It was a last minute decision to buy tickets for the Longines Global Champions Tour, but it was certainly a good one.
Saturday afternoon was absolutely perfect for sitting outside and enjoying the spectacular views of Horseguards Parade and Whitehall combined with the talent of the world’s best showjumpers. These days I’m no expert on who’s who, although I just about know that Scott Brash won a gold medal at the London Olympics and that he is currently rated as number one in the world. He was number one on Saturday, too, winning the grand prix in fine style.
When I was young, though, I could tell you who all the top competitors were. I’m not sure I saw many of them live, except that I have some vague recollection of Harvey Smith at the Cheshire Show and then, much later, David Broome conducting a masterclass for would be showjumpers in Dulwich Park. By far my favourite, however, was Pat Smythe. I think she had retired from jumping by the time I started to be interested in horses, but I enjoyed reading about her and I was a huge fan of her children’s books. I couldn’t get enough of her Three Jays and their antics, and I think what I particularly liked about them was the fact that Pat herself always appeared in the stories, although the Three Jays themselves were entirely fictional.
I suppose in those days I thought I would follow in her steps, and, even if I didn’t become a world famous showjumper, I would write pony books for children. Well, that hasn’t quite come true in the way I planned, and I think Pony Tricks is possibly the nearest I will ever come to it.