Funnell triumphs in nail biting Burghley finale

Sarah Wells-Gaston …

Sixteeen years after her first win, Pippa Funnell took victory at this year’s Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.

This was MGH Grafton Street’s first event at CCI5*-L level. But at during each phase Funnell gave the Irish-bred 11-year-old gelding, who is owned by Jonathan and Jane Clarke, the benefit of all her experience to produce world class performances.

It was a nail biting finish as the top three riders were covered by just 0.5 penalties. First Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class has a rail, as did the second placed combination Piggy French and Vanir Kamira.

This meant that going last into the arena, Funnell had a fence in hand. Funnell had admitted the day before that 77 was her lucky number – it is the one she uses in her children’s books. And lucky it proved to be too.

Her lifeline was used when Squirrel, as he is affectionately known, chested the upright rails at fence 8. But Funnell remained composed to guide her mount home to the delight of the packed grandstands.


When Funnell won in 2003 with Primmores Pride she also collected the Rolex Grand Slam – one of two people to have ever done so. Her victory was made even more special as her husband William flew in from Belgium.

An emotional Funnell paid tribute to her horses for keeping her at the top of the sport, commenting; “It’s the horses that have kept me going. It’s the belief in the horses and their talent. It’s the pure love of the day to day graft working with them. I didn’t really think there would be another big win. But to me I took pressure of myself as I said I’m just going to do the sport I really love and enjoy every moment of it. This is a really special moment.”

Having won at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials with Vanir Kamira in May, French had to settle for second on this occasion. The pair had already finished fifth here in 2018 and second in 2017.

Having won this event in 2017, Townend and Ballaghmor Class also showed their consistency at this level, finishing third here this year and second in 2018. This is in addition to second place at Badminton this year and fifth place in 2018.

Britain showed its strength of riders as Sarah Bullimore and Reve Du Rouet finished in fourth, a repeat of the lot result from last year.

Last year’s champion Tim Price of New Zealand was the highest placed overseas rider, finishing in fifth with Bango.

Out of the 31 combinations who jumped, there were 10 clear rounds – a percentage of just over 32%.

Who climbed up the leader board the most?

From the outset, riders were fairly universal in saying that Burghley wouldn’t be a dressage competition. So who showed the most improvement on their position after dressage?

The biggest leap up the standings from the dressage to their finishing position was Imogen Murray and Ivar Gooden. The pair were 60th after the dressage but their double clear meant they finished in 6th – climbing an incredible 54 places.

Arthur Chabert and Goldsmiths Imber were in 58th after the dressage but climbed 41 places to finish in 17th.

Ariel Gerald and Leamore Master Plan were in 48th after the dressage. They finished in 10th – improving on their 12 place finish at Lexington this spring – jumping 38 places.

Lillian Heard and LCC Barnaby were in 54th after the first phase. They climbed 36 places with a final position of 18th.

Alicia Hawker and Charles RR climbed 35 places. Having been in equal 51st the finished in 16th.

Andrea Baxter and Indy 500 were in 46th following the dressage. They climbed 34 places to finish in 12th.

Michael Owen and Bradeley Law were lying in equal 51st after the sresaage but climbed 32 places to finish in 19th.

Matthew Heath and the Lion were 54th after the dressage. They finished in 22nd with a clear round in the show jumping, a climb of 32 places.

How did the first time riders finish on their first visit to Burghley?

There were some fantastic performances from the riders tackling Burghley for the first time.

America’s Ariel Gerald and Leamore Master Plan were the best of the first time visitors to Burghley. Whilst they had an unfortunate rail down at the second fence in the show jumping, they finished on a score of 57.7 (10th).

French Rider Sebastian Cavaillon and Sarah D’Argouges didn’t quite have the ending to their Burghley they expected with three down in the show jumping and had a final score of 61.0 (11th).

Emily Philp and Camembert hasn’t had a clear round since Burnham Market in the spring. But she kept the rails up at Burghley and finished on a score of 66.5 (14th).

Elizabeth Halliday-Sharpe and Deniro Z had an unfortunate rail down to finish on a total of 66.8 (15th).

Alicia Hawker and Charles RR had one rail down in the show jumping, giving them a total score of 68.1 (16th).

Arthur Chabert and Goldsmiths Imber has two rails down in the show jumping to finish on a final score of 70.9 (17th).

David Doel and Shannondale Quest collected three rails during the final phase which left them on a score of 80.4 (23rd).

Nicky Hill and MGH Bingo Boy was the first clear round and finished with a three phase total of 89.7 (27th).

Finishing best of the Australian riders, Dominic Schwann and Bolytair B also had four faults and finished on a total on 90.9 (28th). Compatriot Samantha Lissington and Ricker Ridge Rui finished their campaign with four faults in the show jumping finishing on a score of 101.1 (30th).

Julia Norman admits that the show jumping is not Carryon Bobby Boy’s strongest phase. They had four rails down with a final total of 101.3 (31st).

James Sommerville and Talent presented at the final horse inspection buy were sadly eliminated prior to the show jumping and American rider Chris Talley withdrew Unmarked Bills before the final horse inspection.

Images courtesy of Hannah Cole

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