All Smiles as Her Majesty Visits Her Local Show
There are two separate weeks each year which Her Majesty The Queen loves more than any others. Both feature her beloved hobby of horses and both conveniently happen in her back garden at Windsor. The first is this week’s Royal Windsor Horse Show and the second, next month is Royal Ascot.
As the major event band wagon in the UK rolls on from the iconic Badminton Horse Trials to Windsor, the two consecutive weeks give all equine enthusiasts the opportunity to see the best of competition no matter what particular equestrian discipline take their interest. Even sandwiched in the middle of these events, horse racing sees the Newmarket Racecourse stage the Guineas Meeting.
The Royal Windsor Hose Show was started in 1943 to help fund the second world war effort. It has run every year since then and is the only event in the U.K. to hold international competition for show jumping, dressage, endurance riding and carriage driving. In addition to that, it also hosts over 130 showing classes open to all types of horse, pony and breed. It is truly the ‘show of the horse‘.
It is difficult to single out any main feature of the show, but each year there has been a specific pageant, and this year was no exception. To celebrate the birth of Queen Victoria 200 years ago, the evening 90 minute extravaganza featured over 500 artists from dancers to singers to riders and of course 400 horses being at the centre of the pageant.
Each and every day, The Queen attends the show and this year saw day one feature national showing championships and national show jumping classes. In this article, we do not intend to list all the winners, but we will try to pick out the more memorable. The Queen had her first winner of the show with Hampton Court Margin a Cleveland Bay, a bred in which Her Majesty has always taken such a keen interest. The main showing classes of
the day, although no doubt we will be criticised for saying so, are the Hunter Classes. Owner Jill day and her rider Robert Walker took five of these, including the Novice Lightweight Hunter Championship with new kid on the block Somerville Lad bred by John Simpson in Ireland.
Day two saw a large number of showing classes including the Arab classes and the first of the international classes, the Dressage Grand Prix and the dressage part of the Carriage Driving
The Dressage G.P was won by Charlotte Dujardin riding the 12 year old Erlentaz, a trakehner gelding and new ride for Charlotte. She beat Carl Hester on Nip Tuck with a score of 78.087%. The Arab Championship was taken by Mr and Mrs Johnson’s Asbeau shown by Mark Hardcastle. There were several national show jumping classes to boot.
Day three is the main showing day for the different breeds of pony found in the UK. It is also the day when the international competition hotted up. The Land Rover International Carriage Grand Prix started – then there was the Dressage Freestyle Grand Prix and the first of the international show jumping competitions.
In the showing classes, The Queen scored twice. Her steed won the Coaching Marathon and showing Her diversity in horse ownership, She also owned the winner of the Fell Pony 4 year old and over class with Bybeck Nightingale.
Charlotte Dujardin maintained her usual winning streak and took the freestyle with 81.900%, ahead of veteran Richard Davison riding Bubblingh. Nip Tuck did not compete due to lameness.
Alana Clutterbuck took the first international show jumping class with a double clear. The following class, the speed class was taken by Holly Smith with a pulsating clear round in 26.11 seconds. Both riders representing Great Britain. The first rider from abroad, from Belgium won the Pearl Stakes, a table A competition with one jump off. Gregory Wathelet rode ten year old Spike VD Withoeve beating Irishman Bertram Allen into second and another from abroad, Eric Lamaze from Switzerland into third.
Day four. With the pure dressage completed, the international stage was left to show jumping and the world famous Carriage Driving Marathon around the Windsor Great Park. . The showing classes continued with more ponies. The international jumping events of the day was The Kingdom of Bahrain Stakes for the King’s Cup and The Falcon Stakes, both CSI 5 star two round competitions.
The Kingdom of Bahrain Stakes saw victory for up and coming British rider Holly Smith, riding the AES gelding Hearts Destiny. She won the class with a second to spare with no faults. Also with no faults were Ben Maher from Great Britain riding Tic Tac and Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs riding The Sinner.
In the Falcon Stakes, the top three spots were taken by foreign riders, with the winning round going to Khalid Hilal Al Khatri from Bahrain riding the Bahrain Defence Force’s Sierra. In second was Sweden’s Henrik Von Eckermann riding Best Boy, (both the top two being Hannovarian bred horses and third was Jos Verlooy from Belgium riding the Selle Francaise 10 year old mare Valentine Belmaniere.
In the national Land Rover Schools Competition, always very fiercely competitive, the class is run in the same way as the Nations Cup format. There are three riders in each team and the number of faults for the three are added together. Then the times each rider take to complete the course are also added together and the winning team is the one with fewest faults and lowest time between them. This year the top five teams had no faults at all and the lowest time was scored by Lady Manners School in Derbyshire, with a total of 103.03 seconds. The fastest time however, but with four faults was Cheam School in Berkshire, whose three riders took just 99.64 seconds between them. (very appropriate as this was the prep school which both Prince Phillip and The Prince of Wales attended)
Once a preserve of Prince Phillip, now retired from public carriage driving, the four in hand Land Rover Marathon was won by Koos de Ronde from Holland recording the fastest time; but Austrialia’s Boyd Exell (current world champion) who also drove an excellent course to increase his score following his dressage, was in first place for the whole competition only 0.03 penalties behind the winner of the marathon phase.
The final day of the event saw the very prestigious Rolex Grand Prix. A CSI 5 star show jumping competition. There were 34 starters in the first round of the two round event, three of which only went on to the jump off with no faults in the first round. The top prize of 125,000 euros went to Sweden, care of a clean sheet from Henrik Von Eckermann riding Toveky Mary Lou in 43.04 seconds. Second was Frenchman Simon Delestre riding Hermes Ryan in 45.07 seconds, again with no faults for the two rounds. Billy Diamo ridden by William Funnell for Great Britain took third spot with no faults for the two rounds and in 47.58 seconds.
The second international class of the day was the Manama Rose Show Stakes, a speed class with only one round. This was won by Irish rider Shane Breen riding Can Ya Makin in 61.75 seconds and second was Guy Williams, the known British speedster riding Cicero II in 63.47 seconds. The third horse home was Scott Brash riding Hello Senator. As usuak with this type of class the sport was fast and furious!
Boyd Exell, world number one from Australia, with his 9 point advantage over the few days of this Land Rover Carriage Driving Grand Prix Competition went on to win after the cones. The runners up were fellow Dutchmen Ijsbrand Chardon and Koos de Ronde.
After another huge and successful Royal Windsor Horse Show, attended every day by The Queen and other members of the Royal Family, who all appeared to enjoy the event once again, the UK roller coaster of shows now turns to the county shows up and down the country.