Nana Dalton’s ‘getting back on my feet’ blog: ‘form is temporary and class is permanent’

  • Imagine this. You’re about to go into a very important board meeting with a lot at stake — the pressure is on. Trying to focus and dressed in an immaculate white suit, someone else’s snotty five-year-old child walks up to you and offers you some of their half eaten, mainly melted blue slushy ice cream — how would you react?

    Well this is effectively exactly what happened at Burghley last year. Piggy French was wearing crisp white jodhpurs/shirt/stock and was about to get on Vanir Kamira before the going into the showjumping lying in third place. My son Toby wanted to wish her luck and so offered her some of the fairly offensive-looking blue slushy. Piggy took the time to greet him kindly and accepted a couple of mouthfuls of the previously sucked plastic spoon with such warmth and gratitude that it melted my heart and was yet another example to me of what a truly classy, lovely and genuine person she is.


    I have always had the highest level of respect for Piggy and so along with everyone else, I simply couldn’t be happier for her fantastic recent win at Badminton (Miley and I pictured top competing there last year). At this stage, Piggy’s many credentials, talents and professionalism naturally wash over the head of my little boy, but one thing’s for sure, he thoroughly enjoyed watching her on TV remembering how she shared his slushy with him! #SmallThings=BigThings.

    I felt for Oliver losing the title the way he did, but thought he was gracious in his post-showjumping BBC interview. This is the beauty of any sport at its best though — great competition with very fine margins.

    Miley and Fiddle doing some pre-Tatts hillwork

    I was absolutely thrilled for Burto [Chris Burton] for his two great performances, finishing third and fourth — he is a supreme horseman, has been a proper good friend to me over the years and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being based with him and training with him. One more mention has to go to William [Fox-Pitt] — they say ‘form is temporary and class is permanent’ and he was a classic example of this with his truly top class performances.

    Just as affirmation that Badminton 2019 wasn’t to be for us, Toby came home from school that week with a horrible sickness bug which lasted for five days and, needless to say, he shared with me — one thing worse than a grim D&V bug, is having it while camping in a horsebox!

    Our lovely syndicate-owned, Coulston Fidelity (Fiddle) had a run in the novice at Keysoe — she’s a beautiful and very talented horse who has been a late developer mentally and physically, but is now really blossoming. After a pretty rubbish dressage test, where she was surprised to see her reflection in the judge’s box, she jumped another really classy double clear — it was especially fab as her breeders and co-owners, Steve and Sara Brooks were there to watch. Luckily we had morning times and with my sister only living two miles from the event, as soon as we finished the cross-country, we all bundled back to her house to wash Fiddle down and to watch the cross-country at Badminton on the red button (and, as it happened, be back in time for me to be felled by the sickness bug!).

    Fiddle at Keysoe

    Fiddle was entered for the novice at Chatsworth but with this class retrospectively being scrapped, I volunteered to help at the local Surrey Union point-to-point. I was allocated being chief in charge of driving the course doctor, so although drinks for me were off limits, it was good fun and very interesting chatting with him. He was from Russia and is a heart surgeon who lives and works in London but enjoys balancing this out by working at horse events in the countryside. Thankfully, apart from one concussion, we had an incident-free day.

    I have gone in to detail in previous blogs about my recent double mastectomy. Just to touch on my progress, all is continuing really well on that front with everything settling down. I had a routine appointment with my surgeon a couple of weeks ago — I have a couple more procedures to do which I’ll probably end up doing in one hit at the end of the season as it requires another general anaesthetic and more time off. On the plus side, having described the fall I had a few weeks ago showjumping, he concluded that it was just as well I had the reconstruction using my own tissue as implants would probably have burst with the heavy impact!

    Anyway, looking forward, our next event is the picturesque Rockingham this weekend with Fiddle which will hopefully have her set up perfectly for her first international competition at Tattersalls when she’ll join Miley for a trip across the water at the end of this month.


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