Funnell v Funnell and Breen: husband and wife battle it out for Hickstead honours

  • There was a thrilling three-way battle for the Breen Equestrian Beethoven seven- and eight-year-old championship at the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby meeting today (23 June) between three of the best young horse producers in the country.

    Lining up for the title were Pippa Funnell on the seven-year-old mare Billy Mufasa, her husband William Funnell riding the year older Billy Etna, while Hickstead-based Shane Breen represented the sponsors with the eight-year-old Instrumental V, a really exciting trio of mares.

    Pippa and Lizzie Bunn’s Bily Mufasa scooted home in 34.78sec but just toppled a tricky vertical off a sharp bend.

    The fences went up for the two older horses and Shane delivered a smart clear with his mare, setting the target of 33.16sec.

    William then set off determinedly and he and the lovely grey were up on the clock, but the first part of the double fell for four faults, although his time of 30.04sec would have been enough to win. So Shane took top honours and William just earned some bragging rights over Pippa as the husband and wife team finished second and third.

    “Mufasa is one Lizzie Bunn bought in the auction so it would have been lovely if she’d won – if Pippa had been in the lead I wouldn’t have tried to beat her, put it that way!” said William. “Billy Etna is one we’ve all ridden a bit and she’s been to the [young horse] world championships the last two years. I’ve ridden her this year and she’s been so consistent – that’s the first fence she’s had down. She’s nearly ready to step up and back up the others. It’s still nice to have two out of the top three from some really nice horses here.

    “I was surprised there weren’t’ more clears but a lot of horses probably haven’t got to jump on grass until this week because there are so few grass rings nowadays.”

    The super winning eight-year-old Instrumental V was bred in Germany and produced by Peder Fredricson till Shane took the reins at the start of the year year, winning a CSI2* grand prix in the UAE.

    “I saw her last year at a few shows and thought she was a very good jumper then Peder said he was for sale,” said Shane. “Chloe and I bought her at the beginning of the year. We wanted to get her in the main ring this week then aim for the Queen’s Cup in July. She’s a hell of a jumper, she’s a lot of power in her gallop. She’s not overly big but she has a huge stride. I still have a bit of work to do with her, but she has all the ingredients.

    “I hadn’t seen Pip but I knew she’d had one down so I thought to jump a clear anyway. With William coming behind me, he was definitely going to come up in time to watch me. So it was up to him to beat me and he could have, he just nicked the fence. That’s just the way it goes. But it’s nice to get back some of my money!”

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