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Pippa Funnell

Olympic medal record

Silver 2000 Sydney Team eventing
Silver 2004 Athens Team eventing
Bronze 2004 Athens Individual eventing
File:Pippa funnell redesigned ducks nest blenheim 2009.jpg
Pippa Funnell and Redesigned at the Ducks Nest during the cross-country phase of Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials 2009.

Pippa Funnell MBE (born Philippa Rachel Nolan, 7 October 1968) is an equestrian sportswoman, regarded as one of the Eventing's sporting elite. She competes in three-day eventing. In 2003 she became the first person and currently only person to win Eventing's greatest prize, 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 in 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 (became Micklefield Wadhurst in the 1990s then Bellerbys in 1997) 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 in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

She lives in Ockley, Surrey with showjumping husband William Funnell. She married him in October 1993 in Uckfield. Following a year apart due to so called marriage difficulties, Pippa and William are back together.


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.[1])

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.

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.

Recent career

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 Horses 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

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 Takes 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.


External links

  • Funnell, Pippa (2005). Pippa Funnell: The Autobiography. Orion. ISBN 0752865196. 


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