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'It's fantastic to be back!' – gates open at New Forest Show

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THE Forest Show is back with crowds flocking to New Park near Brockenhurst for the launch of the popular three-day event this morning (Tuesday).

Returning for the first time since 2019, organisers are promising to deliver the same popular mix of equestrian events, animal classes, showstopping gardens, and an array of local food and produce.

Temperatures have cooled significantly from last week’s record highs with warm but overcast conditions and highs of around 22C described as “perfect show conditions”.

The first visitors arrive (Photo: Steve West)
The first visitors arrive (Photo: Steve West)

Show chair Martin Stewart revealed that after a few early-morning teething problems, the gates to the event open just 12 minutes late.

He said: “It’s fantastic to be back. We haven’t had a show for three years so there will be elements that are a bit rusty and when you consider the sheer number of contractors and stands that are new this year, I’d say it all gone very well.

"When you consider what has happened in the last two years, it is a minor miracle that we are here with all this going on around us.”

He added: “I would also say the fightback for next year’s event starts now – we will be looking at the things that aren’t quite right and making adjustments.

"It is really important to remember that for the most part this event is run by an amazing team of volunteers.”

Showjumping this morning (photo: Steve West)
Showjumping this morning (photo: Steve West)

This year’s main ring attraction, the Atkinson Action Horses, are expected to draw bumper crowds as they showcase the power and grace of dressage in an explosive show. Appearing in the main ring twice each day, the stunt riders are known for their appearances in TV shows including Poldark, Victoria and Peaky Blinders.

Show jumping got under way early this morning with the first riders appearing in the East Ring at 8am in the former racehorse over-four-years-old classes.

A new attraction this year is the Heavy Horse Village where visitors can get up close to the towering creatures and learn more, as well as watching preparations for the show ring.

A new farming experience area enables visitors to meet local farmers, get close to large farm machinery, watch cattle being milked, and even take part in some gin tasting.

There are also dozens of hands-on activities for families and children with bushcraft, cookery and sports taster sessions.

Show chief executive Denis Dooley was “relieved and humbled” to see the show back and busy.

He said: “After three long years it is amazing to be back. It's been a lot of hard work and a real team effort, a real community effort and we are looking forward to a really busy show.

"We have a fantastic team this year and it’s been a wonderful start to the show.”

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