My return feels like a dream but I can’t sleep now, says Pippa Funnell in her interview with the London Evening Standard:
Great eventers, unlike great generals, do not fade away. They look for new horses to bring back the glory, and Pippa Funnell is convinced she has found the horse that can lead her to Olympic gold.
It is eight years since Funnell achieved what no one else in eventing has and claimed the Rolex Grand Slam, winning at Kentucky, Badminton and Burghley in the same year.
But, in the last five years, she appeared to have lost the appetite for top-class competition, missing the Beijing Olympics and turning to writing horsey books for children.
Now here we are, at her stables near Dorking, discussing the 43-year-old’s planned return to Badminton next month for the first time in four years. As she strokes her horse, Redesigned, she whispers: “Come on Red, we are going to the Olympics.”
The gesture makes her admit she hungers again for the “drug” of top-class competition and that nothing is as intoxicating as the Olympic Games.
“I did scratch my head after the Grand Slam thinking, no matter what I do, I am never going to have a year like 2003,” she says. “But, even that never felt like reaching the summit of Everest because I’ve never won an Olympic gold. Winning that gold in London drives me, absolutely. The Olympic experience is so incredibly special you pinch yourself and ask: is this real?”
Funnell was pinching herself last summer when she was chosen to compete with Redesigned for Britain at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky.