Funnell crowned queen of Windsor

  • Pippa Funnell has added another triumph to her spring campaign with a win at Windsor international Horse Trials with the up-and-coming former racehorse Blue Horizon.

    The dressage day smiled on Matthew Wright and Grove Joucas, who led on 39.4 penalties, but Funnell was just behind them, with 40.0pen on Ian and Janet McIntyre’s nine-year-old gelding. And when Wright withdrew Grove Joucas before the cross-country phase, the road was clear for Funnell to triumph.

    The pair ran clear across country to become the overnight leaders on their dressage score, ahead of Daisy Dick and Springbok IV. Dick also added nothing to her dressage score, just five points behind Funnell, and prepared to do battle in the show jumping arena. She jumped a seamless clear, but it just wasn’t enough. Funnell’s faultless performance on the inexperienced but cooperative Blue Horizon secured her a fourth Windsor win.

    Jean-Paul Sheffield took third place on Angela Hislop’s Riverside James, finishing on his dressage score of 46.3. He beat Sarah Cutteridge and Cottage Craft Spirals, who finished fourth on their dressage score of 47.7, by just over one point. A fence down in the show jumping arena cost Olympic champion Leslie Law fourth place as he and Best Wishes dropped from fourth to fifth on 51.3.

    Windsor proved a bit of a disappointment for William Fox-Pitt. The temperamental Diamond Manati had a bad dressage day, as he occasionally does, and finished 55th on 59.2. Silver Dollar did a lot better and secured equal fifth in the dressage, alongside Riverside James and Sheffield, and Run of the Mill and Rodney Powell. But Fox-Pitt decided to withdraw his horses before the cross-country phase amid concerns about the firm going. He also avoided taking part in the Prospect Cup, where he would have competed Moon Man, for the same reason.

    The organisers, however, said that they had the ground fully under control, although riders may not have fully perceived this. “I think it’s the psychology of it that came into play,” says Windsor International Director, Jonathan Warr. “Once or twice, when I was course designer, we prepared the ground so it was perfect on Wednesday when people looked at it, but it might not be so good on Saturday when horses were on it.

    “What we did this year was that on Wednesday we told people what we were going to do and we decided to do it on Friday for it to be perfect on Saturday. But the perception may not have worked. I think the ground at Windsor has improved, but there are still some historical thoughts on it.”

    In the Prospect Cup, Fox-Pitt was replaced by Nick Gauntlett on Arthur’s Word but the British team, which also included Law with Matt Butler, Funnell with Chamrock and Piggy French with Which Way II, wasn’t able to beat Germany. Under captain Simone Bockmann, the Germans finished ahead of Ireland to claim this year’s Cup.

    Windsor also saw the first edition of the Quest-X competition to discover the future stars of eventing. Kathy Oliver, from Gloucestershire, triumphed on Algina T to become the first Quest-X champion and win a series of training sessions with Funnell.

    “Kathy put in a great performance – as did all the competitors in Sunday’s final. The standard has been very high, but I’m delighted Kathy came though and look forward to working with her this year,” said Funnell.

    First runner-up was Charlotte Tarrant, a 17-year-old who recently underwent a kidney transplant. Tarrant won a two-day training session with Leslie Law.

    “Generally, I am pretty pleased about how it all went,” says Warr. “I’m always really critical of myself, but I am surrounded by a pretty good team who have been able to take the event on several notches. I think there are still some things to do, but there is enough good stuff to make you want to take it forward.”

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