National Horse Driving Championships to leave Windsor Great Park


Top horse driving competitor Gary Docking seen here with Mrs Maropn Woolley's horse Striker

Top horse driving competitor Gary Docking of Heyshott, West Sussex, seen here with Mrs Maropn Woolley’s horse Striker

AFTER an almost continuous run of more than ten years,  the 2013 National Horse Driving Championships will move from Queen Victoria’s Review Ground at Windsor Great Park to the Ashfields Carriage and Polo Club at Great Canfield in Essex.

The announcement has been made following  the latest British Horse Driving Trials Association Council meeting this month.

BHDTA Chairman, Jock McFarlane, said: “It was inevitable that in the ongoing economic climate, with the National Championships becoming financially unsustainable in recent years, a move would have to happen.

“Our membership raised concerns over the situation at the AGM in November and since then Council has been seeking a solution. We are indebted to our patron, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, and estate employees at the Royal Park for all their help and assistance in our time there, but the Championships does have to be a viable event.

“The BHDTA wish to express their thanks to all the past Windsor organisers, and in particular Rita Bundock, who tried valiantly to make the event sustainable, despite rising costs and diminishing  sponsorship in the current economic climate.”

Several offers had been received to host the championships, including Ashfields, and the matter was discussed at length. When a vote took place, Wilf Bowman-Ripley, council member and manager of Ashfields, left the room and was delighted when he was later informed his venue had been chosen.

He has undertaken to run the 2013 championships at his own financial risk and  a decision on a more permanent venue from 2014 onwards, which may or may not be Ashfields, will be taken by the council following this year’s event in September.

The championships have been held at Windsor for a total of 30 years, from 1978. In 1999 they were at St. Fort in Scotland and in 2000 at Cirencester.

The 2001 Championships were cancelled due to Foot & Mouth disease. Other venues included Goodwood (1977) and Harrogate (1986)

Four-in-Hand, Pairs and Singles classes have been held since 1975, with Tandems joining in 1976. Intermediate and Advanced Singles classes started in 2007 and Advanced Pairs in 2009. The Novice Championships joined the Nationals in 1982.




Spectacular London Harness Horse Parade takes place on Easter Monday


The spectacular London Harness Horse Parade takes place at the South of England Showground at Ardingly in West Sussex on Easter Monday, April 1.

Steeped in tradition, it offers a glimpse into an historic tradition, with vintage turnouts as well as everything from donkeys to the magnificent Shire from Fullers Breweries pulling a wide range of carts and carriages.

It has its origins in the Cart Horse Parade, founded in 1904 and traditionally held on Whit Monday in the centre of London. Because of its success it had to limit its entries to 1,000.

The Van Horse Parade, with similar objectives, started in 1904 and was held every Whit Monday, with as many as 1,259 equines taking part.

Both parades suffered falling numbers in the early 1960’s and the decision was taken to amalgamate the two events into the London Harness Parade to be held every Easter Monday.

There is still a wide variety of breeds of animal with some turnouts coming from working homes, such as the Shires from the Fullers Breweries, or the Friesians from Harrods and Cribb’s Undertakers. In addition to these commercial turnouts, private driving exhibits are welcomed and now form the majority of turnouts in the parade.

Although no longer being held in London the parade retains its strong London identity, and exhibitors will travel from as far afield as Cornwall , Ireland and Cumbria to participate.

Parking is free and entry to the event is £6 with children free

For full information about the event see :

Fontwell Park offers half price racing for Abba raceday

Fine view of racing at Fontwell Park

Fine view of racing at Fontwell Park

Fontwell Park racecourse is looking ahead to better weather with the offer of half price racing at a special Abba raceday to mark May Bank Holiday.

Not only is there an outstanding programme of racing, but Abba Magic returns to the course on Friday May 3 to give great live entertainment following seven good races at this award-winning Sussex National Hunt track.

Anyone booking tickets before March 31 will obtain 50 per cent off Premier Enclosure tickets, gaining a saving of £10.50.

Gates open at 3pm with the first race at 5pm on a highly competitive card, with Abba Magic performing live following the last race at 8pm. Top quality jump racing can be enjoyed, along with a range of food and bar outlets.

Meanwhile there is a spring racing fixture at Fontwell Park on Tuesday March 26, with the first race at 2.10pm and the last at 5.10pm.

Contact to book tickets for both now.

International CIC*** status achieved by Gatcombe Park’s British Eventing Championship

 Competing at this top horse trials

Photo: Gatcombe Park

Competing at this top horse trials
Photo: Gatcombe Park

The British Eventing Championship  at Gatcombe Park has gained international CIC*** status for 2013, offering the chance for horses and riders to gain important qualifications during the season.

The festival is one of the highlights of the equestrian calendar and with the newly awarded CIC status, the event will have an even higher profile in the calendar.

Once again, a bumper weekend is being planned by organisers of the Festival, which is  presented by British Equestrian Trade Association from August 2-4 2013,  when it is hoped there will be some good weather this year.

All horses and riders that  missed their opportunity to compete in last year’s three championship classes- The Dodson and Horrell Novice Championship, The Smith and Williamson Intermediate Championship and the British Eventing Open Championship-will be welcome to compete this year alongside all those that qualify for the championships this season.

The Festival is also an annual highlight for all the owners of horses that qualify for the championships and the Event Horse Owners Association will welcome them to their marquee for a ringside seat and free refreshment.

The outstanding location, plus top class international competition, combines with excellent catering and shopping facilities that make it an event for all the family.

The caravan park has been extended this year to cater for the growing numbers who want to stay on site and enjoy all that is on offer.

For more information on the timetable. programme and tickets, see

Horse riding is still dominated by women- but the number of male riders is on the increase


Following research and surveys, a new list of statistics has been published  by British Horse Society, indicating that horse riding is still a female dominated sport- though the number of male riders are increasing.

Results of the research show that:

  • 3.5 million people (6 per cent of the GB population) have ridden a horse at least once in the past 12 months.
  • 73 per cent of riders are female, though there has been an increase in the number of male riders over the past 10 years.
  • In 2010, eight per cent of riders considered themselves disabled in some way.
  • A quarter of all GB riders are under 16 years old. 20 per cent are over 45 years old.
  • Leisure riding is the most common equestrian pursuit, though riding lessons and non-affiliated competing also increased in 2010-11.
  • Of riders who ride once a week or less, 46 per cent cited access to safe off-road riding as a factor that would increase their riding opportunities.
  • The estimated GB horse population, including both private and professional ownership, is just below one million horses (988,000).
  • The estimated cost of the upkeep of horses is £2.8 billion (£3,105 average per horse).
  • Other indirect consumer expenditure associated with equestrian activity is estimated at £557 million.

Gutsy Cheltenham performer, Fruity O’ Rooney, is entered for Sandown Grade II Chase next month

Fruity  Rooney

Fruity O’Rooney, the ten-year-old gelding owned by Heart of the South Racing, put in his usual brave and consistent performance at the Cheltenham Festival.

He now holds an engagement at Sandown in another Grade 3 race,  the Bet365 Gold Cup Chase on April  27. 

Trained by Horsham-based Gary Moore, and well ridden by Jamie Moore, this popular horse finished fifth in the highly competitive JLT Speciality Grade 3 Handicap Chase at Cheltenham.

He has won more than £100,000 prize money  in his career, from six wins and thirteen places, and Fruity O’ Rooney is one of the most genuine horses on the circuit.

With prize money down to sixth place at Cheltenham, he boosted the tally despite the ground being described by many jockeys as ‘dead’ that day.

He is one of a number of horses with Heart of the South Racing, which offers the thrills of the sport at affordable prices to owners. See www.

The rain came too late for Pino Griego, trained by Gary Moore and ridden by Jamie Moore at Cheltenham. This mud-loving horse was beaten only one and a half lengths in the Grade 3 Byrne Group Plate handicap chase in a valiant effort on good to soft ground, which was firmer than he likes.

Tullamore Dew, trained  by Nick Gifford at Findon and ridden by Tom Cannon in the JLT Speciality Handicap Chase, was another Sussex-trained horse to finish in the prizemoney. In a thrilling finish he belied his 33-1 price and finished fourth.

Sullington trainer Richard Rowe has had Tataniano, owned by the Stewart family, in his yard for only a short time. The horse had been sent to him from Paul Nicholls for a change of scene.

While coming up against top horse Sacre Coeur, he jumped well in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, with Andrew Thornton on board and deserved his share of sixth place prize money. Stablemate Tatenen finished a good  sixth out of 24 runners in the Grand Annual Chase at 50-1 to add to the prizemoney for Rowe’s Ashleigh House Stables.




Trot to be trim campaign has been launched by British Equestrian Federation

Riding to keep fit

Riding to keep fit

An initiative to get people back in the saddle also has many health and well-being benefits that have long been associated with riding and being involved with horses, says the British Equestrian Federation.

The BEF has announced its new health and fitness campaign, Trot to be Trim. It is designed to meet the rise in demand from the public to get involved.

More and more people are taking part in Hoof – the BEF’s legacy campaign which aims to provide user friendly and easy pathways to increase participation in horse riding.

Trot to be Trim promotes the many health and well being benefits long associated with riding and being involved with horses.

Top health and fitness guru Angie Best, who was also the former wife of the legendary football player George Best, is a regular rider who believes riding and physical fitness go hand-in-hand.

Angie, also a British Showjumping Ambassador, came back to the sport when their son Calum left home and backs the campaign wholeheartedly.

“Trot to be Trim is an excellent initiative for weight loss. There is so much to do with the horse before and after you ride, it’s three times the benefit of other exercise plans!  Hundreds of calories are used during each session and so much fun with a great sense of achievement.”

A study carried out by The British Horse Society in 2011 revealed that riding can expend sufficient energy to be classed as moderate-intensity exercise. An hour’s schooling session or group lesson burns off 360 calories – the equivalent to an hour peddling up to 10mph on a cycle ride.

Jo Shuker, a 49-year-old grandmother lost four stone in five months when she began riding again with her daughter and grand-daughter after a 32-year break.

“I feel so much healthier – and exercising is not a chore,” said Jo, who enrolled on a Take Back the Reins (TBTR) programme at her local riding centre at Radway, near Banbury. TBTR is part of the BEF’s legacy campaign to encourage lapsed riders back into the saddle.

Andrew Finding, Chief Executive of the BEF commented: “A major aim of the BEF’s Legacy project, Hoof, is to inspire more people to become involved in riding and benefit from all that it has to offer. We want to spread the word that it really is possible to Trot to be Trim, but also to re-emphasise that riding not only helps achieve physical fitness, but it is also therapy for the mind and that it really does put a smile on your face.”

For more information about getting back to riding whatever your experience and fitness level go to  and find a centre near you.

Great day out promised at popular Crawley and Horsham point to point

Crazy Eyes- Crawley and Horsham Hunt's horse

Crazy Eyes- Crawley and Horsham Hunt’s horse which is due to be ridden by Ben Bentley

A KEY fixture in the South East point to point racing calendar, the 2013 Crawley and Horsham Point to Point takes place on Saturday March 23 at Parham, near Storrington, organised by members of the Crawley and Horsham Hunt, this year’s event promises exciting racing for point to point enthusiasts and a great day out for all the family.

The direction of the course was changed in 2009 so it now runs left handed and finishes where the last fence used to be, with the final hill certainly producing some fantastic finishes. The public can now enjoy the paddock, bookmakers, trade stands and fairground all on the same side of the track.

The day’s racing will begin at 12.15pm with two Pony races, one for small ponies and one for bigger ones, run under strict rules, before the first horse race at 1.45pm.

Introduced in 2005 Pony Racing has become one of the country’s fastest growing equestrian sports and now plays a pivotal role in training and developing talented young riders. Many of the young point to point jockeys began their racing career in Pony Racing.

The Crawley & Horsham point to point is popular with local trainers. Tina Cook, Olympic silver medal winning three day event rider and in her first year as a trainer of point to point horses, will be hoping for success with ten year old Peplum, a former Gary Moore inmate owned by Heart of the South Racing, and her own Sonning Star, formerly trained by her brother Nick.

Parham is also a family affair for two other local trainers- Carolyn Gorman, whose son George was South East Champion Novice Point to Point jockey in 2012, will be hoping to put him up in the Maiden on their new horse Pathologist as well as their stable star She is a Cracker in the Mixed Open.

Representing the fairer sex is Gemma Cobb, daughter of trainer Heather, who won the 2012 Restricted race on San Jose in thrilling style. At 12 years old, she became the first ever South East Area Pony Racing Champion when she won at Folkestone on Little Tinker and is now in her third season pointing.

Both George and Gemma honed their riding skills in the hunting field, following the Crawley & Horsham hounds, as did Ben Bentley, another rising star of point to point racing, whose brother Harry Bentley is currently achieving great success as a flat race jockey. Ben is due to ride Crazy Eyes, owned by the new Crawley and Horsham point to point club which currently boasts 15 members.

The gates open at 11.00am – don’t miss a great day out. Admission – public car park – £10 per adult, £5 for students and children under 16 free. For more information, visit

Painted horse at racehorse welfare centre used to show effect of work on bones and joints


Painted horse at Moorcroft demonstrationPhoto by Mark Beaumont

Painted horse at Moorcroft demonstration
Photo by Mark Beaumont

A recent demonstration at Moorcroft Racehorse Welfare Centre, in which skeletons were painted on the outside of some horses, was such a great success, that it is to be repeated in August.

The centre, at Slinfold, near Horsham, in West Sussex, does outstanding work in retraining ex-racehorses so that they can successfully be rehomed , often to compete in new disciplines.

On a cold Saturday, Jenny and Maruska, two physiotherapists from Bridgefield Physiotherapy,Horsham,  used the painted horses to explain what happens to some of the bones and joints when the horse is working.

They also discussed what type of common ailments horses can suffer from in their normal working life.

The demonstration will be re-run and expanded at the centre on August 10. More horses will be featured, doing more work and the musculature will also be included.

It is part of an ongoing series of different demonstrations and lectures at Moorcroft that are open to the public and have been organised by manager Mary Henley-Smith.

Up and coming events at the centre include a huge second-hand tack sale there on Saturday April 27 at 11am.. There will be a huge selection of rugs, saddles, boots, numnahs and more for sale.

In addition there will be a cake stall and plenty of refreshments available. All proceeds go to help the centre continue its valuable work.

One of the main fundraisers is an annual charity lunch and auction at Plumpton Racecourse, which this year takes place on Monday October 21. More than £50,000 was raised by the event in 2012.

To buy tickets for this event contact Allison Blake at Plumpton Racecourse at 01273 890383 or

For more details about Moorcroft see


England saw off rivals to maintain unbeaten International Arena Polo record at Hickstead


A chukka underway in Hickstead's arenaPhoto John Periam

A chukka underway in Hickstead’s arena
Photo John Periam

England once again took the honours in the International Arena Polo Test Match at the All England Polo Club, Hickstead, seeing off their rivals from the rest of the British Isles
to maintain their unbeaten record and retain the Bryan Morrison trophy.

The team of captain Chris Hyde (the highest rated arena polo player in Britain, with a
handicap of 9), Tarquin Southwell (7) and Roddy Williams (7) faced strong opposition from
the British Isles team, captained by Jamie Morrison (8) alongside Seb Dawnay (8) and Maurice Ormerod (6).

The teams were neck-and-neck for the first half of the game, with the British Isles team
finishing the first chukka one goal clear (4-3). England pulled it back to an 8-8 draw by the
end of the second chukka, but by the third the home team began to stamp their authority,
drawing three goals ahead with the scoreboard showing 12-15 to England.

A couple of goals from the British Isles team took the score back to 14-16 with 3min 30sec on the clock, but England quickly restored the three goal lead, with another two soon following. An impressive shot by England’s Roddy Williams with just 23 sec to go saw England seal a convincing victory, with the final score of 14-20.

“I don’t think the score did the game justice. It was 8-8 at half time and could have gone either way, but during the break we had a bit of a conflab, changed a few things and that was the turning point,” said Chris Hyde, who was also crowned Most Valuable Player.

Chris also paid tribute to the facilities at the All England Polo Club at Hickstead. “The surface and arena is the best in the country,” he praised.

John Bunn, chairman of the AEPC, pronounced the day a resounding success,saying “The International Test Match was an excellent game of polo – very technical for the first few chukkas and then it opened up a bit,” he said. “I’m delighted with how it went – amazing weather, a very good crowd and it’s brilliant to have the best players in the country coming down to Hickstead and saying how good our facilities are.”

In the first match of the day, the Clogau 12 Goal Challenge, Wales beat the Commonwealth team 18-17 when the match had to go to an extra chukka and a golden goal sudden death finish. Representing the winning team was captain Ricky Cooper (0), Peter Webb (6) and Roddy Matthews (4), while playing for the Commonwealth team were team captain Jonathan Munro Ford (0), Howard Smith (6) and Dean Lines (4).

Clogau, the proud sponsors of the Wales polo team, generously donated stunning Welsh gold cuff links to the winning teams and a Clogau watch to the Most Valuable Player, which was presented to Peter Webb by Clogau’s Brand Manager, Sonia Menezes.

The arena polo season at Hickstead culminated last weekend in the End Of Season Champagne Pommery Challenge Final.

Hickstead’s eighth polo season starts in October.