Whether you go for the horses, the shopping or simply for the people watching, a day out at the Longines Royal International Horse Show 2014 should be a highlight in your diary.
Taking place at the famous Hickstead showground, this official show of the British Horse Society hosts showjumping, showing, fast and furious scurry driving, and excellent shopping for any equestrian or country enthusiast. And there’s an international dressage competition taking place right next door at ‘Dressage at Hickstead’.
The historic show (107th anniversary this year) starts on Tuesday 29 July with national showjumping in the outside rings, plus the coveted “Indian Trail” Skewbald and Piebald Horse and Pony showing classes. Entry is free on the Tuesday, so if you are on a budget and don’t mind not having all of the facilities available to you, this is the day to attend.
The show really gets going on Wednesday 30 July, with diminutive 128cm ponies and their young riders taking to the hallowed Hickstead turf in the morning for their national championship class. As the day progresses, the fences and horses both grow in stature, until the Winter Grades B & C Championship brings the show to a close.
Thursday’s highlights are the Bunn Leisure Trophy, which sees elite showjumpers go head-to-head as they do battle for the Longines World Rankings. There is also an early opportunity to see which combinations are looking on top form in the King George V Gold Cup qualifier ahead of Sunday’s final.
Thursday is also hunter day at Hickstead, with the very best horses from around the country competing for the coveted Les & Nadia Edgar Supreme Hunter Championship title. The victory gallop of the champion around the massive Hickstead International Arena is always a sight to behold.
Competition reaches fever pitch on Friday as our national pride faces the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup of Great Britain. The only FEI Nations Cup round to be held in the UK, it’s your one chance to watch the British showjumping team compete on home turf. Definitely one not to be missed.
Saturday is ladies’ day at Hickstead with the Queen Elizabeth II Cup being the feature class of the day. There are also miniature horses, lightening fast scurry ponies and a thrilling international showjumping speed class to look forward to.
Spectators are invited to dress to impress with the chance for the ‘best dressed fillies’ to win special prizes, including a luxurious two-night stay at the Alexander House Hotel & Utopia Spa. Last year, Hickstead also introduced an exclusive ringside enclosure with a private bar offering great views of the action for ladies’ day, which will be repeated this year.
For the showing world, the Royal International Horse Show 2014 is the culmination of many months of hard work, with the ultimate prize being the Underwood Supreme Pony Championship and the BHS Supreme Ridden Horse Championship titles on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the showjumping action comes to a close with top riders battling out for the prestigious Longines King George V Gold Cup. The richest prize of the show, this competition is always intense and the course supremely challenging. Only one rider will be able to add their name to the winner’s roll on the historic trophy, so who will it be this year?
Royal International Horse Show: 5 top tips
1. Get a position in the Member’s Grandstand for the hunter championship. I defy you not to be moved when these majestic horses thunder past at a full gallop
2. Visit the warm-up arena down the funnel from the main arena to pick up useful tips from watching top riders
3. For mountain and moorland showing fans, don’t miss the new home-produced Pretty Polly mini championship on the River Lawn on Saturday afternoon
4. Hang out at the Pimms bar near the entrance to the International Arena for the chance to grab your hero’s autograph
5. Arrive early and stay late to avoid the traffic. The show ground is particularly lovely on a summer evening after the crowds have left
Useful RIHS web links