I’m always incredibly touched when Cartier ask me to their polo day at Smith’s Lawn as it is now more than 22 years since I wrote my book Polo. In June Emily and I had the most wonderful day out at the Queen’s Cup. Among the guests were Clare Balding, understandably thrilled with her OBE and another of my favourite people, Ben Fogle, who by contrast was still reeling with sadness after the death of his beloved Labrador, Inca.

What I always find strange is no longer seeing Major Ronald Ferguson striding across the field because he so much put Guards Polo Club and Cartier Day on the map. He was such a wonderful character and helped me so much with my polo book.

It was therefore a huge delight to meet his grand-daughter Princess Beatrice who is so pretty and beguiling, and compare notes about Ron, who would have been so proud of her and Princess Eugenie.

Another great excitement was the arrival of Sharon Stone, rather strangely dressed in lace-less gym shoes, a panama with a black band, a black tiered skirt and a black and white check jersey, more basic black than instinct, but she’s so beautiful she could carry anything off.

Anton Mossiman’s lunch on Cartier Day as always was blissful and the terrific game of polo that followed was dominated by a charismatic Argentinian called Fecunda Pieres – wild name! Fecunda turned out to be the much younger brother of the great Gonzalo Pieres, who inspired me when I wrote Polo, and who I remember dissing life insurance.

“Zee moment I die, some other man will come along and marry my beautiful wife and take my cheeldren and my ponies, and you expect me to pay him as well.”
I was thrilled in June to be asked to take part in a lovely scheme where people were asked to nominate their favourite church. I had no difficulty in choosing our beautiful parish church, All Saints, Bisley, and much enjoyed writing about it.

You can see the result with details of other marvellous churches on the UK Favourite Church website.

As Ireland is such an integral part of racing, I longed to research it, and was enchanted when a wonderful opportunity arose in May. Having written books about polo, show jumping, jump and now flat racing, the one equine discipline I’ve never tackled is eventing. It was surprising but intensely flattering therefore to be invited to Tattersalls Ireland to promote their horse trials in May which are fast becoming as important in the eventing calendar as Burghley and Badminton, luring riders and fantastic horses from all over the world.

I had a riotous time being interviewed by the Irish Times and by several radio programmes, which included talking to the divine George Hook, rugger pundit and the Irish equivalent of Michael Parkinson. I also had a ball on Brendan O’Connor’s Late Night Saturday show. The Irish media are so charming, one seems to spend interviews gossiping about mutual chums, then in my case, conversation seems to drift onto bonkbuster writing and sex. Every so often I would heave things back above the waist, insisting:

“You must go to the horse trials, at Tatts, Ireland, this weekend. You’ll see marvellous horses and find so much for the whole family to enjoy including rides on Thomas the Tank Engine,” so I hoped I helped a bit.

Over at Tattersalls’ course, Ratoath, County Meath I met the great British event rider: William Fox-Pitt, who is the husband of dear Alice Plunkett of Channel 4 and on whom people think I based Rupert Campbell-Black’s great friend, Billy Lloyd-Foxe. In fact my Billy was invented way back in 1969 long before this William was born. This William, however, turned out, like my Billy, to be utterly charming, bliss to talk to and, one imagines, much more fun to ride than Thomas the Tank Engine.

I also watched some magical Italian dressage rider and was delighted to meet again, Ian Stark, another legendary event rider, who I’d last seen when we were both on the same float at the Lord Major’s show in London. Ian, who had built the course, then took me on an utterly terrifying quad bike ride around it. I nearly died of fright as we hurtled up and down banks and stormed along ridges.

Thank God, we couldn’t jump the fences, which were massive, vast eight foot wide ditches with a pair of fixed five and a half foot high logs on the far side. And the animal rights fanatics call the Grand National Fences unforgiving.

Juliet & Patrick Cooper

My hosts for my visit were the most enchanting couple: Juliet Cooper, commercial manager of Tattersalls, Ireland, who was so popular she was kissed at the races more than any woman I’ve ever met. Her husband Patrick is a leading light of BBA the great Irish bloodstock agency, and has been very involved in the exploits of the great mare Snow Fairy. He is very attractive and a fund of wonderful stories about selling horses in far off places like Kazakhstan. Goodness you need to be brave. Even cooler, he and Juliet own a racehorse in Ireland horse called Protestant.

Snow Fairy with Juliet & Patrick

During my stay they took me for two magical days to the Curragh to watch the 2000 Guineas and the 1000 Guineas where I was also the guest of another enchanting couple, Edmund Mahony who runs Tattersalls England and his incredibly pretty wife, Fiona.

The Curragh, Ireland’s greatest racecourse lies in a great plain, only interrupted by occasional trees and little yellow hillocks of gorse. I watched magical racing, brilliant for my research, and was fascinated to see the windows in one of the stands had been built especially low for Queen Victoria to be able to watch a military tattoo in her honour. Across the course to the right reared up a fort and at a discreet distance a little house, where lodged the ladies of the night, who provided recreation for the warriors.

What I love about the Irish is they’re so steeped in history. Every time you ask: “what’s that mountain?”, they’ll tell you its name and that a king lived at the top who promised to marry the first girl who managed to scramble up to him in bare feet.

Read more of Jilly's notes from: