The Sporting Mind – an evening with AP McCoy, Victoria Pendleton and Clare Balding

It is rare when you attend a talk because you love the interviewer rather than the interviewee but it was the case when I went to “The Sporting Mind – a select audience with Sir Anthony McCoy and Victoria Pendleton. Hosted by Clare Balding.”I love Clare and literally would do anything to have her job. She hosted the evening superbly, controlled the interview in such a way that we got the most from it, lots was covered but it didn’t feel rushed or forced, she actually listened to the guests and reacted to what they said….. ok you get the idea. I am a fan!

But AP McCoy and Victoria Pendleton were also top notch. With the topic of “The Sporting Mind” it was great to have two such different personalities.

The event was held at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London. As one of the first to arrive (too keen!), I did feel a little awkward sipping my wine in an empty room and looking at the faces arriving in the hope I may know someone. Sadly, I didn’t. I always feel these events should have someone wandering round introducing people to each other – as in Bridget Jones, naming them and giving them a job title and interesting fact…

We were offered canapes which have to be the smallest canapes I have ever seen. Jockey inspired perhaps? One offering was described as blue cheese and leek but looked like the remnants once the blue cheese and leek had been removed from the spoon…. But I had not come for the food.

Jockey sized canapes

We went into the auditorium, front row (again too keen!?) and were shown a short video about the work of The Injured Jockey Fund (the charity the event was supporting) and then introduced to the guests. Victoria Pendleton wore incredible shoes so I was instantly a fan.

So many interesting points were raised during the 2 hour talk – I was totally absorbed and enthralled throughout.

Front row seat

Victoria had a real elegance and intelligence to her. Even AP said she may have too good a brain to be a jockey. She was self-deprecating, thoughtful, obviously worked hard to get as far as she has and her face lit up when she spoke about her new found love of horses and riding. She is truly a fantastic ambassador for the sport.

I found AP to be really interesting – funny, confident, unapologetic, a little crass at times – although borderline Narcissistic comes to mind, it’s perhaps a little harsh. I don’t believe AP would care a jot about what anyone said about him. He is a sensational sportsman – no doubt. But I am not sure he would be the easiest person to live with!

Discussions included:

  • Born competitive, inbuilt desire to win, a fear of failing being a motivating force
  • Looking at every detail – what can be changed to improve
  • Routines before competition – changing your mindset, pre-race instructions, not repeating mistakes, psyching out opponents
  • Mental state of the horse – getting them into a winning feeling, encouraging but not bullying, accepting horses personalities
  • From bike to horse – excitement to work with another being, professional mindset helped
  • Negative feedback – driving forward, not appreciating success as always moving forward
  • Injuries – the mental impact is the hardest, not focusing on what could go wrong, upredictability makes it exciting.
  • Talent/Ability v How hard you work – but also opportunity important. £ never stop you if you want it bad enough.

 I left feeling inspired – mostly for my blog (so many topics to discuss and explore) – but also with my personal horsey challenges. 

The team that ran the event did mention they are hoping to do more talks – so definitely keep your eyes peeled. Worth attending if you can.

And if you don’t know about the work The Injured Jockey Fund does – take a look at

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  1. Sounds like an amazing evening,certainly makes all the difference when the interviewee actually listens and responds to her subject! Lovely blog Daisy, I was listening to Clare on 5 live last night and she is so interesting and down to earth. Thanks for the info, good coverage of what sounded like a fantastic informative evening X

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