Jump racing might be quieter over the summer, but I’ve been keeping pretty busy.
I played polo for the first time a couple of weeks ago (12 July) at Tidworth Polo Club in Wiltshire. It was a charity jockeys v eventers competition on Rundle Cup Day — the army v navy match — and was in aid of the Inspire Foundation, which raises money for research into spinal cord injury.
In our team was me, Aidan Coleman, Sam Twiston-Davies, Andrew Tinkler and Daryl Jacob up against the eventers — Lucinda Fredericks, Dan Jocelyn, Robert Stevens, Constantin van Rijckevorsel and H&H columnist Mark Todd.
Unfortunately for us the eventers won, though to be fair they were pretty good. Mark Todd (below) had clearly been practising too!
Sam and Aidan had had a couple of practise sessions at Sarah Henderson’s [trainer Nicky’s daughter, who plays polo] the day before but I thought, I can hit a ball and I can ride a horse, how hard can it be?
Harder than I thought, it turns out. When I was watching the proper players after us I realised how good they were.
We had a quick coaching session but then we were off. I decided to try to take up defence and try and run them off, as that was easier than trying to score goals. I was a bit concerned about hitting my pony around the head, but luckily we both got through in one piece…
The ponies are amazing too, I was seriously impressed with how obedient they are. It was tricky getting used to riding with one hand, but as soon as you moved they just whipped round, it was like using a joy stick.
We definitely got better as we went on — I don’t think we were playing positively enough to start with, we hung back a bit so as our confidence grew I think we improved. I reckon if we’d had another chukka we would have won…
The bicycle polo was funny too. Though Daryl’s bike broke halfway through which wasn’t ideal.
I’d definitely like to have another go at polo though and it would be great to watch a top class match.
The jump racing might not be as competitive in summer, but every race still takes some winning and I’ve had some good rides this season.
The other day I rode a 12-year-old, Porters War for Jeremy Scott, and he won. He seems to be a horse that improves with age, which doesn’t happen that often in racehorses, so I was pleased with him.
I’m also enjoying the Flat season. I went to Royal Ascot, which was great, and am hoping to go to Goodwood next week. It’s weird being at the races and not riding but it’s a really fun day out. It’s great watching the top Flat jockeys as well, seeing their tactics and style.
Judging the Supreme
I’m delighted to have been asked to judge at the Longines Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead in a couple of weeks time. I’ll be judging the supreme horse and supreme pony, alongside former H&H showing editor Nicola Jane Swinney and judge David Ingle.
It’s a real privilege to be asked and I’m looking forward to going back to Hickstead.
I won the supreme pony championship back in 2003 with a pony called Posh Spice II, produced by Ron and Debbie Thomas. Hickstead is such a prestigious show — it was an amazing experience.
Enjoy the sunshine with your horses,
Don’t miss this week’s issue of H&H (24 July) for Nick Scholfield’s The Moment — with a photo from Hickstead