Olympians Nick Skelton and Capt Mark Phillips pictured with Louis Murphy outside the Dunraven Arms Picture: Michael Cowhey
ADARE has played host to a group of some of the UK’s most elite showjumpers as they gathered to celebrate the 60th birthday of Olympic gold-medal-winning horseman Nick Skelton.
The band of around 20, all high profile members of the eventing world, included others who are well-decorated with Olympic gold medals, including Capt Mark Phillips, former husband of Princess Anne and father of royals Peter and Zara Phillips.
Enjoying some downtime at the Dunraven Arms Hotel last week, Nick Skelton said that he enjoys visiting a place he described as being “a very horsey area”.
“My birthday was actually on December 30, but we decided to come in January. I’ve known (hoteliers) Bryan and Louis (Murphy) for a good many years. I thought it would be nice to go away with a few friends – there’s about 20 of us – and to stop in here for three nights. It’s been really good, they’ve looked after us really well,” Skelton told the Limerick Leader at the Adare hotel.
In West Limerick with the group were celebrated riders William Funnell, Laura Kraut, Lauren Hough, David McPherson, Pippa Funnell, as well as other friends and family.
So what does a group of internationally acclaimed equestrians do while in the Mid-West?
“We were talking about going to visit a hunt but I don’t know if we’ll get everybody together in time today,” he laughed.
“We went to Coolmore (the world famous stud farm in Tipperary) and had a tour around. That was very good. We’ve gone across to Adare Manor for lunch and relaxed around Adare. We are generally just having a good time,” said Mr Skelton.
The Dunraven received high praise from the celebrated horseman, who said that he always likes to stop in whenever he’s in Ireland.
“For me, it’s one of my favourite hotels in the world, and I’ve been to a lot of hotels in my time. The way they look after you, and the food is brilliant. And we always have good fun,” he said. “For me to get 20 people organised, my two sons and friends and that, and to get everybody together at the same time in our game is pretty difficult. So it was a good time of the year to come,” he added.
Skelton retired in May of last year, but “it hasn’t been leisure”, he said.
“I still ride at home, and we have horses, we buy and sell, train riders as well. My sons are involved with the racing, they have racehorses. Dan’s a trainer and Harry’s a jockey. So it’s still very busy.”
Nick Skelton won Britain’s first ever individual Olympic gold for showjumping in Rio at the age of 58, in 2016. In 2012, at the age of 54, he won gold as part of the winning Great Britain team.
“I was always interested in horses. I’ve been lucky with horses, they’ve taken me all around the world, and I’ve gotten to meet and see a lot of different people and different places, so it’s been a great life.”