At the grand old age of 98, the Royal International Horse Show promises to be as spectacular as ever this year with an impressive line-up of national and international entries.

The show, which is the British Horse Society’s annual flagship event, includes a vast programme of showing and jumping classes, as well as the BHS-sponsored British Riding Clubs Team Jumping Championship and the Supreme Ridden Horse Championship.

“It looks set to be a marvellous year for the British Horse Society at the Royal International” says BHS Chairman, Patrick Print FBHS. “We are offering a combination of prestigious riding events, sponsored by the BHS, and informative presentations on vital areas such as technology to improve access and rights of way for riders.”

A major highlight is sure to be the contest for two of show jumping’s most coveted titles, the Longines King George V Gold Cup and the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, both of which take place on Sunday.

John and Michael Whitaker will be vying for another King George V triumph, both having won the title three times already. However, the brothers are both some way short of David Broome, who has won the title a record six times, all with different horses. The King George V Cup was first presented in 1911 when the show received royal patronage. The cup was designed by Paul Montford for Garrards the jewellers and is only seen by the public at the RIHS and the British Horse Society Annual General Meeting.

The women’s title, the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, was originally named the Princess Elizabeth Cup when it was presented to the show in 1949 as Elizabeth II had not yet become Queen. It was first won by Iris Kellett on Rusty while Liz Edgar, Broome’s sister, has won the title four times. This year 23 British female riders are vying for the Cup, including Di Lampard and Nicky Boulter.

Following a disappointing sixth place at the European Show jumping Championships last weekend, British fans will be hoping for a hat trick of home victories in Friday’s Samsung Nations Cup of Great Britain. The competition is one of just eight Samsung Super League events worldwide, with prize money totalling £85,000.

Eventing fans will fill the grandstand on Thursday for the annual Ford Ranger Eventing Grand Prix. A selection of top three-day event riders and show jumpers have been invited to compete over a combined course of obstacles from both disciplines. Riders will negotiate angled, narrow and water jumps both inside and outside the main arena. Show jumpers Mark Kyle, Jo Ward, Ben Mahrer and Guy Williams will take on the likes of eventers William Fox-Pitt, Polly Stockton and Matt Ryan in this unique and extremely exciting competition.

Showing entries have hit all-time high this year with 1,505 show horses and ponies entered. Among the best supported are the show hunters and heavy weights. Classes start early Tuesday morning and continue for the duration of the show.

The Longines Prize for Elegance 2005 will enter its fourth round at the Royal International Horse Show. British show jumping talent Ellen Whittaker is the current leader and is set to win a prize of over 60,000 Swiss francs if she maintains her position.

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Show Highlights

Tuesday 26 July: National Show jumping

Wednesday 27 July: National show jumping championships; show hunter ponies; working hunter ponies; Hackneys

Thursday 28 July: International show jumping; ridden hunters; Eventing Grand Prix; amateur riding horses

Friday 29 July: Super League Nations Cup; riding horses; working hinters; ridden Arabians; coloured horses and ponies; amateur hunters; heritage M & M

Saturday 30 July: International show jumping hacks; double harness scurry; miniature horses; Pretty Polly ponies; small hunters

Sunday 31 July: Queen Elizabeth II Cup; King George V Cup; cobs; show ponies; supreme ridden horse; supreme ridden pony; amateur cob; amateur hack; intermediates; mini ponies; nursery stakes; costers

  • Click here for a timetable of action from the International Arena or visit: www.hickstead.co.uk