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horse Horse of the Year Show a Spectacular Success

As the curtain came down last Sunday at the NEC Arena, the 2002 Horse of the Year Show sponsored by Equestrian Surfaces, was heralded a resounding success. Described by Horse & Hound as 'a Triumph', the show attracted record audiences across the entire week to the new venue. The 8,000-seat arena was sold out for five of the eight performances including the entire weekend. The total attendance was over 55,000.

Director Mark Wein of organisers Grandstand Media commented, 'To move a fifty acre show and slot it into a new venue was an awesome challenge. We were extremely pleased that the intense planning meant that, from an infrastructure perspective, things went relatively smoothly and the new facilities were well received. It was obviously also a new challenge for the venue and, with an increase on last year of over 10,000 people, there are a number of visitor management issues which we will be addressing for next year.'

The 8,000-seat capacity of the International Arena was 600 more than at the old Wembley venue but the seating configuration meant that all seats had good views of the Arena floor, which was itself substantially bigger than in the past. This gave chief course designer, Bob Ellis, the flexibility to build some exciting tracks, which produced some tremendous Show Jumping. John Whitaker and Lord Z earned a standing ovation when they won the Daewoo Championship in a competition which was described by Horse & Hound as 'one of the greatest performances in the long history of HOYS'.

Sunday's Gala Night, staged in the presence of royalty and a host of celebrities saw the prolific Tony McCoy team up with Jeff Osborne and John Whitaker to win the Hurry Scurry. Going last in the jump off, Tim Stockdale won the biggest prize of the show - the Grand Prix with Fresh Direct Parcival and also took the award for the leading British Rider.

In addition to the exceptional level of competition, the capacity crowds were awe-struck by the unique display of trust and liberty by Jean Francois Pignon and were entertained by the British Young Riders Dressage Display Team's ride to 'Grease'.

Mark Wein concludes: 'All in all this year's Horse of the Year Show was certainly one to remember and marked the beginning of the new era for Britain's biggest indoor equestrian event which has started in record-breaking fashion. As we are now entering the planning process for next year's show, we are grateful for the constructive feedback that we have already received, much of which we are looking to implement as we strive to make HOYS 2003 (17-21 September at the NEC Arena) our biggest and best yet.'

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