French horse heads to finals

Caointiorn  trained  by Stephane Wattel and ridden by Theo Bachelot, an 8-1 shot, came from last to first with a sweeping run down the outside when successful over seven and a half furlongs in the Listed Prix Miss Satamixa (16 runners), a Fast-Track Qualifier for Britain’s All-Weather Championships, at Deauville, France on Polytrack this week.

The four-year-old Stormy Weather filly is guaranteed a free start in the £150,000 Fillies & Mares’ Championships over seven furlongs at Lingfield Park on All-Weather Championships Finals Day, Good Friday, March 25, 2016.

French trainer Stephane Wattel

French trainer Stephane Wattel

British challenger Pack Together (Richard Hannon/Christophe Soumillon, 5.1/1), who is owned by Her Majesty The Queen, disputed the running after entering the straight but faded out of contention approaching the final furlong and came home 11th.

Caointiorn’s powerful surge took her to the front well inside the final furlong, one and three quarter lengths ahead of another strong finisher, Sea Front (Eric Libaud/Alexis Badel,10/1), with the 3.3/1 favourite Ameenah (Frederic Rossi/Olivier Peslier) a head back in third. Volunteer-Front (Mick Channon/Charles Bishop, 9/1) was the first home of the three British challengers in fourth, a further short-head in arrears, after taking the lead just inside the final furlong before finding no extra.

Alfajer (Marco Botti/Cristian Demuro, 5/1), the third British-trained raider, stayed on to be fifth, another half-length behind. The winning time was 1m 26.77s.

Competitive racing leads up to All Weather Finals at Lingfield Park on Good Friday Photo: ARC

Competitive racing leads up to All Weather Finals at Lingfield Park on Good Friday Photo: ARC

The third All-Weather Championships run from Thursday, October 29, 2015 and culminate with All-Weather Championships Finals Day on Good Friday, March 25, 2016, at Lingfield Park. The seven races on All-Weather Championships Finals Day are worth a total of £1.1 million

Horses can qualify for one of the races on Finals Day by racing three times on an All-Weather surface in Britain, France or Ireland. Horses need to be high enough rated to run in one of the seven Finals, each worth at least £150,000, or they can make sure of participation by winning a Fast-Track Qualifier, which grants free and guaranteed entry.

The other way to qualify for one of the Finals is to run three times during the Championship period, including twice on a designated All-Weather surface in Great Britain, Ireland or France and at least once on dirt at Meydan, Dubai.

Equine vet based at Moorcroft

A NEW Equine Veterinary practice is now based at Moorcroft Racehorse Welfare Centre, Huntingrove Stud. Slinfold, where manager Mary Henley-Smith oversees the retraining of ex-racehorse so they can go on to a future outside racing.

Rory O’ Shea MRCVS has become the centre’s dedicated vet and now runs his practice out of the centre.  After qualifying as a vet, Rory specialised in Equine and along the way has been mentored by some of the very best equine vets in Europe.

Rory O' Shea

Rory O’ Shea

He explained: “To me qualifying was important, but seeing practice and working with the very best in the UK, Ireland, France, and Belgium has been essential. I am most fortunate to have been asked to become the dedicated vet for Moorcroft Racehorse Welfare Centre because it has always been a pleasure to assist with the veterinary aspects of the retraining  and rehoming programme there.

“Mary is hugely experienced and a true professional and the achievements at Moorcroft are a testimony to that. Moorcroft operates professionally, efficiently and calmly and has developed Moorcroft into a centre of excellence. Having our practice based on site will enable that concept to be developed even further and for us it will be a symbiotic relationship. We have already begun a series of informative lectures/demonstrations which have been well received, and these will continue,” he said.

Rory examining an ex-racehorse

Rory examining an ex-racehorse

Rory added: ” The tranquil horse friendly environment at Moorcroft is exactly that which we were looking for. The facilties, to us, are second to none. We are now neither daylight nor weather dependent, so in addition to our fully equipped ambulatory service, we can offer our clients excellent facilities which include a central location near to Slinfold/Horsham, easy access and ample parking by appointment on a 24/7 basis.

“We see a very big future in regenerative medicine ( AVS, PRP, BMAC and Stem Cells) and we provide this service both on site and also in an ambulatory capacity as the service can be run as a mobile laboratory from my fully equipped practice 4×4 to our clients.”

He is surrounded by horses 24/7 for outside his work he competes on showjumpers owned by himself and his girlfriend, and has competed up to and including Grand Prix with his own home-produced sporthorses.

Rory competing on one of his own horses

Rory competing on one of his own horses

A winter series of lectures at Moorcroft is being held in the new indoor heated lecture facilities, which were provided through a grant by the Racing Foundation.

Rory has made a significant contribution to these during winter months, covering a variety of topics to help horse owners, sometimes in conjunction with other experts, which have been well-received. In the December lecture he worked with farrier Grant Lichtenburg  to cover a range of foot and shoeing topics, with both of them giving practical demonstrations and slow motion videography.

The next lecture is on Equine Backs and is to take place on January 9.Tickets are £10 per seat. Book your place by text, phone or email to: 07929 666408 or

Rory company logo

Rory’s Moorcroft veterinary practice can be contacted on 07547 361011

Competition dress changes

Attempts to change competition dress to make equestrian sports appeal to a wider audience are likely to meet resistance from riders, according to new research.

The study found that riders appreciated the distinct visual identity that competition attire gave to dressage and show jumping. The formality of the dress was seen as reflecting the core values and traditions of both sports, in particular poise, elegance, dignity and respect.

Dr Kate Dashper of Leeds Beckett University – herself an amateur dressage competitor for over 20 years – conducted in-depth interviews with 80 competition riders, over a third of them professional. The interviewees included both men and women, ranging in age from 16 to 70 years.

Although her findings – published in Annals of Leisure Research – show that those interviewed were mainly in favour of retaining the dress rules for their sports, they did voice criticism of some aspects of the competition attire.

Dr Kate Dashper Picture by Vicky Matthers iconphotomedia.

Dr Kate Dashper
Picture by Vicky Matthers iconphotomedia.

“The dress that competition riders wear is based on traditional hunting and military attire as these are the roots of the sport,” said Dr Dashper. “Both were predominantly masculine pursuits and the clothes – essentially breeches and a formal jacket – were originally designed for men. But both men and women now find aspects of the costume difficult. Some women of a shorter build find it hard to find comfortable tailored jackets and many men find tight-fitting breeches overly ‘revealing’. ”

She believes that small changes to competition dress may be acceptable, such as more colour options for jackets, but radical change to try and modernise the sport’s look would be rejected. Even the recent rule change to allow riding without jackets during hot weather is unlikely to be taken up in many cases, as riders said they didn’t feel right unless wearing the full costume.

“With all Olympic sports having to make their case for continued inclusion, there is some pressure on equestrian sports to respond to those who see the attire as being archaic, elitist and off-putting,” said Dr Dashper. “The governing bodies will need to strike a balance on how far they go to appeal to those outside the sport, without adversely affecting those who actually take part.”

Foal rescued by WHW

Horse charity, World Horse Welfare is appealing for information after a young foal was found injured and abandoned in a Christmas tree field near Great Melton, Norfolk at Christmas.

The chestnut colt, which the charity has named Rudolph, was discovered by a member of the public who called in the RSPCA and World Horse Welfare for help.

Rudolph upon arrival at World Horse Welfare

Rudolph on arrival at World Horse Welfare Photo: WHW

Rudolph had an injury to his right hind leg and severe ulceration to one eye, both of which were causing him a lot of discomfort. He is now in the care of the specialist team at World Horse Welfare’s Hall Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre in Norfolk, where he is receiving VIP treatment for his injuries whilst the charity tries to locate his owner.

World Horse Welfare Field Officer, Jacko Jackson visited Rudolph when he was found. He said: “This is sadly not an unusual case of a horse being dumped and left to fend for himself. Thankfully Rudolph was discovered and he’s now in a safe place receiving the treatment he so desperately needed for his injuries.

Rudolph safe and recovering after treatment at a World Horse Welfare centre. Photo: WHW

Rudolph safe and recovering after treatment at a World Horse Welfare centre. Photo: WHW

“Rudolph has no microchip so we have no way of identifying his owner. If anyone has any information about Rudolph or recognises him we urge them to get in touch with either World Horse Welfare or the RSPCA.

“It’s fortunate the weather has been so mild recently; otherwise it could have been a very different story. Thankfully Rudolph is now in safe hands. ”

RSPCA deputy chief inspector Ben Kirby said:”This poor little foal was in a sorry state – he was found alone in a field and was clearly injured; one of his eyes was badly ulcerated and he had a nasty leg injury. It’s so sad to think somebody could have cruelly left Rudolph like this with such painful injuries, and just before Christmas too.
“He was treated by vets and I am so grateful that World Horse Welfare have taken him in. It’s a relief to know that at least one more horse in need of rescue was safe in time for Christmas.”

If anyone has any information about Rudolph or recognises him they can report it in confidence to World Horse Welfare on 08000 480 180 or the RSPCA on 0300 123 8018.

Cannon Fodder’s great win

KEMPTON’S meeting on Boxing Day produced some thrilling racing-but one particularly special achievement for a Sussex trainer came towards the end of the meeting.

Sheena West, who trains at Lewes, sent out Cannon Fodder to win the Mares’ Handicap Hurdle for four-year-olds and upwards, worth almost £13,000 to the winner. It was a very special victory for this mare is far smaller than most racehorses.

Sheena said the eight-year-old mare, owned by the Cheapskates,  is more like a pony because of her diminutive size, but she took her on with the intention of giving her every chance in her racing career and has been rewarded with some consistent results.

Cannon Fodder with trainer Sheena West (left), jockey Marc Goldstein and owners following her Plumpton win earlier in the year, Photo: Jeanmnie Knight

Cannon Fodder with trainer Sheena West (left), jockey Marc Goldstein and owners following her Plumpton win earlier in the year, Photo: Jeannie Knight

Cannon Fodder has been ridden by local jockey Marc Goldstein during her career and this was her second and most significant victory to add to 14 good placings achieved so far.

Marc said following the Kempton win: ” She is a great little mare with a really  big heart. Every run is over the maximum trip and she has to go on and stay. She’s like a pony and never gives in. She can never get a breather in during the race because of her size.”

Prior to this Kempton victory, from February this year she ran seven times and had been in the first four in all races, bar one, where she uncharacteristically fell- all with Marc riding.

The Boxing Day win was a highlight in her career, taking on top horses, some of which had already won more than £280,000 in prize money in top races.

Doubles for two Fontwell jockeys

Jockeys David Bass and Leighton Aspell both had doubles in testing conditions at Fontwell Park’s well-supported Boxing Day meeting yesterday when there were some eventful races and many many runners failed to complete in the testing conditions.

The opening Southern Cranes and Access Ltd Juvenile Hurdle Race produced a good winner when Harley Rebel, trained by Neil Mulholland, owned and bred by Stephen and Gloria Seymour, was ridden to a well-deserved victory by 7lb claimer Shane Quinlan.

Harley Rebel with jockey Shane Quinlan Photo: Jeannie Knight

Harley Rebel with jockey Shane Quinlan  and owners Steven and Gloria Seymour Photo: Jeannie Knight

Mr and Mrs Seymour had bred the horse, were there when the Cockney Rebel gelding were born. Mrs Seymour said: “We’re delighted. We had been waiting for the right race and he ran so well that there should be more to come.”

The horse won comfortably by nine lengths from Gary Moore’s Searching, ridden by son Joshua, which finished a well-beaten second.

The second race, a 2m1f handicap chase, was won Showboater, trained by Ben Pauling,  under a great ride from David Bass. who was the only finisher. The six-year-old stayed clear of mayem  after Highbury High was unseated early in the race and went on to create havoc when running loose for the remainder of the race. In the chaos Youm Jamil unseated his rider and Tea Caddy fell at the second last, while Too High For Me was pulled up.

Jockey David Bass with Showboater Photo: Jeannie Knight

Jockey David Bass with Showboater trained by Ali Stronge
Photo: Jeannie Knight

The testing conditions had their impact in the Mares Novice Hurdle where there were just four runners.The highly eventful 2m1f handicap chase at Fontwell is won by Showboater, who was the only finisher.

Jockey Leighton Aspell was in control throughout on board Oliver Sherwood’s smart four-year-old The Organist (1-7 favourite) which finished 28 length clear of trainer Ben Pauling’s Cassie with David Bass in the saddle, which was in turn 45 lengths clear of the remaining two runners.

The Winterfields Farm Handicap Hurdle attracted a competitive field of nine runners and a sparkling performance from Nick Gifford’s Prouts Pub back over hurdles, following two poor runs over fences.

The six-year-old was ridden to a fluent 10-1 victory by Leighton Aspell, delighting the Nick Gifford Racing Club. He took the lead two from home and went on to win by 16 lengths fom Mick Channon’s Needless Shouting.

Prouts Pub with Leighton Aspell and the owners' group Photo: Jeannie Knight

Prouts Pub with Leighton Aspell and the owners’ group Photo: Jeannie Knight

Nick Gifford was represented  by his wife Ruth, who said: ” He won that so well. We sent him chasing this season after he had won and been placed over hurdles because he had schooled so well over larger obstacles at home. But he didn’t seem to enjoy it. He had two bad runs over fences, so we switched him back to hurdles and he clearly enjoyed it today.”

Prize presentation to Prouts Pub owners' group by Mr and Mrs Mike Sadler of Winterfield Farms Photo: Jeannie Knight

Prize presentation to Prouts Pub owners’ group by  Mike Sadler (left)of Winterfield Farms Photo: Jeannie Knight

Permit holder David Weston, who is based near Marlborough, was delighted with the performance of his home-bred bay mare At First Light, owned by Elle Tanner, in the Mares Handicap Hurdle Race, where she won by three-quarters of a length , ridden by David Bass, beating good hurdler Tambura of a length. He said: This mare goes on any ground. We have been patient with her and this was her fourth win over hurdles.”

Jockey David Bass with At First Light and connections Photo: Jeannie Knight

Jockey David Bass with At First Light and connections Photo: Jeannie Knight

Only two of the six runners completed in the Handicap Steeplechase over three miles one and a half furlong chase, with Call The Detective, trained by Ali Stronge at Eastbury ridden by Felix De Giles coming home 27 lengths clear of the only other finisher, Brendan Powell’s Lady From Geneva ridden by Leighton Aspell.

Trainer A;li Stronge

Trainer Ali Stronge with Call The Detective and jockey Felix De Giles  Photo: Jeannie Knight

The final Conditional Jockeys Handicap Race went to Michael Blake’s Hassadin, ridden  by 3lb claimer Harry Cobden, with a six length victory over Chris Gordon’s Love’s Destination, ridden by 5lb claimer Lewis Gordon, with Gary Moore’s Torero in third with George Gorman (8lb) in the saddle.

The next meeting at Fontwell Park is on Sunday January 24 at 1pm with a seven-race card of winter afternoon racing.




Donkey Sanctuary’s top award

The Donkey Sanctuary’s campaign to improve animal welfare standards in tourism was  recognised  in 2015with a Silver award in the Best Animal Welfare Initiative category at the recent World Responsible Tourism Awards 2015 at World Travel Market in London.

The charity which campaigns to improve the welfare of donkeys and mules used in tourism was announced as the joint-Silver winner at a special ceremony at World Travel Market in London, part of World Responsible Tourism Day. The category was won jointly by the Campaign Against Canned Hunting and Hetta Huskies.

With recent high profile controversy around Cecil the Lion, the confinement of orcas in captivity and elephant trekking experiences, the Best Animal Welfare Initiative, supported by the Born Free Foundation is a very topical category this year.

The category awards those organisations and businesses with a progressive ethical approach to maintaining the dignity of animals in, or through, tourism.

The judges were looking for tourism initiatives that exemplify the latest innovation, thinking and leadership in ethical approaches to animal welfare, proven achievements in addressing the unethical treatment of animals in tourism, and long-term visions for the future.

Donkeys at the sanctuary

Donkeys at the sanctuary

Andy Foxcroft, Director of Care and Welfare for The Donkey Sanctuary commented on the win, saying: “We are thrilled to receive a Silver award for our Take STEPS campaign and to be amongst such inspiring stories. Across the world, millions of animals are used in the tourism industry and it is fantastic that the Responsible Travel awards recognise those who work so hard to improve welfare conditions in so many ways. We will continue our Take STEPS campaign in 2016 and are in the process of identifying new regions where we can improve the welfare standards for working donkeys and mules.”

Welcoming more than 500 people to the event in London, Justin Francis, Managing director of Awards organisers Responsible Travel explained how the Awards were founded to change the face of the tourist industry. “The aim of the Awards is to inspire the tourists and the tourism industry by what is possible to achieve through responsible tourism In our 12th year we have added one more inspiring winner and more remarkable stories which will shape how the industry and tourists think about the future of tourism”.

The category was supported for a second year by the Born Free Foundation. President Will Travers OBE said:“Tourism is potentially an enormous force for good.  It broadens horizons; it encourages understanding and tolerance; it can bring about change.  By recognising tour operators who deliver the highest possible standards of animal welfare through our “Best Animal Welfare Initiative’ award, Born Free and the World Responsible Tourism Awards programme can shine a light on those who are leading the way and setting an example for others to follow.”.

Fontwell’s big raceday

Don’t miss one of Fontwell Park’s big raceday of the year tomorrow when  A Winter Wonderland raceday promises competitive action with racing supported  by locally based Southern Cranes and Access Ltd

J6233 FON Boxing Day 2015 Fix image

Hickstead 2016 tickets on sale

Ticket costs for both the Hickstead Derby Meeting (23-26 June 2016) and the Longines Royal International Horse Show (26-31 July 2016) have remained at 2015 prices for everyone who books before the respective shows get underway.

“We introduced e-ticketing in 2013 and it’s been a big success for us,” says Hickstead Director Edward Bunn. “Visitors can order online really easily, then just print off their own tickets or show their smart phone or tablet at the gate. Because of this, we’re able to get people on the showground quicker than ever before. We really want to encourage more people to book in advance, which is why we’ve introduced this discount.”

Adults can save around £5 per ticket by buying before the shows, while children’s, senior citizens’ and family tickets are all cheaper in advance than on the day. There are advance discounts available across all general admission and members’ enclosure tickets.

Ezciting action promised again at Hickstead 2016 Photo: Julian Portch

Ezciting action promised again at Hickstead 2016 Photo: Julian Portch

Tickets for the Hickstead Derby Meeting and the Longines Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead make superb Christmas presents for any keen equestrian fans. Because they can be instantly downloaded and printed off, they can easily be slipped into a Christmas card to make a superb last minute gift.

The showground plays host to some of the best known classes in the sport, including the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup of Great Britain, the Longines King George V Gold Cup, the Templant Events Queen Elizabeth II Cup, the Amlin Plus Eventers’ Challenge, the British Speed Derby and the famous Derby.

As well as international showjumping, the shows feature top class showing and carriage driving. Full timetables are available on the Hickstead website-

In addition to action in the International Arena there are a further eight rings of equine competition, the extensive Charles Owen shopping village, a funfair for children and lots more.