‘He makes me use all my experience’: Pippa Funnell ‘absolutely delighted’ with Majas Hope at Burghley

  • Two-time Burghley winner Pippa Funnell moved into third place after her dressage test aboard her own and Marek Sebestak’s consistent Majas Hope on day two of the 2023 Defender Burghley Horse Trials dressage.

    Pippa was fifth to ride this morning and her work to keep the attention of the big-moving 16-year-old paid off as they scored 28.8, a similar achievement to last year, from the three judges, Nick Burton at E, Christian Steiner at C and Anne-Mette Binder at M.

    Their highlights included two nines from Nick Burton for the second halt and the extended canter. Their solid final halt at the end of the test secured them eights across the board.

    Majas Hope is one of the most seasoned horses at top level in the field, tallying a 10th and 16th at Badminton and a 16th and 13th at Burghley in previous years, as well as fifth in the one-off-five-star at Bicton, where he achieved a personal best dressage score of 27.4. However, he doesn’t find the first phase easy.

    “I am absolutely delighted with him,” said Pippa. “He always scratches my head, and he makes me use every bit of my experience. I’m constantly trying to come up with new ideas to try and find what works best for him. Tina [Cook] was in my lorry last night and we thought that taking him for a speed up the A1 might work!”

    Pippa was particularly pleased with the trot work he produced: “It’s some of the best he’s ever done. His changes were good, too, but he’s not got a good walk so that’s always a dreaded movement. I never quite got him round enough in the canter work today, but I tried to be brave and go for the movements even though he was a little hollow.”

    On the Burghley Horse Trials dressage leader board, Pippa Funnell and Majas Hope currently sit behind Oliver Townend and Swallow Springs (24.2) and Ros Canter and Pencos Crown Jewel (26.9).

    Will Faudree and Mama’s Magic Way sprung a surprise with a deserving score of 29.8, pushing them into fourth and making Will the current US leader. Will punched the air as his score was revealed.

    They landed two 10s for their halt at C. When the Mighty Magic 12-year-old halted perfectly square, Will made the most of it by stopping for a few seconds to ensure no one had missed their effort.

    Will was thrilled: “When he’s on he’s just amazing, but he can get rather excited. His personality is similar to a three-year-old on a sugar high at Disney World. However, we are great friends and he’s a super horse.

    “I have a really good partnership with him and I’m confident that we will answer the questions tomorrow.”

    Will has ridden the horse, who was previously based with German Olympic gold medalist Andreas Dibowski, since 2019.

    “The timing was right and thankfully we ended up in each other’s lives,” Will said.

    Tom Rowland and Robin Patrick’s 16-year-old Possible Mission gave a solid account of themselves on their sixth five-star appearance to score 31.9.

    Louise Harwood, 12th here in 2014 on home-bred Mr Potts, rode her own Native Spirit, a 14-year-old who she has produced right through the grades, to score 32.4.

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