It’s been a busy summer, and I’ve been doing lots of horsey things aside from racing.
Earlier this month I had the honour of judging at the Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead.
I was called up to judge the supreme horse and supreme pony championships and it was a really good experience. It was a bit of a tight call getting there though, I was stuck in terrible traffic so was pleased to make it just in time to go into the ring.
It was great to be back in the Hickstead arena after all those years, and it certainly brought back memories of when I won supreme pony — I remember the pressure.
It was nice to catch up with all the old showing faces too and have a day out, I really enjoyed it.
What I was really taken by was that every horse or pony is obviously great to get to the championship in the first place, so it’s the rider that really makes all the difference.
Allister Hood and Hoppy Jumping took the supreme horse and he was a top showman. He showed off his horse fantastically and really got the crowd behind him. The rider really does make a massive difference and he’s clearly very good at his job.
After the championships, my judging duties were over, so I stayed to watch some of the showjumping. There were some class riders in the King George V Cup and I really enjoyed watching this class, although I did make time for some Pimm’s in the sun and a wander around Hickstead too.
Taking on the showjumpers
Last weekend I did something a bit different and took part in a showjumping challenge at Bicton Arena. It was all in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund and I was in a jockeys team with Michael Nolan, James Best and Ciaran Gethings.
We won against the eventers — including H&H blogger Rosie Fry — so we were pretty pleased with ourselves.
However, when we took on the showjumpers — Sammi-Jo Coffin, Andrew Williams, Andrew James and Eurig Enyon — we were just beaten, but I think we should be happy with our performance seeing as they’re the pros.
I used to showjump a lot as a teenager, but haven’t done it in a while, so it was fun to do something a bit different. The other lads hadn’t done so much so I tried to take on the team manager role and give them some tips! We did pretty well I think.
The horse I was riding was a legend though. He was called Joey and is owned by Rosie Fry. He was an absolute hero and made my job so much easier. He was very careful, turned tightly and jumped everything clear.
If Rosie puts him up for sale I’ve told her I’m buying him! He’s a great horse.
All systems go
The summer season is nearly over now so all systems are now go. I’ve been riding out at different yards and it’s nice to see new stars of the future. I’ve been at Kim Bailey’s, Jeremy Scott’s and Paul Nicholls’ recently and they all have some exciting youngsters.
AP McCoy notched up 100 winners last week at Newton Abbot. It was the fastest he’s got so many this early in a season and it’s a remarkable achievement. He’s the greatest ambassador for our sport and the ultimate role model. It’s a priviledge to ride against him, obviously it would be nice if he retired and gave the rest of us a chance though!
Enjoy your weekends,