A furore erupted last week after 166 competitors had their entries returned by the Royal Show (1-4 July).

Royal Show manager Simon Frere-Cook said the livestock office had taken on extra staff to try to reinstate as many of the returned entries as possible — but admitted it was “all a bit of a muddle”.

“The closing date was 27 April, a Friday, but unfortunately 166 entries arrived after that date — many after the weekend,” said Mr Frere-Cook. “We had 100% new staff this year in the office, so it took longer than normal to put people’s entries on the system — and we had a few computer problems. When all the entries were logged, we found we were up on numbers from last year, so we had to return the ones that arrived late.

“It is most unfortunate, particularly for those hoping to use the Royal Show as a Horse of the Year Show [HOYS] qualifier. Some of those returned were from very senior competitors.”

Mr Frere-Cook admitted that some late entries were mistakenly date-stamped 30 May instead of 30 April — the Monday. Plus, several competitors had their entries returned with another competitor’s cheque — all of which “added to the confusion”.

He added: “There have been a couple of muddles for which I apologise sincerely.”

Irate show producer Lynn Russell was one of those originally rejected.

“I went mad — I’ve exhibited there for more than 20 years,” she told H&H. “If the entries had been late, I should have had them back by return. They also said they’d been oversubscribed, but I find that hard to believe. The problem for people is that it’s too late to enter any other shows now.”

The producer rang the organisers and her entries were reinstated.

She added: “The Royal is a lovely, big show. It’s one of the most prestigious and everyone wants to exhibit there.”

Read this news story in full, including comments from top producer David Tatlow and native pony enthusiast Jenny Crane, plus details of what to do if you have had your Royal Show entries returned, in today’s Horse & Hound (21 June, ’07)