Some 100,000 visitors expected at 144th Dublin Horse Show

Event worth €45 million annually to local economy, with 1,600 horses taking part

About 100,000 visitors are expected throughout the week at the 144th Dublin Horse Show, which opens its doors on Wednesday at the RDS.

One of the most respected and best-known equestrian events in the world, the show has 132 classes and competitions between Wednesday and Sunday, with some 1,600 horses on site at the Ballsbridge venue.

Eight teams will compete for the Aga Khan Trophy: Ireland, France, Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the US. World rider ranking points are at stake for eight of the 14 international showjumping competitions, culminating with the Longines Grand Prix of Ireland on Sunday.

The Simmonscourt Pavilion and the RDS Main Arena will play host to the national showjumping championships for young horses, young riders and pony riders throughout the week.

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Legendary show jumpers Eddie Macken and Olympic gold medal winner Nick Skelton will host masterclasses, and the family-friendly entertainment programme will include bands, street entertainment, pony rides, face painting and bouncy castles.

Stand-up dressage

This week’s entertainment will also include an appearance by Lorenzo the Flying Frenchman, who performs stand-up dressage with four pairs of horses.

The RDS Craft Awards Exhibition takes place in the Concert Hall and there are more than 300 shopping stands around the halls and in Simmonscourt. Some new Irish producers will bring their food offerings to the show this year.

We are very keen to make sure that the horse show is relevant to the needs of the sport horse industry

RDS chief executive Michael Duffy described the event as "one of the great horse shows in the world".

But he said there was also “a very serious purpose” behind the horse show, which was to support breeders and producers of Irish sport horses.

“It’s to help with the marketing and sales of Irish sport horses and it contributes about €45 million a year to the local economy.

“So that’s the serious side and we really are very keen to make sure that the horse show is as relevant as possible to the needs of the sport horse industry.”

Huge effort

Mr Duffy says the staff who put such huge effort into the horse show all year round just love the week.

“It’s just a great time, because we’ve over 1,600 horses and 100,000 people over the five days,” he said.

“ You’ve got the tradition of the Aga Khan, you’ve got the excitement of the Puissance, you’ve got the passion up in Simmonscourt of a lot of the younger riders and you’ve got some really beautiful animals. But at the same time you’ve got families, you have individuals coming to have a good time. That’s really what we want to do is just make sure that people enjoy what is really one of the great horse shows in the world.”

The Royal Dublin Society, a philanthropic body, spends about €4.7 million a year to stage the event.