BHS to train four new access officers

The British Horse Society (BHS) is recruiting for four brand new Access Field Officers to join the Society and help support the Society’s growing Access work.

The new positions, based in the East, South West, Yorkshire, the East and West Midlands are home based roles and have been created to ensure the delivery of defined access objectives in each specific region.

Each officer will work closely with trained voluntary Access and Bridleway Officers in their region and take a coordinated approach to taking access to the next level in the region.

Bridleway and Access officers to be trained by BHS

Director of Access at The British Horse Society, Mark Weston said: “The British Horse Society is the voice for our industry on equestrian access matters and we’re delighted to be able to introduce an additional four Access Field Officer Roles to our expanding Access team. As we move into 2020, the 2026 deadline to protect historical rights of way from extinction moves ever closer and these new positions will make a crucial difference to our access efforts on a local level.”

The successful applicants will be responsible for fuelling the work to research and record lost rights of way as well as taking opportunities to support the establishment of new routes wherever possible. In addition, the new Officers will also coordinate equestrian access activities and meetings which aim to protect and secure routes in their region, as well as looking to recruit more volunteers.

The BHS has two existing Access Field Officers in post in the South and the South East/London.

Applications for the position close this coming Monday,  09 December.  To find out more and download the full job description please visit

Vital work of Injured Jockeys Fund

The Injured Jockeys Fund was the brainchild of founding trustee and past past president John Oaksy and came about following the devastating accidents of Tim Brookshaw and, four months later, Paddy Farrell in the 1964 Grand National

Both falls resulted in severe paralysis which immediately ended both their careers. Since then the Fund has helped more than 1,000 jockeys and their families and has paid out more than £18m in charitable assistance.

The Injured Jockeys Fund helps any rider who holds, or has held, a professional or amateur licence issued by the British Horseracing Authority including apprentice, conditional and point-to-point riders, including any spouse, partner, child or dependant they may have.

The Injured Jockeys Fund was the brainchild of founding trustee and past president, the late Lord John Oaksey. It came about following the devastating accidents of Tim Brookshaw and, four months later, Paddy Farrell in the 1964 Grand National. Both falls resulted in severe paralysis which immediately ended both their careers.
Sir Tony McCoy

Sir Tony McCoy, President of the IJF

Since then the fund has helped hundreds of jockeys and their families and has paid out more than £19m in charitable assistance. It also part funds on course physios and medical services and also research into improved riding protection equipment for jockeys which has resulted in a number of improved manufacturing standards being implemented.
Its first rehabilitation centre, Oaksey House was opened in Lambourn in 2009 and in April 2015  the Jack Berry House followed-a  rehabilitation and fitness centre in Malton for northern based jockeys.
Jockey Andrew Thornton using IJF facilities to recover from injury.

Jockey Andrew Thornton using IJF facilities to recover from injury.

Aims are to improve the lives of injured jockeys and their families in a prompt and sympathetic manner to those jockeys past or present who are injured, unable to ride or generally in need .
The value of their work was highlighted by an horrific freak fall involving four horses, which left jockey Freddy Tylicki paralysed from the waist down.
 The fund provides continued help and support through the purchasing items from its range of products and donations by members of the public, which help it continue vital work in providing help and care for jockeys.
Watch out for the sale of calendars, IJF Christmas cards and other items, at local racecourses in the run-up to Christmas. Purchases of these items by the racing public helps fund this vital work.
See how you can help, and also get the latest updates, by visiting:

Sulekha takes over at Aintree

A woman is to be in charge of the Aintree Grand National for the first time. The new head of Jockey Club racecourses in the north-west, including Aintree, is to be Sulekha Varma, aged 34.

She has progressed through racing ranks to be appointed as clerk of the course at Aintree, where she will take over from Andrew Tulloch. Andrew had been in charge of the Grand National for almost 25 years, and is relinquishing his role after the Becher Chase meeting at Aintree, this Saturday, December 7.

Sulhekha Varma Photo: John Simpson

Sulekha Varma’s current role had been racing manager and clerk of the course at Hamilton Park.

Sulekha Varma told reporters the she was ‘honoured’ to be appointed to one of the most senior roles in racing.

She added: “While British racing has faced and will face challenges, I hope Aintree will continue to be at the forefront of addressing many of those and showcasing our wonderful sport to an ever-wider audience.”

Sulekha originally began as a trainee clerk of the course with the Jockey Club at Haydock in 2009,  and one of her concerns is opposition to racing because of equine deaths.

She believes that the sport needs to maintain high saferty standards for horses more effectively, and improve them.

Sulekha has extensive experience to her credit, having been clerk of the course at Nottingham, Market Rasen, Warwick and Huntingdon between 2010 and 2016. she is already a familiar face at Aintree, having worked closely alongside the team for the past ten years during the Grand National festival.

Good racing at Plumpton meeting

PLENTY  of competitive jump racing rewarded a good crowd at Plumpton yesterday, when there were seven races on the card and the ground was soft, and heavy in places.
The opening maiden hurdle saw an excellent win for Suzy Smith’s Lewes stable,with Oscarsman winning in determined style under a good ride from Micheal Nolan.  It was an impressive performance and this five-year-old won at 11-1, beating 5-6 favourite Bean In Trouble, trained by Jonjo O’ Neill and ridden by Jonjo O’ Neill junior.

The winner should continue to progress, for Oscarsman jumped well throughout the race and put in a strong finish to win.

The Novices Chase, run over two miles and 214 yards,  was won by an impressive three-year-old, Lisp. Trained by Alan King and ridden by Thomas Bellamy, the 2/13 favourite justified his price, taking the lead four out and going on to win by a margin of 19 lengths from Flaminger, trained by Gary Moore and ridden by Leighton Aspell. Back in third, sent off at 4-1 and beaten by 30 lengths overall, was De Plotting Shed, trained by Suzi Best and ridden by Jamie Moore.

Four runners were pulled up in the nine-runner field which contested the Tysers Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (Class 3) over three miles 207 yards.

Miss Tynte, a seven-year-old trained by David Pipe and ridden by Tom Scudamore stayed on well to win by over three lengths from The Wicket Chicken, a 10-1 shot, trained by Neil Mullholland and ridden by 7lb claimer Miss Millie Wonnacott. The consistent Ding Ding, trained by Sheena West and ridden by Marc Goldstein was  four lengths behind in third place.

Sullington based trainer Richard Rowe saddled up a good 16-1 winner when Tzar De L’Elfe,  a nine-year-old gelding, owned by Lord Clinton and Captain Adrian Pratt won the Tysers Handicap Chase over three miles one furlong. It was a fine performance with James Davies getting up by a nose to win from  7-2 favourite Tractor Fred.

Trained Richard Rowe and owner Captain Adrian Pratt pictures with 16-1 winner Tzar De L’Elfe and jockey James Davies. Photo:Plumpton Racecourse

Another impressive winner on the day was when Adicci, 11-8 favourite, won the IEP Financial Novices Hurdle over two miles for trainer Jonjo O’ Neill , ridden  by Jonjo O’ Neill junior by a neck.

Hopes for Monday racing at Musselburgh

There is a blank day for racing today , Sunday, in Britain with meetings cancelled because of icy conditions.

Today’s meeting at Carlisle has already been called off due to frozen ground, leaving a blank Sunday of racing in Britain. Leicester was cancelled on Friday due to waterlogging on the track.

Musselburgh Racecourse earlier today- pictured by clerk of course Harriet Graham.  There are hopes that Monday’s meeting there  will go ahead.

Musselburgh’s Monday fixture is the latest meeting to be in danger of being cancelled , with extreme icy conditions crossing Britain. An inspection is planned there at 8.30am on Monday.

The chances of racing at Musselburgh on Monday were described as “60:40” by clerk of the course Harriet Graham, who said: “We’re currently frozen and wouldn’t race today, but the track could recover overnight as cloud cover increases.

“The Met Office has indicated temperatures should be 4 degrees C first thing Monday morning, getting up to a possible 7C tomorrow.  The track could thaw quickly at 4C,” she added.

The first race of seven is scheduled at the East Lothian track at 12.15pm and this early winter start, because of limited daylight hours, could mean the track would struggle to race because of early darkness.

But course officials  estimate that currently the chance of racing is 60:40.

There are unlikely to be problems on  Monday at Plumpton, where the going is soft. The only other meeting is on the all-weather at Wolverhampton, which should go ahead.

Meanwhile Fairyhouse Winter Festival is set to go ahead for a second day today, providing the only racing of the day, following the cancellation of fixtures at Leicester and Carlisle.

Carlisle passed its Saturday afternoon inspection but the meeting was not confirmed to go ahead with another look scheduled for 8am on Sunday morning.

However, course officials made the early call just prior to 7am to cancel the meeting at the Cumbria track, which was set to feature the Listed Houghton Mares’ Chase.

Speaking on Sunday morning, clerk of the course Andrew Tulloch said: “It’s disappointing because we were raceable yesterday but it went down to -6C.

“A couple of the crossings are frozen solid and even the fences are frozen. The forecast is for it to get to 0C today so it may come out a bit, but not as much as we need.”

Nominations are open for prestigious new SEIB awards

Nominations are now open for the first ever SEIB Insurance Brokers Livery Yard and Riding School of the Year Awards, which will be presented at the glamorous British Horse Foundation dinner at the Leonardo Royal London City Hotel on January 11 2020.

SEIB has set up these awards to celebrate the best in riding schools and livery yards throughout the UK in association with horse care and supplements company NAF.

SEIB Marketing Manager Nicolina Mackenzie said: “The riding school and livery yard awards will make Christmas extra special for those that are short-listed. SEIB know that there are livery yards and riding schools that provide an outstanding service and we want to recognise and highlight their skill and commitment.”

Nomination are open for SEIB awards

The SEIB Livery Yard and Riding School of the Year Awards have categories for best riding school, best full livery yard and best do-it-yourself (DIY) livery yard. Once the nominating process is closed, the expert panel of judges will draw up a short-list of yards which they will visit in person to decide on the winner.

All the short-listed yard proprietors will be invited to the awards dinner and the results will be announced on the night.

NAF Advertising and PR Manager, Melissa Newman said: “NAF are delighted to be in partnership with SEIB to support this award. Riding schools and livery yards are vital to keeping many peoples passion for horses a reality and a stepping stone into the world of life long equestrianism and horse ownership.

“The support, opportunities and five-star care both riding schools and livery yards provide is invaluable, as well as the friendships created at these establishments, with horses and ponies at the heart of it all.”

To nominate your favourite livery yard or riding school, go to:, saying who they are and why their livery yard or riding school is so special.

Nominations open on November 18 and will close on December 9.

Everyone placing a nomination in the SEIB Riding School and Livery Yard of the Year Awards will be put into a free prize draw to win a pair of tickets to the black tie British Horse Foundation Awards dinner in January.

Jan Rogers of the British Horse Foundation said: “We are thrilled to be able to host the presentation of the brand new SEIB Livery Yard and Riding School Awards at the 2020 British Horse Foundation Dinner.

“This event has been held at a glittering London venue for over 21 years and it is always good to welcome innovative new awards to the occasion. We look forward to showcasing these worthy winners in January.”


Hickstead’s new cross country schooling facilities swing into action

HICKSTEAD has fine new cross-country schooling facilities, which opened last month, and are available for use at  £36 per horse per hour. They are in two vast all-weather arenas connected with a surfaced track and have brought the largest facility of its kind to the South of England.

There is also a large water complex with a range of combinations jumping in, out and through the lake.

New eventing facilities unveiled at Hickstead by top event riders Gemma Tattersall, Francis Whittington and Emily King.

The obstacles range from 80 cm to advanced and are all marked – with purple for fences up to 80cm, orange for those up to 90cm,  pink for fences up to 100cm.

Fences up to  105cm will have a yellow marker, and those over 105cm, a green marker.

Top event rider Gemma Tattersall (pictured above) in action

Opening hours are: For the remainder of November: 0800 – 1500; December: 0900 – 1500.

CLOSED December 24th 25th 26th

January: 0900 – 1500; February: 0800 – 1600; March 1st – 30th: 0800 – 1700;        March 31st: 0800 – 1800 (Clocks change) April 0800 – 1800

Andrews Bowen 2012 mix, the most scientifically researched surface, was developed specifically for the London 2012 Olympics and is used at these facilities.

The surface is proven for the full range of Olympic and Paralympic disciplines and endorsed by the FEI. The 2012 mix is a very hard wearing surface and capable of supporting the highest levels of equestrian competition indoors and out.

Hickstead has strict schooling rules for the Cross-country obstacles from 80cm to Advanced, which are all clearly marked with different coloured markers.

80 cm  – Fences up to 80cm will have a purple marker; Fences up to 90cm will have an orange marker; Fences up to 100cm will have a pink marker; Fences up to 105cm will have a Yellow marker aND ADVANCED FENCES OVER 105CM, A GREEN MARKER.

Opening hours: November: 0800 – 1500; December: 0900 – 1500;

CLOSED December 24, 25, 26;  January: 0900 – 1500;February: 0800 – 1600; March 1st – 30th: 0800 – 1700; March 31st: 0800 – 1800 (Clocks change); April 0800 – 1800.The surface

The  Andrew Bowens syrface 2012 mix is made from multi-washed silica sand, three types of polypropylene fibre and a synthetic binder, delivering a huge step forward in performance surface technology.


Riding hats that adhere to the current BE safety standards, with no fixed peak must be worn.

  • Body protectors that adhere to the current BE safety standards must be worn.
  • Failure to wear correct safety equipment will void any insurance and result in the rider being ejected from the facility.
  • Each booking is for one hour, starting at the time stated in your booking confirmation.
  • Pre-paid advanced bookings only. NO cash on the day.
  • Riders must be accompanied by an adult over 18, either on foot or mounted.
  • No dogs in the arena.
  • Dogs must be kept on leads at all times when on the showground.
  • Users must thoroughly poo pick after using the facilities, tools and skips are provided.
  • Parking is on the hard standing car park only. NO parking on the grass.
  • No mucking out lorries or trailers anywhere on site.
  • Car parks must be poo-picked.
  • Riders and their companions must co-operate with other riders sharing the facility.
  • Any bad behaviour or language towards other users or staff will not be tolerated and will result in an immediate suspension or ban.
  • Damage to fences must be reported, you will not be charged.
  • Fences must be checked before they are jumped, to check they are safe and the rider understands the obstacle.
  • Flags must be replaced when knocked out.
  • Do not jump a flagged obstacle in the wrong direction.
  • Do not jump a fence with crossed flags.
  • Do not jump a fence that is beyond your capability.
  • Hickstead Ltd reserves the right to close the facility with no notice and stop any current hire, for reasons including, (but not restricted to): Health and safety, adverse weather conditions, emergency circumstances.
  • Hickstead Ltd has taken all reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of the horse and rider. It is your responsibility to take precautions to prevent accidents. Hickstead Ltd reserves the right to remove riders from the facilities. Money will not be refunded. Hickstead Ltd does not accept any liability for any loss, damage, accident, injury or illness to horses, riders or any other persons or property whatsoever. No rider will be allowed on to the course unless these terms and conditions are accepted.

Woman jailed on equine and animal welfare charges

Olveston farmer Susan Smith, 61, has been jailed this month, and banned from keeping all animals for life.  She had  been prosecuted for numerous animal welfare charges that dated back to 2015, including horses running in several herds.

Two people had already been jailed, and Smith was sentenced this month, relating to the case in which  investigators found livestock at Ingst Manor Farm in terrible conditions, surrounded by dead and dying animals.

Three of the horses were taken in by charity World Horse Welfare, which cared for them until they had been rehabilitated and were able to be sent to new and loving homes.

Susan Smith banned for keeping equines and farm animals for life. Cattle were also found dead and dying on her land. She was sent to prison this month.

Smith had arranged for Mark Downes, 51, to manage her farm in exchange for allowing him to keep his horses there. However, he neglected all the livestock, including cattle, pigs and sheep, as well as his own horses, so much that when the RSPCA arrived they found “a total animal welfare disaster”.

Downes was jailed in June 2018 for a total of 32 weeks and banned from keeping farm animals for life. Smith was sent to prison this month.

World Horse Welfare Field Officer Tony Evans described the situation they found, saying: “The situation with the horses was that they were running in several herds, with no clear fencing down there. There was indiscriminate breeding going on and the horses were running amok all around the farm.

“As well as the various carcasses that we found on the premises, the horses hadn’t been wormed, their feet hadn’t been attended to and some of them had weight issues as well.”

A multi-agency operation took place in 2015 to remove all the animals from the site to be cared for properly, with the RSPCA, Redwings, Horse World, The Donkey Sanctuary and World Horse Welfare all working alongside each other. World Horse Welfare Field Officer Tony described how the operation unfolded:

“On the day we went to remove them we had various charities there, including Redwings, Horse World, the RSPCA, and World Horse Welfare, so we could cope with the number of animals there. We were split up and working in our respective groups – some people were doing the equines, some were sorting out the cattle, and other people were looking after the pigs and the sheep.

“What we decided to do with the horses was to bring them in in their herds rather than try to separate them, so slowly, slowly we brought one herd in at a time. We had assistance from The Donkey Sanctuary with their lorries and were then able to transport the horses to a safe place.

“As a welfare organisation for us the best outcome would be that obviously the owners of these horses never get them back and never get to look after any other equines, so that we can take care of these horses and it doesn’t evolve once again into a large equine case.”

Five of the ponies were removed to World Horse Welfare’s Glenda Spooner Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre in Somerset. Sadly, two of them could not be rehabilitated and they had to be put to sleep.

Thankfully, the remaining three equines flourished with World Horse Welfare’s care and went on to be happily rehomed after being successfully rehabilitated.

To see video of the rescue of the horses, click on the link below.

Video here:

British jockeys team performs well in Barbados

AN International Jockeys Challenge in Barbados this weekend saw the British team put in a fine performance, going under to Team Barbados only in the final stage.

Held at Garrison Savannah, the four-race event proved to be an extremely tight battle, decided only in the last race.

Team GB was captained by Jamie Spencer, with the remainder of the team consisting of Danny Tudhope, Luke Morris, Seamie Heffernan, Stevie Donohoe and Louis Steward.

British team captain Jamie Spencer Photo: John Simpson

Stevie Donohoe won the first race over 1570 metres, riding Provence, with Luke Morris runner-up on board Graceful. Fonohoe was thrilled to win his debut at Garrison, where he described the track as ‘much sharper than Chester’.

Jamie Spencer, on board Eyecatcher went to the front two furlongs from home in the 1100 metre second race but was passed at the post by local apprentice Eric Daniel on board Mischief Maker.

It was a very close contest and with only two races to go the two teams were level on points. Then Louis Steward brought his mount Sing Sing through to win.

Jockey Louis Steward
Photo: Jeannie Knight

This gave the British team a one-point advantage, but they were out-ridden by their opponents who were the first three past the post, with Rightontime, ridden by N’Rico Prescod winning the race.

Even so, the British team won two of the four races and Jamie Spencer praised his team, saying everyone played their parts, but the local jockeys deserved their victory.

Captain of Team Barbados, Rasheed Hughes, said his team had enjoyed competing against some of the world’s top riders. He added: ” We look forward to renewing the rivalry next year.”