Kelvin Bywater: The theatre of Olympia *H&H VIP*

  • I’ve been coming to Olympia for 25 years but this was my first time designing the World Cup course. My neck was on the block but I’m pleased it went down well.

    The class offered good sport and excellent entertainment — there were different tests all the way round, asking riders to lengthen and shorten the horses’ stride patterns. The aim is to ask the riders to find solutions to the problems rather than ask unfair questions of the horses.

    There are lots of components of a good class — you need a good course, riders on form and in the right draw — but every now and then it gels and delivers some real sparkle.

    The fences were all new this year with 10ft poles, and the wings weren’t too big, which gains us more space in the ring. There was also a new custom-made oil painting wall — it adds some variety and is a favourite of show director Simon Brooks-Ward.

    It’s a lovely arena to design in, but part of what makes it special is having 8,500 people sitting just 4ft away from where the riders are jumping. It all helps create the theatre of Olympia.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 22 December 2016