Downton Abbey star and eventing owner Michael Fox was bursting with pride after watching his horse SRS Kan Do in the CCI4*-L dressage at Blenheim Horse Trials.
This is the third time at Blenheim for “George”, ridden by Kylie Roddy. The 11-year-old VDL Arkansas son finished 16th in the young horse CCI4*-S as an eight-year-old and completed the CCI4*-L in 2019.
Michael, who competed George as a youngster before Kylie took over the reins, buzzed with enthusiasm to be back at the palace.
“It’s amazing; when he was doing the trot-up I was taking it all back in, realising how special it is to be here,” he said.
“I used to come here all the time just to watch and pretend I was going round and watching the likes of William Fox-Pitt. To be here with ‘George’ – to be inside [the sport as an owner], seeing him compete and he is doing so well with Kylie, it’s amazing. I feel super proud.”
He added becoming an owner “sort of happened by accident”.
“We went to Richard Sheane [of Cooley Farm] in Ireland to find a horse for me and my dad to ride,” said Michael, adding Kylie had earmarked George as a horse that might suit.
They brought him home, where the talent of what they had found started to become apparent. Michael took George to a few events, and it was when they pair won an unaffiliated intro event at Burnham Beeches that Michael realised how special this horse could be.
“He quickly outgrew me and now he is with Kylie and is doing great. So maybe one day I’ll downgrade him and take him back to Burnham Beeches and try to get a rosette!” he laughed.
“I’m not allowed to ride so much in between filming, because of insurance stuff and I still haven’t had that job yet where I can ride on screen – I’m waiting for that! Maybe I’ll try and get George on screen…
Michael, who plays footman Andy Parker in Julian Fellowes’ hit period drama series, has recently finished filming the second Downton Abbey film (Downton Abbey: A New Era), set for release in UK cinemas in March 2022.
“Just to be back on set with everyone again was a real special moment. A similar feeling to being back here with crowds, it doesn’t feel normal yet, but it’s great,” he said.
“Hopefully the [arts] industry will get back on its feet and get going again. It’s just great to be back there doing it. And it must be the same for Kylie competing again, just getting back into the rhythm of it, it’s just great.
“[The first film] did really well and people loved it. I think it’s always hard going from TV to film, but it was a great script and I think the next one is going to be really fun as well.
“I just hope that after not going to the cinema [because of the pandemic], people feel comfortable enough to go back and watch it, because I think it’s going to be really good.
Michael was keeping tight lipped on hints for what Downton fans can expect in the new film.
“I can’t tell you anything, otherwise Julian will be straight down here chasing me!” he laughed.
Video courtesy of Lloyd Bell/The Jockey Club
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