Horse & Hound finds out what Emile Faurie‘s favourite food is, what his alternative career choice would have been and what Elmegardens Marquis’ baffling and inexplicable habit is

How/when did you find out you’d been selected for the Europeans?
I was phoned by Will Connell the Performance Director on Saturday afternoon. I was in my office watching Hickstead on Hickstead TV at the time.

How did it feel to be selected and how did you celebrate?
It’s impossible to describe in words how it feels when you get a call like that, especially after having a few dry years and missing out on teams and being reserve etc. It made it all the sweeter to hear those words “You’re on the team!”. Unfortunately, what I said out loud in reply is not printable…
My heart rate went through the roof and my voice went up five octaves! Will asked me for a quote but I had to ring him back as I couldn’t really speak. A very large gin and tonic came immediately after, then I sat on my own at the kitchen table for at least half an hour. When it finally sank in, I began to to make calls to tell everyone! My first call was to Joanne [Vaughn, owner of Elmegards Marquis] to share the news with her.

What does Elmegardens Marquis (Max) feel like to ride and how does he compare to other grand prix horses you’ve had?
He is an incredibly powerful and electric horse. He feels unlike any other horse I’ve ever ridden because of his extreme athleticism and incredible desire to want to do the work. I truly get a great buzz every time I ride him.

Where/when did you find Max and how did you get the ride on him?
Joanne came for some training with me — as a rider herself — with her other horses. She has owned Max since he was seven and one day she just asked me to have him for a while as she thought I might be the right rider for him. That was two years ago…

Does Max have any interesting quirks?
Yes, he can remove rugs like Houdini! When he gets a bit hot with a rug on, he can take it off without undoing anything — we have yet to catch him doing it and we are desperate to see how its done as the rugs are rarely damaged and never a clip or buckle undone or broken, he just stands there like butter wouldn’t melt!

What sort of scores do you think Max will be capable of once he is totally secure at grand prix?
Max has already done a 73.9% in Austria a month ago, and I can’t help but feel there is another 5% in there. This is only his second season at grand prix and being a very sensitive horse he is only just starting to find his confidence in the arena. It’s exciting to think of what he is capable of.

Which other horses do you have in the pipeline at the moment?
I have a nice six-year-old called Ebony — a Dutch gelding by Elroon — who is showing tremendous talent for piaffe and passage, but sadly thats all for now. I could certainly do with a few more high-class horses in my yard.

What qualities do you admire/look for in a groom?
Firstly love for and devotion to my horse. They must be supportive and have their own initiative and the ability to handle responsibility. It’s a lot to ask somebody to travel across Europe on their own with this kind of responsibility; the horses are very valuable which adds to the pressure. I’m very lucky in that EJ (pictured), my groom for the Euros, has all these qualities and is incredibly loyal and supportive to both me and Max.

What item of horse equipment or tack wouldn’t you be without?
My Albion tack has always been one of the most important things to me as the comfort of the horse is of the upmost importance. I am always making sure saddles are checked frequently and I encourage my pupils to do the same.
The other thing for Max especially is his Cyclossage rug. This is a new item for us and has proved to be very valuable — it most definitely has a positive effect on him. Like all athletes, taking care of the horses before performance is imperative. My sponsors Jacksons Fencing and Sarah Lavelle Bowden (owner of Saddles Direct) provide me with everyday work wear and competition gear so I always look smart, which is really important to me and helps me ride with pride.

What does your daily routine involve?
Max is always the first horse to be ridden when it is nice and peaceful on the yard and I can concentrate entirely on him — I like to ride early with a clear plan. The yard gets busy and the phone starts ringing once 9am hits and then I can focus on the business and the training. I then ride the rest of the team and the liveries till 1pm then teach in the afternoon till 5pm.
My weeks vary as I do travel the country doing training days at different venues and of course competing. We also host two and three day intensive training days at Heath Farm, so on those days I change things around, as people like to watch Max being ridden.

If you hadn’t been a rider what would you have done instead?
An actor for sure. I’ve always loved the theatre, still do and I go to London whenever I can.

Do you have any superstitions?
None. I am a great believer in the correct preparation — especially for a championship like this one coming up — and if everything has been well prepared, there’s no need for lucky socks!

What do you particularly look for when selecting young horses?
Temperament and athleticism — the rest is up to the training the young horses are given.

Which are you favourite bloodlines and why?
I am a great believer that a good horse is a good horse regardless of their breeding Dutch, German, Danish or otherwise. Breeding is a stand-alone subject and so vast. I don’t have a preferred choice but have plenty of thoughts and views, but that would be a whole other interview.

What is your favourite food?
Roast lobster and chips. Sadly I certainly don’t get to have it very often, but its my favourite accompanied by a glass of champagne.

Describe your perfect holiday
All the esses — sun, sand, sea and… well let’s just say I’m easily pleased!

What do you do on your days off?
During the season there are precious few of those, but the ideal day off is a Sunday either watching formula one grand prix on TV or a lazy lie in and lunch with friends at the Old Butchers in Stow On The Wold.