|photo by SW&P photography|
Who else would you see, but Francy Pants, galloping XC in a dress shirt and cuff links?
I've been a big fan of Francis Whittington (hereafter referred to as "Francy Pants") since I saw his dressage ride (via DVD) on Spin Doctor at Badminton 2005. Their extended trot across the diagonal is enough to make me simply weak-in-the-knees just thinking about it. I imagine that many of my non-horsey friends like to have their girl friends over occasionally to share a bottle of wine and watch something "chicky" that most likely features Brad Pitt or George Clooney. For me and my girl friends? It's more like apple martinis and dvds of Francy Pants (on any horse, at any horse trial).
Anyhooo....I've kept track of FP over the past few years and while he hasn't been as wildly successful on the podium as William Fox-Pitt, Oliver Townend, or Nicolas Touzaint (oh, don't forget his stunning 2004 Olympic appearance on Galan de Sauvagère, as well as their win at the European Championships in 2007....that's some fine DVD viewing, as well), but Francis has been a solid player in eventing (British and European) all this time. More than just competing and winning, he has become a student of and a businessman in eventing, and it has improved the sport in the UK, to be sure.
I really enjoyed and appreciated the interview with him on Eventing Nation a few days ago. It gives me hope and enthusiasm to see people like Francis Whittington out there trying to do something to keep the sport exciting, safe, and enjoyable. And although he is a successful eventer and a present/future face in the betterment of our sport, I hope that Francy Pants won't lose his optimism and that things can keep moving in a positive direction (in the UK), and that the US will take note and similarly follow suit.