William Funnell was born in 1966, in Ashford, Kent, into a farming and hunting family. His father was
the master and huntsman of the Tickham, and when he wasn’t “combining or haymaking”, also enjoyed show jumping.
He hunted every Saturday, did Pony Club tetrathlon and had a bit of success in pony show jumping. When William left school
at the age of 16, he had the choice of either farming or show jumping. William chose the latter option, when Cyril Light,
of the Brendon Stud in Sussex, offered him a job as second stable jockey to show jumper Simon Trent. After just six months,
William found himself promoted to stable jockey when Simon left. During the three years he was based with Cyril , William
became British Young Rider Champion and won bronze at the Junior European Championships. By the age of 17 he had jumped around
the Hickstead Derby course, and, when he was 18, he won the coveted Foxhunter
final. William got married to Pippa in Sussex in 1993.
William has around 12 horses to ride this year, his mounts include:
(Danny) – This 11-year-old gelding by Bon Ami is owned by Julie Slade
and William’s sponsor Equine America. He was bought as a six-year-old from Holland, where he was competing in dressage.
In 2001, William and Danny won the Horse & Hound Foxhunter Championship. In 2004, they were shortlisted for the Athen’s
Olympics, but Danny cracked a splint bone before the final selection trials. They have successfully competed on several Nations
Cortaflex Amber Du Montois (Amber) – Amber is a 14-year-old chestnut mare by Abdullah, and is owned by Denise Stamp. In 2002, she and William looked set for
a place on the British team for the World Equestrian Games in Jerez, but had to withdraw when Amber sustained an injury. She
was put in foal in 2004, but subsequently resorbed the foal and so came back to the yard and won hher first Grand Prix of
2005 at Windsor.
Cevin Z (Kevin) – This eight-year-old
grey stallion out of a mare by Coriall Z, and is owned by Heather MacPherson. Kevin was fourth in the 2003 Foxhunter final
and spent 2004 standing at stud. The Donal/Funnell partnership had 12 foals by him in 2005.
Billy Autumn (Smartie) – A homebred mare by Animo, Smartie is currently winning on 1.40m tracks. Pippa has also ridden her in show jumping classes.
She is the dam of the four-year-old homebred Anglo European Studbook graded stallion
Billy Congo (Junior), by William’s former ride Vechta.