Sire De Grugy may wait until next season to run again

Despite speculation, Sire De Grugy is unlikely to bid for another Sandown victory next month- and the eight-year-old may be put away until next season. The winner of the recent BetVictor Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham, could give Sandown’s Celebration Chase next month a miss.

Sire De Grugy relaxing with  Jamie Moore at Cisswood Stables, near Horsham.  Photo copyright  Jeannie Knight

Sire De Grugy relaxing with Jamie Moore at Cisswood Stables, near
Horsham. Photo copyright Jeannie Knight

The French-bred gelding score his fifth successive win of the currrent season at the Cheltenham festival, and although he has come out of that race in top condition, his trainer Gary Moore, based near Horsham in West Sussex, has said the talented horse may have run his last race of the season.

He said the horse is in great shape after the race and he may now be given a break until next season.  Sire De Grugy currently does not hold an entry for the Celebration Chase at Sandown and his trainer said that everything would have to be right for him to run in that race.

The horse had impressed everyone with the way he handled the track and ground at Cheltenham in a gutsy performance- despite both being far from ideal for him. Sire De Grugy is still a young horse and has plenty of time ahead of him to tackle more top races.

Tullius could make perfect start in the Lincoln for new Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds team

The Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds-owned Tullius who won the 2012 Group 3 Sovereign Stakes, will start off his 2014 season in the Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster on Saturday March 29.

Tullius in action Photo courtesy John Simpson

Tullius in action
Photo courtesy John Simpson

If Penitent fails to line up, he will shoulder top weight, but Oisin Murphy, tipped to be champion apprentice this season, will be in the saddle claiming 3lb, and taking off soem of the weight.

Tullius is trained for the group by Andrew Balding and syndicate manager Sam Hoskins said: “Andrew is very excited about Tullius, who is showing all the same sparkle he did in his prolific 2012 season, which culminated in success at Group 3 level.

Sam Hoskins

Sam Hoskins

“He has a great record fresh, enjoys a fast pace and will appreciate any give in the ground. Last year Tullius was plagued by injury, but a break seems to have done him the world of good. Andrew feels he has a big chance here despite his 25-1 odds. It would be a dream start to a new era for KVT!”

KVT is approaching its twenty-sixth season and long time manager and founder Nick Robinson recently handed over the reins to a new team that includes 28-year-old Sam Hoskins, who will run the syndicates on a day-to-day basis and who also manages the successful Hot To Trot Racing Club. Other team members are leading bloodstock agent Luke Lillingston, and the father/son combination of former Robins Farm trainer Peter Winkworth and his son Piers.

Their ten horses in training for 2014 also includes the smart two year old of 2013, Langavat, and five exciting new two-year-olds. Their trainer roster includes Andrew Balding, Ralph Beckett, Richard Hannon, Charlie Hills and Olly Stevens.

For more details on the various Kennet Valley Syndicates, please contact Sam Hoskins on 0203 542 1620 or email

Event rider Francis Whittington helps celebrate launch of Take Back The Reins at Sussex riding school

A LARGE turnout of aspiring riders was welcomed by beautiful spring sunshine at Grove Farm Riding school’s open day in Sussex last week. Visitors ranging from complete beginners to more experienced riders, who enjoyed an action packed afternoon of activities, as well as an inspiring visit from special guest, international event rider, Francis Whittington.

Youngsters had great fun learning to ride Henry, the mechanical horse

Youngsters had great fun learning to ride Henry, the mechanical horse  : Photo by Ctaig Payne

The open day celebrated the launch of the latest round of specialist adult riding lessons, Take Back the Reins (TBTR), a seven week course of lessons based on the participants’ personal goals, delivered in a fun and social atmosphere. The programme has been developed by the British Equestrian Federation’s Olympic and Paralympic legacy scheme, Hoof, and is aimed at both new and former riders.

Great turnout for the  day. Photo by Craig Payne

Great turnout for the day
Photo by Craig Payne

Attendees were treated to some great nutritional advice from Saracen Horse Feeds and Martin Channings local tack shop did a roaring trade throughout the afternoon, whilst Blossom the 15.2hh dapple grey mare soaked up masses of attention from numerous visitors.  Louise Matthews was thrilled with the positive response the open day received, especially the new TBTR courses, which saw plenty of visitors signing up to take part at the weekend.

“The day was fabulous and we have had some really nice comments. Francis was a big draw, giving a great talk on his riding background and future ambitions, and we have already had more bookings for lessons on Henry (the mechanical horse), who was here until March 22,” commented Louise who has run the East Sussex based riding school at Iden for more than 10 years.

Francis Whittington shows how it is done.  Photo by Craig Payne

Francis Whittington shows how it is done. Photo by Craig Payne

Professional event rider, Francis Whittington, gave a demonstration on Henry the mechanical horse and even encouraged several first time riders on board for some helpful tips, “All in all the day went really well, Louise did a brilliant job organising it. It was great watching someone who had never sat on a horse before and to be able to show them how much fun can be had riding and enjoying the sport we all love. I had no choice but to ride as a child as my mum had a riding school, so I am a huge supporter of local equestrian centres and what they do. Grove did a cracking job for all levels of rider who came along”, enthused the 2014 CICO squad member.

For anyone interested in taking part in Grove Farm Riding School’s latest round of Take Back the Reins, more information can be found at the website www.grovefarmriding  via email or by calling 01797 280362 / 07760 126145

Cowdray Park Polo Club’s new 2014 programme has plenty of tempting highlights

Cowdray Park’s busy polo season opens on Saturday April 26 with around 450 matches in prospect, including the first international fixture of the 2014 UK polo season, The St. Regis International Cup.

It also includes four weeks of high goal action in the thrilling Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship, six tournaments in the Jaeger-LeCoultre HPA Series, the BLOOM British Ladies Open Championship and a full range of domestic tournaments at low and medium goal level.

Gold Cup action at Cowdray Park Gold Cup action at Cowdray Park    Photo by equestrian photo journalist John Periam 01243

Gold Cup action at Cowdray Park Gold Cup action at Cowdray Park: Photo by John Periam Equestrian Photojournalist 01243 584718

A favourite for spectators is the welcome return of the England team to Cowdray Park when it takes on South America on Saturday May 17. This is the seventh running of the St. Regis International Cup and visitors will enjoy high octane polo as well as a shopping village, bars, food and entertainment.  Front row picnic positions and entry tickets can be purchased in advance at Entry on the day is £15, under 12s free.

Ranked in world polo terms alongside the Argentine and USA Opens, the Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship starts on June 25 with many of the world’s leading players in action.

The Midhurst Town Cup will be played on Sunday June 29 during the first weekend of the Gold Cup tournament when entry is just £5 per person, under 12s free. The historic local Cup will be contested as the principal match of the afternoon.  The league phase of the British Open also includes The Argentine Ambassadors Cup to be played on Sunday July 6.

The Veuve  Cliquot Polo Gold Cup

The Veuve Cliquot Polo Gold Cup

During Saturday and Sunday July 12/13 the  quarter finals of the Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup will be played, with the semi finals following on Wednesday July 16.  The action-packed final takes place on Sunday July 20, to be followed by the thrilling Blades aerobatic display team.

Expect to find around 80 retail units in the shopping village, a children’s funfair, bars and food stalls. Entry tickets may be purchased online at for the discounted price of £17.50 up to July 5. After that date, and on the gate on July 20, entry is £20  (under 12s free) and there is free parking.

The BLOOM British Open Ladies Championship has its final on the Saturday of Gold Cup weekend, Saturday July 19.  Another busy weekend of polo takes place on August 2/3  when the finals of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Harrison, Jaeger-LeCoultre Holden White and Jaeger-LeCoultre Cowdray Park Challenge Cups are played.  A full programme of domestic polo continues until the season closes on September 21.

A complete list of dates is available at

Broadcaster Clare Balding to become a patron of charity Retraining of Racehorses

Broadcaster Clare Balding is to become a patron of British Horseracing’s official charity for the welfare of horses who have retired from racing, Retraining of Racehorses.  The chairty is delighted she has agreed to take on the role.

Clare’s lifelong association with horseracing,  her passion for horses and her profile as one of the UKs most popular TV presenters and broadcasters will provide a huge boost to the work of the charity in promoting second careers for former racehorses.

Clare Balding

Clare Balding

Clare Balding said:  “I am delighted and honoured to become a patron of RoR. I have followed their work for many years and have been impressed at the range of equestrian pursuits in which former racehorses can find a happy and meaningful second career. I look forward to becoming more involved, discovering more about the versatility of the thoroughbred and actively helping to retrain horses whose racing days are behind them.”

Paul Roy, RoR Chairman warmly welcomed the news that Clare Balding will join as Patron to the charity saying:”We are thrilled that Clare had agreed to be a Patron of RoR. In 2013 the number of horses registered with the charity increased by 20% so that by the close of the year there were over 8,700 former racehorses eligible to compete in a wide range of disciplines and competitions run by RoR.”

The ultimate goal is to achieve a balance between the number of horses leaving Racing and the number of enthusiastic, and suitable, new homes.
Launched by the British Horse Racing Board (now the British Horseracing Authority) in April 2000, Retraining of Racehorses was awarded charitable status in Autumn 2000.  In 2007 the RoR amalgamated with the Racehorse Owners Association charity, Emergency Relief for Thoroughbreds.

RoR now also has responsibility for those rare cases when former racehorses are found in a sick, neglected or ill-treated state.


Shrophsire rider wins British Eventing Jump Training Championship against the odds

Newport-based Camilla Hardie has been crowned the new BE100 Champion at Baileys Horse Feeds Jump Training Championships at the recent sun-drenched series finale at Warwickshire College’s Moreton Morrell centre.

Camilla, who works in property and is 34 years old, dominated the Championships with her own Dutch-bred gelding, Beau Jangles IV, receiving a score of 10.5 for style and posting clear show jumping rounds in a very competitive field of riders. She was judged at the championships by popular BE Accredited Coach David Sheerin and international event rider Nick Gauntlett.

Camillla Hardie and Bojangles VI winners of the Baileys Jump Training Finals 2014 Photo Adam Fanshaw

Camillla Hardie and Bojangles VI winners of the Baileys Jump Training Finals 2014
Photo Adam Fanshaw

The road to the championships had not  been smooth for Camilla as Beau Jangles IV had been out of action with an Achilles tendon injury after he was unfortunately kicked by another horse on Christmas day in 2012.

Camilla explained: “There was a chance that he would never be ridden again so to have him jumping like he has been recently is fantastic. Winning the Championship with him is definitely not something I could ever have pictured.”

Commenting on her championship experience she said:“The competition is such a great format; it’s so encouraging plus the coaching is of such high quality. We really benefited from the feedback we got in the qualifier [Rodbaston College in January] and then received some more really useful comments in the championships from Nick and David.

“The prize package from Baileys and BE was also really impressive; I love the smart rug and can’t wait for the clinic with the legendary Blyth Tait. In the meantime, I will definitely be making the most of the training and feed vouchers.”

This educational show jumping competition offers riders a packed training experience which starts off with guided course walks and warm-up sessions with BE accredited coaches. Competitors then jump the course once, without guidance, and then jump again after receiving feedback about their initial round from the coaches.

Jane Buchan, Baileys Marketing Manager said: “It was great to meet so many riders at the championships; the series has definitely grown in stature and recognition over the past couple of years, with riders recognising its value for pre-season training as well as for young horses, young riders and new combinations. The standard has gone up and up too which hopefully means riders’ training is paying off!”


Competitive racing, sunshine and some good winners at Fontwell Park’s St Patrick’s Raceday

Fontwell Park’s St Patrick’s Raceday and brilliant sunshine drew the crowds yesterday and racegoers were rewarded with some competitive races and plenty of entertainment too.

One of the equine stars of the day was locally-trained Cove, a seven-year-old mare trained by Nick Gifford at nearby Findon and owned by the enthusiastic Nick Gifford Racing Club, ridden by Tom Cannon. Head girl Carol Double also took the best-turned out horse award with Cove.

Cove, trained by Nick Gifford with jockey Tom Cannon and members of the Niicck Gifford Racing Group

Cove, trained by Nick Gifford, with jockey Tom Cannon and members of the Nick Gifford Racing Group

Cove was bought for the group from Ireland and ran extremely green at Plumpton on her debut in  heavy ground, finishing third. Last week she responded under the guidance of jockey Leighton Aspell at that same track on better ground to finish second.

Following her Fontwell victory yesterday, Nick Gifford said: “She wants good ground and we have been waiting for it. She learned a lot when ridden by Leighton Aspell last week at Plumpton and even more today when she raced with enthusiasm. Tom said she was still a bit green at the finish, but jumped well and was competitive throughout.”

He added that mare should provide members with more successes and plenty of fun during the coming months, especially on good ground and she would probably be kept to smaller tracks this season.

Cove- who should go on to win more races

Cove- who should go on to win more races

” It was a bit quick to run her today, so soon after Plumpton, but with conditions and everything in her favour we had to let her take her chance. She will now have a nice break before she runs again- and she will build on what she has learned.”

Back in the winner’s spot at Fontwell was Itoldyou, trained at Maidstone by Linda Jewell. The gelding had scored at Fontwell’s National Spirit meeting last month and is clearly progressing. With Andrew Thornton in the saddle she won the 32 Res Casino handicap chase over three miles two and a half furlongs yesterday.

Itoldyou, Andrew Thornton in the saddle, coming into the winners' enclosure with delighted owners

Itoldyou, Andrew Thornton in the saddle, coming into the winners’ enclosure with delighted owners

Bought as a replacement for the trainer’s prolific winner She’s Humble, now retired, the eight-year-old gelding has amply rewarded the Valence Racing Too group. “What an outstanding replacement  she is proving to be,” said members.

Phantom Prince, winner of the Handicap Hurdle Race over two miles and two and a half furlongs, had been bred by owner Con Harrington and his wife. He scored his first win for them at 8-1 when partnered by Andrew Tinkler.

Phantom Prince with trainer Brendan Powell (second from right), jockey Felix de Giles and

Phantom Prince with trainer Brendan Powell (second from right), jockey Felix de Giles and owners

Brendan Powell said: “I asked my son, Brendan Junior if he would like to ride him, but he chose to ride in the Midlands Grand National today instead, after riding a winner at the Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday!” he said, adding.”Phantom Prince was a bit green when we got him but we have taken time and he won well today.”

Trainer Robert Walford sent out evens favourite Umberto D’Olivate to win the handicap chase over two miles two furlongs, with Felix de Giles in the saddle. The horse, which also won the best turned out award, started out with the Blandford trainer over hurdles but has come into his own over fences, where he has won four out of five chases.

Umberto D'Olivate with trainer Robert Walford and jockey Felix de Giles and owners

Umberto D’Olivate with trainer Robert Walford right, jockey Felix de Giles and owners


“He’s been a great horse for us this year. He is speedy and jumps well. Felix set the pace with him and, as usual, the horse jumped superbly,” said Robert Walford, who has been training for just 18 months and has 14 horses in his yard.

Felix de Giles went on to score a double whem taking the Handicap Hurdle Race over two and a half miles for trainer Harry Fry on board Henryville. The 4-1 shot won comfortably by two lengths from favourite Coup De Grace.

There was also a double for Tom Cannon when he took the handicap chase for trainer Chris Gordon with favourite Benny The Swinger by a length. The conditional jockeys handicap hurdle race, final race on the card, went to  evens favourite Solstice Son, trained by Anthoney Honeyball and well ridden  by 5lb claimer Gary Derwin .

Fontwell Park’s next meeting is Tuesday March 25.








Frenchman with impeccable racing pedigree to train in Sussex, with Criquette Head as an owner

David Menuisier has always been passionate about thoroughbred racehorses, having been born into a family of thoroughbred breeders in Lorraine, North East France.  He has spent his entire life surrounded by racehorses, with an impressive career as assistant trainer to some of the top trainers in the World.

David Menuisier with Hier Encore Photo: Jeannie Knight

David Menuisier with Hier Encore
Photo: Jeannie Knight

Now, at the age of 33, he is set to become the only French born racehorse trainer in Great Britain, based at Coombelands Racing Stables, Pulborough, with access to some of the best facilities in the country. His parents bred smart horses that were destined to become winners on the racecourse, both on the flat and over jumps and his own pathway to becoming a racehorse trainer was sealed when he spent school holidays working for former French Jump Champion Trainer Jean Paul Gallorini.

David recalled: “I’d already decided at the age of seven or eight that I wanted to become a trainer and as a teenager spent school holidays working at his yard. He was known as the ‘Emperor of Jumps’ and is still in the top three or four of jumps trainers in France. I spent a lot of time at his yard, but went through the normal route of a university degree in biology before I set out to learn the trade. I worked for a couple of months for Criquette Head at Chantilly one summer and was offered a job there.”

He started with her as pupil assistant on October 14 2002 and worked with her for two and a half seasons.: “I couldn’t believe that I had been given this chance with a trainer who had sent out a Group 1 winner the day before, when Dedication won the Prix de la Foret,” he said.

Later, with a few Group 1 victories under his belt (American Post, Dedication, Etoile Montante).David decided the time was right to gain even further experience, and went to America, where he was offered a job by US Hall Of Fame trainer Richard Mandella a few months after his miraculous four timer at the 2003 Breeder’s Cup

.”This was a once in a lifetime occasion so I decided to grasp it and emigrated to California.  I worked as Richard Mandella’s right hand at a time when he was preparing Pleasantly Perfect  for the Dubai World Cup. My horsemanship skills expanded greatly when I was with Richard and my experience of American racing gave me an international insight to the business.

“On top of Pleasantly Perfect, I had the chance to deal with such superstars as Rock Hard Ten, The Tin Man, Halfbridled and Johar. When I first joined Richard, we had 40 horses in the barn at Santa Anita and it was thrilling to think 10 per cent of them were Breeder’s Cup winners!” he added.

“Richard was one of the  best American trainers, a real horseman and the experience I gained with him was invaluable. But after 18 months in America I decided to move back to Europe where I belong and came to the UK by choice because it is the greatest horse racing nation in the world.

“I was fortunate to obtain a position as assistant trainer to John Dunlop in Arundel for six years, until he retired recently. I had the most amazing time in Arundel working for such a legendary trainer and this is why I have decided to set up my own stable in this area. I feel at home on the South Downs and there’s nowhere in the world I’d rather be than here.”

David with Siena Bouquet, a well bred horse in his string, which is available for ownership

David with Siena Bouquet, a well bred horse in his string, which is available for ownership

The time is now right for him to embark on a career as a trainer in his own right and he has capacity for 15 horses in an American-type barn at Coombelands Racing Stables. He has the finest state of the art facilities at his fingertips there, with use of 50 acres of maintained gallops and farm land, including four all-weather, turf gallops, cantering areas, an equine swimming pool, covered canterway and schooling facilities.There is also a banked turf American bend which helps educate young horses to turn at speed for racing on cambered tracks.

David with his fiancee Kim Johnstone

David with his fiancee Kim Johnstone at their American barn stables

He is fully supported in his new venture by his fiancee, Kim Johnstone, whose own background is impressive. Kim was with the Kings Troop in London, has extensive experience of Australian racing and later worked as a work rider and travelling headgirl in various racing yards around the UK. She is a good rider and has infinite patience with horses and people.

David remains so close to last year’s Arc de Triomphe winning trainer Criquette Head that he will be training a horse for her, David said: “One of my horses is Hier Encore, which Criquette and I bred together and she has a half share in this chestnut colt, a two-year-old by up-and-coming Kentucky Dynamite.

“I am truly honoured to start my new career with the support of someone as influential as Criquette. There are other horses waiting for an owner, and one example is Village Mystic, whose breeding is impeccable- his sire is top jump stallion Saint Des Saints and the dam is from the family of the actual best French chaser and champion Bel La Vie. I have applied for a combined licence and this horse could run in bumpers.

“All of the horses have great potential and will be trained to achieve it. We have capacity for 15 horses in this barn and I am looking for owners, with a number of impressive horses already being prepared here.  I never cut corners and always do the best possible job. I don’t want or intend to be second best.”
Contact David for more information on the horses, or ownership, on
07876674095 or or visit the website

Competitive racing marks St Patrick’s Day at Fontwell Park this Saturday

Celebrate St Patrick’s Day at Fontwell Park this Saturday, where jump action continues following a fascinating week at the Cheltenham Festival. As well as racing there will also be the chance to watch the 6 Nations rugby matches live between racing.

Award-winning Fontwell Park

Award-winning Fontwell Park

St Patrick’s Day will be celebrated with live music and free entertainment, including a rugby simulator in the paddock enclosure to practise those penalty kicks and seven competitive races. There is live music from The Cracklin Griffins, playing traditional Irish tunes for a hour after the last day in the Premier bar.

The going at this popular figure-of-eight track will be good to soft and there is an interesting racecard to look forward to.

The opening EBF Stallions Mares National Hunt Novices Hurdle over two miles six furlongs has attracted eight runners, headed by talented newcomer Cove, trained locally by Nick Gifford at Findon.

Cove with members of the Nick Gifford Racing Group after finishing second at Plumpton

Cove with members of the Nick Gifford Racing Group
after finishing second at Plumpton

This mare, owned by the Nick Gifford Racing Club, finished third at Plumpton despite running very green on her first outing. At Plumpton on Monday, in a competitive race with Leighton Aspell on board, she ate up ground to finish an excellent second. She should continue to progress.

The 32 Red Casino Handicap Chase over three miles two furlongs has only four runners, but even so should be a well contested event with entries from trainers David Bridgwater, Linda Jewell, Paul Henderson and Chris Gordon all in with a chance.

The third race is a handicap hurdle has an eight runner field, headed by runners from Harry Fry, Venetia Williams, Tim Vaughan and Gary Moore.  Son Jamie will be in the saddle for Gary Moore’s runner, Vision Des Champs, which, like Cheltenham winner Sire De Grugy, is a French import, having his first outing for his new yard. But he had some decent form in France before joining Gary Moore last month, and Jamie will be in the saddle.

Gary Moore

Gary Moore

In the handicap chase, there are four runners from the yards of Robert Walford, Venetia Williams, David Bridgwater and Tim Vaughan, while the two mile four furlong handicap hurdle has eight runners.

There top rated Sinbad The Sailor is a rare runner at the track for trainer George Baker and those taking on this horse include Gary Moore’s Auld Sthock, No No Bingo from Charlie Longsdon and Harry Fry’s Henryville.

Strange Bird with connections following her Plumpton win

Strange Bird with connections following her Plumpton win

Following a five runner  handicap chase, there is a very competitive conditional jockeys handicap hurdle with nine runners, where local trainer Richard Rowe, fresh from an excellent third with 40-1 shot Tatenen at Cheltenham, sends out recent Plumpton winner Strange Bird, and probably  faces most competition from Charlie Longsdon’s Leith Hill Legasi and Chris Gordon’s Absolute Shambles.



Chookie Royal is now heading for the All Weather Championships Finals Day at Lingfield

Competition is hotting up for the prestigious All-Weather Championships Finals Day on Good Friday, April 18, at Lingfield Park. The latest qualifier for this big event is Chookie Royale, trained by Keith Dalgeish.

This horse was the  decisive winner of the 12th Fast-Track Qualifier of the All-Weather Championships,when  winning the 10-runner £50,000 Listed Ladbrokes Lady Wulfruna Stakes by three and a quarter lengths with Tom Eaves in the saddle.

Chookie Royal is heading for All Weather Final after this fine win at Lingfield Park. Photo courtesy of ARC

Chookie Royal is heading for All Weather Final after this fine win at Lingfield Park. Photo courtesy of ARC

Chookie Royale, the 4/1 favourite,  was always prominent in the seven-furlong race and went into the lead more than two furlongs out without being challenged beating nearest rival Hasopop  in 1m 27.48s.

The six-year-old, tried over 10 furlongs last time, secured a guaranteed free place in the £150,000 Mile Stakes on All-Weather Championships Finals Day, Good Friday, April 18, 2014 at Lingfield Park and is set to line up in that race.

Tom Eaves commented: “We didn’t think that he stayed last time but, at the same time, we thought that we were coming back to the minimum distance for him today.

“That’s why I wanted to commit him a long way out and he was idling a little bit in the last furlong. He’s progressing well. I think we are probably heading to Good Friday. It’s up to Keith and the owners.”

Keith Dalgeish said he was delighted with the win, especially since the horse is better over a mile and particularly acts better at Wolverhampton.”

He added that the £150,000 mile final on Good Friday was the plan and the horse would be ridden prominently.