Exhibition News October 2017 - Page 18

feature Hot to trot Tonnes of sand, hundreds of horses, thousands of visitors – it must be Horse of the Year Show 18 T hey say never work with children or animals… but luckily event organisers have never been afraid of a challenge.So when EN sits down with Sarah Measom, press & PR executive at Grandstand Media, ahead of Horse of the Year Show 2017, she seems remarkably relaxed about the upcoming event. “We’re already planning the 2018 show,” she laughs. “That’ll be our 70th anniversary, so we’re arranging some special displays and acts to mark the occasion.” The show spent most of its long history at Wembley Arena, before moving to the NEC complex in 2002. Each year the show takes up over 50 acres on the site, as around 1,600 horses, their riders and their owners descend on the Genting Arena and the exhibition centre to compete and to meet fans. Along with the event itself, Horse of the Year Show requires extensive infrastructure for stabling, with several large structures erected across the NEC car park. “We move onto site a couple of weeks beforehand,” continues Measom. “We’re only a team of around 15 people but during the show we rope in hundreds of officials who help to put it all on. Many of those have been doing it for a long, long time. “Whether they’re in a press role or taking in entries or dealing with customer things, we couldn’t put the show on without them.” The event is comprised of two arenas; the main area has tiered seating and holds daytime and evening performances, while the secondary arena runs only during the day. Grandstand October 2017 | exhibitionnews.co.uk Media runs the British National Showjumping Championship, and three days of international showjumping, welcoming globally renowned jockeys and their horses. For 2017, former Olympia Gold Medallist Charlotte Dujardin will be attending the show, putting on a Dressage Masterclass for visitors. EN enquires, somewhat naively, if horse- riding fans are as passionate about their heroes as other sports fans. “It’s quite a draw! For their fans it’s like meeting Wayne Rooney,” explains Measom. “These are people at the very top of their game. Visitors queue for hours to get their autograph and a picture.” And it’s not just the visitors who are passionate about everything horse-related. “Most of the team are horse-lovers,” says Measom. “But there are a few people on the commercial team who are not horsey so we’ve had to teach them a bit about horses, the differences between showing and show jumping and that kind of thing.” Between the two arenas is a retail village with around 250 stands, featuring everything from horse-riding products to lifestyle brands, homeware, jewellery and more. There’s also a ‘Meet the Horse’ area, which has five stables with rare breeds, allowing visitors to meet the horses and find out a bit more about them. “We also have a staged area, which is new for this year, where there will be talks and demo stations from different experts in the industry,” Measom tells EN. “People can get involved if they like or just sit and watch. We’ve got an equestrian Pilates instructor who will be doing demonstrations every day and people can get up and join in.” Visitors to the show, perhaps true to the stereotype of horse lovers, are predominantly (around 82 per cent) female and largely a relatively wealthy ABC1 audience, which means that there are a number of exhibitors interested in displaying their wares in the relatively small consumer retail village. Despite the interest, Measom says that Grandstand is unlikely to increase the floor space available for the exhibition. “The shopping is located in the middle of the two arenas, so I think if it was to get any bigger then it would get quite far for people to walk and it would become a bit disjointed,” she explains. “We already take over three halls at the NEC and a considerable amount of the car park, so it’s also down to space.” It might not be expanding in terms of floor space, but Horse of the Year Show will continue to grow and evolve as it gallops into its 70th year, bringing the latest horses, riders, products and industry trends to its enthusiast visitor base. EN Horse of the Year Show comes to the NEC site on 4-8 October 2017