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Thousands take part in virtual Royal Windsor despite Covid cancellation

More than 4,200 competitors are set to take part in this week’s virtual Royal Windsor Horse Show (13-17 May).

While the much-loved annual event — a favourite of The Queen — has been cancelled owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, organisers have ensured that the show will go on, online.

The livestream of showing classes started yesterday (13 May), launching a full schedule that includes Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) classes, coloureds, seniors, Arabs, hunters, Iberians, heavy horses, Halflingers, polo ponies, appaloosas and mountain and moorlands.

The event is being brought to life with commentary from the familiar voice of Nick Brooks-Ward, who will interview judges Nigel Hollings, John Peacock, Linda Lawrance, Antony Fanshawe and Lord Charles Beresford. They will be joined by special guest judges Alan Titchmarsh MBE and Annabel Brooks-Ward MFH.

Show director Simon Brooks-Ward said: “The organising team has done a tremendous job to put on what we believe will be a spectacular virtual show week. I have already seen some very strong entries from all around the world, so the judges are certainly going to have a tough job on their hands.

“Though the show could not go ahead in its usual format, virtual Windsor 2020 has really shown how exceptional the equestrian community is and I would like to thank all those that have supported us and got involved.”

As well as the action in the virtual ring, there will be “shopping fix” clips, messages from stewards and Royal Windsor Horse Show supporters, as well as footage from previous years’ events.

Viewers can re-live highlights including the 2018 and 2019 Rolex grands prix, last year’s hotly contested CSI5* Falcon stakes, the Al Shira’aa grand prix freestyle to music and the Land Rover international driving grand prix. There will also be broadcasts of the memorable displays from the Household Cavalry musical ride and the Royal Horse Artillery.

Saturday (16 May) will be pageant night, when viewers can re-watch last year’s acclaimed Victorian pageant, which features the voices of Academy Award winner Olivia Colman CBE as well as Simon Callow CBE and Alan Titchmarsh MBE, accompanied by music from British score writer Debbie Wiseman OBE. The display will be screened as a watch party.

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The virtual competition will conclude on Sunday with the show championship sponsored by Rosettes Direct. Prizes have been donated by RWHS exhibitors, with the champion receiving a Voltaire Design bridle, and a magnum of wine from the Magnum Company going to the winning owner. Holland Cooper has also supported the championships, presenting a jacket to the best turned out.

The show has also created an interactive map where virtual visitors can trawl their favourite stalls. The map features all the shops usually found at Windsor in their usual places on the showground.

The free-to-view content will begin at 11.30am each day and be available on Facebook, YouTube, and the Virtual Windsor 2020 website.

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