Organisers hopeful Duke will attend horse trials

PUBLISHED: 09:14 25 June 2013 | UPDATED: 09:14 25 June 2013

The Mighty Minis, Sooty and Sweep with Janet Sycamore. Picture: Mike Watts.

The Mighty Minis, Sooty and Sweep with Janet Sycamore. Picture: Mike Watts.


Organisers of this weekend’s Sandringham International Horse Driving Trials say they are hopeful the Duke of Edinburgh will be able to attend despite his recent hospital operation.

Prince Philip, 92, usually attends the prestigious carriage driving event, held at the Queen’s Norfolk Royal Estate, which starts on Friday and ends on Sunday.

However earlier this month the Duke was admitted to the private London Clinic for exploratory abdominal surgery and has missed several official royal events as a result, including Trooping the Colour.

Buckingham Palace has previously said the Duke would be taking about two months to convalesce before resuming his duties.

However Fiona Powell, secretary of the East Anglian Carriage Driving Group and organiser of this weekend’s event, said: “I wouldn’t be surprised if he’ll be around. It will be difficult for him to miss it. It is his passion. I hope he’ll be here.”

If he does attend, it would be the Duke’s first appearance at a public event since leaving hospital on June 17.

A spokesman for Buckingham Palace said it would not be in a position to say whether Prince Philip would be attending.

The event, which is described as a “horse lover’s dream weekend”, includes more than 250 single horses and ponies, pairs, tandems and teams taking part in a series of cross-country courses and timed obstacle driving challenges, as well as driven dressage and cones competitions.

Two of the most noticeable entries will be Sooty and Sweep, otherwise known as the Mighty Minis, who at just 34in tall will compete against horses almost twice their height.

Mrs Powell said the event was the “best kept secret in the equestrian world” and said the Sandringham event was the “jewel in the crown in the East Anglian club”.

She added: “It’s an electric atmosphere. It’s absolutely amazing to watch the dressage. It’s like something almost out of Victorian England.

“It is just something totally spectacular to watch.

“The going is nice for the horses as the ground doesn’t get very hard. We are just ordinary people taking part in this event.”

The event opens at 8am each day. There are also catering facilities on site and those who can help by being a steward on Sunday, between 9.30am and 3.30pm, should contact Nina Snow on 07904 642630. Training, lunch, refreshments and a gift are provided.

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