Equestrianism: Funnell reclaims title with Supreme Rock
Monday 05 May 2003
Pippa Funnell lived dangerously for the second week running before reclaiming the Badminton Trophy, which she had received here 12 months ago on the wonderful Irish-bred Supreme Rock. In the process, however, she used all but 0.4 of the 10.4 penalty points she had in hand over the Finnish rider, Piia Pantsu, who came so close to winning here at her first attempt. Pantsu and Britain's Jeanette Brakewell, who finished third on Over to You, achieved two of only six clear rounds.
The previous Sunday, when she rode Primmore's Pride to victory at Lexington in Kentucky, Funnell had incurred six show jumping time penalties to win by a whisker. Yesterday she had one fence down for four jumping penalties, plus another six on time. Had she been a mere second slower on either occasion, Funnell would have lost the plum prize. "I was possibly aware that the last phase of eventing needs to be made a little bit more exciting," she said, tongue in cheek.
Funnell also filled sixth place on Cornerman, but she was not happy with the way she rode her earlier mount. As a result, she was more nervous before her round on Supreme Rock than she had been last year. She could face an even more nerve-racking finale at Burghley in September, since her victories here and at Lexington mean that she would collect the $250,000 (£165,000) on offer in the Rolex Grand Slam were she to triumph at the Lincolnshire event as well.
As the result of a fence being removed before the last 11 of 72 horses had started on Saturday's cross-country, the riders discovered some changes in the standings yesterday morning – although the top two remained the same. An official statement said: "The cross-country course has been remeasured and the reduction in distance as a result of removing fence 22 is 42 metres. The times for all the horses that went before the alteration will therefore be adjusted by 4secs and the removal of 1.6 penalties."
The most significant effect of these adjustments meant that Jeanette Brakewell, who was well within the original optimum time on Over to You, dropped two places. "I was very disappointed when I heard I'd gone from third to fifth, but I can't see I'll benefit by making a fuss," she said. In the end, it made no difference, her clear show jumping round having brought her back to third place.
There were nevertheless heated discussions about the rights and wrongs of this decision, which effectively penalised the best performers among the first 61 starters. It would have seemed more equitable to tighten the time for the last 11, albeit retrospectively, because they were taking a slightly shorter route.
Four riders received treatment on Saturday at Frenchay Hospital, where Anna Hasso, of Sweden, will required surgery for a fractured pelvis. Britain's Karen Dixon and Bruce Davidson, of the United States, were discharged after dislocating their shoulders, as was another Briton, Vicky Brake, who had lacerations to her leg.
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