Paying his first visit to the CSI5* at Royal Windsor, the 2012 Olympic champion and Sunday’s Rolex grand prix winner Steve Guerdat was full of praise for this most traditional of shows with a highly educated crowd.

He first competed at Windsor in 2009 when he won team gold at the European Championships, so it’s obviously a lucky venue for the Swiss rider. Royal Windsor Horse Show, he believes, represents everything that is great about the sport.

“I heard how good the show was so I brought my best horse Bianca for the grand prix,” said Steve.

“I like it when you walk into a show and see horse-friendly people wherever you go — kids, ponies and people who are there for horses and the sport, whether it’s showjumping, hunting or whatever — that’s what you need. They are in the stands following the action, whereas at many shows these days they’re looking at what they have on their plate, doing business and at the prize-giving they’ll maybe ask, ‘Oh who won the class?’

Rolex round table with Steve Guerdat and Kent Farrington

Credit: Kit Houghton/Rolex

“I was very worried a few years ago about the future of the sport but I’m feeling more positive now. Thanks to Rolex — they have stepped big into the sport and are saving the ‘real’ shows, the ones that riders like and the ones the sport can benefit from and motivate young people to follow us and do our sport,” said Steve, citing Aachen, Calgary, Geneva and the Dutch Masters as examples. “I hope most of my fellow riders will follow these shows and keep them growing again.

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“If you can find 10 people that honestly tell you that those new team formats [like the Global Champions League] are good, then maybe I’ll worry again. But I think everyone, whether they play the game [and compete in them] or not, is going to tell you that this is complete nonsense. Maybe I’m wrong, but this is what people tell me and what I see. I think my sport doesn’t have to be worried about those classes.”

As told during the Rolex round table at Royal Windsor. Don’t miss all the action from the show, including the inside story on Steve’s grand prix win, in this week’s Horse & Hound, out Thursday 17 May.