Royal Windsor Horse Show (14-18 May) will not have an all-weather surface in its main Castle Arena this year, as it had originally been planned.

Organiser Horsepower International had intended to repeat last year’s popular innovation, which gave consistent going for showing, jumping and dressage classes and provided the “stage” for the jubilee celebration All The Queen’s Horses.

But the ambitious proposals included setting up an infrastructure for the surface to become permanent, and planning permission has not been obtained in time to make arrangements for the show.

Spokesman Candy Burnyeat explains: “There wasn’t enough time to allow for the complete planning process to let us put down the arena this year. It is now planned for 2004.”

The loss of the surface has had the greatest impact on the dressage section, with the planned prix st georges freestyle and pas de deux now cancelled.

The decision has come as a surprise to competitors, many of whom were looking forward to riding on the all-weather surface.

“When you’re going to a show that’s four hours’ drive away, it’s a bonus to know that you’re going to ride on a really good surface, and I was looking forward to it,” said show producer Robert Walker.

Leading show jumper Robert Smith said: “I’m obviously disappointed that we aren’t going to have the all-weather surface, but we’ve managed with a turf arena for 58 of the 59 years of the show’s history, so we’ll make the best of it again.”

Read the full news story in this week’s Horse & Hound (8 May), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.