Royal Windsor’s move from its traditional venue in the Home Park Public over the road into the Home Park Private with its fantastic all-weather main arena has been widely acclaimed as a huge success, with perfect going now assured for the show jumpers, whatever the weather.
However, the going in the grass Frogmore and the Copper Horse rings was less satisfactory and brought considerable criticism from competitors. The stony going in the Copper Horse ring, which held a full range of show pony and show hunter pony classes, as well as in-hand M&M and horse showing classes, prompted particular concerns.
“It looked good until you went in,” said Alison Evans, who took in a lead-rein pony. “But you could feel stones under the surface.” Exhibitor Katy Carter said: “We thought our pony looked unsound until we saw the others in the ring and they were the same.”
Royal Windsor organisers have responded to the criticism by pledging to improve the footing in the show’s two grass arenas before next year’s show.
“The Frogmore and the Copper Horse rings will undergo major footing management,” said show director Simon Brooks-Ward. “We are aware footing at the new site needs work.”
Another issue was the long walk from the horsebox park to the rings, which was commented on by show jumping and showing competitors alike.
Horse & Hound commentator Graham Fletcher describes the hike as “a step too far” in this week’s comment, quoting John Whitaker as saying: “By the time the horses have walked up to the ring, they don’t need warming-up. They’re ready for a B12 vitamin booster!”
How the organisers will solve this problem remains less clear as horseboxes would have to be thoroughly searched before being allowed access into Windsor Castle’s private grounds, which would prove a logistical nightmare at a show of this size.