Natasha Baker: busting superstitions, a penchant for steak and London memories

  • As the 2016 Rio Paralympics swing into action, we find out a bit more about the 26-year-old British squad member Natasha Baker — from her biggest indulgence to ditching her McDonalds superstition...

    What is your favourite restaurant?

    The “steak on a slate” and cheese fondue at Whatley Manor in Malmesbury, Wiltshire is amazing. I go around four or five times a year as it’s owned by Christian Landolt [who part-owns Natasha’s gold medal-winning partner Cabral] and it’s more of a special occasion type of place. Christian and I have the same birthday so we always have dinner there as a treat each year. Whenever I go I think I should try something different, but always end up having the same thing as it’s just so good.

    What do you like watching on TV?

    Rubbish TV. I like watching reality shows such as X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing as they’re easy viewing. I’m out and about competing so much I like stuff you can dip in and out of.

    How do you relax?

    I went to the Maldives in 2011 and it’s beyond paradise. Sun, sea, sand and cocktails, there’s nothing better. I also like spending time in London. I’m a real city girl. It’s ideal being based where I am in Uxbridge as I can pop into London easily for shopping or to meet friends for a drink.

    What do you listen to in the lorry?

    Usually I’ll have Capital Radio on, but if I’m on a way to a show with mum and dad then we have to keep everyone happy so we’ll go for a bit of Adele or George Michael.

    What do you remember about London 2012?

    It’s so clear in my mind it could be yesterday. It still feels a bit surreal though, at the time I was so overwhelmed by it all and even now watching it back I get a bit emotional. From the age of 10, winning a gold medal was all I wanted to do.

    What was your first win?

    When I was about 10 I won a handy pony class with a chestnut New Forest pony called Forester from the South Bucks Riding for the Disabled Association. He was a real cheeky chappy and bucked me off a few times. I also rode my first dressage test on him. He was six then and he’s still going at the RDA now, he’s an absolute legend.

    What’s your biggest indulgence?

    Chocolate and sweets are my go-to treat!

    What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

    Every experience makes you who you are, enjoy it and have fun.

    Do you have any superstitions?

    When I was competing at London I had a McDonalds chicken legend before every competition, and it seemed to work. But when things went wrong at Aachen I decided it was time to pull myself together and lose the McDonalds habit. I still have a lucky conker which I had with me at the first handy pony win though — it lives in my jacket pocket.

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    What would you do if you weren’t a dressage rider?

    Anything where I could interact with people and have a good chat — maybe PR or media. I’d love to go into radio or broadcasting when it’s time to wind down the riding career.

    Don’t miss our Paralympic preview in this week’s issue of Horse & Hound magazine (8 September 2016)

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