The irrepressible Pippa Funnell, fresh from her triumph at Burghley, took an early lead in the Blenheim Petplan International Horse Trials yesterday.

With 115 starters to get through, the organisers ran the first 20 dressage tests a day earlier than normal and with her first ride, Viceroy II, Pippa coasted into what is a very familiar spot for her.

She is, however, closely followed by the first of the American contingent, Marcia Kulak on Horton Who, with William Fox-Pitt and his Luhmuhlen winner Tom Cruise II back in third.

Viceroy II, owned by Sue Bunn, is a son of the former top American show jumper VIP and is the result of a chance mating which occurred when VIP escaped from his box and made amorous advances to a mare of Sue’s.

Viceroy was originally brought out by Sue’s girl groom before being offered to Pippa, who rode him into second place behind Bettina Overesch (now Bettina Hoy) and Woodsides Ashby up at Burgie in 2000. This season, he has won one-days at Eridge and Milton Keynes in his build-up to Blenheim.

Pippa goes into action again on Friday with her second ride Jurassic Rising, as does William with his Bramham hero Wallow.

Results after dressage day one

1, Pippa Funnell (Viceroy II) 42.0;
2, Marcia Kulak (Horton Who) USA 43.2;
3, William Fox-Pitt (Tom Cruise II) 50.4;
4, Lucinda Green (Miss De Meena) 52.8;
5, Bruno Bouvier (Elsa De Servins) FRA 53.0;
6, Polly Williamson (Arctic Warrior) 53.2;
7, Anna Lidar (Double Dealer) SWE 55.4;
8, Leslie Law (Another Garrison) 59.2;
9, Jo Aston (Solcum Maximus) 59.8;
10, Jeanette Brakewell (Burley Wood) 62.4.