1,000 horses for royal anniversary

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More than 1,000 horses will participate in next year's Royal Pageant of the Horse, which is being staged to celebrate the golden wedding anniversary of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.

It will take place at Ascot Racecourse in July 1997 (probably on the 4th or 5th) with an anticipated audience of 20,000. A further 10 million people are expected to watch it live on television.

The equestrian extravaganza will be produced by Major Michael Parker, who has impressive credentials for the job, having stage-managed (among other events) the VE Day celebrations in Hyde Park. "Nothing has been done on this scale before," Major Parker said, referring to the 1,000- plus horses. "The reasons for that may become apparent when we have our rehearsals."

The cost, estimated at pounds 1m-pounds 1.5m, will be covered by ticket sales and sponsorship. Any shortfall will be met by Alan Jacobi's company, Unusual Services Ltd, which has underwritten the event. Any surplus will be donated to equine charities.

The broad plan for the 90-minute pageant involves telling the story of the horse to a musical background provided by military bands and the Bach Choir. It will include everything from the Gold State Coach to Shetland ponies and riders from all the equestrian disciplines.