Carl Hester: Kit collection was like an upmarket supermarket sweep *H&H VIP*

  • “Four years ago I compared collecting my kit for London 2012 with my first Olympic experience, of Barcelona 20 years earlier, as 20 times more sophisticated,” Carl told H&H. “So, how about preparing for Rio 2016? Well it was another level entirely on our trip to the NEC for briefings and kit collection.

    “After the statutory drug and doping talk we spent a really good hour with the BBC’s James Pearce. All the riders were interviewed and then we went through it with James. I may be used to giving interviews but there is nothing worse than sitting in a room with your mates and having to watch yourself.

    “Apparently each quote should last 30-40 seconds, which is easy if you’re a yacker like me. I have the opposite problem — when to add the full stop. With no advertising on the BBC it’s a real opportunity to get your point across if you’re asked for an interview. Remember we are selling a product, which is, of course, the sport we all love, dressage. And smiling is the best way to show enthusiasm.

    “Then it was kit collection. Imagine being let loose in a glamorous department store, a sort of upmarket supermarket sweep. We came home with three great big cases each and a fantastic selection of Christmas presents for my godchildren to try after I’m done with them — although it would be interesting to try and ride dressage in the hiking boots.

    “We also stopped at the Aldi munchies store to fill up with snacks. Unfortunately they only had healthy ones. With Alan, Charlotte, me and all our gear in the car we really should have organised a bus to bring it home.”

    All fired up for Rio?

    “With a room full of sponsors with whom we were encouraged to engage and chat, it brought a whole different process to bringing out the Olympic spirit. The horses leave on 31 July. Ours will be in Alan’s care, with Charlotte and I following our leader Dickie Waygood with the rest of the team on a BA flight two days later. So yes, we’re Games-ready.

    “And while Dickie was wearing the smallest pair of shorts at the London kit-out; this year he’ll be more suitably attired.

    “Hartpury was superb preparation for the home side. Looking to the opposition, Aachen made very interesting viewing. What a German team! They look super-strong in quality although it was disappointing that the marks did not reflect the mistakes — and without a JSP (judges’ supervisory panel) there was no correction. They certainly look the team to beat.

    “It was also interesting to see Edward Gal popping out of the woodwork on Voice despite his non-appearance at Rotterdam and only doing the grand prix (which they won) at the Dutch Championships, to give the Dutch team a boost.

    The one to watch from Aachen is Spain’s Severo Jurado López on the 10-year-old chestnut Lorenzo. I have known Severo since he was a working pupil at my friend Anne van Olst’s yard in Holland. He’s someone who has stuck with it and worked hard. They burst onto the scene as a combination in February this year and they’re on the up. Alongside Spanish champions Beatriz Ferrer-Salat and Delgado they’ll be putting Spain in with a shout of a medal.

    “Hopefully the home side will all have a great trip and take the very best of British luck with us.”

    • Carl was interviewed for his column this week to comply with Olympic regulations

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 28 July 2016