Equestrianism: Funnell builds on Tibor's potential in opening salvo

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The Independent Online

Ludo Philippaerts, a stalwart of the Belgian team, defeated the Briton by a comfortable margin, but there were plenty of big names behind him in the field of 63 horses. Some of them, however, were in less of a hurry. Michael Whitaker, second best of the British in 16th place, contented himself with a slow clear round on Portofino.

Funnell acquired Tibor, who is by the prolific Belgian stallion Darco, four years ago. He won the Young Horse Championship in Rotterdam as a seven-year-old and the Grand Prix in Dubai early last year before taking an enforced break because Funnell was suffering from a groin injury. The gelding has continued to impress this year, notably at Hickstead last Thursday when he jumped clear to finish third in the Derby Salver.

Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, winner of this year's World Cup Final, was among the early starters for the later Stawag Preis in which she and Checkmate flew round in a time that nobody could catch.

Funnell was among the many who went for a slow schooling round, finishing on two time faults on Mondriaan, again best-placed of the Britons. Funnell took the wise decision to save him for Aachen in the hope that his performance would strengthen his claims for a place in the World Equestrian Games that will be staged here next year.

Ellen Whitaker, meanwhile, was unconcerned about the 12 faults she incurred with Locarno in the Stawag. The stallion, who was due to compete in last month's European Championships until he contracted a fever, was feeling "a bit rusty'' after his lay-off. "He was the same in Palm Beach this year, he needed a couple of classes to get him going again,'' Whitaker said.

Aachen Super League Show (Germany): accom-Preis: 1 Tauber Van Het Kapelhof (L Philippaerts, Bel) clear, 62.88sec; 2 Cortaflex Tibor (W Funnell, GB) clear, 66.02; 3 Glenn (A Pollmann-Schweckhorst, Ger) clear, 67.15. Other GB: 16 Portofino (M Whitaker) clear, 79.61. Stawag Preis: 1 Checkmate (M Michaels-Beerbaum, Ger) clear, 73.73; 2 Schnee Strum (D Lynch, Irl) clear, 74.58; 3 Granie (M Fuchs, Swit) clear, 74.66.

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