This week four leading jockeys headed down to the Surrey yard of Pippa and William Funnell for a showjumping bootcamp — some, perhaps, with a certain amount of trepidation as they stepped way out of their usual comfort zone on the racetrack.
The intrepid quartet of Bridget Andrews, Lizzie Kelly, Hollie Doyle and Josephine Gordon are taking a crash course over the coloured poles ahead of the annual Markel Champions Challenge in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund.
Cheltenham Festival-winning jockey Bridget will be captaining the team of female jockeys, which will also include top National Hunt jockey Bryony Frost, and they will be pitted against the 20-time champion AP McCoy and his all-male team for Friday’s big “race night” in the International Arena at The London International Horse Show, Olympia (17-23 December).
Under the tutelage of showjumping and eventing legends William and Pippa Funnell, the star-studded team of jockeys were put through their paces over the coloured fences and now have victory firmly in their sights.
“The training today with Pippa and William has been lots of fun,” said Bridget. “They’re heroes of mine and we couldn’t have asked for better coaches. I can’t wait for ‘race night’ — the atmosphere is going to be electric and I just hope we can make Pippa and William proud.”
Pippa Funnell said: “They’re obviously all incredibly talented in their own right and I’ve been impressed with how quickly they have adapted and improved throughout the day. The girls have mastered the technical side and we’ve almost managed to perfect their jump-off style, so I really fancy their chances against AP McCoy and the boys!”
Race night at Olympia is sure to be faster than a five furlong sprint at Epsom and always makes for great entertainment — and the box office is open so snap up your tickets now via www.olympiahorseshow.com or phone the box office 0844 995 0995
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