5-8 September 2024

Burghley image

Pippa Funnell back where she belongs

British riders dominate the final standings at this year's Defender Burghley.

Sunday, September 08, 2019 - 16:45
LR Pippa Funnell MGH GRAFTON STREET TM19 123393

The top three remained unchanged today at Defender Burghley Horse Trials but the final show jumping phase was anything but dull. Pippa Funnell, the last British woman to win Burghley, walked away with the highly coveted trophy aboard Jonathan and Jane Clarke’s MGH Grafton Street, 16 years after her last win here with Primmore’s Pride.

Both she, Piggy French (second with Vanir Kamira) and Oliver Townend (third with Ballaghmor Class) all lowered a pole in the final phase as the competition went down to the wire.

Pippa’s initial response to her win was typically self-depreciating and analytical: “I’m really embarrassed by that round and in shock – big shock,” she commented, struggling to gather her composure after what was clearly a very emotional win.

“He’s not the best show jumper but I’ve always been convinced he had a big win in him – what an incredible two weeks with this and the Europeans.”

The omens were good from the outset when Pippa was drawn 77th in the starting order, as 77 is the number the character Tilly in her series of childrens’ books always rides in. Pippa also sees the number 7 as being lucky after wearing it when Primmore’s Pride won here in 2003 as part of her historic Rolex Grand Slam.

2019 Badminton winners Piggy French and Vanir Kamira finished second, just .1 of a penalty behind the winners, on 30.9. Their show jumping round started ominously when they had the first fence down but the mare picked up after this.

“It could easily have been four down,” admitted Piggy “so I’m delighted to be second to be honest. She owes me nothing after everything she’s achieved so I’ve got to be happy.”

2017 winners and 2018 runners-up Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class jumped a beautifully smooth round after lowering fence two.

“It's been a wonderful competition all week,” he commented. “It was a bit of a cheap fence to have if I’m honest as he barely touched it, but Piggy and Pippa have been amazing all week and their horses were just too good. I think British eventing is in a really good place right now as we’ve all had big wins between us this year.”

Below the top three, show jumping faults played quite a significant role in the fine shape of the leaderboard.

A clear round bumped Sarah Bullimore and Reve Du Rouet up one place to fourth on 39.6, equalling their 2018 result.

“I’m more than happy with that,” said Sarah. “He was fabulous in there. It was a big atmosphere but he felt as cool as a cucumber whereas it would have totally freaked him out a couple of years ago.”

Last year’s winner Tim Price finished fifth with Bango, bettering the 10th place they achieved here last year.

“It was a lovely round and I’m really pleased for the horse as it's finally feeling like everything is starting to come together for him - he’s not always been the easiest,” he said.

A clear round also moved Imogen Murray and Ivar Gooden up another place to finally finish sixth from 60th after dressage. By contrast a fence down dropped Gemma Tattersall and Santiago Bay down to seventh and two down dropped Sweden’s Ludwig Svennerstal and Stinger from fourth overnight to eighth.

Two American riders completed the top ten – Lauren Kieffer and Vermiculus were ninth on 53.1, with Burghley first timers Ariel Grald and Leamore Master Plan’s clear round moving them up two places to 10th.