Racing at Fontwell Park tomorrow

Fontwell Park racecourse has three more fixtures before the end of its currrent season, staring with a Ladies Evening tomorrow, Friday, when gates open at 2.30pm and the first race is 4.30pm.

The aim is to blend fashion, glitz and glamour with the thrill of jumps racing followed by a DJ set from Radio 2’s very own Jo Whiley. Dress to impress for your chance to win £1000 cash plus a luxury hamper from House of Fraser for Best Dressed Lady.

Plenty of action expected at Fontwell Park tomorrow

Plenty of action expected at Fontwell Park tomorrow

Then the popular Hunter Chase evening returns to Fontwell on Thursday May 14, with the United Hunts meeting designed for point-to-point horses and jockeys- and this is bound to attract a good turnout, with the first of seven races at 5.15pm.

The final fixture before the summer break will be a Bank Holiday Fun Day on Sunday May 24, designed with something for all the family and seven races which start at 2.20pm.

The most valuable race of the day tomorrow is the  Get Yourself On The Winner handicap hurdle over two mile two furlong.

But the one which really catches the eye is the opening maiden hurdle race over two miles four furlongs, where entries include Cotton King, previously trained  by the late Lady Herries at Angmering Park, and now by her former stables manager and assistant Graham Mays.

The late Lady Herries watching her nhorses over jumps

The late Lady Herries watching her horses out on  the gallops. Photo: John Simpson

Andrew Thornton takes the rideon  this eight-year-old Dubawi gelding, owned by the sister of Lady Herries, Lady Mary Munford, in his first run in a National Hunt race. He has four wins on the flat all-weather to his credit and it will be a real pleaure to see him run and carry on the Angmering Park tradition of having occasional jump runner as well, if he takes up the engagement tomorrow.

Racegoers may well remember Honour High, a striking grey with the same trainer and owner, who made his mark in National Hunt races before retiring with wind problems.

Another local horse in the same race is Stars Royale from Nick Gifford’s Findon stables with Tom Cannon riding. Stars Royale ran well in a novice hurdle at Cheltenham until landing awkwardly and unseating his rider at the sixth. He needs to put in a solid performance here to fulfill his potential.


New polo academy at Cowdray Park

Cowdray Park Polo Club is to launch  a new Polo Academy for the 2015 Season. Activating and heading up the facility is registered polo coach Guy Verdon who has played polo for more than 30 years and coached for the past 15 years.  His coaching has taken him all over the world including Argentina, New Zealand, the USA, Spain, Dubai and Brunei.

The new facility will be hosted at nearby Madams Farm by polo professional and former England 8 goal player Alan Kent.  Alan’s professional career has seen him play polo worldwide and win, in the UK, all the major HPA tournaments including the Gold Cup, Warwickshire Cup and the Prince of Wales trophy. He has been a regular coach for the England polo team.

Peter Barfoot, Chairman of Cowdray Park Polo Club, said:  “We are very pleased to be launching a new Polo Academy at Cowdray Park in time for the 2015 Season. Guy Verdon’s experience makes him the ideal person to head up the new facility at Madams Farm.”

Peter Barfoot, Cowdray Park Polo Club's chairman

Peter Barfoot, Cowdray Park Polo Club’s chairman

Guy Verdon said: “Having played at CPPC many years ago, I am honoured to be working with Alan Kent and the club on this exciting new venture.  To teach and welcome new players to the sport, at the Home of British Polo, is a great privilege.  This is a tremendous opportunity for the Club and British polo, during an already exciting year for CPPC.“

Private or group lessons are offered at both senior and junior levels along with instructional chukkas in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.  Bespoke corporate days and team building exercises can be arranged as well as half or full day discovery sessions.  Gift vouchers will be available.

For further information  visit the website or contact Charlotte Verdon on

Grassroots Badminton course revealed

British Eventing and the 0rganising team of the Mitsubishi Motors Grassroots Championships have revealed the cross country course map for the 2015 BE90 and BE100 Championships at Badminton next month.

The competition which takes place on Tuesday and Wednesday May 5 and 6, ahead of the world famous International competition, will boast hot competition for the much sought after Championship placings, from true ‘grassroots’ riders at the entry level of the sport.

Course Map : courtesy of Badminton Horse Trials

Event Director of the International competition, Hugh Thomas commented: “This year I don’t think we will see any one fence cause an undue amount of trouble but James Willis’s course is a true Championship test and riders will have to concentrate right to the end.”

The competition which is open for riders from the year of their 12th birthday (with no upper age limit) sees riders from all over the country taking part in Regional Finals to qualify. This year the BE90 competition line-up includes riders from as far afield as Aberdeenshire, Liverpool and Dyfed, whilst the BE100 has competitors who have made the journey from Essex, East Lothian and Tyne and Wear.


HRH Princess Royal at major RDA conference

MORE than 300 delegates from across the South and representing the South East, Greater London and South Regions of the RDA descended on the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst to be inspired, under the suitably military theme of ‘Saluting the Future’.  

After a morning of fascinating talks, the RDA President, HRH the Princess Royal was treated to a number of unique show jumping and carriage driving displays from host members of the South East Region. To round the day off the RMA’s Corporal of Horse, Tim Puddifoot, delighted everyone with a demonstration of making his horse, Invader, lie down.

Invader with his head on the lap of

Invader with his head on the lap of RMA’s Corporal of the Horse, Tim Puddifoot Photo: Joanna Sale

The talks followed a journey from selection (with David Hamer, British Dressage Para Director) to competition (with triple gold medalist Sophie Christiansen OBE) and additional information on preparing the competition horse from RDA vet, Judy Scrine preceding the techniques of inclusive design from leading architect in disability, David Cowan of Cowan Architects, which sponsors  the RDA South East Region.

Of course, the RDA would not have the success in changing lives without the continued hard work of its ‘army’ of volunteers, so the last speech featured Matt Cobble of RDA National Office in a drive to support current volunteers and recruit new ones under the banner, ‘Your Country Needs You!’.

Speakers’ Group from left to right: Lindsay Correa, RDA Regional Chairman, Judy Scrines, Vet from Mayes & Scrine, David Hamer, Lisa Edward Para Tri Race Director, David Cowan, Cowan Architects and Sophie Christiansen OBE, triple Paralympic gold medalist.

Speakers’ Group from left to right: Lindsay Correa, RDA Regional Chairman, Judy Scrines, Vet from Mayes & Scrine, David Hamer, Lisa Edward Para Tri Race Director, David Cowan, Cowan Architects and Sophie Christiansen OBE, triple Paralympic gold medalist. Photo: Joanna Sale

During lunch, a number of the volunteers from across the South, who work so tirelessly to support the RDA, were presented to the Princess Royal. Then everyone ‘trooped’ out to the display rings to enjoy Stella Hancock’s Carriage Driving team, from Worplesdon, Surrey giving a display of 40 years of carriage driving, as the RDA celebrates that anniversary this year.

This highlighted the evolution of carriages from the Jubilee Cart in 1977 (described as an “orange box on wheels”), through various models to the most recent Phoenix making its debut outing and designed by Mark Broadbent. It was followed by a show jumping display by a young RDA member from the Ashdown Group, Lauren Huggett and Rio Paralympic hopeful Simon Blight, an independent member of East Park RDA in Lingfield, Surrey.

Fiona Wright from Horsham rreceiving a President's Award from, HRH The Princess Royal Photo: Joanna Sale

Fiona Wright of the Southn Downs RDA Group receiving  President’s Award from, HRH The Princess Royal Photo: Joanna Sale

At the end of the day HRH, The Princess Royal presented a number of awards-  with a 25 year service award to Hope in the Valley RDA Group Chairman, Lesley Morrill and the coveted President’s Award to Verity Jones of Godstone RDA Group and Fiona Wright of South Downs Group.

“The success of the day came down to teamwork and enthusiasm which are always at the core of everything we do in RDA.  Sophie Christiansen is always so appreciative of her RDA days and it was great to hear this echoed by The Princess Royal today” said Lindsay Correa, Regional Chairman of the hosting South East Region.

She added: “A special thanks to the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst for allowing us to use their amazing facilities. It helped make it a perfect day”.

Rosanna starts career as equine photographer

Young Sussex entrepreneur Rosanna Filmer has an eye on the future – quite literally- and has begun a promising career as an equine photographer. With no proper training, but a strong eye for composition and form, she experimented with photography before focusing on the subjects that interested her most – the beautiful Welsh Section B ponies she had grown up around and with which she has a special connection.

 At 17, she told her parents she was quitting her fee-paying school midway through her A levels and with her father’s heavy old Nikon camera, struck out on her own as a freelance photographer. Now just under a year later, she has her own website, a steady flow of commercial and publishing commissions, and even an award tucked under her belt                                                                                                              

Rosanna with one of the ponies

Rosanna with one of the Welsh Section B ponies at her home

 “I’m an intrepid person; I like the occasional adventure,” said Rosanna, describing how she won her first accolade on a volunteering expedition to the Indonesian jungle. But it is also the approach she takes to life in general.

 “You’re at school basically from when you start walking. I didn’t plan on going to university anyway,” she added.“I just wanted to get out there and start doing something. It’s exciting seeing what you do and don’t like.”

Inspired by the renowned equine photographer Mark Harvey, the National Portrait Gallery-exhibited artist whose images have an almost sculptural quality, Rosanna’s first ‘proper job’ was to take pictures for a website advertising the family’s stud farm at Plumpton Green in East Sussex. Then she trawled the pony club and unaffiliated events circuit, snapping shots for proud parents. Commissions from farming organisations and portraits of pets followed, along with a variety of commercial work –which includes going back to Lewes Old Grammar to photograph former fellow pupils.

But it is with less biddable subjects that she clearly has an affinity.

“I seem to have a natural connections with animals, which helps me capture those elusive images, showing the animal’s individual character,” she said.“I want the viewer to be able to see all the expressions. What I admire about Mark Harvey’s pictures is that there is so much to look at and yet so little in them. Your focus is entirely on the horse. That’s what I aspire to.

Her prizewinning shot in the 2014 Camps International photo competition – of a barefoot soccer match between villagers and volunteers – took her out of her professional and personal comfort zone.

 “Within 10 minutes of arriving in the jungle I had two leeches on my hip and my chest. I cried,” she admitted. “We hung our hammocks further into the jungle than some of the others on the trip, away from the river. I thought the crocodiles can get them first! But the food was probably the most challenging, partly because I’m a steak and chips girl. It’s all unbelievable bland rice and bony chicken – I lost 8lb in four weeks. The only recognizable food was Oreos.

“The villagers basically live in houses that look like sheds but their English was pretty good. They knew the P sign for picture and they all seemed to know what a selfie was!”

 To view Rosanna’s work, go to:

Competitive racing at Plumpton yesterday

Although good to firm ground led to reduced fields in some races at Plumpton yesterday, there was still competitive racing. Although the opening novice hurdle race had only two runners,the  odds-on favourite Thats My Rabbit was overturned by Neil King’s Dire Straits, sent out at 5-2, under a good ride from Lizzie Kelly.

George Gorman had a well deserved victory in the conditional jockeys handicap race, when he brought the Gary Moore-trained Golanova home to win, riding a strong finish to finish clear of June French, trained by Neil Mullholland.

George Gorman with       following the victory

George Gorman with Golanova following the victory

Claimer Thomas Garner was at his best in the two mile five handicap hurdle on board Daniel O’ Brien’s Bostin at 13-2, beating 10-1 shot Flash Cash by half a length.

Leg Iron, trained by Sheena West at Lewes and ridden by Mark Goldstein was sent out at 8-1,but kept on gamely in the three mile two handicap chase, beaten only by two lengths by 2-1 favourite Fix It Right, trained by Emma Lavelle and ridden by Gavin Sheehan.

Flugzeug has not looked back this season, having scored earlier at Plumpton, where this seven-year-old grey had originally opened his winning account in a novice handicap chase last April. He had not looked comfortable in chases in the intervening period and a switch back to hurdles at Plumpton’s last meeting saw him in the winners’ enclosure again.

Flugzeug following an earlier Plumpton outing Photo: Jeannie Knight

Flugzeug following an earlier Plumpton outing
Photo: Jeannie Knight

Yesterday 7lb claimer Kevin Jones was in the saddle again and he won comfortably. There should be more to come from this horse.

Chris Gordon and Tom Cannon had to settle for second place in the handicap chase when Davic Bridgwater and Tom Scudamore were in unbeatable form with 7-4 favourite Faith Jicaro winning comfortably.

Polegate trainer Anna Newton-Smith took the final hurdle race with Hermosa Vaquera, a five-year-old mare owned by Michael Baldry, which joined her 18 months ago from Peter Chappell-Hyam.

This mare ran on well, with ears pricked, in the final stages of the race to win by an easy eight lengths at 16-1 with Adam Wedge in the saddle.. Plumpton has proved to be a lucky course for her trainer this season, with the stables enjoying some long-priced winners.

The next meeting at  Plumpton is the final one of the current season, Ladies Day, on Sunday May 10- including fashion competitions for ladies, men and children. Doors open at 11.30am, and there is plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained all day with 7 fashion competitions, and  live music.

With admission prices starting from only £10 for Adults and children FREE, it’s a great value day out for all the family. Plumpton Racecourse is renowned for its friendly atmosphere,  and many racegoers enjoy bringing their own picnics into the centre of the course for a day out in the glorious Sussex countryside.

The finals of the South East area Point to Point pony racing series are also held at the end of the afternoon, where you can see the star jockeys of the future. Pony Racing aims to encourage more young people to consider a career as a jockey.

Since its introduction in 2004, over 100 riders have graduated from Pony Racing and are now jockeys with many more also working within the horseracing industry.


Hat trick for Lavant House Pony Club

LAVANT House Stables Pony Club completed a hat trick when winning the NFU Mutual National Quiz Centres Section for the third year in a row, when taking part in the NBFU Mutual Quiz Final at Warwickshire College.The team had been studying hard since January, trained by Denise Pattison, Jane Bissex and former winning team captain Helena Bissex.

Lavant House Pony Club winners

Lavant House Pony Club winners

On the day of the competition the team was fully prepared and eager to get started. Questions were answered on eight different topics including The Pony Club, Recognising Horse Ailments, Around the Countryside, Breeds Colours & Markings and Travelling and Road Safety. At the half way point, the scores were nail bitingly close, however Lavant’s high score on the Pony Club questions ensured they pulled ahead and secured its win for the third successive year.

The winning team members of Laura Pattison, Phoebe Goodale, Ellie Dickens and Jim Butler, were presented with the Centre Winners’ Salver by Mary Tuckett, the Pony Club Chairman. They were also delighted to each receive a commemorative salver, sash, rosettes and grooming kit.

 Back at the yard the three stalwart trainers Jane Bissex, Denise Pattison, and Diane Goodale were presented with bouquets in recognition of all their hard work and dedication in helping the team achieve this splendid result.

The Lavant House Pony Club's  team coaches

The Lavant House Pony Club’s team coaches Jane Bissex, Denise Pattison and Diane Goodale

 Lavant House Stables has a thriving Pony Club Centre, which encourages young people without their own ponies to become Members of the Pony Club, and take part in all the PC events and activities at the Centre. For further information call: 01243 530460 email:

Good racing expected at Plumpton

Plumpton racecourse is holding a Coral Raising the Game Racenight tomorrow ( Friday) with a seven-race card when the first race starts at 4.55pm and gates open at 3pm.

A good evening of competitive jump racing is expected and there will be live music in the Paddock Bar from Human Juke Box, which will be playing for short sessions throughout the day; finishing off with an hour of entertainment after racing from 8pm until 9pm.

Good viewing of the action at Plumpton

Good viewing of the action at Plumpton

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

In the two mile five furlong handicap hurdle, course winner and recent Sandown winner, Kastani Beach, trained by Seamus Mullins is expected to be partnered by useful 7lb claimer Kevin Jones, while Grand National winning duo trainer Oliver Sherwood and jockey Leighton Aspell could be in action with the unexposed Eastern Calm. Rocky Rebel trained  by Michael Blake is one to note is he takes up the engagement, with Nick Scholfield booked to ride.

Nicky Henderson could be sending a rare runner to Plumpton in the opening race, a novice hurdle, with Nico De Boinville booked for the ride- and Diana Grissell’s previous Plumpton winner Blue Bear cannot be discounted with Marc Goldstein in the saddle.




For more information please email

Farlington School continues its successes

Farlington Girls’ School at Horsham , West Sussex, has a fine reputation for encouraging its students who ride to compete in school teams with good success.

It was another great day at Sands Farm for the Farlington grass roots team. recently when  team of four represented the school in the 60/65cm class – Lucia Mayhew riding Sammy, Roseanna Savage riding Polo, Georgia Stephens riding Jeepers and Lucy Bugler riding Buttons. As this was a championship qualifier, the girls were keen to get a good result.

The Farlington team


All girls had tremendous rounds with Lucia and Roseanna going clear, Georgia had an unfortunate stop but continued and finished the course and Lucy’s pony ran out of the last jump but Lucy was determined to get him over and the team finished. Only the top five teams qualified so the girls waited nervously for the results and the Farlington team was awarded third place – a great achievement.

The 70/75cm class was up next with Megan Speers riding Hector, Suzie Lunt riding Billy, Lucia Mayhew riding Sammy and Roseanna Savage riding Polo. Again, all girls rode brilliantly with Megan and Suzie going clear, Roseanna had a stop at jump 9 but finished the course and Lucia’s pony also decided to stop at jump 9 and was unable to finish.

The team ended on four faults and were placed third out of a very strong class. The whole team really supported each other.  A special mention must be given to Lily Heron who was jumping in the 80cm class, she gave huge encouragement to the younger team members and reassured any fears that they may have had.



Entries open for Hickstead Derby meeting

ENTRIES are now open for the Hickstead Derby Meeting, which runs from June 25-28 and the schedule is now available.  It has the added attraction of a brand new World Class Ranking for 2015.

This June meeting comes just 10 days after another British CS14* international four-star showjumping event at Bolesworth International in Cheshire and Hickstead hopes an increasing number of international riders will make the journey across to the UK to compete at both events.

An historic Hickstead Derby performance from William Funnell with Cortaflex Mondriaan Photo: John Periam 01243 584718

An historic Hickstead Derby performance from William Funnell with Cortaflex Mondriaan Photo: John Periam 01243 584718

To further encourage more of these riders to come to the Hickstead June event, the prize fund of its Tom Hudson Derby Trophy has been increased to 24,500 Euros. Riders in this class will also be eligible for world ranking points which determine their place on the international rider rankings. Prize money in the Bunn Leisure Derby Tankard on the Thursday has also been doubled.

“After feedback from riders, we have added an extra World Ranking class in order to provide more options for those bringing a number of horses to the Derby meeting,” explained Hickstead director Lizzie Bunn. “Those who have a Derby horse, a speed horse and a Grand Prix horse will have multiple classes to enter.”The additional class brings the total of World Ranking classes at this meeting to four.

From the tiny poles of the Mini Challenge to the towering heights of the Derby fences, the June meeting caters for riders of all levels.

Affiliated jumping classes start at 1 metre, while there are also showing classes for hunters, cobs, riding horses, moun

tain and moorland ponies, working hunters, hacks, side-saddle and retrained racehorses. Scurry and carriage driving also feature at this show.

Entries are open now, with schedule and on-line entries available on the Competitors Zone section of Hickstead’s website. The closing date for entries is May 18.