Tag Archives: William funnell

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How to win the Puissance on a horse you’ve never ridden before

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Horse Scout reporting at the TheraPlateUK Liverpool International Horse Show 

 

The Puissance is the ultimate test of horsemanship. It measures bravery, scope and the ability to hold your nerve. It is an event that never fails to fill seats and excite a crowd and cause a stir. This year’s Puissance at Liverpool International unfolded like a fairy tale and the end to a great year for British rider Matt Sampson, who finished in joint first after clearing 7ft 3” (2m20). Not only was he a relative rookie against the big red wall, but he achieved the feat with a horse he was riding for the very first time- Laura Renwick’s Top Dollar VI.

 

Eleven combinations competed which ran for the maximum five rounds. It was whittled down to just two in the final round with Matt sharing the honours with Irish youngster, Michael Pender. Michael was riding the scopey mare Hearton du Bois,  with whom he won the Dublin Horse Show Puissance this year.

 

Matt’s catch ride, Top Dollar VI may have more experience than his rider, having jumped a number of Puissance classes with Laura. In fact, the pair won the class at Olympia in 2017 but Laura decided to hand the reins over to Matt less than an hour before the class. That being said, to take on any new horse before a class and win it, is one helluva feat. Let alone to put faith in one another to jump the unjumpable.

 

Matt reveals how he prepared himself mentally for the challenge:

 

“I didn’t know him at all but maybe that’s not always such a bad thing. I just tried to ride forward to it and give him a little bit of room because he’s such a big horse. You’ve just got to keep them confident but then he’s a very good horse. It got easier each time as I just figured him out and trusted him a bit more and it just went on from there.”

 

So what does it feel like jumping that wall? “It feels amazing” he smiles. “I’ve actually only done one Puissance before at a show in Holland. So I didn’t have a lot of experience in the class.”

 

Preparation outside is minimal he explains. “It’s very hard to prepare in the warm up to jump a wall. Because we don’t have a wall in there, we just have a vertical and an oxer. I did a couple of verticals and an oxer but only about 1m40 to 1m 50 high. In comparison to what we are jumping in the arena, it’s not a lot but I think it’s better to keep the horses confident so if they go in the ring thinking that they can jump it, then it’s got to give you a better chance.

 

About an hour before the class, Laura (Renwick) rang me and asked me what I was doing and I said “nothing”. So she said did I want to ride her horse in the Puissance.

 

When asked if he had many catch rides in his career. He responded humbly with “not really”. Until legendary jumper Geoff Billington interjected with “he’s the King of Catch rides this one” referring to Matt’s win in the Hickstead Speed Derby on a catch ride Top Flight True Carlo in Hickstead’s Derby meeting.  In May, Matt had the biggest win of his career when claiming the prestigious Hamburg Derby, aboard Gloria van Zuuthoeve.

 

Whilst it is apparent, Matt would love to ride the gallant chestnut, Top Dollar again, he is philosophical about it. “I don’t know if it will happen again- probably not. But if I don’t ride him again, it was a good way to end on a high. He jumped amazing and it filled me with confidence.”

Written by Ellie Kelly

Liverpool International Horse Show - Dressage - Charlotte Dujardin

Wowed by Liverpool

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Our roving reporter, Ellie Kelly heads down to the TheraPlate UK Liverpool International Horse Show  to check out the action.

 

It was my first visit to Liverpool-  both the city and the show and I have not been disappointed. Despite the 600 mile round trip, within hours of being there, I decided to make it a regular fixture. Nina Barbour has delivered a first-class event to this vibrant city. In a part of the world which is rich in horse enthusiasts and professional riders but surprisingly short of major equestrian events. Testament to the quality and production of the show, leading riders from the worlds of showjumping and dressage were competing, even at a time when many professional yards wind down over Christmas. Still a relatively new show, Liverpool International is gathering momentum but with leading riders some great entertainment, I wasn’t surprised to see the Echo Arena with very few empty seats.

 

On the first day, Charlotte Dujardin reminded she is no one-hit wonder when claiming the Equitop Myoplast Freestyle Dressage. The multi-medaled Olympian scored 81.938% on her flashy eight-year-old mare, Florentina VI in the Intermediate 1 class. Earlier in the evening, she paraded Valegro to an excited crowd at the Echo arena.

 

Also on Friday, teen showjumper Jack Whitaker won the Liverpool International Under 25 Grand Prix, sponsored by Equerry Horse Feeds. The son of Michael Whitaker has had another great year, including winning a silver medal at the Youth Olympics in Argentina.

 

It was a great day for the girls on the second day. Pony rider Claudia Moore repeated her great Liverpool victory of 2017 in the 148cm Championships, sponsored by Carden Arms. Claudia was a member of Great-Britain’s Pony European Championships this summer, where she claimed individual bronze. In the evening, Harriet Nuttall who scored the fastest jump-off time to win the four-star Voltaire sponsored jumping class, somewhat fittingly as the Somerset rider is sponsored by Voltaire.

 

On Day three Harry Charles underlined his status as one of world showjumping’s most exciting prospects by claiming a brilliant victory at the TheraPlateUK Liverpool International Horse Show.

 

The 19-year-old, from Alton in Hampshire, won the 1.45m international speed class, sponsored by Hope Valley Saddlery, with bay mare Doulita.

 

It proved to be a thrilling competition, with Harry’s time of 57.28 seconds proving just enough to edge out Graham Babes. They were both members of Great Britain’s gold medal-winning European Young Riders team earlier this year.

 

“It was an amazing win,” Harry said, after collecting a £7,300 victor’s purse. “I own the horse, which makes it extra special. I’ve had her a year, and every day I have put work into her to get her to this level.

 

Harry, son of London 2012 Great Britain team showjumping gold medallist Peter Charles, added: “It has been an absolutely fantastic year for me. Liverpool last year was my first real big show, and since then my whole career has taken off. I put a lot of pressure on myself. I want to win every time, it is the best feeling in the world, and I chase that every day in training. I want to make sure I do my best.

 

It was England and Ireland who shared top honours in the Puissance on Sunday evening. Yorkshireman Matt Sampson and Irish challenger Michael shared the top prize after they both jumped 2.20 metres (7ft 3in) to clear the famous red wall in a class sponsored by Equitop GLME.

 

And for Matt, it was a remarkable result, given that he only knew about his ride – Top Dollar VI – barely 30 minutes before the start after its regular rider Laura Renwick rang and offered him the ride.

 

“I’ve only ever done one Puissance before but he filled me with confidence and it got easier as I figured him out a bit more,” said Matt.

 

There will be more hot off the press action from the final day of the TheraPlate UK Liverpool International Horse Show.

 

 

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Because it’s Great to be British!

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Celebrating a great equestrian summer with Horse Scout

Oliver Townend

We may have lost the football and are about to be politically screwed by the rest of Europe but the UK have plenty to celebrate in the Equestrian world.

 

For starters, British riders occupy the top three spots in world ranking for eventing. In showjumping and dressage, we still possess the individual Olympic gold medal. In horse racing British trainers, jockeys and breeders continue dominate the sport, as was evident at the Investec Derby, at Royal Ascot and in recent bloodstock auctions.

 

It has been a brilliant year for our Horse Scout advocates too and we are proud to put our brand behind all of them. William Funnell has just won the Al Shira’aa Derby at Hickstead on the exciting homebred Billy Buckingham. The pair have also been named as part of the British squad for the Nations Cup at Hickstead later this month. A good result here could see them heading out to Tryon for the FEI World Equestrian Games in September.

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Not only is Oliver Townend World Number One event rider, he has an unbelievable three horses listed for the British squad heading to the World Equestrian Games, whilst Emily King recently won the Under 25 National Championships at Bramham.

 

The busy season is in full flow and we have a long tradition of hosting some of the greatest events in the world. With a most memorable Badminton, Windsor, Bolesworth, The Hickstead Derby and Royal Ascot behind us, we look ahead to the Polo Gold Cup, The Royal International Horse Show, The Festival of Eventing, the London leg of the Global Champions Tour and Burghley. At Horse Scout we have our finger on the pulse and it’s important for us to be in the thick of this sporting action, so we have a presence at all of these events.

 

We also have some great ticket giveaways and offers coming up so you can celebrate the best of British sport ringside.

 

Horse Scout are in partnership with the team at The Longines Global Champions Tour for their forthcoming London leg, which takes place at Royal Hospital Chelsea from 3rd-5th August. This means we can offer an exclusive 20% discount on tickets over the weekend. Plus we still have limited tickets available to join us in the GC Champions Lounge. Starting from just £50, the premium package offers access to the Champions Lounge Bar, where you can mingle with the riders, chairs and high tables, panoramic views and a free welcome drink. https://www.horsescout.com/longines-gct-london

 

Written by Ellie Kelly

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Derby Victory for Funnell

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We are so excited that Horse Scout Advocate William Funnell, has just claimed his fourth victory in the Al Shira’aa Derby at Hickstead for so many reasons. Not just because he has been a supporter of Horse Scout from the beginning but also because he was riding a British homebred horse. This was the 57th Derby which began in 1961, now sponsored by Al Shira’aa. This year it attracted a strong and very international field of riders but the Brits dominated.

Once again flying the flag for the Billy Stud, William was riding the 10-year-old Billy Buckingham by Billy Congo out of a Clover Hill mare. The impressive 18.2hh gelding was one of two to go clear in the first round of the imposing track. This resulted in a jump-off- almost unheard of in this competition,  against Holly Smith and the equally massive Irish bred Quality Old Joker by OBOS Quality. Holly has produced the 11 year old since a youngster and perhaps surprisingly, the 18 hand chestnut is as good at speed classes as he is at Derby’s and Puissances.

The first to go in the jump-off, Billy Buckingham was clearing the fences with inches to spare. Until the pair fell foul of the water jump and a foot in the splash, meant they finished with four faults in a time of 89.62sec. This gave Holly a bit of breathing space, but she was caught out first by the black gate and then by the water as well, meaning she they had to settle for runner-up.

William is the fifth rider to have four wins in the Hickstead Derby, having previously clocked up a catalogue of victories in 2006, 2008 and 2009 with his legendary long-term partner, Cortaflex Mondriaan. He joins other greats like Harvey Smith, John and Michael Whitaker, and Ireland’s Eddie Macken, who have all had four wins, in what is still perceived as one of the hardest showjumping events to clock a clear round in, let alone win.

William rates Billy Buckingham as the perfect Derby campaigner and believes there will be more wins to come . “As long as I’m fit and the horse is fit you’d like to think you could go on and win it a fifth time. It’s nice to be in the record books with those guys, and to do it this year on a home-bred is special,” he said.

Billy Buckingham was previously ridden by Lucy Townley, the daughter of Hickstead Director Edward Bunn. William took over the ride in 2017 and was the star performer of the British team in the Nations Cup in Denmark last June. Just a few weeks later, the pair finished sixth on their Derby debut having hesitated at the top of the Bank and getting a time fault as well.

“We’ve done a bit of practice to make sure he’d come down the Bank. Last year I wondered if I’d wasted a clear round because they don’t come round here very often, so it’s nice to get another one and win it on a home-bred by Billy Congo.”

William was full of praise for the show at Hickstead, which has always been happy hunting ground for him. “I’d like to congratulate the Bunns on the work they’ve done in the arena, this is the best grass ring in the world with the best footing.”

It was a great event for both British riders but also the girls this year, with Holly in second and Harriet Nuttall in third on another great Irish bred horse,  A Touch Imperious by Touchdown, This super consistent pair who have been together since “Henry” was just five years old, left all the poles up. Alas they were another pair to be caught out by the 15ft Open Water. Harriet shared third place with Shane Breen on the Canturo sired stallion, Can Ya Makan, who had one rail.

James Whitaker ended up in fifth place with one fence down and a time fault on Glenavadra Brilliant, the horse James’ elder brother William Whitaker rode to victory in 2016.

 

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The Billy Way

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William Funnell in the hot seat: how to select a young show-jumper and the state of the British market

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The world renowned Billy Stud operation started 22 years ago. It has subsequently produced a great number of notable showjumpers and eventers with the Billy prefix. The Billy Stud was the brainchild of William and Pippa Funnell, together with renowned sport horse dealer Donal Barnwell, who relished an opportunity to use their combined experience from showjumping and eventing at the very highest level, to improve British sport horse breeding. They are now breeding around 80 foals a year. We caught up with William to discover more about the stud’s philosophy, what he looks for when evaluating young sport horses.

 

Conformation is key and can be evaluated at a young age according to William. “They must be straight limbed but not straight in the hock because they usually struggle to sit behind. The hind leg is important for power to push off the ground as is the back. Just as the front legs are important for landing so these need to be straight and strong. They are likely to stay sounder and we all know a lame horse is worth nothing.”

 

When assessing conformation, William always looks at the loading points of a horse – so the hocks, front limbs and feet. “If these are not correct in the young horse, they are going to wear out much quicker and the horse won’t last” he says.

 

“In terms of the paces, I’m not too worried about a flash trot for a showjumper but I do like to see a horse step up underneath himself with the hind leg. You can tell a lot about a horse from his canter, even at a young age. The hind leg should be active and naturally move underneath the horse, not out behind.”

 

Whilst William believes you can tell a lot about the quality of a horse as a youngster in terms of its physical attributes, he say it is harder to judge temperament and trainability in the young horse. “In my experience, the sensitive ones can often be the horses who learn the quickest, once they understand what you want them to do. Sometimes the young horses who at first seem a bit aggressive, if you are quiet and build their trust once they realise you are a friend, they can become the nicest ones and often the horses you can build the best relationship with. They just need to let you in.”

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William would not consider buying a horse without X-rays, of any age but he is prepared to take a view on the findings. “X-rays are important for the long term especially in a young horse. I am less bothered about a chip of a bone spur and, if the horse is older with a good record, there is emphasis on completely clean X-rays, if the horse is sound whilst it has been worked and competed.”

 

The Billy Stud assess their youngsters regularly from the day they are born but they start being broken at three years old. “We start in March and send them to Will Plunkett who breaks five in a month. Before they go there, they will be handled well for a few weeks, loose jumped and X-rayed and we assess what we are going to put in the auction which happens in October.

 

The stud has held their own auction for the last two years now and are having great results. It is an online auction, whereby William, Pippa and Donal take a selection of the best three year olds and four to six years olds. Each one is fully assessed and X-rayed by an independent vet and potential buyers can come to see the horses in the flesh before choosing whether to put in a bid. The horses under saddle are also available to be tried. Videos and profiles of each horse is available online for those unable to view and brave enough to take a punt without seeing the horse. All X-rays and vettings can be released to prospective buyers for their own vet to evaluate.

 

William prefers to sell the Billy babies directly through their auction rather than sending them to others in the UK and abroad. “This way we are responsible solely for the quality of our own horses as it can be a real mixed bag at other sales. People trust us and know that we are not going to misrepresent what we are selling. It has proved a success so far  because people are seeing the Billy horses out performing now. They can come here and see 15 or more horses plus the vettings and X-rays and with an online auction, they under no pressure. It saves them time and money”.

 

Typically, they offer 15 three year olds and 15 four to six years olds in the auction. The majority are potential showjumpers but many would either showjump or event. The Billy Stud have always bred the modern sports horse with top level sport in mind, which means plenty of blood. William explains that they have bred this way owing to the way showjumping has evolved over the last twenty years. “Showjumping has changed, you have more technical courses where horses are required to shorten and lengthen. The format of Championships, the World Cup and Global Champions competitions mean that you need stamina as well as athleticism and plenty of blood. Nimble horses also tend to stay sounder as they are lighter on their feet. Gone are the days when an old fashioned heavier horse like Ryan’s Son could win a big class” he explains.

 

“At the same time, with enough blood in our stallions and mares, many of these horses are suitable for eventing which has also changed over the years. Eventers require more movement and scope to win a class now.”

 

The Billy Stud recently held their stallion viewing day as profiled on Horse Scout. Whilst there was a lot of positive feedback, William highlights that there were less commercial breeders than might be expected at the stallions days held on the Continent: “we sent Billy Congo to the VDL stallion viewing in Holland and there were 4000 people or more, whilst we had under 100”.

 

He believes this a reflection of British breeding generally. “We need to encourage more people to breed commercially. You see abroad, people enjoy breeding and are making money from it. With the UK farming industry struggling, perhaps more people should consider using this land for breeding quality horses.”

 

“The Billy Stud are big supporters of Horse Scout” says William. “We have always used them to advertise our stallions and our events. In fact they make up a large part of our stallion marketing campaign because we have had great results.”

 

To discover more about the Billy Stud visit their profile on Horse Scout:

https://www.horsescout.com/yards/the-billy-stud/profile/37

Funnell Vision,

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Press by Ellie Kelly Media, Horse Scout Team

The London International Horse Show at Olympia has been happy hunting ground for our ambassador William Funnell, for a number of decades. This year William brings two “Billy” horses Billy McCain and Billy Angelo to the line-up. Both horses have been bred by the world famous Billy Stud, a joint venture between William and Donal Barnwell.

Billy McCain is a flashy grey nine year old gelding owned by Denise Stamp and has been causing a stir on the international circuit. He is by Cevin Z, a former Grand Prix jumper who William competed. The dam sire is an Irish Sport horse by Cruising out of a Sky Boy Mare. This season he has stepped up to CSI 5* competitions, including competing in the FEI World Cup in Oslo in October.

Billy Angelo is an old timer on the showjumping. The 14 year old chestnut gelding is by Tangelo Van De Zuuthoeve out of a Kroongraaf mare has been competing in the Global Champions Tour as well as having 10 FEI wins under his belt.

Horse Scout has supported both William and the Billy Stud in a number of ways in 2017. We have been promoting the Billy Stud bloodlines via our Global Equestrian Platform including providing media coverage of the Billy Stud auction.

Our employment services provided the Funnell team with a key work rider Jay Hijazi who has been with them over 12 months. Jay told us: “Working at the Billy Stud has been an amazing experience. Just incredible”.

Through our product placement, we also secured JinStirrup Dynamik irons for William Funnell. A cutting edge stirrup with a new product line appearing in 2018.