Great Yorkshire Show 2017: Olympic rider tests out new arena

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Olympic show jumping legend Graham Fletcher and his son, Oliver, were the first to test out the Showground's new £70,000 collecting ring.

Instead of grass, half the Main Arena warm-up area has been laid with an international standard all-weather synthetic surface.

Oliver, 14, put both the arena and his horse, Dahar through their paces over the famous Great Yorkshire Show planks. Giving them both the seal of approval.

“It rides really well,” he said.

Olympic medallist Graham, is part of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society’s (YAS) show jumping committee and backed the move to update the collecting ring.

“Any of the riders coming to the show for the first time this summer will be totally impressed. If the show committee wanted to run an international show it will now have all the facilities needed for international classes.”

The state-of-the-art surface provided by Andrews Bowen is Olympic standard and was developed for the London 2012 Olympics. The surface is the most scientifically researched and endorsed by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI).

Originally from Thirsk where he established his show jumping career, Graham is a strong supporter of the show. “The Great Yorkshire Show is the best in the country and it’s always been an event that’s very close to my heart,” he said.

This year the four-time winner of the Cock O’ the North competition is looking forward to seeing Oliver take on the biggest show jumping competition in the north.

“Nothing will give me greater pleasure than seeing Ollie do well this year and in the years to come win more than I did,” he said.

Nigel Pulling, chief executive of Yorkshire Agricultural Society which is behind the major investment into the new facility, said: “This investment marks the society’s work to keep the facilities at the showground up to world class standard.

“We want to attract the best riders and the best horses to ensure the Great Yorkshire Show is at the top of its game and continues to host national and international competitions.”

As well as the thrills and spills of the show jumping classes, the finest show horses from around the country will be at the show with many hoping to not only take home a prestigious Great Yorkshire Show win but also a place at the Horse of the Year Show in October.

Ridden classes include hunters, cobs, working hunters, show ponies and first ridden with in-hand including the potential youngstock stars of the future.

Both ridden and in-hand classes will culminate in the Supreme Champion awards.

The scurry classes always provide noisy entertainment as the contestants take on a number of obstacles and a real crowd pleaser is the Pony Club Mounted Games competition which takes place in the Top Spec White Rose ring.

Other popular classes include the donkey classes, mountain and moorland lead rein and the ladies side-saddle classes where entrants are initially judged in the Top Spec White Rose Arena before the finalists battle it out in the main arena.