Love of her horses keeps Funnell returning to Burghley

·2-min read
Funnell is the defending champion having won the Trials the last time they were staged in 2019
Funnell is the defending champion having won the Trials the last time they were staged in 2019

By James Reid at Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials ​

A love of horses, not prizes, is what keeps legendary eventer Pippa Funnell coming back for more after the three-time Olympic medallist completed Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials’ infamous cross-country course twice on Saturday.

The defending champion went round on Billy Walk On and then Maja’s Hope to end the day 13th and ninth respectively heading into the final round of show jumping on Sunday.

Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials is back bigger and better than ever in 2022 after two years away due to Covid-19, but Funnell admitted the big occasions are not what keeps her in the saddle.

“What motivates me isn’t coming to Burghley and Badminton,” revealed Funnell.

“What I love more than anything is the relationships I have with the horses and that everyday journey to get to this level.”

Funnell is one of the more experienced riders on the circuit and had to use every drop of it to get round a difficult cross-country course set by Tokyo Olympic course designer Derek di Grazia on his Burghley debut.

Just 31 of the 52 riders made it round the course, with world no.1 Oliver Townend twice falling, and Funnell was pleased to have two shots at the track.

“I had to keep digging in,” added Funnell. “It was hard work but it was always going to be hard work.

“You have to ride it positively, and not give up. Ride with feel and Burghley has always been a course about feeling how the horse is doing with the terrain.

“It maybe rode a bit tougher than people anticipated. It rode a big track, but a good 5* track and you can see by the results the top ones came through to the top.”

Funnell admitted she had been struggling to sleep over the weekend, and was pleased to be able to lean on the shoulder of husband William, who made the trip up from Crowborough, East Sussex where the 2019 champion is based to help support.

“I’ll have a bloody big drink, check the horses are alright and I’m just delighted that they’ve both answered the questions,” said Funnell.

“He knew by the sound of my voice he needed to come up and it really, really helped having him here.

“Having someone to talk to that is close and knows me better than anyone else, it was good.”

Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (1-4 September 2022) returns after a two-year hiatus, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. A major international sporting and social event for over 50 years it attracts 80 of the world’s top equestrians and over 170,000 visitors. For more information visit www.burghley-horse.co.uk