Pippa entered the show jumping arena at the Blenheim Petplan International Horse Trials with three show jumps in hand following mistakes by both of her nearest rivals, Andrew Nicholson and Polly Jackson. But an immaculate show jumping round confirmed her superiority in all three phases of this competition.
This is her second consecutive Blenheim win, and her fourth overall. It is the first time that the three-star competition has been won by a stallion, and it is Viceroy II’s best result to date – he finished third here last year.
This morning’s show jumping proved that a tricky test was in store for the final 24 this afternoon, and with less than four penalties between second and sixth place, the riders had all to play for.
Youngster Matthew Wright held tight in the jumping to steal second place from under the nose of New Zealand veteran Andrew Nicholson, whose one mistake on Flush Banker cost him one place, while Polly Jackson’s round on Two for Joy was more a question of two poles down for sorrow, although the combination finished in a very creditable fourth place.
The trot-up this morning caused more upset than had been anticipated. Lucy Wiegersma was a victim of the vets’ beady eyes. She had lain in fifth place with In the Purple, and although the horse was obviously unsound, this was said to be on account of the horse having thrown a shoe yesterday. She was eliminated.
Joining her was Piggy French with Ferndale Victoria, while Robert Stevens’ mare Autumn Market was withdrawn in the holding box. Youngster Daniel Leech had a lucky escape when Surprise Opposition passed on re-presentation to the immense delight of Pippa Funnell, with whom he was based as a working pupil until recently.
The 21-year-old’s hopes of completing a three-star were dashed last year when he was eliminated in the show jumping, so he was delighted to be able to complete the competition.
Dominic Ruane was one of the youngest competitors to finish at Blenheim. The 20-year-old moved up a whopping 59 places after the cross-country, after notching up just 0.8 time penalties. The youngster has high hopes of Highwayman VII in future, and hasn’t by any means dismissed the possibility of a four-star competition next year.
“He was absolutely amazing across country yesterday,” Dominic said. “Although our dressage needs a huge amount of work, which is an aim for this winter. I was away for most of last winter, and I have paid the price in the dressage arena this season.”
Blenheim final results
1. Viceroy II (Pippa Funnell) 42.4
2. Park Pilot (Matthew Wright) 54.6
3. Flush Banker (Andrew Nicholson NZL) 56.0
4. Two for Joy (Polly Jackson) 57.2
5. Whos Blitz (Dag Albert SWE) 57.6
6. First Flight II (Kristina Cook) 62.0