Equestrianism Funnell retains lead by a fraction

It was widely predicted that the dressage leader Pippa Funnell and the second-placed William Fox-Pittwould retain their positions after yesterday's speed and endurance phase at the Badminton Horse Trials, and so it proved.

It was widely predicted that the dressage leader Pippa Funnell and the second-placed William Fox-Pittwould retain their positions after yesterday's speed and endurance phase at the Badminton Horse Trials, and so it proved.

Funnell managed to control the huge, exuberant Primmore's Pride, forfeiting 3.6 time penalties in doing so but retaining a lead of just 0.6 over her rival, who added nothing to his dressage marks on the athletic Tamarillo. It was a huge relief to their fans, after a day where feelings of certainty soon evaporated.

The cross-country course, considered on the easy side by some pundits beforehand, proved difficult enough despite perfect conditions underfoot. After the first two competitors, Andrew Nicholson, riding Fenicio, and Andrew Hoy on Mr Pracatan, finished fast and clear, good dressage marks looked to be the crucial factor. But it was not until No 55, the unconsidered Japanese rider Yoshiaki Oiwa, that they were overtaken.

Oiwa, who is based at Gatcombe with the Hoys, was barely recognisable as the same rider who tackled Burghley last September and failed to complete the cross-country. His clear round with just 0.8 time penalties carried him into the lead. Oiwa had little eventing experience when he acquired the 18-year-old Voyou Du Roc, who will retire after today's showjumping.

Hoy later rode his second horse, Master Monarch, into a useful fourth position, while the British riders Polly Stockton (Tangle Man), Daisy Dick (Spring Along) and a newcomer at Badminton Oliver Townend (Topping) will have caught the eye of the selectors. But it was a bad day for the Olympic gold-medallist, Leslie Law, who fell with both his team horses, Shear H2O and Shear L'Eau, and for Francis Whittington, who retired after refusals on Spin Doctor.

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