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Parents bridle as Saddle Club Fans turned away


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The Easter Show

Parents bridle as Saddle Club fans
turned away

THERE were tears and tantrums and words unsuitable for children's ears.
Who knew a few girls on horses - otherwise known as The Saddle Club - could cause such drama.
When two security guards closed the gates to the SuperDome at the Royal Easter Show at 1pm on Friday - half an hour before the first Saddle Club performance was scheduled to start - scores of angry parents and their devastated kids who were turned away demanded to know why.
They were told the stadium was full and they should come back for the next show, three hours later. Angry parents remonstrated with the security guards and tried to explain to their bawling kids why they wouldn't be seeing The Saddle Club.
Sandra and Mark Besley and their kids Bree, 7, Ella, 5 and Zade, 2, had come from Kincumber on the Central Coast specifcally to see the performance. They arrived half an hour before the first show, only to be told they were to late.
"Its ridiculous, absolutely," said an angry Mrs Besley. "Its not right."
Mr Besley said: "It was going to be the highlight of the day. The kids are going to be disappointed. We'll have to wait until the next show I suppose."
Thankfully for fans, yesterday the congestion had eased though the first performance had an audience close to capacity.
Nine-year-old Jessica Strathern, who was eargerly awaiting Friday's show with her grandmother Kate, was devasted about missing out on seeing her favourite riding girls.
"I think it stinks Mrs. Strathern said. "We've been waiting all day to see it, we paid money to come here. We're going home now."
The live performance, based on the ABC TV series about three friends and their horses, attracted about 7000 to 8000 people a day for the first six days. Robert and Philippa Ritchie and their daughters Anna, 6, and Isabelle, 3, also were amoung the unlucky ones to miss out on Friday.
Mrs Ritchie tried to console a distraight Anna, who had been waiting to see the show.
"It's ridiclous," Mrs Ritchie said. "I thought the fact they were having it in the SuperDome meant they'd be able to accommodate more people.
"We've been hanging out since we got here at 10am and it's all been leading up to coming [to the show]."
John Aitken, general manager of teh events and marketing at the Royal Easter Show, said they had expected big crowds wanting to see The Saddle Club over the Easter long weekend.
"That's why we staged two shows a day," he said. "The secret is to get in early."
Mr Aitken said that for safety reasons it was important the SuperDome was not overcrowded.
The Saddle Club's populatity has not been restricted to the live performances. Mr Aitken said Saddle Club showbags had been "going gangbusters", with emergancy shipments already needed on three occasions.
Roger Braham, president of the NSW Pony Club Association, said membership had been steadily rising for the past three years and he was hopeful The Saddle Club's exposure at the Easter Show would furthur increase itnerest.
The Saddle Club perforamces continue today and tomorrow at 1:30pm and 4:30pm.
When the gates hit last night 545,000 people had visited the Show - about the same as last years figures.

The horse code
THE Saddle Club follows the adventures of Lisa, Carole and Stevie, played by Lara Marshall, Keenan Macwilliam and Sophie Bennett (pictured) on the ABC show.
They form their own private group called the Saddle Club with only two rules: members must be horse crazy and they have to help each other out.
When the girls aren't riding at Pine Hollow Stables, they are prappling with typical adolescent problems.
They girls' arch enemy is spoilt rich girl Veronica.
The Saddle Club is based on a book series by Bonnie Byrant, who was wriiten more than 100 Saddle Club books since 1988.
The television series is filmed in Melbourne and also shown in the US and Canada.