I’ve just got back from the windy city. Well, Windsor, actually, and the Royal Windsor Horse show, to be more exact. A wind from Siberia blew for most of the five days, but everyone dug out their winter woollies and just got on with it.
And this year, the showjumping seemed to go down extra well with the public. The stands round the main Castle Arena were packed to overflowing for most of the classes, which was lovely to see.
With the Military Tattoo cancelled, reportedly due to MOD cost-cutting, the 70th year of Royal Windsor went back to its roots as a traditional horse show. It took a day or two to get used to it, but once I did, I rather liked the pared down version. The horse certainly took centre stage this year.
With Olympians galore in most of the classes, showjumping enthusiasts got real value for money. I can’t think of another sport where gold medallists wander so freely among their fans. I doubt you’d bump into Usain Bolt in the tradestands at an athletics meetings, for instance.
I know the fences aren’t huge, but one of my favourite Windsor events is always the services’ team jumping. The enthusiasm and sportsmanship of these amateur competitors is a joy to behold. There’s no sawing at horses’ mouths or leaving the ring with a grim expression if things don’t go right. The horses are more likely to be patted to death.
The only downsides of the show were the incredibly early starts to the competitions everyday — 7am wasn’t unusual — and then the long wait until early evening for some major classes. I left home at 4.30am a couple of times, so goodness knows what time the poor grooms had to get up.
So please organisers, is there any chance of a lie-in or two next year? Oh yes, and if you could please turn on the central heating…