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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
Philippa Rachel "Pippa" Funnell MBE (née Nolan, 7 October 1968) is an equestrian sportswoman who competes in eventing. In 2003, she became the first person in history to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing (consecutive wins at Rolex Kentucky, Badminton and Burghley). She also won Badminton in 2002 and 2005. At the European Championships, she has won two Individual golds (1999–2001) and three team golds (1999–2003). She is a three-time Olympic medallist, winning team silver in 2000 and 2004, and an individual bronze in 2004. She also competed at the 2016 Olympic Games.
Pippa 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.
Funnell lives in Ockley, Surrey with show jumping husband William Funnell. She married him in Uckfield in December 1993. Her horses have included Supreme Rock, Primmore's Pride, Sir Barnaby, Bits and Pieces, Walk on Star and Ensign.
Funnell was 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, she at first struggled to establish herself as a senior international and by her own admission suffered from nerves that were threatening to ruin her career. She began receiving help from sports psychologist Nicky Heath.
In 1999, Funnell 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 both with Supreme Rock, and silver again at the Athens Olympics of 2004, this time with Primmore`s Pride. 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, Funnell 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 Kentucky and Badminton, to earn a $250,000 bonus from Rolex. The Kentucky and Burghley victories were on Primmore's Pride, while the Badminton victory was on Supreme Rock. As of 2017, she remains one of only two riders to have won the Grand Slam. As a result of her 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, winning a bronze medal with the inexperienced Walk On Star and helping the British team to win their fifth successive team title. She also finished the year as the number one ranked rider in the world.
In total Funnell has won the Badminton Horse Trials three times: 2002, 2003 and 2005. She has won both the Blenheim venue and Windsor Horse Trials four times as well, the only rider yet to do so. With Funnell as rider, Primmore's Pride became the 1st horse to win all three major four star titles - Kentucky & Burghley in 2003 and Badminton in 2005 - thus becoming the 1st horse to win its own Grand Slam. She was made an MBE in the 2005 Birthday Honours.
After winning Badminton in 2005, Funnell did not win an international event for five years. Several of her top horses, such as Supreme Rock, Primmore’s Pride, Viceroy, Walk on Star, Cornerman and Jurassic Rising reached the end of their careers and were retired. With Ensign, she finished ninth at the 2005 Europeans. The combination were placed on the shortlist for the 2008 Olympics following a 2nd place at Pau CCI**** in late 2007. A fall at Badminton in 2008 put paid to them being picked.
In 2010, Funnell won her first international event for five years in the CCI3* at Bramham International horse trials on her upcoming horse Redesigned. They went on to finish 5th as an individual at the 2010 World Equestrian Games. In 2011, she won Barbary CIC3* on Billy Llandretti. In 2013, she won Tattersalls CCI3* with another upcoming horse, Billy Beware, who finished 6th at his first 4* event at Badminton Horse Trials 2014. This pairing were picked for the 2014 World Equestrian Games but injury unfortunately ruled them out. In May 2015, she won her third Chatsworth CIC 3* title aboard Sandman7. On 13 September 2015, Funnell won her 1st European team medal in 12 years helping GB win Team Silver at Blair Castle aboard Sandman 7. Since 2010, her horses have included Redesigned, Billy Beware, Billy the Biz, Billy Llandretti, Mirage D`Elle, Billy Cuckoo and Sandman7.
At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, riding Billy the Biz, Funnell was part of the British team that finished fifth. Her individual placement was 26th.
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.
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. Each title in the series tells a new story about Tilly’s adventures with horses and ponies. As well as the fictional story, each title also contains a tips section with expert advice from 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