A quick roundup of the 2015 Royal Welsh Show
Above: Suzy Davies AM (centre), Shadow Minister for Tourism, Culture and Heritage, with WPCS staff.
The weather gods seemed to be smiling over Powys for most of the Royal Welsh Show. Some light drizzle, plenty of sunshine and temperatures hardly straining the mercury made for a temperate time at Europe’s largest agricultural show.
Whilst temperatures were fairly low, passions were high in all of the competitive areas. From the Young Farmers’ rugby sevens to the Kiwis’ sheep-shearing haka and from the livestock arenas to the main showing – especially on Cob Day – there was plenty of excitement at the showground.
There was also some to see in the air. The aerial antics of the motorcycle display team were surpassed only by the grace and danger of two Supermarine Spitfires of the Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
Approaching from the South, their “beating up” of the showground at a high rate of knots and but a few hundred feet above the crowds against two glorious British summer afternoons drew gasps of admiration.
One of the highlights for members of The Welsh Pony and Cob Society (WPCS) was Tuesday, when venerable Society Publicity Officer Dr Wynne Davies launched his autobiography From the Horse’s Mouth. Queues of people – waiting to buy and have signed by Dr Wynne his memoir – snaked out of the WPCS shop, along the balcony and onto the path below.
It was almost two hours and hundreds of books– and a number of TV interviews – later that his fans finally ebbed and the good doctor could put away his pen.
It was a fitting tribute to a man that has given so much to the WPCS for more than 60 years.
The Royal Welsh Show was also a good opportunity for members to meet staff, including the Society’s new-ish secretary, Roo Johnstone, who also met with other rural organisations such as Countryside Alliance, the British Horse Society and the British Association for Shooting and Conservation as well as representatives from the Welsh Assembly and Westminster. Trustees and staff also met with represetatives from Welsh pony and cob organisations from Norway, Finland, Denmark, The Netherlands, Belgium, the USA, Germany, France and Australia.
Mr Johnstone discussed some of the Society’s new objectives, including a review of potential and more flexible future use for a new pavilion at the showground in the best interests of the members, and explaiing that catering for Fayre Oaks in September and the Cob sales in October will be at the Stockmen's Building on the RWAS site.
The big draw, of course, was Wednesday, traditionally known as “Cob Day”. More than 70,000 people descended on the Royal Welsh Showground, with thousands in and around the grandstand to watch the spectacle in the main ring, the excitement crowned by the Welsh Cob Championships.
The cobs were competing for the prestigious George Prince of Wales Perpetual Cup, which has been awarded since 1908. Silence descended in the seconds before the judge removed his bowler hat and pointed it towards Mid-Wales farrier Dorian Lloyd and Perthog Gwenan Mai, a three-year-old filly.
That silence was brief, ending in an eruption of cheering from the grandstand, Horse Hill and the pavilions surrounding the main ring.
The Royal Welsh Show, the largest agricultural show in Europe, is rightly called Y Sioe Fawr or “The Big Show”. Proof, if needed, of its significance is not only the thousands who visit, but also the exceptional quality of the animals shown. Hundreds of horses and ponies, and thousands of livestock compete with the winners closing the show with the magnificent parade late on Thursday afternoon.
It takes a year to prepare for that moment of glory, but the real triumph is the quality of the British equine, farming and countryside sectors.