Runner-up Pippa Funnell reflects on Bicton: ‘I wouldn’t want to be in the sport without five-stars’

  • Pippa Funnell spoke about her continued enthusiasm for eventing and the importance of five-star competitions to the sport after finishing second in the final Chedington Bicton Horse Trials results today.

    “I’m just thrilled that coming to a five-star, I’ve had all that same old hunger,” said Pippa. “I’m old-fashioned – it’s not in my nature to win those one-day events in the short format, it’s always in my nature to prepare horses for this.

    “I just wish I could get a bit hungrier, racing round the one-days, but to me it’s about the big ones. You use the one-days for the training and get the ride where you want it.

    “I absolutely believe this – if we lose these sorts of events from our sport, our sport in my mind is finished, because that would bring in more of these big, flashy, foreign movers.

    “Without these prestigious five-stars, the likes of Chilli Knight [who won with Gemma Tattersall], Piggy March’s horse that’s been a star at this level [2019 Badminton winner Vanir Kamira], the likes of Majas Hope [fifth with Pippa] would not have a place in the sport. To me, it’s those true cross-country horses that come out on top.

    “And if we lose that from the sport, I don’t want to be in the sport because that to me is what the sport is about.”

    Pippa also spoke about what young event riders need to do to excel at five-star, saying: “The youngsters have got to learn to get horses fit enough if you’re bringing it to hilly terrain, to understand that you need a blood sort of horse and to judge your horse. You don’t ride your watch, you ride the terrain and the way your horses are travelling on it.”

    Talking about the performance of her runner-up ride, Barbara and Nicholas Walkinshaw’s Billy Walk On, this weekend, Pippa said: “It’s just taken a long time – obviously the two years with Covid, but he’s been a big lanky, slightly ungainly horse and for me he could not have performed better in all three phases. I couldn’t fault the way he was jumping today.”

    Pippa also praised Gemma Tattersall, who topped the Bicton Horse Trials results.

    “Full credit to Gemma – she was at mine the other week, we were having treatment from Ash [Wallace, physio] and she said, ‘I’m going to Bicton because I’m going to win it.’ So brilliant on her.”

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