Equestrianism: Funnell stays calm to hold off Phillips

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The Independent Online

Pippa Funnell overcame the intense pressure of the last few weeks to jump a wonderfully composed clear show jumping round on Denise Lincoln's Primmore's Pride yesterday. In addition to winning the £25,000 first prize in the Burghley Horse Trials, she also claimed the Rolex Grand Slam reward of $250,000 (£160,000) for her hat-trick of wins at four-star level.

With Zara Phillips, the 22-year-old daughter of the Princess Royal, holding the narrowest possible advantage as they went into yesterday's final test, the atmosphere had never been as electric. New Zealand's Andrew Nicholson, less than a point behind the two British riders after Saturday's cross-country, gave them a little more breathing space when Lord Killinghurst hit the last of the 11 show jumps. A victory for either Briton would have thrilled those watching from the packed stands but, knowing how easily poles can fall, few can have dismissed the possibility of the Kiwi rider spoiling a great story.

Funnell's clear round put that out of bounds, but her Rolex pay-out was still in jeopardy until Phillips had a single error on Toytown coming out of the combination at fence nine to finish runner-up. Both had enthralled the crowds, who rejoiced in Funnell's achievment and were thrilled by the wonderfully stylish performance of Phillips, who must now be a contender to follow in the footsteps of both her parents by being selected for next year's Olympics.

Funnell said that she felt "completely shattered and immensely relieved" following all the pressure that accompanied the build-up to the event. After the cross-country, in which she incurred just 2.4 time penalties for finishing her clear round six seconds over the optimum time, she felt as though a great weight had been lifted off her shoulders and she "felt human again." By the time she rode in for yesterday's show jumping, she had forgotten about the money at stake and had decided "if it's meant to happen it will happen."

Phillips had not even considered the possibility of holding the lead on Saturday, after tackling her first cross-country course at four-star level. She had felt relaxed before yesterday's show jumping ("usually I'm quite wound up about it") and her only thought after Toytown dislodging a single pole was to try to clear the last two fences.

BURGHLEY HORSE TRIALS (Stamford, Lincs): Final results: 1 Primmore's Pride (P Funnell, GB) 41.8 penalties; 2 Toytown (Z Phillips, GB) 45.8; 3 Lord Killinghurst (A Nicholson, NZ) 46.4; 4 Carrick (J Williams, US) 53.0; 5 The Wexford Lady (S Cutteridge, GB) 54.0; 6 Little Tricky (B Davidson, US) 54.4; 7 Primitive Control (C Pratt, GB) 56.4; 8 Eye Spy II (P Stockton, GB) 59.2; 9 Master Monarch (A Hoy, Aus) 59.4; 10 The Psephologist (M-L Thomas, GB) 59.4.

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