HIGHWORTH-BASED rider Paul Tapner took a commanding lead in the Event Rider Masters series after finishing in fourth place at leg four of the competition at the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park.

Tapner, who missed out on a place in the Australian Olympic team for Rio, earned himself valuable series points riding Yogi Bear VIII to reach 87 points in the chase for the £30,000 leading series rider bonus.

In second spot is Great Britain's Gemma Tattersall (66) with Stockley-based French rider Astier Nicolas (59) third, both of whom are currently representing their countries in Rio.

Oliver Townend, riding Cillnabradden Evo, became the first British rider to top the Event Rider Masters podium, scooping the first prize of £16,000 at Gatcombe.

France’s Tom Carlile, who was making his ERM debut riding the eight-year-old stallion Upsilon, finished in second on a score of 55.8.

Ireland’s Elizabeth Power stormed up the leaderboard from 17th to secure third place after performing the fastest cross-country of the day on board Soladoun, scoring just 1.2 time penalties to complete on 56.5.

Following the withdrawal of the overnight dressage leader Andrew Hoy and Cheeky Kalimbo after a costly showjumping round, Townend was left in pole position going out on the cross-country after he showjumped clear.

He and Cillnabradden Evo completed the Gatcombe track with no jumping faults, adding 10.4 time penalties to their dressage to secure first place on a final score of 49.5.

Twelve months earlier the horse had a fall at the last fence at Gatcombe, which left his rider, Marlborough-based New Zealander Andrew Nicolson, with a severe neck injuries.

Nicholson won leg three of the series at Barbury last month riding Nereo.