Five Minutes With... Commentator & Director of Ceremonies Steve Wilde

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Continuing our new Five Minutes With... interview series, Hickstead Director Daisy Bunn sits down with Hickstead's 'golden tonsils', commentator and Director of Ceremonies Steve Wilde...

1. What is your role at Hickstead?

My first job at Hickstead was actually as a coursebuilder under Bob Ellis for a few years, but after deciding (mainly due to the ridiculously heavy, famous Hickstead jumps) that it was way too much like hard work, I changed tack and arrived back a few years later as a commentator, under the late, great Tom Hudson.

This year sees me add to my commentating duties with a slightly expanded new role as Director of Ceremonies, - we are slightly changing the way presentations will be done to bring them in line with those found on the continent. Presentations are now bigger productions than ever before, and with the benefit of all the added extras the digital world affords us, we are hoping to bring in new elements such as music and the use of the big screen to showcase Sky Sport's amazing coverage for the benefit of those in the grandstands, and not just at home. We also want to remind people about Hickstead's long and illustrious history as the home of British showjumping for over 50 years.

2. What is the best / funniest bit about that role?

Well, it has taken a while, but I have finally been promoted from staying in my caravan to being a guest of the Bunn family, close friends of mine, at Hickstead Place (even if it is in the attic!) The Bunns always joke that they'd have a bestseller on their hands if their kitchen table could talk, as they are famous for their unanimous love of a good party, and I always say you never know who you're going to meet and how the night will end up! I also caused quite a stir a few years ago when I commented that it's the only place you could wake up in bed next to a world champion having gone to bed alone the night before - the world champion in question was Dermott Lennon and we were of course in twin beds, but it was quite a shock when I woke up nursing a sore head I can tell you!

On a serious note though, it has to be the people, and the extraordinary team I have the pleasure of working with. With both my mother and sister having won in the famous International Arena, and with me having worked there for quite a while now, without being corny, it always feels 'like coming home' (interviewer's note: he is very corny!). I am delighted that my sister will be coming to work alongside me this year, and it differs from foreign shows in that you're on first name terms with half of the spectators too. It's a very unique place, a very unique event, and an atmosphere that can't be found anywhere else in the world.

3. What is the worst bit about the role?

The worst bit is genuinely the awfully early starts, that always come on the back of having stayed up in the garden with the Bunns and their house guests (discussing work of course!)

4. What is your best Hickstead memory?

There have been so many it's hard to choose, but probably my most special memory was commentating alongside Tom Hudson, a master of his profession and a personal mentor of mine, when Great Britain won the Nations Cup, with John Whitaker riding the winning round. The atmosphere was electric and the crowd went absolutely mental, cheering and stamping (we thought they might actually bring the building down at one point!) and I could barely hear myself think, let alone speak - I remember shouting something down the microphone but couldn't actually tell you what, and I doubt it made much sense as we were all so giddy with excitement.

5. What would you do if you didn't work at Hickstead?

Well, I'd spend considerably more time on a golf course than I currently can, and show my face a bit more at my business WHMG (Wilde Hinckley Management Group) - I am a co-founder and director, along with Douglas Hinckley, and we specialise in event management, security and media relations.

6. What are you doing now, 2 months out from the first show?

Lots of research! Alongside my ongoing commentator's research, this week I have been looking for suitable music for main ring presentations and doing some pre-production organisation. I visited Hickstead a few weeks ago to have a walk through with the Bunns, and I couldn't be more excited about the impending season - it feels like it's going to be a very good one!