"Now whilst you may have been anticipating that this blog would start with a description of the first day’s action of the season, and matters integral to the running of one of the world’s biggest horse shows, in fact there has been one thing and one thing only on my mind since precisely 9:47am this morning.
Now, not to blow my own trumpet or anything (well, to do just that actually!) I am normally a bit of a whizz at general knowledge. I’m an avid reader and tend to devour the papers every morning over breakfast. Some might say in the office that at times - this may be just a tiny bit true - I can be somewhat smug over my super pub quiz friendly skills. The word gloat, may have been used once or twice.
So as you can imagine I was not particularly worried when I went in to the press office today at 9:40am for a radio interview with the BBC, and more specifically to take part in a quiz between those in the news in Sussex. You can imagine too my somewhat relaxed and quietly confident demeanour when I learnt that my opponent was a ten-year-old from East Sussex, who was heading off to the national spelling bee championships.
Fast forward seven minutes to a severe case of shock when I found myself not only having lost to a ten-year-old, but having lost with the respectable score of… ZERO! I had not managed to get one question right! The embarrassment was horrifying! Even worse was that the last question just might have been, ‘How much does an Annual Membership to Hickstead with a car cost?’ I said £130 which is the price for a membership without a car, rather than the correct £150).
The other two steps on the way to my humiliating downfall were equally as bad – how many troops is Obama pulling out of Afghanistan (33,000 emblazoned all over the BBC News website, but in my defence I haven’t read a paper in nearly two weeks because I’ve been working so late here) and who was the last female tennis player to win Wimbledon? Wimbledon is always on during the Derby so I don’t think I’ve ever once in my life been able to watch it!
The whole thing was a complete disaster, much to everyone’s amusement, has taken me and my general knowledge smugness down about 50 pegs and even provoked one listener to text in to the office with the simple, and straight to the point message, “Crikey, Daisy Bunn’s a thicko!”
But back to the case in hand, we’ve had a brilliant first day and the reception to the new ground in the International Arena has been superb. Beset by torrential showers today, which thankfully did not last long, the ground held up perfectly and the course builders and riders alike were delighted. Phew! What a relief! Having spent so much money on it, we are now confident it does in fact do what it says on the tin.
It was not an unusual sight to see a Whitaker leading the lap of honour today, but great to see that it was Steven, Ellen’s father, making a welcome return to the big league at Hickstead and, unbelievably, winning his first ever class here at Hickstead. A storming win by Henry Turrell and Urlanmore Aldi too and the most consistent of the day must have been Nicole Pavitt, who jumped into the money in every class she entered. Jane Annett finished the day with a great win on Zidane V in the Bunn Leisure Derby Tankard.
The highlight of tomorrow is the Hickstead Master’s Challenge, named after my Dad the Master of Hickstead, and with a formidable dash over four enormous white gates to reach the finish – designed in his honour by his friend Bob Ellis, who knew only too well his propensity for incredibly tricky courses!
I’ll be back tomorrow with more highlights from the day’s action, and hopefully not a single embarrassing story about me. Stay tuned, and don’t forget to sign up to our eNewsletter for a chance to win a pair of tickets for this weekend. Simply enter the Promo Code BLOG3 at http://www.hickstead.co.uk/general-information/competitions-offers.aspx. "