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Pippa's $250,000 Decision

Britain's leading three day event rider Pippa Funnell is facing one of the most difficult decisions of her very successful career, which could result in a $250,000 payout and a place in the history books.

Following her victories at Kentucky and Badminton earlier this year, she will pick up a bonus of $250,000 if she can win the Burghley Masterfoods Horse Trials in September and become the first rider ever to complete the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing.

Funnell has to decide whether to run her most experienced horse and dual Badminton winner Supreme Rock at Burghley to increase her chance of collecting the bonus, or save him for the European Championships at Punchestown two weeks later, where she will be bidding to win her third consecutive European title and help the British team to defend the gold medal they won in Pau in 2001.

Funnell has the choice of three other horses for Burghley and Punchestown but running Supreme Rock at Burghley rather than the European Championships would deny him the chance to become the first horse to win three consecutive European titles.

"It's a nice problem to have I suppose," says Funnell, "but there are a lot of things to consider and the welfare of the horses comes first. It would be lovely to win the Rolex Grand Slam but it would also be great if Supreme Rock could win a third consecutive European title. I have four horses entered at Burghley and I can only ride two there and one at Punchestown, so it will depend on which horse is in the best form - at the end of the day the horses usually make the decision for you."

Funnell is unlikely to make her final decision until she arrives at Burghley but much will depend on how the horses perform at next week's Scottish Championships at Thirlestane Castle (August 16-17). In addition to Supreme Rock, she also has the choice of her Kentucky winner Primmore's Pride; Cornerman, sixth at Badminton this year, and Walk On Star, winner of the Saumur International Horse Trials in France in May.

Whatever her decision, Funnell will have the full support of the British team selectors. "We are with Pippa all the way," says Lucinda Green, former World and European champion and now chairman of the selection committee. "She has four top class horses and we know that she will do whatever is best."

The Burghley Masterfoods Horse Trials take place from September 4-7 at Burghley Park, Stamford, Lincolnshire; for advance ticket bookings visit the website at or telephone the Box Office on 01933 304744.

The European Three Day Event Championships take place from September 18-21 at Punchestown in Ireland.


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