THE dressage phase of eventing has been completed and hot favourites Britain hold the lead heading into cross-country, but only just, from Germany who made strides up the leaderboard this morning following a fabulous test from two-time defending champion Michael Jung.

A score of 21.10 with Chipmunk FRH put Jung out in the lead individually, ahead of world number one Oliver Townend, and brought Germany up to second place, within 2.1 penalties of Britain, whose position at the top of the leaderboard was boosted by a score of 28.90 from third rider Tom McEwen and Toledo de Kerser.

New Zealand moved up to third after a brilliant test from Tim Price and Vitali (25.6), while the host nation of Japan continues to shine in fourth place.

Jung was really pleased with his 13-year-old gelding Chipmunk. “We had a very good partnership today, everything worked like I wished. Since the European Championships in 2019 I’ve had more time to train with him. We had a long winter to work more and have had many more competitions this year, so everything is going much better,” said the 2012 and 2016 Olympic champion who rides pure dressage (and show jumping) which was evident in his beautiful test today.

Ireland to climb

Ireland’s have a bit of climbing to do in the cross-country after mixed results in the first phase sees them in 13th place of the 15 teams on a combined score of 110.4.

Sarah Ennis and Breda Kennedy’s Woodcourt Garrison (ISH) were the final Irish combination to perform their dressage test this morning (Saturday), finishing on 38.10 to slot into 50th place individually. The 12-year-old gelding broke into canter in what was an impressive extended trot to receive scores of four, and tense flying changes also saw the marks drop.

Ennis was disappointed with the result.“Being honest, I am very disappointed,” she said. “We really thought we had him in a position to get a much better mark. He has been going amazing all week. He just got nervous when he went into the ring. We just have to hope that the rest of it goes a bit better.”

Sarah Ennis and Woodcourt Garrison during the dressage at the Tokyo Olympic Games \ Tomas Holcbecher

The action tomorrow meanwhile moves from the Equestrian Park out to the Sea Forest cross-country course, based about one hour from the main venue. Ennis is looking forward to the next two phases and knows that it will not only be a dressage competition.

“The time is going to be really influential. It is like an ERM [Event Riders Masters], it is going to be really fast and quickly, and I think there are going to be a lot of time penalties out there,” she said about the cross-country track.

Carlow’s Sam Watson and Tullabeg Flamenco (ISH) are best of the Irish individually and are in 38th place on 34.30. Austin O’Connor and Colorado Blue are in 49th position on a score of 38.

Germany’s Michael Jung is feeling super-confident about tomorrow’s cross-country, partly because his team has such a good draw. “We have a very good start position, our first rider is number 14, so before she (Julia Krajewski) goes some nice information will have come through which we can use. You need a lot of luck with the weather and other things you can’t control, but definitely it’s good if you start towards the end.”

Cross-country begins early in the morning Japanese time, starting at 7.45am and finishing just before 11am. Ireland is eight hours ahead, meaning it starts at 11.45pm on Saturday night.

Sam Watson is first out of the startbox for Ireland just after midnight at 12.18am, while Austin O’Connor is off at 1.30am. Sarah Ennis will be the last Irish team member to go at 2.39am.