Few fans heading to the Horse of the Year Show this week will spare a thought for the massive clean-up operation needed to keep the site spick and span.
More than 1,600 horses will feature in the four-day event at the Genting Arena – widely recognised as the climax to the domestic show jumping year – which started on October 3.
But they’ll also leave behind a mountain of equine waste – as much as 180 tonnes over the course of the week – or more than 25 tonnes a day.
Throw in hay, straw and other bedding, alongside the rubbish left behind by 65,000 spectators and 1,500 competitors, and the scale of the task facing specialist cleansing teams becomes clear.
Roads, pavements and public areas stretching the length and breadth of the site will remain a hive of activity for 24 hours a day as an army of workers, led by a convoy of specialist vehicles, moves in.
Two truck-mounted road sweepers, complete with expert operators, will work day and night shifts throughout the event and beyond to ensure every bit of animal waste, together with human debris including cans, bottles, cups, glasses and fast food cartons, is collected.
The waste will be taken to a recycling plant in Telford run by nationwide operators Go Plant Fleet Services, who are leading the clean-up operation for the first time.
Event Director Emma Williams said: “Holding a horse show of this magnitude at the NEC, which is not purpose-built for equestrian events, presents a number of challenges.
“We utilise more than 50 acres of the complex during the week with 800 temporary stables erected in the car parks, three equestrian arenas built, more than 250 trade stands, temporary offices, cabins and car parking space.
“All of this area has to be cleared in a matter of days and left without a trace so it’s ready for the next event, so we need to trust that our contractors are efficient and passionate about what they do.
“Go Plant Fleet Services will be carrying out part of the clean-up this year.
“With more than 200 tonnes of equine waste to be removed from site, including hay and straw, they’ll have their work cut out. But we have worked with them before and are confident they’re up to the challenge.”
Ben Gilmore, Regional Manager for nationwide operators Go Plant Fleet Services, said: “The Horse of the Year Show is a huge event these days and a true spectacle in the equestrian calendar.
“Keeping the site clean and tidy throughout the event will be quite a task, but our operators will move in with sweepers to clear and store all types of waste.
“It’s important that the site and areas around it are cleansed properly and, while the Show is one of the biggest in the world, we hope to ensure spectators – and certainly those using the Arena immediately afterwards – see very little evidence that it ever happened.
“We operate an extensive fleet of specialist commercial vehicles including refuse trucks, cage tippers and smaller pedestrian sweepers on both an operated and self-hire basis – and they’re massively popular with event and festival organisers.”
Go Plant Fleet Services carried out clean-up projects at Notting Hill Carnival and the Great North Run last month and has been spearheading a similar operation at the New Year’s Eve celebrations in London for several years.