Make some early ground rules — and other tips for competing against your siblings

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  • Sharing a sport with a sibling can feel like being locked into a lifelong battle to outdo one another. But forget seething jealousies and petty squabbles — some brothers and sisters are enjoying success together at the highest levels. What are their tips for making it work? Andrea Oakes asks siblings competing at the top of their game

    Polo players Jack and Ralph Richardson

    Making it work: Jack, 25, who is four years Ralph’s senior, advises keeping a competitive edge, adding: “There’s always someone trying to take your place in a team sport, but you can get a bit soft if you’re just messing about together at home.”

    Dressage riders Becky and Hannah Moody

    Making it work: realising individual skills and playing to these strengths builds a stronger unit, Becky advises about working with her older sister of 10 years Hannah.

    Eventers Francis and Bryony Whittington

    Making it work: focus on ways to keep things running smoothly if you’re running a yard with a sibling, advises Francis, 39, who shares his East Sussex yard with his younger sister Bryony. “I do my own thing, but I can count on Bryony for an honest, educated opinion,” he adds.

    Showjumpers Olivier and Nicola Philippaerts

    Making it work: “It’s not always easy when you work in the same business, so make some early ground rules,” advises Belgian showjumper Olivier, about competing against his twin brother. “Recognise each other’s good and bad points, and know what each of you has to do.”

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    Showing producers Stuart and Nigel Hollings

    Making it work: “Respect each other’s opinions,” says Stuart. “There’s a lot to be said for discussing things. Keep communication up, even if you’re working in different zones of the yard.”

    National Hunt trainer Dan and jockey Harry Skelton (pictured, above)

    Making it work: “Believe in each other,” says Dan, who prefers not to interfere with the riding side of things. While he admits there may be a tendency with a sibling to overanalyse things, or be too honest, Dan feels that commitment and professionalism from both sides keeps the relationship on a solid footing. “Harry’s one of the best riders out there,” he adds.

    Don’t miss this week’s sibling special issue of Horse & Hound magazine (17 November 2016), with an exclusive interview with legendary showjumping brothers John and Michael Whitaker as well as a comparison between eventing full-brothers Armada and Nereo

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