Robert Walker: ‘We’re showing for nothing’ *H&H Plus*


  • It’s time to reward our jockeys with prize money again, writes Robert Walker

    WE still have one or two horses to get back out, but the show season is progressing well for us and it would appear for everyone else, too. We’re still very much in the pandemic – and social distancing is still in place in normal life – but with ride judges on the horizon and shows getting busier, it seems like normality is resuming.

    Equestrians always just crack on with the job, and when a red rosette is thrown into the mix there’s even less of a reason for any hugging and kissing at the ringside. That healthy rivalry is back and competition is hot.

    I joked at the weekend that another lockdown would suit me just fine, as I seem to have done too many miles over the past few weeks, but in reality I’m happy to be back and going, thanks to some very good people who have led us the right way.


    FOR as long as I can remember, my showjumping friends would take the mickey out of me for my sport.

    “You put all that effort in for the sake of £25,” they’d say.

    But it seems in 2021 we’re showing for absolutely nothing in return. Why, when the majority of classes are kindly sponsored, are we not receiving any prize money?

    I was pleasantly surprised at BSPS Area 2A (2 May) to be awarded decent prize money in relation to entry fees, and I made a point of thanking the show afterwards. However, at one show I was frankly a little offended to receive a first prize token of £5; when our entry fees are nearly 10 times this cost, why bother?

    As a team we’ve sponsored more classes in the past two years than we ever have before, and while we were all willing to make sacrifices last season so we could show and help out with the extra costs, it’s time to reinstate prize money.

    Competitors travel and pay entry fees, and a brown envelope or two can go a long way in helping cover those costs. While my owners don’t do it for the prize pots, it’s a massive blow for those of us who make a living out of showing.

    I’ve been to shows with big supremes to find out on arrival that there is no money to play for, so where’s the incentive? While we’re grateful for fixtures, it’s time shows thought about rewarding their jockeys and competitors again.

    A lot of people won’t want to mention such a thing as they feel it might affect their results but we’re a flourishing sport, lorry parks have been full and we need to keep encouraging and including new and existing riders, owners and producers.


    WE’VE had such a deluge of RIHS qualifiers over the past few weeks, and therefore we cannot expect every single class to be full to the brim. Popular judges and popular venues will garner entries.

    People are being more selective about where they compete, too, and most will vote with their feet these days, which isn’t a bad thing.

    At the recent BSPS Area 1B show (1 May) I was surprised to see so many hacks, cobs and riding horses at a fixture which isn’t usually as popular with those competitors, but it proved that a well-run show at a nice venue will attract entries. But we can’t do everything, and I’m sure this will impact some shows.

    With the HOYS qualifiers set to commence soon, I’m sure the horse numbers will be up again. There are plenty of beautiful, well-produced horses out there.

    You can also read this exclusive column in the 13 May issue of Horse & Hound magazine.

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