They say those that play together, stay together. So what do Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, Don Drysdale and Anne Meyers, Summer Sanders and Erik Schlopy, Chris Evert and Greg Norman all have in common? The answer is simple they are, or were, married couples who shared a love over and above the love they share for each other namely sport. Some marry within a sport they share, tennis in the case of Agassi and Graf, whilst others marry across two very different sporting disciplines.
Perhaps the biggest sporting marriage that has ever taken place was when Her Majesty the Queen’s granddaughter Zara Phillips married England rugby player Mike Tindall last July at a low key (by royal standards) ceremony in Edinburgh.
Following in both her parents’ footsteps, Zara is a keen sportswoman and a very accomplished equestrian. She’s always taken her sport very seriously and in June 2003 announced that she had secured a sponsorship deal with Cantor Index, a leading spread betting company, to help cover the costs of her equestrian career. Zara, 30, also kept her maiden name on marrying and it’s understood that this was because of the value she places on her equestrian career.
Her husband Mike, from Otley in Yorkshire, plays for club side Gloucester and has been capped more than 60 times for England. He invited some of England’s best-known rugby players to the wedding. He and best man Iain Balshaw were part of England’s winning 2003 rugby World Cup squad in Australia, where the couple met after being introduced by Prince Harry.
Earlier this month, racing’s equivalent of a royal wedding took place when two of Ireland’s greatest racing families tied the knot in style.
Jockey Nina Carberry married Ted Walsh Jnr at her local Church of the Holy Trinity, in Ratoath, Co Meath. Ted proposed to Nina in Paris last June, just two months after she became only the second woman to ride the winner of the Irish Grand National. Nina, who has completed the English Grand National course on three occasions, left her jockey’s silks hanging in her wardrobe for the day and instead looked stunning in her white silk dress with lace capped sleeves.
Her new husband Ted, son of renowned former jockey, successful trainer, and TV analyst Ted Walsh Sr, was given a remarkably easy ride by his best man and brother, Ruby, who would have liked to embarrass his younger brother a little more when giving his speech at the reception. Ruby, winner of the 2000 English Grand National on Papillon and the Irish Grand National on Commanche Court, still managed to tell an amusing tale or two though. Honest talking must run in the family as Ted Sr, presenter for RTE racing, is renowned for his forthright views.
Nina was given away by her father, horse trainer Tommy. Whilst her husband’s sister and Nina’s good friend, Katie Walsh, also an experienced jockey, was Nina’s bridesmaid at this truly equestrian occasion.
The wedding reception was held at an unusual venue – Tayto theme park in Ashbourne in County Meath, and the guest list read like a Who’s Who of Irish racing, including Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary who flew in from Spain, Ireland international Leo Cullen, trainer Noel Meade, bride’s brother Paul Carberry, JP McManus, Enda Bolger, Noel Meade, Tamso Doyle Cox, and Charlie Swan.
Like Zara Philips, so far Nina has declined to say if she will take the Walsh family name and as yet hasn’t taken a break. She was back in the saddle and under starter’s orders the weekend immediately after her wedding day. Now that’s what I call a honeymoon.