Laura Collett, riding her own, Keith Scott and Karen Bartlett’s London 52, holds the overnight lead after the first day of dressage in the Longines FEI Eventing European Championships in Luhmühlen.
Laura is competing here as an individual, while Pippa Funnell and Piggy French, who also performed their dressage tests today, are competing for the team. All three performances mark a positive opening day for Team GBR.
Pippa Funnell was the pathfinder in the main arena for Team GBR. Watched by the other British squad members, she and Majas Hope scored 35.4 and sit in 17th in the overnight standings. Pippa was brought in as a replacement for Tom McEwen after his ride, Toledo de Kerser, was involved in a minor accident just before travelling out to Germany. Pippa revealed she was at a wedding when she heard that she was going to be competing in Luhmühlen: “I got my phone out and saw I’d had four missed calls from [Team GBR Chef d’Equipe Richard Waygood]. The team at home were top class, they got things packed up and my lorry organised. It’s just such an honour to be part of the team and very special to be here with Tina [Cook] because we’ve had such a long career together.”
Piggy French on Quarrycrest Echo posted 29.8 in her dressage test to lie seventh after Thursday’s action. Commenting afterwards, she said: “I don’t think there was a lot more I could have done. This isn’t a dressage competition – the cross-country course is definitely a tough one with problems all over. I’ll keep fighting til Sunday night.”
However, the best performance from a Team GBR rider came from Laura Collett on London 52. She scored 25.5 to take the lead after the first day. Speaking afterwards, she said “Obviously I’m delighted but I know there’s so much more there [from London 52]. I’m pleased he kept his head because he’s never been in anything like that before. There were only about ten people watching in Aachen but he suddenly saw the grandstand here. Thankfully he listened and did what he had to do. He was a bit scared and almost wanted to close his eyes and pretend it wasn’t happening but if I hold his hand and tell him it’s OK, he trusts me.”
Wins also for Surrey Storm, Saracens Mavericks and team bath
photo Dan Vernon
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