Festive stars: Lily Attwood: ‘I decided that winning big classes was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life’

  • At the age of just 19, Lily Attwood has already made a glittering name for herself on the international showjumping circuit, following her five-star debut at La Coruna World Cup show in December.

    She is trained by Guy Williams and earlier this year, Lily was part of the bronze medal-winning young riders team at the European Championships.

    Unfortunately a bad fall at Vilamoura, Portugal, in November resulted in a broken collar bone and put her out of action for a few weeks before she made her comeback in December and jumped in the five-star classes at the London International Horse Show for the first time. Lily is now raring to go again in 2022 – with plenty of big ambitions.

    Recently, I have been climbing up in the rankings, but due to my injury I think I will drop back down,” she says. “My main aims for 2022 are to compete in a few World Cups and step up to five-star level. It has been difficult to move up to five-star level this year due to Covid-19 and all the other riders trying to compete at that level, as well.

    “I am also aiming to build up my string of horses; I have a few young ones coming up who I think are very exciting. I have three older horses, with whom I have had great success in the last few years, so I would love to move up to the next level with them.”

    Lily has enjoyed some big wins with horses such as Cor-Leon VD Vlierbeek Z, her London GCT winner, Karibou Horta (pictured below) and Calvaro’s Up To Date. But she is particularly excited about the six-year-old Lee May (Lavagon x Rocket Star), who came from Irish showjumper Richard Howley.

    “I took her to Vilamoura and she jumped eight out of nine clear rounds so I was really pleased with her, especially as she is still very green,” says Lily. “She learnt a lot at the show; she is very careful and has a great brain. I plan to take her slowly to let her progress, and hopefully have a successful seven-year-old year.”

    ‘A senior European or Olympic medal would be my goal’

    Lily has the Aachen grand prix on her bucket list – as well as to represent Great Britain on championship teams.

    “I love representing my country and riding on a team, so a senior European medal and an Olympic medal would be my other goals,” she says.

    Lily’s breakthrough victory came in 2019 a young riders class at Amsterdam, soon after she’d come off ponies.

    “I had only had the horse [Karibou Horta] for a month and I won the grand prix,” she says. “It was the start of my career, when I decided that winning the big classes in front of a crowd is what I want to do for the rest of my life – it was amazing.

    “Winning my first ranking class was also amazing. I won quite a lot when I first came off ponies; I definitely could not have done it without the help of my trainer, Guy Williams. Lastly, my final proudest moment is being selected for the senior Nations Cup team at 18 years old.”

    What has Lily Attwood learned from her mentor Guy Williams?

    Lily pays tribute to all the help she’s received from Guy Williams.

    “As a young rider you don’t know it all, and you can’t do it on your own – you need a very good team around you,” she says. “I have excelled more than I thought I would do by this age because of Guy. It is not just about being good on the horse, it is about being a great horseman on the ground. He has taught me how to manage my horses, from their feet to their feed, what I have learnt from him and his groom, Nat, has been invaluable. It is more than just riding; the horses have to be properly managed if you want to do well.

    “You need to know that 99.9% of the time it is not the horse’s fault and you cannot get angry with them,” she adds. “You cannot get frustrated after a bad round, you have to just breathe and come out the ring, trot them off, then come back to see how you can improve. They are not machines and they can only do what you say. On ponies I was quite hot headed and Guy has really taught me to calm down, and I have a lot. You can’t get angry with the horses after a bad round, even if you are frustrated.”

    ‘John and Michael Whitaker are true horsemen’

    Lily has also been inspired by John Whitaker and Michael Whitaker.

    “They are true horsemen and I always watch their rounds,” she says. “I watched John at a show last week, and it was like watching poetry in motion; he makes it look so effortless – like he is doing nothing!”

    Climbing up the world rankings – she’s currently 127th – Lily has come close to jumping at her first five-star shows, just missing out on a spot at Royal Windsor and the London International, while the Rolex Grand Slam is another goal.

    “They are such great shows, and especially being in my home country, makes me motivated to be consistent and climb up the rankings so I can compete there next year,” she says.

    “The Rolex Grand Slam is something that all riders dream of winning; I think that it has brought showjumping to the next level. I also think that the Rolex Grand Slam has made the sport more accessible to the general public and more globally friendly, as people want to watch top level sport that has high stakes. The Rolex Grand Slam has the best grands prix in the world.”

    With thanks to Rolex Grand Slam.

    You might also be interested in:

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits. 

    You may like...