Good card for Plumpton’s Monday fixture could hinge on amount of rain over the weekend

A Chinese Raceday fixture is planned for Plumpton on Monday, where the going is currently heavy, soft in places- but no waterlogging, and the track currently raceable.

The latest report from the course says that showers are forecast today. Friday, some of which could be heavy, while Saturday is looking mostly dry and feeling colder than of late, Sunday has more rain on the outlook but with forecast’s varying Plumpton says there is some uncertainty as to the amount at this stage.

Gary Moore and Brave Vic returning from exercise at home

Gary Moore and Brave Vic returning from exercise at home

The  £6,000 Crystal Services Novice Hurdle over  2mile 5 furlongs has attracted a good initial entry with both winner and runner up in similar event at the last meeting entered. Venetia Williams has entered winner Marcilhac again, while runner up that day, Brave Vic, from Gary Moore is again entered.

Brave Vic is one horse certain to go on to a bright future over the fences and his trainer has described him as ‘a good chaser in the makings’.

Brandon Thomas, a good winner at the last meeting for Findon trainer Nick Gifford, is entered for the Novices Handicap Chase over two miles one furlong, where trainer Robert Walford and jockey Felix De Giles- who have had a number of successes at Plumpton- team up with Just Cloudy.

Brandon Thomas- a winner for Nick Gifford Photo copyright Jeannie Knight

Brandon Thomas- a winner for Nick Gifford
Photo copyright Jeannie Knight

Updated going reports will be issued daily, and everyone is hoping this fixture will survive the continued onslaught of heavy rain.  The astute large investment by course owners in extensive drainage work on the track during the summer break has more than paid off so far this season.

Racing is planned to start at 1.30pm, with a seven race card and gates open at 11.30am.

Further rain has led to abandonment of Fontwell Park’s Sunday meeting

Sunday’s fixture at Fontwell Park has been abandoned following yet more rain, bringing immense disappointment to racegoers who are staunch supporters of this award-winning figure-of-eight track.
Some of the attractive facilities at Fontwell Park

Some of the attractive facilities at Fontwell Park

It is also a bitter blow to Fontwell’s management team, which has done everything possible to try and make the track raceable following the abandonment of the previous meeting.
The bottom bend of the course was still badly affected, with some waterlogging, but with further rain yesterday, plus 6-10mm forecast for today, abandonment was
Fontwell clerk of the course Ed Arkell issued a statement yesterday saying:”There’s some rain today, 6-10mm tomorrow, showers on Saturday and heavy rain on Sunday. It looks like it’s going only one way unfortunately.”
An inspection was called for 3pm yesterday with the inevitable abandonment of the meeting.
This popular Sussex track, was recently named again as  The Racegoers Club Best Small Racecourse in the South East.
The club has a 4,500 strong membership going racing on average more than 30 times a year, and travelling far and wide. No-one is better qualified to judge the worthy national and regional winners.
Tracy Skinner, executive director of Fontwell Park Racecourse said: “Everyone at Fontwell Park Racecourse is delighted to retain this award for the 2013 season.”

Winning comeback for Frankie Dettori after three months off with an ankle injury

Frankie Dettori made a “fairytale” return to the saddle at Lingfield Park yesterday after more than three months without a ride following an ankle injury.The popular jockey and three-time champion won two out of his three races – despite admitting that he hadn’t yet reached his peak fitness level.

Frankie Dettori back in winning form at Lingfield Park

Frankie Dettori back in winning form at Lingfield Park in board Eco Warrior

Dettori said: “It’s a fairytale comeback and there is nothing better than that. I wanted to use Lingfield to get me 100 per cent because as you can see I am still blowing a lot. A big thank you to my surgeon Mr Robinson for screwing me back together and everybody who has helped me over the last three months.”

The 43-year-old Italian who was having his first ride since fracturing an ankle in a fall at Nottingham in early October, gained an all-the-way success on 8-1 shot Eco Warrior and followed up on 7-4 favourite Gone With The Wind.


Frankie celebrates in style following his first win back for trainer John  Hills with Eco Warrior

Dettori’s appearance at the Surrey racecourse attracted huge press interest and boosted Lingfield’s admissions as fans of the jockey turned out to see him ride.

“It’s good to be out of the house and doing what I love,” added Dettori. “I was surprised how quickly I got back because originally we thought I would be out for six to nine months. It’s been three and a half months and, although there is no pain, I’m just trying to gather the strength back in my ankle.

“There is nothing like race riding and that was a big pipe opener. I don’t know when I will be A1, but I will keep myself busy. It’s your mental awareness during the race that you need to sharpen up when you come back.”

Referring to the launch of the All Weather Championships which has pumped £2million into all-weather racing and will culminate in the grand finale at Lingfield Park on Good Friday, he added: “There are some good rides coming up and that will help me speed up my routine. Crossing the line, my lungs were burning and my thighs were burning and I was taking two breaths to get one. Fitness is all about the time of recovery and I’m glad I’ve got a break until the next race.”

“It was funny because when the favourite came alongside me just past the three (furlong pole) I thought I hope he passes me quick, so I can half give up, but then he didn’t and I thought ‘Oh God!’ But at that moment the adrenaline and instinct to win takes over and you only feel the pain after the line.

“I gave up smoking in the New Year, but I haven’t opened my lungs like this for four months. You can only do so much in the gym and when you’re there you are not competing with anybody – only with yourself – so when you’re tired you can just give up.

“In a race you can’t give up a furlong out and you have to carry on. That’s why there is nothing like race riding because until you are in that situation you never push yourself.

“I was nervous in the morning – as nervous as I would be if I was riding in a big race – because you don’t know how your leg is going to hold up, your fitness and you want to make an impression.

“A lot of things play on your mind but I went into the weighing room and saw my old valet Dave Curry. He put his arm around me like he used to do and it all came back together.

Sire De Grugy is off on a well-deserved holiday prior to Cheltenham Champion Chase

WEST Sussex based Sire De Grugy, who won the Sodexo Clarence House Grade One Chase at Ascot in brilliant style, is about to have a holiday in a new environment before he begins preparations for a tilt at the Champion Chase at Cheltenham in March.

Sire De Grugy looking out through the rear of his bix, with his regular jockey Jamie Moore

Sire De Grugy looking out through the rear of his bix, with his regular jockey Jamie Moore

Prior to this imminent and well-deserved break, this week he was content, relaxing in his box at the impressive Cisswood Racing Stables, Lower Beeding, just outside Horsham, where he is trained by Gary Moore.

Trainer’s son Jamie, who has ridden the eight-year-old with great success throughout his career, described him as a ‘very kind horse’, adding: “But if there is anything he doesn’t like, he lets you know. Generally he has a nice nature.”

While Sire De Grugy has been known to dislike being clipped, it was his good general nature that enabled Jamie’s young daughters Sophie and Lola, aged three and two, to sit on his back as a Christmas Day treat.

This week, with clearing fog taking over from rain- which has washed out the gallops at the stables three times- he was clearly relaxed and happy, enjoying hanging his head out through the back of his box, looking  out over open countryside and the gallops.

“It’s his favourite spot. He loves to look out here, rather than over the door into the yard,” said Jamie.

He has established a unique partnership with this horse, and rides him out every day, giving him a varied individual routine, sometimes simply riding him through nearby woods.

Sire De Grugy in the yard for a special photo shoot

Sire De Grugy in the yard posing happily for the camera

There is little doubt that this very individual routine has contributed to his successes.

“Some people have criticised us for  being ‘too hard’ on him with three big races in succession, I think that is very unfair. He has not been over-raced, has a relaxed routine at home, and is about to have a good holiday before we think about Cheltenham preparations,” said Jamie.

He continued:”He has tackled everything enthusiastically and had been constantly improving. Cheltenham will be another test for him but we will be going there with him still on the upgrade and with every chance. At Ascot last week he was spectacular, very brave and it was an impressive performance by him. He felt better than ever.”

Meanwhile Gary Moore was riding out with the string, returning on board

Gary Moore and Brave Vic

Gary Moore and Brave Vic

Brave Vic- who is due to run at Plumpton on Monday in the Crystal Services Novice Hurdle over two miles five furlongs. This six-year-old was second over the same distance at the last meeting to the Venetia Williams-trained Marcilac and there was a lot to like about the way he plugged on,



Frankie Dettori returns after long injury lay-off with three rides at Lingfield Park today

Frankie Dettori returns to action at Lingfield Park today, having been off through injury since the first part of October. He has three booked rides and will be hoping to make a winning comeback.

frankie Dettori at Glorious Goodwood

Frankie Dettori       Photo by John Simpson

He missed some top rides in the latter part of the 2013 Flat season after breaking his ankle in a freak fall when going down to the start at Nottingham in the beginning of October.

One major ride he missed through injury was on board Treve in the Arc De Triomphe for Criquette Head-Maarak in October.

After three and a half months off on the sidlelines he is eager to back in action, aiming to add to his three Champion Jockey titles earned during his career.

Fortunately his ankle has healed quicker than everyone thought and he has  been riding out and generally doing as much exercise as possible to ensure he is racing ride fit.

He had also been appointed retained rider for Treve’s owner, Sheikh Joaane Al Thani, who has many top horses in training throughout the world, as well as with some of Britain’s best trainers.

His three rides today start with  Eco Warrior,trained by John Hills in the opening Median Auction Maiden Stakes. The second is Gone With the Wind for Jeremy Noseda in the Maiden Stakes over six furlongs and his third will be for Alexandra Dunn on board Exemplary in the 32Red Conditions Stakes.

This is a horse he has ridden before and which it is hoped will win the fast-track qualifier for the All Weather Finals.


Teenage rider wins Elite Performance Award for showjumping with ex-racehorse Tanktastic

WEST Sussex rider, Isabelle Tomkins (16) from Bognor Regis, has won the South Essex Insurance Brokers and Retraining of Racehorses  Elite Performance Award for Showjumping with her father, Chris Tomkins’ ex-racehorse, Tanktastic. Isabelle went to the Breeders Dinner and Award Ceremony, organised by the British Horse Foundation at the Grange City Hotel, London, this month.

Isabelle    competing with Tanktastic in show jumping. Photo by Spidge

Isabelle Tomkins competing with Tanktastic in show jumping. Photo by Spidge

The awards provide a focus for ex-racehorses competing in the disciplines of Eventing, Dressage, Show Jumping, Endurance and Showing and have encouraged more riders to recognise the talents and versatility of the thoroughbred and their potential for success in another sphere. The Performance Award for showjumping offers a valuable prize fund of £2,500 to the winner, donated by RoR.

Tanktastic was previously trained by Peter Hedger in West Sussex, when owned by Samantha Garry,  running over hurdles and on the flat and being placed three times.  Isabelle, a member of the Goodwood Pony Club was taught to ride by Samantha and the Tomkins family bought him from her.  Isabelle’s father, Chris Tomkins said: “Sam has helped us so much with Tanktastic. Isabelle has lessons with her and they go to shows together.  We have had him for four years now and they have done all sorts of things, although the main aim is really showjumping. They have won £700 to £800 this year in actual prize money.”

Chris Tomkins receives the award for Tantastic

Chris Tomkins receives the award for Tantastic from David Buckton of SEIB  and Di Arbuthnot  of RoR       Photo Trevor Meeks

Isabelle and Tanktastic have been competing in British Showjumping senior classes in 2013 in British Novice, Discovery and 1.05 opens, including qualifying for the British Novice final. They are aiming at competing in 1.10 classes in 2014. Chris added, “We set out at the start of this season to do well in these awards and it is just great for the pair that they have won. Isabelle is having a long hard think about what to spend the prize money on. It is such a valuable prize she really doesn’t want to waste it.”

South Essex Insurance Brokers, which provides cover for horses, horse boxes, yards and much more, instigated the Performance Awards in order to support the retraining of the thousands of racehorses who come out of training each year.

Tanktastic during his racing days

Tanktastic during his racing days

“The Performance Awards also provide a platform to show how a correctly re-schooled ex-racehorse can be successful in a new career and continue to have a bright future, competing successfully in many different disciplines.  This year’s competition has proved yet again the versatility and resilience of the thoroughbred”, said Nicolina Mackenzie, Marketing Manager of SEIB.

To find out more about the SEIB and RoR Elite Performance Awards visit or

SEIB to be new sponsor for British Showjumping Winter Novice Championship with final at Hickstead

British Showjumping has announced that South Essex Insurance Brokers (SEIB) will be the new title sponsor of the British Showjumping Winter Novice Championship. The SEIB Winter Novice Championship consists of twelve national qualifying rounds which are held ahead of the Championship Final, which takes place at the Longines Royal International Horse Show  at Hickstead during July 30 – August 4 2014.

Tina Fletcher coming down the famous Derby Bank Photo:John Periam

Tina Fletcher coming down the famous Derby Bank
Photo: Equestrian photo journalist John Periam 01243 84718

The SEIB Winter Novice Championship is a popular series and it is for registered horses in Grade C that have not won a total of £300. Horses must be ridden by an Adult, Associate or Junior members placed lower than 50th on the Riders Ranking List.

Nicolina MacKenzie, Marketing Manager at SEIB, said of the announcement: “SEIB is delighted to be involved with the Novice Winter Championships as it has given us an opportunity to continue to support grass roots riders, as well as forging a new and enhanced relationship with British Showjumping”

Maria Clayton, Head of Communications at British Showjumping added: “We are delighted that SEIB has chosen to take the title sponsorship of the hugely popular Winter Novice Championship with its prestigious final at the Royal International Horse Show.

“The series is contested heavily throughout the winter season and is now in its twenty-second year of enjoying a final within the globally renowned international arena at the All England Jumping Course, Hickstead. We look forward to working alongside the team at SEIB and would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their support.”

Competitors have the opportunity to qualify for the SEIB Winter Novice Championship 2014 at the remaining direct qualifiers, which run from now until the beginning of March.

These take place as follows:Arena UK- January 25 and 26 ; Aintree  Equestrian Centre February 2; Keysoe Equestrian Centre, February 15; Hand Equestrian Centre, March 8 and 9.

SEIB has been providing specialist insurance solutions since 1963 and its reputation has been built on giving good honest advice, whilst offering insurance products to cover the exacting needs of their clients.The company has been arranging horse related insurance for nearly fifty years and  offers both personal and commercial packages.

Sire De Grugy is Cheltenham-bound following outstanding Ascot win under Jamie Moore yesterday

Jamie Moore and Sire De Grugy Photo: John Simpson

Jamie Moore and Sire De Grugy-outstanding Ascot win
Photo: John Simpson

Sire De Grugy and Jamie Moore took the Sodexo Clarence House Grade One Chase at Ascot yesterday in brilliant style. It was a flawless performace from both horse and jockey, and gave trainer Gary Moore his third big win of the season with this talented horse.

The French-bred runner has now won 12 races for Cisswood Stables, near Horsham, in West Sussex- all with Jamie in the saddle.  And Jamie has overtaken the record of 11 set by Tony McCoy for most wins ridden on one horse.

The Moore combination has been formidable this season, with Sire De Grugy winning the Tingle Creek Chase, Desert Orchid Chase and now the Clarence House, earning an entry for the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Jamie Moore

Jamie Moore

Gary Moore, who has had his gallops washed away three times by floods in recent weeks, said:” This is only his second season in chases- he was a novice last year. Jamie originally went to see him in France and said I had to buy him. He has done all the work on him .

Trainer Gary Moore

Trainer Gary Moore

“Sire De Grugy was very free-running when he came to us, but he has settled down well. He simply has to take his chance at Cheltenham- he has earned it. We will give him a nice break of a couple of weeks, without a saddle on his back. He has earned a break for he has won  £212,000 prize money for us.”

Jamie Moore said:”He was spectacular, very brave and this was an impressive performance,  I got a better feel than ever from him today and he was simply magic. People haven’t given us a lot of credit so far for his achievements, but he is a very good horse.

“If he can jump round Cheltenham, he could win the Champion Chase,” he added.

Owned by the Preston Family and Friends, this eight-year-old My Risk gelding is ridden out at home every day by Jamie, who gives him a varied routine, sometimes taking him through woodlands . He has established an outstanding partnership Sir De Grugy, who jumped fearlessly and accurately to win the Clarence House Chase in commanding style.





New horses for Nick Gifford Racing Club have been showcased on Findon gallops

TWO new horses have been showcased on the gallops at Findon for members and potential members of The Nick Gifford Racing Club- a small friendly club which offers affordable racehorse ownership to National Hunt racing enthusiasts.

Prouts Pub, a five-year-old bumper winner at 10-1, and Cove, a promising seven-year-old mare who finished second in an Irish point to point, were put through their paces in front of exisisting members and others interesting in joining.

Tulllamore Dew, ridden by head girl Carol Double, followed by Prouts Pub and Cove, watched by members of the Nick Gifford Racing Club  Photo copyright Jeannie Knight

Tulllamore Dew, ridden by head girl Carol Double, followed by Prouts Pub and Cove, watched by members of the Nick Gifford Racing Club Photo copyright Jeannie Knight

Cove had come with good credentials, for the horse which finished behind her in the point to point where she was runner-up, has already won a novice hurdle. She fulfilled her promise at Plumpton on Monday this week, where despite running very green, she ran on at the end of the race to finish third.

Prouts Pub is named after an Irish pub in Tiperrary and both newcomers shaped impressively on the gallops, led by head girl Carol Double on board experienced Tullamore Dew, which has won four races and been placed 11 times for the yard, earning more than £82,000 in prizemoney.

Bringing up the rear was travelling head lad Andrew Veale riding a young gelding by Mountain High.

Tullamore Dew followed by Cove, leaving the gallops

Tullamore Dew followed by Cove, leaving the gallops

The maximim number envisaged for this club is 30 people and three horses, so that it retains a very personal touch and different horses for members to enjoy. There is an initial £1,000 plus VAT to pay, covering the cost of buying the horses,  followed by just £38 per week plus VAT, with VAT reclaimable.

Members of the group can visit the horses at any time by arrangement with Nick, or his wife Ruth. Owners badges to the races, photos and regularly emails with full information of horses’ progress, as well as quarterly mornings on the gallops with drinks and nibbles are also included.

Old Dreams started the club off in style last autumn when winning a Fontwell bumper in great style by eight lengths when ridden by AP McCoy. By Old Vic and out of three times winning mare I Can Imagine, she is a genuine sort.

Runners from Downs Stables have been in great form and Nick sent horses on the long trip north to Wetherby, in Yorkshire, on Boxing Day with some excellent results.

Cove, a recent addition to Nick's string, previously placed in an Irish point to point Photo Copyright Jeannie Knight

Cove, a recent addition to Nick’s string, previously placed in an Irish point to point
Photo Copyright Jeannie Knight

Catcher Star won a novice handicap hurdle at 11-2 ridden by Tom Cannon rallying in determined style to win be a neck. This promising six-year-old gelding is certain to build on that success in the future.  Tullamore Dew achieved an oustanding second place and went on to finish second again at Exeter this  week. Fairy Rath, owned by Jeremy Kyle, ran a cracker in ground he does not like, finishing third, topping up his prizemoney of around £100,000.

It was the first time Nick has had runners at Wetherby Racecourse, but his father, the late Josh Gifford, used to love going there.”It’s a great track and I shall certainly consider sending runners there again this season,” said Nick.

Inishmor has won the Retraining of Racehorses Elite Performance Award for eventing

WINNER of the Retraining of Racehorses Elite Performance Award for eventing in 2013 has been announced as Ian Murray’s, Inishmor, ridden by Paul Tapner. Ian bought Inishmor from the sales in 2007 as an unbroken three year old.

He put him in training with Jeremy Scott. Ian said: “He was a brilliant work horse at home, but never did any good on the track. He moved nicely so we thought he might have a future to go on and do another job.”

Inishmor in action Photo by Sally Bruce and courtesy of  British Eventing

Inishmor in action
Photo by Sally Bruce. Courtesy of British Eventing

Inishmor was nearly sold as a dressage horse, then Ian moved him to Grace Muir’s local HERO’s yard but a suitable buyer couldn’t be found. Ian continued: “A friend suggested that he might be good at eventing and that he could win at BE100 level, so I got in touch with Paul and in two seasons he is now successfully competing at Intermediate and two star level.”

Ian said, “He is just a natural at eventing and I am really enjoying going to the events, I never come home without a smile on my face. I also enjoy the fact that Inishmore lives very locally so I get to see a lot of him. Our aim is to enjoy his eventing and whilst I am keen for him to continue to do well, it is paramount that he enjoys himself and we don’t ask too much of him.

“He came third in the Retrained Racehorse class at Barbury Castle International Horse Trials last year and I’m really keen for him to win it this year if at all possible. We also have a few trips abroad planned for him, possibly to Tattersalls in Ireland and maybe to the continent as well.”

Inishmor gained 55 British Eventing points throughout the 2013 season to take the SEIB and RoR Eventing Elite Performance Award.

Paul Tapner added, “There is definitely more to come from Inishmor, he will hopefully carry on up the grades. He is a very willing horse and he tries in all three phases.”

Inishmor and Paul also paraded at the Cheltenham festival in 2013, as part of the retrained racehorse display.

Dan Jocelyn and his own Valemount took the runner up award for the second year running. Valemount was formerly in training with Philip Hobbs in Somerset and Dan acquired him from the late Joanna Winter. Dan has previously represented New Zealand in eventing including a place on the New Zealand team at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Dan said, “I am really pleased to win the runner up award as our season came to an abrupt end in the CIC2* at Gatcombe in September when Valemount made a really unlucky mistake, we fell and I broke my wrist, arm and foot. It was really unfortunate as he had been going great and also meant we missed out on the Boekelo CCI3* end of season event.

“I have been going to Oaksey House in Lambourn and the physio and gym available there has helped speed up my recovery significantly.”

Dan is now back riding and really looking forward to the 2014 season with Valemount, he added, “We will hopefully go to the CCI3* Saumur event and then Maison Lafitte. The prize money from the award will either pay for a passport for Valemount or I will buy another ex-racehorse.”

The Ballroom at the Grange City Hotel, London, was packed for the glittering British Horse Foundation Breeders dinner and Awards Ceremony which incorporated the South Essex Insurance Brokers (SEIB) and the charity Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) Elite Performance Awards for ex-racehorses. Leading equine insurance brokers, SEIB, instigated the awards more than 10 years ago.