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14 Jul What to Expect at the Dublin Horse Show

As you may have heard, the Dublin Horse Show is jumping ahead this year and will now take place from Wednesday 20th to Sunday 24th July. The change of date this year is to accommodate the lucky riders who will also be participating in the Rio Olympics. It also means that you could see potential Olympic champions in action just weeks before Rio.

Why go to the Dublin Horse Show?

Why go to the Dublin Horse Show?

The Dublin Horse Show has something for everyone. The main attractions are obviously the equestrian events but even if you can’t tell a horse from a donkey, it’s still a great day out as there are plenty of other things to keep you entertained.

If you’re looking to splash the cash, there is an enormous Shopping Village selling the very best in Irish arts, crafts and fashion, as well as top international outdoor brands. There are an array of stands selling home and garden wares and of course the obligatory tack shops and horse related goods. You’ll also find a huge food village with a range of cuisines catering to every pallet. Make sure you check out the fudge stand – definitely one of my favourites.

The kids are well catered for, with entertainment every day, apart from Thursday, including magic shows, story time, a mini-circus and puppet shows. A host of musical acts will also perform on the band lawn over the course of the show.

Santi Serra will bring his acclaimed horsemanship show to the RDS each day. Watch him entice horses to perform and do his bidding without any equipment. Meanwhile, Pat Parelli will also give natural horsemanship demonstrations and work with horses and riders to overcome problems. Both these men are spectacular to watch.

HORSEY HIGHLIGHTS

If you don’t know anything about horses but think you might like to see what all the fuss is about, here are some of the highlights:

The Speed Stakes

The first big competition of the Show is on Wednesday the 20th. This is great fun – fast and furious. Participants jump a course of fences against the clock and to beat each other- you’re bound to see a few thrills and spills.

Ladies Day

Thursday the 21st is when the fashionistas are out in force. There are great prizes for women and men and all that’s needed to win is a general admission ticket and a sense of style!

The Aga Khan Nations Cup

This is what Friday 22nd is all about – the President even puts in an appearance. The competition involves eight national teams, consisting of four riders per team, who each ride the course twice. The three best scores per team, per round are counted. The prize on offer is the much coveted Aga Khan trophy. This is also the Dublin stage of the Nations Cup competition – held in a number of cities around the world.

The Puissance

The big wall dominates on Saturday 23rd. Marvel as horses and riders push themselves to the limit to jump as high as they can over a giant wall without knocking it. The wall increases in height after each round until there is only one horse and rider left or until the remaining riders decide it can’t be jumped and split the pot.

Grand Prix

This is the main attraction on Sunday 24th. The fences on this course are all enormous and there’s a time limit within which to complete it. The competition attracts top riders from all over the world as it’s extremely lucrative.

SCORING SYSTEM
  • Understanding everything that’s going on can be tricky for the uninitiated but these pointers will help you enjoy the show.
  • The basic aim for all jumping competitions is to jump a clear round in the fastest time possible. Each time a horse knocks a jump – that counts as four faults or penalties. Faults are only incurred when a rider knocks the top pole of the jump. If it’s a water jump – a horse’s foot in the water or on the plasticine strip before the water will count as four faults.
  • A refusal also counts as four faults and a second refusal will result in elimination. If there is a time in which to complete the course, every second over that time will incur time faults.
  • If a rider falls off their horse that counts as an elimination and they must leave the arena on foot.
  • There are red and white flags on the tops of the fences and horses must jump inside the flags with the red flag always on the right.
  • If a horse has incurred a number of faults the rider may decide to retire by signalling to the judges.
WHAT TO WEAR

This is not the races! Of course feel free to get dressed up if you want to and you’ll find lots of people decked out in their finery especially on ladies day, but it’s not necessary. There’ll be plenty of people there in riding boots and jodhpurs – it’s very relaxed.

GETTING THERE

All the main action is in the Main Hall and Main Arena, the entrance for which is on the Merrion Road.

There is a park and ride facility at Muckross Park and UCD. Alternatively, there is pay parking on a number of roads around the RDS but make sure you do pay, as clampers will be out in force.

You’ll find the RDS in the middle of Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, between The InterContinental Dublin and Herbert Park on the Merrion Road. The heaviest delays are likely on the Merrion Road, Anglesea Road and Simmonscourt Road. Remember to watch out for horses and pedestrians crossing.

Bear in mind that Simmonscourt Road will be close from 7am until about 8pm each evening between the Merrion Road and Anglesea Road junctions to facilitate the show.

The RDS Showground is serviced by Dublin Bus routes 4, 7 and 8 which stop outside the RDS on the Merrion Road. These bus services can be availed of on Nassau Street outside Trinity College. The RDS is also very close to both Sandymount and Lansdowne Road DART stations.

AFTER THE SHOW

There are a number of great pubs in Ballsbridge including Paddy Cullen’s, the Horse Show House and the Bridge 1859, while Searsons is just a little further down the road on Baggot Street. If you’re feeling peckish, these pubs all do brilliant food but there are plenty of fantastic restaurants to choose from. Roly’s Café and Restaurant is always a great shout with two different dining options, Belluccis will satisfy Italian lovers while Kites in Ballsbridge have quite possibly the best Chinese food in Dublin.

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Nicole Gernon
Nicole.Gernon@theAA.com