Eventing legend Pippa Funnell wins top sporting award

Pippa Funnell has been named the BT Sport Action Woman of the Year following a public vote.

The 2019 Burghley winner was chosen from a shortlist of eight leading athletes and presented with the award last night (9 December) at a ceremony hosted by Clare Balding, broadcast live on BT Sport.

Pippa’s Burghley victory aboard MGH Grafton Street came 16 years after her last win at the Lincolnshire event and followed team silver at the Europeans the previous week.

The BT accolade is also her second award in a week, with the horse’s owners Jonathan and Jane Clarke receiving the prize for the Horserail Moment of the Year on her behalf at the Horse & Hound Awards on 5 December.

“It was such an honour to be nominated among so many sporting greats, so as you can imagine it was the most wonderful surprise to win the award,” said Pippa.

“I know this was all thanks to the many people that voted for me, but what thrills me is that many of those were due to the common love we share for the horses, so it is very special to be recognised outside the equestrian industry.

“A lovely evening spent with great friend and owner of MGH Grafton Street, Jane Clarke, meeting some amazing inspiring people. This award is celebrating all women in sport… especially the oldies.”

The inspirational shortlist also included top jockey Bryony Frost, who became the first woman to ride a Grade One winner over fences at the Cheltenham Festival in March, British athletic record-breaking stars Dina Asher Smith and Katarina Johnson-Thompson, top footballer Lucy Bronze double Olympic taekwondo champion Jade Jones, 35-time para cycling World Championship medallist Dame Sarah Storey and history-making racing driver Jamie Chadwick.

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“The BT Sport Action Woman Awards is one of the highlights of the year for celebrating the fantastic achievements of women in sport, and what a year it’s been,” said Clare.

“There are so many women leading the way in sport and it is great to come together to highlight the countless standout team and individual performances.

“I’ve seen the interest in women’s sport increase rapidly which is testimony to those involved who continue to put women’s sport at the forefront of the agenda, and it’s great to see that interest backed up by the number of people who have got involved and voted in this year’s awards.

“At BT Sport we’re proud to support and recognise so many amazing women in sport, and we’re looking forward to another standout year in 2020.”

Former British swimmer Mel Marshall was recognised for her services to the sport with a lifetime achievement award for her numerous medals and her coaching work, including helping Adam Peaty to his incredible successes.

The world’s youngest professional skateboarder Sky Brown, 11, was named the rising star and the Solheim Cup golf team took the team of the year award.

* Do you think the challenges and achievements of athletes in equestrian sport is becoming more widely recognised or is the sport is still lacking recognition in the public eye? Let us know at hhletters@ti-media.com and your thoughts could be published in a future issue of Horse & Hound magazine *

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