Going into stadium today, Pippa Funnel had only a hair’s whisker of a lead over Piggy French (whom she calls “Piglet”) and Oliver Townend. Wearing her lucky number, 77, she managed to hold onto the lead when all three riders had one rail down and win by 0.1 penalty point riding MGH Grafton Street.
It’s been 16 years since Funnel won the Burghley title riding Primmore’s Pride; the same year she was the first winner of the Rolex Grand Slam. This was her first major eventing win since 2005, when she won Badminton, also on Primmore’s Pride.
There were two good omens that gave Pippa hope.
“I was delighted when they gave me the number 77,” says the rider, who wore back number 7 at the Europeans. “It’s a really lucky number for me – if you look at my Tilly’s Pony Tales books, Tilly wears the number 77.”
The early loss of her hat silk on course also signalled good things to come: “I thought, ‘oh my god, I’ve ridden around the whole course with an egghead, and I always make these faces like I’m hating every minute, so it’s going to look awful! But then I remembered – when I won here on Primmore’s Pride, I’d lost my hat silk and was an egghead then, too!”
However, Pippa Funnel, who describes herself as not being very brave, made her own luck. This year’s Burghley course was tough as nails and her horse had never competed at this level before.
“Full credit to the horse – he’s been absolutely amazing, but he’s also been quite a comedian, and he’s owed us a big win because he should have won Blenheim twice, and he should have won Tattersalls, and I said I’m going to keep going because I’m sure there’s a big one in him. But I can honestly say I never thought it was going to be Burghley. It’s an amazing feeling.”
Congratulations! What a feel good win.