The third Horse & Hound Awards came to a climax last night with the presentation of the Horse & Hound Lifetime Achievement Award to Captain Mark Phillips.
“Our Horse & Hound Lifetime Achievement Award winner this year is a former winner of Badminton and Burghley, and a two-time Olympic medallist. Today he is one of the greatest cross-country course-designers in the world and a renowned coach,” said H&H magazine editor Pippa Roome as she presented the award to Mark at the ceremony at Cheltenham racecourse.
Mark said he was “overwhelmed” to receive the Award, after the announcement of his name brought many people in the room to their feet in a spontaneous standing ovation.
Asked to give his favourite moment from his different careers, Mark said: “That’s a difficult question!
“All the way from the Pony Club to winning Badminton to the first time you have a flag under your saddle, to Olympic medals, taking gold with a team at the World Championships [as coach to the USA in 2002] — there have been so many.”
Mark is the third recipient of the award, which has also gone to Nick Skelton — winner of the award in 2016 after his individual gold at the Rio Olympics — and the 11th Duke of Beaufort, whose widow Miranda, Duchess of Beaufort, accepted the award on his behalf last year.
In a video played at the ceremony last night night, Burghley director Liz Inman, course-builder and designer David Evans and riders Andrew Nicholson, Andrew Hoy and Phillip Dutton paid tribute to Mark’s contribution to the horseworld and his friendship.
“He is truly a great man and we are fortunate to have him in our lives,” said Phillip, who was a frequent member of the US eventing squad during the 20-year period when Mark was the team coach.
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Mark won Badminton four times (1971 and 1972 on Great Ovation, 1974 on Columbus and 1981 on Lincoln) and Burghley in 1973 on Maid Marion. He was a member of the British team which won gold at the 1972 Munich Olympics, riding Standing Ovation and of the silver medal-winning team at Seoul in 1988 with Cartier.
He was also a European team gold medallist at Burghley in 1971 on Great Ovation. At World Championships, Mark collected team gold in 1970 in Punchestown riding Chicago and team silver in 1974 at Burghley riding Columbus.
As a course-designer, Mark is particularly associated with Burghley, where he has designed the track 25 times. His other prestigious course-design jobs include the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe, an event where he also holds the role of chairman, and Barbury. He designed the track for the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, USA, earlier this year.
Mark is also a renowned coach and having spent 25 years as a national team coach, he continues to train riders across the levels.
Mark is H&H’s longest-standing magazine columnist, contributing his outspoken and forthright views frequently during the eventing season.
Read more about the third H&H Awards in next week’s magazine, out Thursday 15 November.