In today’s issue of Horse & Hound magazine (9 November 2017), we meet the up-and-coming dressage rider Anand Patel, who trains with Carl Hester and now has his heart set on the Asian Games. Here are 11 things you need to know about him...
1. He had an unconventional start to a dressage career
Anand grew up having weekly lessons at Aldborough Hall Equestrian Centre, and went on to manage the riding school during his gap year. “I literally went from an hour a week to managing the place overnight,” says Anand, who went on to achieve a masters degree in corporate law.
2. Carl Hester offered him a job — but he turned it down
“I met Carl through Christian Landolt while I was at Bristol University, and one day I plucked up the courage to ask for a job. I wrote a letter, shoved it in Carl’s face one day and left,” remembers Anand. “He said he’d love to have me, and it was all arranged but then I found [my current base] Tower Hill Equestrian and it ticked every box for me. Carl and I discussed it and he agreed it was the best move for me. I now train with him religiously every three weeks.”
3. He didn’t ride a dressage test until he was 22
“I always loved dressage, but competing wasn’t an option at the riding school, so my first test — an unaffiliated novice — was only six years ago, after I had bought my first horse,” remembers Anand. “I had no idea how it all worked, what to do or what to wear.”
4. He’s OBSESSED with food
“I’m a food obsessive — buying it, cooking it, eating it,” declares Anand, who reveals he asks every person he teaches what they’ll be having for dinner that night.
“I host a minimum of three dinner parties a week, and always cook a roast dinner on a Sunday, usually with something like pork belly and a rib of beef — always two meats.”
5. Horse slobber gives him the shudders
“I’m OCD about cleanliness — I leave the yard looking as though I’ve just turned up,” he reveals. “When I’m riding I’ll sometimes stop to brush off the marks on my thigh left by the reins, and the absolute worst thing is when the wind blows the horse’s slobber all over you!”
6. He’s never had a hangover
“I party as hard as I work, but I’ve never had a hangover — not even when I was at uni!” admits Anand.
7. He’s aiming to ride at the Asian Games
Despite being thoroughly British, Anand hopes to make use of his Indian heritage to compete at the Asian Games, and help raise the profile of the sport in India.
“I have no family in India, but my maternal grandmother has property out there which means I can become a non-resident Indian, which would allow me to take part in the Asian Games,” explains Anand. “I would never switch nationality to ride for India in FEI competition, however.”
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8. Orange is everywhere on his yard
“I’ve been obsessed with the colour ever since I would only choose the orange Opal Fruits as a three-year-old,” explains Anand, whose lorry and clothing are all orange, as well as the trim and piping on his tack and tailcoat.
9. Carl Hester still makes him feel starstruck
“Every time I drive through those gates to his yard, I have to pinch myself, even now,” he says. “Watching Carl ride still gives me goosebumps.”
10. He’s a total technophobe
“I still handwrite everything I can – in orange ink! I can use email if I have to, but that’s about it.”
11. If he could ride any horse in the world….
“It would have to be Sezuan, Dorothee Schneider’s former young horse champion,” he says, after a lot of thought. “I saw a video of him as a three-year-old and thought he was unbelievable, and he’s now on the road to grand prix.”