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Saturday, 22 November 2014

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Lowther Show given royal seal of approval by Prince Philip

Royalty graced the much-celebrated Lowther Show at the weekend.

Lowther Show photoi
Blondy, owned by Sara Jane Godfrey, in the Jump and Retrieve contest

The surprise visit to the show of its patron, the Duke of Edinburgh, delighted crowds who had travelled from all corners of the UK, for the popular horse carriage driving trials.

It is believed Prince Philip had arrived in Cumbria last Thursday and attended a reception hosted by Lady Lonsdale that evening.

Show organisers confirmed the Duke of Edinburgh had attended the headline attraction – the three-day horse-driving trials he had famously used to compete in.

On Saturday he was time-keeper for one of the much-anticipated Obstacle classes – held on a new course designed last year, which gives visitors the chance to see the skills and courage of both horse and driver up close.

Despite a wet and dismal Sunday, Prince Philip returned to spend the morning at the event which nestles in the sweeping grounds of the Lowther Estate, near Penrith, before leaving in his Land Rover Discovery at lunchtime.

Speaking about the prince’s visit, Helen Gooding, a 37-year-old from Clifton, said: “I think it’s great that the prince has come up here - it’s such a nice day. The village is buzzing.”

Jonathan Wilson, a 39-year-old from Brigham, said: “This is definitely good news because it’s a bit of a tradition for him. It shows that up here in Cumbria we have not been forgotten about.”

Prince Philip took part in more than 30 trials at Lowther between the first show in 1973 and his retirement from driving in 2006.

It had been hoped the Prince would have made an appearance last year when the horse driving trials returned after an absence of five years, but following an operation last June, he was unable to travel to Cumbria. Penrith businessman, George IV Bowman, who competed in the trials, was the man behind efforts to bring horse carriage driving back to Lowther.

He said the event pulled a record crowd on Saturday, helped by the brilliant sunshine.

“Sunday, even though very wet, still saw a huge crowd. We had a record entry of 108 competitors from all over the UK, Isle of Man and Ireland. It also included a world champion carriage driver, and other big names,” said Mr Bowman.

Mr Bowman, who described Lowther as “the home of carriage driving”, said his eventing had not gone as planned. “My horse bit its tongue in the cross-country and I had to retire. It’s just one of those things,” he said.

The countryside festival made is heavily anticipated comeback last year after five years away.

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