Yesterday saw the climax to the thrilling CIC*** event at St. James’s Place. Surrey based Pippa Funnell pipped last weeks London Olympics test event winner, Piggy French, to the post at the Barbury International Horse Trials 2011.
In-form Piggy French placed second with her Badminton ride, Jakata just 0.6 penalties behind her GBR teammate Pippa. However, it was young rider Laura Collett who surely impressed selectors, improving on her top 10 finish at Badminton this year with a 3rd spot finish with Rayef.
It was an all British top 5 line up at the prestigious CIC*** event with Francis Whittington and Easy Target taking fourth, closely followed by William Fox-Pitt riding his 2010 World Equestrian Games ride Cool Mountain.
Talking about her win, who has won most the worlds major eventing titles, but never Barbury before:
“I wasn’t going to go for it, but Piggy wound me up. She said she wasn’t going to touch her horse’s mouth over the last four fences, so it spurred me on to do the same. I realised then that he was going well like that, and perhaps I don’t need to work at balancing him so much in future. Billy Landretti is only nine and I didn’t know how he was going to go. He felt as if he’d lost a bit of confidence after we had a fall at the fourth fence at Bramham, but we won at Salperton last weekend and, after a cross-country schooling session with Yogi Briesner (World Class Performance Manager), he was perfect.”
Piggy French was delighted with Jakata, her Badminton runner-up and the horse she hopes to take to the European Championships in Germany in August.
“He felt beautiful, the best he’s ever been across country. I wanted to run him a bit quicker and had put him in a new bit, a type of snaffle. He can be a bit difficult in his mouth and you have to be careful, so I didn’t know what he’d be like. Fortunately, he was really good.”
As last to go, Laura Collett had endured a long wait for her run and she admitted to feeling under pressure.
“I am a little bit gutted,” said the 21-year-old, who also lifted the Horse Trials Support Group’s best under-25 prize, “but I can’t complain about being beaten by Pippa and Piggy, two amazing people. Also, my main aim is the major autumn events. Rayef coped really well with the twists and turns. I’ve never ridden the three-star track before and I didn’t understand how quickly the fences come round. I played a little bit safe as I didn’t want to make a silly mistake.”
Piggy said she had enjoyed a “four-hour kip” in the afternoon, so missed the first part of the competition when five of the early riders suffered a fall in the Hippo Water (fence 17).
After discussions between the ground jury and riders, the fence was removed from the course and the optimum time adjusted accordingly. Nick Burton, president of the ground jury, explained:
“It was not riding well at the start of the class. Although this fence has been here at Barbury for at least three years, with minimal problems, the ground jury decided in the interest of the image of the sport to remove elements b and c.”
Only four horses achieved the optimum time of 6 min 30sec. The highest placed of these was Francis Whittington on Easy Target, fourth. Ireland’s Elizabeth Power was another, finishing sixth on Kilpatrick River behind William Fox-Pitt.
Rodney Powell, on second ride Happy Go Lucky, and Nick Gauntlett (Penguin Ice) were both well placed at the start of the cross-country but had falls in fence 16, the first water. Mary King parted company with Fernhill Urco at the double of corners.
There were 115 starters, of which 81 completed with 69 clear rounds. There were 22 clear show jumping rounds.