Britain’s show jumping team has at last ended a nine-year medal drought with a superb performance in the second part of the team competition at the European Championships in Mannheim, Germany.

Thanks to clears from Ellen Whitaker (pictured) and her uncle John, the team anchorman, Britain overtook Switzerland, who were forced to count two five-fault rounds, and rose a place to bronze position, thus emphatically qualifying for the Olympics next year.

“It’s fantastic,” said chef d’equipe Derek Ricketts. “They all did a superb job and totally deserve it. We wanted the Olympic qualification, but to top it up with a medal is something else.”

And it was all change at the top too. The home side’s lead became vulnerable, first with the retirement of Marcus Ehning on the persistantly recalcitrant Noltes Küchengirl who slammed on the brakes again and was retired. Then Christian Ahlman’s Coster hit the oxer at 8.

When the third Dutchman went clear, it was all over for Germany, and the invincible Netherlands team added European gold to their world team title won last year. Sweden and Norway also qualify for Hong Kong, but Italy, Spain and Belgium will miss out.

Britain has three riders through to Sunday’s individual contest. Ellen Whitaker, who just added one time fault, lies eighth and is only separated from a medal by one fence; her uncle John, who yet again proved the coolest anchorman with a well-judged clear on Peppermill, is 13th and David McPherson, who was celebrating his 47th birthday, is 16th with one fence down on Pilgrim ll.

Read a full report from the European Show Jumping Championships in next week’s Horse & Hound (23 August). And don’t forget to visit www.horseandhound.co.uk on Sunday evening to find out how Britain’s riders got on in the individual competition.

Team results:
1, Netherlands 7.37pen
2, Germany 9.18
3, Great Britain 15.43
4, Switzerland 18.13
5, Sweden 19.65
6, Norway, 16.26
7, Italy 16.53
8, Spain 25.69
9, Ukraine 25.96
10 Belgium 26.45

Individual standings:

1, Christina Liebherr (LB No Mercy, SUI) 0
2, Ludger Beerbaum (Goldfever, GER) 1.11
3, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (Shutterfly, GER) 1.54
4, Vincent Voorn (Audi’s Alpapillon-Armanie, NED) 2.01
5, Jeroen Dubbeldam (BMC Up And Down, NED) 2.24
6, Jos Lansink (Al-Kaheel Cavalor Cumano, BEL) 2.42
7, Morten Djupvik (Bessemeinds Casino, NOR) 3.55
8, Ellen Whitaker (Locarno, GBR) 4.49
9, Stefan Eder (Cartier PSG, AUT) 5.12
10, Jessica Kurten (Castle Forbes Libertina, IRL) 5.60

Full results on www.em2007.de