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Pippa Funnell and Redesigned at the Ducks Nest during the cross-country phase of Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials 2009
|Full name||Philippa Rachel Funnell|
|Born||7 October 1968
Crowborough, East Sussex
Pippa Funnell MBE (born Philippa Rachel Nolan, 7 October 1968) is an equestrian sportswoman, regarded as one of three-day eventing's sporting elite[by whom?]. In 2003, she was the first woman to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing (consecutive wins at Kentucky, Badminton and Burghley.) Her most famous horses are Sir Barnaby, Supreme Rock, Bits and Pieces, Primmore's Pride and Ensign.
Funnell was born in Crowborough, East Sussex on 7 October 1968 to Jenny and George Nolan. She grew up in Mark Cross and went to the Mark Cross CE primary school. She attended the independent boarding school Wadhurst College on Mayfield Lane in Wadhurst. Aged 16, she persuaded her parents to allow her to leave school, after which she based herself with Ruth McMullin, establishing one of the sport's most renowned training partnerships. In 2005, Funnell was made an MBE (Member of the British empire) in the Queen's Birthday Honours.
Pippa Funnell became European Young Rider Champion in 1987 after successfully competing on Sir Barnaby at Bialy Bor, Poland. Despite a successful career as a junior and young rider, Pippa at first struggled to establish herself as a senior international. Too often she would put up a brilliant performance in the dressage phase and then throw it away with mistakes on the cross country course. By her own admission she suffered from nerves that were threatening to ruin her career.
Help from sports psychologist Nicky Heath has produced a dramatic change and meant she has become the backbone of the British team. In 1999 she became European Champion at Luhmühlen riding Supreme Rock and again on the same horse in 2001 at Pau ("Les Etoiles de Pau" – France). She was a member of the British teams that won silver at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, bronze at the World Equestrian Games in 2002, and silver again at the Athens Olympics of 2004. In addition, Funnell won the individual bronze medal at Athens. (She competed at the Athens Olympics as 'Philippa' rather than 'Pippa' as 'Pipa' in Greek is slang for a sexual act.)
In 2003 she became the first rider ever to complete the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing by adding the Burghley title to her victories earlier in the year at Lexington and Badminton, to earn a $250,000 bonus from Rolex and a place in the history books. As a result of her phenomenal achievements she was voted Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year 2003 and was in the top five of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards. She then went to Punchestown in Ireland to defend the individual European title that she had won in 1999 and 2001. Without the great Supreme Rock, on whom she had won her two previous titles, she narrowly failed to make it three in a row, clinching a bronze medal with the inexperienced Walk On Star and helping the British team to win their fifth successive team title. Pippa also finished the year as the number one ranked rider in the world.
The past two years have been quieter for Funnell in terms of competitive success. Several of her top horses, such as Supreme Rock, Primmores Pride, Viceroy, Walk on Star, Cornerman and Jurassic Rising reached the end of their careers and were retired. Funnell nevertheless remains in the spotlight with Ensign, who narrowly lost an individual medal at the 2005 Europeans and ensured the combination were placed on the shortlist for the 2008 Olympics following a 2nd place at Pau CCI**** in late 2007. Funnell has also kept herself preoccupied with talented youngsters. Already a renowned producer of young horses, having won a record number of Burghley Young Event Horse classes and numerous medals, she now has an enviable string of young horses poised to place her back in the spotlight, such as Ensign, who she has been touchingly expansive over.
Media Activities and Writing
Funnell has appeared on DVDs produced by Equestrian Vision, including Pippa Funnell, Road to the Top and The Funnell Factor, and in 2005 wrote her story in Pippa Funnell: The Autobiography.
Ubisoft has released a number of horse videogames starring Pippa Funnell. These include Pippa Funnell for the Nintendo DS and Game Boy Advance, Pippa Funnell: Stable Adventure for the Game Boy Advance, and the PC games Pippa Funnell: The Stud Farm Inheritance, Pippa Funnell: Take the Reins (also for PlayStation 2), Pippa Funnell 3: The Golden Stirrups Challenge (more commonly known as Horsez), and Pippa Funnell 4: Secrets of the Ranch. Pippa Funnell: Ranch Rescue was released in 2007 on the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo Wii.
Pippa Funnell is also the author of a series of children’s books called Tilly's Pony Tails, published by Orion Children’s Books in the United Kingdom.
The first two books in the series, Magic Spirit and Red Admiral were first published in May 2009. The series has now been extended to eighteen titles in all. The first four titles have also been recorded as unabridged audiobooks, read by sports presenter Clare Balding.
The central character, Tilly Redbrow, is an adopted child, who is passionate about everything to do with horses and ponies. In the first book in the series, Magic Spirit, Tilly helps rescue a neglected horse. Tilly discovers that she has a special gift for communicating with horses, and when she helps Magic Spirit, Tilly meets Angela, who owns a stables called Silver Shoe Farm. Angela invites Tilly to spend time at Silver Shoe Farm, learning about riding, training and caring for horses. Tilly soon makes friends at the stables and spends all her free time there. Each title in the series tells a new story about Tilly’s adventures with horses and ponies that she comes into contact with, as well as her growing relationship with Magic Spirit. The series is also linked by an unfolding story about Tilly’s background and birth, the only clue to which is a bracelet made of horsehair. As well as the fictional story, each title also contains a tips section with expert advice from Pippa Funnell on all aspects of horses and ponies.
Titles of the books
- Magic Spirit: the dream horse (2009) ISBN 9781842557099
- Red Admiral: the racehorse (2009) ISBN 9781842557105
- Rosie: the perfect pony (2009) ISBN 9781842557112
- Samson: the stallion (2009) ISBN 9781842557129
- Lucky Chance: the new foal (2009) ISBN 9781842557136
- Solo: the super star (2010) ISBN 9781842557143
- Pride and Joy: the event horse (2010) ISBN 9781444000818
- Neptune: the heroic horse (2010) ISBN 9781444000825
- Parkview Pickle: the naughty show pony (2010) ISBN 9781444000832
- Nimrod: the circus pony (2010) ISBN 9781444000900
- Moonshadow: the Derby winner (2011) ISBN 9781444000917
- Autumn Glory: the new horse (2011) ISBN 9781444000924
- Goliath: the rescue horse (2011) ISBN 9781444002591
- Buttons: the naughty pony (2011) ISBN 9781444002607
- Rusty: the trustworthy pony (2011) ISBN 9781444002614
- Royal Flame: the police horse (2011) ISBN 9781444002621
- Stripy: the zebra foal (2012) ISBN 9781444002638
- Free Spirit: the mustang (2012) ISBN 9781444002645
Audiobooks, read by Clare Balding
- Magic Spirit (2010) ISBN 9781409111856
- Red Admiral (2010) ISBN 9781409111870
- Rosie (2010) ISBN 9781409123071
- Samson (2010) ISBN 9781409123095
- Funnell, Pippa (2005). Pippa Funnell: The Autobiography. Orion. ISBN 0752865196.
- Pippa Funnell's complete competition records
- Brief biography
- Series website for Tilly's Pony Tails
- Books by Pippa Funnell on the Orion Publishing Group website