News, Culture & Society

Quickfire with showjumper Nick Skelton

The equestrian star on lunch with the Queen and joking around with The Boss 

Olympic gold-winning showjumper Nick Skelton

 Guilty pleasure? Cadbury’s Dairy Milk.

Where is home? A 15-acre farm in Alcester, Warwickshire, with stables and about 35 horses.

Career plan B? A builder.

Who would play you in a movie of your life? Daniel Craig.

Biggest bugbear? Standing in queues.

As a child you wanted to be… A jockey – it’s a long story why I became a showjumper instead, but I have no regrets.

Earliest memory? Riding my first pony, Oxo, to a show when I was four years old.

Secret to a happy relationship? Keep saying yes.

Your best quality? A sense of humour.

And your worst? I’m short-tempered.

Last meal on earth? A medium-rare ribeye steak and chips, possibly with a glass of red wine.

Dream dinner-party guests? Muhammad Ali, James Corden, Graham Norton and Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses.

Advice to teenage self? Do exactly what I did.

Cat or dog? Dog. I have a rhodesian ridgeback, Elsa, who goes everywhere with me when I’m at home.

On a day off we’d find you… At the races with my sons Dan [32], a racehorse trainer, and Harry [28], a jockey.

Starstruck moment? I recently had lunch with the Queen at Buckingham Palace and she was amazing, so nice and approachable. She seemed to know everything. There were just ten of us from different walks of life round the table.

Big break? My neck, which I broke in a fall when I was competing in 2000. The doctors thought that I would never ride again, but I was determined to get back – it took me two years.

Career highlight? Winning the individual showjumping gold medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Most embarrassing moment? Bruce Springsteen made me dress up as a policeman and pretend to pull the plug on one of his concerts in Dublin in 2012 – I was booed by about 50,000 people. It was a joke after the plug really was pulled a few days earlier in Hyde Park. I trained his daughter [international showjumper Jessica] and Bruce is a good friend of mine.

Favourite tipple? Gin and tonic.

Hangover cure? I never get hangovers.

What did you have for breakfast today? A glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.

Top of your bucket list? To go on a ranch holiday in Wyoming.

One thing that would make your life better? A private jet.

Philosophy? Live every day like it’s your last – one day it will be.

Last film that made you cry? Lassie when I was a child.

First record you bought? ‘Penny Lane’ by the Beatles.

Most extravagant purchase? A Ballon Bleu de Cartier watch.

Biggest regret? Losing the chance of winning a gold medal at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. The horse that I was expecting to ride, Top Gun, was sold from under me. He went on to win a gold medal in the team jumping event with a Dutch rider.

Biggest fear? Failure.

Celebrity crush? Shania Twain.

Happiness is… Being with my family and friends.

Nick’s new book Gold: My Autobiography is published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £20. To order a copy for £16 until 12 November, visit or call 0844 571 0640. P&p is free on orders over £15 



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