Even though I knew how the scene played out, I couldn’t help but hold my breath and feel the tension emanating from the crowd as they watched the duel between Pippa Funnell and Zara Phillips for the 2003 Burghley title. It was more than one title on the line for Pippa, who was on the doorstep of taking the first ever Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing, given to a rider who could win Kentucky, Badminton, and Burghley in consecutive order.
Pippa had picked up her first then-CCI4* win the year prior, taking the 2002 Badminton title aboard Sydney Olympics ride Supreme Rock. Indeed, she might have won the Grand Slam just a few months earlier but a sixth place at the 2002 Burghley Horse Trials with Primmore’s Pride (who would go on to take the title at Kentucky the next year, kicking off the eventual Grand Slam-winning tour) kept followers in waiting.
And so Pippa’s journey to the Grand Slam would come full circle at Burghley, once again seated aboard Primmore’s Pride. In the end, it would come down to a dead heat following cross country after Pippa and Primmore’s Pride picked up 2.4 time penalties to come even with Zara and Toytown’s two-phase score of 41.8.
So you can imagine the tension that rested on the fabled grass arena at Burghley that Sunday afternoon. On one end we had Pippa and Primmore’s Pride, whose scope and endurance showed when they were needed most, leaving it all out on the grass in their effort to seal the Grand Slam. On the other, we had Zara, royally born from both traditional and equestrian standpoints (both of Zara’s parents, Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips, were previous Burghley winners, no big deal), and Toytown, whose quicker, flatter jumping style proved efficient until the very last of the triple combination.
Even on video, the emotions of the day are palpable. A true testament to the long lasting nature of legends, one of which was cemented in history that day.
It would be 14 years between Pippa’s next now-CCI5* win (Badminton, 2005) and her most recent, in 2019 once again at Burghley with MGH Grafton Street – a true example of determination, highs and lows, and a forever love of the sport. To date, Michael Jung has been the only rider aside from Pippa to successfully complete the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing.
We’ll let the video take the story and put it into visual form. Enjoy this look back! Want to take a deeper dive? We dug up this report from The Chronicle of the Horse.
A #ThrowBackThursday treat for you today, looking back to 2003 with Pippa Funnell & Zara Phillips head to head in the showjumping with the Rolex Grand Slam at stake.. Enjoy!!
Posted by The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials Official Page on Thursday, September 24, 2020