Showjumping returns to Hickstead with a ‘socially distanced’ show.
After the cancellation of both its international fixtures, Hickstead is ready to play host to its first competition of the 2020 season.
The Science Supplements All England Jumping Championships will take place from the 2-6 September, offering classes from pony and grassroots levels up to a 1.40m Grand Prix.
After a summer of cancellations, riders have been keener than ever to get out competing, and the national show has received unprecedented levels of interest, with entries selling out within the first 24hrs of opening.
“We were expecting quite a bit of interest when we opened entries, but the response took us by surprise,” said Hickstead Director Lizzie Bunn.
A number of measures have been put in place to ensure the safe running of the show. No members of the public can attend, and only one rider, owner and groom are allowed per horse. Face coverings will be mandatory for all course walks and in the collecting rings, and over 40 hand sanitising stations have been installed around the site.
Because of the overwhelming response, a number of entries have had to be turned away.
“We’re sorry to disappoint any riders who have been desperate to get out competing this season, but we are delighted to even be able to run this event after the cancellation of our international shows,” said Lizzie. “We are especially pleased to be able to run some classes that were due to be run at the Longines Royal International Horse Show, including the British Showjumping Pony Winter Finals.
“Equally, for those who are keen to watch some live sport and who can’t attend because of current restrictions, the action will be livestreamed from the Longines International Arena every day on Hickstead.TV and ClipMyHorse.TV.’
A number of leading showjumpers are due to compete, including Great Britain’s Guy Williams, Holly Smith, Joe Clayton, William Funnell, John Whitaker and Robert Whitaker, while Irish entrants include brothers Shane and Trevor Breen, along with Michael Duffy and David Simpson. Olympic event riders Pippa Funnell, Gemma Tattersall and Christopher Burton are among those switching discipline for the week to compete in the showjumping classes.
As well as national classes at all levels, the show features Al Shira’aa Young Horse championship classes, arena eventing and the Total Waste Management Ltd 10 & Under Mini Challenge. The feature class of the show is the Science Supplements All England Grand Prix, a 1.40m competition with a £6,000 prize fund. Last September Harriet Nuttall became the first female winner of this class, and competition will no doubt be fierce as this year’s contingent of riders aim to take the title.