The Billy Stud is a joint venture between William Funnell and Donal Barnwell, together they have developed a successful breeding program for the production of homebred British sports horses. The Billy Stud is now in its 22nd year but it all started from small beginnings……
William and Donal have been great friends for many years since back when William was based with the late Cyril Light at the Brendon Stud. They have always bought and sold a few horses together. With William’s talent as a jockey and Donal’s knowledge and eye for a horse, led them to some successful purchases, one of them being a mare called Tatum. Little did they realize at the time that Tatum would go on to become the foundation mare of the Billy Stud.
Tatum was an Irish bred mare Clover hill/ Sky Boy. From the offset William & Donal thought that by crossing great Irish blood lines with some top European stallions had the potential to produce some fantastic sport horses for both Showjumping and Eventing. William states, ‘ to be a great jumper in today’s classes, the horses have to not only have great technique and ability they also need to have a lot of blood’.
At the time a good friend of Williams, Morten Aasen owned the top Dutch warmblood jumping stallion Animo. Animo had competed in 48 World Cup qualifiers and had been to the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. William had always liked Animo and as seen with many of his progeny he gives them great confirmation, a powerful hind leg and extra blood. A stroke of luck maybe but because Morten was local to William he decided to cover Tatum with Animo, this proved to be a perfect combination.
The first foal was born Chestnut and Donal referred to him as Orange, but at the age of 4 when he went to Williams yard he was known as Billy, and from there came his show name Billy Orange. This would eventually lead onto become the ‘Billy’ prefix for all the horses from the Stud. Billy Orange was very Successful with William before being sold onto Roelof Bril where he went onto compete up to super league level. The second foal was a filly called Autum, Later to be called Billy Autum, again by Animo. As a 3yr old they decided to cover the filly with a stallion that William and Donal had just purchased together after seeing him jump around the Oslo Grand Prix clear as a 7yr old, the Stallions name was Vechta, Autum produced a black colt foal.
Billy Autum was then broken and sold as a 7yr old to Canada where she forged her own successful showjumping career, including winning a car at the very prestigious Spruce Meadows show in Calgary. By this time Autum’s colt foal was now a 4yr old and because of his great blood lines and his good conformation they decided to keep him entire and called him Billy Congo.
They thought a lot of Congo from day one but at this early stage could only dream that he would go on to be so successful with William at the highest level in showjumping. 2013 alone has seen the partnership finish in the top six at four of the six global tours he has competed in and been part of the Gold Medal winning team at the European Championships in Denmark.
As William and Donals’ breeding program continued to grow they bought in more mares based on both there results and bloodlines. They also now use many homebred mares.
In the year 2000 they acquired the stallion Cevin Z from the late Heather McPherson, Cevin Z had a successful jumper including finishing 3rd in the Foxhunter final at HOYS before concentrating on his stud career. Cevin Z’s breeding record speaks for itself, his progeny are very successful in both the showjumping and eventing disciplines, to name a few Borough Penny Z was the highest placed mare at the 2012 London Olympic games finishing 10th individually and competing on the Italian eventing team and in showjumping Billy Onshow, he was produced and competed by Pippa Funnell before Dan Moseley jumped him on senior Nations Cup teams. He has since been sold to Norwegian rider Eirin Bruheim who won the 2* Grand Prix at both the Global Champions tour in London and Wiesbaden.
As the Stud grew so came the idea to give all the horses the Billy prefix, it is now known throughout the Equestrian world as more Billy horses reach the elite level in both showjumping thanks to horses such as Billy Congo, Billy Birr, Billy Bianca, Billy Grand and Billy Angelo, and in Eventing Billy Landretti, Billy Shannon and Billy Beware to name a few.
At the Billy Stud near Dorking the team of young horses is continuing to grow, There are 80+ mares to foal down in 2013, these are based at Donal’s yard. The Stud mainly now uses there own Stallions, Billy Congo and Cevin Z, Billy Tudor and Billy Du Montois.
The stud is not only looking to cater for the elite horses and riders, as they have many young horses with the potential to excel in all areas of the sport.
William began riding ponies as a child on the family farm in Ashford, Kent. He was born into a farming and hunting family. When he was not doing farm duties he would ride the family ponies. At the age of 16 he has the choice of leaving school to start farming, or showjumping. When Cyril Light of the Brendon Stud in Sussex offered him a job as second stable jockey to show jumper Simon Trent, he chose the latter option.
He has had success at the highest level in international show jumping, 2013 has been a great year so far, especially with Billy Congo. After finishing 4th in the London leg of the global champions tour, William went on to jump triple clear in Cannes to finish second, and an unlucky pole in the final round in Monte Carlo prevented him winning the class, but another 2nd place finish meant that he moved up to fourth in the global champions tour ranking list, with over £150,000 worth of winnings from the 2013 global tour season alone. William and Billy Congo finished off the summer in style by being part of the Gold medal winning team at the European Championships.
William and Cortaflex Mondriaan joined the elite ranks of three time Hickstead Derby winner adding the 2009 championship to their wins in 2006 and 2008. Last to go in the international arena they achieved the only clear round of the day and the first clear in the Hickstead Derby for five years, a great achievement for William and his team and their sponsors.
William Funnel is a world-renowned show jumping rider with over 20 years experience at the top of his sport. He has won over 20 International titles and has represented his country all over the world at the highest levels.
He has represented Great Britain on 27 different occasions involving 2 European Champonships and has won over 50 International competitions.
William has been bringing on young horses for some 20 years and has his own philosophy on how this should be done.
Young horses need time to mature and should not be rushed. William tries to give them much more time out in the fields so there bones, ligaments and muscles develop as they would in the wild and at a “natural rate”. While this means that they may mature later than horses of similar age which have been brought on quicker Williams feels they have a more substantial foundation of bone and muscle on which to build.
Each horse is brought on slowly and carefully depending to its attitude and development. All the horses undergo similar work at a early age and are not streamed into eventers or show jumpers. This happens at a much later stage with William taking charge of those that may be destined for show jumping and Pippa Funnell managing the development of those that seem to have the latent skill as eventers. Even when streamed William feels that cross discipline work can still help bring a horse on.
Donal was brought up in a farming family in Co Wexford in the heart of Irelands horse industry and from an early age was involved with horses. He went to agricultural college, graduated and farmed pigs commercially for 3 years until he could resist a career with horses no longer.
His first job was with the late Pat Cash, where he spent 3 years learning the business and developing his own unique philosophy and outlook on selection, breeding and training. Being a farmers son and a stock man gives Donal a unique perspective on horses and accounts for ability to see potential in a horse which others may miss.
Donal is recognised as having one of the best eyes in the business. Overall athleticism and conformation is important but Donal also looks at the head and eye to get a real feel for a horse. Donal moved to England 25 years ago to work for one of Pat Cash’s clients near Maidenhead. Donal developed the business and extended his business contacts in England before setting out on his own.
18 years ago he set up on his own from rented dealing yards near Chichester and 10 years ago moved to his current yard in Kirdford, West Sussex. Historically Donal has specialised in eventers although with The Billy Stud he has broadened out into breeding competition horses for all disciplines.
Twenty years after winning her first National Championship with Sir Barnaby, Pippa Funnell is firmly established as one of the world’s leading three day event riders.
Throughout a long career, Pippa has consistently been at the top of 3 Day Eventing having cemented her place back in 2003 when she achieved a landmark record by winning the Rolex Grand Slam (consecutive wins at Rolex Kentucky, Badminton and Burghley). As well as a healthy bonus from Rolex, Pippa earned herself a place in the history books as the first person to achieve this feat.
A year later she broke yet more records when she became the first person to win the Blenheim International Horse Trials for an incredible fourth time. This was followed by success at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, where she helped the team to Silver before taking the individual Bronze medal. Her list of achievements has continued to expand, with Pippa repeatedly placing well at all the major events, and includes claiming both the Badminton and Windsor titles on more than one occasion.
With her best selling autobiography and her range of ‘Pippa Funnell’ computer games continuing to top the game sales charts it’s clear that Pippa’s determination, drive and devotion to her sport, is proving an inspiration to many. Pippa’s appeal continues to grow and with the launch of ‘Tilly’s Pony Tails’, her popularity is set to expand further still.
Away from eventing Pippa has also received many awards which include the Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year Award, the Sports Journalist Association Pat Besford Award for Outstanding Individual Sporting Achievement, as well as being named BBC South’s Sports Personality of the Year and reaching the last five of the overall BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
Pippa was awarded an MBE in 2005.
Pippa is married to international show jumper, William Funnell.