Equestrian icons: Pippa Funnell

By Carla Passino on |



The Queen of British eventing looks set to make her bid for the European crown. After a stroke of bad luck kept her out of the 2012 London Olympics and the 2014 World Equestrian Games — her top horses got injured in the run-up to both events — Pippa Funnell has been selected for the European Eventing Championships at Blair Castle with Sandman (and Second Supreme as a reserve).

Few riders can rival Funnell’s achievements. She was the first rider to win the Rolex Grand Slam when she bagged victories at Rolex Kentucky, Badminton and Burghley in 2003. A year later, she became the first rider to win four Blenheim titles — while also landing team and individual medals at the Athens Olympics, after having bagged the team silver at Sydney in 2000.

Named Sportswoman of the Year in 2003, she was then awarded an MBE in 2005. Now she returns to the European team, with whom she has already won several medals.

But Funnell is not just an accomplished competitor. She also helps produce horses at the Billy Stud, the joint venture between her husband, international showjumper William Funnell, and breeder Donal Barnwell, stars in her very own Pippa Funnell video games and has written a delightful series of books for children, Tilly’s Pony Tails.
Here are some of Funnell’s best moments:

At this year’s Badminton

Funnell rides across country at Badminton 2015 with her European Championship reserve, Second Supreme. She was 12th with Redesigned at 23rd with Second Supreme.

Bronze at the Olympics warm-up in 2011

Although she had to give the London 2012 Olympics a miss, Funnell won bronze at the warm up competition, the LOCOG Test Events, aboard Billy Shannon.

Silver at the 2008 Eventing World Cup

Funnell finished in second place at the HSBC FEI World Cup Eventing final in 2008 behind Clayton Fredericks and ahead of Frank Ostholt.

Riding Primmore’s Pride to victory in 2005

The partnership with Primmore’s Pride brought Funnell many triumphs, including at Badminton in 2005.

At the 2004 Athens Olympics

Funnell was part of silver-medal-winning Team GB at the Athens Olympics, along with William Fox-Pitt, Leslie Law and Mary King. She also won an individual bronze.

The Supreme pair in 2003

One of the greatest equestrian partnerships of all times: Funnell with Supreme Rock.

Sportswoman of the Year in 2003

Funnell, shown here at her nomination for the Sportswoman of the Year, won the award in 2003.

Silver at the Sydney Olympics in 2000

Funnell, with Leslie Law, Jeanette Brakewell and Ian Stark, won team silver at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

With Sir Barnaby in 1990

Sir Barnaby, pictured here with Funnell in 1990, was the first horse that the Sussex-born eventer rode to victory when she earned the title of European Young Rider Champion at Bialy Bor, in Poland, in 1987.

Relaxing at the yard

Funnell is fond of dogs, as well as horses.

See how Funnell landed to Rolex Grand Slam:

Main image: Funnell at the Malmö City Horse Show in 2013 by L.E Daniel Larsson, CC BY 2.0


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