Saturday, 20 August 2011

The Dressage Sponsors


Whichever way you looked at it, Frank and Petronella Wylde-Best were wealthy; whatever you called it, they were fabulously, deliciously and stinkingly rich.

Even more, they obtained huge satisfaction from their fortune and enjoyed it to the fullest.

Anyone who said money can’t buy happiness was, they agreed, massively mistaken.

Originally Wildsteins, the Wylde-Bests hailed from
South Africa. They had settled here a decade ago and had made their fortune in the “adult entertainment” sector.

Their empire had been founded on a string of gentlemen’s clubs offering exotic performances in relaxed surroundings – otherwise known as lap-dancing bars.

Their chain of Sherbert Giraffe Lapdanceaterias offered tired executives exactly what they needed and the Wylde-Bests prospered.

Reaching the top of the greasy pole-dancing sector after a decade of hard work, made the Wylde-Bests multi-millionaires and bought a mass of material possessions.

These included a house in London, a palatial, rural retreat in the charming village of Lower Fumble in the Vale of Vaysey, cars, art and jewels: you name it they had it.

Once in the Vale, however, they learned a hard lesson. Although they lived in a Queen Anne mansion furnished with fine antiques and drove a top-of-the-range Range Rover, they were “only incomers.

Their neighbours, wallowing in genteel poverty, but whose families had owned most of the Vale for five generations, considered the Wylde-Bests – as the English put it - “parnvenus" and "nouveau riche arrivistes.

The incomers sought to overcome this by, what they called, “tweeding up”. They bought labradors, barbours and hunter wellies and made every effort to be seen supporting rural pursuits. These included the hunt and various equestrian sports.

As time went by however, they despaired of ever gaining acceptance by the county set, even though they hosted the meet regularly at
Wylde Towers and gave the hunt fullest access over their two hundred acres.

The one horsy group with whom they felt most comfortable was the dressage fraternity.

The Wylde-Bests liked its international and glamorous character and, most of all, the simple truth that money talked…and how.

Initially they just enjoyed watching great performances, particularly in the kur. Before long however they were noticed in the bar enjoying a drink at the end of the evening.

Naturally, more than one rider and their connections were happy to sink a few glasses of Cristal with the charming and generous newcomers.

Shortly, one or two approaches had been made on behalf of up-and-coming riders seeking sponsorship to help them stay afloat.

Being an astute judge of human nature as well as a businessman, Frank recognised that the key to a lasting connection with the very highest echelon of the sport was funding the acquisition of horrendously expensive dressage horseflesh. With drive and efficiency that’s exactly what the Wylde-Bests arranged.

Before long, the improbable outcome had been achieved. Incongruously positioned next to the Union Jack of Team GB on the numnah and, rather larger, on front, sides and rear of the massive Oakley Supreme of a leading international was the glittery logo of Sherbert Giraffe Lapdanceaterias plc.

As they were driven home to
Wylde Towers, after yet another successful day at the Nationals, Frank and Petronella planned their next step: the endowment of the Sherbert Giraffe Young Riders Scholarship.

They laughed and agreed that it seemed money brought respectability, as well as happiness.

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