Dubai Its been two years since my first interview with International equestrian broadcaster and CNN broadcasting partner, Aly Vance. A cursory glance at her instagram account would indicate her passport must have as many stamps as an airline pilots and indeed her travels have taken in most of the worlds important and unusual equestrian events. If it’s a competition and involves a horse, Aly is almost guaranteed to be in situ, microphone in hand, prepared to interview everyone of interest, from grooms to Sheikhs, no one fazes this dynamic young woman. Even the daunting prospect of attending all five days of Royal Ascot with her new born baby girl in tow, was taken in her long legged stride.
We chatted during a break in her manic schedule as she prepares to cover Dubai World Cup night and host the H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Horseracing Excellence Awards and World Cup Reception on Thursday evening.
She tells me “I cover the show jumping at the Longines Global Champions Tour which is made up of twenty events in amazing locations, such as Miami, Shanghai and Mexico, for CNN World Sports and CNN Equestrian, which involves a lot of travel. My little girl, India often comes with me. At Royal Ascot, she was only two weeks old but she stayed in the car park with my Mum. She went to Deauville last summer, the Cheltenham Festival this spring and she is here in Dubai this weekend. Various Grandparents help out and luckily she is very easy going, though I have to be really organised. I know it will get harder but I just make it up as I go along. My husband is here this week, working too which is great.”
Aly is clearly exited for the weekend of superlative sport ahead, saying, “Its great this week that there are so many international horses and international figures from the racing world, its an important time with a whole week of different events, it’s a whole week really, not just one day.”
2019 may only be three months old Aly has been clocking up the air miles already with trips to, Uruguay during January for the Ramirez Prize race, St. Moritz for the snow racing in February and she went to Chile in March.
She recounts “The race in Chile was the Longines Gran Premio Latinoamericano, which is the richest race in South America, worth half a million US dollars. It moves country from country to country each year and this time was held at Club Hipico de Santiago in Chile, which is the only right handed racetrack in South America and designed on Longchamp, Paris, so therefore local horses have an advantage. This winner this year was Ya Primo and is going to Chad Brown in America now”.
“ The horses in it represent their own countries, with each one having two runners apiece. Its like a football match with everyone supporting their own country. The distance changes every year and it can be on turf or dirt, a brilliant, crazy race., that was in Uruguay last year and will be held in Argentina in 2020. The CNN Winning Post programme showing at the moment is from there.”[Chile]
The next stamp in the passport will likely be an Australian one as she heads to Sydney next for the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and the mighty Winx who will be having the final race of her career. One not to be missed. Aly says “ I go to Australia for the 13th of April and I’m really looking forward to seeing Winx in action then I’ll be off to Kentucky for the Derby followed by the Epsom Derby and then Royal Ascot.”
Pausing for breath she continues, “on my personal wish list are, to go racing in Kenya, to the Kenyan Derby and it would be cool to do the second and third legs of the American Triple Crown [Travers and Belmont] and I would love to go to the New Zealand Derby, any of the unusual races, I love.”
I wondered does she have any favourites among such a cracking list of race meetings and the reply is instant, “I love Queens Plate Day in South Africa, its just the most beautiful race day where you have to wear blue and white and everything from enclosures to tents and flowers are blue and white too. Its an elegant, wonderful day, all the cocktails are served in ostrich eggs, beautiful and incredible.”
“I love my job, when someone asks, what would be your dream job……. well this is it..……… I’m doing it. Covering show jumping on Miami Beach or in the pit lanes of Monaco or even Horseguards Parade and Chelsea Hospital in London.”
Wow — the venues are mouth watering just listening to Aly recall the seemingly endless list of exotic and strange places that Longines are able to set up a show jumping event in.
The ‘dream job’ even keeps Alys’ appetite for horse riding satiated, as opportunities to ride crop up all the time. She says, “I rode in the Chilean Andes and played polo in Uruguay and I try to ride on every location. I rode in the Magnolia Cup at Goodwood and rode out at Jamie Osbornes’ to prepare. I rode as short as possible and loved it.”
Aly has interviewed HH Shaikh Mohammad twice and is impressed by the depth of his passion for the horse and all that entails. “He is very charming and talks enthusiastically about his racing and his equestrian interests..”
“ Dubai is a fun, buzzy place with lots going on and its interesting seeing it grow, there’s more sport here now. I love the cycle and running paths that take you right to the beach”.
“I have my outfit sorted for World Cup day, a white trouser suit by London designer, Laura Green with a hat by Goodwood
Milliner, Lay La Leigh.
— The author is an ex-trainer and the mother of leading jockeys, James and Sophie Doyle.