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'Campaign a positive step for Royal Windsor Horse Show'

Published: 14 Sep 2012 09:300 comments

ROYAL Windsor Horse Show's chief organiser has thanked The Observer for its campaign to include a Para-equestrian competition and confirmed there will be at least a 'celebration exhibition' for Sophie Christiansen MBE and her fellow Paralympic heroes, writes Richard Cutcher.

RESPONSE: Simon Brooks-Ward CVO said the organisers were treating The Observer's campaign as a positive part of the planning for next year's show.

Simon Brooks-Ward, managing director of HPower which organises the international, five-day event in May, said the practicalities of a Para-dressage competition would be explored.

His comments came after The Observer received backing from Maidenhead's golden girl Sophie, both the borough's MPs and Braywick Park-based SportsAble in a week that saw support flood in from readers.

Mr Brooks-Ward said: "When it comes to Para-dressage at Royal Windsor Horse Show we are going to look at it very carefully.

"There are a number of considerations because Para-dressage requires absolute quiet and with the greatest will in the world I am not sure the horse show can provide that with 300 horses moving in and out of the arenas.

"We thank the Royal Borough Observer for bringing this issue to the forefront of people's thoughts and we are treating the campaign very much as a positive step for the sport and the horse show."

Sophie, 24, who was born in Sunningdale and lives in Maidenhead, has cerebral palsy and won three gold medals in Para-dressage at the Paralympics last week.

She said: "A celebration at Royal Windsor Horse Show would be amazing and I can understand what Simon is saying about accommodating a Para-dressage competition, but I hope it is possible.

"We rarely get the chance to perform in front of a large crowd so to showcase our sport within the grounds of Windsor Castle would be brilliant."

John Jenkins is chairman of SportsAble, which had three competitors return from the Games with five medals. He said: "It would be great to see. Anything that anyone is doing that can promote the integration and involvement of disabled people in any sport is fantastic news."

Windsor MP Adam Afriyie said: "Sophie Christiansen is a shining example and I very much hope the Royal Windsor Horse Show will be able to accommodate a Para-equestrian event. It would be warmly welcomed."

Maidenhead MP and Home Secretary Theresa May said: "The success of the Paralympics has demonstrated the public's desire to see elite athletes competing at the highest level.

"It would be great if an event like the Royal Windsor Horse Show could take this up and continue the momentum started at the Paralympics."

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