An Eventful Day at Burghley Horse Trials

Pippa Funnell (GBR) on MGH Grafton Street. Image credit Steph Freeman

A day of thrills and spills at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials sees just 33 riders complete the demanding track, but Great Britain’s Pippa Funnell remains in the lead of a British stranglehold of the top three, riding MGH Grafton Street. Adding just four time faults to their dressage score, the combination lie on 26.8 going into tomorrow’s show jumping.

Pippa Funnell (GBR) on MGH Grafton Street. Image credit Steph Freeman
FEATURE IMAGE: Pippa Funnell (GBR) on MGH Grafton Street. Image credit Steph Freeman

‘Not pretty but effective’ would be the best way to summarise the 2003 Burghley winners’ round with the 11-year-old gelding.

I was bringing two young horses who were five star first timers, and when I walked the track I actually had a good feeling, it was dimensionally one of the biggest five star tracks I’ve ever seen, I felt the fences were fair but you had to stay focused, brave, committed and you had to make your corrections to the horses travelling forwards.”

Climbing up from equal fifth place overnight is Badminton 2019 winners Piggy French and Vanir Kamira, sitting just 0.1 penalty behind Pippa on a score of 26.9.

Piggy French (GBR) on Vanir Kamira. Image credit Mike Bain
Piggy French (GBR) on Vanir Kamira. Image credit Mike Bain

I thought it was an enormous course when I walked it and the oxers at The Maltings [fence 13] rode as big as they did walk which was quite a scary feeling!” Piggy had previously expressed her concern about the double of gates at fence 16, Land Rover at the Lake, but the pair made light work of it on their round, “I thought it was hideous but you do have faith in [Mark Phillips] who has built so many courses over the years and you think, “they are there to be ridden and be attacked”.

Just half a penalty point sits between Oliver Townend – who was 5 seconds over the optimum time of 11 minutes and 14 seconds – and Pippa Funnell. Oliver’s 2017 winner and 2018 runner up, Ballaghmor Class clearly suits the demanding Burghley track:

Oliver Townend (GBR) on Ballaghmor Class. Image credit Mike Bain
Oliver Townend (GBR) on Ballaghmor Class. Image credit Mike Bain

he’s answered a lot of questions and we know he runs the trip, it’s just a question of me giving him as smooth a ride as possible so it’s more pressure for me to make sure I do give him a nice ride at every fence. It’s probably the nicest ride I’ve had on him here.”

Third place after dressage, Izzy Taylor had an unfortunate fall at fence 16 when Springpower hit the second of the two gates and tipped her out of the side door as he lost his shoulder. Burghley 2018 champions Tim Price and Ringwood Sky Boy had a seriously unfortunate fall as the horse stumbled entering the water ahead of fence 24 ahead of the Lion Bridge which saw them both taking an early bath and a soggy walk home just before the end.

The eyes of the public were on Zara Tindall as she made her first appearance at Burghley (and a 5 star event) since 2017. Unfortunately, she fell from Class Affair at fence 7C, The Holland and Cooper Leaf Pit. According to her father, course designer Captain Mark Phillips

the horse just showed a bit of greenness down the leaf pit and then over that fence as plenty of other horses met the fence on that stride and jumped it.”

But a year is a long time and the pair will live to fight another day.

When asked about how he felt about the number of eliminations and retirements – 20 and 11 respectively – Mark Phillips believed that the course wasn’t any more difficult than previous years:

you don’t set out to only see half the field finish, you like to see a lot more but everybody said at the beginning,

if you don’t ride forward on this course, you’re going to be in trouble”, and sadly we saw a lot of people not riding forward and finding trouble.”

However, the general consensus amongst riders was that “Burghley was Burghley” and the course was fair, it wasn’t designed to trick riders and the fences were there to be jumped – they were visible and presented well to them.


Bringing up the rest of the top five are Sweden’s Ludvig Svennerstal and Stinger, a fair way behind on 38.8 who rose from 29th place overnight, and Great Britain’s Sarah Bullimore riding Reve Du Rouet who are trying to better their 2018 fourth placing.

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Author: Suzanne Ashton Founder, Everything Horse Ba Hons Marketing Management email:

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