Dressage leader Pippa Funnell third after Bicton five-star cross-country: ‘It was the best ride I’ve ever had on him’

  • Pippa Funnell has moved down to third after the Chedington Bicton Horse Trials cross-country, having added 4.8 time-faults to her leading dressage score with Billy Walk On.

    “I knew he’s not the fastest horse in the world, so I knew I had to get in such a good rhythm and keep plodding away,” said Pippa.

    “The bonus of living in the Surrey Hills is the horses have done so much hillwork and I knew from riding Majas Hope that he was plenty fit enough as they’ve done the same work. When you know the horses are fit, you can keep asking questions. It was the best ride I’ve ever had on him.”

    Pippa said she was thrilled for the horse’s owners, Nicholas and Barbara Walkinshaw.

    “They’ve been such supporters of the whole sport for so many years and it’s been so sad for them because all they’ve wanted is a horse at Badminton or Burghley or at five-star level, so I’m so thrilled that finally I’ve done a five-star and delivered on one of their horses,” said Pippa.

    “The saddest thing for me is he was absolutely ready for a championship this year, but there has been such a strong bunch this year for championship teams. But it was wonderful to have the option to bring him here.”

    Pippa sits behind the two riders who achieved clears inside the time today – Piggy March on Trevor Dickens’ Vanir Kamira, who lead overnight, and Gemma Tattersall on Christopher Stone’s Chilli Knight, who holds second.

    Ros Canter sits fourth after 7.6 time-faults on five-star first-timer Pencos Crown Jewel, with Oliver Townend fifth on Tregilder.

    Oliver finished inside the time on Tregilder, the final horse of the day, but had 11 penalties for breaking the frangible pins at the rail into the Ariat Challenge (fence 16abc). Oliver is among a growing number of riders who believe the automatic 11 penalties for breaking a frangible device should be reviewed.

    “I’m not allowed to say what I really think [about the pin penalties], but it’s not the sport I fell in love with and if it continues like this, I’ll quickly fall out of love with it,” said Oliver.

    “It’s not right – we’ve trained these horses to drop the back legs on a vertical going into a coffin to jump the ditch correctly and jump out safely and I think the FEI need to open their eyes and realise what the top riders want, because there isn’t a five-star rider in the world that agrees with the penalties for the pins.

    “The pins are a safety thing and I do believe if the ground jury decide it saved a fall, then award 11 penalties, but just to be handing these 11 penalties out to good horses that have done a very safe, correct job – it’s not cross-country any more.”

    Richard Jones is in sixth with Alfies Clover, who had 8.8 time-penalties today on the Bicton Horse Trials cross-country.

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