Tuesday 23rd of July 2024
Pro Secrets

William Funnell

001European gold medallist, William Funnell, shares his Pro Secrets with The Gaitpost ahead of the Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby meeting, which has attracted record entries this year.  It will be fascinating to watch William on his future Billy stars, having won there three times before. 

2014DerbyFri-4665Friday 27th June
Funnell won the feature class today, the Bunn Leisure Master’s Challenge, on the homebred Billy Mexico.  British riders took the top four places.  Funnell has a new Derby hope in Billy Onslow this year. The pair qualified this morning in the Bunn Leisure Derby Trial, which determines the starting list for Sunday’s Equestrian.com Derby.

Image (c) Samantha Lamb


 Photos kindly supplied by Julie Matthias, Hickstead Press Office and William Funnell’s Office


What or who inspires you within the equestrian world? Past and present.
Winning on horses that we have born and bred at the Billy Stud definitely makes our business more exciting, but for personal inspiration I would have to say John Whitaker, he really is the complete horseman.


Is there an all time favourite competition that you’ve been to? And why?
2013 was definitely a career highlight. Representing your country is very special and we won team gold in the Europeans last year (2013). It is incredibly special having a gold medal. Also winning lots of money on the Global Champions Tour has been very satisfying. The one I always wanted to win was the Hickstead Derby, and it was a special moment when I did in 2006 and again in 2008 and 2009. I have come second the last 2 years so it would be nice to get back on the top spot this year.


Which country in your opinion does equestrian best? And why?
The Sunshine Tour in Spain is a fantastic competition as they have good grass rings and it is good for training the horses early in the year plus the weather helps. But in terms of which country, I would have to say that for a small country, the Dutch do a very good job, both in breeding and producing sport horses.


What would you like your legacy to be?
Hopefully that some of our bloodlines keep producing top sports horses


Do you have an equestrian hero?
John Whitaker


What is the quality that you most like in a horse?
That it jumps clear rounds !


If you weren’t a professional Show Jumper, what would you be doing?
I would probably be working with animals somehow. My father is a farmer so maybe I would have followed in his footsteps.


What is the most valuable piece of advice you have been given? Who gave it to you?
My Grandfather always told me to keep one leg either side of my pony!


What would be your message to the equestrian world?
However competitive we get, we must always remember to respect horses at all times


Do you have a secret superstition before a competition?
Not really


What are your top 5 indispensable pieces of kit?
1. Favourite snaffle bridle
2. Devocoux saddle
3. Charles Owen hat
4. Sergio Grassi boots
5. And of course a pair of William Funnell Tagg breeches !*
Against The Clock…
Hickstead or Olympia? Hickstead
Sand or Snow? Snow
Tea or G&T? Both
Bay or grey? Either

*William Funnell Tagg Men’s breeches are available at TC Tack Ltd – Stand No 77 at this year’s Hickstead Derby meeting.


Did you know?

Around 1,800 horses are expected to arrive at the All England Jumping Course this week, and thanks to a funding grant from the British Equestrian Federation, this year’s competitors can expect various improvements to the show ground including an all-weather strip down the long side of Jacksons Fencing Ring 5 and a new area of hard-standing, which will allow Hickstead’s top class all-weather arenas to be used for clinics and events outside of the summer season.

Sunday is of course Equestrian.com Derby Day! This year will be the 54th running of this world famous class, and it is a true testament to the difficulty of the course that there has been only 56 clear rounds in all of that time. Clare Balding recently declared “forget about the 28 fences that Grand National runners have to leap over at Aintree, these are child’s play when compared to Hickstead’s monsters!”

Only three people have won the class four times in its long history, and still no one has managed to beat, or even match, Eddie Macken’s unbelievable four consecutive wins on the same horse, the legendary Boomerang, set way back in the 70s! Paul Beecher made history in 2012 by being the first ever person to jump a clear round having been drawn first to go in the competition, and went on to win it to boot! Last year Philip Miller produced one of the most popular wins in recent times on Caritiar Z and will be back to defend his title this summer, but in a class so famous for its thrills and spills, anything is possible.


Keep up to date with all the action from Hickstead by following  @AEJC,Hickstead on Twitter or by downloading the Hickstead App. And make sure you don’t miss out on future Pro Secret guests by following The Gaitpost on Twitter at @TheGaitpost and liking our Facebook page

To purchase tickets for the Equestrian.com Hickstead Derby Meeting, or to join the Hickstead Derby Community, visit www.hickstead.co.uk



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