ANNABEL CARTHY wants to banish the perception of equestrian as an upper-class sport.

The Wilmslow star is currently on an intensive 12-week training course with former world champion Andrew Nicholson in Marlborough, having enjoyed searing success on the international stage since 2018.

Equestrian is a sport many perceive to be laced with pomposity and confined to a specific demographic – but Carthy has a message for aspiring young riders everywhere.

“Equestrianism is considered very elite, but there’s a lot going on to try and change that,” said the 20-year-old, who accesses funding for training, travel and equipment through a three-year partnership between GVC Holdings and SportsAid.

“People are setting up riding schools on brownfield sites in the centre of London and major cities to try and use horses to help people in disadvantaged situations.

“If you want it enough, you can do it from any background – you just have to break down the stigma that you need to be wealthy.

“The sport has shaped me a lot – it’s about two hearts. When you can communicate with such a talented creature, that is unlike anything you would ever get from a teammate.”

Supported by Paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson, GVC announced a three-year partnership with SportsAid in 2019 to help young athletes realise their potential and promote grassroots sport.

Part of GVC's Pitching In programme, the investment also allows athletes access to mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

Carthy is currently riding under Nicholson's auspices in Wiltshire, who stormed to World Championship gold in 1990 and captured a hat-trick of Olympic medals between 1992 and 2012.

That experience makes Carthy ‘starstruck’ every day – but she’s determined to follow in the 59-year-old's glittering riding footsteps.

“I’ve always looked up to Andrew which is why being here is still surreal,” added Carthy, who treading the same path as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah and Dina Asher-Smith in receiving SportsAid support.

“I’m still starstruck six weeks in every time I see him - I’m trotting around and he’s on one of his horses and I’m like ‘wow, this is crazy!’

“The Olympics is the dream and that’s everybody’s dream, but there are so many other highlights along the way that I’d take those as well!”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group 50 of UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit to find out more.