Superstars like Lady Gaga and One Direction may get pampered on tour – but it’s nothing compared to the VIP treatment given to the show-stoppers performing at Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena this weekend.
The magnificent Lipizzaner stallions of The Spanish Riding School of Vienna, performing tonight and until Sunday, are treated like kings.
The superstars of the classical dressage world have their own luxury heated stables, with solarium lamps to warm their muscles and magnetic treatments to ease aches and pains.
They have their own dieticians, eat the finest muesli and drink energised water.
Experts have been working round the clock for three days to transform the floor of the Sheffield venue into a foot deep carpet of sand, to protect their hooves.
It replicates the Winter Riding School, where the horses usually perform, in Vienna’s Hofburg Palace.
And, like royalty, they don’t all travel together, to avoid the school’s heritage being lost in case of a disaster.
The horses were transported by ferry in three groups and the riders flew in two groups on separate flights.
But there’s good reason for the superstar pampering. Like pop and rock superstars who usually fill the arena, they too generate millions of pounds a year and are one of Vienna’s top attractions. The horses, each worth up to £195,000, rarely perform anywhere else.
Now, for the first time in the school’s 450-year history, they are making their debut in the north of England, with performances tonight, tomorrow and Sunday.
Their signature moves are known as ‘airs above the ground’ and include the Capriole, Courbette and Levade.
The school holds 72 stallions and 19 members of the equestrian team. A total of 28 horses, nine riders and nine grooms are touring.
Team GB’s Olympic and Paralympic dressage gold medallists Carl Hester and Lee Pearson will also showcase their talents and TV presenter Nicki Chapman is host.
Nicki said: “I’m lucky enough to have been involved in the last two UK tours and it’s an experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
“This is an extraordinary once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness these most celebrated, world renowned horses performing in the UK.”
Rider Florean Bacher, aged 28, said: “We are excited to be in the UK. You are always a bit nervous before you start, but when you are in the arena and riding you forget that. Then it’s great fun, when you feel the crowd going wild.”
n Watch our exclusive video reports from the Vienna and Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena, plus download our free Spanish Riding School Of Vienna documentary, at www.thestar.co.uk
n For tickets, priced £22 to £66, call 0114 256 5656 or visit www.motorpointarenasheffield.co.uk