Lingfield Park’s staged its own political race

They’re off! The seven-horse race for Downing Street started at Lingfield Park
As Parliament was dissolved yesterday, Lingfield Park marked the official start of the General Election campaign, with a stable of seven horses and jockeys all kitted out to represent each of this year’s front-running political parties.

Start of the political horse race at Lingfield Park yesterday


Staged ahead of the second All-Weather Championships Finals Day at the Surrey track on Good Friday (April 3), the septet lined up in the customised silks of each of the main political parties comprising Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Ukip, Green Party, Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru.

Harriet Collins, Head of PR at Great British Racing said: “There’s horseracing in Britain 362 days a year so we thought that as a sport we were brilliantly positioned to mark the start of the political (horse) race.

“Yesterday’s event coincided with the dissolution of Parliament and the official start of the campaigns so we’ve just captured the opening part of the race – like everyone else, we’ll just have to wait for the outcome in a few weeks’ time.”

Andrew Perkins, Executive Director at Lingfield Park said: “Lingfield Park Racecourse has its own political connections, being so close to Chartwell, the much-loved family home of Sir Winston Churchill.

Jockeys following the race

Jockeys following the race

“Today we captured the start of the 2015 political horse race but there is much more racing to come on Good Friday when we host the second All-Weather Championships Finals Day. With £1 million in prize money on offer, we’re sure the action on track will be just as thrilling as the Westminster political race.”

All-Weather Championships Finals Day is the richest All-Weather racecard staged in Europe, with more than £1m in prize money on offer and is the culmination of a season consisting of more than 900 races.

A variety of ticket packages are available and can be purchased by visiting or by calling 01342 834800.

Jockey George Baker ready for Championship Day

“Time keeps ticking and it’s great Good Friday, the highlight of the all-weather season, is nearly here. The entries are out now and the races look as if they’ll be very competitive this year.  I don’t know what is definitely running or what I might be riding yet, but I very much hope I can repeat last year by winning a race on Finals Day.

“My winning ride Litigant was superb, and it was absolutely fantastic to be part of the inaugural race meeting which proved to be such a success with nearly 9,000 people packing out Lingfield Park.

Jockey George Baker

Jockey George Baker

“Recently I rode Proofreader  to win at  Kempton for trainer Neil Mulholland. The horse was back after a very long break and had had one run under Adam Kirby finishing a very respectable third. I was delighted to win with him and he had progressed well from that run,” said George.

Then on Friday last week George rode another winner, Chelwood Gate, trained by Patrick Chamings. This horse ran on well in the final furlong to take the lead in the final strides.

George said: “On the fuss about the Flat jockey’s championship, I think some people are getting irate over nothing much, I think we should give it a chance and see how it works out.

“The top jockeys are rarely about at those times of year,  and the Lincoln sponsored for the first time this year by Betway, will not lose out. It’s a massively popular, competitive handicap and it will always mark the start of the season at Doncaster, the fact that it isn’t counted towards the jockey’s championship will not affect the race.”


Extra coach for Hope In The Valley RDA

Hope In The Valley Riding for Disabled Group based at Plumpton College, has welcomed an additional coach to boost its training programme. The quality of coaching at RDA is second to none, combining equestrian knowledge with an in-depth understanding of a wide range of disabilities.

To meet the high standards required of their coaches,  RDA provides a tailored programme of training and assessment and supports Instructors to help achieve their coaching goals.

At Plumpton College in Sussex recently, two RDA examiners, Annie Irving and Rosemary Harrison, presented Jen Wathan with her RDA Group Coach badge.  Jen will now join Hope in the Valley’s current coaches (Lesley Morrill, Sheila Camilleri and Hilary Bowles) in delivering the high standard of therapy and coaching demanded by RDA for all the group’s riders.

Delighted Jen Wathan ( centre) is pictured receiving  her RDA Group Coach badge from Annie Irving (left) and Rosemary Harrison.

Delighted Jen Wathan ( centre) is pictured receiving her RDA Group Coach badge from Annie Irving (left) and Rosemary Harrison.

Jen, who is currently completing her work for a PhD at Sussex University on Horse Communication and Cognition, reacted to her successful assessment by saying: “I am delighted to have passed my assessment and to become a fully-fledged member of the coaching team! It’s a real pleasure to be involved with the wonderful team of coaches, riders, helpers, and horses at Hope in the Valley, and I look forward to continuing to work with the group.”

Mrs Lesley Morrill, Senior Coach and Chairman of Hope in the Valley, and RDA County Coach for East Sussex said: “Jen’s input will be invaluable in maintaining our essential therapy sessions for younger riders, and for developing the riding skills of our older riders, enabling many of them to participate in RDA activities, including the Countryside Challenge and Dressage at Regional and National levels.”

To help continue with this work for disabled children, Hope in the Valley would be pleased to receive offers of help, particularly from trailer drivers, and offers of ponies.  Please note that volunteers are given RDA training and do not have to be experienced with horses or ponies.  All RDA equines have to be assessed as suitable before being used.

For more information about Hope in the Valley see the website or email or telephone 0845 241 5358.

Redwings welcomes new horse controls

Redwings Horse Sanctuary is delighted that the Control of Horses Bill for England has successfully passed through the House of Lords and is now ready to receive Royal Assent and become law.

The Private Member’s Bill, introduced by MP for York Outer Julian Sturdy, marks a positive step forward in the fight against fly-grazing and has been supported through every stage of its parliamentary journey by a coalition of animal welfare charities and rural organisations, comprising Blue Cross, British Horse Society, CLA, Countryside Alliance, HorseWorld, Local Government Association, NFU, Redwings Horse Sanctuary, RSPCA and World Horse Welfare.

Cardiff ponies being rescued : Photo Redwings

Cardiff ponies being rescued : Photo Redwings

Similar to the Control of Horses Act (Wales) which came into effect in January 2014, this new legislation gives greater powers to English authorities to seize illegally grazed horses.

The Bill also provides greater reassurance for landowners who find themselves victim to fly-grazing in significantly reducing the lengthy and expensive process of removing the horses from their land; under the new legislation, the authorities will be able to take action after four days rather than a minimum of two weeks as it was previously.

“The passing of the Control of Horses Bill is a great reason for all parties involved to celebrate,” commented Redwings Chief Executive Lynn Cutress. “I am incredibly proud of the Redwings team who have seen first-hand the impact of fly-grazing on horses and landowners alike.

Horses  rescued from around an office block Photo: Redwings

Horses rescued from around an office block Photo: Redwings

“The issue has brought together welfare charities and rural organisations to campaign for a mutually beneficial cause and I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to Julian Sturdy MP who has championed this important legislative change.”

Redwings first flagged a rise in abandoned horses in their 2010 year-end report where the number of welfare calls had risen by over 50 per cent; an increase for which fly-grazing and equine abandonments were recognised as a significant contributing factor.

The charity subsequently brought the problem to wider public and rural community consciousness in 2012 having assisted Welsh local authorities in the round-up of 220 horses and ponies found illegally grazed on Cardiff airport – 23 of which were rehomed to Redwings and known as the ’80s group.

Reports of abandoned horses to the Redwings welfare line continued to rise year-on-year, peaking at 806 calls in 2013.

Fly grazing poses a real risk to both horse welfare and the public. More often than not, horses are left to fend for themselves on private or public land without sufficient shelter, water or food, and subsequently fall victim to serious (and preventable) illnesses.

Furthermore, the horses are often grazed on land without a suitably fenced perimeter leading to tragic incidents of animals escaping onto busy roads and motorways. The passing of the Control of Horses Bill for England is therefore a significant move in improving horse welfare, protecting landowners, reducing risk to public health and deterring irresponsible owners.

These horses had been dumped on land at Alton, Hampshire, with no food, beside a busy road

These horses had been dumped on land at Alton, Hampshire, with no food, beside a busy road

“Nonetheless, the fight against fly-grazing has yet to be won,” concluded Lynn Cutress. “Although required by law, the enforcement of compulsory passporting and microchipping of horses is lacking, as is a centralised database for storing and retrieving horse and owner information in order to bring fly-grazing perpetrators to account.

“Our work as the UK’s largest horse sanctuary in improving welfare is ongoing, but the Control of Horses Bill marks a significant and positive move towards helping the estimated 3,000 fly-grazed horses currently estimated to be at risk across England.”

See more about the work of Redwings at:


Plumpton’s bumper Easter Festival

PLUMPTON Racecourse has a bumper two-day Easter Family Festival planned, starting with an Easter Sunday Family Raceday on Sunday April 5, when gates open at 11am and the first race is at 2.10pm.

The two-day event is Plumpton’s most popular fixture with bumper crowds expected on both dates.

Good viewing of runners in the paddock at Plumpton

Good viewing of runners in the paddock at Plumpton

Plumpton has substantially improved the quality of racing over the two days of the Easter Festival, which is worth more than £115,000 in prize money and certain to attract top trainers and jockeys.  The feature race on Easter Sunday is the Totepool Sussex Champion Hurdle, Plumpton’s most valuable race of the year, worth £30,000.

Good view of the action both trackside and on the big screen

Good view of the action both trackside and on the big screen


Accompanied children under 18 are free and admission prices for adults start from only £10, and plenty of entertainment includes a traditional funfair in the centre of the course, Easter Egg Giveaway and face painting. A Childrens’ Easter Bonnet competition takes place by the Winners’ Enclosure at 1pm with prizes for under fives and over fives.

On Easter Monday gates open again at 11am and there will be the funfair, free face painting, free pony rides, free smoothie bikes, a rock climbing wall, Easter Egg Giveaway and music from Top Bananas.

Judging of the best Easter Bonnet competition takes place in the Winner’s Enclosure at 1pm when the star prize is a pair of tickets fo Fishers Farm Park and a giant Easter Egg. At 1.50pm Colin Brown will help you pick some winners for the fay and the first race is at 2.25pm. At 3.05pm there will be a trip to the start and a fence- meet  buy the weighing room.

Ticket offers are available when booked in advance and close six days ahead of the day. See for full details.



Lavant House Stables’ open morning success

More than 400 people headed to Lavant, near Chichester in West Sussex recently to meet dozens of friendly ponies, donkeys and horses during Lavant House Stables’ Spring Open Morning. And another event is planned on Easter Monday.

Visitors were able to enjoy free pony and tractor rides, face painting and pony grooming, whilst the pony parade and chocolate hunt were firm favourites with the children.

Getting up close with the ponies at Lavant House open day

Getting up close with the ponies at Lavant House open day

“The Open Mornings are a chance for people to see what riding is all about and enjoy our fantastic South Downs National Park location” explained Lavant House Stables’ owner Lucy Thomson. “For our staff nothing beats seeing those huge smiles when children first groom or ride a pony. It really is a magical connection.”

It was not only the ponies that were getting all the attention on the day. Two other cheeky characters were certainly making the most out of the influx of new visitors.

Diesel the donkey is admired by a young visitor

Diesel the donkey is admired by a young visitor

“As soon as we start setting up in the morning, our two donkeys, Two Stroke and Diesel, trot in and take up position in the middle of the yard,”said Kelly Oliver, office administrator. “They know it will be a bumper carrot day and steal as many cuddles and treats as they can, sometimes from people’s pockets when they aren’t looking!”

Many families travelled from across Hampshire and West Sussex including Maurice Charles and his three year old daughter who came from Worthing. “This was our first time here and we had a great day,”said Maurice. “My daughter absolutely loved her very first pony ride and hasn’t stopped talking about it since.”

Youngsters had the chance to enjoy pony riding at the open day

Youngsters had the chance to enjoy pony riding at the open day

Don’t miss the next free Open Morning, which is on Easter Monday April 6 from 10am-1pm and features an Easter Egg hunt through the fields and woodland at 11 am. Everyone is welcome and it is a great day out for children of all ages.


Squats has final qualifying run today

Squats will have his final qualifying run for All-Weather Championships Finals Day in the £11,500 32Red Handicap (2.50pm) over just short of six furlongs at Wolverhampton today, March 26.

The William Haggas-trained three-year-old was sixth to Merdon Castle in a five-furlong Fast-Track Qualifier at Chelmsford City on February 4 and was last seen out when fifth to Primrose Valley in a conditions race over the same distance at Lingfield Park on February 27.

Squats trained by William Haggas  Photo: John  Simpson

Squats trained by William Haggas Photo: John Simpson

Squats had some good form last year, notably when a close third in a five-furlong Listed event at Ascot in September and fourth, beaten two lengths, in the Group Three Cornwallis Stakes at Newmarket the following month.

He is one of 15 entries for the £150,000 Unibet Three-Year-Old Sprint over five furlongs at Lingfield Park on All-Weather Championships Finals Day, Good Friday, April 3, for which he is a 9/1 chance with Unibet.

Bruce Raymond, racing manager for owner Sheikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum, said: “Squats needs to run here so that he is qualified for the race on Good Friday. It’s a bit close but if he doesn’t win on Thursday then he is not going to win on Good Friday.

“He has been beaten in his last couple of starts when we thought he would go well, but he had excuses. I think he needed his first run and then last time we told Ryan (Moore) to hold on to him a little bit but it was probably the wrong thing to do around a sharp track like Lingfield.

“Wolverhampton is obviously a little easier in that respect and we are expecting a good run.”

Squats, who will be partnered with Graham Gibbons, is set to face seven rivals at Wolverhampton. They are headed by Wanting (Charlie Appleby/Adam Kirby), who is unbeaten in two starts, plus the lightly-raced pair of Belvoir Diva (Chris Wall/Ted Durcan) and Edgar Balthazar (Keith Dalgleish/Shane Gray).

State Of The Union (David O’Meara/Sam James) is also having his third qualifying run after finishing fifth at Wolverhampton in February and third behind Wanting at Kempton Park on March 11.

Jockey Club continues RoR sponsorship

The Jockey Club is to repeat its partnership this year with Retraining of Racehorses to stage the Jockey Club RoR Novice Thoroughbred Ridden Show Series this year, providing the series champion with the opportunity to compete for the RoR Supreme Champion Elite Prize of £2,500.

The series highlights the successful second careers that ex-racehorses can have in other disciplines following successful retraining. Last year’s series was won by West Sussex-based Abi Drury.

Open to Thoroughbred mares or geldings, who are at least four-years-old and who have all previously raced in Britain, more than 20 qualifying classes have been confirmed to date. The qualifiers, which begin in March, lead up to the Novice Championship Final at Aintree Racecourse’s RoR National Championships 29 – 30 August 2015.

To qualify for the championship competitors will need to be placed within the first three at one of the qualifying classes taking place at locations throughout the country.

Abi Drury, and Hero Worship,

Abi Drury, and Hero Worship receiving their award from Jenny Pitman last year

Abi, who is based at Dragons Green, near Horsham, was 2-14 Novice Champion with her horse Hero Worship. She said:“Hero Worship loved the atmosphere in the indoor arena at Aintree, it was a great confidence building experience for both of us and that feeling of winning and competing at the Aintree Show ring last year was amazing.”

For the qualifiers, The Jockey Club’s sponsorship provides rosettes and £150 of prize vouchers per show awarded in addition to the standard prize money on offer. The Championship’s overall Champion and Reserve will win money and prizes in kind as well as then be eligible to compete for the RoR Supreme Championship Elite prize of £2,500.

Simon Bazalbette group chief executive The Jockey Club said: “At The Jockey Club, the welfare of Thoroughbred racehorses after they retire from horseracing is a consideration we take seriously in line with our mission to act for the good of the sport.

“As the success of last year’s Series proved, many retired racehorses go on to have fulfilling second careers and I was delighted by the positive response we received on our partnership with RoR. I’m grateful for everyone who participated in our novice show and I hope we will see further examples that racehorses can have successful careers once they retire from the spotlight during this year’s show.

“As the success of last year’s Series proved, many retired racehorses go on to have fulfilling second careers and I was delighted by the positive response we received on our partnership with British racings dedicated charity, RoR. I’m grateful for everyone who participated in our novice show and I hope we will see further examples that racehorses can have successful careers once they retire from the spotlight during this year’s show.”

WHW calls for open stabling debate

World Horse Welfare has called for a more open debate on stabling horses following latest research findings. A new report from researchers at Nottingham Trent University has highlighted the potential negative welfare consequences of a commonly used stable design.

Scientists discovered that horses who were housed individually with little or no contact with other animals showed significantly higher signs of a stress response.

Kelly Yarnell, an expert in equine welfare at Nottingham Trent University said: “Inadequate housing design potentially causes stress and negative consequences on the health and well-being of horses, despite the fact that it can be easily addressed by introducing more windows or shared areas. Group housing provides horses with an environment where they are able to display natural behaviour, and contact with other horses improves overall welfare.”

WHW horse in stable at GSF Rescue and Rehoming Centre Photo World Horse Welfare

WHW horse in stable at GSF Rescue and Rehoming Centre
Photo courtesy of World Horse Welfare

In response to the findings, WHW Chief Executive Roly Owers said: “World Horse Welfare welcomes this study as it supports what we have been highlighting for some time: poorly managed stabling can cause significant welfare problems.

“Whilst we believe that stabling does have an important and beneficial role to play in the wide variety of ways that we can manage horses in the UK today, this must be done responsibly. This study provides plenty of food for thought, although we should be mindful of not reading too much into any single piece of research, not least because horses are individuals and what suits one animal does not necessarily suit another.”

Deputy Chief Executive Tony Tyler says that the culture that exists at World Horse Welfare’s four UK Rescue and Rehoming Centres encourages regular social interaction.

Horses turned out in the now at WHW's Hall Farm

Horses turned out in the snow at WHW’s Hall Farm

He commented:“Most of our horses live out in groups ,with access to field shelters all year round.  For those which need to be stabled, we have large open-sided crew yards at each of the centres, where horses can be kept in small groups of up to three or four, and horses which are kept on their own can easily socialise over partitioning walls.

“However, it is sometimes necessary to keep our horses in stables for their own welfare but a combination of good management and constant assessment to make sure that all their needs are being met is essential to the mental as well as physical health of the horse.”

Some of the key issues to consider with stabling include:access to turn out;social interaction and the design of the stabling

Welfare challenges with stabling are not just a UK issue, as evidenced in a soon to be published report on Europe’s equine sector prepared by WHW in partnership with Eurogroup for Animals.  This makes it all the more encouraging that Julie Girling MEP is producing a proposal on responsible equine ownership and care for the European Union, which will highlight the need for guidance on good stabling practices.

Roly Owers concluded: “We should not lose sight of the key issue involved here: namely the needs that horses have for social interaction.  It is totally unacceptable to house a horse all-day in a stable with both top and bottom door bolted but  we would also seriously question a horse kept out at pasture 24/7 without any companionship.

“Clearly equine companionship is a great option, but people and other animals can play a role here too.  Above all we hope that this research, published in a highly respected scientific journal, will promote an informed debate about the role that stabling can play in caring for our horses.”


Goodwood Pony Club eventers’ challenge

Goodwood Pony Club is holding another highly popular Open To All Eventers challenge on Sunday April 12  on the beautiful Goodwood Estate by kind permission of the Duke and Duchess of Richmond and Gordon.

The course will consist of a section of Show Jumps followed by a Cross Country section and finishing with a timed section of Show Jumps.There will be a 10 minute course walk before the start of each class. Rosette will be to sixth place –  with a rosette for highest placed Goodwood member in each class.
Charlotte Dix and Millersford Bramble IV, joint winners of the Novice Open Photo: Equestrian specialist Luke Gee, LRG Photography

Charlotte Dix and Millersford Bramble IV, joint winners of a pony club event on Goodwood Estate  last year Photo: Equestrian specialist Luke Gee, LRG Photography

 Please note there is NO WATER available in the lorry park
 Please remove all droppings and dropped hay
 Dogs on short leads at all times please
 Returnable bib deposit of £10 when collecting number
 Post code for Goodwood Estate – PO18 0PX
 Please do not arrive before 7.45am – gates will not be open
Times for Class 1 will be available on Friday April  10 (other classes to follow on with approximate start time). See:http://

Please present your hat for checking at the secretary’s desk when collecting your number – make sure that your hat complies with rules see website link in the rules.
Class 1 – starting at 9am – jumps approx. 2’3/70cm a) Under 14 years b) 14 years and over
Class 2 – jumps approx. 2’6”/75cm-a) Under 14 years b) 14 years and over
Class 3 – jumps approx. 2’9/85cm a) Under 14 years b) 14 years and over
Class 4 – show jumps approx. 3’/3 3”/1 mtr (XC 90cm max) a) Under 14 years
b) 14 years and over
Entry fee £17 per class, Goodwood members £15. Class sizes will be limited. Late entries additional £3 per class if space permits  Entry fee includes First Aid

Schedule and entry form can be found on the club website