Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials delivers the best of British talent
By Lynne Lomax Photos Courtesy of Peter Nixon
Pippa Funnell won the 2019 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials by just 0.1 of a penalty following an epic battle which kept spectators on the edge of their seats until the last hoof of MGH Grafton Street cleared the final fence.
Just 0.5 of a penalty separated the top three combinations – all British – going into the final showjumping phase, but as all three had a pole down the nail biting tension remained sky high right to the final seconds of the Lincolnshire CCI5*-L event.
Second place by the tiniest of margins went to Piggy French and Vanir Kamira, winners of Badminton Horse Trials 2019 and the only combination to finish the Burghley cross country course clear and within the optimum time.
In third place and just 0.4 of a penalty adrift from the winning score was Oliver Townend and the consistent Ballaghmor Class, Burghley winners in 2017 and second in 2018. All three elite riders, along with Tina Cook, had brought home a silver team medal from the Longines FEI European Eventing Championships the week previously and their increased confidence showed in the way they dominated the leaderboard almost from the start.
Pippa, who was delighted to be in the lead after dressage with an accomplished test from the 11 year-old bay gelding, was clear cross country but 10 seconds (four penalties) over the optimum time. Piggy’s clear round moved her up from fifth place after dressage to second, while Oliver, second after dressage, received two time penalties which dropped him to third just below Piggy.
For the remaining field Captain Mark Phillips’ true 5* track proved hugely influential, with success going to those who attacked with conviction, respected every fence, rode accurately and stayed focused. Although questions were asked throughout, the most significant challenges came mid way at Fence 13 Joules at the Maltings, where the direct route offered a combination of two massive oxers and a very big corner. Gemma Tattersall (Arctic Soul), Hazel Towers (Simply Clover), Doug Payne (Vandiver, USA) and Marcelo Tosi (Glenfly, Brazil) parted company here.
Next question was Fence 14 The Rolex Combination, offering a bending direct route over a left hand corner, four strides to the famous ‘Vicarage Vee’ rail over a ditch and four strides to a right hand corner. An alternative offering a bounce to rails as the middle element was chosen by many as a safer route, although seven combinations still received penalties.
Two upright angled gates with a downhill approach at Fence 16 Land Rover at the Lake proved the downfall of Izzy Taylor (Springpower) who were third after the dressage phase, Richard Skelt (Credo 111), Bruce Davidson Jr (Jak My Style, USA) and Thursday’s overnight dressage leader Eliza Stoddart (Priorspark Opposition Free).
Pride may have been hurt but the frangible technology which was very much in evidence throughout the cross country course is certainly making the sport safer and all horses and riders walked away unscathed – a fact emphasised by Captain Mark Phillips at his close of day interview.
After cross country there were seven British riders in the top ten. Sarah Bullimore (Reve Du Rouet) moved into fifth place, Gemma Tattersall (Santiago Bay) put her fall from Arctic Soul behind her to go clear and into sixth place, Imogen Murray (Ivar Gooden) leaped up the leaderboard from 60th after dressage to eighth place while Becky Woolven (DHI Babette K) rose 20 places from 30th to 10th.
Separating them were Ludwig Svennerstal (Stinger) for Sweden in fourth, Tim Price (Bango) for New Zealand in seventh and Sebastien Cavaillon (Sarah D’Argouges) for France in ninth. Next British rider was the popular Ben Hobday (Harelaw Wizard) at 14th after a clear round.
Tim Price was not so lucky with his 2018 Burghley winner Ringwood Sky Boy, as he had an unscheduled ducking in the water between fences at the Lion Bridge after the horse stumbled.
In the end it was down to who could leave Richard Jeffery’s jumping course standing and although ten combinations managed clear rounds the top three were too far ahead to be caught.
For Pippa, whose previous Burghley victory was 16 years ago when she also claimed the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing, it was a return to the very top of the sport. Buoyed also by her team success at the European Eventing Championships, the 50 year-old said:
“This has been an incredible journey. I would like to say the horses keep me young — it’s the belief in them and the belief in their talent. I love working with them and I enjoy every moment of the sport, but these last two weeks have been a surreal experience.”
Turning to Event Director Elizabeth Inman, she added:
“Burghley is incredibly special. On behalf of all the riders I’d like to thank you and your great team for running a fantastic competition.”
Oliver Townend added:
“Burghley is my favourite event – this time it has been amazing and better than ever. I believe, as British riders, we are in a very special point at the top of the sport. . We’ve all competed at a lot of five-star events, but this year I’ve been lucky enough to win Kentucky, Piggy has won Badminton and now Pippa has won Burghley.
“People say that the Germans are a long way in front of us, but I think we are in a very good position.”
Watch The Highlights From This Year’s Event!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHkLGC_fIoo
The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials
Stamford, Lincolnshire 5 – 8 September 2019
- Pippa Funnell (MGH Grafton Street) GB 30.8
- Piggy French (Vanir Kamira) GB 30.9
- Oliver Townend (Ballaghmor Class) GB 31.3
- Sarah Bullimore (Reve du Rouet) GB 39.6
- Tim Price (Bango) NZ 41.6
- Imogen Murray (Ivar Gooden) GB 44.4
- Gemma Tattersall (Santiago Bay) GB 45.1
- Ludwig Svennerstal (Stinger) SWE 46.8
- Lauren Kieffer (Vermiculus) USA 53.1
- Ariel Grald (Leamore Master Plan) USA 57.7
Peden Bloodstock International Pairs Challenge
- Pippa Funnell GB / Ludwig Svennerstal SWE
- Piggy French GB / Caroline Powell NZ
- Oliver Townend GB / Arthur Duffort FRA
Worshipful Company of Farriers Best Shod Horse Award:
Farrier of Ivar Gooden
Tattersalls Horse Care Prize:
Winner Tamsin Thurlow, groom to Reve du Rouet;
Runner-Up Paige Watson, groom to Harelaw Wizard
Highest placed first timer:
Ariel Grald (Leamore Master Plan)
Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse (Five year-old final)
- Matthew Wright (Caunton First Class)
- Camilla Earnshaw (Trinity Match Me)
- Jeanette Brakewell (Jack Daniels)
Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials 2019 in numbers:
- Nations taking part: 7
- Starters (dressage): 67
- Starters (cross country): 64
- Cross country course completions: 33
- Clear cross country: 23
- Clear and within the time: 1
- Horse falls: 5
- Unseated riders: 9
- Starters (show jumping): 31
- Clear rounds: 10
Date for your diary: Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials 2020:
NEW: Five day opening Wednesday 2 – Sunday 6 September