Pippa Funnell ‘speechless’ at World Equestrian Games surprise

Britain’s eventing squad for the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky, USA, has been announced, and the list of six riders contains a few surprises – and surely some disappointment.

Former dual European Champion Pippa Funnell has been absent from Team GB since 2005 and admitted to being “speechless” at being selected with her exciting prospect Redesigned, winner of Bramham this year but only a nine-year-old and with no four-star form.

‘If anyone had told me six months ago, I never would have believed them!’ she exclaimed. ‘Though the horse is young, he has always impressed me.

‘I know Kentucky is still three months away, and I know as well as anyone the ups and downs of having horses, but it’s still a huge honour to be asked. It would be more than a dream come true to be riding with some of my old team mates.’

Pippa will be reunited with her great friends from young rider days – Kristina Cook, the reigning European Champion on Miners Frolic, and William Fox-Pitt, who won the Kentucky Three-Day Event in April on Cool Mountain – plus the evergreen five-time Olympian Mary King who, with Mrs Cook, were members of the last British team to win the world title, 16 years ago in The Hague. Mary, for whom it is a 13th British cap, will ride Imperial Cavalier.

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The experienced quartet are joined by the popular Nicola Wilson, who is likely to take the pathfinder slot with her brilliant cross-country horse Opposition Buzz, winner of the Barbury International last weekend, and Piggy French. The latter sprung to prominence last year when winning the European silver medal and has been selected on new ride Jakarta, second at Bramham last month.

The four non-travelling reserves all have the sort of form that would be the envy of other nations, and there must be some disappointment, not to say shock, in their ranks. However, with unpredictability of horses, at least one of them is bound to get their Kentucky ticket in the end and no doubt Oliver Townend, Daisy Berkeley, recent Luhmuhlen four-star winner Sharon Hunt and Lucy Wiegersma will seize the opportunity to give the £50,000 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (September 2-5) their best shot.