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2018 SPECTATOR GUIDE BEST FOR OLD-FASHIONED FUN Royal Cornwall Show When? 7-9 June Where? Wadebridge, Cornwall What to expect: Cornwall’s biggest annual event retains all the elements of the good old-fashioned country show, without reams of corporate banking stands and general tat. And with excellent grass arenas and Steve Williams’ course-building, expect to see some quality showjumping combinations competing. Plus there’s the celeb-spotting factor. “As the title of the show alludes to, a member of the Royal family can often be found touring the showground during an official visit,” says the show’s Steve Michell. “Dawn French and Will Young are among the other well-known faces that love attending.” The showground extends to more than 100 A storybook picture: Dunster Show takes place on the lawns below Dunster Castle acres so it can take more than a day to explore everything on offer — luckily it runs for three days, so there’s plenty of time... Tickets £19.50 for adults Dunster Show When? 17 August Where? Dunster Castle, Somerset What to expect: If you were to draw a storybook picture of a country show, this would be it. This one-day agricultural show takes place on the lawns below Dunster Castle on the edge of Exmoor National Park, with the sea beyond. “While it does have some Horse of the Year Show qualifiers, it’s also just a great all-round country show — with cattle, sheep, jocular tractor salesmen who cheerfully put up with small boys wanting to check out their machinery; archery, a busy beer tent and even a bonkers roving circus which does a mini show each hour. And of course there’s a hound parade and chance to meet the hounds,” says Horse & Hound’s former editor Lucy Higginson. Tickets £12 for adults Royal Welsh Show When? 23-26 July Where? Royal Welsh Showground, Llanelwedd, Powys What to expect: Navigate your way to Llanelwedd in the middle of Wales for one of the largest agricultural Bulls in the ring at the Royal Welsh, one of the largest agricultural shows in Europe shows in Europe. “Welsh cob Wednesday” is a highlight with football-like crowds cheering the Welsh cob breeders as they take to the ring. “One of the focal events you won’t want to miss is the Welsh section D stallion class held in the main ring,” says Horse & Hound’s showing editor Alex Robinson. “Get set for an electric display of the crème de la crème of Welsh cob breeding sires.” But aside from the horses this is a chance to celebrate the best of British farming — with classes for an encyclopaedic variety of cattle, sheep, pigs and goats — plus more than 1,000 trade stands to splurge on. Tickets from £22 for adults BEST FOR HAVING A SNOOP At the Lambourn Open Day on Good Friday, top trainers open up their yards to the public Lambourn Open Day When? 30 March Where? Lambourn, Berkshire What to expect: You may well pinch yourself as you get within touching distance of racing’s biggest stars as trainers in the Lambourn Valley open their doors to the public. “I have been going to the Lambourn Open Day for about 15 years now and it is always a great family day out regardless of what the weather decides to do,” says Horse & Hound’s 30 Horse & Hound 8 February 2018 racing editor Hannah Lemieux. “Being allowed to walk freely around top trainers’ yards, such as Nicky Henderson, Oliver Sherwood, Warren Greatrex and Jamie Osborne, is really special.” Tickets £15 Middleham Open Day When? 30 March Where? Middleham, Yorkshire What to expect: Head 200 miles north from Lambourn and you can get an equally revealing glimpse behind the scenes of the racing industry in the picturesque village of Middleham, where 13 yards open their doors to visitors. “The yards make a huge effort to have knowledgeable people on hand to answer any and every question,” says local trainer Ben Haslam, whose dual-purpose yard is in the shadow of the iconic 12th-century Middleham Castle. “There are often raffles and competitions on each yard, and in the afternoon there is a great competition run with the stable lads and local Pony Club, showjumping against each other, which is very entertaining.” Tickets £10 for adults BEST FOR PARTY ANIMALS British Beach Polo Championships When? 13-14 July Where? Sandbanks, Dorset What to expect: Polo in any form isn’t short of glamour, but add sea and sand and you have an intoxicating combination. And with the polo played in an enclosed arena you’re in the midst of the action with the ball flying around at speeds of 100mph. As the sun goes down, the music turns up with beach parties (pictured above) keeping revellers entertained until 1am. “You can’t beat the beachfront location — you’re literally metres from the sea,” says Horse & Hound’s polo reporter Polly Bryan. “This is an event not short of glamour — and the polo’s not bad either.” Tickets from £22.50

BEST FOR ADRENALIN JUNKIES Duke of Beaufort’s Point-to-Point When? 3 March Where? Didmarton, Gloucestershire Pictures by Greg Balfour Evans/Alamy, aberCPC Alamy, Gary Blake/Alamy, Peter Nixon, PA Archive/PA Images, Sandpolo/Christian Lawson, Gary Blake/Alamy and PA Archive/PA Images Common Ridings: an adrenalin-pumping ride in the Borders to commemorate a slice of history BEST FOR GETTING YOUR CULTURAL FIX Common Ridings When? Throughout the summer Where? Eleven towns in the Scottish Borders What to expect: Dating back to the lawless 13th and 14th centuries, Common Ridings began when townspeople rode their boundaries to check them and protect them from marauders. The summer spectacle continues today with adrenalin-pumping rides across open country. Multi-medalled eventer Ian Stark is a regular. “The first time I took part in the Common Ridings, I was helping out at a local riding school, getting the horses ready. When one of the borrowers didn’t turn up, I got to ride instead and after that I wanted to go every year,” he remembers. Set your alarm early doors to bag a prime picnic spot — and try to borrow a 4x4 to keep up with the action. Free to watch BEST FOR DRESSING UP Trooping The Colour When? 9 June Where? Horse Guards Parade, London What to expect: There is something mesmerising about watching more than 1,400 officers and men, 200 gleaming horses, more than 400 musicians from 10 bands and corps of drums march and play as one on Horse Guards Parade. The spectacle of pageantry is in aid of The Queen’s official birthday — and you can’t help thinking that her well-trained eye is mostly focused on the horses of the Household Cavalry and King’s Troop. “The Queen’s eye for detail and equestrian expertise exceeds all others on duty that day,” says Lieutenant Piers Flay of The Blues and Royals. “Her eyes and those of the world are upon our soldiers — there is simply no greater privilege or honour.” While tickets are hard fought for the real deal on 9 June when The Queen takes centre stage, there are rehearsals the preceding Saturdays, with The Major General’s Review on 26 May and The Colonel’s Review on 2 June. The dress code escalates during these three, culminating in morning dress for Trooping the Colour. £5 for The Major General’s Review £10 for The Colonel’s Review £35 for Trooping the Colour Munnings Exhibition When? Until 7 May Where? National Heritage Centre at Palace House, Newmarket, Suffolk What to expect: Horse lovers can’t help but feel inspired — and a little nostalgic — by the work of Sir Alfred Munnings, one of England’s finest equestrian artists. Head to the Moller Exhibition Gallery at Palace House in Newmarket for his Painting Winners exhibition, which looks at how his work was influenced by Newmarket and racing scenes. Drawings, sketchbooks, studies and the finished pieces are on display, alongside the methodology that he used to create his masterpieces. And when you’re in need of a pick-me-up, grab a table at the Tack Room restaurant next door, where saddles hang from the walls and jockey silks replace paintings. Tickets £11 (for general admission to the whole of Palace House) Hats, frills and a buzz at York’s Ebor Festival Ebor Festival When? 22-25 August Where? York Racecourse, Yorkshire What to expect: Dust off your hats and pray for good weather to see York Racecourse at its best. “York’s facilities are second to none with easy access for racegoers and excellent views of the horses in both the paddocks and on the track,” says North Yorkshire-based trainer Brian Ellison, who landed the Ebor with Moyenne Corniche in 2011. “If I was to recommend a day at the races to any racing fan it would be York’s Ebor Festival. The atmosphere there is electric and you always feel a real buzz — a sense of excitement and anticipation.” Tickets from £12 for the Ebor Festival What to expect: Locate all of your clothes before heading to the Duke of Beaufort’s Point-to-Point; you’ll need them at this picture-perfect spot nestled on the Badminton Estate. But you don’t need to be on a horse for the adrenalin to start pumping, and there’s no shortage of steaming food stands to thaw you out in between races. Besides the racing there’s a dog show, bucking bronco and shooting simulator — but the raffle alone should lure you; last year £1,000 cash was up for grabs, alongside a season ticket to Badminton Horse Trials, and a day’s hunting for two with the Beaufort. Tickets £12.50 for adults Bravery, stamina and instinct at the Melton Melton Hunt Club Ride When? To be announced in the early autumn. From November. Where? Moves around the Quorn, Belvoir and Cottesmore hunting countries What to expect: An adrenalin fix (without putting yourself in the firing line...) and a terrific spectacle. “The Melton Hunt Club Ride is one of the great tests of horse and rider,” says H&H’s hunting editor Catherine Austen. “Unlike most other hunt races, there are very few ‘markers’ you have to keep to a certain side of — it is as much of a test of a competitor’s ability to ‘read’ natural country and decide on a route that suits their horse as it is a test of bravery, jumping power and stamina.” Tickets around £5 Tipperary Side-Saddle Meet When? 17 February, 11am Where? Cloneen, Co. Tipperary What to expect: Like an old-fashioned painting coming to life, “The Tipps” side-saddle meet will take you back in history, as beautifully turned-out followers (with nerves of steel…) dig out their habits and tackle this famous country. The hunt ball follows that evening at the Hotel Minella & Leisure Centre in Clonmel. Free to watch H&H 8 February 2018 Horse & Hound 31

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