Ohhh, I am so excited to share this blog post with you! This post is going to cover such an exciting job role – that of an Equestrian Commentator! We owe commentators such a huge amount, we are all familiar with those voices that surround the great sports we love, and they provide such an essential part of our viewing, and entertainment experiences.
I am so pleased to introduce to you Sam Gerrard-May. Sam is a friend of mine, and we have also worked together (many a fun prize givings!!), so I was really keen for him to feature on the blog, particularly as he has also started a new venture recently, that you’ll be able to find out more about in part two of this feature!
So, without further ado, here is my interview with Sam! Enjoy xo
What is your job role Sam, and what does it involve?
I am an Equestrian Commentator. My job is to keep the audience at an event entertained and informed, the job of a commentator is to bridge the gap between the audience and the riders.
How long have you been commentating for?
7 years now (Blimey, that’s longer than I thought!).
Wow 7 years! How did you first get in to commentating?
I have always loved showjumping, and all equestrian sports. As a child I went to HOYS and Olympia, and one of my highlights of those events was listening to the commentators hearing what they had to say and how they got the crowd going – so that’s where my love of commentating began.
When I finished my GCSE’s my mum said to me ‘right Samuel, (I only get called that when I have done something wrong!), you need to get yourself a summer job’ so I said ‘okay I’m going to go and work as a showjumping commentator’, mum laughed at me and said good luck with that. I emailed my local show centre asking for experience and they gave me 5 BS show days! A very daunting experience to start trust me! It went well and they were impressed so then gave me more days.
I then emailed Steven Wilde, a familiar voice on the equestrian circuit, asking if I could shadow him to see how it’s done at the top and he was great. I went to Hickstead and Olympia with him that year to get a feel for how the bigger shows work and WOW, I fell in love with the atmosphere and the job.
At 16 I went to Hartpury College to study Equine and Business Management, and whilst there I volunteered every weekend to commentate at their shows and since then I haven’t looked back. I owe a lot of my success thus far to Philip Cheetham and all at Hartpury, as this is what gave me the leg up I needed!
That sounds amazing, hard work definitely pays off! What would be your best piece of advice for someone who is wanting to start commentating or would like to see if it is a potential career route for them?
I would say there are a few things. The first is that you have to love the sport as it requires hours of research and many hours driving or flying to events and living out of a suitcase. It’s more a way of life than anything else! The second is always listen to those who are willing to help you as without them you would be nowhere. Probably the best advice though is that research is key, as the saying goes “if you fail to prepare, you must prepare to fail”
Great advice, I think it can always be daunting knowing where to start with your dream career! What would be your biggest achievement to date ?
I think 2019 as a whole for me was an amazing year! I’m very lucky to commentate at numerous events around the country, but the two that meant the most to me last year were the London Global Champions Tour and Horse Of The Year Show (HOYS) both of those shows I have grown up watching, so to be part of the commentary team was a dream come true, even now it hasn’t really sunk in.
Brilliant, what achievements, it sounds like such a rewarding role! I know you have done lots of amazing interviews, which would be your favourite interview so far?
That’s such a hard question as, again, I have interviewed some great people. I love speaking to people about their stories as you can learn so much from them, but if I had to pick one it would be Clare Balding! She’s a British Broadcasting legend, so to have the honour of interviewing her was amazing, and very daunting at the same time!
Unfortunately, this has been a really challenging year for equestrian sport, and country and equestrian events in general. Which event were you most looking forward to this year?
Given the current situation, any event would be a bonus as I’m going stir crazy being at home, there is only so many cupboards to clean out or House Party games to keep you entertained, and it is safe to say I have done both of those to excess now!
I know the current situation has changed a lot of plans at the moment, but what is your focus for this upcoming year now?
2020 was set to be another great year, with a full diary, but obviously that has changed slightly. I’m still booked to commentate at the Al’Shiraa Hickstead Derby and the Horse of the Year Show. I have also just launched my new podcast, THE FULL COURSE, which has been hugely popular amongst showjumping fans around the world, and we have some great guests lined up, so follow us on social media to keep up to date with that!
Ah amazing, and we have a very exciting part two blog coming to discuss The Full Course don’t we Sam, so stay tuned to see that one! Now it’s time for some fun, a quick fire round!
Have you got horses currently?
No, I didn’t have time to ride really, so we sold my horse after I left Hartpury.
What series are you watching on tv right now?
Just like the whole country I watch the daily Government update, and for light hearted fun anything on Netflix to keep me entertained – like Gavin and Stacey!
I love Chinese food! Although I’m not very adventurous when it comes to eating, so let’s say good old duck and pancakes with some egg fried rice.
Dream dinner guest/guests?
There are so many greats to choose from in the Equestrian World, but my top 5 would be: Nick Skeleto, Scott Brash, David Broome, Steve Guerdat and Laura Kraut.
All of those I mentioned are my childhood showjumping hero’s, so to have a meal with them would be a dream come true! I have actually met 3 out of the 5 of them and that was pretty cool, so to spend the evening talking wouldn’t be bad.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t be afraid to give it ago, listen to those who know best, and with hard work and determination, anything is possible!
Hmm… this is tricky! I live in London so the bright lights and entertainment is great, but I also love the beauty and tranquillity of the countryside, especially as it is where I spend most of my weekends. My favourite place in the world has to be the Caribbean, as you can’t beat their beautiful beaches and white sand.
Any hobbies outside of the equine world?
Any free time I get I enjoy spending time with my family and friends.
Key to happiness?
Surround yourself with people who make you laugh, and are there for you when you need it most! It’s important not to take yourself too seriously I think.
I am so grateful to Sam for taking part in this blog and sharing an insight into his job with you all. Sam can be found on Instagram @samgerrardmay , and his new podcast can be found here @full_course_sj_podcast . The Full Course is also on Facebook. Do make sure you give them a follow, you can also listen to the current podcast releases here. There are some really special guests featured, you won’t want to miss them!
As I mentioned above, Sam and I have a VERY special part two blog coming very soon, which covers all things about the brand new podcast, there will be surprises, highs and lows, you won’t want to miss it!!!
See you very soon indeed!
Lots of love, Lucinda xo
‘Ride your dreams as far as they will take you’Unknown