Carl Hester: I’m feeling totally inspired by the Aussies *H&H VIP*

  • As I write, there are 100 days to go until Rio. Continuously thanking my lucky stars that we have the UK Sport Lottery-funded World Class performance programme, especially in an Olympic year, I’m always interested in how other countries deal with fundraising.

    The United States Equestrian Team Foundation’s incredible fundraising effort in raising millions of dollars is led by celebrities such as the Springsteens and Bloombergs.

    But spare a thought for our Australian counterparts. My friend Lyndal Oatley tells me that, with quarantine and so forth, the Australian-based horses will be away for the best part of a year. She gave me the lowdown on the Australian Dressage International Travel Fund, which has been set up through the Australian Sports Foundation with the first aim of a “Reaching for Rio” campaign.

    Dressage families such as Mary and Rob Hanna, Lyndal and her parents Carol and Andrew Oatley, and the Farrell family have given considerable donations to help the cause of getting the squad hopefuls over from Australia for the team qualifiers in Europe.

    Lyndal told me: “The fundraising efforts of all the Aussies to assist the riders in coming over to compete and represent our country at Rio have been really inspiring. It has brought Australian dressage together, which is a great thing.

    “We Aussies are passionate and driven. Everyone deserves their chance to achieve their goals, and the fundraising efforts will help this enormously. Hopefully the initiative can continue on a regular basis and can provide a foundation for the future to support financially our Aussie-based riders and teams. It’s a great step forward for Australian dressage and its community.”

    The fund is already nearing the halfway mark — I love it!

    Andrew Hearn, whose wife Sue’s horse Remmington was in the air en route to Europe with Brett Parbery’s horse, DP Weltmeiser, just 12 days after they started fundraising, has put his auctioneering skills to use to raise the AUS$150,000 (£78,000) needed to fund the trip.

    Their first idea was selling shares in “Lloydy”, which became complicated, so the Hearns put it out to their Facebook friends — who came up with the idea of a crowdfund. It raised $20,000 in two days, and an influx of items were offered for auction.

    Andrew, who has spent hours online doing an “auction of the day”, told me: “This has gone above and beyond our wildest dreams.

    “I think that the general riding population likes the way that Remmington was purchased as a foal and has been trained to this level by Sue, and that it’s still possible for the average rider to dream the dream.”

    Well, best of Aussie luck to all the team hopefuls. I find this all totally inspiring. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!

    Innit or Brexit?

    As breakfast TV seems to be full of ideas for those who are considering how to vote in the EU referendum, let me add my own.

    Before the Barcelona Olympics I was competing at s’Hertogenbosch with Richard Davison. We were booked on the ferry back from Hook of Holland and duly rolled out to the port along with the showjumping horseboxes, and formed an orderly queue to present our papers (in the showjumpers’ cases this was a filing-cabinet full).

    Being pre-Schengen (the 1985 agreement which allowed passport-free travel in the EU), we had to stop at every border. When Richard reached the border control window it became apparent there was a problem. He had come in through Belgium but hadn’t, apparently, exited Belgium.

    It took a little bit of a “chat” from one of the jumping grooms before his horse was allowed to leave. But oh, the stress! For this reason, I am definitely an “innit”.

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 5 May 2016