A right royal day at Rockingham

As the world’s media was trained on Windsor castle ahead of the wedding of the year, we were at a very different kind of castle for a day with Fairfax and Favor, the main sponsors of this year’s Rockingham International Horse Trials. No less beautiful in the glorious morning sunshine, Rockingham Castle, owned for the last 450 years by the lovely Saunders Watson family, was our destination last weekend for what promised to be our perfect kind of day, one filled with sunshine, horses, friends and delicious food. The day started off with a tour of the inner gardens of the castle, which offered jaw dropping views of the Welland Valley (easy to see why William the Conqueror wanted to build a castle here) and, among other things, this amazing topiary hedge.

The promise of a delicious breakfast lured us inside before long though and we can honestly say we’ve never eaten anywhere quite so special as the wood panelled Tudor hall the family still use as their dining room. This was followed by a tour of some of the castle’s important rooms, including a cosy library and long gallery, where the family’s long time love of all things equestrian was much in evidence both in the bookcases and on the walls - a foretaste of the day's theme.

After this it was a quick zip up to the cross country in cars generously leant by the event’s other main sponsor Hyundai for a course walk with the current junior european eventing champion Bubby Upton, who went on to have a successful weekend’s competition with her rides in the CIC2* section. The Capt. Mark Phillips-designed track asked some interesting questions and watching riders from different eventing levels tackling these was a real education for those of us more used to watching the big guns at Badminton or Burghley.

Of course we had to make a pit stop at the Fairfax and Favor stand before lunch and it was lovely to be able to admire their new launches, including the gorgeous Rockingham boot in the sunshine with a glass of something bubbly. Our heart is still torn between the new flat Amiras and the fab Kensington ankle boots though - decisions decisions...

It was at this point we all remembered a certain wedding was taking place so it was off to find the TV in the sponsors tent, where we were just in time to see the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex emerge from St George’s Chapel and admire the bride's beautiful Givenchy dress. We’re sure there can have been no more British spectacle than Prince Harry and his new wife stepping into their carriage surrounded by their Household Cavalry escort and flag waving royal fans, the whole thing under the most glorious spring sunshine. The sponsors tent was in a great position to be able to watch some of the higher level showjumping, and there was a lot of mental horse buying going on during the course of the afternoon as each new combination entered the ring for their attempt at the fences! A second quick spin around the trade stands (it’s important to be thorough don’t you think...?) and a visit to the moon jump made famous at the 2012 London Olympics were our exercise for the afternoon before we repaired to the sponsors tent once more for drinks in the sunshine to round off the day.

We'd like thank both Fairfax & Favor and Rockingham Castle for being the most generous of hosts throughout this wonderful event, We had a fantastic time and can't wait for the next time!

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