William Funnell joined the ranks of three-time Hickstead Derby winners today with a thrilling clear on Cortaflex Mondriaan.
With Guy Williams (Skip Two Ramiro) and William Whitaker (Animation II) lying on four faults, William Funnell, who won this on 2006 and 2008 and was the last rider into the international arena, knew he had to go clear to win.
While the crowds were on the edge of their seats, hearts in mouths, the 43-year-old rode what will surely go down in history as one of the coolest rides under pressure — apart for a hairy moment at the privet oxer.
“It’s nice to get the job done,” said William. “It’s been the most nerve-racking day of my life, but actually is seems quite easy when you go clear.
“I used that tactic at the Dyke [going wide to it, round the road jump] and he never really touched anything — the worst job was hanging on after the privet hedge.”
William had mixed emotions, however, on being presented with the Boomerang Trophy in front of the stands.
“We all felt it during the National Anthem when we realised Dougie Bunn wasn’t there,” he said.
1. Cortaflex Mondriaan (W Funnell), clear
Eq2. Skip Two Ramiro (G Williams) & Animation II (W Whitaker), 4 faults
See Horse & Hound on Thursday (2 July) for a full report on all the action from the Hickstead Derby meeting