A five-year plan has come to fruition for the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) with news that the River Lawn will only be used for “a handful” of showing classes next year (25 to 30 July) .

Although centrally located near the international arena, the River Lawn has been criticised in the past for being unsuitable for large classes – especially in wet conditions such as were experienced last year.

The 2017 show will see almost all classes – including the massively popular mountain and moorland sections – moved to other areas such as ring seven, where much work has been done and is still underway.

However, the move has meant an extensive revamp of the timetable – full details of which are not yet available – and some clashes are expected to occur as a result.

“The move has been a long time in the planning,” said showing director David Ingle. “It’s not something that could have been done quickly as we had to make sure other infrastructure was in place – such as the new walkway we introduced last year at a cost of more than £100,000.

“It does mean that the majority of the showing will take place in a centralised area and we believe this will help competitors, officials and spectators too. It is inevitable that there will be some new clashes in the timetable but we are trying extremely hard to wriggle the classes around in order to minimise any conflicts.”

The showing judges for 2017 have also been announced. They are:

Tuesday 25 July

Coloureds: Mathew Lawrence, John Harvey, David Hodge, Daniel Park

Wednesday 26 July

Lead rein, first ridden, lead rein of show hunter type: Ann Brickell, Jodie Briers
Show hunter ponies: David Machin, Liz Murfitt
Pure bred Arabs: Maria Pook
P(UK) young riders M&M ridden: Jackie Webb, Davina Whiteman

Thursday 27 July

Ladies’ hunter and amateur riding horse: Jill Wormall, Rosemary Morris
Hunters: ride lightweights – B Sturgis; middleweights – Jo Bates; heavyweights – Paul Cook. Conformation – The Hon Hopper Cavendish
BSPS Heritage M & M: Vanessa Clark; Heather Prescott
BSPS Heritage M & M lead rein & first ridden: Russ Owen, Kathryn Lloyd

Friday 28 July

Amateur hunter: Nigel Fuller, Jane Hubbard
Working hunter: Sara Leatherbarrow, Sue Rawding
Riding horses: Jane Bradbury, Tim Wiggett
M & M working hunter ponies: Jo Jack, Roger James

Saturday 29 July

Small hunter: Wendy Gibson (ride), conformation TBC
Hacks: Martin Skelton, John Maynard
Intermediates: Joanne Say, Linda Cadman
Pretty Polly, Heritage lead rein and first ridden: Marilyn Ludlow, Pat Pattinson
Miniatures: Jocelyn Price
Part bred Arabs: Nancy Graylen, Simon Somers
Maxi cobs: Sara Leatherbarrow, Jackie Beatham


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Sunday 30 July

Working hunter ponies: Southerly Roberts, Rosemary Hetherington
Show ponies: Jane Hoskin, Amanda Gomersall
Nursery stakes and intermediate working hunter ponies: Diana Thorne, Tim Wiggett
Pretty Polly: Pat Pattinson, Marilyn Ludlow
Cobs: Bryan Smart, Laura Hamilton
Working show horses: Shelley Perham, Gill Evans
Amateur cobs: Lucinda Haines, Bridget Millington
Amateur hacks, amateur maxi cob: Nathan Arnold, Sue Rawding
Grooms’ prize – Mrs J Bunn & Mrs H Evans
Supreme ridden horse & pony championships – TBC