Opinion

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Royal Windsor proved hugely attractive to amateur riders. There were 27 catalogued in the amateur small and lightweight hunter class, 24 in the heavyweight section and 34 in the amateur cobs.

Those numbers are not surprising, as Windsor has unique charisma. How refreshing to see an amateur win the novice cobs. Classes for retrained racehorses were equally popular, with 23 entered for the Flat section qualifier and 26 for the National Hunt one. It was such a boost to see one stand overall supreme and is bound to increase their popularity.

I’d like to see Retraining of Racehorses (RoR), the organisation behind this series and for which I have huge respect, rethink one of its rules. Currently, horses are de-noviced after three novice wins or any open win under any society’s rules. Wouldn’t it be better if novice status automatically lasted for a whole season?

Winning three classes doesn’t necessarily mean a horse is ready to be ridden by a judge. We retrain these horses, not train them — and a professional can’t necessarily get them ready for the ring any quicker than an amateur rider can manage it.

Most of us build their showing experience via small shows, and it doesn’t take much to clock up three wins on a nice horse. However, that nice horse might not be ready for open classes.

All open classes are held at county shows, which are a huge step up in terms of atmosphere and potential hazards. There are some excellent RoR ride judges, but show organisers have to be safety conscious and allowing all horses a full novice season would hopefully give them and their riders the chance to build a solid foundation.

I couldn’t understand Royal Windsor’s decision to call RoR grooms in one at a time rather than following the standard system, where all enter the ring when the class is drawn in for horses to be stripped and ridden.

Racehorses aren’t always good at standing and grooms should come in together, for safety reasons and to ensure that rugs can be put on if conditions demand this.

Shavings of gold

On a bright note, the new working-in area by the horseboxes made life much easier. There is a surfaced working-in area, but if the showjumpers are using it, showing competitors are not allowed to.

I like to shop at shows, but the tradestands here were too expensive. I was also glad I didn’t need to stable, as competitors who bought shavings reported paying £14 per bale. Perhaps they contained gold dust.

Will I be there in 2018? You bet. I just hope that on the way we don’t meet someone’s pony trotting down a busy road in front of my 40ft lorry, as happened this year.

We had to catch it, leave it in a playground, tied up the gates to keep it secure and tell the police where to find it.

The moral of the story? Always make sure you have a spare headcollar, lead rope and baler twine on your lorry.

Ref Horse & Hound; 18 May 2017