Pippa Funnell’s belief in the unorthodox Supreme Rock was finally vindicated when the pair won a brace of Badmintons and medals galore, but the early days weren’t quite so rosy, says Ellie Hughes
Once in a while, a horse and rider’s careers are so inextricably entwined that it is hard to imagine how the story might have unfolded had one been without the other. This was certainly the case for Pippa Funnell and Supreme Rock, whose dominance as a partnership at eventing’s highest level came after both emerged from a run of near-misses and heart-wrenching what-ifs.
The 16.3hh Irish-bred gelding with a huge swaggering walk and enormous floppy ears waltzed into Pippa’s life quite by chance, and although his unorthodox style of jumping did not point to greatness in the early days, his rider’s ethos of never giving up paid dividends. As the partnership grew, so too did their list of illustrious achievements – among them two Badminton titles and back-to-back European gold medals.
Supreme Rock’s story begins in 1988 in Skibereen, Co Cork, where he was bred by Lindy Good. By the popular thoroughbred sire Edmund Burke out of a three-quarter-bred Irish Sport Horse mare called Rineen Classic, “Rocky” was an old-fashioned eventing type, who was perfectly suited to long-format eventing.
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