The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is delighted to announce that it is launching a new Podcast series to celebrate one of the most important groups – and often unsung heroes of the sport – the grooms. Much like a caddy in golf, or a mechanic in Formula One, the grooms play a vital role in the success of their horses and riders. Launching in June the podcast will be released on Spotify and Apple Podcasts quarterly ahead of each of the four Majors that make up equestrianism’s ultimate challenge.
Each episode will vary slightly, depending on each participant and their individual stories, but will mainly focus on and highlight the important role that grooms and the whole team behind the scenes have on the success of a top show jumper. In addition, it will explore their careers so far and the relationship that they have with the horses that compete in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.
First to feature in this exciting new series are the grooms of World No.3 and current Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Live Contender McLain Ward – Virginie Casterman and Lee McKeever. The knowledgeable duo have worked in the industry for numerous years and have experienced both the highs and the lows of the sport. Whilst Casterman has been part of the team since the end of 2016, her seven years with Ward is eclipsed by McKeever, who has been with the American rider for over thirty years.
Speaking during the Podcast, Casterman stated: “I have wanted to be a groom since I was 13-years-old. I love what I do, so I don’t really feel like I am working. We travel a lot and so we are away from our home base for around 10 months of the year, but for me home is wherever horses are.”
Together as a team, they travel the world with Ward – who refers to them as ‘the best in the game’ – and his horses. They know what it takes to take care of horses at the very top of the sport, including keeping the extraordinary HH Azur, also known as Annie – who is now 17-years-old – fit, healthy, and able to keep winning that the highest level of the sport.
McKeever followed: “Annie [HH Azur] is like a professional athlete, she knows her venues. When she arrives at Rolex Grand Slam Major, she knows that they are something special – she is a winner and rises to the occasion. She is like a person; she wants to do her best and loves winning. Looking ahead to Aachen, she has always jumped well there, so hopefully the Rolex Grand Slam is something we can achieve!”