Britain took second place in the eventing Nations Cup at the EQ Life Houghton Horse Trials yesterday (30 May).

The team consisted of Pippa Funnell (Billy The Biz, third), Sarah Bullimore (Conpierre, 10th), Francis Whittington (West Side, 12th) and Georgie Strang (Ascot H, 16th).

“Coming into the event we were lacking a bit of choice,” admitted Nations Cup team manager Philip Surl, explaining that many of the usual Nations Cup riders were at the big Irish event at Tattersalls this weekend. “But the young horses came out and did a great job.”

Germany took top spot, fielding a much more experienced team consisting of Andreas Ostholt (So Is Et, second), Niklas Bschorer (Tom Tom Go, fourth), Dirk Schrade (Hop And Skip, fifth) and Sandra Auffarth (Ispo, 20th).

Three of the four German riders have championship mileage — Pippa Funnell is the only one of the British quartet who does — and all their horses have contested four-stars. Three of the British horses have not even done a CCI3*, with West Side being the only one with a four-star run under his belt.

“To be second to a team like that is no mean feat,” said Francis, who added: “The track [designed by Alec Lochore] had great questions and rode very nicely. And all the work the team put into the ground gave perfect conditions.”

Pippa Funnell is not usually a member of the Lottery-funded World Class Nations Cup squad, as it consists of up-and-coming riders, but she was called in this time as there was a gap in the team due to the clash with Tattersalls. She lay second after dressage with her own and Carol Toliver’s Billy The Biz and finished third after 1.6 time-faults across country.

“When horses are coming up to this level you have to nail some of those lines, while with an old pro you can take a bit more of a liberty,” she said of her four seconds over the time. “I’m chuffed with him — he’s never run that fast in his life.”

Full report of Houghton in H&H this Thursday (4 June issue).