Around 25 of us lucky souls managed to congregate at Hickstead on Saturday 31st July 2010, for what is fast becoming our social highlight of the summer – the RIHS. There were even a few BHSIs who, despite distinguished careers in the horse world, had never done the Hickstead pilgrimage – so it was quite an occasion!
For those who came early enough, there was a chance to pick up a running order for the dressage – booking one’s rendezvous in the afternoon to watch Carl, Maria and then our very own Judy, of course… and for those who preferred jumping, a good speed class to watch around the famous Hickstead show jump fences – serious fences spread out in the enormous galloping arena, on perfect going, very much on a slope under our very eyes from the BHS box. Extraordinary to think that that perfectly cared for springy turf will by the time I write this have been pulled up to insert drainage…
Of course some were simply lured by the shopping…!
A sandwich lunch watching the pony pairs driving scurry was only slightly marred by the absence of Ann Bostock who last year cheered at full volume but was this year absent for that part as she’d been called away to deliver her accompanying friend to tend a suddenly sick relative – poor Ann spent more of the day on the M25 than at Hickstead! Still, we did our best – inspired by some cracking pairs of ponies and bold driving.
Then the main event – the Queen Elizabeth Cup. A flowing course, 1.5m fences with very square oxers and an old-fashioned triple bar, which made perfect use of the natural undulations in the arena as well as using the water jump in front of us. The course design was an object lesson in presenting a superb spectacle for every grandstand (including of course our box) as well as for the cameras and sponsors’ photo opportunities. And we had the benefit of having walked the course with Shane Breen, who enlightened us on his tactics at each fence. Finally, “just to make it interestin’, we had a shillin’ on the side” – well, a sweepstake, won by… ?? who backed the eventual winner…..??
More showing finalists, afternoon tea-and-scones, more shopping, more dressage (only a short walk away) – and all this with one’s car parked adjacent to the main arena, in the VIP parking…
It really is a day not to be missed, and there’s something for everyone. We are very grateful again to our generous and delightful hosts for the day, the new BHS Chairman Phil, who stayed to chat with us about evening, rights of way and rocket science (I’m not kidding) for quite a while, and the ever-efficient and welcoming Anne-Marie. Thank you!
Report by Alison Craig