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30,000 gallons of water, 3,500 horses and a quiet tribute to the late Douglas — H&H meets Hickstead’s Bunn family

All roads lead to Hickstead once again this week (24-29 July) for the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup of Great Britain at the BHS Royal International Horse Show (RIHS).

In anticipation of this most prestigious and historic of British shows, we caught up with organisers Edward and Lizzie Bunn to find out how preparations are going and to discover how Hickstead is constantly evolving. You can read the full interview in this week’s Horse & Hound (out now), but here are a few snippets of what we can all look forward to at this year’s Royal International.

  • Despite the venue not having experienced rain for over six weeks, the going in every ring, including the main international arena, will be perfect. “It’s getting 30,000 gallons of water a day at the moment,” says Edward. “We put on nearly three million litres in the build-up to the Derby meeting.”
  • This year, for the first time, the Longines FEI Nations Cup will feature on the Sunday.
  • A new young horse championship on Sunday is offering a £10,000 prize fund. “There will be some good young horses,” says Edward. “Especially for foreigners it will be useful to get their young horses familiar with Hickstead.”
  • Recent revamps at Hickstead include a new layout, including a gin bar and Ella’s Bar, in memory of Ella Popely, the young showjumper who died in a car crash in 2016.
  • The big investment for this autumn is enlarging ring three and turning it into an all-weather with water splash, so that they can run arena cross-country in their off-season. “It’s a £420,000 investment, but it should become a money-spinner,” says Lizzie.
  • 50,000 people and 3,500 horses will be at next week’s Royal International.
  • The final word goes to Lizzie, describing what her father, the late great Douglas Bunn, would make of the family’s recent innovative exploits: “We’ve invested £2m in the showground in the past 10 years,” she says. “Dad wasn’t willing to invest: ‘If it was all right in the 60s, it’s all right in the 70s and 80s,’ — that was his stock answer. But he would love what we’ve done.”

Don’t miss the full interview with the Bunns and the rest of our build-up to the 2018 Royal International in this week’s issue of Horse & Hound, dated Thursday 19 July.

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