Pippa Funnell wins fourth Bramham, 31 years after first: ‘I can’t tell you how special winning a big one is at my stage’

  • Pippa Funnell confirmed her place at the top of the Bramham Horse Trials results in the CCI4*-L  with a clear showjumping round on MCS Maverick.

    The rider did not have even a second over the time in hand, let alone a rail, to keep first place. Sarah Ross’s 10-year-old MCS Maverick touched the front pole of the oxer at fence 10 but it stayed put and the pair finished on their overnight score of 30.5.

    This was Pippa’s fourth Bramham victory after wins in 1992 (Metronome), 2002 (Walk On Star) and 2010 (Redesigned).

    “I can’t tell you how special winning a big one is when you get to my stage – you think you’re past all that,” said Pippa.

    The rider has made no secret of the fact she came to Bramham to find out more about her new ride and she has played a lot of “mind games” to get the best out of this hot horse this week.

    “This morning after the vet inspection, I didn’t want to jump him but I took him into the stables field and did pole work and stretched him – he’s got a very big stride and I just did some canter poles, getting him closed up but in a really relaxed way,” she said.

    “He’ll sleep well after this! He’s running on adrenaline. Often you question if you’re doing it the right way with a horse that wants to go faster than you do in his brain, but I’m chuffed it worked and delighted for his owner, Sarah Ross.

    “It’s just really sad she wasn’t here – her family organised a big party for her birthday yesterday ages ago and initially we didn’t think he would come to Bramham, but because I’d had such good rides on him, I said, ‘Let’s go’.”

    Bramham Horse Trials: Pippa Funnell and MCS Maverick

    Pippa Funnell and MCS Maverick jump clear to win Bramham 2023. Credit: Peter Nixon

    The overnight top three all jumped clear, so Piggy March took second on Brookfield Cavalier Cruise (owned by Alison Swinburn and John and Chloe Perry) and Jesse Campbell third on Gambesie (owned by his rider and Sarah Moffatt).

    Piggy said: “Obviously it’s his first four-star long and I’m delighted. He felt very careful and easy today. He has gone as well as I hoped, but until you do it you don’t know. The cross-country’s as tough as it gets for four-star so to deal with it well and come out and jump nicely today is very exciting.”

    Jesse said he had sent a message to showjumping coach Shane Breen last night.

    “He said just relax and remember how to be a showjumper! The horse just did it all for me, he is magic,” said Jesse.

    “Shane is a true horseman and he understands horses on another whole level that I wouldn’t have even explored before. But his big thing for me is just use your legs more, but he does it in a certain way and the feelings that he gives me, I seem to be able to put them into practice quite well and I really enjoy being able to do that.”

    There was some juggling of the Bramham Horse Trials results leaderboard behind the podium positions.

    Tom McEwen moved up from sixth overnight to fourth with a clear on last year’s British intermediate champion Luna Mist and Harry Meade’s clear on Cavalier Crystal made it two mares side by side in the line-up when she rose from seventh to fifth.

    Lizzie Baugh’s dressage score finish in her first Bramham four-star long lifted her from eighth to sixth and Aaron Millar’s fault-free performance elevated him and KEC Deakon from 10th to seventh.

    On the other side of the coin, Harry’s two down with Red Kite – the oxers at fence three and 10 – meant the chestnut slipped from fourth to 11th. Nicky Hill similarly had eight jumping faults, and she added 0.8 of a time-fault too, to finish 16th on MGH Bingo Boy, having been ninth overnight.

    Four faults at fence 10 cost Harry Mutch and HD Bronze three places and they finished eighth.

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