5-8 September 2024

Burghley image

Fabulous start for Funnell

The top two at this year’s Defender Burghley remain unchanged after Friday morning’s session of dressage, but Pippa Funnell slots in to third.

Friday, September 01, 2023 - 13:13
Pippa Funnell Majas Hope DBHT 98339

Oliver Townend retains his overnight lead with Paul and Diana Ridgeon’s Swallow Springs on 24.2, while newly-crowned European champion Ros Canter holds onto second place with Annie Makin and Kate James’ Pencos Crown Jewel on 26.9.

Fifth in to the arena this morning, two-time Burghley winner Pippa Funnell expertly steered Majas Hope, a horse she describes as the most challenging she’s ridden in her career, to a score of 28.5. The pair finished 16th here last year.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” said a relieved Pippa after her test, which had some real highs but was marred slightly by the horse jogging in the walk sections. “He always makes me scratch my head and draw on all my experience to find out what works for him at big events. His trot work was some of the best he’s ever done but he just doesn’t walk well. I had to stay brave and go for all the movements when he hollowed out after the walk.”

American rider Will Faudree punched the air in delight as he exited the arena on the German-bred Mama’s Magic Way - and with good reason. Another somewhat excitable character, the 12-year-old Hanovarian gelding largely contained his exuberance to score 29.4, which was good enough for fourth at this point in proceedings.

“He’s like a three-year-old on a sugar high at Disney World being chased by Goofy,” laughed Will. “But I love him and when he’s on it he’s amazing.”

Emily King and Valmy Biats now sit fifth on 30, with Tom McEwen (Luna Mist) and Oliver Townend (Tregilder) both on 30.5 in sixth and seventh.

The final session starts at 1.45pm, when the first into the arena will be France’s Arthur Duffort and Toronto d’Aurois.