Queen Elizabeth II joined more than 8500 spectators on the opening day of Britain’s Royal Windsor Horse Show on Wednesday.
The Queen was there to watch one of her young horses, Tower Bridge, compete in the Novice Heavyweight Hunter Class. The four-year-old gelding, who was bred by Her Majesty, was ridden by Katie Jerram and came second in the class.
The opening day, dubbed ‘Windsor Wednesday’ offered free admission to all spectators and perfectly set the scene for the feast of spectacular equine sport and entertainment over the coming few days.
Woodlander Farouche and Michael Eilberg once again took ownership of the dressage arena, winning the invitational Advanced Medium Freestyle to Music.
The pair was awarded a huge aggregate score of 84.05% from judges Leif Tornblad (DEN), Andrew Gardner (GBR) and Maarten Van Der Heijden (NED) – although Tornblad’s individual score was over 89% – and they won the class with a margin just short of 10%.
“She is an impressive mare,” Tornblad said. “She is extremely well balanced throughout and her paces are not exaggerated – the front and hind legs match which is how it should be – she is the complete package.”
British judge Andrew Gardner said: “Without doubt she has presence which comes from her size and temperament. Everyone is watching her and so far each time she has delivered.”
The chestnut mare, an elegant 17.2hh, bred by Lynne Crowden and owned by Alison Walton and Ferdi Eilberg, has not been beaten since winning the six-year-old World Young Horse Championship in Verden in 2012.
“Everybody expects her to do well and that does bring pressure,” said Eilberg. “But once I’m on and riding her talent takes over and I forget. The feel she gave me in extended canter is unbelievable – she felt mega.”
Gloucestershire based Charlie Hutton and Judy Peploe’s Super Blue were the ones who came closest (74.278%) to Eilberg. The pair performed a tidy, on the beat freestyle that was well synchronised and choreographed to the music from Pink Floyd’s album The Wall – well suited to the powerful Super Blue.
Young rider Charlotte Fry from East Yorkshire took third place with the 10-year-old Z Flemmenco (71.455), owned by her grandmother Rosemary Shewen. 18 year-old Fry, the highest placed member of the British European Junior team last year, was the Northern Winter Regional Advanced Medium Freestyle Champion earlier this year with Flemmenco and the pair is long-listed for this year’s Junior European Championships.
Framed by the most spectacular backdrop on the British Show Jumping circuit, British-based Australian Rowan Willis claimed the prestigious Walwyn Novice Championships title with Kath James’ Bacarilla.
The 12 combinations that made it through to the final had secured their places in two qualifiers held earlier in the day, won by Jane Annett (Pallas Masterclass) and William Funnell (Billy Bongo). Willis had taken the last qualifying place in the second class, evidently saving the best of the eight-year-old chestnut mare for the main event.
“He’s actually only ridden her for about three weeks,” said James, who has owned the daughter of Heartbreaker for four years. “Along with some other horses of mine, he has her to sell.”
Victory in the final class of the day, the Land Rover Grades B & C Handicap was snatched from the hands of Laura Kraut (USA) riding Constable. Her long-standing leading time was defeated by Irishman Michael Duffy, who completed the course two seconds faster with Shehenaz.