 45.2. The other individual riders are Holly Needham and Strike A Pose (48.4, 29th) and Sasha Hargreaves and Playtime (52.1, 47th).
The Irish team of Anna Power, Jim Tyrrell, Correna Bowe and Anna Kelly are in sixth, with Anna and Lakantus the best-placed in 10th on 41.
The Mike Etherington-Smith-designed cross-country track looks to be a serious test, requiring horses and riders to be both attacking and accurate. Bubby predicted that the optimum time of 8 minutes 16 seconds will be a challenge to achieve.
“I think the time will be tight and it will need a lot of riding,” she said.
The cross-country kicks off at 9.30am tomorrow.
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.