Showjump­ing Louise Whi­taker

Louise Whi­taker on the need for spon­sors and crowds at in­ter­na­tion­als

Horse & Hound - - News Insider -

I WOULD like to con­grat­u­late the team at Keysoe for the im­prove­ments they’ve made. Open­ing up the long side of the build­ing to in­cor­po­rate a hospi­tal­ity area makes the arena look much big­ger and if any­thing wasn’t right, they tried hard to make it bet­ter.

The only down­side was that apart from the grand prix, the prize money wasn’t that great. A sec­ond world rank­ing class would be ideal, but I re­alise or­gan­iser Si­mon Bates funds every­thing him­self, so it’s not fair to moan be­cause he hasn’t found more money.

COV­ER­ING COSTS

MY sug­ges­tion is that if we can’t have an­other rank­ing class, the prize money for the other classes should be im­proved. I won a class on day one, but that won’t come any­way near cov­er­ing my en­try fee. If you win an in­ter­na­tional class, the money should pay your en­tries.

I wasn’t sur­prised to hear that in 2019, there are only eight two-star in­ter­na­tional shows sched­uled in Bri­tain com­pared with 115 in France, Bel­gium and the Nether­lands.

Putting on an in­ter­na­tional show is in­cred­i­bly ex­pen­sive, but many Con­ti­nen­tal shows have two world rank­ing classes and some even have three.

The fa­cil­i­ties of­ten aren’t any bet­ter than those here, but most classes are spon­sored, of­ten by lo­cal studs or showjump­ing teams. In France, the lo­cal town hall usu­ally sup­ports the whole show.

EN­COUR­AGE PAR­TIES

I’M not sure if there are more horse peo­ple in those coun­tries, but a packed crowd makes the at­mos­phere so much bet­ter. Peo­ple also pay for hospi­tal­ity ta­bles and their fam­i­lies or clients then have a nice day out.

Are these Eu­ro­pean shows bet­ter at get­ting the word out and en­cour­ag­ing spec­ta­tors or are peo­ple in Bri­tain just not in­ter­ested in our sport? There were top riders at Keysoe for the three days, so maybe Bri­tish Showjump­ing could step in and en­cour­age par­ties from lo­cal Pony Club branches and rid­ing schools to come to shows like this, meet their he­roes in an in­for­mal at­mos­phere and watch them in ac­tion.

Peo­ple some­times moan that so many Bri­tish showjumpers choose to com­pete abroad, but this is our job. It all comes down to money and we need good re­sults to keep our busi­nesses go­ing. In an ideal world, our mar­ket­place would be at home and we wouldn’t have to keep driv­ing across Europe, but how to make that hap­pen is the prob­lem.

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