‘Exciting’ times as popular competition venue reopens after eight years

  • A show centre that ran competition for decades but has been closed to the public for eight years has reopened, having been “updated and refurbished to a truly exceptional standard”.

    Royal Leisure, in West Sussex, was sold into private ownership in 2014, which was described by one regular at the time as “a huge loss to the southeast”.

    But having been sold again, and rebranded Hascombe Farm Equestrian Centre, the venue is back in business.

    Operations manager Amelia Harrison, who was a regular competitor at Royal Leisure, told H&H it is “very exciting” to be running shows again.

    “For everyone in the area, Royal Leisure was where we all jumped; we’d all be there every Tuesday, so when it closed, we were all at a bit of a loss, it was really sad,” she said.

    “The man who bought it put a lot of money into it, and now the new owner wanted to get it back open, and somewhere people would come again.”

    The existing 60x30m indoor arena has been given a facelift, Amelia said, with windows added, and the venue also has an 80x60m outdoor arena, and a 20x40m indoor and 40x60m outdoor warm-up.

    “The owner put a lot of time and effort in; it’s jaw-dropping the change,” she said. “The old owner put windows into the indoor and a new surface so it’s really light and airy, and people say it looks bigger.

    “The best way to describe the main arena is that it gives you a real Continental feel. With the backdrop of the South Downs, when you’re in there on a nice day, you don’t get much better than that.”

    Hascombe has already run one British Dressage show, and its first British Showjumping (BS) event, on 6 April, is fully booked. The plan is to run a variety of shows, including category one and two and junior BS, all year round.

    “We’re really excited,” Amelia said. “It’s so nice to do a job I enjoy, and to give something back, and I’m trying to be really careful not to tread on the other local centres’ toes; there are lots of riders and producers in the area and I think there will be enough to go round!

    “Hopefully people will think we’ve got good surfaces and friendly staff and enjoy it; we won’t be perfect to start with but we want people’s feedback and we’ll take it on board.

    “It will be really good to see the young horses progress and grow; who knows what their futures will hold and to say they started jumping here will be really cool.”

    Future plans include improving the viewing gallery and more stables, and opening a cafe.

    Showjumper Tom Whitaker, who is based at Hascombe, said: “The facilities on offer are top notch, from the spa services including the water treadmill and the beautiful indoor and outdoor arenas. It’s an incredible environment for the horses to learn and grow.”

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