Andy Daines got the best ever birthday present just before Christmas – a call to offer him a job with world class eventer William Fox-Pitt. “Who else can put their hand up and say their lead up to Badminton was with William who has won it so often,” says Daines.
It’s all been a bit of a whirlwind for the full time rider. Competing at Badminton aboard Spring Panorama – or Perfect Pete as he’s better known. But then a friend saw a Facebook post from the Fox-Pitts seeking people to fill a number of roles.
“I messaged Alice (William’s wife) and gave her a bit of a debrief of my plans and that I wasn’t looking at going until just before Badminton . . . but for an opportunity like this I would come ASAP.”
Suddenly it was all on. “She called on my 26th birthday – it was the best present ever. This is the opportunity of a lifetime.”
Daines joins an international team, some who are tilting for Badminton and others with their eyes on the FEI World Equestrian Games. “It is going to be a really awesome team to work with as we are all aiming for the same sort of stuff.”
Daines will be one of the working riders and with Pete will base at the Fox-Pitt’s Dorset home. “Once they see me ride, the opportunity to compete may come about too.” He will also be trained by Fox-Pitt.
“I am super stoked. This is just the most amazing opportunity, I couldn’t miss it,” he says. “We have five months until Badminton. If I can dig hard and train hard with William and tick all the boxes where we were weak at Adelaide, then we will be ready. You don’t know until you get there.”
He’s hoping his efforts will see him step up to higher squads. “My main goal is Badminton and if the selectors think I am ready to go up, then it will be amazing. If they think I am a few years away, then that is fine too. My main goal is just to get back into England and compete against the world’s best to see where we are placed.”
Daines has a year-long visa but all things going well, that may be extended. He is hoping he will be away for a couple of years.
“I have long admired William,” says Daines. “When he was talking to me on the phone I had to try and contain myself and remind myself to use my words!”
It is not the first time Daines and Pete have been based in the UK.
“The last time I was only 17 but this time I am going there with a few 4* finishes under my belt and aiming for one of the biggest in the world. It is quite a big step for sure but I am very excited.”
The Fox-Pitt yard is just an hour from other Kiwis, including Jonelle and Tim Price who Daines was earlier based with. Flights are still to be finalised but it looks as though both will be on the ground in the UK by late February.
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison
Photo by Libby Law/ESNZ