Some of the most fascinating hunter classes of the season are the novice sections at Royal Windsor, where competition is expected to be keener than ever.

The Windsor novice is the title all producers want. Last year’s title-holder, Spot On, went on to stand open champion at The Royal, and the Tatlows’ 2000 victor, Mr McEvoy, was champion at the RIHS that year.

Rivalry between the Oliver and Tatlow camps is again rife and Robert Oliver, badly injured in a fall in the winter, has decided to ignore medical advice and return to the ring.

“I wouldn’t miss the novices,” says Robert. “Windsor is one of my favourite shows.”

David Tatlow holds similar views: “Ever since the novice classes started, we’ve been lucky. This show is always one of my major aims.”

The Tatlows are sending a strong contingent, which includes the Halls’ Great Yorkshire four-year-old winner, Athenry; June Snedker’s Dublin purchase, Avoca Vale – named after the village in which Ballykissangel is filmed – and Eoeneve, a six-year-old mare owned by the Newells, who also have the heavyweight Otter Point.

Robert Walker’s sole novice contender will be Slievenamon Mist, who was bought from the same home as Robertstown Silver and the big winner, Coolgreen Star.

Guy Landau, whose late stepfather, Roy Trigg, was a devoted supporter of Royal Windsor, has an intriguing choice for owner John Dunlop.

He has entered the six-year-old Man At Arms, one of the last offspring of the legendary Ballyard Bess, and Pencader Owen Glendower, a Welsh-bred horse by Maximillian Saluut, also sire of the top show jumper, It’s Magic Max.

Read the complete Royal Windsor preview in this week’s Horse & Hound (8 May), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.