A right Royal affair
Royal Windsor Horse Show, 9-13th May 2018
With Prince Harry getting married and Zara Tindall and Kate Middleton expecting, the Royal family are giving us plenty to celebrate and feel patriotic about.
Another Royal occasion of note is the 75th edition of the Royal Windsor Horse Show, held in the private grounds of Windsor Castle from the 9th-13th of May this year. It is an event which Her Majesty, The Queen has attended every year since its creation, in 1943.
Today it has become a 5* show and holds the distinguished CHI status, making it one of the most important events in the equestrian calendar. Royal Windsor Horse Show is the only show in the UK to host international competitions in Show Jumping, Dressage, Driving and Endurance. In addition, there are 120 showing classes held over five days.
The riders love it too. Even Kent Farrington, current World No 1 Show Jumper said, “This is one of my favourite shows. There’s a combination of an amazing setting, an unbelievable crowd, top course designing and great footing It’s on par with the best in the world.”
Royal Windsor was started as a fund raising event during World War II as part of “Wings for Victory Week”, to raise money for Spitfire fighter planes. Over the 75 years the Show has maintained its objective to raise funds for charity. ABF, The Soldiers Charity is supported every year and an equestrian charity is chosen to support by the Committee annually. This year the equestrian charity is the Free Spirit Horse Memorial.
The original Show, which required competitors to hack to the Showground as there was no petrol to spare, was held on just one day. Since 1944 the Show has expanded dramatically in terms of length, spectator attendance and competitors. One of the first competitors was HM The Queen who successfully competed in the Single Private Driving Class driving Hans, a Norwegian Pony, to victory in 1944. Other members of the Royal family have also competed including HRH The Prince of Wales, HRH The Princess Royal, Zara Phillips, and most notably, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. It was the Duke who introduced international carriage driving to the Show in 1972, in which he also competed. He went on to win the Horse Teams class in 1982 with HM The Queen’s team of Bays.
Such was its popularity with equestrians and the public alike, that Royal Windsor evolved into a major international event. Last year there were 3,300 entries, including many of the world’s best riders, compared to 884 entries in 1950.
There will be some serious show jumping action up to CSI 5* level. This together with a large prize fund, is likely to entice the crème de la crème of the show jumping world. Held in the Castle Arena from Friday 11th – Sunday 13th of May, including a Saturday evening performance with the climax of it all- The Rolex Grand Prix will be taking place on the final day. World No.1 and last year’s Grand Prix champion Kent Farrington, is hoping to return to defend his title.
The International Dressage is expected to attract some of the world’s leading horse and rider combinations. The CDI4* Al Shira’aa Dressage Grand Prix and Freestyle to Music will take place on the evenings of Thursday 10th and Friday 11th of May respectively. Riders will have the unique opportunity to be judged by Susan Hoevenaars, one of the judges at the upcoming FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018, an unmissable chance for hopefuls heading to the Games this September.
The CAIO4* Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix, a FEI World Cup qualifier and one of the most important Driving events in the UK adds to the roster of top international competition at the Show. 2017 saw Boyd Exell score an impressive eighth victory at the Show, and the Australian is certain to be looking to retain his title as part of his FEI World Equestrian Games™ build-up.
The visually stunning Windsor Great Park will be the site of the international Endurance on Friday 11 May. A CEI2* event, supported by The Kingdom of Bahrain will negotiate 120km of the countryside of Windsor and Ascot.
A huge variety of Showing classes will also share the schedule with the FEI classes, with many of HM The Queen’s horses regularly featuring in the starting line-ups, Royal Windsor Horse Show represents the height of the National Showing calendar. Competitors will be striving to follow in the footsteps of HM The Queen’s Barbers Shop to be crowned Royal Windsor Supreme Showing Champion on the final day of the Show.
Spectators can also be entertained by an action-packed schedule of arena displays and other events. Beyond sport, there are 220 high-end shops in the shopping village offering fashion, equestrian and lifestyle goods. Plus a host of food options and watering holes, from artisan food and champagne bars to burgers and beer.
Or to book tickets visit www.rwhs.co.uk. Tickets can also be purchased by calling the box office on 0844 581 4960 from the UK and +44 (0)121 7966290 internationally
Written by Ellie Kelly