Equestrianism: Clear run gives Funnell Derby win
Monday 03 July 2006
William Funnell gained his first victory in the DFS Derby after many years of trying when Cortaflex Mondriaan completed the only clear round of the three-horse jump-off in yesterday's closing contest of the British Jumping Derby meeting. Funnell beat David McPherson whose much faster round on Bob's Diamond was achieved at the expense of one mistake at the influential double oxer. Both horses had one fence down in the opening round over the marathon course of 16 fences - as did Geoff Billington who joined them in the jump-off to finish third on Cassabachus.
Funnell, the 40-year-old husband of three-day event star Pippa, thus became the first rider since 1979 to win both the Derby Trial and the Derby itself in the same year. Ireland's Eddie Macken, riding the great Boomerang, is the only other rider to have achieved this elusive double.
Getting Mondriaan fit after a colic operation in late December had been Funnell's principal goal at the start of the year. The 12-year-old's single error in the opening round came at the first part of the Devil's Dyke. "I was miles too quick going into it," Funnell said. "Mondriaan deserved to win, so I was glad I had a chance to make it up to him."
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