MY great passion is skiing. I have a friend who says: “there are two words in ‘ski holiday’.”
He’s right because I love everything about the sport itself and also relaxing in the mountains. I love the beauty, the crisp air, the view, the atmosphere and the exercise.
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For me, skiing is the perfect holiday. I like being active but also having fun over lunch and dinner with friends and family.
I was five when I first went skiing with my parents and it was to Andorra. I really enjoyed it from the word go.
My sister Edwina, who is a year younger than me, was four. She is an exceptionally talented and extraordinarily competitive sportswoman who has represented Scotland and Great Britain at lacrosse at various ages and levels.
My younger brother, George, and I very much had two left feet but skiing was the one sport that I was instantly and naturally better at than my sister – and so that really cemented it for me!
I have been a regular skier most of my life. I was lucky that I went to Bellhaven Hill prep school in Dunbar, Scotland, and there was a dry ski slope about half an hour away in Edinburgh.
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So from the age of around nine to 13, we were taken there to ski every Wednesday – perhaps 20 afternoons a year throughout the autumn and winter.
I kept on skiing after that through school, university and when I got my first jobs in racing.
I tried snowboarding once when I was about 16. But I found it so frustrating falling over again on the nursery slopes – so I gave it up after two days and went back on skis.
I remember one year as a student backing a couple of winners at the Cheltenham Festival and suddenly having about £600 – that was enough to get me out to Val d’Isere with some friends.
To keep the cost down, I sometimes went to the Alps by bus from London Victoria which was quite an experience.
I have probably had the best fun and the best skiing in Verbier but I haven’t been there for a few years because the Swiss franc makes it somewhat prohibitive. I also love St Anton in Austria, and Val-d’Isère and Miribel, both in France.
We didn’t get skiing last winter because our first child, Ernest, was born last November but, coronavirus permitting, I am determined to make it on to the slopes next winter.
My wife, Vanessa, is Australian: she loves the mountains and is a much better skier than she thinks but she is at the stage where she worries about holding up other people in our group. I certainly plan to get our son skiing as soon as he is old enough to enjoy it.
It helps that skiing is a winter sport so I can get away and switch off before the Flat season starts, knowing my fantastic team at the yard will do everything to the highest standards while I am away.
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