TV gardener Alan Titchmarsh reveals his equestrian passion and why he can’t wait for Royal Windsor

H&H caught up with TV personality Alan Titchmarsh ahead of this week’s Royal Windsor Horse Show (8-12 May) to find out more about his role as host of the show’s very special pageant celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria. Alan presented the Diamond Jubilee Pageant and The Queen’s 90th Birthday Pageant, both at Windsor, so we asked him what he was most looking forward to at this year’s highly anticipated spectacular.

1. The King’s Troop

“There are horses and riders coming from all over the world, each group with their own style and their own skills, but I would have to choose the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery as my personal favourite,” says Alan. “They never cease to thrill the crowd with their astonishing horsemanship.”

2. The immediacy of it all

“I’ll be rehearsing with all the participants before the first evening, but other than that it’s a ‘seat of the pants’ job, coping with whatever happens and sticking to something that resembles a script,” he says. “I’m there to make sure things run as smoothly as possible, but the pageant is all about the horses and the riders — and Queen Victoria, whose bicentenary we are celebrating.”

3. The love of horses

“I vowed to learn to ride before my 40th birthday — and I did,” says Alan. “I did a bit of jumping in the early days but now my involvement boils down to occasionally hacking out, looking at people’s gardens over hedges. That said, my greatest thrill, when I presented ‘All The Queen’s Men’ was riding with The King’s Troop at one of their rehearsals. I was on the second pair pulling one of the gun carriages in that manoeuvre they call ‘The Scissors’. My heart has never beat so fast — partly because I lost both my stirrups. But I managed to stay on and even rode back to the barracks through the streets of London with all the traffic stopped. It took 45 minutes at a rising trot — all jingling harness and thundering wheels — and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so proud to be a part of anything in my life!”

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4. The spirit of the show

“I love simply wandering around the show ground, catching anything and everything that looks interesting, from the best turned out trooper to the Pony Club games,” he says. “The spirit of the show, the setting and the people are simply the best. Also it’s quite something to be eyeing up a handsome hunter and suddenly find that The Queen is standing next to you. But then as Prince Philip once explained to me, ‘It is our back garden’.”

Don’t miss the full reports from Royal Windsor in 16 May issue of Horse & Hound magazine