Equestrianism: Funnell's Machiavelli speeds to victory

William Funnell gained his first victory since undergoing a groin operation in July when he rode Cortaflex Machiavelli to win the Speed Horse of the Year here yesterday on the closing day of the Horse of the Year Show.

On the same day his wife, Pippa, collected the runner-up prize at the Boekelo Three-Day Event in the Netherlands, where she and the ex-racehorse Ensign finished second to Bettina Hoy on Diamond Magic.

It had been a frustrating year for William Funnell. His top horse, Mondriaan, was ruled out of the Olympics because of a cracked splint bone and, because of his own groin injury, he then had to abandon the ride on Douglas Bunn's Buddy Bunn the day before the horse won the British Jumping Derby with John Whitaker on board.

He had the operation a month later, immediately after the Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead, and there were setbacks after that as well - when he was bucked off on to his shoulder and later when he tore the groin injury again. So it was good to be back on winning form with the versatile Machiavelli, who overtook a fast time set by Whitaker on Lactic to finish with just 0.21sec in hand.

Ireland's Billy Twomey, who finished a close third on Tropicana, had earlier recorded his third victory of the meeting (and his second with Whinnie Jackson) when he won the Grandstand Media Cup, with Funnell just behind as runner-up.

Louise Saywell won the Kraiburg Leading Junior Show Jumper of the Year, having teamed up with CJ's Kemosabi who took the same title here two years ago when ridden by Andrew Mizon.

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