‘It makes me smile just talking about it now’: Tina Cook reminisces about her 2008 Olympic experience

  • Tina Cook is one of Britain’s most successful event riders, with a numerous wins, placings and team call-ups to her name, including individual and team bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, followed by team silver at the London 2012 Olympics.

    Looking back to 2008, Tina remembers being a late call up to represent her country in Hong Kong aboard Miners Frolic.

    “I remember ‘Henry’ and I had to do our dressage at around 10pm due to the heat,” Tina explained, when H&H’s editor Pippa Roome chatted to her on episode 58 of The Horse & Hound podcast. “It was kind of strange – I was getting dressed to do dressage when usually I would be going to bed.”

    Henry and Tina scored 40.2 in the first phase, which is the equivalent to 26.8 in modern day scoring.

    “Bless him, he is such a kind, sweet horse and he absolutely tried his very, very best. He wasn’t the most supple of horses, but his beauty, good looks, and his fabulous temperament took him a long way.

    “On cross-country day we had to move to a different area, so all the horses were loaded up and transported off to a golf course where the second phase was taking place, which was about 45 minutes away.

    “There were a lot of twists and turns on the course, with quite slippery ground. There was quite a difficult water fence very early on, where you had to jump quite a big fence in and then jump a couple of houses on a difficult angle in the water, and I wondered how Henry was going to cope with that.

    “I set off riding a young horse, wanting him not to be alarmed early on, with a plan to then pick up the pace the further I went. The most important thing for me was that I had plenty of petrol left in the tank left at the end, because there were a couple of really difficult combinations at the end of the course. He did finish full of running, and he absolutely took it all on – he was one of the quicker ones of the day – it was a magical day.”

    Tina and Henry went into the final showjumping phase in 10th place and ultimately jumped their way into individual bronze medal position and helped the British clinch team bronze too.

    “It makes me smile just even talking about it now,” said Tina. “It’s just mega and that feeling never goes away. It’s the sort of thing you dream of. Equally you have to keep your feet on the ground and you deal with it like it’s another competition – you can’t allow yourself to realise exactly what’s happening to and where you are.

    “The crowds and the support were unbelievable – riding under those lights in the massive stadium in the middle of Hong Kong was truly magical. I was riding for my country and you have to put in your personal bests in to succeed and personal bests win medals, so it was my week. It really was.”

    Continued below…

    If you’d like to hear more from Tina, listen here to episode 58 of The Horse and Hound podcast or search “The Horse & Hound Podcast” in your favourite podcast app.

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