This renowned equestrian event was launched in 1943 to support ‘Wings for Victory’ – a war time campaign to raise money to purchase Hurricanes and Spitfires for the Royal Air Force. Since this first Show, the event has grown in international prestige to become the UK’s largest outdoor Show, with Her Majesty The Queen, the Show’s Patron, attending every year since its creation.
Over the 75 years the Show has maintained its objective to raise funds for charity. ABF, The Soldiers Charity is supported every year and an equestrian charity is chosen to support by the Committee annually. This year the equestrian charity is the Free Spirit Horse Memorial.
The original Show, which required competitors to hack to the Showground as there was no petrol to spare, took place on only one day. Since 1944 the Show has expanded dramatically in terms of length, spectator attendance and competitors. One of the first competitors was HM The Queen who successfully competed in the Single Private Driving Class driving Hans, a Norwegian Pony, to victory in 1944. Other members of the Royal family have also competed including HRH The Prince of Wales, HRH The Princess Royal, Zara Phillips, and most notably, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh who introduced international carriage driving to the Show in 1972, in which he also competed (and won the Horse Teams class in 1982 with HM The Queen’s team of Bays).
From 1943 onwards, the Show has grown both in size, now hosting over 120 Showing classes, and in stature, placing itself firmly on the international competition circuit, with its augmented status as a 5* event. Royal Windsor Horse Show is now the only Show in the UK to host international competitions in Show Jumping, Dressage, Driving and Endurance.
The annual event now hosts the Rolex Grand Prix, the pinnacle of the week’s calendar, with a prize fund of €300,000, compared to a top prize of £15 in Show Jumping classes in 1944. The increased number of entries is a sheer reflection of the Show’s popularity and prestige, seeing 3,300 entries in 2017, including many of the world’s best riders, compared to 884 entered horses in 1950.
Mr Clive Lidstone, one of the 300 original founding members of Royal Windsor Horse Show said:
‘I’ve attended the Show every year since it was first created in 1943, where I actually competed in the Gymkhana. I left school early to get there that day. It’s brilliant to see how much the event has grown over the years, not just in size but globally, attracting many of the world’s best competitors.’
Nowadays, more than 55,000 spectators travel to Windsor annually to catch the world-class equestrian action, growing from a noted 8,000 spectators in 1944.
At the event the Organisers are putting in place a series of displays and exhibitions both in and out of the arena to commemorate the 75th anniversary.
To find out more about Royal Windsor Horse Show, or to book tickets visit www.rwhs.co.uk. Tickets can also be purchased by calling the box office on 0844 581 4960 from the UK and +44 (0)121 7966290 internationally. Windsor residents should call the Windsor Information Centre on 01753 743589.