PIPPA FUNNELL has replaced Northallerton’s Nicola Wilson at the top of the CIC three-star leaderboard, but insists a popular home win for Wilson remains the most likely conclusion.
Funnell heads the competition’s CIC event on striking grey Billy The Biz whose fine dressage score of 34.7 demoted Wilson’s Annie Clover to second heading into the last two phases.
But British star Funnell, whose Sandman 7 is also fourth in the flagship CCI three-star, insists Annie Clover’s superior experience will likely tip the scales back in the Yorkshire rider’s favour.
Wilson’s Watermill Vision also sits 11th in the CIC after dressage with Bulana equal 18th in the CCI.
But Annie Clover appears by far Wilson’s best chance of an elusive win at Bramham with Funnell insisting: “I don’t think Nicola will have a problem in the CIC because where her horse is at and where my horse is at - mine won’t be running as fast.
“I think she might have the edge, definitely.
“I want to go out and give him a good trip but the speed isn’t with where he is at at the moment.
“It’s about the future whereas Nicola’s horse is now more experienced and I think she will probably be a bit more competitive.
“Still, I’m not going to be trotting around and I’m really pleased with my horse.
“All he needs now is a horn and a pair of wings because he is like your little grey fairy-tale horse. He’s great fun.”
Funnell’s Mirage D’Elle is also 14th in the CIC after dressage with Beverley rider Gary Parsonage and Huddersfield’s world no 7 Oliver Townend sharing equal 27th respectively on Highland Cavalier and Samuel Thomas II.
Womersley’s Sophie Platt is 50th on Be Be III with Grafton’s James Sommerville 33rd on Talent after his Friday morning dressage test.
He too thinks Annie Clover is by far the competition’s most likely winner.
“She’s the best best horse in the event by far,” he said.
“She would be an odds on favourite.”
Wilson, meanwhile, is taking Funnell’s comments of ‘taking it easy’ with a pinch of salt.
“Once a competitor, always a competitor!” laughed Wilson.
“Pippa’s been amazing at the top of the sport for so so long.
“She’s somebody that I have looked up to for so many years so to be in the same league as her after dressage is wonderful.”