The Royal Show 2006 kicks off on Sunday (2-5 July) at Stoneleigh Park, near Kenilworth in Warwickshire. As Britain’s most prestigious agricultural event, the show celebrates all aspects of country life, and includes a huge range of equestrian events. Changes to the programme enable show horses and ponies to compete at Hickstead this weekend as well as at the Royal Show. The in-hand classes, which have traditionally run on the Tuesday, have moved to Monday 3 July, and the ridden horse classes have moved from Monday to Tuesday 4 July.

The Horse & Hound Inter Hunt Relay promises a nail-biting showdown this year. The organisers have been bombarded with entries for the Grand Ring event, which offers £1,700 prize-money. “There aren’t really any other types of competitions for general hunt riders to get involved in, so we are always keen to arrange a relay at the Royal,” said show council member Richard Matson.

The Cheshire Farmers Draghounds, the Scarteen, the North Cotswold, the Cotswold and the Old Surrey Burstow will all be competing, along with the West Kent, East Sussex and Romney Marsh; the Teme Valley and the Golden Valley.

The Royal Show’s first inter-hunt relay took place 15 years ago. This year’s cash prizes include £750 for the winning team; £400 for the runners-up; £250 for runners-up in the semi-finals, and £75 for each team knocked out in the first round. H&H will also provide the winning team with rugs and a trophy.

A £1,000 prize will be awarded to the supreme winner of in hand horse classes at the Royal Show. The Supreme In Hand Horse or Pony Champion is selected from the winners of the Supreme In Hand Mountain and Moorland Pony Championship, the Supreme In Hand Light Horse Championship and the Heavy Horse Championship. The reserve champion will receive £250.

“With a £1,000 prize for the Champion, which is a large prize for the showing world, the championship is very highly regarded,” said Debbie Dann, Royal Show equine specialist. The competition will be judged in the Grand Ring on the Wednesday of the show when a panel of independent judges will decide the supreme champion who will take the title ‘TopSpec Supreme In Hand Champion.’

As well as the overall Supreme In Hand Award, TopSpec is also sponsoring the Light Horse and the Mountain and Moorland In Hand Championships, scheduled to take place on Wednesday. In both sections the champions will receive £500 and the reserve champions £150.

For the first time in the show’s 167 year history coloured horses are being introduced to the rings. The classes, which are all Coloured Horse and Pony Society (CHAPS)-affiliated, include four ridden Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) qualifiers. In addition, winners of all the classes will qualify for the CHAPS UK championship. There will also be a new Driven Championship this year, offering £1000 to the supreme champion of the Best Coaching Exhibit, Best-Driven Hackney, Best Private-Driving Turnout and Best Three or Four Heavy Horse Turnout. The class, which takes place on Tuesday 4 July in the show’s Grand Ring, will be judged by London-based third-generation horse-drawn undertaker Stan Harris.

After more than 10 years, the King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery will be returning to the Royal Show. “We’re delighted to be back at the Royal Show. We have a performance lined up that will thrill horse lovers and the general public alike,” said Troop Captain Nick Parker.

A group of 120 soldiers, 90 horses and six guns will perform the famous Musical Drive – performed in front of the Queen at her Birthday celebrations. The Drive is carried out at the gallop, culminating in a dangerous scissor movement when teams cross in the centre of the arena with no visible gap between them.

Don’t forget to visit H&H at stand E-C-204 while you’re at the show for the chance to win prizes, including Harry Hall gear, a Mirotec rug and legwraps and lots more.
You can also save up to 30% on a subscription to H&H and sister titles, and collect a special gift of a fleece rug or saddlecloth.

For a full programme and book tickets online visit the website at www.royalshow.org.uk.