Sophie Christiansen topped the standings in the Grade la class to help Britain earn a opening day lead ©FEI

Britain earned a narrow lead over The Netherlands on the opening day of the team competition at the FEI European Para-equestrian Dressage Championships in Deauville, France.

A strong performance from Sophie Christiansen in the Grade la class helped her team secure the advantage by the close of the day, despite the Dutch squad topping the standings in three of the five tests.

Christiansen, competing for the first time at a Championships on her new horse Athene Lindebjerg, produced the highest score of the day in the test with the judges giving them a total of 76.130 for their performance.

“I knew we had to raise our score and ride a solid test,” said Christiansen.

“When I went into the arena though, that was not what I was thinking about.

“I was thinking about my horse and hoping to get the best out of her, and I knew that would come.

“I was quite nervous going in there today not knowing how she would react, I’m so proud of Athene and my team.”

The British team were given a further boost with Anne Dunham recording the second highest score in the test having been awarded 75.261 and the scores would prove crucial, with the Dutch team producing excellent performances.

Four-time Paralympic champion Hannelore Brenner topped the standings in the Grade III event
Four-time Paralympic champion Hannelore Brenner topped the standings in the Grade III event ©Getty Images

Nicole Den Dulk produced an excellent display on Wallace N.O.P to win the Grade lb in 73.120, finishing ahead of former world champion Stinna Tange Kaastrup of Denmark and reigning Paralympic champion Pepo Puch of Austraia, who scored 71.760 and 71.520 respectively.

Dutch success continued as Frank Hosmar secured his first victory at a European Championships as he rode Alphaville N.O.P to a score of 74.000 in the visually impaired event, while Rixt van der Horst marked her debut at the Championships by topping the Grade II event with a score of 72.618 with Britain’s Natasha Baker second with 71.294.

Germany currently lie third in the team competition with their position owing much to the performance of their four-time Paralympic champion Hannelore Brenner.

She scored a total of 71.474 on her horse Women of the World to top the standings in the Grade III event.

The team competition will draw to a close tomorrow, with individual medals also set to be awarded in the individual classes.

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