I was recently reminded of the time I reported White Rose County in 2009 and my headline for a box was ‘Credit crunch — what credit crunch?’ after only three competitors came forward for the supreme championship with a £200 purse.
Fast forward to July 2017 and I was astounded to read that no one appeared for a similar finale at the Scottish Horse Show with £300 on offer to the winner and £100 for reserve, under Tom Best, one of the UK’s top judges. Plus, only one rider came forward for the mini equivalent beforehand.
At a time when pros tell me they are finding it difficult to make a decent living from showing, it’s ironic that many snub such opportunities to compete for rich pickings, especially as I’m reliably informed that some lucky trainers keep all their prize money. Those who do not keep it are arguably denying their owners a chance to recoup some of the high costs of keeping a top class show animal on the circuit.
It was a similar scenario at my summer show when only seven from a catalogued 77 horses competed for the open £1,000 first prize final, further highlighted when 22 amateurs appeared later for their “Royal Angel” competition.
In dog showing, it’s frowned upon if a best of breed winner does not go forward to the group judging, which is often later in the day — just like our supreme championships. Furthermore, awards are stripped and prize money withheld if this happens at international events.
Some years ago, shows such as the Royal had strict Grand Parade policies and often refused to pay out prize money if you went home beforehand and failed to parade.
Perhaps the time has come to enforce something similar and retain prize money earned during show day until after the supreme?
When should grooms enter?
A hot topic this season has been when grooms should be allowed in the ring. Great Yorkshire officials seemed to be spot on, as grooms were allowed to enter as a group after the initial pull-in, which is much better than individuals wandering in aimlessly at all times. But they had to stand behind their charges until after the judge had ridden them or, in the pony classes, following the individual show.
Grooms were then given sufficient time to prepare for the conformation phase and use the many products from their heavily laden baskets. It’s such a far cry from the old days when grooms carried just a stable rubber/brush and, when necessary, a rug.
Finally, belated congratulations as it was one in the net for showing when former working hunter Golvers Hill, owned by Holcombe senior master Sue Simmons, bagged the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby accolade in June with Nigel Coupe.
Interestingly, they were following in the footsteps of the 1981 title holders Harvey Smith and Sanyo Video, also known as Upton, who was working hunter of the year at Wembley in 1970.
Ref Horse & Hound; 17 August 2017