Thank you, Mondriaan: from the Foxhunter championship to a Hickstead Derby hat-trick

  • Following the news that William Funnell’s great showjumping partner Mondriaan had been put down at the grand age of 25, H&H’s showjumping editor revisits some of her favourite moments of this outstanding bay gelding’s career.

    Since William teamed up with a then five-year-old ‘Danny’, until his emotional retirement in the International Arena at Hickstead in 2011, the tremendous pair thrilled the nation and accrued a huge legion of fans along the way.

    1. Winning the Foxhunter

    In 2001, at the age of seven, Mondriaan grabbed the headlines by winning the prestigious Foxhunter final at Horse of the Year Show — pictured receiving the trophy from then Horse & Hound editor, Arnold Garvey.

    William Funnell Mondriaan winning in 2001

    2. Lifting the Aga Khan Trophy

    There is no prouder moment than representing your country — combine that with lifting the much coveted Aga Khan Trophy for winning the Nations Cup at Dublin Horse Show and you can see why William and Michael Whitaker (Portofino 63) are so happy.

    Great Britain's William Funnel (left) on Cortaflex Mondriaan, and Michael Whitaker on Portofino 63, hold up Aga Khan Challenge Trophy.

    3. One of the greatest ever Derby horses

    The Julie Slade-owned Mondriaan became known as something of a Derby specialist, seemingly unfazed by everything the Hickstead track could throw at him. He finished third in his first attempt at the class in 2003 and, but for a hampered preparation due to colic in 2010, he could well have landed a fourth. Mondriaan also won the Derby at Eindhoven and Falsterbo.

    080629_1201.CR2Lap of Honour by the 2008 DFS Derby Winner. Making ideal preparation for the Olympics, Great Britain team member William Funnel riding Cortaflex Mondriaan is the winner of The DFS Derby, Class 178, at the 2008 British Jumping Derby Meeting held at the All England Jumping Course, Hickstead, Surrey, England on 26-29 June.

    4. Making it a hat-trick

    After lifting the Boomerang Trophy in 2006 and 2008, William and the then named Cortaflex Mondriaan returned in 2009 to jump clear from last draw and make it a phenomenal hat-trick — joining a select band of horses to have won the class three times. The third triumph was a particularly poignant one as it came shortly after the death of Hickstead founder Douglas Bunn. “It was almost like it was destiny for me to win that day,” said William.

    HICKSTEAD, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 28: William Funnell riding Mondriaan jumps clear on their way to winning The DFS Derby during The British Jumping Derby Meeting at Hickstead, The All England Jumping Course on June 28, 2009 in Hickstead, United Kingdom. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

    Continued below…

    5. Farewell from Hickstead

    In 2011 we all shed a tear when William took the saddle off Mondriaan for one last time in the International Arena at Hickstead, the scene of some of his greatest triumphs. The pair were met with a standing ovation as they left the ring for one last time. Mondriaan spent the latter years of his retirement as a very happy hacker and hunter with Denise Stamp, one of William’s greatest supporters. We will certainly miss you, Mondriaan.

    Read William Funnell’s tribute to this great horse in this week’s magazine (Thursday 19 September), plus all the latest news, reports and exclusive features…

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