Regal splendour for horse show

IT could have been a dress rehearsal for the visit to Ireland by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, as four splendid black horses pulled the elegant Lord Mayor’s Coach through the streets of Dublin.

The occasion was the official opening of the Fáilte Ireland Dublin Horse Show — one of just two occasions in which the coach is used — the other is St Patrick’s Day.

Deputy Lord Mayor Edie Wynne travelled in regal splendour in the coach from the Mansion House to the RDS with Garda motor cycle outriders as an escort.

It was a short and comfortable journey fit for a Queen, but it took Cllr Wynne’s five-year-old grandson, Brian Wynne, to spot something was missing.

“There are no seat belts,” he told his granny, as people on the footpaths waved to the deputy mayor.

Built in 1789, the coach made its first appearance on the streets of Dublin in 1791 in an annual event to mark the birthday of William III.

The elaborately decorated coach far exceeded its original budget (13s 5d) and was completed for a total cost of £2,690.

The coach was used for ceremonial occasions up until 1932 when, due to its poor condition, it was placed in storage.

Following expert restoration, the coach returned to public life in 1976 and is a feature of Dublin’s annual St Patrick’s Day parade, and the opening day of the horse show.

Ms Wynne was delighted with the opportunity to travel in such style to the RDS where she deputised for Lord Mayor Gerry Breen, who is on holiday.

“I was most surprised, honoured and pleased,” she said, after opening the five-day show, which has more than €920,000 in prize money on offer and almost 1,400 entries in showing and jumping classes.

Horses and riders from France, Germany, Britain, Ireland, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain and the US are competing in the international classes.

RDS chief executive Michael Duffy said all the pre-show indications regarding ticket sales, trade stand and corporate suite bookings and entries were positive.

He said €8 million has been invested over the past four years on upgrading the show grounds, which is also the home of Leinster rugby.

The feedback the RDS is getting from show jumping riders and chef d’equipes is that it offers the best grass arena in the world, he said.

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