Funnell steams into lead

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The Independent Online
Pippa Funnell made a splendid start to the Calor Gas British Horse Trials Championships, taking the overnight lead in two classes after yesterday's first day of dressage, writes Genevieve Murphy from Gatcombe Park.

Funnell heads the first advanced section on the eight-year-old skewbald, Bits and Pieces, who felt "like a time bomb" during the dressage but, to her relief, failed to explode. She leads the Intermediate Championship on Designer Tramp, with whom she won the Windsor Three-Day Event in May.

For good measure, Funnell also won the four-year-old section of the Pet Plan Burghley Event Horse class on Triple Alliance who, like Designer Tramp, is among a string of promising young horses owned by Anne Burnett.

Karen O'Connor was the best of the four American riders who did their dressage in the advanced section yesterday. She is currently lying in second place, one point ahead of the three horses in joint third, which include two ridden by William Fox-Pitt: Loch Alan and the Bramham Three- Day Event winner, Cosmopolitan II.

The cross-country phase of the first advanced section and the Intermediate Championship will be run today, followed by the British Open and the second advanced tomorrow. Machines have broken up the ground, making the going better than might have been expected after weeks of baking sunshine.