Carey Knox, who most will know best as the voice of many of their favourite shows, is set to embark on a new mission – to pump some new blood into commentating.
The idea came to be when at Royal Three Counties Show, Carey was shadowed in the show ring by a young man, Sam Gerrard-May, whose background is predominantly in show jumping. Debbie Spears then approached Carey and asked if she would be interested in helping to train some future hopefuls. “Debbie has put it all together, and she has put the information onto her stewards page and whilst we have received some enquiries, further interest is very welcome,” Carey continued. “I would like to say thank you to Debbie Spears, as without her efforts we wouldn’t have been able to get this arranged.”
Carey has been the ‘voice of showing’ for many years – having commentated at Horse of the Year Show for all-but-one of the last 20 odd years – but she explains that there just aren’t many showing enthusiasts coming through. “We are desperately short of young or new blood coming up through into commentating. We’re trying to find one or two people who are really keen to get involved and are passionate about the sport.”
The organising team are offering, for successful applicants, a daytime session on the Thursday (9th August) at Equifest, which depending on the number of applicants may be split into age groups – with one very special prize to the best performance of the day, to assist Carey during the Saturday night Gala evening performance at Equifest.
The aim is to offer further training and coaching after Equifest and going into the winter, and hopefully there will be even more opportunities for training next year as well as shadowing various commentators, at different showing events.
Another thank you goes to Betsy Branyan at Equifest: “It’s a big thing for us to be allowed to offer this training at Equifest, very few established shows would be able to accommodate us to ‘trial’ commentators. We wanted to find somewhere big and open – ideally a spacious indoor arena. Equifest can provide this, while also offering a fun, relaxed atmosphere and very supportive crowds.”
How to get involved
As a commentator your job is to keep the showground informed as to what is going on, providing interesting detail and bridging the gap between the ring and spectators. Commentating is not for the faint hearted and there’s an element to it that is difficult to teach, though some essential qualities include:
- Knowledgeable – that can be gained through experience
- Cool and calm under pressure
- Have a bit of gumption
- Passionate for (equestrian) sport
- Sense of humour
“You don’t always get things right – and in the instance that you get it wrong, this is when you need to be calm under pressure and unflappable. Believe me everyone makes mistakes!
“Simon Bates, ex Radio One and Two presenter, whom I worked with for a number of years at Horse of the Year Show at Wembley, taught me that once you start, you must keep going! I’ll sometimes correct myself afterwards, depending on the ‘blunder’ – but you need to just continue your flow and not interrupt the rhythm you get into,” Carey adds.
You will also need to be 17+, ideally with a full drivers licence, and there is no upper age limit. You don’t need to send through a CV, but a brief resume explaining who you are, where you’re from, your background and why you’re interested would be ideal.
To apply, contact Debbie Spears via the ‘Horse Show Stewards’ Facebook page, or via email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sam Gerrard-May at Royal Three Counties 2018
Sam Gerrard-May’s story started when, age four, his grandfather brought him his first pony. This sparked his passion for equestrian sport and he loved going to Olympia and HOYS to watch the jumping, showing and displays while also, as many of us will have done, listening to the commentary.
“I watching it on TV with my family and pretended to commentate. When I was 15 my mum said I needed a summer job, I thought commentating would be fun so I emailed my local show centre asking for experience and they had me do a day’s commentating. I loved it so much I got in touch with commentator Steven Wilde asking if I could shadow him at Hickstead and that is how it all began.”
For people starting out, Sam has the following advice: “If you’re interested, don’t be afraid to give it a go. We all have to start somewhere, ask questions and listen to those who know best. The best piece of advice I have been given is research is key, you can never do enough of it! As the saying goes, by failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.
“My favourite part of showing commentary is interviewing. I love getting out and interacting with people speaking to them about the horses and their achievements as well getting information about the partnership that you simply can’t find through research.”
A new lease of life
Sam also highlights the importance of keen young equestrians getting involved. “The likes of Steven Wilde, Nick Brooks-Ward and Carey Knox won’t be doing it forever, (albeit I don’t believe they intend quitting JUST yet!). Eventually the next generation will have to take over so I think there is a real market for young commentators at the moment. Now is the best time to start as they are all still working so you can learn a great deal from them.”
He added: “It has been inspiring to work with Carey. She is one of the best and you can learn so much from her. For me, she has been a great support over the last few years both at shows but also on the end of the phone.
“Carey is known as the showing queen and when you work with her you see why. For anyone starting I would urge you to get involved with showing commentary and to learn from the voice of showing this really is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Carey finished: “I love my job, I love the horses, I love the kids – and I’m looking for someone who will love it just as much as I do.”
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