With the Royal International Horse Show about to kick off (26-31 July 2016), we round up the reasons that you need to make a beeline to Hickstead this year — from top class showjumping to getting the ultimate shopping fix

1. Prestigious showjumping

The showjumping at the Royal International is among the oldest and most prestigious in the world. The two classes not be missed are the Templant Events Queen Elizabeth II Cup on Saturday (30 July) and the Longines King George V Gold Cup on Sunday (31 July). This year’s show will give the British crowds one of their last chances to see Olympic riders in action before they head off to Rio. The Queen Elizabeth II Cup kicks off on Saturday at 2.05pm ahead of the British Speed Classic at 4.15pm. The King George V Gold Cup will culminate the week’s jumping classes, starting at 2.45pm.

2. The pinnacle for showing riders

Watch showing at its best during the six-day show — for showing producers the Royal International is a championship show and is the culmination of many months of qualifications during the spring. There is a host of prestigious classes for many types and breeds of horse and pony — the overall supreme champions will be crowned on Sunday in the British Horse Society Supreme Horse and the Underwood Supreme Pony Championships.

3. Brits do battle

Don’t miss the chance to see British riders compete as a team on home soil. Friday’s feature class is the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup. The Brits will go head-to-head with other nations to qualify for the series final in Barcelona in September. The four British riders will be selected from Scott Brash (Hello Guv’nor), Ben Maher (Diva II), Jessica Mendoza (Spirit T), Tim Stockdale (Fleur de L’Aube) and Michael Whitaker (Viking V).

4. Get your shopping fix

There are more than 250 shops to satisfy the shopaholics visiting the Royal International this year. The Charles Owen shopping village offers a variety of stands selling everything from tack, clothing, footwear, equestrian equipment, gifts, produce and more. Amid the shops there is also a children’s funfair to keep the younger spectators amused.

5. Dress to impress

Ladies’ Day is held on Saturday (30 July) and raises funds for charity. Visitors are encouraged to don their best attire and there is a host of prizes on offer for the most elegantly dressed ladies.

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6. One for the eventing fans

And it’s not just Olympic showjumpers who will be in action. The popular Amlin Plus Eventers’ Challenge has attracted a elite group of eventers, who will be heading to the West Sussex venue on Thursday (28 July) before flying out to Rio. These include Pippa Funnell, Mark Todd, Tina Cook, Tim Price and Ludwig Svennerstal. Other notables to look out for include Ben Hobday, who will be aiming to put on a good show for fans riding much-loved four-star campaigner Mulry’s Error, and Ireland’s Elizabeth (Esib) Power, who is sure to set off favourite in this class, riding class specialist Doonaveeragh O One.

Don’t miss our full report from Hickstead’s Royal International in 4 August issue of Horse & Hound magazine