Despite the continued grotty weather, the Longines Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead kicks off today (17 July) with its usual mix of big classes, first class shopping and family entertainment.
The two flagship classes are the FEI Nations Cup (Friday) and the Longines King George V Gold Cup (Sunday) – both of which have attracted some of the world’s top riders.
Competing on the British team in the seventh round of the Nations Cup is Olympic team member Peter Charles, along with reserve rider Tina Fletcher and William Funnell, John Whitaker and Tim Stockdale.
Other Olympic riders making an appearance are Ben Maher, and non-travelling reserve Michael Whitaker, who will be competing in the hugely popular and high competitive King George class.
One of the highlights of the International meet is the Eventing Grand Prix, which is a real crowd-pleaser. Riders representing the eventing world include the hugely experienced Pippa Funnell and Oliver Townend, as well up-and-coming talents Georgie Spence, Emily Llewellyn and Laura Collett. From overseas there will be Olympic team members Andrew Nicholson (NZL) and Mark Kyle (IRE).
Also from Ireland is jockey Robbie Power who will be making his debut in this exciting class. He used to be a professional showjumper and was a former Young Rider European gold medallist before defecting to racing.
Robbie will be borrowing a horse from his sister, Elizabeth, who is a top eventer.
“The horse I’ll be competing on is an ex-eventer of hers – last year she competed him in this class and I thought this year I’d have a go!” Robbie said. “I hope I’ll do well – he’s a three-star eventer with plenty of experience. It’s an event that I’ve always wanted to have a go at – it looks a lot of fun to do.”
On the Friday there is the Templant Events Queen Elizabeth II Cup, which is the climax of the national grand prix circuit. In 2008 this competition became open to both male and female riders, and last year Daniel Moseley became the first British male to win the coveted class.