Penny’s charity jump raises £3,200 for hospice in memory of husband, John

Penny Woodman of East Lavant took to the skies at Salisbury last week, undertaking a tandem parachute jump, which has raised an impressive  £3,200 for St Wilfrid’s Hospice in Chichester.

Her charity jump was in memory of her late husband John, a well-known bloodstock agent and former jockey who died in St Wilfrid’s Hospice last month from pancreatic cancer.

Big smile from Penny Woodman during her charity parachute jump

Big smile from Penny Woodman during her charity parachute jump

Penny (61) had resolved to raise as much money as possible for the hospice in recognition of its excellent standards of care. John (67) had been in pain from a neck injury for many years prior to being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last September.

He was admitted to St Wilfrid’s Hospice for palliative care before he died because he had become immune to painkillers.

Although Penny rides out a racehorse, Chevise, everday for her brother-in-law, trainer Steve Woodman, she said she is not very sporty but felt she could manage a parachute jump. Chevise had provided a timely win for the family the day after John’s death- they went ahead with the race because John would have wanted Chevise to race and now Penny has added her own personal tribute with her charity effort.

Chevis with Penny

Chevis with Penny

“The parachute jump was an absolutely amazing experience. I have to say I was really scared, but apparently this is normal! But the views were brilliant and I would love to do it again,” said Penny.

She added: ” I am thrilled that I have managed to raise around £3,200 thanks to support from so many people for this very deserving cause.” 

Her original fundraising target had been a much more modest amount and she has thanked everyone  who supported her so generously.

Timing and tracking system to be introduced in run up to All Weather Championship

WHILE National Hunt racing fixtures, particularly those in the south, have been decimated by floods, Lingfield Park has been able to continue with its all-weather racing programme, under the umbrella of Arena Racing Company, which pioneered the introduction of all weather racing in the country with the first fixture at this local track.

Lingfield Park all-weather racing  Photo courtesy of ARC

Lingfield Park all-weather racing
Photo courtesy of ARC

The company had the vision to introduce an All Weather Championship, run across the country’s four all-weather tracks- its own at Wolverhampton, Southwell and Lingfield Park, and that owned by the Jockey Club at Kempton Park this season.

This will finish in a Championship Finals Day on Good Friday at Lingfield Park,  and the series has transformed the standard of all-weather racing.  Support is now consistently attracted from top trainers, leading owners and the best jockeys, as well as original all-weather stalwarts.

The finals day at Lingfield Park will be the richest all-weather raceday in Europe with £1million prize money on offer. The Championships features six categories of races which have been run across the four tracks.

Now the countdown to the championships on Good Friday has been enhanced by the introduction of the TurfTrax Sectional Timing and Tracking System on the Polytrack for a trial period, which started on February 12 and will run through to Good Friday on April 18, with sectional timing data available at 23 All-Weather Championship meetings.

The sectional times will record one furlong fractions of each horse, and the finish time of the winner and each runner as it crosses the line. During the race, the on-screen broadcast information will show the order of leaders and two furlong fractions for each horse throughout the race, with the data made widely available.

Jim Allen, Director of Racing at ARC said: “Sectional timing is something we have been keen to introduce, principally at our all-weather tracks, given the consistent nature of the going in comparison to racing on turf.  We have chosen Turftrax as it is the only system in the UK that offers both sectional timing and positioning.”



Racing could be back in style at Fontwell Park and Plumpton racecourses

Racing could return in Sussex in style on Sunday and Monday if the ground continues to dry out. Fontwell Park’s most valuable meeting featuring the Totepool National Spirit Hurdle is set to go ahead on Sunday, if drier conditions continue..

This is the most prestigious race in the racing calendar at Fontwell Park. With a total of £50,000 in prize money this two and a half mile event attracts some of the top hurdlers and is sometimes used as a prep race for the Cheltenham Festival.

Award-winning Fontwell Park

Award-winning Fontwell Park


Last year’s winner, Prospect Wells, was trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by Daryl Jacob in the colours of leading owner Graham Wylie. Other notable winners include Baracouda, My Way de Solzen and Lough Derg.

The going is currently heavy but with fresh ground on bends unused since October and the second last fence likely to be bypassed.  Winds with only lighter rain have dried the course out further. But the meeting hinges on having no substantial wet weather.

The race order has been changed so that the National Spirit frace is the first hurdle race  on the card at 3.10pm.

The Totepool Josh Gifford Memorial Novices’ Chase and the Hunter Chase Foxhunters Trial are two more races to look forward to, and provide an excellent supporting card to the feature race of the day.

The Josh Gifford Memorial Novices’ Chase had some good advance entries, representing top yards of Nicky Henderson, Paul Nicholls and Alan King, as well as local trainers.

The National Spirit Hurdle Race has ten advance entries with Paul Nicholls double-handed with Saphir Du Rheu and Salubrious, while Alan King has entered Medinas and Meister Eckhart. Donald McCain is contemplating making the long trip south with  Ubaltic.

Saphir Du Rheu Photo: John Simpson

Saphir Du Rheu
Photo: John Simpson

Local trainer Gary Moore has entered Chris Pea Green, and Chris Gordon could be represented by Princely Hero and Helen Nelmes by UnowhatImeanharry. The remaining two entries are Alder Mairi ( Seamus Mullins) and Kayf Moss ( John Flint).

Just need an admission ticket? Save money in advance with tickets from just £10 if pre-booked by 3pm the day before racing and remember children  under 18 go FREE!

Plumpton has an At The Races Racday on Monday, when gates open at 12 noon and the first race of seven is at 2.05pm. The going is currently heavy but with improving weather conditions forecast for the weekend.

Good racing promised at Plumpton

Good racing promised at Plumpton  Photo Copyright Jeannie Knight

The programme is:2.05 Maiden Hurdle, Class 5, 2 miles;2.35 Mares Novices Chase EBF, Class 4, 2 miles 4 furlongs; 3.10 Handicap Hurdle 0-95, Class 5, 3 miles 1,5 furlongs; 3.40 Amateur Riders Handicap Chase 0-115, Class 4, 3 miles 2 furlongs;4.10 Handicap Hurdle 0-115, Class 4, 2 miles;4.40 Mares Only Handicap Hurdle 0-105; Class 4, 2 miles 5 furlongs;5.10 Maiden Open NH Flat Race, Class 6, 2 miles 2 furlongs

Adult Admission – Advanced Online £10. £16 (on the day), including a free programme and parking. Senior Concessions (60+) on the day with photo ID: £12 Children under 18: FREE





Blenheim Palace has been recognised as Best Equine Event

British Eventing has congratulated the organisers of the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials on being awarded the Joules award for the Best Equine Event of the year.

The award was made at the BETA awards dinner at the British Equestrian Trade Association Gala Dinner held at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham, at the weekend, February 16.

Top eventing action in picturesque setting at Blenheim Photo: Blenheim Horse Trials

Top eventing action in picturesque setting at Blenheim
Photo: Blenheim Horse Trials

Chief Executive of BE, Mike Etherington-Smith commented: “Being recognised by BETA is clearly excellent news and a feather in the cap for the event. Staging an event requires a huge team effort with enthusiasm and goodwill on the part of all involved, and so well done to the team at Blenheim.”

Mandy Hervieu who has been Event Director of the horse trials at Blenheim for eight years added: “We really appreciated being nominated for this award from our exhibitors, they are such an important part of our event and we appreciate everything they put into Blenheim to help make it a success.

“It is lovely to hear that they also appreciate what we do behind the scenes to make it as successful for them as possible”.

Sean Whiting from Houghton Equestrian was one of the 200 businesses that traded at the event in 2013: “It was a tough decision this year because all of the finalists are so good. This one just topped them all with their service to us in 2013!”

Last year around 60,000 spectators and fans of the sport visited the event including spectator Dai Jones from Hampshire who attended Blenheim for the first time in 2013: “There was a fantastic range of shops with something for everyone, there was a lovely range of art, furniture and clothing for my wife and children; I went home laden with shopping for everybody.”

This year Blenheim’s trade stand village will be open to the public from September 11 – 14 September with FREE ENTRY for shoppers visiting after 4pm on Thursday and Friday.

The word is obviously spreading among trade stand holders, with spaces are already selling fast for the 2014 event.

To find out more about booking trade stand spaces or to purchase tickets for the 2014 event, please visit
– Ends –
Blenheim International Horse Trials takes place near Woodstock in Oxfordshire from 11th – 14th September 2014.

For further information regarding the event contact the Horse Trials Office via: 01993 813335/

Photos available upon request.
Editors notes:
We, British Eventing, are the national governing body for the sport in Great Britain. Eventing is a unique combination of all the disciplines of dressage, cross country over fixed fences and show jumping in one exciting activity. It’s a sport that engages all ages and has equal opportunities to compete. We regulate as well as schedule more than 190 events throughout Britain that cater for nearly 94,000 entries per season (Mar-Oct). British Eventing has more than 11,000 members and provides access to cater for riders from grassroots to those performing at international level. Britain’s senior squad took team silver at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

To deliver the sport on a national basis to the highest standard, we train hundreds of volunteers, officials, riders and technical support teams. The result is that we have successful European medal winning teams at Pony, Junior, Young Rider and Senior level.

Findon racehorses beat the rain- and only four places left in new syndicate

WHILE some Lambourn stables and gallops are flooded, horses from Nick Gifford’s Downs Stables at Findon have been working as normal and are ready for action.

Nick reported this week: ” All the horses are well, just waiting for some racing and better ground like so many people.  We are very lucky we are on chalk so we drain very well and our gallops are fine.”

There are now just  four places left in a new syndicate at his stables for Dollar Bill. This is an excellent opportunity to enjoy economic racehorse ownership, for there is no money to lay out for the horse.  Just £30 a week (plus VAT) per member ( and a maximum of 10 members).

Dollar Bill being led into the winner's enclosure following one of his victories

Dollar Bill being led into the winner’s enclosure following one of his victories

The intention is to run Dollar Bill  over hurdles and on the flat over 2-2.5 miles.  He is only five years old and is going to be a really fun little horse.  Now is the chance to go and join in the fun, and if you find a friend you could get a half share each for £15 a week.

For more information or to buy into this scheme contact Ruth Gifford on  07854 306720 to find out more or email

“We will have regular mornings on the gallops and who knows he may aim him to run at Goodwood through the summer,” said Nick.

Liam Ward with Generous Ransome

Liam Ward with Generous Ransome :Photo courtesy Nick Gifford Racing


Meanwhile Generous Ransom, a six-year-old trained by Nick for owner/breeder Sir Christopher Wates ran well at Kempton recently in an all-weather jumpers’ bumper National Hunt Flat Race, finishing fifth. Nick added: ” He is a lovely horse and we are waiting for better ground to get him out over hurdles.”

Action packed March racing programme at Fontwell Park and chance to win two air tickets to Dubai

Fontwell Park racecourse, which comes under the umbrella of Arena Racing, has some good fixtures on the calendar in the coming weeks- provided the weather relents and allows the track to dry out.

And if you book your ticket for racing during February there is an opportunity to win two return Economy Class flights from Heathrow, London Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle or Glasgow to Dubai with Emirates Airline, including all taxes.

Jockeys coming out of Fontwell Park's weighing room

Jockeys coming out of Fontwell Park’s weighing room

For how to enter see:  Winners will be notified in the week commencing March 3 2014.

Fontwell Park’s Totepool National Spirit Hurdle is the most valuable and prestigious race in the racing calendar at Fontwell Park. With a total of £50,000 in prize money this two and a half mile event attracts some of the top hurdlers and is sometimes used as a prep race for the Cheltenham Festival.

Competitive racing promised

Competitive racing promised

The Totepool Josh Gifford Memorial Novices’ Chase and the Hunter Chase Foxhunters Trial are two more races to look forward to, and provide an excellent supporting card to the feature race of the day.Save money in advance with tickets from just £10 if pre-booked by 3pm the day before racing and remember children under 18 go free.

With the Cheltenham Festival fever starting to grow, join Cheltenham Preview Raceday in support of the Injured Jockeys Fund at Fontwell Park on Wednesday  March 5 to enjoy an afternoon of jumps racing.

After racing, a panel of experts will mark cards for Cheltenham before a Cheltenham Preview after racing with a panel of experts who will mark cards for the biggest jumps festival of the year. The preview evening will be held in the 888sport Premier Bar and the panel will consist of jockeys, trainers, bookmakers and racing journalists

It starts at approximately 5.30pm inside the main Premier Grandstand and will last for approximately an hour. The Preview will be sponsored by Star Sports Bookmakers with the following panellists confirmed; Lee Mackenzie (MC), Luke Tarr (Star Sports), Tanya Stevenson (Channel 4 Racing), Leighton Aspell (Professional jockey).

Access all areas with Fontwell’s one enclosure policy for this particular raceday. Save money in advance with tickets from just £10 if pre-booked by 3pm, children under 16 go free.


Olympic legacy programme in action at Iver Heath based riding school

Leaping ponies, hounds jumping through hoops and afternoon tea will mark Moorwards Farm Equestrian Coaching Facilities first birthday- and with it the launch of new riding opportunities for adults.

Jodie Maile, manager at Moorwards Farm

Jodie Maile, manager at Moorwards Farm

On Sunday 23 February crowds, including World Class Equestrian eventer Laura Collett will descend on the Iver Heath based equestrian centre in Buckinghamshire, to celebrate the equestrian legacy and encourage more people into the saddle.

Moorwards Farm will host an open day showcasing the delights of equestrian sport and celebrating the launch of Take Back The Reins (TBTR) in their centre. TBTR is a series of riding lessons aimed at adults who want to improve their confidence, get fit and have a giggle in the saddle.

The seven week programme has been developed by Hoof, the British Equestrian Federation’s Olympic and Paralympic legacy scheme, and is delivered through approved riding schools across England.

As a keen advocate of the sport, Moorwards Farm manager, Jodie Maile has played a pivotal role in delivering the equestrian legacy programme. Through her work as a Regional Chair in the London area for the Hoof programme, Jodie has helped the industry to grow and enticed more people to discover their love for horses.

“We are all excited to be celebrating our first Birthday with the local community and to be inviting potential and existing customers to our centre to see what we have to offer.  At Moorwards we believe horses and ponies are for everyone and we are looking forward to this opportunity to showcase the Take Back The Reins programme” enthuses Jodie.

The Pony Club approved centre is inviting anyone to drop by between 12am- 4pm to find out what Moorwards Farm (E.C) has to offer! Visitors will enjoy demonstrations from the local Pony Club, a traditional afternoon tea, pony rides as well as an educational demonstration from British Eventing UKCC accredited coach and judge Sue Edwards.

Guests will also be invited to meet Equestrian World Class rider Laura Collett. The International event rider took on the enviable task of re-schooling National Hunt champion Kauto Star and is coming along to Moorwards Farm to share her passion for horse riding with visitors. The UK Sport lottery funded rider will be sharing her equestrian tales and encouraging people to try out horse riding.

To find out more about the event please contact Moorwards Farm on 01895 263991 or visit

In the South East, two riding schools taking part in Take Back The Reins are Lavant House Riding Centre, near Chichester, and Cranleigh Riding Centre.

An eight strong Qatar Racing team will run in the 2014 Virgin Money London marathon for Racing Welfare

Qatar Racing will be fielding an eight strong team in the 2014 Virgin London Marathon on Saturday April 13 to raise money for charity Racing Welfare

Sheikh Fahad Al Thani, the head of Qatar Racing, will himself be running in the marathon, joined by his racing and bloodstock manager David Redvers and also six of his trainers.

Sheikh Fahad

Sheikh Fahad Al Thani

The trainers are Andrew Balding, Robert Cowell, Richard Hannon Jnr, Charlie Hills, David Simcock and Olly Stevens. The team will be aiming to raise thousands of pounds for the charity which helps past and present stud and stable staff in need.

The only one of the eight to have run a marathon before is David Redvers, who said:” The idea to field a team in the marathon raising money for Racing Welfare was entirely Sheikh Fahad’s though I have to be honest and admit I was not 100 per cent convinced at the outset that he was serious about running himself.

“When the proposal of a team of trainers was first put forward we were treated to as many updates of ailments affecting the trainers themselves as we receive about the horses under their care. However, we are delighted with the make-up of the eventual team.”

The team includes the three training operations who delivered Group 1 oversees success for Sheikh Fahad in 2013 as well as the trainers repsonsible for Qatar Racing’s 2013 Royal Ascot winners.

In a statement, David Redvers added:”We have been working with the charity Racing Welfare since the launch of the QIPCO British Champions Series in 2011. Sheikh Fahad’s passion is for the horses and their care and so he is very aware of the work and dedication of the stud and stable staff who look after them. This is a fantastic gesture by Sheikh Fahad and the trainers and shows their commitment to those who work in our sport.”

Lesley Graham, Chief Executive of Racing Welfare, said: “We were over the moon to learn that Sheikh Fahad has chosen Racing Welfare to benefit from his Virgin Money London Marathon challenge. We thank him for his on-going commitment to Racing Welfare, which is invaluable.

“He has been involved in a number of projects in the past including supporting our 24hr helpline. We wish the Qatar Racing – London Marathon Team all the best with their training and look forward to congratulating them at the finish line in April.”

Last year Olly Stevens, who trains at Robins Farm Racing Stables, completed his first season of training for Qatar Racing and  trained a Royal Ascot winner in Qatar Racing’s claret silks when Extortionist won the Windsor Castle Stakes and he also won a Group 2 race with Green Door.

Olly Stevens

Olly Stevens

Andrew Balding started training at Kingsclere, near Newbury in 2003 when he succeeded his father, Ian. Andrew has trained Group 1 winners in Britain, Dubai, Hong Kong, Canada and Australia.  Robert Cowell trains just outside Newmarket at Bottisham Heath Stud. His best-known horses include Royal Ascot Group 1 winner Prohibit and Kingsgate Native.

Richard Hannon Junior

Richard Hannon Junior

Richard Hannon has just taken on the licence previously held by his father, Richard. Based at Herridge, near Marlborough, Richard Jnr was assistant to his father for nearly a decade. Charlie Hills trains near Lambourn in Berkshire having taken over from his father Barry in 2011. In 2013 he trained Just The Judge to win the Irish 1000 Guineas giving both him and Qatar Racing their first victory in a European Classic.

David Simcock started training in 2004 and is based in Newmarket. David has trained Group 1 winners in England, France and the USA. The best horse he has trained is Dream Ahead, winner of five Group 1 races and crowned champion sprinter in 2011.




Chepstow and Fontwell Park meetings abandoned with Fontwell’s rain tally 524mm since December 14.

Racing fixtures in Britain continues to be decimated, with the news that continuous rain has led to Chepstow abandoning today’s card. Fontwell Park also made an early announcement yesterday that the course is waterlogged and racing has been cancelled tomorrow,Thursday.

Overnight rainfall levels were so high on Monday night that both tracks were left without an option. Chepstow received 10mm taking the total for the month to 101mm.

But Fontwell’s plight is not as bad as courses, such as Worcester, which is situated near to a river, and where canoeists have held races towards the finishing post and some tracks have been totally submerged in water.

Racecourses throughout the country have been flooded

Racecourses throughout the country have been flooded-some badly Photo by John Simpson


Fontwell Park has been particularly badly hit this year, with a rainfall tally of 108mm in February adding to already saturated ground- and and overall total of 524mm since December 14.

It had suffered 5mm of rain in 24 hours prior to calling off tomorrow’s meeting because of waterlogging and false ground.

Racing has yet to take place in 2014 at Fontwell and cancellation of three meetings so far has been a bitter blow, but with unprecedented rainfalls and waterlogging of the bottom bend, there has been no option.

Fontwell’s plight is nowhere near as bad as courses, such as Worcester, which is situated near to a river, and where canoeists have held races towards the finishing post after the nearby River Severn burst its banks.

With is most valuable raceday, the National Spirit Hurdle Day, scheduled for February 23, everyone is hoping that the rain pattern will ease in time for the track to be raceable for Fontwell Park’s big day in 11 days time.

Officials say there is ample time to get the track ready and raceable- providing current levels of heavy rain cease.



Moorcroft’s outstanding success in retraining ex-racehorses

MOORCROFT Racehorse Welfare Centre, at Slinfold in West Sussex,  is one of only four charitable racehorse rehabilitation centres in the entire country  to receive part-funding from Retraining of Racehorses in recognition of its outstanding work in retraining and rehoming former racehorses.

Based at Huntingrove Stud,  it is also the only charity of its type in Sussex and surrounding counties, and operates to a very high standard and achieving a professional top level of rehoming retired racehorses under the management of Mary Henley-Smith. For the remaining funding it relies on its own fund-raising efforts, including an annual Plumpton Raceday and a  Quiz night, as well as donations.

Chairman of Moorcroft trustees, Tim Fox, with Mary Henley-Smith

Chairman of Moorcroft trustees, Tim Fox, with Mary Henley-Smith

It has a number of prestigious trustees, headed by chairman Tim Fox, who ensure that it carries out its mission to re-school and rehabilitate former racehorses that have been gifted to Moorcroft so they can have a real chance at a second career.

It is temporary home for a maximum of 28 horses and these come from a variety of racing backgrounds and this charity’s function is to retrain them and find suitable alternative homes based on their abilities and needs- which it does to an impressive standard.

There are some outstanding success stories of retrained racehorses, including Ravenclaw, an 11-year-old who raced a total of 13 times in his racing career, which spanned from late 2008 until 2011. He won at Fontwell in 2011 and was also second at Plumpton, where he returned last year to represent Moorcroft in a parade of ex-racehorses.

Ravenclaw before retraining

Ravenclaw before retraining

Mary said: “He found his racing life difficult and it had taken a lot out of him, but he has had two years of less stressful work since then and he is much better for it. It has been a pleasure to re-train him here at the centre and as he is only 11-years-old, he still has much to give and has a great temperament.  He is now ready for rehoming.”

Ravenclaw after retraining

Ravenclaw after retraining

Photos taken of him when he arrived at the centre and as he is now, show how much he, like other horses, has benefited from the careful retraining and rehabilitation given at Moorcroft. Others like him that have gone to good homes recently and these, who enjoy a life of hacking and schooling, with non-pressurised competitions in between, include Istanbul and Bluegrass Stampede, now living in Surrey and Yorkshire respectively. Rising Star is in Gloucestershire and Hoorah Henry lives near Windsor.
Two waiting in the wings for new homes are French-bred St Denis and Global Traffic.  St Denis is a 16.3hh eight-year-old who now hacks and schools well, but is not a novice ride. He is established in his work and would make a great horse in the show ring or dressage arena. Global Traffic, aged nine, ran 40 times between 2006 and 2009 and had more than 10 placings in his career.

Mary described his temperament as ‘extremely generous’, adding: “He does love his work, but racing has taken its toll on his body and he needs a quiet life somewhere, where someone is prepared to put more in than they take out.”

Meanwhile Moorcroft has been able to bring its facilities up to a very high standard in recent years, thanks to its own fundraising, generous legacies and donations from supporters. It has an indoor school, a hay storage barn and has been able to replace its 20-year-old horsebox with a three-horse Betfair sponsored box and is grateful to all these benefactors who help sustain this worthwhile charity.
Moorcroft also puts something back into the local equestrian world with an ongoing programme of clinics, lectures and demonstrations organised by Mary, that are increasingly popular.

Next month sees a long-reining course and on Saturday May 3 at 11am there will be a demonstration of ridden Moorcroft horses, accompanied by an explanation of postural problems that all ridden horses can suffer and how to help improve these.
For full details or contact 07929 666408 ( daytime only).