Emcee Apparel sponsored rider Lily Tootill and her iconic teammate 'Ronald' (Ulysses NZPH) have been based in England for the past few show seasons. We touched base and asked her a few questions about how she is going this year. See what she had to say:
Where are you based at the moment? Who Have you been training with?
I have been working with Katharina Offel, I think she’s truly amazing, I hope one day I can be half as successful, talented, humble and kind as she is! At the moment I am in Spain at the Mediterranean Equestrian Tour, I will compete in Spain for another few months then go back to Holland with Katy next Summer.
Tell us about your team, have you got any exciting prospects coming through?
Ulysses NZPH who everyone knows, my old faithful is still my number one team mate.
I now have a 5yo also, her name is Firefly. She’s very big, very talented, and very opinionated. Provided I survive long enough through her training I think she is going to be very very special.
Any superstitions? Do you have a lucky shirt, piece of clothing or gear you save for important days at the show?
I’m not superstitious at all! But I always try to save a white or lighter coloured shirt for GP day as I think they look the smartest under black jackets, and I always wear a black jacket.
What shows have you been to this year and what were they like?
I was at the Sunshine Tour in Spain at the beginning of the year when the first lockdowns started. Travelling 3 days back to England through already locked down Spain and France was a very eerie experience. I spent most of the summer at home working on the 4 and 5yos and enjoying being able to spend a decent amount of time at home.
Since lockdown I have been to some shows in Holland, Germany and one in the Czech Republic. The first few were exactly like normal when they first started up but since then the FEI has become much stricter and at 90% of shows masks must be worn at all times when you’re not on a horse and the bars/restaurants/social life are much quieter.
What do you find different about European Showjumping compared to New Zealand?
While there are a number of organisations in New Zealand striving to provide the best facilities possible, the majority are years behind in terms of surface quality and infrastructure. Even the smallest shows over here have top surfaces and safe undercover stabling for every horse.
The level of competition is hardly comparable as well. In New Zealand you’d seldom have more than 25 competitors in a World Cup class and over here there is usually at least that many in the jump off with 60-80 starting in the class, and those 60/80 have had to qualify from over 100, the largest field I’ve had to qualify out of so far is 243.
The height of the jumps and difficulty of the courses is also much tougher over here. The top level of competition in New Zealand is similar to 2* level over here, most 2* competitions consist of younger riders (like myself) or top riders on their younger horses.
What do you miss most from Home?
I don’t really miss New Zealand to be honest. For sure there are little things every now and then but on the whole I’m certainly not homesick.
How has COVID affected your competition season this year?
It certainly put a stop to months of travelling the European continent over summer, but for the young horses to be able to develop slower without the pressure of competing its definitely been a positive.
How is Ronald coping with the British weather?
Luckily for Ronald he spent most of winter in sunny Spain. He, like me, is yet to experience freezing temperatures and snow. We are also staying in Spain for most of this winter too.