New York, N.Y. – Oct. 16, 2019 – Listening to the announcer at most international show jumping competitions, all you need to hear is the prefix “Hello _” as the next horse walking into the ring is announced and it’s easy to know what international rider’s name will follow – Olympic gold medalist, Rolex Grand Slam winner, and previously ranked World No. 1 rider, Scott Brash.
Sitting down with Brash at the inaugural Global Champions Tour New York, it was clear the horse show scene is his natural setting. As a vital member of the New York Empire team in the Global Champions League, Brash is well known for his long list of accomplishments individually and for his home country of Great Britain. Perhaps the most notable asset that sets Brash apart in the high-profile and competitive show jumping world is his impressive string of horses that all start with the prefix “Hello”.
“My owners, Lord and Lady Harris, and Lord and Lady Kirkham, decided to name a horse Hello Max originally,” Brash commented. “The next one was Hello Sailor and from then on it just kind of stuck. If they buy a horse they like to change the name to keep it the same.”
Brash’s current string includes Hello Mr. President, Hello Shelby, Hello M’Lady, Hello Senator, Hello Jefferson, Hello Forever, Hello Sanctos, Hello Zachary and Hello Franklin. While they all share a part of their name, Brash noted on the the different strengths that makes each mount uniquely competitive.
Hello Mr. President, a 10-year-old Warmblood gelding, has spent the summer campaigning at various stops of the Longines Global Champions Tour. Placing in a number of classes and picking up wins in Saint Tropez, Chantilly and Mexico City, Brash noted on how the tour suits the spirited bay gelding.
“He is more of a target for the Global Tour and these are the sort of rings he is more accustomed to. He is quick in these smaller arenas, whereas in Aachen and Calgary, places like that, would be a little too spooky for him.”
“Mr. President has a very busy brain — he needs to be doing something at all times,” he added. “He can jump three days in a row and still be really excited and fresh. He is a really cool horse and he gives 110% all of the time. He is a little bit spooky, so sometimes he jumps higher than he needs to to clear the jump but he is a really willing horse.”
Hello M’Lady, a 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare by Indoctro, is the exact opposite of Mr. President, who Brash noted loves ample amounts of attention at home in the stable.
“She is different — she doesn’t like as much attention, is really independent and wants to be on her own. She doesn’t really like people touching her; she just wants to be left alone,” Brash laughed. “She is a really special horse but I do have to treat her differently when I ride her. I have to ask her to do something rather than tell her because I have to let her think it is her idea or she will get moody with me. She is now 13 years old so I think the target for her next year really is the Olympics.”
With the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo quickly approaching, every showjumper on the scene is on alert for which horse in their string would be best suited for the high-pressure event. Hello M’Lady isn’t the only horse that Brash thinks would be successful in that kind of setting. Hello Jefferson, purchased by Brash’s owners in 2018, is one that he is hopeful could handle the pressure of the Olympics as well.
The 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood by Cooper VD Heffinck, while extremely talented, is one Brash noted took a little bit more time to fall into a rhythm with.
“I’ve been riding him for about a year and a half and it took a good six months to get into the groove,” he said. “Hello Jefferson is a challenging horse. He is tricky to ride. When he first came in, he had a bit of attitude. He understood things a little wrong so I had to go back to the basics with him. Now, he feels like a happier horse and is actually a really lovely horse to work with. I have a good bond with him now and he really respects me and I respect him. He is talented and I have high hopes for him.”
When a new horse comes to Brash’s stable, based in West Sussex, England, he is careful not to rush the process, often going back to the basics like he did with Hello Jefferson. Brash is careful to select the right horses for his string, although recognizing how difficult it is to find top mounts in today’s age of increasingly complex and competitive sport.
Brash commented, “I think when you look at the sport now and you look at the top end, the horses really have to have so many attributes. They have to be scopey, careful, fast, rideable and have a good brain. We are trying to identify those things in as young of a horse as we can, but it is difficult. The biggest thing I look towards is their brain and if they can work things out.”
“I don’t really care how they jump a jump as long as they try to jump it clear and think about what they are doing,” he added. “Your best horses aren’t necessarily the absolute superstars at 4 years old, but they are clever, want to learn, do the job and work with you.”
Brash is careful to not only select the right horses for competition, but also make choices that will set up each horse for maximum success, both at home and in the show ring.
“I always have a long term plan in my head, but you still have to look at your short term plan because things can go wrong. You might come home and feel like one of your horses hasn’t traveled as well so you would rather give them an extra couple of weeks off than what you had planned to do,” Brash said. “I am flexible like that and I try to understand how my horses are feeling and go off of that. If I don’t feel they are ready I can swap them out because I would rather get to the bottom of what I feel isn’t right. I always try to go with horses in peak condition to get top results.”
It’s obvious that Brash sports an impressive list of competition horses, and while the internationally ranked rider has checked off a number of boxes in the sport, he has no intention of slowing down anytime soon.
“There are loads of things I still want to do. l want to win more medals for my country and individual gold. I would love to be world champion, win a World Cup Final, and try to do another Grand Slam. I am quite greedy!” Brash laughed. “I am aiming towards World Cup Finals this year; I feel I have a large enough string of horses to be able to choose as it gets closer.”
Brash and his string of unmistakably talented horses have a lot of exciting things on the horizon as the 2019 year comes to a close and 2020 brings abundant opportunities. Brash will retire his longtime championship mount, Hello Sanctos, at the end of the year as he also prepares for big events to come, such as the 2020 FEI World Cup™ Finals in Las Vegas and the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. To add to Brash’s list of exciting opportunities, Ursula XII, the memorable mare in which Brash gained many of his most notable achievements with, is currently in foal at his farm. Brash, alongside his team, Lord and Lady Kirkham, and Lord and Lady Harris, eagerly await the arrival of the foal as they hope to continue to produce the sport’s top show jumping athletes.