As a result, Ireland and France, respectively third and second at Fontainebleau (FRA) last month, now jointly head the 2016 FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing leaderboard. Britain, who could only finish sixth in the French leg, are in third place ahead of Fontainebleau winners Germany.
Britain has a policy of choosing from a pool of younger riders who have not yet been on a senior team, but last-minute changes to the squad resulted in the experienced Oliver Townend, a former European team gold medallist and CCI4* winner, being sent out as pathfinder. He finished second in the individual classification on Cooley SRS behind his compatriot Pippa Funnell on Mirage d’Elle.
FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing first-timers Franky Reid-Warrilow, who finished in individual third place on Dolley Whisper, and Wills Oakden (Merikano, 15th) joined team stalwart Izzy Taylor (Briarlands Birdsong, 16th) who was, unusually, the discard score after incurring 11 penalties for breaking a frangible pin.
Joseph Murphy finished best of the Irish team, in sixth place on his experienced horse Sportsfield Othello, and Geoffroy Soullez, a regular member of France’s FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing squad, was the highest placed for his country, in ninth place on Madiran Du Liot.
Britain led from the start, and kept their advantage despite Townend and Oakden incurring 20 Jumping faults between them, but Ireland and France swapped places after Dressage when Matthieu Vanlandeghem incurred 14 Jumping penalties on Safran Du Chanois ENE HN. However, neither team was able to overhaul the Team GB for Cross Country speed – their only time penalties, just 0.8, came from Reid-Warrilow.
The FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing action moves next month to Houghton Hall (GBR), where the British will be hoping to regain supremacy on home ground, having lost to Germany last year and New Zealand in 2014.
1 Great Britain, 162.8
Oliver Townend/Cooley SRS, 48.7; Franky Reid-Warrilow/Dolley Whisper, 51.3; Wills Oakden/Merikano, 62.8 (Izzy Taylor/Briarlands Birdsong, 64.5)
2 Ireland, 182.5
Joseph Murphy/Sportsfield Othello, 55.1; Michael Ryan/Ballylynch Adventure, 58.7; Cathal Daniels/Barnaboy Freeman, 68.7 (Nicola Ennis/Westwinds Jack of Hearts, WD XC)
3 France, 184.4
Geoffroy Soullez/Madiran Du Liot, 56.4; Arnaud Boiteau/Sultan De La Motte, 62.1; Matthieu Vanlandeghem/Safran Du Chanois ENE HN, 65.9 (Marie Caroline Barbier/Picasso D’Oreal, 72.4)
Full results on www.eventingireland.com.