Riders at this summer’s Royal Highland Show are to benefit from an “Olympic-standard” surface in a new upgraded ring.
Organisers, the Royal Highland & Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) has confirmed a £500,000 investment to upgrade its equestrian ring —ring 6 — to Olympic standard in time for this year’s show in June (18-21).
Around 3,000 horses take part at the Royal Highland Show, held at the Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston, Edinburgh, and organisers hope the investment will attract “the finest riders” to the show.
The all-weather arena and Equaflow water capture system, supplied by Andrews Bowen, aims to provide a “quality jumping surface whatever the weather”.
The surface will use a similar “crate” drainage system to that used at Greenwich for London 2012 and that racehorse trainer Dan Skelton has at his Warwickshire yard.
Work will take around six weeks
At the show, showjumping classes including the International Stairway, grade C, Foxhunter and grade A and B class will all take place in the ring as well as all the working hunters and the Retraining of Racehorse classes.
“The investment in a new all-weather surface will enhance the show’s reputation in the eyes of equestrian exhibitors, visitors and trade stand holders alike,” said RHASS director and RHS showjumping chief steward, Anne Logan.
“It will provide a wonderful facility for all equestrian disciplines in Scotland, but most importantly, it will ensure that the Royal Highland Show remains at the very forefront of top end county showjumping for years to come.“
The show’s course designer, Mark McGowan, said it was “fantastic news”.
“RHASS’ forward-thinking ensures that horses from every discipline are guaranteed the best footing from start to finish, not only for the 2015 show, but for many years to come,” he said.
RHASS chairman, Willie Gill, said: “This decision to install such a state-of-the-art jumping surface is a reflection of the Society’s support of equestrianism in Scotland.
“Our motivation is clear: to protect the reputation and sustainability of Scotland’s premier equine event and showcase the finest riding talent, many of whom are homegrown.”
The new ring will also be used for the Scottish Foxhunter second round at the Scottish Summer Extravaganza Show (17-19 July) and the Scottish Horse Show (21 July).
It will also be available to hire for other events.