Pippa Funnell leads Bicton five-star dressage: ‘I held my nerve so he did his best work in the arena’

  • Pippa Funnell holds the lead at the end of the Chedington Bicton Horse Trials dressage after scoring 23.9 with Billy Walk On.

    Nicholas and Barbara Walkinshaw’s 12-year-old is a tall, rangey, elegant horse and he put in a super test, combining power and an open frame. He gained the only 10 of the competition, given by ground jury president Andrew Bennie for his entry.

    “I was really delighted with him, because he is a good boy and he’s been pretty consistent in his tests and often I have just one little blip somewhere. Normally it’s in a flying change or something,” said Pippa.

    “He’s a big, long horse and quite a lot to keep together, but he’s getting stronger and he was really good today.”

    Pippa said she has had to judge carefully how much work to give Billy Walk On this week.

    “He was bright in the trot-up and because he’s quite big, you could do too much work with him and make him a bit tired,” she said. “I thought yesterday that I’d been under-doing the work in the past week – because he’s had so much fitness work, I just backed off him a bit at the beginning of this week.

    “Then yesterday he was fresh and tricky and I did quite a bit with him yesterday and again this morning. Then I just held my nerve and kept him walking, because as soon as he came out this afternoon, he felt on it and with me and I thought, ‘I’m not going to ask too much, it’s got to be in there, not outside’ – and luckily it was.”

    Piggy March and Vanir Kamira sit second overnight after the Bicton Horse Trials dressage, with five-star first-timer Will Rawlin holding third on VIP Vinnie.

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