Coombelands Equestrian continues to excell

ONE of the most outstanding equestrian locations in the South East is Coombelands Equestrian at Pulborough, run by Gaye Harwood. Gaye has ensured that facilities she offers for riders on the Coombelands estate have kept pace with competitive needs by adding to the long standing cross country schooling course with other facilities over the years.   There are more than 100 fences catering for all standards, plus show jumping schooling facilities, dressage arenas on grass and all weather gallops available for hire.

A number of One Day Events ,Hunter Trials and clinics are held throughout the year, as well as a British Eventing Horse Trials with classes from BE80 to Novice Standard in October each year. It is a testimony to the quality of facilities that one of the regular users is top British rider Scott Brash, with his team of horses.

Scott, whose yard is in West Sussex, has achieved major international successes with his top horse. Hello Sanctos, including  an historic victory when taking the 2015 Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping with consecutive victories in the Geneva Rolex Grand Prix, Rolex Grand Prix in Aachen and the CN Grand Prix, all in 2015 and a feat never achieved before

Scott Brash at Coombelands Photo: LRGPhotography

Scott Brash at Coombelands Photo: LRGPhotography

This winter the Coombelands cross-country schooling field was closed to protect it in the very wet winter months but  re-opened for 2016 on Sunday March 12. It has all the schooling fences needed to prepare a horse for first events, and has a range of all different types and heights of fences, from 70cm to 1.10m.  These include corners, skinnies, angled combinations, water, steps and ditches.  Unless there is some exceptionally dry weather fields for schooling will not be open until after one-day events begin in May.

Not only are there more than 100 fences, ranging from 2ft to 3ft 6ins to cater for all standards, open for most of the year, but there are show jumping, schooling facilities, dressage arenas on grass, and all weather gallops also available for hire. Recent investment has brought an all weather warm up arena to add to a main all-weather arena installed three years ago- and all facilities have stunning views across downland to the Sussex coast.

The main arena is used for well-supported clear round and show jumping events, with the subsequent addition of unaffiliated competitions to cater for other riders. Unaffiliated events encourage riders back into competition when they have been away from it for some time, enabling them to build up to affiliated events.

Pony Club riders using one of the other arenas Photo: Jeannie Knight

Pony Club riders using one of the other arenas Photo: Jeannie Knight

There is a warm-up arena, plus an area for very young riders coming off the lead rein, where they can also learn to go up and down small banks in a safe environment.
Horsham and District Riding Club has been using the facilities since the outset, with a regular hunter trial one day event and pony clubs also benefit from the facilities.  To cater for the younger riders, Gaye has increased the number of Junior BEF Show at Coombelands.

A UK chasers course around the farm, which at 2,800 metres is the longest novice course for BE eventing and includes a section of the grass gallops, is another attraction. Horsham District Riding Club holds a hunter trial and team chase event there and top event riders including Tina Cook and Pippa Funnell use it to prepare their horses for an event.

A range of top clinics, hunter trials and a wide range of competitions is featured every year, giving all levels of riders the chance to use these outstanding facilities. Show Jumping events to look forward in the remainder of April include: Sunday April 10, Senior British Show Jumpint Category 2; Thursday April 14, Senior British Show Jumping Category 2; Sunday April 24, Unaffiliated Show Jumlping 60cm-90cm; Thursday April 28, Senior British Show Jumping Category 2.
For information on all events, see

In addition, top local equestrian photographers- LRGPhotography, are official photographers at Coombelands, recording riders of all levels in action.
See for more information.

Fontwell’s three Friday racedays

FONTWELL Park racecourse is planning an Easter Eggstravaganza Raceday this Friday, April 1, with a seven race card starting at 1.40pm, with gates opening at 11.30am.

There will be a host of free entertainment on the day and under 18’s are free, offering a perfect opportunity for a family day out, cobining competitive racing with family fun ranging from face painting to an Easter petting zoo.

On the day the track’s popular Easter Egg Hunt returns and this year’s top prize is a family pass to Legoland at Windsor.

Plenty of action expected at Fontwell Park's three Friday nights

Plenty of action expected at Fontwell Park’s three Friday nights

All entertainment on the day is free and tickets can be ordered in advance saying £7 on gate prices, starting at £12 per adult and with children under 18 free going free. Parking is available in the centre of the course to be close to racing, at only £5 extra per car.

Another Friday afternoon raceday on April 15 sees the first of seven races at 2.10pm celebrate the 15 year anniversary of Riverdale Car and Van Leasing and support the Rocking Horse Children’s Charity.

Competitive jump racing at Fontwell Park Photo: John Simpson

Competitive jump racing at Fontwell Park
Photo: John Simpson

Rocking Horse aims to raise vital funds needed for additional resources to improve healthcare services for sick children and babies. This promises to be a great day out at Britain’s only figure-of-eight jumps track. Save £7 on tickets by buying in advance, with tickets staring at £12.

Fontwell Park Grandstand offers fine viewing of racing Photo courtesy of ARC

Fontwell Park Grandstand offers fine viewing of racing
Photo courtesy of ARC

One of the track’s biggest events of the year will be the third Friday fixture on April 29- Rewind at the Races with Spirit FM, which will be celebrating its 20th anniversary with the chance after racing to dance to some of your favourite 90’s hits with Take That Experience. Gates open at 3pm and the first of seven races is 4.50pm

For tickes and more information see

British Dressage pony classes

British Dressage is introducing a new series of young pony classes alongside its popular Shearwater Young Horse Championships for 2016. There will be classes for 4, 5 and 6 year old ponies (not exceeding 149cm), which can be ridden by children aged 12 or above or adults, culminating in the Young Pony Championships at the Hartpury Festival of Dressage, 6 – 10 July 2016.

There will be five young pony qualifiers taking place mainly at BD Premier League shows in May and June, where two riders at a time will show their ponies, riding a set pattern which will be commanded. The specialist judges will be looking at the pony’s paces, way of going and general impression for a final mark.

The top two ponies from each qualifier will win a place at the Championship final at Hartpury with a change in the format as they will ride the relevant BD Young Horse test.

Competitive pony dressage events

Competitive pony dressage events

Talking about the new classes BD Director of Training, Paul Hayler said; “The Young Horse Championships are a very important opportunity for riders to develop their young horses and to recognise future dressage stars. We were very keen that pony riders, breeders and producers have the same opportunity.

“The format and marking of the classes is designed to recognise potential and they are a great way to introduce youngsters to the competition environment. Horses like Valegro have been former Young Horse Champions so it would be great to see a pony spotted through the new championship on a British team in the future,” he added.

Young Pony Qualifiers
Addington Manor EC, Bucks – 6 May
Somerford Park, Cheshire – 28 May
Wellington Riding, Hants – 9 Jun
Rockrose, Scotland – 11 Jun
Sheepgate EC, Lincs – 19 Jun

Riders need to be members of BD, but ponies can enter qualifiers without being registered with BD. The full rules relating to the classes are in the 2016 BD Members Handbook.


Tour Des Champs wins Sussex National

RACING at Plumpton went ahead as planned after the course passed a 10am inspection yesterday, Monday, but the card for the day was decimated by 32 non runners, after 12mm  of rain overnight.

Clerk of the course, Mark Cornford said the  ground had some surface water in places but  not where it would affect racing. “I think it looks worse than it is.,” he said.

The fixture included the At The Races Sussex National, which had previously rescheduled from a very wet day in January where the rainfall was so heavy the meeting was abandoned after three races.

Racing went ahead despite rain

Racing went ahead despite rain

That race went  ahead as a finale at the meeting, when it was won by 11-2 shot  Tour Des Champs trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies and ridden by son Sam.

Only four of the eight runners completed the race, with the ground by that time extremely testing, and there was 16 lengths between the winner and the second horse, Krackatoa King, trained by Noel Williams, with third placed Finish The Story beaten just three quarters of a length into third place.

The fourth horse, and only other finisher,  4-1 shot Blameitomyroots sent out by Oliver Sherwood, was 19 lengths behind that.

Favourite Slidecheck took the following handicap chase for trainer Alexandra Dunn, ridden by Adam Wedge to a half length victory over 5-1 shot Bonds Conquest with Goring Two plugging on to claim third prize money for trainer Anna Newton-Smith , 72 lengths further back under Andrew Thornton.

Winning jockey Adam Wedge

Winning jockey Adam Wedge

The opening novice hurdle was won comfortably by  1-2 favourite Royal Vacation trained by Colin Tizzard and ridden to a victory of just over two lengths by jockey Paddy Brennan from 9-4 shot King Cool, trained by Gary Moore and ridden by son Joshua.

Paddy Brrennan ijn winning action at Plumpton Photo: Jeannie Knight

Paddy Brennan in winning action at Plumpton Photo: Jeannie Knight

It was a day for  heavy ground specialists  and Like Sully, owned by Pulborough-based Winterfields Farm Ltd, relished the ground, having won under similar conditions in January last year. Trained by Richard Rowe and ridden by Andrew Glassonbury , the 9-4 favourite came home three lengths clear of Triple Chief.

Oxfordshire trainer Noel Willams and the Stonepoint Racing Club had cause to celebrate when their purchase off the Flat  last year, Authorized Too, justified favouritism to take the Maiden Hurdle race of the day in style under jockey Wayne Hutchinson- coming home clear of the Chris Gordon- trained Tara Bridge.

The Paul Nicholl’s trained Vicenzo Mio, sent off at 3-1, could finish only third in the Sussex Champion Hurdle, when the popular combination of trainer Chris Gordon and jockey Tom Cannon took the race with 16-1 shot Disputed, coming home clear of the Gary Moore-trained Darebin at  10-1.

Trainer Chris Gordon and jockey Tom Photo: Jeannie Knight

Trainer Chris Gordon and jockey Tom Photo: Jeannie Knight

Disputed, a six-year-old Westerner gelding,  joined his Hampshire handler from Irish trainer Gordon Elliott last September  and this was only the second victory of his career, rewarding his new connections.

There was a double at the meeting for Chris Gordon when he sent out Loves Destination to win the final Conditional Jockeys Race under David Noonan. This rider had caught the eye as an amateur and wisely switched to going down the conditional jockey route.

Conditional jockey David Noonan

Conditional jockey David Noonan

He should go far, for he a fine rider and good judge of a horse’s capability.




Zedlock for field and gate security

AN established West Sussex business is offering readers the opportunity to try out an impressive new lock that can be fitted on a yard gate, a driveway gate or even on a roadside field gate to help improve security.
Zedlock is the product of Petworth business Zedlock Ltd which designs and manufactures gate locks and associated products.
The new lock was designed and developed in the town to meet the need for rural properties and equestrian premises to improve security for yards, driveways and fields.
This unique long throw gate lock is an ideal replacement for a padlock and chain on any large gate. It is a manually operated sliding bolt with a key-operated deadlock. The unique feature is the long-throw sliding bolt (70mm/2.75 inches of travel) which means that a Zedlock will still be effective even when the gap between gate and post is up to 50mm/2inches.
Zedlock on a field gate

Zedlock on a field gate

Zedlocks have proven their worth on farm and estate gates throughout the UK.  Also available for wooden gates which offers a discreet, durable locking solution, ideal for driveway gates.
Because it cannot be ‘cropped’ by bolt cutters, it is a much more effective deterrent to thieves. Straightforward to use – operating the Zedlock is a one-handed job.
It is different from other locking devices – easier to use, more secure and more durable. It is ideal for the majority of metal and wooden field gates and a range of accessories mean the locks can be fitted to virtually any gate, single or double, including bespoke sizes.
And on a wooden gate

And on a wooden gate

Now Zedlock Ltd is looking for an independent volunteer to try its latest version of the Zedlock.
Simply send an email to: explaining why you would like try it and where you would use it.
One entry will be chosen and the successful person will have their Zedlock professionally fitted and be asked to review it at a later date.  The Zedlock will be theirs to keep.

The company offers a local fitting service within 25 miles of its warehouse at Petworth.  Anyone needing advice about choosing the correct product, or help fitting any product can call the company on 01798 342251 or visit them at Unit 5, Old Station Road, Petworth, West Sussex GU28 0JF.

Record crowd at All Weather finals

The third All-Weather Championships Finals Day on Good Friday attracted a record crowd of 10,106 to Lingfield Park.
There was an impressive performance from odds-on Grendisar, trainer by Marco Botti ridden by Adam Kirby to take a seventh course win to take his first Finals Day victory. His jockey finished second to Luke Morris in the all-weather jockeys title, and was delighted with this important win.

Moonrise Landing and Jim Crowley on the left winning the

Moonrise Landing and Jim Crowley on the left winning the

Another excellent performance came when Moonrise Landing quickened up smartly to take the 32Red All-Weather Marathon Championships Conditions Stakes in impressive style under an excellent ride from jockey Jim Crowley.

Ralph Beckett’s fast-improving mare was the 6/5 favourite to stretch her unbeaten record on artificial surfaces to four and Jim Crowley rode a patient race.
Anglophile took the lead before the home turn, with Ballynanty swiftly going in hot pursuit.

Crowley waited with Moonrise Landing before switching her into top gear and she flew past both horses to win by half-length success.

Jim Crowley said: “I had some traffic problems going down the hill. She likes to be held up and that’s why she runs her best races that way. Sometimes round here it isn’t ideal and although I was locked up, I was filling her up and she had a nice turn of foot.

“The first two went up the inside a bit but I was always comfortable we were within striking distance. It probably looked worse on the telly than it really was.”

Trainer Ralph Beckett said: “In a way we got away with it because I don’t think the track really suits her. She’s probably better on a flat and more galloping track.”

All-female GB eventing team chosen

Great Britain has chosen  an all-female quartet for the opening leg of the 2016 FEI Nations Cup series which gets underway this weekend in Fontainebleau, France (March 23– 27).

The British team, supported by the National Lottery UK Sport funded World Class Programme, has been announced as;

  • Laura Collett with Mr Clive Smith’s Pamero 4
  • Dani Evans and Smart Time owned by Mrs Luana Edge
  • Gemma Tattersall on The Pebbles Syndicate’s Quicklook V
  • Izzy Taylor: Horse to be confirmed following the first horse inspection

The 2015 Nations Cup series saw GB top the table after a thrilling final in Boekelo, The Netherlands, and British Nations Cup Team Manager, Phillip Surl, is confident of another strong performance this year.

Gemma Tattersall (GBR) and Arctic Soul Photo: Fiona Scott-Maxell Photos

Sussex rider Gemma Tattersall (GBR) pictured with Arctic Soul is on the team
Photo: Fiona Scott-Maxell Photos

He said:“This team shows the strength in depth we have, all of these riders have competed on Nations Cup teams before, with Dani and Izzy helping to take the series win at the final in Boekelo last year and three of the riders being part of the 2015 FEI European Championships squad in Blair.

“We have a strong squad and are hopeful for a good result this weekend to get our Nations Cup campaign underway.”

Now in its fifth year the 2016 series sees nine CICO3* events taking place in Ireland, Great Britain, Poland, USA, Germany, Italy and Belgium with the final event at Boekelo in October.

Dressage volunteer award

Long serving dressage volunteer Geoff Simpson has received a prestigious award from the Torch Trophy Trust.  Geoff, from Kidderminster, received his award at the Royal Army and Navy Club in London from HRH the Prince of Kent, along with 20 other volunteers honoured for their dedication to sport in a ceremony supported by DAKS of London.

Geoff’s citation sad: “Already known as a ‘legend’ within the dressage community, Geoff has dedicated many years to ensuring the integrity of dressage is upheld and overseen the general running of events all over the UK.”

The awards are unique in acknowledging the importance of volunteers in sport, a role which often goes unnoticed. The Trust exists to encourage, reward and recognise the three million people in the UK who devote their spare time to volunteer in sport, in their local community and provide more opportunities to get people active.

Geoff Simpson receiving his award presented by HRH Prince Michael of Kent at Torch Trophy Trust Awards 2016 honouring volunteers in sport

Geoff Simpson receiving his award presented by HRH Prince Michael of Kent at Torch Trophy Trust Awards 2016 honouring volunteers in sport

Sir Bobby Charlton, Chairman of the Torch Trophy Trust commented: “It is hugely important to honour the incredible volunteers that make sport happen in our nation. Without their passion and generosity, we would see participation numbers fall. We are delighted to recognise and highlight the fantastic worked achieved by these volunteers, who demonstrate professionalism and desire to continue improving their activity.”

As a charity registered in the UK, the Torch Trophy Trust relies solely on donations from the public. At the heart of the Trust’s ethos is legacy – founded in 1962 and with the 1948 Olympic torch used as its symbol – the awards have recognised volunteers for over 53 years.

North West Regional Development Officer, Lou Jones, was lucky enough to join Geoff in London along with BD Chairman Penny Pollard.  Lou said; “It was a lovely day and I was immensely proud to see Geoff up there getting his award for his dedication to our sport.  It’s deserved recognition and he’s a true ambassador for dressage.  Geoff’s attitude and outlook instantly make him a likeable character which puts competitors at ease; plus he has a wonderful sense of humour which helps! I’m sure everyone who’s met Geoff will be delighted that he’s been recognised by the Torch Trophy Trust.”

All Weather Finals at Lingfield this week

Lingfield Park is all set for a superb afternoon of racing on Good Friday this week, with a host of the season’s leading performers featuring among the entries for the £1.1 million All-Weather Championships Finals Day.
Among the strong entries are a large number of Fast-Track Qualifier winners, as well as international representation with horses from Ireland, France and Germany all entered.
Exciting finals day at Lingfield Park on Good Friday this week Photo: ARC

Exciting finals day at Lingfield Park on Good Friday this week
Photo: ARC

Grendisar (Marco Botti) has proven to be one of the stars of the 2015/2016 All-Weather Championships and he heads 13 contenders for the £200,000 Coral Easter Classic (3.45pm) on Polytrack.
The son of Invincible Spirit was third behind subsequent Group One winner Tryster and Complicit (Paul Cole) in the very valuable 10-furlong contest on Good Friday last year but has looked better than ever this season and returns to Lingfield Park on the back of a pair of impressive course and distance victories.
 Coral make Grendisar a 5/4 chance to win the Coral Easter Classic ahead of dual Listed winner Battalion (5/1, William Haggas) and 6/1 chance Maverick Wave, who was successful in the Group Three Huxley Stakes at Chester in May.
Newmarket-based Botti revealed: “Everything is going to plan with Grendisar and he is in great form. He did a piece of work this morning and it’s a case of so far, so good. The way he took his race in the Winter Derby was very pleasing and he couldn’t be better.
 “My opinion is that Grendisar is more straightforward this season. He used to do naughty things, like not trying his best, but Adam Kirby said after the Winter Derby that he seems more genuine and is really putting everything into his races.”
 The £150,000 Ladbrokes All-Weather Mile Championships (3.15pm) has 15 entries, including all four Fast-Track Qualifier winners – Mister Universe (Mark Johnston), Captain Cat (Roger Charlton), who won the inaugural Ladbrokes All-Weather Mile Championships in 2014, Big Baz (William Muir) and Captain Joy (Tracey Collins).
All four Fast-Track Qualifier scorers have also been entered in the six-furlong £150,000 Unibet All-Weather Sprint (2.10pm), which has 17 entries including 11 horses rated 100 or more.
 A total of 11 entries for the £150,000 Unibet Three-Year-Old Sprint Championships (4.15pm) over five furlongs includes Kadrizzi (6/1 with Unibet, Dean Ivory), Field Of Vision (12/1, Joe Tuite) and Gracious John (13/8 favourite, David Evans) who fought out the finish to a Fast-Track Qualifier at Chelmsford City on February 7.
 Cold As Ice (William Haggas), a dual Grade Two winner in South Africa, headlines 11 entries in the £150,000 Fillies’ And Mares’ Championships (1.40pm) over seven furlongs.
The four-year-old is Evens favourite with 32Red following three appearances during this season’s All-Weather Championships including an all-the-way success in Chelmsford City conditions race in December and a staying-on third behind Rivellino in the Unibet Cleves Stakes.

Captain Joy for All Weather Mile

Captain Joy trained by Tracey Collins is set to make his second appearance on All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Lingfield Park on Good Friday this week, when he will line up in the £150,000 Ladbrokes All-Weather Mile (3.15pm, 15 entries).

The seven-year-old finished third, beaten half a length, behind Grey Mirage in the Polytrack contest last year and has made one appearance during the current All-Weather campaign, when winning a Fast-Track qualifier at Dundalk on February 12.

Collins, who is based at The Curragh in Ireland, reported: “Captain Joy will be running in the Ladbrokes All-Weather Mile at Lingfield Park on Friday. I am very happy with him at the moment and he is in great form.

“It wasn’t the plan just to have the one run with him before going back to Lingfield Park but he had colic surgery and wasn’t a very well horse at all.

Captain Joy pictured at Dundalk Photo: Arena Racing Company

Captain Joy pictured at Dundalk Photo: Arena Racing Company

“We were always hoping that we would be able to get him back for Good Friday at Lingfield, but it was a bit in the lap of the gods. We managed to get him to the Fast-Track Qualifier at Dundalk last month and he won and qualified. All has been good with him since.

“He ran a cracking race last year in the Ladbrokes All-Weather Mile and hopefully he will get a good draw, as that can count for everything. It looks all set to be very competitive which you would expect it to be.”

Heading the market at 2/1 with Ladbrokes is Mindurownbusiness (Roger Varian), a six-time winner on the All-Weather who was last seen out when recording an easy victory over an extended mile on Tapeta at Wolverhampton on February 8