Huge entries and a massive prizemoney injection is setting up the Royal Windsor Horse Show to be among the best yet.
The show is the only time the private grounds of Windsor Castle are open to the public. Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II has attended every year since the show started in 1943 and all eyes will be on the monarch as she attempts to reproduce some of her long list of successes at the show.
More than 55,000 visitors are expected to attend the annual five-day show.
This year, Windsor will be the richest in the country with its record-breaking prize fund; Prizemoney for the most prestigious showjumping class, the Rolex Grand Prix, has been increased from €300,000 to €500,000, bringing the total prize fund to €875,000.
It’s not all about the competition, though; this year, a special musical pageant will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria. The 90-minute show will encompass everything from the Music Hall, the Industrial Revolution, Gilbert and Sullivan, Charles Dickens, and military heritage.
The five-day show, from May 8 to 12, also features some unforgettable displays and this year includes the Hungarian Csikós, stunt riders from Azerbaijan and performers from Oman. From home, The Musical Ride of the Household Cavalry Regiment, The Household Cavalry Mounted Band and The Musical Drive of The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery will take centre stage in the Castle Arena throughout the week.
Adding some grassroots action and drama to the week’s performances will be the Land Rover Shetland Pony Grand National and the DAKS Pony Club Mounted Games. As firm favourites among crowds, the young age of these competitors will be no reflection of their bravery as they throw themselves into explosive races much to the delight of spectators.
The best from four of eight FEI disciplines on show
Windsor is the only British event to host first-class international competitions in four of the eight FEI disciplines: Dressage, Carriage Driving, Endurance and Show Jumping, helping to attract some of the biggest names in equestrian sport, including Olympic, World and European champions.
Having drawn in six of the world’s top 10 riders last year, including the current world number one ranked show jumper, Steve Guerdat, the heightened status of competition is expected to draw in the world’s best horse and rider combinations in showjumping.
Taking centre-stage on the evenings of May 9 and 10, will be the Al Shira’aa CDI4* Dressage Grand Prix and Freestyle to Music. The most dominant forces in dressage, including Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester, are expected among the entries.
New to the event is the Pony Club Dressage Championships and the Under 25 Show Jumping competition. The stars of the future will be going for gold in two tightly fought competitions featuring the most talented young equestrians in the country.
One of the most popular events of the week, the CAIO4* Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix, firmly stands as the one of the UK’s most important driving events, giving competitors the opportunity to qualify for the FEI World Cup Final. Created by The Duke of Edinburgh in the 1970s, the event takes place over four days of the show.
On Friday, May 10, Windsor Great Park will host the CEI2* Royal Windsor Endurance Ride. Set around 120km of beautiful Windsor and Ascot countryside, it is one of the most picturesque long-distance rides in Britain.
New showing classes have been added to Royal Windsor, including a section for Britain’s oldest breed of horse, the Cleveland Bay, an OTTB in-hand show series qualifier, and in-hand classes for purebred arabians. The additions bring the total number of showing classes to 147.