The budding horse stars and Olympic riders leading Surrey equestrian

Emily Llewelyn is one of a number of Surrey stars of the equestrian world

Emily Llewelyn is one of a number of Surrey stars of the equestrian world - Credit: Various

We have world-class riders right here on our doorstep, from budding stars to Olympic medallists, says Horse&Rider editor Alison Bridge

Sam Hutton and Emily Llewellyn – names you might just hear when our teams are heading for Rio in 2018, the next extravaganza in the amazing roadshow that is the Olympic Games.

These bright young things are both members of the British Equestrian Federation’s 2013-2015 World Class Development Programme, funded by UK Sport, which works with talented riders to maximise their potential and deliver success on the international stage. It seems to be working already!

Among many great results this year, 25-year-old Surrey showjumper Sam Hutton, currently training in Holland with Dutch showjumping legend Jan Topps, finished second in the Grand Prix in San Remo, Italy.

Grand Prix showjumping demands the highest performance from horse and rider. They face fences 1.6m high and the same width – the size of a four-wheel-drive car. The jumps look fearsome but knock down at a mere tap from a horse’s hoof, which spells penalty faults for the rider.

However, Sam and Anyway II produced a superb clear in the first round to head into the jump-off, where another fast clear round took him into second place just one-and-a-half seconds behind Italian, Paola Adamo Zuvadelli.

“I was really pleased,” says Sam. “It was a very fast class and it’s the first show I’ve taken him to. I jumped another two classes at the show before the Grand Prix and he went really well. He’s a very careful jumper and I knew he would be fine.”

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Sam’s goal is to make a senior nation’s cup team and jump for Britain – with his cool, calm, ‘go for it’ riding style and fantastic work ethic, we think he’ll get his Union Jack saddle cloth pretty soon.

Made in Godalming

Godalming-based Emily Llewellyn is definitely another one to watch, this time in the three-day-eventing world. Aged 24, she’s the only rider to have ridden on eight consecutive Youth European Championship Teams, winning six gold, a silver and two bronze medals. She is also the only rider to have ever won collectively the Under 16, U18, U21 and U25 National Championships. Phew! She’s making her way in senior competition, too, having already completed three Badmintons – the biggest challenge in the eventing world – all with a top 25 placing as well as being best British under-25 rider.

Emily has a team of horses based at her boyfriend, Max’s, family home, also a breeding yard. Most recently, she won the Camphire one-star three-day event in Ireland with her young stallion, seven-year-old Bueno Uno. He’s been working his way steadily up the eventing grades and Emily says: “I am so proud of him, he is officially Mr Consistent!”

Her 10-year-old, Greenlawn Sky High, also produced a great result in his tough three-star class at Camphire. “He did a fab dressage test scoring 47.9, followed by a double clear with just a handful of time faults to leave him in 6th, which was a great set up for Burghley!” she says, looking forward to competing with him at another iconic British three-day event taking place this month.

Emily has been listed as a reserve for the Senior Championship team for the last two years whilst still being part of the youth team, which shows her potential for the coming years. Watch this space!

And of course, last but by no means least, we mustn’t forget Surrey’s amazing husband-and-wife team, William and Pippa Funnell from Forest Green, who have been at the top of their game for 20 years.

As we went to press, the talented duo had both been shortlisted to ride at the European Championships in Herning, Denmark – Pippa for the three-day eventing on August 28 to September 1, William for the showjumping on September 20 to 24. The horse chosen to partner William is Billy Congo, home-bred at the couple’s Billy Stud. As William says: “I’m absolutely delighted to be selected with Billy Congo. The fact that he’s home-bred and produced makes it all the more special.”

British equestrian sport is riding high after our wonderful performances at London 2012. Commenting on the team selections for the Europeans, performance director Will Connell had this to say. “Not only are our British multi-medallists still hungry for success and still able to hold their own but we have a plethora of young, talented British riders that are ready to step up to the Senior British team and help Team GBR bring home the medals. These are exciting times!”

And so say all of us!


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