Organisers of Royal Windsor Horse Show were forced to cancel day one of the prestigious event due to severe flooding in both the public and lorry parking areas.
The decision was taken at 5.45am and news posted on the show’s website and Facebook page.
This afternoon, it was announced that tonight’s preview of The Queen’s birthday celebration event had also been cancelled.
Show director Simon Brooks-Ward said: “Obviously it is a huge disappointment for competitors and visitors, particularly as it was Windsor Wednesday — our free entry day — and we were expecting a large number of visitors.
“However, if we can keep the car and lorry parks workable, we will be ready for action for the next four days of the show.
The main arena and the Frogmore are all-weather surfaces and the grandstands are covered, so the show itself is pretty weatherproof.”
It is not the first time the show has been hit by flooding. In 2003, the last day was abandoned and in 2012, car parks were closed and classes cut back in order to preserve the ground and allow the weekend’s events to take place.
Showing classes lost include the prestigious novice and open hunters, which were due to start at 7.15am.
Reigning double champion Robert Walker, who travelled from Cheshire yesterday, said: “It’s very sad, as it’s one of the main targets of the season for our hunters, but it’s fully understandable as the lorry park is under water.”
Because the news was rapidly shared on social media, many competitors already en route were able to turn round and go home, but several others had wasted journeys, including Jo Bates, who travelled from Oxfordshire, and Allister Hood, who came from Norfolk.
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The locally based Bardo/Ross team were also caught out. They were to have fielded 11 animals today and arrived moments after the decision had been made. Their lorry was towed on — only to be towed off again.
“It’s devastating for organisers and competitors alike, as so much work has gone into everything – some of our owners set off at 4am today from Yorkshire,” said Jayne. “Luckily we could hack there tomorrow if we have to!”
Organisers of The Queen’s birthday celebrations said on Facebook: “It is with great regret that the organisers have announced that, due to the poor weather conditions over last night which have continued into today, the preview night has been cancelled.
“We apologise for this disappointment and we assure you that this decision was not taken lightly.
“If you have passed any tickets on to your family or friends we would be grateful if you could let them know of this decision.
“Any car parking which has been purchased for this evening will be refunded automatically.”