‘I’m putting my brave pants on!’ – super groom Alan Davies checks in from pre-Olympic quarantine

  • There is just two weeks to go before the Olympic dressage kicks off at the Tokyo Games, and Britain’s dressage horses have been enjoying a spell in quarantine in Leicestershire before setting off on their journey to Japan early next week.

    We catch up with Alan Davies, groom to British Olympic team members Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester, to find out what life has been like in quarantine…

    “We’re having a lovely, peaceful time – the facilities are amazing here at the British Showjumping National Training Centre at Melton Mowbray, with beautiful double stables for each horse, lovely arenas and a canter track,” says Alan, explaining that he is looking after both Charlotte’s ride Gio (Pumpkin), and Carl’s ride, En Vogue, as Lucy Scudamore – Carl’s groom for Tokyo – is helping prepare horses at home to compete at the Hartpury Festival of Dressage this weekend. 

    “The third British team member, Lottie Fry, is based in the Netherlands so her horse, Everdale, is quarantining in Germany, but Gareth Hughes’ groom Steph Sharples is here too, looking after Gareth’s travelling reserve horse Sintano Van Hof Olympia. Steph and I have been to a few championships together over the years, and we’re having a lovely time.

    “It has been crazy busy at home recently, with lockdown and all the shows then starting up, so it is nice to come here, take a deep breath and just concentrate on the Olympic horses – and the packing lists! They have already been sent forward to the airlines – we have to list everything in the horses’ trunks, and make sure we don’t add anything else at the last minute,” says Alan.

    Alan Davies at pre-Olympic quarantine in Leicestershire

    The team and reserve riders can come in and out to ride the horses during the eight-day quarantine – while abiding by strict quarantine measures – but in between, Alan has been hacking Pumpkin and Vogue, and enjoying the canter track.  

    “I’m putting my brave pants on!” laughs Alan. “I like someone to hold the horses for me while I get on, but then I get into the “Lucinda Green” safety position with my legs forward, and off I go!

    “The horses are both being really good, and they love all the extra attention. It’s funny how they blossom when they’re no longer at home among many others, but instead getting masses of attention. I can see them really enjoying themselves, and Pumpkin definitely knows he’s special.

    “We leave here at the beginning of next week and Lucy will join me then to help load the horses. I will be picked up by a commercial ‘sealed’ truck, that has been disinfected, and that will take me and horses to Liège in Belgium, with one of the vets following behind us in a car. The journey should take 10 to 11 hours, and from there we fly to Tokyo!”

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