Behind the scenes blog – Francis Edwards

Francis Edwards

Equine plays a major role in the show each year and we are always amazed by the high standard of entries in the various classes. Horses are a real favourite with visitors who take an avid interest in the showing, judging and presentation process as the day progresses.

It’s a full-on day for all those taking part with everyone trying to make sure all the winners are known in time to take their place in the Grand Parade. The responsibility of ensuring everything goes off without a hitch falls to Horse Secretary Francis Edwards and his dedicated team of helpers.

Ahead of the 2019 show, we chatted to Francis more about their role and why they volunteer each year.

Francis said: “Our involvement starts very early in the year, putting the schedule together, printing then distributing it – we send out hundreds. We regularly attract entries from all over the country and despite the national problems surrounding equine flu earlier in the year, our entries are about 12% up on 2018.

“The Shires are good classes, foals, mares and stallions, and some will be coming along for the Horse of the Year Show qualification. Two years ago we had a black mare, Miss Dynamite, at Newport and she went on to win the Horse of the Year, with 17 rivals being judged against her.

“There’s lots of interest again in the working hunter classes, something which is always popular and successful in providing entries from teenagers and adults.

“Our main aim is to make it an enjoyable day for all those taking part, that is the ethos of the show, and the greater the competition the more important that aspect becomes which supersedes what we are trying to achieve. It’s a family day out and we want it to be enjoyed – that’s what we believe in.

“I’ve been Horse Secretary for seven years but have worked in the horse world for some time, learning a lot about it from a very successful figure within the industry, and always believe in keeping the standards high.

“You can’t please everybody at the show but I always try to be helpful and fair. I have a fantastic team, from Gina in the office to a very dedicated team of stewards who turn out every year, which makes life a lot easier. They are extremely helpful in ensuring everything goes smoothly and also look after our sponsors.

“We have some wonderful sponsors of the equine classes and are privileged to be inundated with people who give a range of amounts of cash towards the prizes. We are extremely grateful for the donations – whatever the amount.

“On show day itself, it’s a very early start, something like 5.30-6am so we are there to meet the entries – they need to come early to get their horses worked in. You can’t expect the horse to do well without going through that process.

“We aim to get it all finished in time for the champions to make the Grand Parade – but that’s a big ask and it’s all go during the day to meet that target. There’s a lot of work that goes into making Newport Show a success and the main thing is all those taking part, along with our visitors, go home having had an enjoyable day out.”