Film ID:
YFA 5828

DESTINATION MEXICO: HARVEY SMITH

1968

Visitor Tabs

Description

This documentary is part of the Yorkshire Television Destination Mexico series which was first transmitted in the summer of 1968.  This episode focuses on the show jumper Harvey Smith who, it was expected, would be selected for the Olympic Games in Mexico of that year.  It mainly features Harvey Smith talking about his horses, his training methods and various aspects of his career and life, as well as interviews with others who know him. 

Title – Harvey Smith: Show Jumper Supreme  

The film begins with Harvey Smith riding over Yorkshire moorland.  The commentary notes that he has just been named Sports Personality of the Year at the age of 29.  Harvey Smith talks about his horses, saying that they need “hard work and hard food,” and that they also need “character and brains” to be good showjumpers.  He is seen riding in an event.  He says that there needs to be a marriage between horse and rider, and that the horse needs to be “instructed by feeling.”  Coming in from Ilkley Moor, he arrives at his stables.  Here, three of the horse he has to choose from for the Olympics are stabled:  Madison Time, Dunsella and Harvey Peak.  

Harvey Smith relates how he first got into horse jumping after watching the Todmorden Show in 1953, thinking that he could do better.  There is an interview with Jack Baker who lent him his first pony, who speaks of his determination.  His two sons, aged 5 and 6, help him to saddle ponies.  He states that it is entirely up to his children what they do with their lives.  He says that he bought his first horse, “Farmer’s boy,” paid for by his builder father, at auction in York aged 15, for 40 guineas.  He is then seen winning a trophy in 1959 when he was show jumper of the year.  He talks about the qualities of his horse Montana which he bought in 1959, and then about “War Horse,” which he bought in 1961.  He then talks about his training methods, emphasising the importance of having a lot of variety, keeping the horses fresh and not keeping them to a routine.  He watches as a horse runs around a ring jumping fences.  

At the Otley Show, Harvey Smith walks around inspecting the course.  He then goes onto complete the course riding Dunsella in the fastest time.  There is an interview with Harvey Smith’s “oldest supporter”, 80 year old Annie Hutchison, who states that “there’s no backdoors about him.”  She talks about his recent £50 fine for “speaking his mind.”  Harvey Smith states that he wasn’t selected for the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 because the selectors said that his horses were too tired, but he counters that some of the horses that were taken had been in more competitions than his own in the run up to the Games, so he didn’t understand the selector’s decision.   He then talks about the qualities of his horse War Paint.  

Then there is an interview with Jack White, a keeper of Airedale beagles, who has known him since he was a boy.  He speaks of his toughness and never give in attitude.  When asked about his “will to win,” Harvey Smith replies that, “It isn’t the will to win, it’s that you don’t like to get beaten.”  He then talks about the qualities of his horse O’Malley, which he says is either unbeatable or useless.  He says that if he was to come back as anything else it would be as a show jumping horse, as they have a great life, with just one hour’s training a day. He then talks about his other horses Harvester and Badger in Time.  

Asked about his view of the press, he says that they know very little and make up the rest.  He gives the example of Fred Trueman who he thinks wrongly acted up to the popular portrait of him.  He talks about the winning of the Nations Cup in 1958, about the bad press they got beforehand, and the winning.  The film finishes showing all his trophies on display in his living room.  

End credits:
Research – Richard Handford
Camera – Peter Jackson
Sound Recording – Brian Ranger
Dubbing Mixer – Mike Billings
Film Editor – Peter M Taylor
Director – Frank Kilbride
Executive Producer – Laurie Higgins