Report: Captain Mark Phillips Leaves Sandy Phillips for Lauren Hough

Photo by Kate Samuels

I’d like to say I’m shocked, but I’m not.  Gordon Rayner of the British Telegraph is reporting tonight that 63 year old Captain Mark Phillips, Chef d’Equipe of the US Eventing Team, is divorcing his current wife Sandy Phillips for US show jumper Lauren Hough.  Lauren, 35, has been assisting with coaching of the US Eventing Team this year including the spring training sessions and lessons with Sinead Halpin at Rolex.   Mark’s divorce from Sandy is of course Mark’s second failed marriage, he separated from the Great Britain’s Princess Royal before marrying Sandy.

According to the Telegraph: “Sources close to Capt Phillips said he broke the news to his 58-year-old wife and their 14-year-old daughter Stephanie earlier this year…The couple’s separation and forthcoming divorce were confirmed to The Daily Telegraph in a statement from Capt Phillips’ solicitors at the law firm CKFT.”

The Telegraph further reports that Mark is now planning to leave his home in England and establish residence in Wellington with Lauren.  “He has reportedly told friends that ‘I might only be alive for another five or ten years so I might as well be happy’.”  Lauren Hough, 35, is a former US Olympian in show jumping.  Lauren is just a few years older than Mark’s daughter Zara and over 20 years older than a daughter he has with Sandy.

Mark Phillips is a good coach, even a great coach even for some riders, but his personal behavior as the leader of the US Eventing Team is consistently reprehensible.  There’s no point to rant about morality and there have been rumors about this for some time.  Certainly, nobody is perfect and I will say that I do think Mark has been improving in recent years.  But, whether Mark likes it or not, whether he believes it or not, whether he cares or not, his position as a leader in this sport means that he should hold himself to a higher standard.  In my opinion this has never and will never be the case and for that reason alone 2013 and his departure from the US Eventing Team can’t come soon enough.

[Telegraph via JER]



  • josh says:

    I wonder if he said the same BS to Sandy when he decided to Marry her??????

  • Karimarie26 says:

    Wow and well said.

  • c785 says:

    That’s very disappointing to hear. I can only imagine what his children and Sandy are thinking. How sad that Lauren had to ruin a family plus possibly ruining her reputation too. I’m shocked. 

  • K M Erickso says:

    Not to mention the irony that one of the biggest criticisms of CMP has always been the fact that he lived and spent most of his time in England, rather far from the country he was supposed to be managing. Now he’s moving to the US just in time to retire as Chef. Seriously, can this man do anything right?

  • KathyB says:

    I think this is in poor taste to air this family’s personal drama on a internet message forum.

    • 01033 says:

      Specifically what is in poor taste is the opinion stated at the end- and consequently in replies above- and more I’m sure will follow. 

      It is one thing to report the news of the sport- perhaps the coach of the olympic team filing for divorce falls in this category. However, it is extremely egotistical to claim the individuals made mention are of poor character for their actions. Perhaps this is true, but I do not believe one event is cause for such a claim.
      The man’s business is just that- his own. The Captain has never stated his own perfection- a stigma you yourself have attached to him. If you are disappointed by such things, so be it, but do not blindly state that the man or the woman at hand are somehow now subordinate.
      IF respect was lost at all for me in reading this story it is for John and thus Eventing Nation- your personal opinions on the character of an individual bear no importance on the presentation of the news. A short time ago you reigned this man a hero for his contributions to the sport, his personal life is not reflected in his soon to cease professional life. 
      I agree KathyB- it is in very poor taste to express such things in a forum that claims its information news.  

    • KathyB, I appreciate your comment and know that personal drama is not something I care to write about.  But, this story is out all over the British media and forums.  It’s a story about the US coach leaving his wife and former part time US eventing coach for a current US eventing part time coach.  As for my opinion, it’s just that, but it’s impossible to think this personal situation doesn’t affect the US team in at least a small way.

      • KathyB says:

        I have a friend on the U.S. eventing team and I truly hope and pray it does not affect the team adversely, and I understand that it’s in the British media, but, with all due respect, I stand by my opinion about it being in poor taste.  

      • Jdsosa1 says:

        Hey, one thing is to tell the news and another very different is to tell it as a cheap gossip as John did here. Your story is very much tarnished by taking sides in a love a affair. In fact so much that moralist here are taking this man’s personal life choices as something bad. I do not know what is MF’s family situation,  but this new stage in his life may even be inspirational. That is private and has nothing to do with his job. Can you people walk and chew gum at the same time?

      • Anonymous says:

        Like it or not it is eventing news and is therefore “reportable” news.  Editorializing is also conceivably within the realm of an Editors’ domain.  But with that goes (in theory) the responsibility of fairness.  Let us hope that the moral standard that has been set with this editorializing carries over to EVERYONE now involved with The Team because there has been well documented unseemly and reprehensible behavior exhibited by other folks that are now considered “leaders” of the sport.  Be careful when you open Pandora’s Box.

      • Jeanne says:

         I don’t know how anyone can think it doesn’t effect the Eventing world in a negative way.  Their “personal” business is right in front of everyone’s eyes by the fact that she is helping to coach.  Why on earth didn’t they wait until after the Olympics?  It could have been a lot more “personal” had they done that. They have drawn negative attention to themselves and the US team right before the Olympics . .by both eventers and non eventers.  I’m in complete agreement with John and think what he said was appropriate.  Even if I didn’t agree with him I would still think it appropriate for him to state his opinion.  For those who can’t just disagree with him and move on, you don’t have to read EN.

  • Kod23 says:

    Go John! Someone needed to say it! Could not agree more.

  • Jeanne says:

    Good gracious could they not have waited until after the Olympics??

  • Beth says:

    Once a cheater always a cheater. Mark Phillips has always been known to cheat on his wives but what I don’t understand is how Lauren Hough thinks she will not be cheated on as well! Not a very smart or emotionally mature move Lauren. More lives ruined Captain!!!

  • Crowder says:

    John – this is EN, not the National Inquirer or The Sun.  Please don’t dignify these base human failings on a great website dedicated to sport.

  • KathyM says:

    WHAT! Why is this news??? This is National Inquire stuff. So disappointed in EN!!!!

  • Nicnac8892 says:

    I agree with KathyB. I like coming to EN for actual eventing news, not gossip and trash talking about people’s lives that has nothing to do with the sport. Very disappointed. 

  • Jdsosa1 says:

    This entry about Mark Phillips’ personal affairs sounds like a chip gossip on a grocery store tablied. Shame on you John. Take care of your life and stop projecting your envy and missery on others.

  • Stablesue says:

    Regardless of how the author feels personally about this, this is the wrong venue to express those feelings!! His personal doings should not effect his role that he is currently performing for the American team. This  is actually old news, and it has not shown to change how he is performing as the coach of the team. He has a big job before he leaves this year, he knows that, and our opinions about what he does between the sheets, should stay in his bedroom sheets, and not on your sheets. 

  • Kathi Hines says:

    this is not news and this is not the National Enquirer. Tacky reporting.

  • Bobby123 says:

    I can’t agree with you more John, and I am so glad someone finally called the Captain out on his actions. I can’t wait till the Olympics are over and we can move on to a fresh start with a different USA coach!

  • jledge says:

    Well said! What a complete and utter pig! I am sorry for his current wife and especially his children.!Hope Lauren enjoys changing diapers on old men cause believe me that’s what she’s gonna get!

  • KathyB, I appreciate your comment and know that personal drama is not something I care to write about.  But, this story is out all over the British media and forums.  It’s a story about the US coach leaving his wife and former part time US eventing coach for a current US eventing part time coach.  As for my opinion, it’s just that, but it’s impossible to think this personal situation doesn’t affect the US team in at least a small way.

  • Meregrey says:

    oh please- ms holier than thou- if you want to comment on his coaching and can be objective fine- but his personal life is his personal life- not yours!!

  • AshleyB says:

    This is so highly disaapointing. My instructor here at college has always expressed a dislike for the Captain, and I now agree with her. People this high up in the sport are who we look up to. I really don’t care that EN is reporting this. This man is the Chef d’Equipe in our sport for our country. He really should be holding himself to higher standards as the model for that.

  • Ukwilcat says:

    John created this site so those of you bashing him are more than welcome to find your eventing info elsewhere. I love you John AND you opinions. Let’s get married

  • Hellodolly says:

    Whoa John take a breather and hop off that high horse of yours. Journalism does not equal judgment. It’s meant to be an impartial reporting of facts only. 

  • Jenna Sack says:

    Going to defend John here. As a public figure, how you conduct your personal life does matter and does reflect character. Does no one see the conflict of interest here? Besides, it is obvious that this incident alone is not what is driving his assessment of Mark’s character and he has kept those to himself. He is our coach and the news is relevant and important to those supporting his salary.

  • Rdmceek says:

    This is in poor taste. Just because British Airwaves find it ok, does not makeit ok here. I dont have any wish to read this here. There isman14 year old child, who is probably having a hard enough time, being 14. Now her Fathers affair will be all over the news, both here and ther.

    I am very dissapointed in this, and those who feel this is any of our business. Men cheat. He has done so before. Whoopty do. I imagine many of us know a LOT of men who do that.

    I hope the daughter has a good set of friends to get thru this. Hugs to her!

  • Sue says:

    EN is John’s baby and he should write what he likes.
    The story is distasteful, but that is the fault of CMP, not John. It is news and CMP’s
    attorney has publicly commented on the situation.

  • Kate1985 says:

    Unbelievable…two US coaches caught up, this is insane.  Of course EN should write about this, how is this not news?

  • LizH says:

    I think this article is inappropriate, too personal. Perhaps a short posting saying he is getting divorced in the Friday News with a link to an article from the British media would have been in better taste. Also in agreement with previous comments, the final opinionated paragraph should be omitted, due to its tacky and non-objective content.

  • HN_Lorraine says:

    Whoa, let’s all take a big fat square halt at X, y’all. We are incredibly lucky to have this online community for our sometimes obscure and always amazing sport. Let’s remember we are colleagues and a community first, built on respect. I understand we may all have ties to certain leaders or certain riders, and something like this can feel very personal, but let’s all respect each other, and for the sake of people’s children, let’s be respectful of people’s privacy. We are all entitled to our opinions and maybe in the heat of the moment, things got a little editorial on EN, but let’s not make things worse in the comments. I admire all of you immensely, and I know we’d be 1000 times kinder to each other on a course walk than we have been tonight, so let’s all go count off coffin strides, shall we?

  • SG says:

    Being a blog, I don’t see why having an editorial statement is that big of an issue, no matter what it is. This is not the USEA blog, so I would not expect it to be necessarily unbiased.

  • Stellar541 says:

    Sure, this is editorial in nature, but completely fair. After all, it’s EN’s option to have an editorial opinion as they see fit. And it’s not hidden by any means, it starts off in the first sentence, for goodness’ sake. Capt. Phillips is a public figure and therefore his personal life is wide-open for coverage. It’s part of what he signed up for long ago when he married Princess Anne and continues today by working as the Chef d’Equipe. The other thing he signed up for was to conduct himself professionally. Having one’s private affairs is one thing, but having an on-the-job affair with an assistant coach is unprofessional, completely self-interested, distracting from the objectives at hand and a lawsuit waiting to happen. He is being paid to focus on the US athletes, their training and competitions and, especially right now, the upcoming Olympics. With these job-related personal issues, he’s caused more focus on other things as of late which only takes away from him performing his job as he was hired to do.

  • Lmnracing says:

    Haters gonna hate. Way to tell it like it is and call a spade when you see one. CMPs actions are reprehensible and you are well within your rights to call him out on them. This is standard journalism, people.

  • Info says:

    So a guy in his 60′s decides he wants to be with a younger model and live in Florida……………………..I can’t see what the big deal is here, he isn’t the first and certainly won’t be the last.  For the record, gender wise, it works the other way round to.  This isn’t really the sort of stuff that should be discussed on here, nor comment being passed by the editor, “he/she who is without sin may cast the first stone……………..”  It’s not a drama, it’s not news, he’s just a coach of a sports team……………………big deal.

  • That last paragraph leaves a bad taste. Fair enough, your site your opinion, this post has kind of disappointed me though.

  • Kruberg says:

    Amen Eventing Nation!

    And, me thinks Ms. Hough has fallen off her horse too many times without approved headgear :-)

  • great pic of him him shoveling shit!  :) He knows it well.  Hes having a late mid life crisis,  I bet he told Sandy ” I love you , but Im not in love with you”   yup 5 yrs left and he chooses a tart over a loving family unit…..fits the profile..

  • Anne Hennessey says:

    Well said, John!

  • Polly says:

    Mark Phillips has never held my respect. He has always been a slimy character. This is a dirty, stupid move by him and furthers my disgust. EN John, on the other hand, is a very bright, extremely responsible, upstanding young man. He started this website in a tiny room, in the dark of night and should be allowed to say anything he damn well pleases on here. If you people don’t like what he has to say, go get your eventing information elsewhere. I’m guessing you’ll stay right here, there is NO other source that gives it to us straight and in such great detail. Ease up, people. 

  • Northwind Farm says:

    Go John and Go Eventing!!!! This is certainly news that should be on an eventing site especially as he’s made a public statement and is the current US coach. There are so many bad feelings, bad experiences and bad comments that CMP has made that he really just threw the door wide open. There isn’t a “poor” anyone in this except probably a young Princess Anne. Anyone who’s gotten “involved” with him will get exactly what they deserve. Lauren Hough should be ashamed of herself! Anyone who knows or has spent anytime with CMP knows that he knows no shame so this won’t bother him at all. The only way this gets lower class is a reality TV show – The Horse Lives of Palm Beach County – LOL!

  • JAS says:

    This is a blog forum, as such, all of the articles and posts are essentially editorial or oppinion pieces. Nothing is or should be “off limits”. If you don’t like it, you get to post your feelings here.

    That said, this is the state of all “news” organizations in the world today…MSNBC, CNN, FOX, ABC, BBC, NBC, Radio…news is not reported without an oppinion inserted by the reporter/parent org.

  • Gracie717707 says:

    Oh get over it people, it’s johns blog, he can write about whatever he wants. I do feel sorry for his family, but it’s terrible what he’s doing to them, and embarrassing for the US.

  • breakthru says:

    Another defender for John- this is news, it affects the team, and this is not the New York Times.  This is an internet blog.  You can choose you come here to read what is posted, or you can get your news elsewhere.  Personally, I choose to get my news here.  Regardless of whether or not you agree about everything that you see posted here, this remains one of the best (the best, in my opinion) horse blogs on the internet.  You don’t like this post, don’t read this post.  Skip over it and read the next one, kick on, and go Eventing Nation.  

  • lec says:

    I think there are many questions to be asked.
    Firstly timing! After a lot of good results at Rolex – it is incomprehensible in such a big year for many riders that this puts a big glare on the team and for not good reasons. 
    Secondly – who employed Lauren Hough – and the decisions taken in offering that role? 
    Thirdly – Should they continue working together? 
    Finally – The team needs to have total trust in their coach/manager that they will make the right decisions – there must be a fragmentation in that trust so is it in the best interests for him to continue in that role? 
    I think that EN is right to talk about this issue because its effects are far bigger than the ‘relationship’ angle. 

  • napalm says:

    They are both CLASSLESS and desearve each other

  • Amanda in Wdstk says:

    For those who are “disgusted” by this news being reported here, and for the opinions being given… do NONE of you watch ESPN or listen to various sports talk radio stations? Every time a scanal breaks, those reporters/journalists are the first to break the story, and have PLENTY of opinions (hullo? Penn State? Anyone??).

    EN is a news *and* commentary site, and John and the other contributors have never given me the impression that it is anything other than that.

    • Wahoo says:

      While I agree with you in principle, let’s remember what happened at Penn State was illegal. None of this is illegal – just entirely unseemly.

  • Duckz says:

    This is a blog and the tone is often informal and editorial. John can say what he wants. IMO that’s part of the charm of EN. Do you really want dry “just the facts ma’am” reporting? Kudos to John for building this from the ground up. If he wants to add his two cents to a story he doesn’t need our permission.

  • CV says:

    Thank you for calling him out on this….I believe that even if this is his personal life, what you do in your personal life reflects you as a whole. 

  • Annalisa10 says:

    I do find it interesting, John, that you choose to selectively criticize CMP while turning a blind eye to the shenanigans of certain American eventers (no need to name names). Fact is, nobody knows what goes on within someone else’s marriage so this came off as an extremely cheap shot. The selective attacks on certain individuals (while glorifying others who have committed similar misdeeds) is why EN is often criticized and dismissed as a “blog” versus a legitimate news outlet.

    • Wahoo says:

      Bless your heart. The orginal story was in the UK’s Telegraph, which is very much a legitimate news outlet. And guess what! EN *is* a blog! John’s personal opinions are entirely appropriate to have here, whether you agree with them or not. Oh, and if you read the original story, you’ll see that it was prompted by an OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT from CMP’s reps themselves. It’s not speculation, it’s fact, and it deeply affects the sport of eventing at the top levels. The very definition of news if you ask me. 

  • supermax says:

    Gossip in any sport is everyone’s dirty little secret and I don’t believe for a sec people don’t want to know about it! Too bad no one gossiped about Rita Crundwell, maybe the city of Dixon wouldn’t be out $53 million. As far as CMP, he is what he is, but Lauren Hough her part in this is disgusting. Wait till he trades her in for a 20 yr old.

  • There was recently a similar scandal with the Arkansas football coach.  He got fired for using his power to hire his secret mistress over quite a few other applicants.  But yeah, I consider that to be legit news that he could be basing who he hires to help him coach based on who he’s sleeping with.

  • Steve says:

    Sandy is a lovely lady, Mark a hard working man, and Lauren has always been a nice girl. (not that I know any of them personally, just professionally) Its sad, no doubt. These affairs of the heart are always messy and painful. I wish them all a happy future. 

  • Kcrco says:

    This is a BLOG, people.  Not TIME or the NYT.  If you haven’t noticed yet, many of the pieces written  include a lot of personal opinion on riders, horses, courses, etc.  Sometimes you’ll agree and sometimes you won’t.  But I bet you keep coming back for more!

  • Fab says:

    Well like other parts of our anatomy, we all have opionions.  As for the blog by John, not surprising but I believe his message was beyond the scope of his personal life and aimed at what we all have experienced under CMP’s leadership or the lack there of…

    I believe our tolernce of him was way to long and he should have been replaced years ago.  While he may have medals for the US to show, how much has he missed with our aspiring developing riders.  I look forward to the long awaited change and as for CMP, enjoy your life. 

  • Kqued says:

    how appropriate that the photo has him raking manure….

  • Motheroffour says:

    Fitting that the picture you chose shows him scooping poop.  And what about Ms. Hough?  She’s as responsible as he is, you know . . . How will this help her to become more respected in the USET?  Oh, yeah, it won’t . . .

  • CherylP says:

    Thank you EN – and fellow commenters – I had thought Lauren Hough’s name sounded familiar and had been brought on board as a coach and wondered about the switch from Katie Prudent to Lauren for the SJ phase? Samantha even interviewed Lauren this past weekend at Rolex … see
    This newly announced “relationship” and leaving his wife now for another associate coach, really poor taste and judgement and frankly I’m not at all proud to refer to him as our US eventing coach.  John’s post was appropriately reported here on EN and post-Olympics…I think CMP will find out just how this kind of unprofessional behavior affects anyone who might seek him out as coach.  And of course this effects the team… it is a blatant case of a conflict of interest.  Wish we actually didn’t have to put up with it thru the Olympics and Lauren, gosh don’t know much about you, but this says a lot…

  • Ldbgcoleman says:

    I think it’s fair game. He had an affair with a fellow coach and if he is her boss or superviser that makes it worse. I don’t care what he does in his personal life but it may be distracting and awkward for our team members and he has a 14 year old child who should be the most important thing here.

  • Penny says:

    150% agree with you John!!!! Its a blog people, get over yourselves. GO EVENTING NATION!!! 2013 seriously cant get here soon enough.

  • Guest says:

    Careful, he is not the only one associated with the US eventing team to have fidelity issues…

  • Mhkeeley says:

    I don’t give a rat’s ass about his personal life.  What is sad is that it is eclipsing the US riders trying to make the team.  If I was in charge, I’d fire him…all contracts can be broken.  Can anyone seriously say that US riders need his coaching.   

  • unhappy says:

    What a bunch of sanctimonious t….s  you all are, you have absolutely no right to pontificate on a person’s private life.  John I am soooo disappointed that you would sink so low as to make such provocative and inflammatory statements.

  • Jumpinaround says:

    GO JOHN! Glad somebody had the kahunas to speak the truth. This IS news for you “others” out there. This is no different with being reported as other coaches in other sports have done, and should be reported! It does affect how people look at the US team!

  • thehorsepesterer says:

    Is this a joke? 

  • Nic says:

    It’s no secret that Mark and Sandy’s marriage was a business deal from the start… and this “Breaking News” is not news at all to anybody not living under a rock for the last couple of years…

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