Plumpton’s two-day Easter meeting

Don’t miss Plumpton’s two-day Easter Festival on Sunday and Monday, when good quality jump racing is expected along with a range of Easter activities for all the family.

Activities during the two days include not only the excitement of jump racing at this popular  Sussex track, but also  Easter Egg Giveaway, Fun Fair, Food and Drink Concessions, Picnic Area, Hospitality, Marquee Restaurant, Betting. Free entertainment includes Face Painting, Climbing Wall, Derby Horse Hoppers, Live Music, Strolling Magician, donkey rides and much more.

The first race of the day on Easter Sunday is at 2.15pm but gates open at noon.

Quality jump racing at Plumpton

The feature race on the opening day, Easter Sunday, is the Totepool Sussex Champion Hurdle with eight runners headed by Remiluc trained by Chris Gordon and ridden by useful 5lb claimer Harry Reed.

Anticipated starting prices are currently : 7/2 Remiluc, 4/1 Mr Antolini, trained by Nigel Twiston Davies; 4-1Vado Forte (Tom Lacey) 9/2 Early Du Lemo (Gary Moore), 5/1 Kings Walk (Colin TIzzard), 13/2 Jaisalmer (Mark Bradstock), 14/1 Alberta (Suzi Best), 50/1 Thats My Rabbit (Suzi Best). Expect some competitive action from all races on the opening day card- and similar top quality racing and entertainment on Easter Monday at this popular Plumpton track, when the first of seven races is at 1.55pm and gates open at 11.45am.

Perrier-Jouët support for Cowdray polo

Cowdray Park Polo Club has announced that Perrier-Jouët, part of the Pernod Ricard group, the world’s second biggest wine and spirits company, will become the club’s new Official Champagne Partner.

Toni Ingram, head of marketing for Pernod Ricard UK, said: Cowdray Park Polo Club is a perfect fit for Perrier-Jouët as the brand epitomises celebration, conviviality and style, all attributes to be found within the world of polo. This is an exciting launch for us, as a new cuvée from The House of Perrier-Jouët, Blanc de Blancs, will be on offer to members, allowing them to experience the most vivacious cuvée of champagne on the market.”

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

Vibrant and exhilarating, Blanc de Blancs pays tribute to the Chardonnay grape – the iconic touchstone of the Perrier-Jouët style. Thanks to the white grape’s distinctively fresh taste, Blanc de Blancs will set the tone among a new generation of trend-setting pleasure-seekers. Tinged with hints of green, its luminescent pale gold colour is accentuated by a unique transparent bottle, edged with festive golden trimmings.

Jonathan Russell, CEO of Cowdray and Acting General Manager of Cowdray Park Polo Club, concluded: With an exciting season in prospect, and the members’ enclosure at Lawns being given a substantial upgrade for 2018, the club anticipates that its members and guests will be enjoying Perrier-Jouët Champagne to the full!”

Cowdray Park Polo Club’s 2018 season opens on April 28

Silk Series for female jockeys expanded

The Silk Series, which gives female jockeys further opportunities on popular summer racedays, has been expanded to include races from Goodwood, Hamilton, Musselburgh and York.

Launched across nine Arc racecourses in 2017, the series also raises funds and awareness for Cancer Research UK.

Women jockeys in a past Magnolia Cup at Goodwood Photo: Jeannie Knight

Thirty-six jockeys took part in the series in 2017, with Megan Nicholls winning The Tufnell Trophy, named in honour of Meriel Tufnell, the first woman to ride a winner under rules in Britain in 1972.

n 2018, the series will offer a total of £150,000 in prize-money, with the £20,000 final taking place at the St Leger meeting. Jockeys win points based on their finishing position in each race.

Musselburgh 02-Jun-18 Day 1m 6f £10,000
Chepstow 13-Jul-18 Eve 6f £10,000
Great Yarmouth 18-Jul-18 Eve 6f £10,000
Lingfield Park 21-Jul-18 Eve 5f £10,000
York 27-Jul-18 Eve 1m 1f £15,000
Newcastle 28-Jul-18 Day 1m 2f £11,000
Royal Windsor 30-Jul-18 Eve 6f £10,000
Hamilton Park 04-Aug-18 Eve 6f £12,000
Brighton 09-Aug-18 Day 7f £10,000
Bath 18-Aug-18 Eve 1m 3f £10,000
Goodwood 26-Aug-18 Day tbc £12,000
Wolverhampton 01-Sep-18 Day 1m 1f £10,000
Doncaster 13-Sep-18 Day 6f £20,000


Two equine organisation form new body

Two existing horse world organisations have combined their strengths to form a new body- The British Horse Council-to speak to government departments with one voice.

 The new body has come about as a result of the decisions of the British Horse Industry Confederation and the Equine Sector Council (for Health and Welfare) to join forces.

In practice the two organisations have been working together on a range of issues such as the horsemeat scandal, horse passports and rates for equestrian businesses for some time.  The move to formalise into one body which speaks to all government departments as well as devolved authorities is seen as a practical step.

National Equine Forum 2018

 With many issues, not least of which is Brexit, presenting challenges and opportunities throughout the sector it is especially important that, where there is common ground, racing, breeding, sport, leisure, trade, health, education, research, enforcement and welfare can present a strong and unified view.

 Launched at the recent National Equine Forum, the British Horse Council, will be open and inclusive with a mailing list for all equestrian related organisations to join the conversation and regular group meetings for communication and consultation.

British Horse Industry Confederation Chair Lynn Petersen, welcomed the new body saying: “The first thing I asked when becoming Chair of BHIC was why there were two organisations essentially doing the same thing.

“My question to colleagues was whether we could find a way to join forces since we are all focusing on the same challenges. With Brexit looming, there can be no better time for us to join together and promote our industry which contributes so much to society and the economy”.

 Equine Sector Council Chair, Jeanette Allen, agreed commenting: “A number of dedicated individuals have worked extremely hard to set up the BHC and it is all about cooperation, coordination but mostly consensus.

“Where the sector does not all agree about an issue, it will be left to individual organisations to communicate their own priorities and the BHC will harness the power of speaking with one voice whenever possible”.

 *The British Horse Council is a Community Interest Company. Priorities will be directed by political developments and feedback from the horse world and will look for ways to positively interact with different government departments and devolved authorities where areas of priority and consensus exist.

 All interested equestrian organisations are welcome to make contact. The term “horse” includes horses, ponies, donkey and their hybrids.


RDA volunteer wins top award

A volunteer from Leatherhead Riding for the Disabled Group, Grace Lloyd-Jones, has won a Torch Trophy Trust Award for Outstanding Support for Disability which she received from HRH the Duke of Gloucester at a special ceremony in London recently.

The Torch Trophy Trust Awards are presented annually to nominations from across sports’ governing bodies and organisations to recognise grassroots voluntary work for sport and recreation in clubs and community initiatives. Sir Bobby Charlton is the Trust’s President.

“My mum has volunteered at Leatherhead RDA for as long as I can remember” said Grace, “so I must thank her for getting me involved. I so wanted to be able to give back to a sport that I had loved particularly as it’s so reliant on volunteers, but when I started working I couldn’t commit to regular sessions but was encouraged to take on the Regional Committee role”.

RDA Volunteer Grace Lloyd Jones is presented with Torch Trust Award by HRH the Duke of Gloucester Photo: Joanna Sale

Grace was nominated by RDA’s Regional Chair, Lindsay Correa, for her role as Regional Dressage Representative. “Grace has taken up the role with enthusiasm and dedication, carving time out of her busy professional life to provide our riders with informed advice and mounting a most enjoyable annual competition at Hickstead” said Lindsay.

In addition, she is also responsible for ensuring that the 37 groups across the region are fully briefed on RDA UK guidelines, policies and procedures and provides ongoing advice to support safe practice.

“Grace makes an astonishing impact on RDA at group and regional level. This is a very well deserved award” added Lindsay.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time on the Regional Committee and I am glad I can put my organisational event management skills to good use,“ said Grace. “It was lovely to be recognised in this way and hopefully shows that volunteers, employers and charities can get a lot out of being flexible to allow anyone who wants to volunteer to be able to, including young people!”

The evening at the Army and Navy Club was a celebration of unsung sporting volunteers with a cross section of sports represented from riding to netball, ParkRun to rounders.

In the South East there are 37 groups across Surrey, Sussex and Kent with over 2,000 riders of all ages. They come to enjoy the experience of riding, carriage driving, show jumping, dressage endurance and western style, with opportunities to learn a new skill, enter competitions or even take a holiday.

This can bring a new dimension to necessarily restricted lives, encourage independence and does much to improve a wide range of medical conditions. We have the commitment of more than 1,000 volunteers who regularly and cheerfully give up their free time.

Instructors work closely with physiotherapists and other health professionals to encourage every individual to aim for attainable goals – some modest, others far more ambitious.


Hickstead set for 58th showjumping season

This summer will mark 58 years of showjumping at the All England Jumping Course at Hickstead in West Sussex.

The showground was first opened in 1960, after its founder Douglas Bunn wanted to create a venue in Britain that could rival those on the continent. Hickstead quickly became established as the home of British showjumping, and it has played host to a number of World and European Championships over the years.

This summer Hickstead will once again host two international events – the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting (21-24 June) and the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Great Britain at the BHS Royal International Horse Show (25-29 July).

Michael Whitaker and Viking competing at Hickstead Photo: Craig Payne

Around 100,000 spectators are set to come through the gates during the season to enjoy the top class showjumping, driving, showing and arena eventing on offer. With eight rings running throughout both shows, the events are among the largest outdoor fixtures in the equestrian calendar.

The Derby Meeting in June features four days of international showjumping, culminating in the famous Al Shira’aa Derby on Sunday 24 June. First held in 1961, the Hickstead Derby has been won by many of the sport’s biggest names, including Harvey Smith, David Broome, Nick Skelton, Eddie Macken plus brothers John and Michael Whitaker.

Free entry to Hickstead’s shopping day

This year the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting will get underway with a ‘shopping day’, with free admission to spectators on Thursday 21 June. A new ‘Family Zone’ will be added, with half-price funfair rides on the Thursday and Friday of the show.

There is a new title for Hickstead’s July fixture, which is now known as the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Great Britain at the BHS Royal International Horse Show (July 25-29). There has also been a scheduling change, with the Longines BHS King George V Gold Cup moving to the Friday and the show now set to close with the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ leg on Sunday afternoon.

The Royal International Horse Show (patron: Her Majesty The Queen) is the official show of the British Horse Society. The show will celebrate its 111th birthday this year, making it one of the oldest equestrian events in the world. The five-star fixture has been held at Hickstead since 1992, and it features championship showing, carriage driving and national showjumping alongside the international showjumping classes.

The pinnacle class, the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™, also has a rich history, with the series dating back to 1929. The series sees countries compete as teams of four riders at a number of international legs, with the aim of qualifying for the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final in Barcelona in September. Hickstead forms the British leg of the series, and gives showjumping fans their only chance to support the British team on home turf.

Tickets for both fixtures are on sale now, with discounts applying to all those booking in advance. A wide range of hospitality options are also available, including private boxes and the Members’ Restaurant, offering unrivalled views of the International Arena.

To purchase tickets and for more information contact

The All England Jumping Course at Hickstead in West Sussex was founded in 1960 by Douglas Bunn, who had dreamed of creating a venue that could rival those on the continent. In 2010, Hickstead celebrated its 50th anniversary, having become known as the home of British showjumping. The showground has been the venue for several World and European Showjumping Championships. It now hosts two major international shows each year – the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting in June and the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Great Britain at the BHS Royal International Horse Show in July; plus a national show in September known as the All England Jumping Championships.

Synovial infection in a horse

Synovial Infection is discussed here by Dr Chris Baldwin BVetMed(hons) MRCVS, who is resident equine veterinary surgeon at the Sussex  Equine Hospital, Ashington.

Dr Chris Baldwin  Resident Veterinary Surgeon at Ashington Equine Hospital

The anatomy of a joint can be broken down into a few basic component parts, two opposing bones are encapsulated in a fibrous joint capsule which is lined with an active synovial membrane. At the end of each bone there is a layer of cartilage which facilitates the gliding motion of the bones over one another. Within the joint a fluid is produced by the synovial membrane which lubricates the articulating joints to reduce friction, provides a shock absorption, supplies oxygen and nutrients and removes metabolic wastes from the cells within the surrounding cartilage.

Surgery being conducted on a horse’s leg  Photo:John Simpson

Joints and the synovial fluids are sometimes referred to as immune privileged sites, this is to say they have a limited capacity to deal with infections. This is because the synovial fluid is a hyper-filtration of the blood produced by the synovial membrane. The synovial membrane produces a viscous, low cell, low protein fluid composed of hyaluronic acid, lubricin, proteinases, collagenases and phagocytic cells (removes the debris that results from normal wear and tear in the joint).

The fluid is an excellent medium of nutrients to allow bacteria to grow rapidly and the fluid is devoid of infection fighting antibodies and lymphocytes. This means the introduction of even a very small number of bacteria can result in a septic joint with an infection that cannot be fought off by the horse’s own immune system.

When bacteria enter a joint space, they reproduce rapidly releasing a multitude of toxins and waste products that results in the synovial membrane releasing a storm of inflammatory mediators to recruit infection fighting cells (neutrophils and lymphocytes). The neutrophils and lymphocytes produce bacteria destroying enzymes in order to tackle the infection, however if the host defences are overwhelmed, which in an immune privileged site they often are, then infection will set in.

Infection results in an extremely painful inflammatory response and synovial fluid production increases, which results in joint distension (which is also painful!) resulting in a severe lameness and an enlarged or swollen joint. Internally the process of the infection and the inflammation aimed at tackling the infection results in cartilage degradation, adhesion formation (tendon sheaths) and pannus/fibrin build up.

When determining if a synovial structure is infected or not your vet may take a sample of the fluid and analyse it for changes that may indicate an infection has established. Synovial fluid is normally a clear viscous fluid however when infected it becomes; turbid, less viscous and cell and protein concentrations increase.

If there is a wound close to a synovial structure then at the same time as taking a sample your vet may also inject sterile water into the joint and observe to see if the water comes out of the wound, if it confirms communication between the wound and the joint, if it doesn’t then the joint fluid sample will need to be analysed.

Once a septic synovial structure has been confirmed it is then important to treat the infection quickly and aggressively. Unfortunately, antibiotics alone have a very poor success rate because antibiotics given either into the muscle, vein or in feed have poor penetration into the synovial fluid.

The “gold standard” treatment is a combination of antibiotics and arthroscopy, this involves placing an arthroscope (camera) into the joint and flushing the joint fluid out with sterile saline, this flushing aims to relieve distension, remove bacteria, inflammatory mediators and restore normal synovial health.

The solution to pollution is dilution! This procedure can be done without the camera by placing multiple needles into the joint and performing what is called a “needle flush” however the benefit of using an arthroscope is that this allows removal of the built-up pannus/fibrin (which is heavily infected thick pus like-tissue).

Arthroscopy also allows visualisation of the joint to assess for any joint damage or contamination (dirt, thorns, hair), allowing an improved prognosis prediction. Arthroscopy has a much greater success rate than needle flushing alone because of all the above outlined benefits.

Although joint infections cause a severe lameness and can result in profound damage to a joint surface, if treated appropriately and promptly horses can make an excellent return to full athletic work. The key to success of fast veterinary intervention.

Dr. C. Baldwin, BVetMed, MRCVS

Start of Cowdray Park Polo Club 2018 season

Cowdray Park Polo Club’s 2018 season opens on April 28 with a wealth of exciting tournaments ahead.  The opening matches in the 8 goal Barrett and 12 goal Tyro Cups get underway on the first day of the season and well over 400 matches are predicted for the season.
Cowdray is first off in the UK high goal fixtures for 2018 with the Murus Sanctus Trippetts Challenge played for the James Wentworth Stanley Cup starting on May 8.  An entry of six teams is anticipated.
An exciting British Open Polo Championship is forecast with at least twelve teams entered for the King Power Gold Cup and many of the high goal patrons and players basing themselves within the area.  There are plans for a week of activities at the Lawns grounds to celebrate the final week of the 2018 King Power Gold Cup.

King Power Foxes  hold up the cup after the Jaeger LeCoultre Gold Cup Final Polo Match 2017 at t Cowdray Park Polo Club  Photo: Clive Bennett Photography 20170723 ©2017

 To demonstrate the growing importance of women’s polo, the Final of the British Ladies Polo Championship, previously held at Ambersham, will take place on Lawns 1 on Saturday July 21.  With a new format encompassing two handicap levels, the Championship has already attracted substantial entries.
The club’s 12, 15 and 18 goal tournaments attracted high entries in 2017.  King Power, who are not competing in any high goal polo in the UK have, however, signalled their entry for the Duke of Sutherland and Harrison Cups this season.
Six HPA tournaments played annually at Cowdray Park as part of the nationwide Victor Ludorum accolade are spread across the whole season and attract large entries from non-domestic teams keen to challenge Cowdray teams on their home turf in tournaments ranging from 8 to 18 goal handicaps.
Cowdray offers plenty of polo at every level with 4 goal, 6 goal and 8 goal available every month.  Weekend Polo returns with its all-inclusive approach. Players from any club affiliated to the HPA are offered the chance to enjoy a taste of polo at Cowdray Park Polo Club which is now also offering a Weekend Polo membership. During 15 weekends last year around 40 matches were played.
Players of varying ages and experience booked in – from juniors stepping up from Pony Club, players and patrons practising between tournaments, Academy players moving up a level and even England captain James Beim playing his younger ponies alongside visitors from other clubs.
Polo Manager Chris Bethell said:  “Entry levels are looking good and there will be much for the club’s membership, both playing and non-playing, to enjoy.  Lawns 2 was stripped off and re-seeded towards the end of the 2017 season and is looking really good.  It has been possible to mow all our other grounds throughout the winter and they are in great shape.  Personally, I can’t wait for the season to start.”
Memberships may be renewed by calling the Polo Office on 01730 813257.

Easter horse racing programme

Easter is just around the corner and with it comes a host of unmissable horse racing to keep the whole family entertained.

 Kicking off the long weekend on Good Friday March 30 is Finals Day of the All-Weather Championships at Lingfield Park Racecourse where £1 million in prize money is on offer, making this the richest all-weather raceday staged in Europe and a day not to be missed! Under 18s are admitted for free and Premier tickets start at just £26.

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

 In addition to seven exciting races, there will be plenty of extra entertainment for all age groups to get excited about. It’s no wonder this day has boasted sell-out crowds for the past three years. Gates open at 12pm, with the first race scheduled for 2pm. 

 If that’s not enough, you can hop over to nearby Kempton Park for even more free family entertainment on Easter Saturday, with gates opening at 12.30pm and the first race scheduled for 2pm. Prepare for an afternoon of quality All-Weather racing and free family entertainment including appearances from PAW Patrol’s Chase & Marshall at intervals throughout the day – it’s the perfect activity for your long weekend.

 From Good Friday through to Easter Monday, there are 19 fantastic race fixtures taking place all across the country at which under 18s go free – meaning it’s the ideal time to get the whole family along to your local course.

 From Musselburgh down to Newton Abbot, over to Ffos Las and across to Fakenham, there’s plenty of thrilling action to excite everyone this Easter. Every course will be providing eggscellent activities for under 18s, such as Easter egg hunts, carnival rides and much more – a perfect family day out for the Easter weekend.

 And, if you want to get a behind the scenes taster of what it takes to get a racehorse to the track in peak condition, then head to the Lambourn Open Day on Good Friday where some of the most famous racing yards will be open to the public. Those who live further north can also join in the excitement at the Middleham Open Day.

Go to to find your local fixture

Kris Spin wins Fontwell’s feature race

Fontwell Park’s latest meeting saw some competitive action despite heavy ground, and attracted a decent crowd despite cold conditions yesterday.
The feature race of the day was the three mile two furlongs handicap hurdle, which was won by 9-2 shot Kris Spin, trained in Herefordshire by Kerry Lee and ridden by conditional jockey Mitchell Bastyan.

Kris Spin and Michael  Bastyan  going to victory  Photo courtesy of Fontwell Park

This was the ten-year-old brown gelding’s third win over hurdles and he did it well, coming home 14 lengths clear of O Land Abloom, trained by Neil King, with another claimer, Harry Teal, in board.
 King Uther, trained by Chris Gordon and ridden by Tom Cannon had been sent off 11-10 favourite but finished third, 55 lengths clear of Gary Moore’s runner, Anthony, ridden by son Jamie.
The opening Novices Hurdle over two miles five furlongs attracted ten runners and saw a comfortable win for trainer Emma Lavelle, whose 7-2 shot Belle Empress came home 12 lengths clear under a good ride from Nick Scholfield. Runner up was Illtellmema, trained at Lewes by Suzy Smith and ridden by Jack Sherwood.
Illtellmema, a grey mare, was having her first run for the Lewes trainer, having previously been point to pointing and should improve. She came home almost three furlongs in front of 13/8 favourite Big Robin, trained by Nicky Henderson.
The two mile two furlong Handicap Chase saw 6-4 favourite Clondaw Westie, a seven-year-old gelding owned by Mrs Frank Caudwell, score his second win over fences for Oxfordshire trainer Lawney Hill.
Well ridden by David Bass, he beat 2-1 shot Rothman, trained by Chris Gordon, owned the Alwen family,  by one and a half lengths, with Bredon Hill Lad  (9-2) 11 lengths back in third, and in turn 11 lengths clear of the two remaining runners.

Winner Clondaw Westie, trained by Lawney Hill and ridden by David Bass. Photo: Fontwell Park

Newmarket trainer Lucy Wadham made the long distance journey pay off when her 11-8 favourite Banjo Girl won the Mares’ Handicap Hurdle under Maxime Tissier, coming home 11 lengths clear of the remaining five runners.
The heavy ground continued to take its toll  but there was a good Sussex win in the three mile two furlong handicap chase when Brightling trainer Diana Grissell saddled up 14-1 shot Canyouhearmenow for a good three length win. Ridden by Marc Goldstein, the seven-year-old gelding came home three lengths clear of the only other finisher in the five-runner race- What Larks 3-1, trained by Dr Jeremy Naylor.
Magoo, trained  by Paul Nicholls, and ridden by Alexander Thorne, went on to win the two mile three furlongs handicap hurdle of the day , beating Neil Mullholland’s 14-1 shot Duke of Kilcorral, ridden by amateur rider Mr James King by only a short head in a thrilling finish.
The final race, a conditional jockey handicap hurdle over three miles two furlongs had just three runners.  But Fizzlestix, trained by Chris Gordon, justified being evens favourite when winning comfortably under conditional rider Harry Reed.
The next meeting at Fontwell Park in on Friday April 6  and is an afternoon jumps fixture.