By Catherine Austen

Pippa Funnell, one of Britain’s most enduring and successful event riders, has given herself an excellent chance of a fifth victory at Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials.

Riding 11-year-old Maybach, who is owned by Sweden’s SHE Eventing AB, Pippa scored a dressage mark of 27.2 to slip into fourth place on Friday afternoon in the CCI4*-L class, just two penalties behind leaders Yasmin Ingham and Banzai Du Loir.

“I’m really thrilled with him,” she said. “He’s a lovely horse, but not the most elastic in his movement, so I didn’t expect him to overtake Yasmin and (second-placed) Piggy (March).”

Pippa first won this prestigious class in 1993 aboard Metronome, and followed up in 1995 aboard Bits And Pieces, in 2003 (Jurassic Rising) and 2004 (Viceroy II). A veteran of British teams, with 12 senior medals to her name at Olympic, World and European Championships, she also won the Rolex Grand Slam in 2003.

Pippa (pictured below) added: “It is fantastic to have The Jockey Club (who are organising Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials for the first time) involved in eventing and bringing two forms of horse sport closer together.

“And it’s great to have lots of spectators once again – it feels like they are as glad to be out as we are, and the atmosphere they create is something we have really missed. Cross-country day tomorrow will be fun – if it goes well!”

Just after Pippa’s test on Maybach, the reigning world champion Ros Canter scored 26.7 with Michele Saul’s nine-year-old Lordships Graffalo to take third place in the CCI4*-L.

Ros, who has held on to her first-day lead in the CCI4*-S class, said: “It is much busier here today than it was yesterday, and I think Lordships Graffalo felt the atmosphere more than ever before. It’s great experience for young horses and stands them in good stead for the future.

“I think the cross-country course is lovely, and the more times I walk it, the cleverer I think (course-designer) David Evans has been.”

Cross-country for the CCI4*-L class starts at 11am tomorrow (Saturday 18th September), and can be watched live via Horse & Country TV’s streaming platform, H&C+.