Para-dressage took centre stage today in Gothenburg for the FEI European Championships ©FEI

British and Dutch riders took charge on the opening day of action of the International Equestrian Federation European Championships as Para-dressage took centre stage.

Both countries, who were first and second in the medal table at last year’s Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, claimed two golds at the Heden Arena in the Swedish city of Gothenburg today.

Topping the podium for Britain, who were the best performers at Rio 2016, in Grade I was Julie Payne onboard Athene Lindebjerg, the mare who won three Paralympic golds last year with Sophie Christiansen.

Payne, making her international debut, notched up a score of 77.642 per cent, putting her ahead of Germany’s Elke Philipp, who took silver, and Latvian rider Rihards Snikus.

Joining Payne in the British gold tally was Suzanna Hext, another debutant, who claimed the Grade III title with a score of 71.588, which bettered Claudia Schmidt’s score.

Hext’s team-mate Erin Orford came third.

Pepo Puch of Austria was the only non-British or Dutch winner today ©FEI
Pepo Puch of Austria was the only non-British or Dutch winner today ©FEI

The Netherlands saw gold in Grade V as defending champion Frank Hosmar put in another strong performance to top the standings.

His compatriot Sanne Voets then doubled the Dutch gold score in Grade IV.

Today’s other gold went to Austria’s Pepo Puch in the Grade II competition.

Para-dressage action continues tomorrow with the team event taking place.