Bicton Provides a Day of Five Star of Competition
Having stepped up to the plate to host the UK’s first five star event since 2019, The Chedington Bicton Park 5* Horse Trials certainly delivered on an action packed day of cross country and with a trio of Britain’s finest women taking the lead, it proved that girls really do run the world.
Overnight leader after dressage, Pippa Funnel produced, in her words, “the best 5* cross country ride I’ve ever had” to cross the line with 4.8 time penalties with Billy Walk On to finish up the day in third place. “I’m not bothered about the placing and dropping down the leader board,” she beamed of the 12 year old gelding, “I’m just so thrilled for him and for his owners [Barbera and Nicholas Walkinshaw] that we had such an amazing round.”
Storming around the course in her customary gusty style, leaping up the leader board from 9th place after dressage into overnight second, was Gemma Tattersall riding 5* first timer Chilli Knight. The son of 2015 Badminton winning Chilli Morning stormed around the course to produce the first clear rounds inside the time of the day to Gemma’s delight. “I’m just so thrilled with him,” she said visibly emotional, “he walked around the warm up on a long rein and when I told him we had a 5* course to jump round he just opened up his stride, pricked his little ears up and jumped everything I told him to. I couldn’t be prouder of him.”
Badminton 2019 winners Piggy March and Vanir Kamira showed the world why they are the best 5* cross country combination, taking on the course with their usual steely determination. Stopping the clock inside the time they improved on their overnight second place to finish in the top spot going into the cross country. “It was in the back of my mind after two years off, “gosh will she remember how to go around a five star course, will I remember?””, she said, “but as soon as we were over fence three and she was raring to go, I knew we’d be absolutely fine and we both loved every minute of being back out on a course again.”
Of the course which saw eight riders retire on course and further 4 eliminated, Piggy commented “terrain-wise, it truly is a 5 star course and adding that to the cumulative effect of the jumps really made it a tough track. It wasn’t until fence 16 that you could really take a breath and drop the reins on the horse’s neck for a little bit before tackling another hill.”
The feeling of gratitude amongst the riders is clear, “we couldn’t be more grateful to the organisers for producing such a fantastic event in such a short space of time.” Pippa said of the Burghley replacement 5* event, “to think they managed to do so much in such a short space of time is incredible,” she exclaimed.
Pippa, you’re not alone. Driving up to my first equestrian event in two years, I felt exactly the same. All hail Bicton and their incredible team – we are all truly grateful to the astonishing amount you have achieved and the amount of incredibly hard work you will have had to do in order to accomplish it.
Roll on show jumping today, but whatever the result, Bicton truly has already delivered a five star competition.