“Competitors have even more opportunities to qualify for the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) and the Cuddy championship,” says Head of Shows Alan Lyons. The Friday of the show will now host miniature Shetland classes, attracting 85 entries to delight children and adults alike. For the first time, the winner will be eligible for the Cuddy supreme in-hand championship, giving them the chance to compete against the best examples of breed and type for this coveted award. “We also have a new ridden class for purebred Arabs, which as a HOYS qualifier has attracted a lot of interest,” says Mr Lyons.
A new private driving class will feature an elegant range of 30 light carriages, while the Retraining of Racehorses classes continue to go from strength to strength, featuring a new in-hand class. “It’s wonderful to give retired racehorses a second competitive life. We are always trying to gauge our classes to closely reflect what’s happening in the equine industry,” he adds.
One trend that Mr Lyons is pleased to buck is the recent decline in breeding entries. “For a number of years there have been too many horses around and breeders have not had the confidence in the market to put their mares in foal. But this year we’re seeing a sharp increase in breeding horse and pony entries, which can only be good for the industry.”
Entries range from hunters to sport horses, hacks, riding ponies and in-hand youngstock. “There are still a lot of people out there who want to buy a good hunter or pony and somebody has got to breed it,” says Mr Lyons. “People have become a bit more discerning about what they are breeding, which is why we introduced part-bred classes last year. People like the brain of a pony with the stamina and agility of a larger horse, and the growing number of part-bred Welsh and Mountain and Moorland entries reflect that trend.”
As always, the main ring attractions will include top-class show jumping, featuring some of the biggest names on the circuit. Visitors to the show will also be delighted with the thrilling inter-hunt relay, scurry racing and heavy horses.
- The Royal Bath and West Show takes place from 1-4 June, 2016, at the Bath and West Showground, Shepton Mallet, Somerset. Advance saver tickets are available until 31 May 2016 at £19 for an adult including two children admitted free, £5 for additional child. Gate prices are £22 adult, £7 child and £49 family. Visit www.bathandwest.com to order.