The Royal Windsor Horse Show (11-14 May) is to be held inside the private grounds of Windsor Castle, for the second time in its 63-year history as over 115 show jumping, dressage and showing classes will be staged over the four days. This year the line-up is stronger than ever with a host of top names contesting the generous prize money.

Nick Skelton, Britain’s No.1 show jumper will be up against stiff competition in the £45,000 jumping classes, competing not only against British No.2 Michael Whitaker, but John and Robert Whitaker as well. Skelton has thrown down the gauntlet to the all comers grand prix (Sunday 14 May) participants by entering his top horse, Arko III.

GB team dressage rider Carl Hester faces a similar situation. Vicki Thompson, Peter Storr and Richard Davison have all entered the dressage spectacular.

Show jumping’s young riders have also responded to the inclusion of a series of young rider classes to run throughout the week and culminating in the Accenture Young Riders’ Grand Prix on Sunday. The Saturday evening performance will showcase a class normally seen at international shows, the very popular six bar competition.  For those wishing to learn more about the art of dressage, Emma Hindle will be hosting a master class. Favourites such as The Shetland Pony Grand National and The Musical Drive of The King’s Troop RHA are back again as well as the JCB Dancing Diggers.

“With the purpose-built all-weather arena now in its second year of use, the show can boast some of the best footing in the country. This has meant that we can become more adventurous with what we host at the show,” said show director Simon Brooks-Ward. “We could never have dreamt of having the JCB Diggers and a Six Bar on a grass surface but we feel that the permanent surface has really opened up the programme and I am sure that both the riders and the spectators will enjoy the new additions.”
 
The prestigious Land Rover International Carriage Driving Competition has been moved into the main arena of the showground this year. Representatives from 18 nations will be taking part including Boyd Exell (AUS) and Barry Capstick (IRL). All six of the top British Four-In-Hand drivers will be competing. The Prince Phillip Cup’s 50th anniversary will get off to a flying start with the DAKS Pony Club International – the Pony Club’s version of Rugby Union’s Six Nations Championship.

A handsome array of shopping opportunities will be on offer, as the first ever Royal Windsor Food and Drink Festival supported by Fortnum and Mason and Daylesford Organic Ltd gets underway.  The theme is very much ‘Best of British’: a purpose built marquee will play host to 70 quality food and drink purveyors including Duchy Originals, Royal Windsor Farm Shop, Partridges, and Rachel’s Organics. Food and drink producers from many regions of the British Isles will be represented, and the festival will give visitors the opportunity to sample and buy produce of the highest quality.

The Box Office is open (tel: 0870 143 2208) or visit: www.rwhs.co.uk.  Windsor Advantage Card Holders receive concessionary rates and should visit the Royal Windsor Information Centre or book online.