The 2017 Longines FEI European Championships in Gothenburg are officially underway, and Britain has already won two gold medals, silver and bronze in the Para Dressage.
Championship debutants Julie Payne and Suzanna Hext both won their opening competitions.
Suzanna, who only found out she was competing in the Europeans a week ago, scored 71.58% in the Grade III, riding Pammy and Charlie Hutton’s Abira.
“He loves a party, loves to show off and that’s exactly what he did today,” said Suzanna. “He is a horse of a lifetime.”
Team mate Erin Orford won bronze with Dior.
In the Grade I Julie Payne posted a huge 77.642% riding Athene Lindebjerg, who won triple gold at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games with Sophie Christiansen. Julie has only been riding the mare for three months, but the pair “just clicked”.
“That is one of the best feelings I have ever had,” said Julie. “It’s the best test I have done on her.”
Sophie Wells won silver in the Grade V with Fatal Attraction. She was beaten by defending European champion Frank Hosmar from the Netherlands.
All the medallists return to the arena today for the para dressage team event, while the first round of the Team Dressage Grand Prix takes place at the Ullevi Stadium, just up the road.
A total of 16 nations will battle it out for team medals: Austria, Belarus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine. There are also individuals from Belgium, Estonia, Georgia and Norway.
The team medals are decided by the Grand Prix, which kicks off today and finishes on Wednesday. The individual titles will be awarded following the Grand Prix Special on Friday and the Freestyle on Saturday.
At the last Europeans Britain won team silver, while Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester won individual gold and silver, respectively. This year there is no Charlotte or Valegro on the team, so it will be interesting to see how it performs without them.
Things aren’t off to a great start, as Gareth Hughes’ horse Don Carissimo was withdrawn after being held in the first horse inspection.
This means it’s all down to Carl Hester (Nip Tuck), Spencer Wilton (Supernova II) and Emile Faurie (Lollipop 126).
The team face tough competition from the Dutch defending champions, as well as Germany, who won Olympic gold in Rio.
You can follow all the action with H&C as we are filming in Gothenburg to bring you behind-the-scenes action and interviews. We are also showing highlights of the Grand Prix Special and the Freestyle on H&C TV.
H&C coverage of the European Championships is sponsored by