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Most riders dream of the big time. It’s hard enough to make it even with reserves of money and family connections, but what if you’re starting from nowhere?

Journalist Andrea Oakes interviews top stars who have worked all their lives to make it happen exclusively for Horse & Hound.

They include:
Anna Ross-Davies (pictured) who finished best of the Brits at the European Dressage Championships this year, despite coming from a non-horsey London family
Paul Sidwell who won the 2006 World Single Driving Champion but had to sell his carriage on his return to pay for the trip
George Margarson, who escaped a difficult home life by breaking in ponies with the gypsies at Cleethorpes and has gone on to train Dubai Cup winner Young Mick.

No money or influence? Then follow these seven secrets of success…

  • Accept that gift horse — Anna Ross-Davies advises: “Ask yourself how good you are, not how good the horse is. Get on it and make it go — someone might notice!”
  • Choose your motivation — Billy Ocean’s hit “When the going gets tough” worked for Paul Sidwell when he needed a boost.
  • Bite your lip — Do as you’re told — and save those opinions for your autobiography.
  • Be bothered — “For every Christmas morning you don’t train your horse, someone out there does and will end up being better than you,” says Anna.
  • Take the knocks — Broken bones? All part of the job for National Hunt jockey George Margarson. “It was good fun,” he claims.
  • Think positive — Paul Sidwell swears by a sports psychology book lent to him by an American calf-roping champion.
  • Dream on — It might just happen – as our interviewees have proved.

To read Andrea Oakes’ full feature don’t miss Horse & Hound on sale Thursday 22 November