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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.
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.
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.