Defending champion Funnell gets off to promising start

THE competition heated up and so did the weather at the second day of Bramham International Horse Trials yesterday. The sun continued to shine which drew more crowds and attendance figures are already up on last year.

Attendance on Thursday was up by seven per cent to about 7,500 with even more crowds expected today for cross-country day.

Last year’s winner Pippa Funnell has gone into the lead in the CCI three-star competition with her homebred horse Billy Landretti finishing on a score of 37.4.

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The next three places went to German riders with Simone Deitermann, Kirsten Thomsen and Kai Rueder in second, third and fourth places respectively.

Nick Gauntlett, who had led after the first day of dressage, dropped down to sixth place, just ahead of Oliver Townend who is tied in seventh place alongside Rodney Powell.

Northallerton’s Nicola Wilson finished in 22nd place, riding Bee Diplomatic.

Funnell won the competition last year riding Redesigned and they went on to compete in the World Equestrian Games. Billy Landretti has less experience, but is showing great potential and this will be one of his biggest tests to date.

Funnell, who was accompanied by owner Jane Clarke, said they had hoped he would do well in the dressage.

“He’s lovely on the flat, but with the atmosphere he can be a bit spooky,” said Funnell.

At all his big events to date this spookiness has been his main problem but he managed to cope with a big crowd around the dressage arena yesterday, stopping for a good look at everybody before leaving the ring.

The big challenge for the competitors in all three of the competitions will be Ian Stark’s cross- country course today.

“I don’t know how he’ll go on the cross-country. It will be a big test for them all,” added Funnell. “It’s not one fence in particular here, it’s an accumulation of a lot of big fences..”

The Bishop Burton College Under-25 CCI three-star competition got underway yesterday with Irish rider Camilla Spears leading after the dressage.

Riding Portersize Just a Jiff, she finished on a score of 46, just a fraction ahead of Helen Dunning. Ben Hobday was third with Jolyse Clancey, from York, riding On Springs in seventh.

Spears, 21, is trained over here by Ian Woodhead who is based at Sheriff Hutton and making her debut at Bramham

Neil Spratt, from New Zealand, remained in the lead after the second day’s dressage in the CIC three-star event on 38 points.

Spratt won this event two years ago riding the same horse, Upleadon, and is hoping this is a good omen – although he admits that today’s cross-country course will prove to offer up “ a good challenge.”