Every year, the equestrian community descends in droves to The Queen’s back garden for international showjumping, prestigious national showing championships, the 120k endurance ride, top-class driving — and not forgetting the bustling shopping village. But when the gates open for this year’s Royal Windsor Horse Show (10-14 May), visitors will see some exciting new additions to the schedule…
1. The international showjumping has been upgraded to five-star status and some of the world’s elite riders will compete in the Castle Arena (pictured, below). Sunday’s feature class is the Rolex grand prix, boasting £258,000 in prize money.
2. Also increasing in stature is the dressage. Last seen as a CDI3* in 2015, this year it will be run as a four-star event with the grand prix and freestyle to music taking centre stage on Thursday and Friday evenings respectively.
3. There are 120 showing classes contested at the five-day show and this year the ridden pure-bred Arabs return after a prolonged absence, while an overall supreme ridden show champion will also be crowned for the first time.
4. The Land Rover CAIO4* driving grand prix takes place over four days, with competitors bidding for a place at the FEI World Cup final. Horse pairs, last seen in 2014, also make a welcome return for the CAIO3*.
5. Windsor Great Park welcomes the world’s top endurance competitors on Friday for the CEI2* 120km, a new CEI* 80km and the inaugural national 40km ride, run in accordance with FEI rules.
6. The rivalry between Oxford and Cambridge universities is legendary and battle will commence at Windsor for the first time with the introduction of the varsity team dressage and showjumping competition on Saturday.
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7. Evening performances are also back for 2017. As well as all-day tickets from Wednesday to Sunday, visitors can purchase reserved seats for the evening’s entertainment on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
8. The hottest tickets will undoubtedly be for ringside seats on Sunday when Olympic heroes Nick Skelton and Big Star will officially bow out from the sport in a ceremony in front of The Queen. They are set to receive a rousing send-off — bring your tissues.
Royal Windsor Horse Show runs from 10-14 May. Visit rwhs.co.uk for more information and tickets or call 0844 5814960.
Don’t miss our full report from the show in the 18 May issue of Horse & Hound magazine