William Funnell and Billy Congo delivered a classy performance on the second day of the Equestrian.com Liverpool International Horse Show.
The 1.50-metre jump-off class saw Funnell and the 15-year-old stallion at their best with an immaculate display that showcased everything about the horse’s poise and power. Twelve combinations made it through to the jump-off, but Funnell’s time of 35.28 seconds proved too much for the rest of the field. Only Ireland’s Billy Twomey actually went quicker on Diaghilev — but they had the last fence down.
Peter Charles, who is Liverpool-born, finished second with the promising Dauphin, while Irish challenger Dermott Lennon was third aboard Fleur IV.
Funnell collected a first prize of £6,000, and he was understandably delighted. “I wasn’t going to do anything daft tonight,” he said. “I kept everything tight and neat, and luckily it forced a few errors.
“He has won at five-star level, he has won more than £600,000 in his career, and he is a class act.
“His results speak for themselves. I have won a five-star grand prix with him, and he is a horse of a lifetime. It’s lovely to have a horse of that quality.”
Funnell also offered high praise for inaugural Liverpool Horse Show. “You run out of superlatives for this show,” he added.
“We have tried to give entertainment, and you can see with the riders that we are really enjoying the show. The whole thing is just fantastic.”
Italian Piergiorgio Bucci also lavished praise after claiming an impressive victory aboard his Nations Cup campaigner Casallo Z.
Bucci made it another successful Italian job following his compatriot Emanuele Gaudiano’s victory on Friday, and there was no doubting his supremacy in the 1.45 metre class against the clock.
“I have enjoyed this show so much,” he said. “This is the first year at Liverpool, and they have done an amazing job. It is so impressive.”
Bucci prevailed in a time of 46.44 seconds, after Britain’s Laura Renwick had set a scorching pace aboard Heliodor Hybris, clocking 47.50 seconds, while Twomey challenged strongly with Tin Tin. Ultimately, though, they had to settle for second and third places, respectively.
Three other combinations — Nicole Pavitt (Victor Blue), John Whitaker (Lord of Arabia) and Johnny Pals (Urjul van Generhese) — all clocked a quicker time than Bucci, but each of them had a fence down.
Reflecting on his £6,000 triumph, Bucci added: “It was a tough class.
“Normally, he is my grand prix horse. He has jumped many clear rounds, but it was good for my horse to have the turns to do today. I am very pleased.”