Monday 22nd of July 2024
Pro Secrets

The Voice of Olympia: Nick Brooks-Ward

Some of you may not know Nick by face, but you will most certainly recognize his voice! His dulcet tones have ‘owned’ the microphone at every prestigious equestrian event for over 15 years, most notably at London 2012 and Nick is a firm fixture at HOYS and Olympia.


Nick will command the microphone at this year’s London International Horse Show, which runs from 16th to 22nd December at Olympia. The event was started by his father, Raymond Brooks-Ward, in 1972. It is a family affair as Nick’s brother, Simon, is the Chairman of the company responsible for organising the show.

Nick will command the microphone at this year’s London International  Horse Show, which runs from 16th to 22nd December at Olympia.  The event was started by his father, Raymond Brooks-Ward, in 1972. It is a family affair as Nick’s brother, Simon, is the Chairman of the company responsible for organising the show.

How has this year been for you?

On a commentary side, amazing really. With the uplift at Royal Windsor going to 3*, Robert Whitaker winning the Grand Prix and the amazing event at Bolesworth International, the whole year has been fantastic.

Bolesworth Castle

Bolesworth was based on the continental model and really was superb. Nothing had been left to chance and it is a breathtaking venue that is now firmly on the map.

What has been your favourite place you have reported from?

It has to be London 2012: being on home turf the atmosphere of the whole games was absolutely unbelievable, the always smiling volunteers, the public getting behind Team GB, the medal haul and the Paralympics were all very special. I did my 1st Paras in 2004, maybe only 250 people watched it and at 2012 we had 6500 people watching. Nothing could ever beat it. Great Britain has become the benchmark for great sporting occasions.

Any stand out/ funny moments?

Too many !

A defining stand out moment was definitely Team GB winning gold in the Show Jumping but more than that, the whole defining moment of 2012 was when Sophie Christiansen was presented with her 3rd gold medal of the Games. Her smile was tear jerking.

I will never forget the ostriches at the Pony Club Games one year at The Horse of the Year Show. I completely lost it, was practically falling down with uncontrollable giggles and couldn’t speak. Ros Slinger, who runs the mounted games, comes up with a different game each year, suddenly I saw all these children coming in to the arena dressed as ostriches. Ponies were bolting, wings were flapping, the children were trying to collect eggs and it was sheer chaos. There were 4 sessions over the week and every time I got a fit of giggles. When you lose it, there is no come back, the whole audience was laughing too.

What or who are you looking forward to seeing at Olympia this year?

Definitely Scott Brash and Ludger Beerbaum as he hasn’t been to Olympia for about 8 years, plus naturally Carl and Charlotte in the dressage and Boyd Exell in the extreme driving. How they turn a team of four 16 hand horses on a sixpence always amazes me. European arenas are bigger but the Olympia audience get really close to the action and that is a real treat. It’s phenomenal that we will have three World No.1’s there: Boyd in the extreme driving, Charlotte in the dressage and Scott in the Show Jumping.

Do you still ride?

I haven’t ridden for 10 years but my daughter still does and loves The Pony Club. It’s the best place to start and it is where it all begins.

What have you got planned for Christmas

The magical thing about Olympia, my brothers will also tell you this, is that when you leave after a week there, you come away on a massive high, exhausted and you live the moment all the way through to Boxing Day when we all collapse in a heap. It will be a quiet family Christmas.

How did you get into commentating and what advice would you give to someone wanting to become a commentator?

I would always commentate at local hunter trials and Dad came up with the mad idea to do Pedigree Chum Dog Agility at all the horse trials. George Nolan (Pippa Funnell’s father) and I were sent off to different horse trials all over the British Isles and we would commentate on pets doing agility, sometimes 300 dogs a day! That’s how I got into it. Then I did a bit at Windsor and then the Pavarotti International Horse Show. In those days it was the richest show in Europe. One year, Tom Hudson and Mike Tucker couldn’t do it so Simon (my brother) said I should do it as it was only in Italy. I got paid a huge amount of money to watch the top in their sport. John Whitaker came up to me at the show and said I was quite good and said I should do more commentating and I went on from there. I went to Athens, Hong Kong and London for the Olympics.

I would advise anyone wanting to do it to first try at local pony club shows and show centre events. Mike Tucker has always taught me to help those out there who want help. I would advise talking to the riders, get their input, become their confidante, never become personal and always do your homework. For an event like Olympia, the World Cup round, for example, requires 6 hours research. You have to know your stuff: all the results, the horses and have lots of facts up your sleeve. You might only use 20% but you need the other 80% in the bag.

What or who inspires you within the equestrian world?  Past and present.

My father inspired us in so many ways but for modern day it would have to be David Broome. He is the most talented show jumper this country has ever had and the most gifted horseman. When I sit next to him in the commentary box as he still comes and helps, he can still spot the quality in the ring and the right thing. And he found Hello Sanctos before 2012 in Ukraine. That man is inspirational. He is a world champion, won everything and a real gentleman to boot with a lovely family.

Do you have a favourite equestrian possession?

Yes, I have two: my father’s old hunting horn and my made to measure hunting cap, which is from Christie’s. Father was Master of Hounds for 36 seasons. He started with the Sandhurst Beagles, then moved on to the West Lodge Beagles, then enjoyed 17 season with the Enfield Chase Foxhounds in Hertfordshire (Miss Dujardin was a member of our Pony Club), and in his latter career he hunted with the South Cornwall Foxhounds, which was hairy and scary but great fun and which is now part of the Four Burrows Hunt. I used whip in for him.

Is there an all time favourite yard/stables that you’ve been too? And why?

Badminton is immaculate and very historical but if you are talking stables, the continental yards are just out of this world: modern, purpose built and fabulous indoor arenas but not many people have seen Nick Skelton’s yard. It is amazing, the horses wouldn’t be amiss if they stayed in the Ritz. Every major trophy is polished and they are displayed in glass cases above the stables. There is a winner’s rug there from the Spruce Meadows Grand Prix. It is the one they all want to win and Nick has won it 5 times! The rug is hanging above the stables with all 5 names of the horses he has won it on. A mile and a half up the road are Nick’s sons, Dan and Harry. Nick has built them a purpose built racing yard at his second farm and they are both mind-blowing – nothing is left to chance and they are spotless. 

Which country in your opinion does equestrian best? And why?

You could say Germany, Holland or France. Their breeding programmes are exceptional…which one does it best…I would say the Netherlands.

What would you like your legacy to be?

Work hard and have fun.

Do you have an equestrian hero?

Either John Whitaker or Nick Skelton, you cannot separate those two.

What is the quality that you most like in a horse?

A big jump and honesty. The best show jumper I think I have ever seen and I’ve seen a few, is Big Star. He has the most immaculate jump in the world.

If you weren’t a commentator, what would you be doing?

When I’m not commentating I am an Event organizer and I would do it full time. I’m a Director of Crufts and I delivered the official start of the Tour de France.

What is the most valuable piece of advice you have been given? Who gave it to you?

Always do your homework was my Father’s advice and to leave nothing to chance and and you must never assume.

Tell us something about yourself that only you know?

My wife knows everything!

What would be your message to the equestrian world?

Don’t appear so elitist. I look at Charlotte, Carl, Michael Eilberg and Laura and they are very accessible to the media. Our eventers are very accessible as well especially Tina, Francis, William and Pippa.

Sometimes our showjumpers let themselves down as they don’t make themselves accessible. I would like to see them a bit more media friendly in order to celebrate their achievements and see them back on the front page of the newspapers where they belong.

Do you have a secret superstition before an event?


What are your top 5 indispensable pieces of kit?

My ipad

A highlighter pen


Le Chameau coat


Any New Year’s Resolutions?

Probably to lose weight. My wife would like that.

Against The Clock…

Dick Francis or Jilly Cooper?

Dick Francis

HOYS or Olympia?

Olympia. Dad started it with £300 of advance bookings and we were sent out dressed in panto costumes: me as a squirrel (?!) and my brothers were Prince Charmings. We went out with Ted Edgar, Mary Chipperfield and Harvey Smith all dressed up to raise awareness of the event. Ted I think was Colonel of the Camel Corps (we had racing camels) and we walked down Kensington High Street with Mary’s Liberty circus horses, and we gave tickets away. That was 1972!

Badminton or Burghley?


Sand or Snow?


Tea or G&T?

Red wine

Bay or grey?




For full details about this year’s London International Horse Show, which runs from 16th to 22nd December, visit and follow on Twitter at


TV Coverage:

Please note that all coverage is subject to change.

BBC Coverage

Wed 17th Dressage – 20.00 – 22.25 on the red button, online & connected TV
Thurs 18th Puissance – 21.00 – 22.15 on the red button, online & connected TV
Sun 21st FEI World Cup Jumping – 13.45 – 16.30 TBC LIVE on BBC2, online and connected TV
Mon 22nd Entire evening performance – 18.15 – 22.15 LIVE on the red button
Tues 23rd Olympia highlights – 13.45 – 14.45


Thurs 18th Dec Puissance – 21.00 – 22.15
Fri 19th Speed Stakes – 18.30 – 19.15
Mon 22nd Olympia Grand Prix – 20.35 – 22.05






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