When I set up to write this blog, I promised I’d knock out a missive at least once a month; well already that’s turned to custard!
I finally grabbed my breath on a plane to Madrid, though with a pre-5 a.m. start to catch my “delayed” flight (we are working to Spanish timetabling), it may be a slightly delirious one. So, in my true addled brain style, I’m going to cover a few weeks in May backwards! I hope you’re following closely.
The Global Champions Tour Schedule of events to kick things off this year has been what can be best described as “Around the World in 40 Days” because anything Phileas Fogg can do, we can do quicker!
Kicking off in Miami (as I said, I’ll come back to that) then onto Mexico City, straight to Antwerp (Belgium), Shanghai (China) then Hamburg (Germany). For me then it was stop off in the Queen’s back garden to Royal Windsor—where incidentally it was Kent Farrington who dominated the week—then off we skip to Madrid. Anyone else exhausted just thinking about it?!
I’m going to reflect on Windsor first, mainly because it’s fresh in my misty mind. Not only a horse show but Her Majesty the Queen’s 90th Birthday; trust me I’m delighted to say the old girl is going strong.
So not only did the organizers put together a horse show with more moving parts than a clock, but also in the evening a 900-horse spectacular that was beamed around the world on Sunday night in presence of most of the Royal Family (before the younger generation ask, yes Kate, William and Harry were there).
This is one of the occasions when many of us wear many hats, not just commentators but at night we might also be Act Stewards, Team Leaders, lord knows what, just to make this happen. No sleep for the wicked (in fact I averaged a snoozy four hours per night).
Lots of pomp and circumstance at Windsor.
The move up to a four-star and next year a five-star CSI, with the support of Rolex, meant a move up in field—Jeroen Dubbledam, Beezie Madden, Kent Farrington, up against the Whitakers en mass. Kent won two classes including the grand prix with Creedance, not only rubber stamping this horse’s exceptional ability, but he received his Cup from Her Majesty. We like to make Americans feel at home when they come to visit….
The week has a class for everyone—yes Kent, I did spot you open mouthed taking a photo of the kids on ponies in their tweeds. It couldn’t have been more English if they tried, in the shadow of Windsor Castle. I’m not sure what some made of warming up with all types of horses in the morning, from native ponies, to retrained racehorses, Shetlands, coaching and international driving. It is an all-on show, like nowhere else.
For my part the week was one in a lifetime. Sadly the usual equestrian voices were replaced in the evening performance by many stars just to keep up the galaxy rating, but how does one compete for stage time up against Dame Helen Mirren, Jim Carter (Downton Abbey) and Simon Callow (Four Weddings)? For me it was a backstage role but no less satisfying, and I got to meet a host of famous names, including one of my teenage crushes, which was nice
For those who think it’s five-star hotels every week, well like hundreds of others I stayed in the participants’ village, which had its own brand of evening entertainment. With around 10 military bands staying there and more dancers than on a whole series of Dancing With The Stars, how could you not make your own fun? They came both from home in the U.K. to as far afield as New Zealand.
Me, I was staying in a row safely surrounded by the members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who I have to say are very good at putting a shine on your shoes—just leave them outside the door, and we’ll deal with them. Thanks chaps (and chap’eses).
If you haven’t seen any of the event, just YouTube it. My recommendation is Kylie Minogue and Jean Francois Pignon.
An exhausting week but one for the history books, and it makes me proud to have been involved surrounded by my friends, as we all worked together to make it a party to honor Her Majesty the Queen. Well anyway I seem to have got distracted again. What about the last few weeks of GCT? I’ll come back to that, eventually!
Steven Wilde got his start in commentating in 2001 and has gone on to announce and commentate at some of the world’s biggest venues, in all the Olympic disciplines. His voice has been heard at Hickstead, Blenheim and Barbury Horse Trials, and the 2012 London Olympic Games. He grew up in the sport of show jumping, as his mother was an international rider, and he’s been successful at organizing shows as well.