A conversation with William Fox-Pitt

April 25th, 2013 8:47 AM | Comments Off on A conversation with William Fox-Pitt

The season so far…


You’ve had a tremendous season with wins in Kentucky, Team Silver at London 2012 and now a victory in Blenheim too, how do you feel it’s gone?


It’s been a difficult season for Eventing to date mainly due to the weather, so I feel personally very fortunate to have had a successful season so far. I’ve been taking some good horses to all of these events which is ultimately what we aim for and also why I’ve had the success I’ve had this season.



Highlights of the season

And what’s been the highlight of the season for you so far?

London 2012 is undoubtedly the highlight, nothing can compare to it. It was a unique experience that Team GB and all of the Olympians will never forget. To get a silver medal there was a fantastic feeling, and it is certainly the most memorable Olympics that I have ever competed in.



Winning a 50th three day event


What was it like winning your 50th three-day event at Blenheim in September?


It was exciting and I was especially relieved to have won the 50th before I’m 50! You start the season with your hopes and ambitions of what you’d like to win, but three-day events are always the difficult ones as there are lots of differing factors in play and so many things can happen. I’ve now won 4 three-day events so far which makes it a very good season for me. After a not so good start at Burghley for Seacookie, to bounce back and go so well round Blenheim was a great feeling.




William’s owners Catherine & David Witt


Your owners must be thrilled too?


Catherine and David Witt have had a fantastic season as well. They own three of my four winning horses – Parklane Hawk, Bay My Hero and Seacookie, so it’s been a successful time for them.




What is a typical day like for you at the moment?


There is obviously a lot of riding to do at the moment with several events coming up in the next few months. And although the Olympics has finished, being part of Team GB means that I’m still receiving some very exciting and tempting invites to various functions!




A strong set of horses


How are all of your horses as you come towards the end of the season?


You always touch wood when you get asked how your horses are faring. They have all done well and I hope to have an equally strong team of horses for next year, however I’ve now been in the sport long enough to know it’s unlikely to be exactly the same string of horses as the previous year; you never know how it’s going to work out.


Were you satisfied with your Burghley Horse Trials performances after having to pull out Sea Cookie?


Going into the Burghley Horse Trials, Seacookie was slightly underprepared and hadn’t really had the necessary runs he might need but I thought his previous experience there would make up for it, but he was actually not on top of his game which is why I pulled him up. Parklane Hawk though was fantastic even though he hadn’t had the best preparation either, so I was delighted with him to perform so well and finish third.


How are your younger horses doing such as Bay My Hero?


Bay My Hero is on good form and he ran particularly well in the Blenheim 8 & 9 year olds event. I’ve always really enjoyed riding him but it’s a great feeling to know he’s coming along so well and stepping up to the mark.


Do you have any other horses coming through who are like Bay My Hero?


I don’t currently have anyone else that is at the same stage as Bay My Hero. There is a horse called Chilli Morning who is new to me and is a very exciting prospect. I also have a very nice young 8-year-old horse called Freddie Mac who is aiming for his first 2* event so coming along very well.




Winter Plans


What are your plans towards Pau at the end of October?


Our biggest plan in October is having our third child, which we hope will arrive between now and Pau! Aside from that and riding I have quite a few other commitments including training & clinics, short trips to Australia (to teach a clinic during Adelaide 3DE) & Ireland (to see some horses), as well as the London 2012 medallist reception at Buckingham Palace and a celebratory Equestrian Team GB dinner at Saddlers Hall – a lot to look forward to!



Rivalling Andrew Nicholson in the Rolex Grand Slam Prize


Your biggest rival for the Rolex Grand Slam Prize at Badminton next year is Andrew Nicholson – can he beat you to it?


Of course he could beat me to it, but I’m certainly not going to hand it to him on a plate. I’m sure he will go to Kentucky and hopefully so will I.  Depending on the horses and the funding available from UK Sport & The Lottery I would hope to take a couple of horses over there, and I am certain he will do the same. I’m just going to have to make sure that I beat him!




Winter Plans


Finally, what are your plans over the winter?


Well apart from interrupted sleep and inevitably lots of nappy changing…


I have various trips and clinics planned but the end of season is always a great downtime for not only me and the family, but also the horses and staff so November and December are always quiet. It means that in January when it all starts up again everyone is fresh, excited and looking forward to the new season ahead.


Welcoming a new member to the Fox-Pitt family

The big excitement at the end of October last year was definitely the arrival of Chloe Rose into the family! Luckily she waited to appear before I got back from Pau, so her timing was perfect. She’s now six month’s old and it’s like she’s always been here – she gets on really well with her two older brothers, and parents for that matter – we’ve been very lucky, she’s a good girl!

Taking a break over the winter months

The break I had between November and January was fairly baby focussed! Normally at that time of year we would have a holiday, Alice and I, but this year that wasn’t really going to be possible. That said I did go to Adelaide for the 4* event over there. I was originally going to take a horse to the show, but by the time that had become impossible to do due to horse quarantines, I was already committed to going, so I went to Australia for 10 days, which was highly enjoyable – there was very hot nice weather, and it was good to experience a different side of the world.

Apart from that we’ve just been around the UK enjoying a quieter time over the winter. The horses had a holiday, grooms had a holiday, we had a holiday, and although we didn’t get away we were by no means working hard.


Feelings around the Fox-Pitt camp at the start of 2013

The feeling around the team is good. After the Olympics I felt that this year may be a bit of an anti-climax for everyone as it was such a big focus throughout last season, but actually this year has got me really excited due to our horses’ prospects. I had a few that missed 2012 because of injury that have now come back into work which is great, so for the season ahead I have lots of exceptional horses to concentrate on.


New horses and resolutions in 2013

I’ve got a new top horse called Running Order who came from America, and I’m very excited about him. He’s produced by Doug Payne and is at the 4* level, he rode in the Rolex Kentucky last year, and although it’s early days he’s a super horse. Cool Mountain is also back having been injured last year, which was a shame as he missed out on the Olympics. I’m hoping he will be back up to top form very soon.

I don’t have any big New Year’s resolutions, although the main promise to myself was not to get too carried away by all of the Rolex Grand Slam hype. It’s going to be very important for me to treat Badminton like any other three day event, and to just focus on getting the horses and myself there in the best possible condition to perform at our best.


Start of the spring season

The spring season has started well, we did have quite a frustrating start with cancellations at two or three events thanks to the weather, but since then its dried up well and I’ve had some good competitions with the horses, including Burnham Market and Weston Park, where the horses have run well and felt good. Results aren’t always my focus at the one day events but they are always good training for the three-days.


Plans leading up to Kentucky and Badminton

I’m competing in Belton before Kentucky, but I won’t be there on the last day as Chloe is being christened. Apart from that, there are a couple of smaller events, but the horses will leave for America a few weeks before the event which doesn’t allow for any more.

Which horses are you planning to take to Kentucky?

Sea Cookie and Chilli Morning are on their way.

What about Badminton?

For Badminton I’m taking Parklane Hawk and Oslo.


The Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing

It’s been very much business as usual for me in the lead up to Badminton, but there has been some perennial hype surrounding Badminton and this year the Rolex Grand Slam too. The build-up is always exciting, and this season has been fantastic with lots of media interest and various interviews. It’s important for me to realise though that winning at Badminton is a very long shot, as this year looks very competitive thanks largely to a high international contingent, including Michael Jung among others. Then again, if I do my bit, with the horses on good form, it’s by no means a foregone conclusion.

There is a unique situation considering Andrew Nicholson, who if he hypothetically wins in Kentucky, could also be a direct challenger for the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing at Badminton?

I don’t think whether Andrew is in contention for the Rolex Grand Slam or not makes much difference to me. I have to win Badminton either way if I am to claim the Grand Slam, which means beating him. However it would obviously make things highly exciting, and create another edge to the competition, which everyone would love, but I think it won’t make that much difference at the end of the day.

Has everything to this point gone how you planned?

The season so far has gone to plan and things are going well – the horses have found themselves in good form, I’ve been lucky to get the calculations right in terms of runs with horses, but then again sometimes when you have a terrible build up you are better on the day; I’m not thinking like that though obviously!

William Fox-Pitt is the current live contender for the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing prize.

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