Now we know the outcome of the EU vote, we have to look on the positive side.
The pound has dropped about 10% against the dollar and the euro, so anyone from abroad buying horses from us will get a good deal. A weak pound is great for exports; the only downside is that when shopping for a horse in Europe, you need to be a bit clever and negotiate a better price.
George Osborne’s move to bring corporation tax down to 15% was also a masterstroke.
For those operating as sole traders, now is probably the time to set up as a company if you want advantageous tax breaks. In the horse business, overheads are astronomically high, so every little helps.
We’re competing in Knokke in Belgium as part of a summer series, which offers a full range of classes from five- to one-star. Every element of the venue is world-class. When you see the infrastructure that has been put in place, it makes sense that they run it as a four-week tour.
In England, we’ve seen Bolesworth and Royal Windsor move up the divisions, but we still have a long way to go to match shows like this and Valkenswaard in the Netherlands. At Knokke, being camped up by the sea with three gorgeous rings is very nice, but what is ideal is being able to bring clients, young horses and amateurs to the same venue and not be running from one show to another.
The whole site is weatherproofed, which isn’t so difficult, but does cost money. They’ve put in roads and trellised walkways. Windsor has made some moves in this direction, but given the weather we’ve had this year, this is something that big shows should be encouraged to do.
We have had the great news this week that all three of my children have been picked for the Europeans. Harry and Scarlett are in the junior team and Sienna in the children-on-horses. I’m not sure if having three members of the same family in the European squad has ever been done before, so it’s a great credit to the team we have at home and the work everyone has put in. And of course the horses’ owner — Peter Charles!
I’d also like to congratulate the lads on being picked for the Olympics. Michael and John Whitaker might not be on superstar horses, but they’ll make up for it with their experience to bring home a gold medal. The Olympic selection brings me to our world-class system, which is meant to produce young riders and build for the future. I thought our last Olympic team was old, with a combined age of 165, but this time the total age is 207.
When the Olympics is over, this needs to be looked at. We have a lot of money allocated, but it certainly can be better spent and more productive.
As it is, Dan Hughes heads up the British Equestrian Federation performance team and calls the shots. He needs to be told from a working party within showjumping where to spend the money — advised by people who have ridden at championships; trainers who have trained champions and people who own young and team horses. This would be a great way of keeping our sport moving forward.
Ref: Horse & Hound; 14 July 2016