The Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) is relocating its showing ring — the Caldene Arena — to provide more space and offer three times as much spectator seating.
The new arena will be sited next to the show’s main shopping area. It will offer 1,500 seats and be capable of accommodating up to 2,000 spectators.
HOYS organiser Grandstand Media said relocating the ring has always “been on the agenda” but became a priority after last year, when attempts to increase seating capacity by reducing standing space around the Caldene Arena resulted in a crush.
“After what happened on mountain and moorland day of this year’s show, it was very clear that something had to be done, and we had to address the situation quickly,” said HOYS director Mark Wein.
“The new arena will be wider and longer, but the infrastructure we’re putting in will make the whole experience more comfortable for everyone.”
Up to now the Caldene Arena has been situated at the furthest end of the exhibition space occupied by HOYS at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (NEC).
Prior to 2007, there was seating for 550, plus extra standing room, a collecting ring, and warm-up arena under a marquee attached to the building. The arena itself measured about 30x52m.
The new arena will measure approximately 35x55m, with an indoor collecting ring at one end.
Mountain and moorland rider Debbie Harrison, said the changes were great news: “It feels like we’re second best at the moment. The main arena is amazing but we feel as though we are hidden away round the back at present,” she said.
The new layout also means that trade stands will sit between the Caldene and the Cushion Track International Arena, with easier access for visitors around the show.
“It’s absolutely fantastic for trade stands,” said Mr Wein. There will be more footfall between the two arenas now, and the public will enjoy it more because they will be able to walk freely between the two arenas.”