Onley Grounds is probably the best premier centre in the country. The facilities are superb, they work hard, the food — supplied by their own butchers — is good and there is a warm, dedicated area for spectators. It is paying dividends and the organisers also have big plans to improve it with new indoor and outdoor arenas. This will be very good for the area and, even better, it’s only 35 minutes away from me.
These purpose-built centres that are looking to bring in business are the way forward, and hopefully Onley will act as a catalyst for more centres like this in Britain. The tendency for riders is to go abroad where centres are run as businesses and, until British Showjumping gets in line with Europe with age and height classes and a genuine amateur class, they’ll continue to do so.
Shows also need to regulate competitor numbers better as at the moment busy days can end as late as midnight as shows take entries on the day, while slow days can finish at 3pm and you can miss your class. No matter how passionate you are, this can spoil things and riders vote with their feet.
Training shows in Europe — where you enter online the night before and get start lists and time slots — cater for busy people and you’re not standing around for half the day waiting to compete. Occasionally the show will lose out while they get this system established but it will pay dividends in the end.
Ref Horse & Hound; 16 January 2020
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