Dressage Dreams and a Goalkeeper’s Regime
By: Nicolle Begovic
It has been a jammed packed few weeks for Asmir and I, and my word count for this column, will be bursting at the seams trying to fit everything in. It is quite astonishing that I have already reached the penultimate chapter before the final home game of the season. I have really enjoyed my contribution to the Stoke City match day programme and will miss it over the summer break. I will be sure to take plenty of notes of my trip to Brazil this summer to see Asmir play in his first World Cup with Bosnia.
Asmir and I had the rare opportunity to visit London together for a few events recently. I always look forward to visiting London and experiencing the magic of that wonderful, International city. The sheer pace of London and the people working and living in it, never fails to surprise me, as it is such a variation to my day-to-day life with the horses in the Staffordshire countryside.
The previous evening was spent in Manchester enjoying Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience tour followed by the next evening with a trip to London’s West End to see Beverly Knight in the ‘The Bodyguard’. Our West End trip was a first for Asmir and I and it was fantastic. Whitney Houston remains to be one of my favourite artists of all time and witnessing Beverly Knight perform all of her greatest hits note perfect was truly incredible. I highly recommend for anyone looking for a great evening in London.
Less than a week later, Asmir and I returned to London to attend ‘An evening with Mo Farah’ hosted by Steve Cram, both field and track Olympic medalists. We were in good company that evening surrounded by very talented athletes of past and present. It was a wonderful opportunity to raise money and support for both Mo Farah and Steve Cram’s respective charities. Steve Cram’s charity, Comrades of Children Overseas (COCO), is a children’s based charity founded in 2000, and has since raised in excess of £2.8 million for projects across the developing world. Mo Farah attended the evening a little less then 48 hours after his participation in the London Marathon and I was impressed that he was happily walking around not looking at all tired as I imagine I would have been post 26 miles! The Mo Farah Foundation generates funds to provide life saving aid to East Africa. The evening was a great success raising over £55,000 for two great causes and it certainly inspired Asmir to do the same for his foundation so watch this space for future events.
Horses, horses, everywhere!
It has been a whirlwind two weeks for me racking up some air miles attending two Dressage events. Two weekends ago, I attended the Excellent Dressage Sales (EDS), held at the infamous Bartels Academy of Dressage in Hooge Mierde, Holland along with my trainer Richard Davison and his wife Gillian. It was the first time that I attended a horse auction and this was most certainly a very exciting event. The EDS showcased very talented Dressage horses ranging from un-backed three year-old’s to top established Grand Prix horses. It could be compared to attending an event where the best footballers, young and talented to those very experienced in their game, were all on display for purchase to the highest bidder. The beauty of the auctions is that you can ‘try before you buy’ so trial rides of the horses happened in the days and weeks leading up to the auction. I ‘test drove’ a few lovely horses but on the auction day, I was sadly out bid. I found the auction very exciting watching bids fly in for horses I had particularly earmarked for their talent and confirmation. I am already looking forward to attending the event next year, and the same for scouting footballers, I am curious to keep an eye out over the next few years to see where these very beautiful and talented horses go in the respective Dressage careers.
My first ‘World Cup’ of 2014
One of the biggest dates in the show calendar for Dressage is the Reem Acra FEI World Cup final that last week took place in Lyon. The top riders in the world battle in qualifiers around the world to ultimately gain qualification to this most prestigious of events. Although some of the best horse and rider combinations were selected, the main threats to Charlotte DuJardin’s title win were Germany’s Helen Langehanberg and Dutch Dressage star Edward Gal. For me, this was one of the best weekend’s I had ever had. It was a privilege to watch outstanding Dressage competition that ultimately concluded with Charlotte DuJardin and her ride Valegro, not only win the World Cup but to break her own Grand Prix world record in the process. It was truly an incredible experience and let me returning home reflecting on my own ambitions and very motivated. I one day want to be attending a World Cup final-but for now it is time for me to apply focus and patience with competition endeavouring to continually improve my scores.
As we embark on the penultimate Premier League home game for Stoke, I hope that the team can collect as many points as possibly over the last few games to secure Stoke City’s highest ever finish in the table for some years. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
Dressage Dreams and a Goalkeeper’s Regime