I am not always able to make each event, but when I hear a great story come from one, I insist on having the attendee share their experience. Below is coverage from my dear friend Lynnette MacDonald as she experienced the FEI Nations Cup… Enjoy!
Last Friday, I was very honoured to be a guest of the distinguished Furusiyya Group as they the hosted the FEI Nations Cup Show Jumping at the elegant Spruce Meadows.
Any time you are at Spruce Meadows you feel like royalty.
I spent the afternoon amongst the blood lines of show winning jumping horses as I sipped glasses of champagne and mingled with some of Calgary’s most recognizable citizens… But none of that prepared me for the pampering of the front row seats in the Nations Cup VIP lounge!
There we were, front and centre with the best seats watching famed names like Canada’s own Ian Miller and Ireland’s Darragh Kerins gracefully manoeuvring their horses over a very challenging course.
Mesmerized, we watched as riders executed flawless rides… And we grimaced and awed when a hoof would nick a bar sending it crashing down for a fault. You couldn’t help but be swept up in the emotion considering this competition was a qualifier for the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Final in Barcelona this October.
Ireland’s team of four very handsome and athletic men along with their gallant stallions were defending champs, and once again managed to rein (pun intended) supreme over the rest of the field.
After our dinner we were escorted by our lovely Spruce Meadows hosts via golf carts to the Congress hall for the award ceremony. Being swept up in the magic of everything I had to refrain from raising my hand and giving a closed handed Disney princess wave as we whisked along in our golf cart.
Arriving in the Congress hall we made our way to the ceremony platform – it was all so surreal – ribbons, trophies, a bustle of people… As a result I barely noticed the large group of people and equipment at the back of the room.
Quickly I sat down in the chairs in front of the platform awaiting the acceptance speeches and to hear the commentary on how the Irish team found the course. Starry eyed I watched… then I heard it: “Yes we go live in 5,4,3,2…1” Wait a minute… Those people and the equipment at the back of room… Were TV cameras streaming live to ESPN sports and overseas?! Gawwww… Flushed… Panicked, I realise I am sitting right in the middle of the media pit.
The team enters the stage and the MC starts to do the welcomes, the Irish team accepts the congratulations and Thank Yous and then the words that still haunt me days later “And now we will open the floor to media seated here” (he gestures to me and three others sitting in the chairs for questions).
“Ah bugga”, as the Irish would say… WTF am I going to ask without sounding like a total and complete idiot. I quickly revert back to every sports media coverage I have ever watched – mostly golf – “How did you find the course to play today Tiger” was the only thing that came to mind… Seems like an appropriate questions in this situation. Fail – media lady in the red ball cap just asked that question. I thought to myself “Pog mo thoin’ lady!” – which means kiss my a** in Irish.
On to plan B: I look down and rifle through my handbag until the microphone passed by me and the glorious words of “If there are no further questions we will conclude the ceremony.” PHEW!!!!
As it turns out the gents from Ireland are some of the nicest, charming peeps you will ever meet and were so easy to talk to afterwards, when the glare of international live TV wasn’t starring down at you and I actually found the words to congratulate them and chat a bit.
Besides the last minute profuse sweating, the day ended up being a successfully wonderful event!
Thanks for the amazing day at FEI National Cup!