06 July 2011

Brits deliver on all counts at the London 2012 Equestrian Test Event

Piggy French and DHI Topper W Seal the deal in Test Event with London rising behind - Photo by Kit Houghton.
6 July 2011

Piggy French led from the front to claim a convincing individual victory on home soil in the CIC2* Invitational eventing competition at Greenwich, the Test Event for the London 2012 equestrian events. Top ten performances from team mates Pippa Funnell and William Fox-Pitt saw GB top the leader board in the team competition too, stamping British authority all over this historic Royal parkland.

Stunning performances in the dressage and cross country phases meant thirty year old Piggy from Lubenham in Leicestershire was always the one to beat going into the final phase.  She dealt with the pressure and produced two immaculate clears to finish on her dressage score of 34.7, heading the leader board with the 11 year old DHI Topper W owned jointly by her father Wally French and Michael Underwood. The current World Champion, German rider Michael Jung finished second while two careful jumping rounds saw Pippa Funnell into third place.
Piggy and Dalton head into the water at Greenwich Park - Kit Houghton Photo

“I hope I haven’t peaked a year too early” joked Piggy, draped in the union flag and with a ‘London Prepares’ medal round her neck. “It’s great to come here, get a feel for the place and put our stamp on Greenwich as a competition venue but winning here isn’t the be all and end all. There’s a long time to go between now and next year and horses are great levellers. Still, it gives me goose bumps to think I could be in with a chance of doing this for real, riding for my country in 12 months time; it’s going to be fabulous!”

Pippa Funnell commented: “The highlight for the whole event for me was talking to the school kids that came; it was really positive seeing the kids running alongside the horses and hearing the cheers from the crowd. Talking to people outside of the sport has been so refreshing too – I spoke to a couple of BT guys out on the park and police officers. It’s one of the most positive things about bringing our sport into the city.”
The London Test Event Venue - Photo by Kit Houghton

“Being here in the hub of London is just so special. It would be such an honour to compete on home territory. Next year will be such an experience but of course the pressure will be on!”

Equestrian Performance Director Will Connell also seemed well satisfied: “Two out of three medals to the Brits is a great start to Greenwich as an equestrian venue. All in all it’s a pretty good day at the office. The test event has exceeded our expectations and we’ll leave here knowing that we have an Olympic and Paralympic venue that fundamentally has a heart. I’ll go home excited and just a little bit more nervous. I’m pretty critical about what I want from a Championship venue but this has really delivered.”

Competition is one thing but there is more than one way to measure success; the biggest medal of all should be reserved for LOCOG. Here they have staged a truly memorable event – and delivered on all fronts, setting alight the romance of the surroundings while providing modern state of the art facilities for horses, grooms and competitors alike.
Piggy and her medal - Kit Houghton Photo

The result is a magnificent feat of the practical and the poetic that has inspired us all. We are in for an Olympic and Paralympic Games of historic proportion in this iconic setting with a legacy to rival all others; that of putting equestrian sport back at the heart of the Games and inspiring a new audience to take an interest in our amazing sport. In doing so, the organisers have proved beyond doubt that there could not be a better place to host the equestrian events in 2012. Next year this city will be dedicated to the Olympics and for once equestrian will be right there.

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