Emotional Pippa Funnell ninth in Rio Olympics eventing dressage: ‘His late owner would be proud’

  • Pippa Funnell was emotional after taking ninth at the lunchbreak on the second day of eventing dressage at the Rio Olympics.

    Her ride Billy The Biz’s owner, Carol Toliver, died soon after the Brits final trial at Bramham in June.

    “It hit me like a thunderbolt, but she’ll be looking down and be proud of her little grey pony,” said Pippa.

    The rider was thrilled with how the inexperienced 11-year-old home-bred coped in the arena to record a score of 43.9.

    “I’m pleased with his mentality and how he coped in the arena,” she said. “There were blips I can go away and be frustrated about, such as not nailing the flying changes, but I’d be being greedy if I think about where he’s come from three years ago.”

    William Fox-Pitt currently retains his overnight lead with Chilli Morning and Britain still holds third in the team competition with one more rider from each nation to perform this afternoon. But elsewhere this morning’s test caused a big shake-up of the team leaderboard.

    Germany have slipped to the silver position after Julia Krajewski, who was pulled into the team from the reserve position, scored 44.8 for 11th on Samourai Du Thot.

    “It’s his first time in such an atmosphere and he can do better, but he did a really good job,” said Julia.

    France meanwhile have made big gains, moving up to team gold after last year’s European individual bronze medallist Thibaut Vallette took individual fourth on Qing Du Briot.

    “I gave him more breaks than usual during the warm-up due to the heat,” he said.

    The top three teams are less than two penalties apart, so there is everything to play for when the final riders come forward this afternoon.

    Continued below…

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    Last night’s leaders, Australia, have slipped to sixth after Stuart Tinney and Pluto Mio scored 56.8 and New Zealand are also a touch off the pace in fifth. Their rider this morning, Clarke Johnstone, was perplexed by his score of 46.5 with Balmoral Sensation.

    “I finished the test and thought it had gone well — there were no mistakes and he felt concentrated and relaxed, but the judges obviously weren’t so thrilled,” he said.

    The other standout test this morning came from Ireland’s Jonty Evans, whose 41.8 with Cooley Rorkes Drift puts him sixth. Ireland are fourth in the team standings.

    Jonty Evans and Cooley Rorkes Drift at the Rio Olympics. Picture by Peter Nixon

    Jonty Evans and Cooley Rorkes Drift at the Rio Olympics. Picture by Peter Nixon

    “I arrived here and rode around the arena on the second day and thought, ‘I love this’ and it’s been a bit like that all week,” said Jonty. “I’m thrilled with him; he couldn’t have tried any harder.”

    Full 25-page report on the eventing from Rio 2016 in H&H next week — out Friday, 12 August. H&H is published on Friday instead of Thursday next week only to allow us to report the full competition from the Olympics.

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