The horse shows will go on: Big changes for Hickstead, Olympia

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Construction work at its London venue in West Kensington, Olympia, means that the London International Horse Show’s 2021 edition will relocate to ExCeL London.
Construction work at its London venue in West Kensington, Olympia, means that the London International Horse Show’s 2021 edition will relocate to ExCeL London.

Two of Britain’s biggest equestrian events are undergoing changes for this year, with Hickstead running at a reduced format and Olympia moving venues.

Construction work at its London venue in West Kensington, Olympia, means that the London International Horse Show’s 2021 edition will relocate to ExCeL London.

The West Kensington venue has been home to the iconic horse show for the last 49 years. But as a result of Covid-19, the building activity for its re-development programme has accelerated, with restrictions on the use of the venue for December events. This led to the decision to move the Christmas horse show to ExCeL London. It will take place from Thursday to Monday, December 16 to 20.

The Shetland Pony Grand National is a highlight of Olympia, The London International Horse Show.
The Shetland Pony Grand National is a highlight of Olympia, The London International Horse Show.

Event Director Simon Brooks-Ward said the scope and flexibility of the ExCeL London venue would enable the addition of new features and a larger arena with integrated hospitality.

“Our 90,000 strong audience can expect to see the best international competition including three FEI World Cup Qualifiers in jumping, dressage and driving, alongside the usual wonderful mix of international equestrian displays, The Kennel Club dog agility, The Shetland Pony Grand National and, of course, the Christmas Finale,” Brooks-Ward said.

Hickstead's Royal International Horse Show  will run as a two-star international event this season.
Hickstead’s Royal International Horse Show will run as a two-star international event this season. © Nigel Goddard

The ongoing Covid situation and restrictions on international travel have forced the organisers at the All England Jumping Course, Hickstead, to run the Royal International Horse Show under a new format for this season.

The July fixture would normally play host to five-star international classes including the Longines King George V Gold Cup and the feature event, the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup of Great Britain, along with crowds of up to 50,000 across the six days.

For this year only, the Royal International Horse Show (July 20-25) will run as a two-star international event, with showjumping classes aimed at British-based riders. The national classes at this show, such as the British Showjumping Winter Finals, will remain part of the fixture, and the Queen Elizabeth II Cup moves to the premier position of Sunday afternoon to form the feature class of the show.

The showing classes will run as normal, with a range of different sections and classes concluding in Sunday’s supreme championships.

“We had so hoped to return to normality for this season, but the ongoing uncertainty combined with restrictions on travel made it impossible to run the Royal International in its usual format,” said Hickstead Director Lizzie Bunn.

“Having already made the decision to run the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting as a national show, it’s so disappointing to also have to cancel our showcase classes from our July fixture – however the cost implications of staging a five-star international event under restricted conditions made it unviable. In addition, we normally welcome athletes from the leading showjumping nations around the world to compete at this event, but this was not going to be possible without seriously affecting all the other rings and classes.”

It is hoped that some crowds will be allowed by the time of the show, but details of public attendance and ticketing will be announced nearer the time.

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