Game of Thrones stunt rider joins thousands at Herts County Show in Redbourn

Herts County Show 2016

Herts County Show 2016 - Credit: Archant

A former Olympic champion, Game of Thrones stunt rider and even a £1.4 million Rolls-Royce descended upon Redbourn at the weekend, to join over 30,000 people at the Herts County Show.

Harpenden boy Monty Roberts, the face of the 2016 Herts County Show, toured the Queen's diamond jubi

Harpenden boy Monty Roberts, the face of the 2016 Herts County Show, toured the Queen's diamond jubiliee arena in Redbourn, in a 1909 Rolls-Royce Whisperer - Credit: photo supplied

The event’s general manager, Mike Harman, said the county’s largest community and family event saw record advance tickets sold, with sunny weather helping to boost numbers.

Among those at the show jumping trials was two-times British national champion Graham Fletcher, who has won a silver medal at the Olympics, and was a team member for three Olympic games.

Although he no longer competes due to injury, Graham continues to train horses and riders.

He praised the organisers for providing an arena especially for riders, particularly when similar county shows have stopped providing dedicated space for show jumpers.

Graham said: “The jumps are good. Over the past few years they have really put the work into it. They have drained the pitch and kept it right for the jumpers.”

Fellow rider Pennie Cornish, yard owner of Greenacres Equestrian and riding school centre on the outskirts of Harpenden, who also had many horses competing at the two-day event, added: “We are losing jumping at other county shows. Loads don’t have show jumping any more.”

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Pennie, who featured in last week’s Herts Advertiser after one of her new mares, recently bought from Ireland, gave birth – to her surprise – to a mule, said: “We always support our local show.

“I love it because it’s for everybody; it’s not elitist. Anyone can come and have a nice day out, especially for people who live in the city. They can come and learn about the animals.”

Pennie, who is well known in the show jumping world for producing young competition horses in the UK, said although she felt ‘disappointed’ when rails were knocked down during competition, “I don’t panic. They are animals and it’s like us tripping over a stone.”

Of the 1,500 animals on show there, the Shetland pony dinky derby raised the most laughs as the small, but cute and speedy equines raced around the main arena, with their serious-looking young jockeys holding on tight.

One member of the large audience was in fits of laughter, saying: “Look how little they are. It’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Game of Thrones stunt rider Charlie Barrett, who has doubled for Jon Snow for the past six seasons, showed his daredevil side alongside other skilled riders in the show. Charlie works for Milton Keynes-based Gerard Naprous and The Devil’s Horsemen Stunt Team, which has also appeared in Wonder Woman and War and Peace.

A spokeswoman said: “We have been going to Herts for a few years – it’s a lovely show, and one of our favourites.”

A vintage 1909 Rolls-Royce Whisperer, believed to have cost over £1.4 million, took Monty Roberts, seven, from Harpenden, his mum and grandmother for a spin around the Queen’s diamond jubilee arena.

The boy is the fourth generation of his family to be involved in the county show. His great-granddad, Henry Barker, was the show secretary for 30 years.

Monty has been this year’s ‘face of the show’ and was also the event’s youngest and smartest steward.

Away from the arena, there was plenty to eat, buy and see. And where else but the county show would you see one sign asking “Still not got a will?” while another states: “Sorry no dogs. We love them, the clothes don’t.”

Among the trade exhibitors were first-time visitors Carmel Weir and Paul O’Neill, who welcomed the lack of rain from their native Ireland.

Carmel owns Carnaweed, which sells hand-made tweed clothing and accessories made in Donegal.

One customer tried on a flat cap and asked Paul: “Where would I wear that then?”

He helpfully replied: “To the pub.”

The customer responded: “Unfortunately it suits me, doesn’t it?”

Carmel told the Herts Advertiser: “We came to Herts because there is a market for us here, and people appreciate what we are doing.”

Local artists displaying and selling their work included Hillary Taylor, of Harpenden, and former St George’s School pupil Flora Murchie, a sculptor.

She recently sold one of her pieces for £8,500 with 50 per cent of the money going to the Starlight Children’s Foundation.

Flora, whose work is inspired by animals in the country, said: “I had a little stand here last year, but I only had one sculpture. So I have been trying to push myself.

“I have been coming to the show since I was tiny, and my father is a local farmer.”

At another stand, Happy Starkie tried her hardest to sell a range of beeswax products - using Canadian beeswax, not English apparently - calling out to passersby: “It has no lanolin, or chemicals, try for free. You can wash your hands six times, and it doesn’t come off.”

In between amusing passersby, and smoothing moisturiser on their hands, Happy told this paper: “I’ve been coming here for 35 years. It’s a good show.”