BRITAIN head the team leaderboard after dressage by almost seven marks at the FEI Eventing World Championships in Pratoni, Italy. The Olympic champions have 6.9 penalties to spare over Germany (76.1) after four brilliant dressage tests left them on 69.2, a record first phase score at a World Championships.

The USA are just 0.5 penalties behind Germany on 76.6, while New Zealand are just off the podium at this early stage on 77.9. Ireland sit 12th of the 16 teams after dressage but will be expected to climb in today’s (Saturday) cross-country phase.

Individually, Germany’s two-time Olympic champion Michael Jung leads the way with fischerChipmunk FRH after scoring 18.8, a personal best and the second best dressage score ever recorded at a World Championships. He overtook Britain’s Laura Collett who held the lead after the opening day with London 52. They also scored a personal best of 19.3.

Britain’s individual rider Yasmin Ingham is in third place with Banzai du Lori on a 22.0, while Chinese individual rider Alex Hua Tian is fourth with Don Geniro (23.7).

McCarthy best of Irish

Best of the Irish individually is Padraig McCarthy with Fallulah in 29th place on a score of 29.4. Speaking afterwards, McCarthy said: “I think she delivered as much as I could have expected from her. She has been getting consistently better and I thought this was the best test we’ve done together. So while it was a nice score, I was a little bit disappointed not to see a 26 or 27. I am not watching from the outside so maybe the judge was seeing something else.

Talking about the cross-country, he added: “It’s not dimensionally a huge course but I do think there will be problems. It is very fast ground; some jumps he gets you going fast and some combinations he is really asking the riders to shorten and be accurate. A lot will come down to accuracy.

“There are a lot of technical questions near the of the course, probably the most technical jump is second last fence if you go direct, and it is a point where horses will be getting tired.”

Austin O’Connor and Colorado Blue lie in 47th on a score of 32.2, Sam Watson and SAP Talisman (37.4) are 79th and Susie Berry is 81st with Monbeg by Design (38.0). Individual rider Felicity Ward score 40.3 on her championship debut.

The cross-country, designed by Giuseppe Della Chiesa, kicks off at 10.30 local time tomorrow, 9.30am Irish time, and will be streamed live on ClipMyHorse.TV.