Saturday 20th of July 2024
Pro Secrets

Victoria Spicer

Photo courtesy of Horse magazine & Steve Bardens

Victoria and Confidence Trick (Photo courtesy of Horse magazine & Steve Bardens)

 

It’s another huge week for Victoria Spicer with the Longines Royal International Horse Show taking place at Hickstead so soon after the Derby Meeting. 

As Press Officer for the All England Jumping Course and Web Editor for our favourite TV channel, Horse & Country TV, how does Vicky manage to wear so many hats including her own hard one when competing her ex-racehorse Rosie?

 

Have you always be interested in horses?
Fortunately, yes, my mum bought my first pony while she was pregnant with me, so it was just as well I took to it! I grew up doing all Pony Club activities, then focused on showing then dressage in my teens. University and a move to London did restrict my riding for a while but I got back into ownership in 2009.

 

Victoria & Rosie eventing (credit Gary Homer)

Victoria & Rosie eventing (credit Gary Horner)

Tell us about your horse.
She’s a five-year-old Thoroughbred called Regalo Rosado. She belonged to a syndicate including my boyfriend Nick, his colleagues at Coral, and Sam Hoskins from Hot to Trot racing. Rosie never lived up to her potential on the track so last summer they gave her to me for a few months to retrain as a riding horse…and she’s never left! She’s lovely, affectionate, a bit dopey (her nickname is Dozy Rosie) and I adore her. She’s just done her first British Eventing affiliated horse trials and we’re off to Borde Hill next month.

 

How did you get in to your role at Hickstead?
It was a case of ‘right time, right place’.  My first job was as a sub editor at Horse & Hound, then I did a further three years as deputy editor at Horse, but I wanted to be an editor and it didn’t seem like it was ever going to happen if I stayed where I was. So I left to write for magazines on a freelance basis in April 2010 and had a busy summer travelling round the country reporting on shows. During that year’s Hickstead Derby I was actually 500 miles away at the Royal Highland, reporting on the showing, so I missed the news that the Press Officer was retiring. Fortunately a former colleague heard there was a vacancy and put my name forward – I went down to Hickstead, met the team, and that was it! I consider myself really lucky to be part of such an iconic event. Through Hickstead I also met the team at Horse & Country, and I now work part time as press officer for Hickstead and web editor for H&C TV. So I’m very lucky to have two dream jobs instead of one… and I finally achieved my ambition of being an editor too.

 

Victoria at the Epsom Derby

Victoria at the Epsom Derby

Equestrian events are always so glamorous, what is it like behind the scenes?
Hard work! I do long hours during show weeks:  I leave home at 7am and don’t get home until 10pm most days. I also rarely get to see any horses compete as I’m too busy to leave the press office. But it’s also a lot of fun and incredibly exciting to be part of the events that I used to watch on television and dream of attending one day.

 

 

What advice can you give someone trying to work in equestrian events?
Do an internship. We take on a press intern and a photography intern at Hickstead every summer, and that’s a great way to get experience and find out whether it’s for you or not. 

 

We are loving the live coverage that H&C is now showing for some of the big events as well as the H&C Everywhere* facility, do you see more live broadcasts on the cards? There are too many events to name but it would be amazing to see them live rather than on the red button or a highlights programme.
It’s been a great few weeks for Horse & Country with our first ever live broadcasts with the Rolex Grand Prix from CHIO Aachen and the Longines Global Champions Tour. We aim to show an increasing number of live events in the future, as we know it’s something our viewers love. Certain major equestrian events will always be covered by the mainstream channels due to broadcasting rights, but these initial events have proved that H&C can do live broadcast too, and it’s the first step on a very exciting journey for the channel.

 

What or who inspires you within the equestrian world? Past & Present
Ian Stark was my absolute hero when I was a kid – he was the local star, an Olympic medallist, and he’d come from a non-horsey background, going from riding school to Badminton. I love stories like that.
One of the first people I interviewed for a magazine feature was Ben Maher, just after his win in the Hickstead Derby in 2005. I interviewed him again a couple of months ago (and realized in the nine years since that he’s won European and Olympic gold, while I’ve just about managed to stay on round a BE90) and he impressed me so much. He really thinks about his sport and analyses things in a way that not many riders do.

 

Is there an all time favourite yard/stables that you’ve been too? And why?
I’ve been to lots of amazing yards, thanks to my job. I have to say Nick Skelton’s place is incredible – and I got to meet Big Star too, which was a bonus.

 

Which country in your opinion does equestrian best? And why?
I went to the Horses and Dreams show in Hagen in Germany just before the Olympics and it was a real eye opener. Uber-enthusiastic crowds, impressive hospitality and top level sport. But I have to say, for sheer versatility and history, nowhere comes close to the UK.

 

What would you like your legacy to be?
I’d like more people to follow equestrian sport and recognise our riders. I’d love to see more of our top horses and riders become household names in the same way they were in the 60s and 70s.

 

What is the quality that you most like in a horse?
Trainability! I’ve recently started having lessons with a new dressage trainer and she’s so good about changing something about my riding that has an immediate transformative effect on Rosie’s way of going. It’s like putting pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together, and when you get something right it’s immensely satisfying.

 

If you hadn’t worked in media, what do you think you would have been doing?
I’d like to think I’d be writing Jilly Cooper-style bestsellers, but I’d probably be working in a bookshop or a library instead.

 

What is the most valuable piece of advice you have been given?  Who gave it to you?
A good boss should always take a little bit more of the blame and a little bit less of the credit.

 

Tell us something about yourself that only you know?
Here’s an embarrassing story. I met champion jockey AP McCoy a few years ago at Olympia horse show. I’m not sure why, wine might have been consumed at the time, but I started speaking to him in an Irish accent. I’m Scottish. Not cool.

 

What would be your message to the equestrian world?
Don’t breed so many horses. There is a crisis at the moment with fly grazing and horses and ponies just being abandoned, and charities and rescue centres are full to bursting. I don’t understand the mentality of breeding from a mare with poor conformation or health problems, just for sentimental reasons.
 
Do you have any secret superstitions?
I salute magpies all the time, and say good morning to them. It’s a weird habit.

 

What are your top 5 indispensable pieces of kit, for you or your horse?
Oliver Townend 5 point breast plate
Point Two air jacket
Feedmark’s Ulcer Calm supplement
My beloved Albion SLK dressage saddle which DOESN’T FIT ROSIE! Gutted.
My silk stock

 

 

Against The Clock…

 

Dick Francis or Jilly Cooper?
Jilly. Absolute legend, and without her writing I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing.

 

Royal Ascot or Cheltenham Festival?
Cheltenham. Best week of the year. 

 

Badminton or Burghley?
Badminton, purely because Burghley always clashes with something else, the Paralympics, Hickstead’s national show, or this year, the World Equestrian Games…so I never make it!

 

Sand or Snow?
Sand. I left Scotland because I can’t stand being cold.

 

Tea or G&T?
G&T. Coffee is better than tea.

 

Bay or grey?
Both are great, but I have an unhealthy addiction to Chestnut thoroughbreds…Rosie is my third in a row! 

 

Keep up to date with all the action from Hickstead by following @HicksteadEvents on Twitter or by downloading the Hickstead App.  You can also follow Victoria on Twitter at @VickySpicer

 

*H&C TV Everywhere is the new service from Horse & Country TV that lets you watch H&C’s award winning channel at a time and place convenient to you, and without the need of a subscription to SKY. For more information about H&C TV Everywhere service, follow this link

 

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To purchase tickets for the Longines Royal International Horse Show, or to join the Hickstead Derby Community, visit www.hickstead.co.uk 

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