Stoneleigh [the National Championships venue] is a lovely showground and is easy to get to. The staff were polite and helpful and everyone from stable managers to the office team was nice to deal with.
Having good showers and permanent toilet blocks helps make staying away a better experience and I wish they would hold more shows here.
However, the show did lack a championship vibe, which may have something to do with the timetable. For instance, Sunday’s International Stairway final finished at 6pm with around five people in the stands.
Earlier that day, there were the discovery and 1.30m finals, so would it not be better to start with the 1.30m, then have the main class and finish with the novice final? Discovery competitors should enjoy having the chance to watch top riders, so running the classes that way would add atmosphere and be a win-win situation for everyone.
Riders in the big classes did find the arena tight. It was a bit like jumping indoors in an outdoor arena. In an ideal world, it would be nice to have one full-sized championship arena, although that would mean investing in another all-weather surface for a second ring.
I think the show could do with a food court to give people a bit more variety and choice — and a champagne bar for owners to celebrate! To me, it felt a bit like a three-day show at any venue. A championship show should be special and this one just needed a bit more va-va-voom.
Ref Horse & Hound; 23 August 2018