Billy McCain chips in a win for Funnell

Britain’s William Funnell scored a thrilling win in the Father Christmas Stakes with Denise Stamp’s Billy McCain. This class is run as an accumulator competition, in which points are gained for each fence jumped clear, with a final optional joker fence carrying double points. Time separates those on equal scores, so daring turns and gallops feature throughout.

“The crowds love fast classes,” said William, who is in his first year as a committee member for the show. “A lot of riders will be looking for the bigger tracks, so a class like this is a good middle ground.”

Of the 32 starters, 13 cleared remained faultless to collect a maximum of 65 points, and although William hadn’t seen some of the fastest go, he clipped almost a second from the standard set by Spain’s Manuel Fernandez Saro’s time aboard Santiago de Blondel.

“He’s normally in with a chance,” said William of the 11-year-old grey gelding. “He’s careful, and it is nice to have a quick horse to bring along with the two bigger horses.”

William has had much success in speed classes over the past 11 years at Olympia with Billy Angelo, who, at 18 has now retired. This speedy grey looks set to be a worthy successor.