It’s all about holding your nerve, not buckling under pressure and keeping a cool head. No, not Team GBR’s showjumpers — the staff of H&H!
We were all glued to the giant TV on Monday, in between passing most of this week’s magazine for press, cheering on Nick Skelton, Ben Maher, Scott Brash and Peter Charles. When it came to that gut-churning, nail-biting, blood pressure-busting jump-off, desks were abandoned and we all stood up to roar our riders home.
And didn’t they do it in style? Nick produced clear round after clear round with Big Star and Ben fittingly jumped three on Tripple X. Scott Brash, the team “baby”, had looked desperately unlucky to have a pole on Sunday when Hello Sanctos just knocked the final fence.
Peter Charles had been the discard score in the earlier rounds. Come the jump-off, the whole thing was resting on his shoulders. He was nothing short of magnificent. That’s when experience counts and he rose to the occasion, jumping his first, unutterably fabulous, clear round on Vindicat.
The whooping, clapping and cheering from H&H (and a few random showjumping fans from sister titles who have gathered around) rattled the windows and none of us – still – can hardly believe it.
Sixty years it’s been since we last won a showjumping team gold and at times it seemed we might have to wait at least another 60. There has been much hand-wringing and soul-searching in the years between when, yet again, our showjumpers failed to make it on to the podium.
But no more. Well done, team manager Rob Hoekstra for ignoring the gainsayers and going with what you believed was right. Thank you to all the owners, who kept the faith and kept their marvellous horses for our riders.
And heartfelt congratulations to Nick, Ben, Scott and Peter. You are our Olympic golden boys.