Games people play

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The Independent Online
Oliver Sherwood, 42, National Hunt trainer

I had one brother who was three years younger than me. He and I were brought up by my mother, and everything we did was horsey. We were very spoilt living with Mum in Warwickshire, as we had lots of ponies, and our rosettes were never-ending.

My brother wanted to be a professional show-jumper, so we used to put up little fences round the garden, and go round on foot. It wasn't so much show-jumping, more of a cross-country course. Mum had us build stone walls and this-and-that, and we'd time each other's rounds, each trying to be as quick as we could. Those were our little games in the garden, pretending that we were on horseback.

Mum was - and still is - very competitive, and we also had to practise doing the normal things you do on a horse at Pony Club - the bending and potato races. To get us to try and win, there were all sorts of carrots, such as the loser having to muck out the winner's pony.

Being three years older than my brother, obviously I had a slight advantage, so I'd be handicapped on time. But I used to cheat because I was bigger than him, and if he tried anything, I'd beat him up a bit. We weren't very close at that age, but we carried on playing the jumping game until we were about 16.

My children have all played it. My son is not so keen, but my eldest daughter, who's 13, used to play a lot, and my little daughter, who's 31/2, loves it.

Going on to other games, I still play consequences, although liar dice is the game everyone plays in Lambourne. That's quite fun, and my friend and neighbour Kim Bailey is very good at it.

Oliver Sherwood trains Him of Praise (owner, M St Quinton), which will be running in the Aintree Grand National today, ridden by C Swan. Coverage on BBC TV at 3.45pm.

Simon Sherwood, Oliver's younger brother, partnered Desert Orchid to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1989 (trainer, David Elsworthy).

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