The Derby Meeting of the Region of the Pays de la Loire: Sensational William Funnell

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Once again, the Derby Meeting of the Region of the Pays de La Loire was rich with emotions and suspense.

Several horses had difficulties, mostly over the cross country jumps and in particular, the mound and water jumps. This was the case for Philippe Rozier and Trappist, who rode clear until they reached the water jump. After several unsuccessful tries, the French rider had no choice but to retire from the competition.

The first clear round was signed by the Belgian rider, Jerôme Guéry (BEL) and his horse Ramiro de Belle Vue, in a time of 158’’58 (allowed time was 165 seconds over a 1,100 meter long course). When Julien Epaillard (FRA) and Commissario entered in the arena, the François-Andre Stadium vibrated with excitement. This couple is particularly well-known for their previous top performances placing second both in 2009 and in 2010! The couple performed magnificently riding clear and with the fastest time so far, with 149’’55. Philippe Le Jeune (BEL) and his horse Querlybet Hero Six were also brilliant with a fault-less rid, but with a slower time of 161’’02.

And then it was the English Gentleman, William Funnell (three time winner of the mythical Hickstead Derby with Cortaflex Mondriaan in 2006, 2008 and 2009). Today, he chose his Selle Francais mare, Kannelle de la Baie who also had prior Derby experience, placing 3rd at Hickstead last year. Like Julien Epaillard, he strategically pinpointed the difficulties, however he rode a faster course in 142’’83.

William Funnell (Great Britain) – 1st

"This year, I thought I’d have a good chance to win the Derby. But during the course inspection I saw some rather difficult combination jumps. And when I saw Julien’s round, I said to myself that it was going to be very tough! But, a Derby is long and anything can happen! At any rate, I was lucky because one bar rattled, but it didn’t fall!” Regarding Kannelle de la Baie: “We bought her at the beginning of last year for a friend of mine. But the friend fell ill and I’ve been riding her since. We finished 3rd at the Hickstead Derby last year. This year, she rode in a few shows on the Sunshine Tour and last week we rode the cross country in Fontainebleau.”

Julien Epaillard (France) – 2nd

“I’d like to win this Derby some day! I was a bit pessimistic about this year when Commissario was injured in London last December. He spent a month in his stall, then he was walked for another month. As a result, I did not prepare the fundamentals quite like I would have. So, this year I counted on experience and gave him some breathing room during the course. This is his 4th appearance at La Baule and the first time he’s had a clear round! He knows the course by heart… I really thought my time was unbeatable, but seven seconds is enormous!!

The final placements for the Derby Meeting of Les Pays de la Loire are as follows: 1. William Funnell (GBR)/Kannelle de la Baie ; 2. Julien Epaillard (FRA)/Commissario 3. Jérôme Guéry (BEL)/Ramiro de Belle Vue.