Athens 2004: Grooming for eventing gold


    Grooming for: Jeanette Brakewell and Over To You (Jack)

    Background: runs own event yard in Hertfordshire. Worked with Jeanette as head girl from 1998-2000 after they met as working pupils on the Lawrence David Event Team.

    Previous international experience: groomed for Jeanette at Sydney 2000, as well as at Luhmühlen and Badminton.

    Preparation: “I only found out I was going on 23 May because Jeanette’s head girl can’t make it. I’ve known Jack for so many years that I was able to step in.

    “I hope to go to Jeanette’s yard three or four weeks before we leave, so that I can pack and I know where everything is. In a foreign country it can be a bit difficult to pop to the local tack shop and pick up something you’ve forgotten!”

    Hopes and fears: “I hope that the team goes one better than Sydney and brings back a gold medal.

    “As for fears, you’re always worried the horse might have a problem on the cross-country, but Jack’s such a fantastic cross-country horse that he makes it look easy and never seems to struggle at all.”


    Grooming for: William Fox-Pitt and Tamarillo (Tam)

    Background: trained with the Bartles before working as head girl for Di Lampard. Has been working for William for nearly 12 years.

    Previous international experience: groomed at European and World Championships.

    Preparation: “It’s a little different this year with the reduced format. The training will probably involve more anaerobic work because without the roads and tracks and the steeplechase it’s more of a sprint.

    “The horses are on walking exercise at the moment. We have to keep the reserve horses [Ballincoola and Tom Cruise] fit as well because they can fly out right up until the first vets’ inspection if need be.”

    Hopes and fears: “I was very lucky and went to the test event for a couple of days, so I have seen where it will take place, but you can never tell what’s going to happen.”


    Grooming for: Leslie Law and Shear L’Eau (Stan)

    Background: completed an equine course at Warwickshire College before starting work as Leslie’s head girl nine years ago.

    Previous international experience: groomed at many international events, including Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000.

    Preparation: “This time, it’s not going to be anything like the preparation involved with Sydney, which I think was an education for most of us.

    “The horses fly out about eight or nine days before the competition in Athens starts and fly home the day after it finishes. For Sydney, we were there for nearly two months.

    “Stan is having a bit of a break at the moment, but later on we’ll start to work him in the special rug we’re given to get him used to his body temperature rising.”

    Hopes and fears: “I hope we win! It’s the first major championship with the new format and I think it’s going to be very different, psychologically more than anything. I think some horses will deal with it better than others.”


    Grooming for: Sarah Cutteridge and The Wexford Lady (Lettie)

    Background: has worked as a groom since leaving school, and has been with Sarah for three and a half years.

    Previous international experience: has been to competitions in France and Germany, as well as Badminton and Burghley.

    Preparation: “Lettie’s just come back into gentle work and she’s being led out in hand in the field for a couple of hours a day. I haven’t really thought about the competition yet. It was a bit of a tear-jerking moment when we were chosen.”

    Hopes and fears: “Lettie’s not flown before, but she’s such a good little mare to do that I’m sure she’ll be fine. There’s a lot of expectation on the British team, but I think it’s going to be two fun weeks away. Sometimes, I have to pinch myself to say I’m actually going.”


    Grooming for: Pippa Funnell and Primmore’s Pride (Kiri)

    Background: moved to Pippa’s yard seven months ago after spending six years with Dag Albert and four years with Lucinda Fredericks.

    Previous international experience: groomed at just about every championship, but has never done an Olympics before.

    Preparation: “At the moment, we’re doing all the things we’d do to prepare for a normal championships. We’re not actually away for that long, so there’s not too much extra to plan for.”

    Hopes and fears: “There’s quite a lot of pressure on the British team, so going with someone like Pippa could be intimidating. But I’ve been with her long enough to get to know her and the horses, and at the end of the day, as long as I do my job and the horse is well and safe, then that’s the best I can do.”

    Join NAGS

    Membership of NAGS is free to all bona fide grooms and students. Benefits include: Horse & Hound subscription at £1 per copy, £3 discount voucher on a sack of Blue Chip Dynamic, 10% discount on Splash Equestrian equipment and clothing, no P&P charges from Equestrian Vision mail order and eligibility for NAGS-only competitions and offers.

    If you are interested in becoming a member, write to: NAGS, Room 2018, Kings Reach Tower, Stamford Street, London SE1 9LS (tel: 020 7261 6993), e-mail: nags@ipcmedia.com , or click here to download an application form in PDF format.

    And remember, the club is open to all students, not just those studying for an equine qualification.

    • This article first appeared in H&H (17 June 04). To purchase a back issue contact (tel: 020 8532 3628)

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