Showing riders benefited from Windsor’s upgrade to a three-star international show, being able to lunge on the new temporary warm-up surface for example.
Those of us stabling for several nights were able to use new, spacious barn-type boxes — even the hunters could relax and have a good lie down — which were undercover.
Even in fine weather, this made life cooler and storage simpler, and the horses seemed more relaxed.
They may be more expensive than the usual show stabling, but my owners were happy to pay a bit extra for this level of comfort. You never know what sort of weather you are going to get.
The organisation and layout is very good at Windsor — it made our 6hr journey worthwhile. The Martin Collins surfaces are excellent and nothing seems too rushed or spooky.
This show seems to invite judges who are not in constant use elsewhere. They did a good job, especially the ride judges coping with big novice classes.
The riding horse placings featured some less established names, which is nice to see. They, the cobs and novice lightweight hunters were all well supported, with line-ups that would not have looked out of place at Horse of the Year Show.
But less so the open middle and heavyweight hunters, which lacked the same depth of quality.
Jayne Ross’ ladies’ hunter It’s After Eight was a standout horse and I imagine it was a very close call in the hacks between Simon Charlesworth on Pearly King [pictured] and Charles le Moignan’s small hack Comberton Carbon Copy — who, I believe, is only seven.
That the second-placed lightweight hunter, Bridgham, stood reserve in the championship shook everyone up a bit, but he went well and it is nice to see some braver judging.
The working hunter courses looked a bit “poley”, and perhaps could do with some bullfinch and more natural fences, but I know they can be deceptive.
This article was first published in the 22 May issue of Horse & Hound magazine