Showjumping Louise Whitaker
Louise Whitaker on the need for sponsors and crowds at internationals
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.
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.
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.