Great Britain got off to a strong start at the FEI European Eventing Championships today, with Nicola Wilson and Piggy French holding first and second places respectively after dressage day one.

It means Britain has also established a good lead in the team standings and is chasing its 23rd European title. Britain currently holds the Olympic and World titles, so victory in Avenches, Switzerland, this week would complete the set.

“I’m so so delighted, he’s a fab horse and he’s really come of age this year,” said Nicola of her handsome 10-year-old JL Dublin.

“He’s still young and relatively inexperienced. I had a neck injury in June 2019 so he missed half a year and then Covid happened. So even though he’s not been on the competition field he was still trained and got more established in his mind. But we’re only in phase one [of the competition] and there’s an awful lot more to go.”

Piggy, who was a part of the 2019 silver medal-winning European team and Britain’s gold medal-winning team at the 2018 World Equestrian Games, described Brookfield Innocent’s performance as “a great test”.

“He was as good as he could be and a swear word never entered my mind and that’s always a really good sign,” she smiled.

“The consistency of his work and his mind all the way through — I could give him another 10 goes and I don’t think he could do better, he gave me his all, and that’s all you can ask for.”

Germany’s Andrew Dibowski (FRH Corrida) currently lie third individually.

In the team standings, France are 11.8 penalties behind Britain on 56 and the defending champions, Germany, lie third.

‘Not a dressage competition’

Nicola Wilson described the Mike Etherington-Smith-designed cross-country course, which will be ridden on Saturday, as “demanding all the way and very intense towards the end”.

“The questions come thick and fast right to the last fence, which still isn’t an easy fence — it’s a big old table,” she said.

“There’s a great deal to jump out there but I look forward to the challenge and hope that both of us are up to it.”

Piggy added that she plans to walk the course “a lot of times” because there is plenty of potential for getting lost.

“It’s very technical and the single fences are big enough as well, a lot of twists and turns, so we are going to have to be on our A-game,” she said. “It’s a proper championship track for sure. This is not going to be a dressage competition.”

Two more team riders will do their tests tomorrow — Kitty King (Vendredi Biats) and Ros Canter (Allstar B).

Each nation fields a team of three or four, with the best three scores to count, plus two individual riders.

British individual Izzy Taylor currently lies eighth after her test today aboard Monkeying Around. Sarah Bullimore and Corouet will complete their test tomorrow.

The action kicks off at 10am local time.

View the full standings.

Main image: Nicola Wilson and JL Dublin. Credit: FEI/Richard Juilliart

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