They had hoped that the insight and perspective they say parenthood has provided would give Eventing Team GBR's Tina Cook and Piggy French the edge over the field at the World Equestrian Games in Tyron last week - and so it proved to be becoming Team Gold Medalists.

Cook, 48, is one of the longest standing and most successful athletes in Britain, with 16 championship medals since her first appearance in 1987.

The 2012 Olympic silver medalist, who is a single mother of two children, Isabelle, 13, and Harry, 11, says there is crossover between her parenting and her horsemanship.

“You have to be sympathetic but black and white and you can't bully them," she told Reuters of her approach to her horses.

"They need to understand the difference between wrong and right. For each individual, there might be a different way of approaching that. It is the same for bringing up children."

Although there is a crossover in philosophy, she says compartmentalising her roles is the key to success.

"When I am competing in a dangerous sport I don't want to be thinking 'I hope the kids are ok'. When I am at home, I put my children first," she said.

Cook’s second pregnancy was physically and emotionally challenging after carrying twins full term before losing one.

Yet returning to her career gave a focus to Tina, who competed on Billy the Red at the WEG.

“When you do a sport professionally and deal with animals, it makes you resilient. I am a softy as much as anyone but I can focus and look forwards when I need to.”


French's dream of a medal in the 2012 Olympics was foiled by injuries to her best horses.

“It was heartbreak for me,” the 38-year-old said. When another horse was injured weeks before the European Championships in 2013, French was ready to give up, saying she had lost her self-belief.

Piggy French pictured riding Vanir Kamira. Burghley 2018

It was finding new love in partner Tom March and the birth of their son Max, which helped restore her passion for eventing.

“Tom was my rock through hard times then having a baby was the best thing that happened," she said. "I had hit rock bottom but since being a mother, I think 'what will be will be'.

"When I was young, I was hell-bent on that final result, you spend your life dreaming and then working towards that dream. I had stopped enjoying it but I have come back to it with a different head on.

"It has brought results because I am more relaxed."

Piggy's new-found and more relaxed approach saw her standing on the podium last Sunday when she competed on Quarrycrest Echo. She had, however, said that if things did not pan out, she would now better able to deal with disappointment.

“Tom and Max are my world. We have our little bubble and we are very happy in it," she said. "We just bundle along and do our thing and if some horses take us places then that is amazing.

"If not, then we are all quite happy to keep doing what we do at home and enjoying life.”
Source: Reuters
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A down-hearted Izzy Taylor has had to pull out of the British Eventing team after her horse Allercombe Ellie sustained a slight injury in training that will prevent the combination from competing at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

As first reserve, triple Olympic medalist Pippa Funnell and Billy The Biz will now compete, while Tina Cook with Billy The Red have been called up as travelling reserve.

Izzy said: “I’m really gutted and sorry for the owners and my support team. I wish Pip and all the team the best of luck out in Rio.”

This is the third time in as many years that Izzy and owners Frances Carter and Susan Holroyd have suffered disappointment with Ellie, as she was also selected for the 2014 World Equestrian Games and the 2015 Blair European Championships, but was pulled out both times because of injuries.

Equestrian Team Leader Dan Hughes said: "We are extremely disappointed for Izzy and her whole support team, including the horse's owners Susan and Frances. Whilst Rio was going to be Izzy's first Olympics, as one of the most talented British riders in the world, I am confident that it will not be her last opportunity to represent Great Britain on the world stage. In Pippa Funnell we have an extremely strong replacement, and we are confident this team has every chance of achieving medal success in Rio.

Pippa said: "Firstly I’m absolutely devastated for Izzy, I know how much work it takes for everyone involved to get the horse to this level. From a personal point of view, I just feel so very privileged and honoured to be part of the team and I’m just delighted for all my connections who have helped me to get to this stage.

"It’s our first home-bred horse to be going to a Games, and whilst that’s so special for us all, it’s so tragic that Carol isn’t with us to share this moment as I know she would have been so very proud. We’ll be going there to give it our absolute all."

William Fox-Pitt, Kitty King and Gemma Tattersall complete the team for Rio.

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Sad news for British eventer, Tina Cook as she faced the devastating news that her home bred 12 year old horse, De Novo News has had to be PTS after developing complications from shipping fever.

De Novo News was Tina's top horse - he was by Last News and she rode his dam, Douce De Longvaut round Burghley when the mare was in foal with him.

He had been moved to Newmarket Equine Hospital in August with fluid in his chest cavity after having developed shipping fever on his return home from competing in Strzegom, Poland in June. He had travelled with two other horses on the lorry and Tina had been especially careful to break the journey with appropriate breaks, so it was surprising that De Novo News fell ill. Further complications developed and the vets gave him a grim 10% chance of survival. However, the horse appeared to have rallied somewhat recently - putting on weight and going out in to the field.

"We thought he was going the right way and not far off coming home. The infection got into his joints and they couldn't manage it." - Tina Cook.

For more information on Shipping Fever and it's prevention, click HERE

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