Kensington Gardens will host London’s brand new horse show after the Royal Parks decided to back the Dutch-run Global Champions Tour (GCT) debut over Simon Brooks-Ward’s bid for another event in the capital.
But confusion remains about the bid submitted by Mr Brooks-Ward — who organises Olympia and Royal Windsor — with supporters left baffled by the decision.
Planning permission for the Kensington show is yet to be secured.
GCT organiser SEL-UK Ltd hopes to deliver five-star jumping and dressage at its Kensington event (6-9 June).
“It will take a small army, but we are determined to make it happen,” said SEL-UK’s Peter Phillips, son of Mark Phillips and the Princess Royal.
Horse Guards confusion
But last week, Mr Brooks-Ward was still under the impression that his July proposal for a show on Horse Guards Parade — a venue not expected to require council planning permission — was being considered for 2014 if not 2013.
This was flatly denied by the Royal Parks, which manages both sites.
James Russell, head of Royal Parks events, highlighted its obligation to balance activities at its venues as to why it wanted only one horse show.
He told H&H that Kensington had been selected because its proposal arrived first and said the Royal Parks was “ecstatic” to be involved with Jan Tops’ “prestigious” GCT series.
The two proposals represent the only major commercial interest in equestrianism since London 2012.
Both parties undertook extensive prep work last year, and Andrew Finding, chief executive of the British Equestrian Federation, told H&H he was “very keen” on both proposals.
“We recognise the challenges of two taking place, broadly speaking, at the same time, but feel optimistic they will come to fruition by 2014,” he added.
Room for two?
MR Brooks-Ward was prompted to develop Horse Guards by Olympic showjumping gold medallist Peter Charles, who secured two blue-chip underwriters.
“Horse Guards was a showpiece for the Olympic beach volleyball, has far less red tape to slow things down and Simon has run military tattoos there, so knows how it works,” Peter Charles told H&H.
“I don’t understand why Royal Parks couldn’t accept us both. Ours would have included ponies and young riders and provided a showcase for British showjumping — a wasted opportunity while we have the Greenwich feel-good factor.”
A disappointed Simon Brooks-Ward said: “We believe, passionately, that Horse Guards is a tremendous ‘fit’.
“We very much hope Royal Parks will consider a proposal from us in 2014 and wish GCT every success,” he added.
This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (7 February 2013)