The Irish eventing team have risen five places to eighth overall after a superb performance by Austin O'Connor and Colorado Blue in the cross-country phase of the Olympic competition at Sea Forest Island in Tokyo.

Carlow’s Sam Watson and Tullabeg Flamenco (ISH) were pathfinders for the Irish in the cross country. A fast round saw them pick up just two time penalties but they unfortunately also picked up 11 penalties with a rub at a fence.

That put Watson on a total score 47.3 after dressage and cross country and they now lie in 31st place individually.

"It's a really tough one to take because he was brilliant," said Watson. "The reason he had the 11 penalties was that I let him fall in on that line a little.

"He ballooned in over the oxer and he got there a fraction close. I should have made more room for him and kept out. We (the team) stay alive, we’re still in the game but I am frustrated."

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Cork native O'Connor and Colorado Blue were second to go for the Sally Corscadden managed Irish team and they produced a stunning round to jump clear inside the time and stay on their dressage score of 38.0.

O’Connor and Colorado Blue’s brilliant round, one of just six clears inside the time, saw him shoot up the leaderboard and, having been in 49th place after dressage, they are now in 20th position.

Speaking after the clear round, Austin said: "The horse was great. He seems to have recovered really well. He is a class horse. We will all enjoy the next phase now. We will get the horse recovered and myself recovered and hopefully come out and finish on a good note."

The last member of the Irish trio to take on the cross-country course was Meath’s Sarah Ennis with Horseware Woodcourt Garrison (ISH).

They picked up 20 penalties for a refusal at fence 16C and 17.6 time penalties for a total score after dressage and cross country of 75.70 and 39th position.

"I felt as we came to the drop and down to the skinny, where he ran out, he got really hard on my right rein and he ran down that hill. For love nor money I couldn't turn him," Ennis said.

"It is really unfortunate. I was very lucky to get him home. He felt very empty and heavy. I say he will bounce back, he is a tough one and will come back fighting tomorrow. He is fairly hardy but the humidity got to him today."

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That leaves Ireland on a team total of 161.0 heading into the show jumping phase tomorrow.

Britain remain in the gold medal position in the team competition after they added no penalties to their dressage score of 78.30. Australia are in silver (96.20) with France currently in bronze (97.20).

Britain’s Oliver Townend and The Irish Sport Horse Ballaghmor Class (ISH) are in the gold medal position on the individual standings with a score of 23.6.

The team medals will be decided after the first show jumping round (9am Irish time) while the top 25 after the first show jumping phase will compete in a second round of jumping (12.45pm) to decide the individual medals.