Stuart Hollings: Dodging cover fees and pitiful turnouts *H&H VIP*

  • Opinion

    I’m feeling rather pleased with myself — smug, in fact — following my North of England Summer shows.

    A few years ago, we relocated the series — and not without criticism — to Arena UK, recently featured in these pages. The main reason was so that the shows would always go ahead no matter what the unpredictable British weather had in store.

    I had to smile when one competitor this time ironically described our all-weather sand arenas as “a veritable oasis in the desert” after competing on rock-hard going at some of the high-profile qualifying shows.

    And let’s not forget last season when the opposite was the case and competitors endured boggy conditions at mid-season events such as Royal Norfolk, due to excessive rainfall. In these circumstances, organisers do come to the rescue, providing tractor power and so on, and yet they seemingly do little when the ground is like granite.

    Help yourselves out

    Fellow columnist Simon Reynolds highlighted how tiresome it can be filling in Horse of the Year Show entry forms.
    So why do even leading competitors arrive at the show without photocopies of their completed forms, which would save time?

    Competitors never cease to amaze me. A few still try to dodge the compulsory emergency cover fee and, surprisingly, this includes the working hunter pony brigade. The fact that the ambulance on a showground is usually located next to their jumping ring should send out signals.

    I do have issues with those who need constant “nannying’’ — why do competitors need to know pre-show numbers when entries are taken on the day? Some of our classes often quadruple in size. We do, however, provide an update in the secretary’s office throughout the day which is far more relevant to competitors.

    This year we issued a notice stating that marks would not be published, as our main post-show priority is to collate valuable information for the relevant bodies so that the qualification process continues efficiently. In the past, we have even received requests from those who have not competed. Ask your friends who are at the show instead.

    On a cheerier note, a highlight is listening to the observations of those who judge our summer shows’ £1,000 finals. We purposely invite ‘‘experts’’ who are either not on a panel or outside their comfort zone and it is interesting to hear a fresh point of view.

    Classes will be axed

    Katie Jerram-Hunnable urged for extra four-year-old hunter classes. What we need is more support for the few shows that run them. Robert Walker enjoyed a walkover in the class at North of England. I assumed this pitiful turnout was because the hunter show followed three days later. I subsequently learnt, to my astonishment, that only two came forward there for the new four-year-old final with a first prize of £1,000.

    Be aware exhibitors, this is the very reason classes are axed from schedules. I noticed the Scottish Horse Show £300 supreme has been removed from the 2018 circuit, along with our own open £1,000 competition.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 26 July 2018