The Ireland team of Shane Sweetnam, Nicola Fitzgibbon, Denis Lynch and Billy Twomey lie in ninth place after the opening competition of the European Show Jumping Championships in Madrid.

Twomey's fast fault-free round with Tinka's Serenade left him best of the Irish in sixth place, with Shane Sweetnam and Amaretto Darco in 27th. Denis Lynch partnered Lantinus to 51st, while Nicola FitzGibbon had two fences down on Puissance to finish in 53rd place of the 67 starters.

With 16 nations competing for team placings, France took the overnight lead in the rankings, with Germany in second place and Sweden in third.

All 16 teams will now go forward to Thursday's competition at Madrid, but only the top ten teams qualify for Friday's final.

To gain Olympic qualification, Ireland must finish in the top three teams of those nations not already qualified for London 2012.

Britain, Germany, Belgium and France have already assured themselves of places at the Games.