John Whitaker: A Windsor to cherish *H&H VIP*

  • Opinion

    The final day at Royal Windsor, with an exceptional grand prix jump-off and Nick Skelton’s retirement ceremony, was really special — definitely one to remember.

    Show director Simon Brooks-Ward asked Scott Brash, my brother Michael and me to be a part of Nick’s retirement and it was a great honour to do so. It was supposed to be a secret, so we had to hide in the stables beforehand and I don’t think Nick noticed!

    They did the ceremony really well, with the video and a list of all his achievements — that took a while! Riding round the arena, the atmosphere was fantastic. We couldn’t believe how big the crowds were — they were packed in and there were even cheers coming from the big screens and all around the showground. And it was great to see so many riders going out of their way to watch it.

    Big Star looked so well and certainly seemed to enjoy the occasion — it’s nice that he’s able to retire at the top and full of life. There’s not much left in Nick, but there’s a bit more left in Big Star!

    ‘Exceptional jumping’

    Making Windsor a five-star show has been the icing on the cake. It’s been a great show for the past few years but the increased prize-money certainly attracts the top riders. When you saw Guy Williams go in the jump-off for the grand prix, you thought, “That round wants a bit of beating”, but he ended up sixth, such was the standard. Eric Lamaze made it really exciting and Scott Brash jumped a good round. It was exceptional jumping.

    Added to this, the three horses I took, Cassini’s Chaplin, Crumley and Talisman De Mazure, all jumped really well — it was a special show.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 18 May 2017