Sussex trainer found guilty of Jockey Club charges

SUSSEX racehorse trainer Jim Best has been found guilty of all charges relating to the running and riding of two of his horses following a lengthy jockey club disciplinary hearing.

Best, who trains at Lewes, had been charged with instructing jockey Paul John to stop  two horses with acting in a manner prejudicial to the integrity, proper conduct or good reputation of horseracing.

Lewes trainer Jim Best Photo: Sussex Newspapers

Lewes trainer Jim Best
Photo: Press Associaton

Former conditional jockey Paul John had told a Jockey Club hearing that the trainer, his former employer, has told him to stop horses on two occasions. John was found guilty of two charges of intentionally failing to ensure horses ran on their merits- but had handed in his jockey’s licence.

Best could receive a lengthy ban from racing but Jockey Club officials will decide penalties to imposed at a later date.

The two horses trained by Best at the time, whose running and riding led to the inquiry, were Missile Man at Towcester and Echo Brava when making his hurdling debut in a Plumpton novice race.





Learn about equine leg problems


Don’t miss an informative hands-on talk for all horse owners at Moorcroft Racehorse Welfare Centre, Huntingrove Stud, Slinfold in West Sussex on Saturday March 19 at 11am by equine vet Rory O’ Shea.

It is the latest in a popular series at this centre, which does such an outstanding job in retraining ex racehorses so that they can go on to a future outside racing- and also has a series of events like this which benefit horse owners generally.

Rory will discuss common forelimb and hind limb conditions in horses and explain the modern treatments available along with methods of diagnosing conditions. This talk is an absolute must for anyone who needs to increase their knowledge and understanding about lameness in their horses.

Rory examining an ex-racehorse

Rory examining an ex-racehorse at Moorcroft

He will give a demonstration of preparing and administering modern biological therapies to horses for a variety of limb conditions. This will include a hands on demonstration of one of the latest treatments- Harvest Smartprep system- to a horse.

Horse owners will be able to learn about the basic anatomy of a horse’s fore and hind legs and common ailments and injuries to watch out for. They will also learn about modern treatments that are available for equines.Rory will answer questions to any related topics.

Book early for a place on at this demonstration, which will enable horse owners to know what to watch out for with their equines. The cost is just £10, with every penny going to help the horses being retrained at Moorcroft.

Book now by emailing and sending a cheque to Moorcroft at Huntingrove Stud, Slinfold, West Sussex RH13 0RB.

New 2016 eventing challenge

An exciting new 2016 regional eventing challenge has been announced by organisers of Weston Park Horse Trials and Blue Chip Horse Feeds-The Blue Chip Central North West BE80(T) Challenge.

Organisers of Weston Park Horse Trials are thrilled to be working with Blue Chip to create this new and exciting opportunity for grassroots combinations. This new challenge has been designed to enhance the education of the Airowear BE80(T) competitor, attracting new competitors to British Eventing and offering the grassroots within the region an exciting end to the season.

Blue Chip, who have supported Weston Park since it welcomed the grassroots riders in 2013 are offering a year’s sponsorship to the winner of this Central North West BE80(T) Challenge.

Horse Trials at Weston Park Photo: Blue Chip Feeds

Horse Trials at Weston Park Photo: Blue Chip Feeds

This great prize will include a feed balancer and supplement for one horse for one year, and Blue Chip clothing for the rider and their groom/helper and the winning horse, with the winner starring in Blue Chip promotions.   The challenge will run qualifiers within The Central North West, the 8 qualifying events listed below will qualify four combinations in each of their 80(T) sections. If a combination have already qualified then qualifications will pass down the line to 8th place. Blue Chip will provide prizes and medal rosettes for all qualifiers and are offering fabulous prizes down the line at the Blue Chip 80(T) Challenge Final.

Clare Blaskey Founder of Blue Chip Feeds said “Blue Chip is thrilled to support the Blue Chip 80(T) Challenge. As a company we have always promoted the grassroots rider and those that aspire to greater things. Blue Chip is very proud to be part of this great new initiative challenge.”

The Blue Chip Challenge Final will be an educational day with full support from BE Accredited Coaches for the dressage phase and dedicated course walks for the show jumping and cross country. The dressage test, show jumping and cross country will be as per the rules for the Airowear BE80(T) competitions.  Weston Park has experience in show casing Championship level events, the Cross Country Course which has become respected for its educational beautifully built and dressed fences will be bold and encouraging and dressed to a championship level.

The Challenge will have a dedicated educational Facebook group, supported again by Blue Chip, which will provide competitors with information to help prepare them to compete in a BE80(T).  Competitors will be able to view informative videos, and ask questions about all aspects of competing at this level.


Plumpton’s Anglo-Irish raceday

Plumpton Racecourse is opening its gates to a day of racing and a touch of the Blarney prior to St Patrick’s Day and the Cheltenham Festival, with the return of its annual Anglo-Irish raceday.

Gates open at noon next Monday, March 14, and the day will see an afternoon of exciting national hunt racing featuring the Anglo-Irish Jockey’s Challenge sponsored by local brewery Hepworth Ales. The successful team at the end of the day will win cases of the brewery’s award-winning ales.

Get close to the action at Plumpton's Irish Raceday. Photo: Jeannie Knight

Get close to the action at Plumpton’s Irish Raceday. Photo: Jeannie Knight

Plumpton has arranged an expert panel which will be offering visitors their best bets and tips at a free Cheltenham Festival preview session at 12.30pm in the Chasers Bar (on a first come first served basis).

Popular Irish folk band ‘Reelstrings’ will be getting people’s feet tapping with live sets throughout the afternoon in the Paddock Bar. Visitors can enjoy a jig and reel alongside the racing and one lucky racegoer will win two tickets to an Irish race meeting in a free-to-enter racecard competition.

Kate Hills, Plumpton Racecourse Chief Executive, commented: “We’re so pleased to be hosting our Anglo-Irish raceday again, we are grateful to Aspen Insurance, long term supporters of this day and major sponsors. It always proves to be a popular day and everyone has great fun. We’re especially pleased to welcome ‘Reelstrings’ back, they went down a storm last year!”

For further information and tickets please visit or contact the team on 01273 89038

Johnston’s two fast-track qualifiers

Trainer Mark Johnston made it two Fast-Track Qualifier victories on consecutive evenings when Watersmeet made all for a game victory in the €25,000 Race at Dundalk recently.

The North Yorkshire-based trainer, responsible for Notarised who won another Fast-Track Qualifier at Chelmsford City on March 3, now has two strong candidates for All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Lingfield Park, Good Friday, March 25.

Lingfield Park all-weather finals promise top class racing Photo: ARC

Lingfield Park all-weather finals promise top class racing Photo: ARC

Joe Fanning, who rode both horses to victory, sent Watersmeet, the 10/11 favourite in the field of five, straight into the lead. Watersmeet, a five-year-old grey son of Dansili, resisted two strong challenges in the straight, first from Mandatario (Jim Bolger/Kevin Manning, 3/1) and then from Political Policy (Gavin Cromwell/Ronan Whelan, 7/1) who came with a good run on the outside inside the final furlong.

But the British challenger ran on well and saw off Political Policy and Mandatario by a half-length and the same in 2m 18.15s for the 10 furlongs and 150y on Polytrack.

Fanning commented: “Watersmeet was just idling a bit up the straight – he can be a bit like that. Once they came to challenge him, he picked up and battled on. The second and third were nearly upsides me but I always felt my horse was just having a good look.

“Watersmeet is likely to be aimed at one of the races on Finals Day now. He stays further than this.”

The Race was the last of four Fast-Track Qualifiers for the £200,000 Coral Easter Classic at Lingfield Park on All-Weather Championships Finals Day and Watersmeet gained a free and automatic place in the 10-furlong race on Polytrack.


Fruity O’ Rooney retires

ONE of the best-loved horses in  jump racing, Fruity O’Rooney, trained by Gary Moore at Cisswood Stables near Horsham, has been retired from racing at the age of 13. The decision has been taken so that he can enjoy a well-deserved retirement while he is still in good health.

He will long be remembered as an exceptionally fearless racehorse- despite being comparatively small at only 15.2hh . But what he lacked in stature he more than compensated for with his immense ability and dogged refusal to give in.

Fruity O' Rooney, Jamie Moore up, parading at Fontwell last November Photo Copyright: Jeannie Knight

Fruity O’ Rooney, Jamie Moore up, parading at Fontwell last November Photo Copyright: Jeannie Knight

He was renowed for his brave performances and determination to get his head in front- sometimes in thrilling finishes. He was a quirky character who endeared himself to the racing public, with his will to win.
On the way, he captured the heart of the racing public and was much loved by his Heart Of The South Racing group, set up and managed from the start by father and daughter combination John Penny, now retired, and Eloise  Adamski  who now manages the company’s successful racing groups on the Flat and over jumps.

He has won nearly £150,000 in prize money and taken his owners to some of biggest National Hunt fixtures in the racing calendar.  In his early career he was partnered in some races by jockey Philip Hide, who now trains from Cissbury Stables at Findon, where his string includes  other Heart of The South Racing  Group horses.

Fruity O'Rooney following a win at Fiontwell Park where applause raised the roof Photo Copyright: Jeannie Knight

Fruity O’Rooney following a win at Fiontwell Park where applause raised the roof Photo Copyright: Jeannie Knight

But Fruity said farewell to doting crowds at Fontwell Park in November with his subsequent regular jockey, Jamie Moore, before going on to score the final victory of his career in style at Ascot.

This was a highly competitive race where Jamie Moore ensured his willing partner got up to win by a nose from a 5-1 favourite in a valuable Handicap Chase. That really was the stuff that dreams are made of.

During his racing career, Fruity had scored nine good wins and many places for his racing group, accumulating an outstanding amount of prize money on the way. He has even had an illustrated book written and published about him by West Sussex  group member AnnTyrrell, which immediately sold out.

Fruity O'Rooney book "With a little help from his friends" produced by Ann Tyrell

Fruity O’Rooney book “With a little help from his friends” produced by Ann Tyrell

Eloise Penny, announcing the retirement, said: “It has been a very sad decision to make, however now is the right time for this loveable horse to enjoy a well deserved retirement at the age of 13. He retires in good health and still full beans as always. It is time now for him  to enjoy something less strenuous. ”

This remarkable horse’s career speaks for itself. Having started racing at the age of five, he scored  9 winds and 22 places.

Fruity O' Rooney's final win at Ascot in gathering gloom Photo: Heart of the South Racing

Fruity O’ Rooney’s final win at Ascot in gathering gloom Photo: Heart of the South Racing

He managed to finish third in the valuable SkyBet Chase at Doncster in 2012 despite a slipped saddle, and was second the same year at the  Cheltenham Festival, beaten only by one length, as well as finished  fifth in the Scottish Grand National and seventh in the Hennessy Gold Cup.  Jamie Moore and Fruity won a prestigious Lester Award  in 2014.

Eloise Penny said: “It is extremely sad to be reaching the end of an era with him. But we have every confidence this remarkable horse will thrive in a new sphere and enjoy a long and happy retirement.”

The many Fruity fans out there need not worry, there will be constant updates on what this unmatchable and lovable horse gets up to in his retirement.

Cowdray’s new polo season opens soon

COWDRAY Park’s 2016 polo season opens on Saturday April 23 with match play commencing in the 8 goal Barrett Cup and the 12 goal Tyro Cup.

With a massive 485 matches played in 2015, in order to satisfy increasing demand the Polo Club is introducing two new tournaments in 2016.  The Petworth 12 goal trophy will be played between June 4 and 12 and the Heyshott 6 goal Cup will be played from June 21 to July 3.

Ranked alongside the Argentine and USA Opens, there will be four weeks of thrilling high goal action in the British Open Polo Championship for the Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup when spectators can expect to see the majority of  the world’s 10 goal players in action on Cowdray’s world-class pitches.

Exciting polo action soon atb Cowdray Park Photo:Clive Bennett Photography 20150712

Exciting polo action soon at Cowdray Park
Photo:Clive Bennett Photography 20150712

The Gold Cup was launched in 1956 by the late John Cowdray, 3rd Viscount, and thirteen teams are predicted to be competing in the Diamond Jubilee year of the most coveted trophy in polo, including, for the first time since 2009, a Cowdray team.

The Hon Charles and Lila Pearson are proud to be entering Cowdray Vikings led by their son George, grandson of John Cowdray, who is a talented young 2-goal player and currently a student at Oxford University.

The 2016 Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup tournament starts on June 21  with the King Power side of ‘Top’ Srivaddhanaprabha returning to defend the title of British Open Champions which they won in 2015.

Hon Lila Pearson presenting Midhurst Town Cup to winning team Photo: Clive Bennett

Hon Lila Pearson presenting Midhurst Town Cup to winning team last season
Photo: Clive Bennett

Highlights of the tournament include The Midhurst Town Cup taking place on Sunday  June 26 with entry at just £5 per person, under 12s free. The historic local Cup will be contested as the principal match of the afternoon.  The following weekend sees the popular Argentine Ambassadors Cup being played on Sunday July 3 also at just £5 for adult entry.

The Semi Finals of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup will be played on Wednesday July 13 and the high octane Final will take place on Sunday July 17.

The British Ladies Open Championship runs during the final week of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup with its Final on July 16, the Saturday of Gold Cup weekend.
Six tournaments in the highly popular HPA Series, which are open to all-comers and attract large entries, are spread over the season and a full range of domestic tournaments at low and medium goal level complete the calendar with the season closing on 18th September.

The total list of fixtures  and details of membership of Cowdray Park POlo Club is available at


David Menuisier poised for 2016 success


David’s string on the gallops in Coombelands splendid surroundings  Photo: Jeannie Knight

FRENCHMAN David Menuisier had just four horses when he first started training in 2014 in a barn at Coombelands, Pulborough- but he also had impressive experience and a natural understanding of his horses.

Today he is poised on the brink of a new Flat year, with 23 horses in training, seven full-time staff and two barns at the prestigious Pulborough base, which will both be full by the start of the coming season. His string for 2016 is impressive and winners should begin to flow. With his partner, Kim Johnstone, at his side- who herself has a sound equine and racing background- he has good reason to have high expections for 2016.

David and Kim on the gallops with their dog Nugget Photo: Jeannie Knight

David and Kim on the gallops with their dog Nugget Photo: Jeannie Knight

Originally he was pupil assistant to Criquette Head, who sent him a horse, Hier Encore for his first season, then he worked for US Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, before arriving in the UK, which in his opinion is ‘the greatest  horse racing nation in the world’ as assistant trainer to John Dunlop at Castle Stables, Arundel.

His horses for this season look outstanding and he has a particular affection for Slunovrat, a five-year-old gelding by Astronomer Royal owned by Shinco Racing Ltd, which was one of his original four when he started- and proved to be the best of the quartet.”He was my first winner. In 2015 he won three races for me- two at Newcastle, one at Nottingham and was placed four times. Also, Hier Encore has enjoyed a good break and is now back in training.”

David with Slunovrat Photo : Jeannie Knight

David with Slunovrat
Photo : Jeannie Knight

David has had strong ownership support from Gail Brown Racing groups, Clive Washbourn and other good owners, and he starts out this new season with a very experienced head lad, Michael Caffyn and some reliable work riders.

David's string enjoying sunshine after their gallop Photo: Jeannie Knight

David’s string enjoying sunshine after their gallop Photo: Jeannie Knight

“All my horses run on their merit. I am delighted with the way things are going- I am quietly excited at the quality of my horses for the coming season  Clive Washbourn has been a big supporter and has centralised his horses with us while Gail Brown has some nice horses and racing groups here.”

Grey colt Speculator, a  four-year-old owned by Gail Brown Racing, last season won two races and was placed twice and there is more to come in 2016.  Five-year-old filly Jethou Island, owned by Mrs F A Veasey and Partners, had failed to show any kind of form when trained by Henry Candy.

“Her first run for us was in December when she flipped her palate three furlongs out and couldn’t get enough oxygen into her lungs. A tongue strap cured the problem and she went on to win comfortably at Chelmsford  City by almost two lengths and has more to come.

“Make Time is a very nice two-year-old chestnut colt by Makfi, owned by Gail Brown Racing 7 which should go on to do well. In addition Clive Washbourn has an unraced three-year-old grey, Thundering Blue by Exchange Rate bought at the breeze ups for 200,000 Guineas. I have high hopes of him. He was quite backward so we took it steady last year, giving him time to come to himself. But he is a really nice horse,” he added.

Three-year-old filly Aspen Again owned by Clive Washbourn Photo: Jeannie Knight

Three-year-old filly Aspen Again owned by Clive Washbourn
Photo: Jeannie Knight

This same owner also owns Havre De Paix, which David rates as the best filly he has in training.  She was second three times last season  but he predicts there is much more to come this year. Saunter is a three-year-old grey gelding owned by Michael Watt and bought as a nice two-year-old in France.

He was backward but has been given the time he needs while Roderics Secret, a three-year-old, owned by Clive Washbourn and Robert Wasey is another to note. He was bought at the sales quite cheaply and is a late developer, but his dam won a Listed Race while his sire Roderic O’ Connor won both the Irish 2000 Guineas Group 1 and the Criterium International Group I.

Roderic's Secret on the gallops Photo :Jeannie Knight

Roderic’s Secret on the gallops
Photo :Jeannie Knight

David added: “At Coombelands Racing Stables we have the finest place to train our horses- with world class facilities for our horses all the year round. We have the use of several all-weather and turf gallops of six to eight furlongs each, cantering areas, an indoor equine swimming pool,  indoor canterway and  numerous other extras. It is superb for our horses. We could not want for anything better. ”

To find out more about ownership with David, contact him on: or look at his website 

The Pony Club looks to a bright future

The Pony Club
The Pony Club, a British organisation with an incredible 86 year heritage in teaching young people to ride and care for horses and ponies, has introduced a fresher, cleaner and brighter version of its brand along with a renewed vision.

At its annual conference at Aintree Racecourse this week it revealed how the most comprehensive review of the Pony Club since inception had been conducted, in consultation with the organisation’s volunteers and members.

The Pony Club ‘roundel’, most regularly seen on its badge, with tudor rose design and central horse illustration flanked by spokes, is now notably streamlined with a design that depicts what the organisation offers, whilst still ‘tipping its hat’ to the traditions that will always underpin the organisation. The new look is part of a new continuous review.

Old Pony Club logo

Old Pony Club logo

The Pony Club’s chief executive Pip Kirkby, who was recruited from The Jockey Club, another long-standing British equestrian institution which underwent a modernisation in recent times, comments:

“The Pony Club is an icon of British society. Its timeless values and history are loved by all who are a part of it. At its core, the Pony Club is about young people having fun.

New Sweetlands Pony Club near Horsham

New Sweetlands Pony Club near Horsham illustrates that the pony club continues to thrive

“Refreshing our ‘brand’ allows us to represent ourselves in a more modern way, while respecting our heritage and remembering what makes the Pony Club ‘great’. We need to move forward in order to continue to be inviting to both our current members as well as potential new recruits.

“The review emphasises everything that is wonderful about the Pony Club, our traditions such as camp, our amazing alumni many of whom are household names and our incredible volunteers”.

“We want the refreshed brand to re-introduce the Pony Club to those who know and love what is great about it as well an introducing it to those who are yet to benefit from the fun at rallies and camps, as an integral part of what makes the Pony Club a part of British fabric and society.”

Still a largely volunteer led organisation, the Pony Club is for anyone aged from four to 25 years and including those with and without their own horses and ponies. As well as incredible opportunities for riding and care of horses and ponies, it also offers social development and the chances to make friendships; as well as forming part of the rider pathway up into the Olympic disciplines.

Acting as a grassroots breeding ground for talent, an incredible number of equestrian athletes including Olympians have started their careers in Pony Club, including the entire Olympic silver medal winning team of Zara Phillips, Nicola Wilson, Tina Cook, William Fox-Pitt & Mary King.

“I have great memories of my time in the Pony Club, where I learnt so much, whilst at the same time having great fun” comments Nicola Wilson, international event rider, Olympic medallist and former Pony Club member. “As an organisation, it is ideally placed to promote the highest ideals of sportsmanship and loyalty, whilst at the same time creating character and self-discipline, which I know has helped me in my career as an event rider. I fully endorse the re-fresh of the Pony Club brand as this will only further strengthen its appeal to the modern day young rider.”

Whilst a refreshed brand is the first phase, the project is part of a much wider membership campaign that see’s the Pony Club moving forward and re-positioning itself to be relevant to both its existing and potential members; the implementation of the Unity database system, also launched at the annual conference, is complementary to this.

Hickstead’s Arena Polo match

England will once again face the USA at the All England Polo Club, Hickstead, this Saturday, March 5, and they are hoping for retribution after the home side was defeated when the two teams last met here two years ago

In 2014, the might of 10-goal captain Tommy Biddle helped lead the USA to victory – but this time England also boasts a 10-goaler in captain Chris Hyde, who was upgraded to the highest handicap rating in the autumn Arena Polo rankings.

Hyde will be joined by eight-goaler Johnny Good and Ed Banner Eve (4 goals). They’ll play against Biddle’s team of Pelon Escapite (7 goals) and Kareem Rosser (3 goals), meaning the visitors will be given a two-goal advantage based on handicap.

The USA were victorious last time they played England at Hickstead in 2014. (c)

The USA was victorious last time they played England at Hickstead  (c)

The International Test Match for the Bryan Morrison Trophy will be preceded by a match played between the Clogau Wales Polo Team (Ricky Cooper, Roddy Matthews and Peter Webb) and the Hedonism Wines team (Evgeny Chichvarkin, Royston Prisk and Jack Richardson).

In addition to the two thrilling games of polo to enjoy, the Polo Clubhouse will be open all day, serving a range of food and drinks and providing the perfect vantage point from which to watch the action.

The gates open at 10.30am, with tickets available on the day or online in advance. Entry costs just £5 per person, making it superb value for money.

There are a limited number of tickets left for the post-match luncheon, where you can enjoy both a delicious three-course meal and the company of polo’s elite for just £49.50 per person plus admission.