EQUESTRIANISM: Funnell steams ahead to victory

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The Independent Online
Pippa Funnell retained the overnight lead that she had established on Saturday, with an impressive cross-country round on Bits and Pieces, to win the Blenheim International Three-Day Event after yesterday's final show jumping.

This was Funnell's second victory in the contest, which she first won in 1993 on Metronome - and her second three-day event success of the year, having ridden Designer Tramp to victory at Windsor in May.

Yesterday Funnell could afford two show jumping errors and she made only one - at the third fence from home - to defeat two riders with clear rounds: Paddy Muir on her home-bred mare, Maisy Brown, and New Zealand's Victoria Latta on Broadcast News.

Latta travels to Italy on Friday to ride Chief in the European Open Three- Day Event Championships, which will be the 17-year-old horse's 20th and last three-day event.

David O'Connor, of the United States, who had held a clear lead after the dressage was concluded on Friday, had to withdraw Giltedge when the horse injured himself before the cross-country.

Japan's Yoshihiko Kowata withdrew ignominiously, after receiving an official warning for his "unsympathetic riding" on Star de Riols at the 26th cross- country fence.

Funnell's winning skewbald partner, Sarah Jewson's Bits and Pieces, attacked the cross-country course with relish on Saturday and was one of only two horses to finish within the optimum time of 10 minutes. The eight-year- old, who looks a great prospect for the future, is as nimble as Funnell's former partner, Sir Barnaby.

Funnell's husband, William, now moves into the limelight as a member of the British squad for this week's European Show Jumping Championships at St Gallen in Switzerland.

BLENHEIM INTERNATIONAL THREE-DAY EVENT (Woodstock, Oxon): Final results: 1 Bits and Pieces (P Funnell, GB) 47.0 penalties; 2 Maisy Brown (P Muir, GB) 54.4; 3 Broadcast News (V Latta, NZ) 59.0; 4 Legs Eleven (T Randle, GB) 60.9; 5 Out and About (K Millikin, US) 64.6; 6 Loch Alan (W Fox-Pitt, GB) 66.2.