John Whitaker: Why the new-look Windsor deserves at least 4-star status [H&H VIP]

  • Windsor Horse Show excelled itself this year, it really worked. The weather can make or break the show but, thanks to glorious sunshine, it’s been packed every day, which makes for a real feel-good atmosphere. It’s such a thrill to jump in front of an enthusiastic crowd, who appreciate good sport, in such a beautiful setting.

    I don’t think there have been any complaints and it could even go up a star next year.

    The riders who have come here are all very competitive and it’s made for some great competitions, although Abdullah Al Sharbatly proved very hard to beat! Italy’s Emanuele Gaudiano has been winning everywhere recently, he’s gone right up the rankings and he tries very hard all the time.

    So they’re probably not the most famous international riders who have come here, but they’re good ones — including the current world champion Philippe Le Jeune. For sure, word will get out and the foreign entry will improve — a couple of riders, who haven’t been before, said to me how impressed they were with the facilities, the setting and the whole show.

    But the quality of the jumping can also be attributed to the fantastic Martin Collins surface here. You can go so fast because the horses are just so sure-footed on it and you can turn really tight, they don’t slip at all.

    And how good it is to have another international show here in Britain with world ranking classes, because, in general, our national shows suffer at the hands of the ranking lists these days. It’s the way it is, but it’s difficult to get round.

    I didn’t bring Argento to Windsor, instead using it as an opportunity to try out the other horses. Uni Stop was at his first show with me and, because he’d been placed all week, I tried him in the grand prix. Although he had 2 down this time, I know now that I can take him to a decent show and I’ll have a good chance. Woulon L jumped clear in 2 of the big classes. I had one down in each of the jump-offs, but sometimes that’s what happens when you’re trying to win! And Lord Of Arabia hasn’t had a fence down all week.

    But the highlight of the show came on Sunday, seeing my son Robert

    and nephew William finish first and second in the grand prix. You can’t beat that.

    This article was first published in the 22 May issue of Horse & Hound magazine