Equestrianism: Funnell to fly the flag with Ensign

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Pippa Funnell and William Fox-Pitt, who filled the top two places at last year's Badminton Horse Trials, will again be favourites when the Gloucestershire event begins today with the first of two days of dressage.

Funnell will not, however, be riding her 2005 winner, Primmore's Pride, who is being aimed at August's World Equestrian Games in Germany. Instead, she will be on the inexperienced former racehorse, Ensign.

Fox-Pitt has two proven mounts in the brilliant Tamarillo, runner-up at Badminton and in the European Championships at Blenheim last year, and the talented Ballincoola who won at Burghley. But he is well aware that things can go wrong all too easily with horses, having just returned from Kentucky where he was eliminated for a fall with Coup de Coeur, and retired Mr Dumbledore when the horse began to labour in the cross country.

There will be no dwelling on his American trip as Fox-Pitt prepares these lovely horses for Badminton, where he and Tamarillo won two years ago.

Australia's Andrew Hoy enjoyed Kentucky, having risen from sixth after the cross-country to gain an unexpected victory on Mister Monarch. He rides another two experienced horses this week: the reliable Mr Pracatan and the 2004 Burghley winner, Moonfleet.

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