Hear from the voice behind many of your favourite commentary boxes and live streams! April caught up with Ben in our latest blog…
How did you get into commentary – where did it all start?
Back in 2018, I saw Spencer Sturmey at Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials commentating and I thought, I could give that a go! It wasn’t until July 2019 that an opportunity came up to give it a try at Barbury Castle with Spencer. I thought it was going to be easy, but I put the headphones on and realised this was a bit surreal and there was a lot more to it than I first thought!
After my first experience at Barbury Castle, I met Carole King who is a well-known cross country controller in the South West. Carole took me under her wing and introduced me to her team, Roger Trivett who is often the cross country controller at Bicton. They said I just needed to get in front of the mic at any level – from 80/90/100 to 4* and gain some experience of on course commentary. They got me going in 2019 and then Covid put the brakes on commentary for a little while.
It just so happened that I was at Pontispool on Easter Monday and I saw Paul Tapner who owns Pivot Productions and works closely with Horse & Country TV. Paul asked if I had ever thought about doing live stream commentary and that is how I got into working alongside Nicole Brown.
John Kyle, Steven Wilde, Ed Holloway and Nicole Brown are worldwide renowned commentators and people who I would certainly take inspiration from.
Describe the preparation you do before you commentate
It starts when the entries come out – I take a look at them and start doing my research on the horse and rider combinations. I like to check the rider’s nationalities and pronunciation of names.
I also like to type up a fence list with sponsor names and get to know the minute markers, where they are and the optimum time so I can work out on a live stream how long each rider has left to get home.
Being married to 5* event rider Kitty does help…
I can get some insight if she has walked the course. It’s good to get a feel of the course and the riders are very generous at giving some helpful tips when they are on course which I can drip-feed into my commentary. They are always so helpful and happy to give their time to the commentary team which I am very grateful for as I am mindful that they are competing and have a job to do. All the riders are great to have as guest commentators, they all have different viewpoints to bring to the table and it makes it interesting to the viewers.
Last year I went out to America and commentated at Tryon on their 4* competition. Recently I have also commentated on the Pan Am Games in Chile.
One piece of advice to aspiring commentators
Contact your local event and go on the BE website as they have trainee controller roles on there. Express your interest and have a go!