‘He’s too naive to keep trucking on’: Pippa Funnell demonstrates her cross-country brilliance at Badminton

  • Not a single rider finished inside the time over the 2024 Mars Badminton Horse Trials cross-country course, which made for a dramatic conclusion as any horses jumping fast and clear could make huge climbs up the leaderboard.

    The final rider of the day, Pippa Funnell, might not quite have been able to wrestle the lead from Tim Price and Vitali on 31.7, but she would be pressing on his heels with a fast clear round. She was lying in the top 12 after dressage on 31.9 with MCS Maverick. Pippa gave this Badminton debutant a masterful ride, and although they weren’t ultimately fast enough to trouble the top few, they slotted into ninth with 13.2 time-faults.

    Pippa explained that although this 11-year-old has plenty of speed, he is still a “work in progress”.

    “I know I’m going to get back to the lorry and think ‘why didn’t I use his speed more?’ but it’s his first time here and I had to be escorted by two hunt horses to the field of play,” she explained.

    “I have to channel his talent so I can warm him up in the right way – my warm-up here was over the first five fences getting the rideability before Huntsman’s Close. I was actually down on the clock at two minutes because he was just running fresh. So I had to try and anchor him.

    “He’s a big galloping scopey horse and he’s just not ready. He’s too naive yet just to let him keep trucking in there.”

    It was pretty much a copybook round jumping-wise, with Maverick just having a couple of pecks on landing at the Worcester Avenue Brushes towards the end of the course.

    “He was weary, but he kept galloping and he’s going to strengthen up. To come to his first badminton and give me that feel – it’s lovely to come down to the Vicarage Vee on a horse like him.”

    Tom Jackson climbs leaderboard after Badminton Horse Trials cross-country

    Tom Jackson under-achieved in the dressage with his European Championships partner Capels Hollow Drift, but this great jumper pulled out all the stops to finish with 10 time-faults and climb up from 21st to eighth.

    Tom nursed this lovely grey home over the final four fences, but he kept jumping nicely and pulled up with his ears pricked.

    “My horse is such a trier; he does it every single time, he delivers,” said Tom. “He finished quite tired and he made a massive effort today.  It’s five-star and it’s Badminton and more often than not you have a 50% clear rate and that’s what we come here for, so that the great cross-country horses get to shine and move up the leaderboard.

    “I went out with real determination to get close to the time after our dressage wasn’t our best performance, and he was there or thereabouts until he started to tire. It isn’t his perfect going as his action sends him down into the ground and he gets a bit stuck in it.”

    Caroline Powell was the only rider left in the field in the final quarter who was able to depose Tim Price at the top of the leaderboard – but she’d need to clock one of the fastest times of the day with only 4sec in hand. The New Zealand rider was lying seventh after dressage with her mare Greenacres Special Cavalier on 30.

    Unlike her compatriots Tim and Jonelle Price and Jesse Campbell, Caroline elected to go the long way at the angled log exiting the Mars Sustainability Bay, and this put paid to her advantage. It was a measured and confident round, but 33sec over the time gave her 13.2 time-faults.

    “Wasn’t she brilliant?” said Caroline. “Last year she came and made a few mistakes. Young horses just need a bit of time and she’s a bit of a diva. Loves the crowd, loves the people, but now she’s looking for the strings and the flags. And she tanked me down to the stables afterwards so she’s feeling good.”

    Badminton Horse Trials leaderboard after cross-country

    Tim Price and Vitali top the leaderboard after cross-country on 31.7, just 1.3 penalties ahead of William Fox-Pitt and Grafennacht (33). In third is five-star and Badminton first-timer Lucy Latter riding RCA Patron Saint on 37.2, while Emily King and Valmy BIats are just behind on 38. Rounding up the top five is Sarah Ennis on Grantstown Jackson.

    Badminton top 10 leaderboard after cross-country

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