Funnell triumphs despite difficulty

The third running of the Horse and Hound Eventing Grand Prix, when the best international event riders are invited to take on leading show jumpers, again fulfilled its billing as a unique and exciting contest at Hickstead yesterday. But it also proved disappointing as too many favourite riders and horses failed to finish, or collected huge penalties.

The third running of the Horse and Hound Eventing Grand Prix, when the best international event riders are invited to take on leading show jumpers, again fulfilled its billing as a unique and exciting contest at Hickstead yesterday. But it also proved disappointing as too many favourite riders and horses failed to finish, or collected huge penalties.

Even the winner, Pippa Funnell, on The Tournaline Rose who won this class for her in 1998, added 25 seconds to a fast time after five mistakes and, being a perfectionist, she felt she did not ride well. But they fully deserved victory and the gleaming Lotus Elise sportscar.

Funnell felt the course was bigger and more difficult. A dressage phase was omitted this year, and designers Jon Doney and Robert Lemiuex produced a difficult mixture of show jumping and cross-country obstacles, testing courage, speed and technical ability. Of 14 show jumpers, only Michael Whitaker finished after a true horseman's round on Evening Masquerade for second place. Asked why, he replied: "Because I was riding an event horse. It's confusing for regular show jumpers to leave the ring and meet strange fences."

Peter Charles, Robert Smith and William Funnell fell, Jean-ette Brakewell and Blythe Tait failed to finish, Andrew Hoy's Darien Powers put down 12 fences and Gary Parsonage and Magic Rogue made seven mistakes. Tanya Liddle and Drunken Disorderly were bold and exhilarating. They almost pulled it off by sheer speed despite 40 seconds for mistakes until the last two, Funnell and Whitaker, were more accurate.

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