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Hot to Trot - Sporting Trips for Horse Lovers

Kathy Carter

Contributor

The number of regular horse riders around the world shows no signs of downsizing (standing at around 1.8m in the UK); but how many equestrian fans actually combine their love of horse sport with a passion for travel? With a variety of world-class horse-related events taking place all over the globe on an almost year-round basis, there’s always an event that can be combined with a romantic, solo or family holiday. We've rounded up some of the most hotly-anticipated equestrian sporting events in 2020.

Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Final and FEI Dressage World Cup Finals, April 15-19th

Showjumping is an edge-of-your-seat spectacle that requires horse and rider to jump a series of staggeringly high obstacles within a time-limit. Meanwhile, dressage, featuring the famous dancing horses, involves horse and rider performing a series of choreographed, artistic movements to showcase riding harmony; sometimes to music. This event hosts the World Cup Finals of both disciplines. If you’re hoping to spot an equestrian star here, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat currently tops the showjumping rankings, while Briton Ben Maher is currently top-five. Germany’s Isabell Werth leads the dressage standings, with Brit Charlotte Dujardin currently top-15 in the dressage rankings.

Once you’re in the locality, you will find Las Vegas to be a hub of activity. The Thomas & Mack Center hosts numerous events including concerts, music festivals, conventions and sporting events. It is also just 2.5 miles from the Vegas strip, home to many shows and casinos. Do check out the iconic Caesars Palace, and take a trip downtown to see the Las Vegas murals outdoor art gallery. Meanwhile, the Hoover Dam, which dammed the Colorado River and created Lake Mead, is breath-taking and worth a trip.

Comfy footwear is essential for sight-seeing, as everything in Las Vegas looks closer than it really is.

Polo’s Gold Cup, July 19th

Polo is a mounted game and one of the world's oldest known team sports. With the Gold Cup being played to decide the British Open Polo Championship and being the world’s premier polo tournament at 22-goal level, you’re sure to spot the world’s best players at the Gold Cup. In 2018, Brits Charlie Hanbury, Ollie Cudmore, James Beim and James Harper, riding for El Remanso, lifted the trophy. These high-scorers could easily prove their mettle on the field again.

This society event offers the chance to show off one’s sartorial flair, so dress smartly - floral dresses are popular for the ladies, while for men, a lightweight tailored suit or a tailored shirt with chinos looks smart. Sun hats and sunglasses complete 'the look’. Ladies, if you’re joining in with divot stomping (flattening the grass) wear wedge heels!

You will find Cowdray, which is based in Midhurst in West Sussex, to be a base for many lovely, local attractions. Check out the National Trust’s Woolbeding Gardens, the ruins of Cowdray Castle, and the charming Weald & Downland Living Museum near Chichester, made famous on UK TV’s ‘The Repair Shop’. 

Christie Brinkley and Tasha De Vasconcelos - Cartier International Polo

Tokyo 2020

Horse sports such as chariot and riding races were part of the earliest Olympic games and horse riding was first included in the 1900 Olympics. Interestingly, equestrian events are famously one of the few where women compete equally with men. The Olympic equestrian disciplines are dressage, eventing and show jumping; British equestrianism’s top athletes Piggy French, Charlotte Dujardin, Ben Maher, and Sophie Wells are sure to be in contention for their respective disciplines in Tokyo.

Away from the horsey action, the district of Setagaya City, home to the equestrian events, is the perfect base from which to explore the areas outside the bustle of Tokyo. It is known for its restful green spaces and the family-friendly neighbourhood. Check out the trendy area of Shimokitazawa, popular with millennials, and famous for its vintage fashion and cool bars. Check out the beautiful Kinuta Park; its 96 acres of green grass make it one of the relatively few lush spaces in Tokyo. If retail therapy is your thing, the shopping malls at Futakotamagawa Station will keep you busy spending your Japanese yen.

The Dublin International Horse Show

The Book of Kells, the famous Latin manuscript created in 800 AD (and Ireland's finest national treasure), depicts horsemen within its pages, and Ireland relishes its proud history of intuitive horsemanship. The Dublin Horse Show, first held in 1868, is an exciting spectacle that encompasses event horse classes, showing, dressage demonstrations and of course, showjumping. Look out for the top jumping riders such as Brits Scott Brash and Ben Maher in the Nations Cup classes; favourites Bertram Allen and Darragh Kenny, both hailing from Ireland, are also likely to make appearances at the show’s many speed classes.

In the city of Dublin, there’s something for everyone on the downtime from the action of the show, from medieval churches to notable pubs. There’s ample opportunity to sample art and culture in this bustling city, and Fáilte Ireland’s ‘Talking Statues’ is a popular tourist attraction. Just pass one of the designated Talking Statues, and with a swipe of your smartphone, you can instigate a call-back from a story-teller, recounting the statue’s background.

Head to O’Donoghue’s pub for a traditional Irish music jam session with musicians playing fiddles, tin whistles, bodhrans and Uilleann pipes, remembering to sip a refreshing pint of Guinness at the bar.

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