British Tokyo Olympic team member Scott Brash is looking forward to competing in front of the knowledgable Royal Windsor crowd in the five-star Rolex grand prix on Sunday
The international showjumping circuit is returning one step closer to normality this weekend as riders prepare to contest one of the first Rolex CSI5* grands prix in front of an audience, at Royal Windsor Horse Show.
Scott Brash, who is one of the favourites for the class with 12-year-old Hello Vincent, told H&H he was “so excited” to be returning to the show and “very thankful” to be competing in front of the public again.
“It’s been a bit of a stressful time [with Covid, the EHV outbreak and Brexit] and I think what this period of time has taught me is an appreciation of being able to compete in that ring,” Scott said.
“I’m so excited about Windsor, especially about jumping in the Rolex grand prix on Sunday [4 July]. Spectators have been keen to see top sport and they are certainly going to be getting that.”
He said it had been a “frustrating” 18 months with a string of top horses in their prime, who had limited opportunities to compete.
“They were ready to start getting good results at CSI5* level,” he said. “I’ve built my string up over the years and they are 12 years old now. Horses are in their prime between 10 and 14, so to miss a year and a half of all the top shows and competitions was challenging.
“We have to thank the likes of Rolex and Royal Windsor who have pushed to try to make this happen — I cant imagine the hoops they have had to jump through with Covid restrictions to keep it going.”
Scott added that since arriving at the show, it had been “amazing” to feel a bit of atmosphere again.
“I’ve certainly missed that,” he said. “It brings out the best in riders when you have a crowd cheering you on, and there are very knowledgeable crowds here that understand the sport and what you’re trying to do.
“I also think the best horses thrive under a bit of atmosphere as well — Sanctos used to be very much like that, he’d come into the ring and when the crowd started cheering, he came alive even more.
“He knew it was a big occasion, and to have not had that for so long, from the horses’ point of view, is like always jumping a training course, so I think the horses will enjoy it as well.”
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Royal Windsor is the first five-star show to take place in the UK since the start of the pandemic and the Rolex grand prix will feature some of the best riders in the world.
The start list is likely to include all of those on the recently announced British Olympic showjumping team, alongside those shortlisted for Tokyo, including William Whitaker and Emily Moffit.
International competitors who have made the trip include the USA’s Jessica Springsteen, Lillie Keenan and Kent Farrington, Canada’s Mario Des Lauriers, world number two Steve Guerdat (SUI), Martin Fuchs (SUI), Lorenzo De Luca (ITA) and Henrik Von Eckerman (SWE).
“Hello Vincent feels in very good form, he was fourth in the Rolex grand prix at Knokke, so he’s fresh off that, and hopefully we will go well on Sunday,” Scott said.
Keep in touch with all the action from Royal Windsor here on horseandhound.co.uk, and don’t miss our in-depth analysis of the show in next Thursday’s Horse & Hound magazine.