Funnell takes pole position at Burghley

Sarah Wells-Gaston..

Day two of the dressage at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials saw a dramatic change of leaders throughout the day.

And it was the last session of the day which produced the top three at the end of the first phase; and all of them were British riders.

Pippa Funnell and MGH Grafton Street topped the leader board with a score of 22.8 – putting her 2.5 penalties clear of the chasing pack. Funnell took the ride on the horse from Andrew Nicholson in 2015.

She was delighted with the 11-year-old who is competing for the first time at CCI5*-L. She said: “I think it was a pretty fault free test. I’m absolutely chuffed with him and his brain. He felt like he really rose to the occasion and lifted himself. He’s still a work in process so we’ll see how he rises here.”

2017 winners Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class lie in second place with a score of 25.3.

He commented: “I’m very happy with him. He’s becoming established in this phase and I think he was nice. He’s getting stronger – he’s only 12 this year – and I think there is still improvement to come; I don’t think we have seen the best of him yet but he’s still pretty fantastic. He felt very good, almost a little too relaxed. If I had my time again I’d get him revved up a little bit more as he was definitely on the relaxed side.”

Izzy Taylor and Springpower are in third place ahead of the cross country on a score of 25.6.

Taylor commented: “He’s quite inexperienced at this level and he just had a bit of nervousness as he went in. But once we had a few minutes he was good and I’m very happy with him.”

Whilst British riders hold the top spots, there was somewhat of an American invasion of the leader board. With the depth of experience that comes from the American contingent it perhaps wasn’t a surprise. At the end of the first phase there are three US riders in the top 10.

First to impress the Ground Jury was Elizabeth Halliday-Sharpe with Deniro Z. Halliday-Sharpe splits her time between the UK and the US and is a first-time rider here. She has two different horsepower passions; aside from a successful eventing career, she is the most successful female driver in American Le Mans with six victories. The pair ended the dressage in equal seventh.

Of her test Halliday-Sharpe commented: “He was such a good boy, I’m absolutely thrilled. He finds the flying changes mechanically difficult and they are definitely still work in progress so I really concentrated on trying to get as many 8s as I could elsewhere. He always gives his all for me though.”

Then Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot stormed to the top of the leader board with a score of 26.9, with Burnett relieved after the test, as it was a definite improvement on their last 5* test at Lexington this Spring. They go forward to the cross country in equal fifth.

She commented; “He blew up in the arena at Lexington, so I rode him quite a lot this morning and was really pleased with his test here.”

Burnett is tied with Badminton winner Piggy French and Vanir Kamira. French admitted; She is a good girl. Tilly is not a dressage horse so the important thing for me is that the test was mistake free. We had a few wobbles but I’m just pleased that she kept her head. She is getting older and more professional.”

Finishing off the penultimate session was Lauren Kieffer and Vermiculus. A polished performance saw the pair score of 26.7 for fourth place.

Former four-star winners Jonelle Price put herself and Faerie Dianimo – who won at Luhmühlen CCI5* in 2018 – in contention with a score of 28.4 leaving them in equal seventh going into the cross country.

Defending Champions Tim Price and Ringwood Sky Boy find themselves in equal ninth after the dressage, on the same score as overnight leader Eliza Stoddart – 28.7.

Whilst the leaders all drew applause from the crowds, the largest cheers of the day went to Savannah ‘Woodge’ Fulton. And well deserved it was; riding Captain Jack she rode through the worst of the days wind and rain as it lashed across the open arena. They finished with a score of 45.4.

And how did the first timers fair on day two?

Chris Talley and the former racehorse Unmarked Bills scored 40.6 (61st) – a two mark improvement on their dressage score at Lexington earlier this year on their debut at this level. Australia’s Samantha Lissington and Ricker Ridge Rui, who is making its first appearance at this level, scored 39.1 (equal 54th). Lissington commented: “I thought it was good for him – he’s only young. He can try a little bit too hard and we got through all the movements and it’s his first time so it was good.”

The rain wouldn’t wait for Clara Loiseau and Won’t Wait with the French combination commencing their test as the afternoon rain poured down. They scored 38.1 (equal 48th). Sweden’s Johan Ludin and Mind Me score 32.5 (27th).

Of the British first-timers, George Hilton Jones and Efraim scores 44.5 (equal 63rd), whilst Emily Philp and Camembert scored 33.3 (31st). James Sommerville and Talent scored 35.1 (equal 37th). He commented: “It wasn’t too bad – he was a bit tense. He knows what he is doing and knows what is coming and he is more than ready for it.”

Images courtesy of Hannah Cole 


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