Secrets of success: 8 things you didn’t know about Olympic gold medallist Andrew Hoy

  • Andrew Hoy recently finished fourth individually at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Tryon, riding Vassily De Lassos. The event marked 40 years since his championship debut at the 1978 World Championships in Kentucky and Andrew is aiming for his eighth Olympics at Tokyo 2020.

    We caught up with Andrew to find out a few things you didn’t know about this 59-year-old star and some secrets of his success and you can read the full interview with him in this week’s issue of Horse & Hound magazine, out today (11 October)…

    1. He is conscious of his horses’ weight. Andrew says Vassily De Lassos went into WEG 20kg lighter than he wanted him to be, having lost weight due to the travel involved in the final few weeks of his build-up. He didn’t ride the horse on the day he came out of quarantine at Tryon, conscious that he didn’t want him to tie up, but also that he didn’t want him to lose more weight.

    2. Andrew doesn’t believe in humanising the horses. He says: “People say, ‘Well, the horses really know you, you’ve got such good experience, they know what you do.’ But I say, ‘There’s not a horse in my stable that knows what I’ve done with my life so that’s why I don’t humanise them — there’s no horse that reads Horse & Hound or goes on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook. They only ever treat me the way I treat them.’ I think that’s something that a lot of the lower level riders try to do — humanise their horses, thinking we’ve got a wonderful relationship. We have, but it’s a professional relationship, it’s not a spiritual relationship.”

    3. Andrew says Vassily is at his best at the big events — and so is his rider. He says: “The bigger the event, the more calm I am. I’m just focused on that one horse and that one event, and not going to a one-day event where you’ve got four rides and you’re trying to do so much and think of each horse individually.”

    4. And he really, really enjoys those major competitions: “I get so much joy and thrill from riding around something like WEG or Aachen, where there are beautifully built fences and the ground is good. I just want to be somewhere where it brings the best out of the horses.”

    5. He has some smart young horses coming along behind Vassily. Basmati, another nine-year-old, was 11th at Millstreet CCI3* in August. Others to watch out for include a pair of seven-year-old mares — Byebye Brisquenouille and Bloom Des Hauts Crets — and a seven-year-old gelding called Brigant, as well as a five-year-old named Flipper De Ravelle.

    6. Andrew has had some of his greatest rides going early in the competition, so he wasn’t fazed when he was told he was the pathfinder for the Aussie team at WEG. For example, at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, Andrew was the pathfinder for the Australian team which won gold and in the individual event — a separate competition at that time — he went second on Swizzle In and ended up taking silver.

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    7. Andrew trains for cross-country with Mark Phillips, who is an old friend from the days when he was based at Gatcombe. “Good coaches are psychologists — they have the ability to say the right thing at the right time,” says Andrew. “On Friday evening at WEG, we were walking up the hill on the cross-country and Mark was in a golf buggy going as fast as he can in the opposite direction. I called out to him and stop him and I was just talking through the course. He just made one comment to me and it just actually stuck. He said, ‘Don’t do the Andrew Hoy where you see an absolutely flyer at a fence. If you get deep to the fences, that horse will jump all day, but if you have him away from the fences, it might come unstuck.’”

    8. Andrew’s wife Stefanie used to event — she was based at the German national centre at Warendorf while she was at university. She doesn’t have much time to ride now as she runs her own communications company and the couple have a one-year-old daughter, Philippa, but she is aiming to get back into it and ride five times a week this winter.

    Read our full interview with Andrew Hoy in today’s issue of H&H, dated 11 October.

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