Showjumper Anna Edwards reflects back on a year of highs and lows, and looks forward to a promising future with her young team of horses...
Well, this year hasn't quite gone to plan - but then how often do life plans go smoothly?!
Having said that, the second half of 2013 has been fabulous for me. I was delighted to qualify both Croklund and Blazer for Horse of the Year Show (HOYS). They are both young, up and coming horses, and to qualify for HOYS is very tough. You have to jump four double clear rounds in first rounds, and then second round classes tend to have huge numbers of competitors. Blazer won his second round out of 95 competitors, while Croklund came second in a class with more than 120 horses in it!
Sadly, just five weeks before HOYS, Blazer studded himself. He wasn't quite ready for the show, as he wasn't match fit. This was a big shame, had he been fit he would have stood a good chance, but the show came round just a few weeks too early for him.
Croklund, however, was outstanding. In 2012, Blazer was the highest placed six-year-old in the Newcomers Masters, finishing fifth. This year, Croklund was also the highest placed six-year-old, coming second, so I was thrilled with this back-to-back success. For their age, my young horses are achieving some outstanding results.
I had been worried that the atmosphere might get to Croklund, because he is a quirky horse to say the least, but he surprised me. He has had limited experience with indoor jumping but he rose to the occasion. The last horse I had with this attitude in the big occasion was my Queen Elizabeth II winner Unique IX, so this bodes well for the future. Croklund just missed out on the win by just 0.38sec, so close!
Having done fewer shows this year I have had more opportunity to help younger riders and start working with some new companies.
NAF is just the best company to work with, and the knowledge within the company is so high. I feel my horses are now all on the correct supplements and they are all feeling fantastic, it's all about the small improvements in many areas, when you add it all together great progress is made.
Prestige Italia have just come forward with a sponsorship package. I have ridden in their saddles for the previous five years and I wouldn't use any other brand. I was using their Paris K when I won the Queen Elizabeth II Cup and on my winning FEI Nation's Cup performance, so the brand remains dear to my heart.
Another new company I'm working with is Quinton Health. With my horses in top shape, this is something to make me feel better as well! Quinton re-tunes the nutrient balance of your body, leaving you feeling healthier, more focused and with higher energy levels. I suffer with Addison's disease so my body is even more out of sync than most people's, but since being on the Quinton products I have found a big difference, I have even managed a 10km run with obstacles, I wasn't even stiff the next day.
The last company I have teamed up with is Swiss Horse Hair Jewellery. They have made me a beautiful bracelet and necklace using both Croklund and Blazer's tail, which are stunning.
Another great bit of news is I have an exciting new owner joining the team, so watch this space! I am already planning my 2014 season. You will see me return to Arezzo, Italy, where I had great success with Unique in 2010. Blazer will be a year younger than Unique was so I will only start in the middle Grands Prix, but the plan is to enjoy the show and hope for good strong results on all of my horses. Exciting times ahead!
Sorry I have not written in a while, but it is great to be back blogging again.
Daisy has a chance to watch some showjumping for a change, with David Broome and Geoff Billington to keep her company
Daisy Bunn reflects on a busy few months and a double of wins for the All England Jumping Course...
"Hello, hello, and a very happy Autumn to you all. I can hardly believe it's already been two months since I wrote my last blog, at the end of our international season... Soon it will be Christmas and then it will be next year's Hickstead shows before we know it!
A lot has happened since then, including the third running of our national show in September, the All England Jumping Championships. The British weather had a fun week, throwing everything she had at us, but rather kindly she put her best hat on and bathed us in beautiful sunshine for the final day's Grand Prix, which went to Ireland's Michael Duffy. Breen Equestrian's latest recruit, Michael had literally been in England a matter of days before starting his career over here with a very impressive bang! Not only did he win the Grand Prix but he also came third and sixth in the same class for good effect. It was a brilliant week and evidence of just how exciting the talent is coming up the junior ranks at the moment, promising a stellar future for the sport.
This sense of it being an exciting time for our sport was clearly bolstered too by the incredible golden success of the Team GB boys in Denmark, making Great Britain both the current reigning Olympic and European Champions. I'm not sure it can get much better than that!
Fresh from his brilliant wedding (as I left I just remember the DJ saying, "come on you lot, that's enough, no more dancing on the tables"... I need say no more!) Michael Whitaker joined Hickstead favourite William Funnell and youngsters Ben Maher and Scott Brash, to make up the dream team. Okay, maybe it's slightly stretching it to class Ben as a 'youngster' but we're the same age, and spent much of yesterday evening discussing how ridiculously quickly time flies, so I think I'll stick to the term youngster for as long as possible! Having a mixed team of the two, shall we say, slightly more 'experienced' riders Michael and William, and the much younger Scott and Ben, illustrates perfectly the talent that we have across the spectrum of our leading riders, and how excited we should feel about the future.
Ben is currently number one in the Longines World Rankings, so deserves an extra three cheers. Somewhat embarrassingly I can't remember quite when but I know there hasn't been a British rider topping the world rankings for many years (I know it was John Whitaker, and I think it was in the 80s!)
It was great to see Ben recognised for his extraordinary year when he took home not one, not two, but THREE awards at this week's British Showjumping Awards. Held on Tuesday night in Birmingham, Ben and his lovely grey mare Cella clinched International Combination of the Year, after their storming season, but it was also lovely to see Ben recognised by his peers with both the Rider's Rider of the Year and the Member's Personality of the Year.
I have always said that British Showjumping members really do have quite the most exquisite taste, and was proved right again when they chose not only our Longines Royal International Horse Show as the Member's Show of the Year for the second year running, but also Hickstead for the big award the Member's Show Venue of the Year! As you can imagine we were overjoyed and didn't let anyone down with the appropriate level of post awards celebration!
Rather hilariously, my poor sister Lizzie suffered every woman's worst nightmare on the night. At 6:58pm I received a very simple text: "Just arrived at the Hilton, full stop. Just realised my evening gown is still chilling in the kitchen at home, full stop." Poor Lizzie Dora! I do feel slightly bad mentioning it here, because then poor Lizzie had to go to the ball in jeans and a (very nice I must say) cardie! However our ever loyal brother made sure that anyone who hadn't realised on the night did when being interviewed after collecting one of the awards. "Edward, congratulations to Hickstead for winning tonight. As we have seen Hickstead has undergone an extensive programme of modernisation and investment over the last five years, with the new surface in the international arena, and most recently the installation of the brand new, all-weather Ring 4. What are your plans for the future, and going forward what would you prioritise as the next most important investment for Hickstead?" Pause..... Edward: "Well first thing's first, I think we need to buy Lizzie a ball gown!"
We've plenty to keep us busy over the coming months at Hickstead, being just weeks away from starting our Winter Polo Season at our All England Polo Club, and with our famous Hickstead Rider's Ball to look forward to on 7 December. It's always a brilliant night, and we've already got some massive names confirmed, so it promises to be a night partying away amongst equestrian stars.
I must go as the next big class is about to start at this year's HOYS, and it's so nice being at a show where I have the time to actually sit and watch some jumping!
Until next time... have a wonderful Autumn, and I hope as many of you as possible will join us at Hickstead for the Riders' Ball."
Daisy Bunn is sad to see the end of the Longines Royal International Horse Show, but it finishes in style with a superb win for a British hero...
"What a fabulous end, to a fabulous show!
Records crowds flocked to the sun-bathed showground today, and the atmosphere was electric. I have just left an ecstatic Ben Maher (see picture, elated Ben aka Ali G!), who has finally been crowned the King of Hickstead, with a brilliant win in the Longines King George V Gold Cup.
Nearly exactly a year to the day since his triumphant Olympic team gold, the crowds went wild for another home win. When asked just why a win in the King’s was so special to him, Ben said it is the one ‘biggie’ that has eluded him, and that nothing quite compares to jumping in front of a home crowd. He reiterated quite how important his support team is to his success, and that without them (and that's everyone from sponsors and owners, to grooms and girlfriends… or girlfriend singular I should say as there is only one of course, and she is lovely!) he simply wouldn’t be able to do what he does. Jumping in England is particularly special, he said, and winning even more so, as - in his words - ‘it’s a small way of thanking them’.
We were inundated with more glamorous guests today - national treasure Anthony Andrews, the irrepressible Darius, wonderbabe Jodie Kidd, and hilarious Martin Clunes, current President of the British Horse Society. I love doing coursewalks with our sponsors and VIPs as they are always so in awe of quite how enormous (in both height and breadth) the fences are. Although he is a keen rider, Martin commented on just how mind-blowingly technical the courses are – “I have all I can handle with just staying on, let alone also remembering the course, and leaping over these monsters to boot!” He was in hysterics when the lovely Ronnie Healy, who was talking our guests through the intricacies of the course from a rider’s viewpoint, said about the first four fences, “Well this is the easy bit, not much to say about this bit”… “The easy bit?" Martin said. "Is he blind?”
People often don’t realise quite how technical a sport ours is, and it was very interesting to hear Ben talking about how much a change of equipment had helped Tripple X III. After a disappointing FEI Nations Cup on Friday, Ben said he went home, scratched his head, and watched a few videos to work out what he did wrong (oh dear we’re showing our age, I asked my nieces the other day if they wanted to watch a video and they looked at me like I was mad… don’t you mean a DVD silly Aunty Daisy!) Ben said that he wouldn’t ordinarily make any radical changes to tack so near a big competition but he felt in this case it was the right thing to, and changed his bridle and boots back to those he had used at the Olympics. Boy did it work! Tripple X is a big strong horse, and for a while Ben said he felt like he was almost running away with him, and was a little too hot to handle so had been using a stronger bit. While that helped calm him down a bit, Ben felt that it was constricting his jump slightly and so yesterday changed his bit back to a much lighter Segunda D, which is loosely based on a classic D ring snaffle. Ben admitted to wrapping the metal mouth piece in latex so make it softer for the horse, and then worried that he was giving away too many of his trade secrets. Don’t worry, it’s safe with me... I won't tell a soul aside from you lovely readers!
I can’t finish without a mention of the two riders who joined Ben in the jump off, Ulrich Kirchhoff and Marcus Ehning, themselves both Olympic champions, as the standard really was breathtaking and it was the highest calibre jump-off I can remember seeing for some time. Ben winked at me in the press office, knowing how obsessed I am with our sponsors branding, as he said the tricky Longines fence had really helped him out today, as both Marcus and Ulrich had it down. Obviously I was mainly delighted they’d had the faults as it meant a Ben win, but I was also just a tiny bit pleased as I knew the Longines fence would be receiving excellent TV coverage and slow motion replays. Well done boys!
One of the many perks of living at wonderful Hickstead is the fun we have during the shows with our house guests. Marcus is a great friend, and fierce rival of my brother-in-law Shane and called us to ask if he could stay during the show, but not until the day before he was due to arrive (the showjumping wives and girlfriends tend to be some what better at general admin and organsation than the riders themselves.) The show pays for the riders to be put up in a local hotel, and therefore ordinarily when we put them up in the house we reserve the best most comfortable rooms for them, to make sure they can get a good night’s sleep. As we were obviously already jam-packed by Monday, Lizzie said that we should suggest to Marcus that he might prefer the hotel to the only available room left in the house, right at the top in the attic (luckily he has tidy jockey proportions and isn’t a huge Bunn boy!)
Now, I don’t think I’d be out of place saying that if you asked a lot of the riders to name who they considered to be the best in the world, a fair few of them would pick Marcus – he is somewhat of a horse magician. Shane hugely admires his riding and Marcus is one of his few idols (and there are not many people to look up to riding-wise seeing as Shane himself ain’t half bad!) It’s not an usual sight at foreign shows to see Shane studying Marcus’ style as he’s warming up – suffice to say he’s a huge fan. Anyway, Marcus went for the attic room over the hotel, and I got a hilarious text from Chloe after he’d arrived saying “woohoo, Marcus has v kindly bought us a fillet of beef as big as my leg” (while Chloe obviously has very skinny legs, this was a very serious fillet of beef!) Marcus’ family at home are butchers, it was delish! “Careful,” I texted back, “Shane may actually want to marry him now!” (Fillet of beef is Shane’s all time fave). “Yes”, texted back Chloe, “I think they’re just choosing rings now!”
Thank you for reading, and I’ll be back on Thursday, reporting from our Hurstpierpoint College National Schools & Pony Club Champs. Until then…"
Our resident Horse & Country reporter Jenny Rudall has been covering the Longines Royal International Horse Show and Dressage at Hickstead, to keep you up to date with the latest news and behind the scenes gossip.
Hickstead's Daisy Bunn is back with more goings-on from Hickstead - find out whom she sent an embarrassing text to by mistake...
"We were spoiled for choice today at Hickstead, with not one but two feature classes. Queen Breen rose again with a stupendous victory for Shane in the Templant Events Queen Elizabeth II Cup. Now obviously I’m a bit biased (he’s my brother-in-law), and we always love a home win (we’ve tried telling him he should put his prizemoney back in the drawer, but for some reason he never seems to like that idea), but it was a brilliant victory and a nail-biting class.
Some of you will remember that Shane was the first man ever to win the prestigious class when we opened it to the (less fairer) sex six years ago. Both the Queen’s Cup and the Longines King George V Cup (the British Grand Prix, and tomorrow’s feature class) are historic classes that have been won by the Who’s Who of world showjumping, going back nearly 100 years: the Queen’s was exclusively for women, and the King’s for men. One of the great - and often remarked upon - characteristics of our sport is that it’s one of the rare sports where men and women compete on equal terms. Having resisted messing with tradition, we realized six years ago that it was no longer right to have the men and women competing for different levels of prizemoney anymore and opened both classes to both sexes for the first time in history. The King’s naturally became the main Grand Prix of the show, and we were very concerned that the Queen’s didn’t become devalued and less prestigious in its new form. After discussions with the BHS and British Showjumping, the Queen’s became the pinnacle of the national competition circuit, and it is so nice to see the class taking on a new life in its second century. Today’s field was particularly strong and it was lovely to see some established riders beaming from ear to ear, as if they’d just won the Derby itself, so delighted were they by the performance of their young horses (tomorrow’s stars of the future) posting a respectable round in such a respected class.
The Sky Sports Speed Classic followed swiftly after, with a lightning quick win for speed-merchant Laura Renwick (she shaved two seconds off Guy Williams' time, who came in second, and looked pretty blinkin’ fast himself!) I love a British win, and I LOVE a lady win on Ladies’ Day – couldn’t have scripted it better.
It was of course our Ladies’ Day today at Hickstead, supporting Variety, the Children’s Charity (mainly my favourite charity because their chairman is called the Chief Barker – how good is that!) The one and only Christopher Biggins came down and judged our Best Dressed Filly, although I rather think he took more interest in the Most Stylish Stallion. One of life’s greats, Biggins was one of my Dad’s best mates, and is one of the most hilarious jokers in Christendom. Resplendent in lilac linen blazer and a terribly snazzy shirt, he picked the lovely Lisha Leeman as best in show (and did a terribly good job at making our pictures look great as she was also in lilac, I have a sneaky feeling Lizzie might choose that as our Hickstead colour next year, as it will look so good on the front of the programme – mark my words!) Lisha is one of life’s glamourpusses, and not content with the very best that Bond St, Harrods, Selfridges and Fenwicks had to offer; she decided to make her own hat. As you can see from the picture, she looked bloomin’ marvellous, and much to her delight (and they were judged by separate people, so I promise you it wasn’t a fix!) the winner of the Most Stylish Stallion was her husband Richard – what a pair! Love ‘em.
I have spent the day sporting the most ridiculous dead chicken on my head (watch Jenny’s video blog for full effect). It does appear that in fact, following on from my inability to stay glamorous in the heat earlier in the week, in fact staying glamorous full stop is proving to be somewhat of a challenge at the moment! As high fashion as my lovely hat/dead chicken looks, I have in fact spent the entire day pulling feathers out of my nose! No pain, no gain I suppose.
We have a great relationship with our friends at Sky Sports, and after working with them for some years, we have become firm friends with the regular team. Over the past few days the lovely Phil Murphy, director extraordinaire, has been sending me texts with his verdict on my day’s outfit! Yesterday he texted me saying ‘we give the polka dots a thumbs up’, when I had literally been on the showground for about four seconds. This led me to remark how weirdy beardy it was that he could see me with all his millions of cameras around the place, and I couldn’t see him. To this he remarked that now the beautiful Catherine, my former partner in crime, and one half of the original Sponsorship Dream Team (if I don’t say so myself) has left to get married and become a teacher, the cameraman boys have got no one better to focus on! Having described my ridiculous hat at last night’s BBQ, I texted him saying “the hat has arrived on the showground, wonder how long it will be till you spot it on one of your Big Brother cams…” And then promptly send the text to a completely different Phil in my phonebook (a rather serious and important one). Oops, I am not having a good week, but at least I need look no further than myself for blog fodder!
Until tomorrow, and the excitement of the Longines King George V Gold Cup, good night, I am off to enjoy this glorious (and oh so rare) summer English weather (phew managed to get in a quick weather reference)…"
Daisy Bunn's back for the Longines Royal International Horse Show! Read on to find out what's been going on in the world of Hickstead...
"Another fabulous day here at Hickstead. So as not to disappoint those of you who have remarked on my obsession with the weather (oh dear, running a horse show will do that to a girl!) after a somewhat thunderous/drencherous (not technically a real word but I think it should be) start to the day, and a very nervous hour or two ahead of the big class this afternoon, the sun behaved impeccably, put his hat on just in time, and shone gloriously throughout the afternoon.
We enjoyed a Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup (presented by Longines) of note today, with a convincing German victory. As many of you will know the format of the series has changed radically in a bid to make the sport less Eurocentric, and to involve more nations in the top level competitions of the sport. A particularly good new tweak to the rules has been the way the points are awarded (and quite how they are awarded is a question I am often asked). Today for example, only four teams were actually competing for series points (nations select which shows they want to count points wise at the beginning of the season). If a non-points collecting team come first they actually deny those points to one of the other teams, and you only receive the points for the actual position you achieve, rather than the points going down the line to the nations that are competing for them. What this does is ensures fierce competition, and you do not get a situation where lesser quality teams are sent because they know that they will still collect good points, knowing they can come no lower than fourth (as there are only four teams vying for the points). Wowsers, now that was a mouthful!
No matter how many I have been privileged enough to see, I still get goosebumps watching the nations parade proudly to their national anthems. It was a particularly special parade today, as we had invited all the London 2012 Gamesmakers for a day out at Hickstead, as a small way of thanking them for the extraordinary volunteer role they played in making last year’s games such an enormous success. Our plan was to select eight of them to be the parade flag bearers, and asked them to send us their Greenwich highlights in 100 words. We had such an enthusiastic response, that our way too nice press officer Victoria couldn’t possibly choose just eight and we ended up having three flag bearers per team. It was a wonderful sight, bedecked as they were in their purple and orange uniforms, which every single one of them teamed with a beaming smile.
We were delighted to have last summer’s golden boys (the Olympic team gold medalists) as the British team, with the exception of Nick Skelton who is resting Big Star before the Europeans, and who was replaced by the lovely William Funnell. We had asked Nick to come and parade though, and I texted him earlier in the week with timings etc. “I hope you’re not planning on putting me on a horse,” said Nick, “I’ve just had my back injected”. “No,” say I, “I’m sure we can find you a mobility scooter, and you can wave from the back like a geriatric old queen”. The word old proved to be a red rag to a bull (confirmed by his lovely son Dan today, who said Grandpa – which he will be in October as Dan’s wife Grace is expecting – has an even more hilarious effect!) “I jolly well will not you old tart,” came the response, “just make sure you find me a nice quiet horse.” I duly promised and felt every so slightly guilty when said mount jipped slightly, jazzed up by the excitement of the crowd and band, and poor Nick nearly went out the side door! Oops!
I am always very honoured to be asked by the FEI to represent the Hickstead Organising Committee in the Nations Cup presentation. Asked by someone earlier whether I ever got nervous doing the presentation in front of so many people, and live on TV, my answer was in fact that I never have time to be, so hard am I concentrating on not falling over in my high heels! It hasn’t happened yet but I know in my heart of hearts that the day will come!
I must fly, as I have the sponsors barbecue to go to (gosh life is tough!), but it seems only fair that as I was the person who did the stupidest thing today, I must sacrifice myself as blog fodder. As many a female reader will understand, trying to maintain a glamorous vibe in this heat can be slightly trying! As many a female reader will also know, for those of us in the rather well endowed bottom department, there are some wizard like under garments/actual structures on the market today. Sporting one such wonder, I remarked to Emma that it was actually hideous in the heat, and that I had spent half the day readjusting it. Unfortunately, while regaling her with said complaint, I was in fact pressing my radio call button and half the showground was privy to the conversation! Not at all embarrassing... Until tomorrow, goodnight… x"
Daisy Bunn's back for the Longines Royal International Horse Show! Read on to find out what's been going on in the world of Hickstead...
"What a day! Well, it does in fact turn out that weather reports actually are correct in hot weather – it’s been a scorcher. As I type this I (rather disgustingly) feel like I’m melting. The press office is full of dehydrated photographers and journos staggering around air-kissing each other because it’s actually too hot to kiss anyone. Not that I’m complaining! It does make you feel for our brave equine friends though, whose guts and determination, scope and bravery are incredible enough at the best of times, but are even more remarkable in this heat. In this afternoon’s Amlin Plus Eventing Grand Prix, a monster course with 27 jumping attempts, the competition was as fierce as ever, and the horses gave their all, despite the exhausting conditions.
A fantastic win, after a stunning round, for Zoe Adams on Satonamillion (definitely already won Best Horse Name of The Week, despite it only being the first day of international competition). One of Britain’s most promising young riders, it was lovely to see a new face on the winner’s podium, in a class often dominated by ‘slightly older’ riders with more experience. I am in fact rather out of favour with one of those ‘slightly older riders’ (and if I wasn’t before I definitely will be now after calling him old!) – Trevor Breen. Last year’s winner, Trev very kindly led the course walk for our sponsor Amlin’s guests. While on top of the Derby Bank I remarked how heartbreaking for the unlucky riders who have jumped all the Hickstead Derby’s enormous fences clear, only to have the tiny fence on top of the bank down! Trevor agreed and we happily made fun of my poor brother-in-law Shane (Trev’s brother) for doing just that several years ago. Anyway… Trevor only went into this afternoon’s class as favourite and had the tiny fence on the top of the bank down! It is, apparently, my fault – I jinxed him!
Trevor rode Laura Collett’s horse Noble Bestman, after she was put out of action by a horrific fall at Tweseldown. Having spent a week in a coma, it was so lovely to see Laura out and about, looking wonderful and well and truly on the mend. It always amazes me just how talented and versatile the jockeys are – Trevor managed a very respectable fifth (and would have been second had he not had two unlucky poles) on a horse he’d sat on just once before today! It’s nearly as good as when John Whitaker won the Derby in 2004 on Buddy Bunn after just sitting on him once! Rather them than me!
I’ve had a lovely afternoon with some terribly glamorous guests in the box today. We were joined by a bevy of the literati, with best selling authors the fabulous Damian Barr, the lovely JoJo Moyes and the impossibly glamorous Polly Samson. Polly’s husband was also in tow, and I have to admit when I first met him some time ago it was my uncle who pointed out that David (David Gilmour) was in fact in a relatively famous band… Pink Floyd! Avid equestrian fans they have in fact had their own runners in the Amlin Plus Eventing Grand Prix, ridden by Hickstead favourite, local Olympian star Tina Cook. Damian, man about town and national treasure in the making, arrived literally not knowing one end of a horse from the other, and I’m sure that I saw his eyes wander once or twice (while pretending to listen to David’s explanations avidly) to some of the rather delicious bottoms in jodhpurs in the ring below! There really is something for everyone at Hickstead, equestrian fanatic or not!
No one has done anything even remotely embarrassing/hilarious today (which they’re admitting to), which has left me rather short of blog fodder. However, just as I despaired, we received a brilliant email from someone, which saved the blog fodder day. Following on from yesterday’s theme:
I am planning to visit Hicksead on Saturday and have been told that it’s Ladies’ Day. I just wanted to check if this means my boyfriend can’t come with me, or are men actually allowed?”
Genius. I think she was just a clever girl angling for a day off from her boyfriend!
Until tomorrow, and the excitement of the Furusiyya Nations Cup of Great Britain Presented by Longines, good night."
Daisy Bunn's back for the Longines Royal International Horse Show! Read on to find out what's been going on in the world of Hickstead...
An excellent first day of competition in the International Arena today, at this the Longines Royal International 2013. Whilst actual blue sky was a bit thin on the ground, none of our chubby friends Mr & Mrs Raindrop actually visited, and that’s all that really matters! I have it on good authority that it is going to be a scorcher tomorrow, so fingers crossed... I love the fact that as soon as we have a bit of hot weather everyone starts treating weather forecasts as gospel, despite the fact that we happily ignore them the rest of the year round. I suppose that means we’re a nation of optimists… or weather optimists anyway… sorry, I digress!
As is always the way when you are very close to something, I often take the unique nature of our sport for granted. Sitting with a friend (a professional rower) this afternoon, watching all the action unfold from the Master’s Box balcony, and filling him in on who everyone was, he remarked how amazing it was that the riders are all such good friends. I always forget that this really isn’t the case in most other sports! Darcy, my niece and Shane’s daughter, was hollering at her godfather William Funnel in the ring below (also somewhat embarrassingly shouting very loudly ‘SILLY WILLIAM’ when he didn’t win!), while David Simpson was having a chin wag with his arch rival and other half’s sister Nicole Pavitt in the prizegiving. All the riders spend a lot of time away from their families on the show circuit with the other riders, and it is so nice that their fiercest competitors in the ring, are their firmest friends outside of it.
As I’m sure I have mentioned before in my blog, my theory on why showjumpers are so nice and humble is actually down to the horses. In the rarified world of international football for example, once you reach the big leagues, you do not go back and play for a county team at the weekend. The unique thing about showjumping is that because it is about the combination of horse and rider, it is completely normal to see the world’s greats jumping one of their young horses in a novice class in the back rings in the morning (competing against amateurs), and then jumping in a Grand Prix in the main ring in the afternoon. They are not closeted away and treated with kid gloves, and are involved in every level of the sport from the smallest classes (for their young horses, hoping that they’ll be the stars of tomorrow) to the very biggest,
Today’s blog fodder is none other than the inimitable Sasa Fox. One half of the famous Flower Ladies (the other half being my brothers’ and sister’s mum Sue Bunn), she has been helping in our office for the last few years. A delight to have around, and definitely the funniest member of the team, her phone manner is nothing short of genius. Without being too mean, we do have some rather silly phone calls at times (saying things like “It says on the website/in the schedule/in the carefully prepared information sheet you’ve sent me that the gates open at 8am. I was just wondering what time the gates open" etc!) Poor Sas is the main recipient of such phone calls and yesterday received one along the lines of “It says on the website that dresses should be knee length, I was just wondering how long her dress could be…” Not perturbed Sas gave a hilarious account of what she would like to see (lovely brown knees and legs) and what she would not (knickers – they’re best for just showing off at home!) That was him told! How refreshing when calling a switchboard to get the lovely Sas (who ends all phone calls with ‘now get yourself here and have a wuuunderful day’) and not ‘computer says no’!
Ps – Ah ha ha, as I was pressing send I just heard Sas say to a lady who’d obviously just said on the other end of the phone ‘I’m thinking about coming tomorrow’: ‘don’t think about it, do it, I shall have the band meet you at the gate!’