William Funnell: Highlighting British breeding via young horse series *H&H Plus*


  • William Funnell reflects on the benefits of this very different year...

    AS the days shorten, normally we’d be looking forward to moving indoors but things are looking increasingly difficult this winter. With every indicator pointing towards a second wave of the virus, the loss of Olympia and Liverpool was inevitable, but is very sad for our sport nevertheless.

    For both national and international riders, Olympia is a big end-of-year goal – just to be there means you’ve had a decent season – so we will miss what is one of the most special shows in the calendar. That’s now the sixth World Cup show to drop out so it’s looking fairly fraught to say the least.

    Not a complete washout

    I’VE been lucky to get to a run of shows recently, including jumping on the Nations Cup team in Drammen where Great Britain finished second.

    The competition was supposed to be a run-up to the now-cancelled Nations Cup Final in Barcelona but it was still nice to show Di Lampard that our team horses are up and running for whenever things do get going again, and it’s exciting to have Billy Diamo proving he has all the potential to get on more teams.

    The next step is to try to get in the Olympic frame – it would be amazing to have that goal next year, so we have to live in hope that the Games do get the green light in one form or another. It does seem pretty positive on that front.

    The next generation

    WE took the young horses to both Bolesworth shows – the national and young horse championships – then to Hickstead’s national championships and the Nexgen young horse championships last week. It’s been refreshing just to enjoy those events, which all hosted age classes, as we haven’t been aiming for the second rounds this year.

    In my last column I said it would be interesting to see how young horses would progress this year with more time to spend training them at home. The results spoke for themselves as Billy Stud horses collected a raft of titles from each of these shows. What is great for us is that people are seeing so many of the horses we sold at our auctions going so well.

    The Nexgen championships really highlighted British breeding and was a great shop window, with top riders such as Peder Fredricson coming just to have a look at the talent on display – that kind of interest in British horses is a huge positive. I was expecting it to be better supported, but that could be about raising awareness.

    Breeders were well rewarded, as they should be when they produce a nice horse, but they should also be able to cash in and that’s where I think we’re missing out now – with no high performance sale and the loss of the Brightwells sport horse auctions, there really is no outlet for individual breeders.

    A different Christmas

    WITH nothing left in the international calendar, it seemed a good time to give my older horses a break, so the top ones have had their shoes taken off and have been turned out in the field. It’s not often they get the chance for a decent holiday and I can’t remember the last time I went so long without jumping at an international show!

    But in some ways it will be nice – for a start, we’ll be able to have a normal Christmas. The only downside to that is that I’ll no longer have an excuse to get out of the Christmas shopping…

    H&H 24 September 2020


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