I visited Kevin and Emma McNab’s lovely yard located in the village of Compton, Surrey, about 6km south-west of Guildford in June 2021. At the time, Kevin and Scuderia 1918 Don Quidam (Don) were on the Olympic shortlist. Kevin had in fact been in the pleasant position in 2020 of qualifying four horses for the Olympics before the Covid-19 pandemic struck. Then that year became one where we were all placed on hold to a certain degree, although Kevin continued to work with all of his horses at home, keeping them ticking over until the British eventing season resumed towards the end of the northern summer.
In 2019, Kevin and Scuderia 1918 had struck up a partnership. Initially an introduction by Francesca Pollara led to an opportunity to work with the Scuderia group producing horses for sale. Having had a couple of early successes, Kevin went on to have as many as 13 Scuderia horses in production at one time. Their relationship blossomed and as the sporting side of Scuderia’s business evolved, Kevin became a key part of their team, which includes some of horse sport’s elite riders; showjumpers Lorenzo de Luca, Daniel Deusser and eventer Michael Jung, to name just three.
Scuderia currently have seven horses with Kevin and Emma, ranging from novice five-year-olds to Don (owned jointly by Scuderia and Emma McNab). Francesa tends to do most of the buying and sends Kevin the horses that she thinks will work best for him. Looking at the current horses that are with Kevin, it is clear that Francesca has a very good eye. Kevin tells me: “Looking for horses is a really big job; she sends them and says, ‘Here’s a horse – work away!’” Apart from Don, Francesca has sourced all of the Scuderia horses for Kevin.
Scuderia 1918’s ethos is a simple one: “Team always wins”. Co-founders Maria and Emanuele Anchisi say: “There is no victory without motivation and no quality without attention to detail. This is the kind of team we try to build every day.” It is clear to all that know Kevin that he fits perfectly into the Scuderia team. Although still a business, Scuderia prides itself on its values and has a respect for both people and animals — unusual in this day and age when so many equine businesses are profit driven, and horses are viewed as a commodity. Kevin is a great believer in “team” too. There are so many people that help him on a day-to-day basis, not just the grooms but owners, trainers, farriers, vets, sponsors, feed merchants and so on.
Kevin feels that his partnership with Scuderia gives him the best of both worlds; he can produce young horses for sale in a timely manner, as well as having horses that he can take to championships. Scuderia support Kevin and let him pick the events that he thinks will most benefit each individual horse. This year, for example, they supported Kevin and Don to go to CCI5* in Kentucky — a huge commitment. It was the first time Kevin had competed there and he tells me with a wry smile: “I was really happy with the horse — sixth is great but first is better!” Kevin continues: “Don is a horse that can win a competition like that and somewhere in the not too distant future he will put in a really big performance to win a competition of that calibre.”