Outstanding equestrian safety contributions honoured

The British Horse Society’s (BHS) Sefton Awards honours those who have made an outstanding contribution in the field of equestrian safety. Those recognised for 2019 were Helen Goldie, Julie Gooding and Rob Tiller.

Alan Hiscox, Director of Safety at the BHS said: “Improving equestrian safety is a huge part of the work of the BHS and we are incredibly grateful to all those who have helped and continue to help us on our mission to improve conditions for riders and their horses. The Sefton Awards are our way of acknowledging those who have made exceptional and highly commendable efforts over the past year to help improve the safety of riders across the UK.”

Sefton Award winners left to right – Major Richard Chambers, Julie Gooding, Rob Tillier, Helen Goldie, Alan Hiscox

BHS Safety Volunteer, Helen Goldie was awarded a Sefton Award for her efforts in improving the safety of equestrians on the Isle of Man. Helen was instrumental in the recent formation of a BHS Committee on the island and also played a major role in getting the BHS Safety Team to the Isle of Man TT event, one of the biggest motorcycle events in the world. The team, with Helen’s help, were then able to deliver important safety information to the TT visitors. Helen has also worked closely with the Isle of Man Police to help deliver Close Pass operations and educate drivers on key safety messages.

A Sefton Award was awarded to Councillor Julie Gooding for her work in Essex on a Safety Around Horses programme for two schools with the backing of The British Horse Society, Caneowden Equestrians and local head teachers. This safety awareness programme is a tool to be made available for additional schools to deliver with a view to it being available nationwide and would not have been possible without Julie’s enthusiasm and determination.

Rob Tillier was awarded a Sefton Award for his work on a comprehensive driver training programme which was endorsed by DVSA as ‘the programme to which all driving instructors should aspire to deliver’. Rob has been instrumental in involving the BHS to raise awareness of the dangers when young drivers encounter horses on the roads by inviting the BHS to his training days.

Sefton Awards:The Sefton Awards were set up by the BHS in 1984 as a legacy to Sefton, the Household Cavalry horse who survived the IRA bombings in London in 1982. Sefton was 19-years-old at the time of the bombings. He underwent eight hours of surgery and became a household name.

The British Horse Society: As the largest equine charity in the UK, The British Horse Society is dedicated to education, equine welfare, protecting and increasing access to bridleways and equestrian routes, and safety for horse and riders. The Society’s thriving and active community of staff and volunteers are committed to improving the lives of horses everywhere.

Good turnout at Fontwell Park this week

FONTWELL PARK Racecourse enjoyed a good turnout for its December Raceday this week. The going was soft but heavy in places and a good crowd turned out to enjoy the racing.

The successful team of trainer Chris Gordon and jockey Tom Cannon continued their run of successes when winning the opening race of the meeting, a handicap hurdle with 8-1 shot Jimmy.

The Premier Celtic, trained by Pat Phelan and ridden by Sean Houlihan was five lengths further back in second place, and the Ali Stronge-trained Heresmynumber, ridden by Adam Wedge in third place at 33-1.

Only four ran in the Novices Handicap Chase over three miles one furlong, with three finishing the race. It was won  by French bred 4-5 favourite, Christmas In April, trained by Colin Tizzard and ridden by Harry Cobden.

In second place was Irish-bred Gleno, ridden by Joshua Moore, and trained by Gary Moore. The 7/2 shot put in an improved performance,staying on well but was always held by the winner. In third was Tea Time on Mars, trained by Sean Houlihan and trained  by Susan Gardner.

The Juvenile Hurdle attracted a good field of 13 runners, with 5-2 shot Zamani , trained by David Bridgwater winning by six lengths under a good ride from Brendan Powell.

Brendan Powell and Zamani
on their way to victory
Photo courtesy of Fontwell Park Racecourse

In second spot was 20-1 shot John Betjeman, trained by Mark Gillard and well ridden by James Davies, with the Jim Boyle trained Isle Of Wolves, ridden by Robert Dunne, in third, also at 20-1.

The Adam Morey Handicap Chase over three miles one furlong disappointingly attracted only three runners, and was won by Quarenta (5-4 favourite) with Diplomate Sivola (7-4) the only other finisher, in second place.  Eleven-year-old Irish-bred Bally Longford, trained by Colin TIzzard and twice a winner this season, unseated his rider  Harry Cobden at the first obstacle, where the horse knuckled on landing.

The Mares’ Novice Hurdle saw a 20-1 winner for trainer Warren Greatrex, when he sent out Martha Brae, ridden by A P Heskin  to win in the final strides from 11-10 favourite Mystic Dreamer, trained at Findon by Nick Gifford and ridden by Leighton Aspell.
This runner-up impressed when winning at Cheltenham earlier in the year. She is one to keep an eye on, for this five-year-old bay mare is a progressive sort and was unlucky not to win here, having been beaten only by a neck.

Promising mare  -Mystic Dreamer, trained by Nick Gifford

Nick Gifford said afterwards: “She didn’t cope with the extremely holding, tiring ground and got very tired and hung left all the way up the straight . It’s all part of the journey, she was only beaten 14 lengths and they all finished very much in a bunch .
“We will see how she comes out of the race . Then we will look for another bumper with better ground similar to the going on her previous run at Ascot , possibly even a left handed track.”

The Handicap Chase was won by Hugo’s Reflection, swent off at 9/2, trained by Ben Case and ridden by Kielan Woods. This horse was a winner last season and looks to have progressed well, with more to come.

Eleven runners contested the final race, the John and Maryanne Birch Memorial Handicap Hurdle, which was won well by Clondaw Robin, sent off at 11-2, trained by Zoe Davison and ridden by Page Fuller.
Runner up was Moonlit Sea ( 11-1), trained by Pat Phelan and ridden by Sean Houlihan, with 10/3 favourite Pottlereaghexpress, trained by Toby Laws and ridden by Leighton Aspell in third place.
The next meeting at Fontwell Park will be on Boxing Day, when gates open at 10.15am and the first of seven race is at 12.15pm and the last at 3.35pm.
For more information or to book tickets see: https://www.fontwellpark.co.uk/whats-on/boxing-day-racing


BHS to train four new access officers

The British Horse Society (BHS) is recruiting for four brand new Access Field Officers to join the Society and help support the Society’s growing Access work.

The new positions, based in the East, South West, Yorkshire, the East and West Midlands are home based roles and have been created to ensure the delivery of defined access objectives in each specific region.

Each officer will work closely with trained voluntary Access and Bridleway Officers in their region and take a coordinated approach to taking access to the next level in the region.

Bridleway and Access officers to be trained by BHS

Director of Access at The British Horse Society, Mark Weston said: “The British Horse Society is the voice for our industry on equestrian access matters and we’re delighted to be able to introduce an additional four Access Field Officer Roles to our expanding Access team. As we move into 2020, the 2026 deadline to protect historical rights of way from extinction moves ever closer and these new positions will make a crucial difference to our access efforts on a local level.”

The successful applicants will be responsible for fuelling the work to research and record lost rights of way as well as taking opportunities to support the establishment of new routes wherever possible. In addition, the new Officers will also coordinate equestrian access activities and meetings which aim to protect and secure routes in their region, as well as looking to recruit more volunteers.

The BHS has two existing Access Field Officers in post in the South and the South East/London.

Applications for the position close this coming Monday,  09 December.  To find out more and download the full job description please visit bhs.org.uk/access-field-officers.

Vital work of Injured Jockeys Fund

The Injured Jockeys Fund was the brainchild of founding trustee and past past president John Oaksy and came about following the devastating accidents of Tim Brookshaw and, four months later, Paddy Farrell in the 1964 Grand National

Both falls resulted in severe paralysis which immediately ended both their careers. Since then the Fund has helped more than 1,000 jockeys and their families and has paid out more than £18m in charitable assistance.

The Injured Jockeys Fund helps any rider who holds, or has held, a professional or amateur licence issued by the British Horseracing Authority including apprentice, conditional and point-to-point riders, including any spouse, partner, child or dependant they may have.

The Injured Jockeys Fund was the brainchild of founding trustee and past president, the late Lord John Oaksey. It came about following the devastating accidents of Tim Brookshaw and, four months later, Paddy Farrell in the 1964 Grand National. Both falls resulted in severe paralysis which immediately ended both their careers.
Sir Tony McCoy

Sir Tony McCoy, President of the IJF

Since then the fund has helped hundreds of jockeys and their families and has paid out more than £19m in charitable assistance. It also part funds on course physios and medical services and also research into improved riding protection equipment for jockeys which has resulted in a number of improved manufacturing standards being implemented.
Its first rehabilitation centre, Oaksey House was opened in Lambourn in 2009 and in April 2015  the Jack Berry House followed-a  rehabilitation and fitness centre in Malton for northern based jockeys.
Jockey Andrew Thornton using IJF facilities to recover from injury.

Jockey Andrew Thornton using IJF facilities to recover from injury.

Aims are to improve the lives of injured jockeys and their families in a prompt and sympathetic manner to those jockeys past or present who are injured, unable to ride or generally in need .
The value of their work was highlighted by an horrific freak fall involving four horses, which left jockey Freddy Tylicki paralysed from the waist down.
 The fund provides continued help and support through the purchasing items from its range of products and donations by members of the public, which help it continue vital work in providing help and care for jockeys.
Watch out for the sale of calendars, IJF Christmas cards and other items, at local racecourses in the run-up to Christmas. Purchases of these items by the racing public helps fund this vital work.
See how you can help, and also get the latest updates, by visiting:

Sulekha takes over at Aintree

A woman is to be in charge of the Aintree Grand National for the first time. The new head of Jockey Club racecourses in the north-west, including Aintree, is to be Sulekha Varma, aged 34.

She has progressed through racing ranks to be appointed as clerk of the course at Aintree, where she will take over from Andrew Tulloch. Andrew had been in charge of the Grand National for almost 25 years, and is relinquishing his role after the Becher Chase meeting at Aintree, this Saturday, December 7.

Sulhekha Varma Photo: John Simpson

Sulekha Varma’s current role had been racing manager and clerk of the course at Hamilton Park.

Sulekha Varma told reporters the she was ‘honoured’ to be appointed to one of the most senior roles in racing.

She added: “While British racing has faced and will face challenges, I hope Aintree will continue to be at the forefront of addressing many of those and showcasing our wonderful sport to an ever-wider audience.”

Sulekha originally began as a trainee clerk of the course with the Jockey Club at Haydock in 2009,  and one of her concerns is opposition to racing because of equine deaths.

She believes that the sport needs to maintain high saferty standards for horses more effectively, and improve them.

Sulekha has extensive experience to her credit, having been clerk of the course at Nottingham, Market Rasen, Warwick and Huntingdon between 2010 and 2016. she is already a familiar face at Aintree, having worked closely alongside the team for the past ten years during the Grand National festival.

Good racing at Plumpton meeting

PLENTY  of competitive jump racing rewarded a good crowd at Plumpton yesterday, when there were seven races on the card and the ground was soft, and heavy in places.
The opening maiden hurdle saw an excellent win for Suzy Smith’s Lewes stable,with Oscarsman winning in determined style under a good ride from Micheal Nolan.  It was an impressive performance and this five-year-old won at 11-1, beating 5-6 favourite Bean In Trouble, trained by Jonjo O’ Neill and ridden by Jonjo O’ Neill junior.

The winner should continue to progress, for Oscarsman jumped well throughout the race and put in a strong finish to win.

The Novices Chase, run over two miles and 214 yards,  was won by an impressive three-year-old, Lisp. Trained by Alan King and ridden by Thomas Bellamy, the 2/13 favourite justified his price, taking the lead four out and going on to win by a margin of 19 lengths from Flaminger, trained by Gary Moore and ridden by Leighton Aspell. Back in third, sent off at 4-1 and beaten by 30 lengths overall, was De Plotting Shed, trained by Suzi Best and ridden by Jamie Moore.

Four runners were pulled up in the nine-runner field which contested the Tysers Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (Class 3) over three miles 207 yards.

Miss Tynte, a seven-year-old trained by David Pipe and ridden by Tom Scudamore stayed on well to win by over three lengths from The Wicket Chicken, a 10-1 shot, trained by Neil Mullholland and ridden by 7lb claimer Miss Millie Wonnacott. The consistent Ding Ding, trained by Sheena West and ridden by Marc Goldstein was  four lengths behind in third place.

Sullington based trainer Richard Rowe saddled up a good 16-1 winner when Tzar De L’Elfe,  a nine-year-old gelding, owned by Lord Clinton and Captain Adrian Pratt won the Tysers Handicap Chase over three miles one furlong. It was a fine performance with James Davies getting up by a nose to win from  7-2 favourite Tractor Fred.

Trained Richard Rowe and owner Captain Adrian Pratt pictures with 16-1 winner Tzar De L’Elfe and jockey James Davies. Photo:Plumpton Racecourse

Another impressive winner on the day was when Adicci, 11-8 favourite, won the IEP Financial Novices Hurdle over two miles for trainer Jonjo O’ Neill , ridden  by Jonjo O’ Neill junior by a neck.

Hopes for Monday racing at Musselburgh

There is a blank day for racing today , Sunday, in Britain with meetings cancelled because of icy conditions.

Today’s meeting at Carlisle has already been called off due to frozen ground, leaving a blank Sunday of racing in Britain. Leicester was cancelled on Friday due to waterlogging on the track.

Musselburgh Racecourse earlier today- pictured by clerk of course Harriet Graham.  There are hopes that Monday’s meeting there  will go ahead.

Musselburgh’s Monday fixture is the latest meeting to be in danger of being cancelled , with extreme icy conditions crossing Britain. An inspection is planned there at 8.30am on Monday.

The chances of racing at Musselburgh on Monday were described as “60:40” by clerk of the course Harriet Graham, who said: “We’re currently frozen and wouldn’t race today, but the track could recover overnight as cloud cover increases.

“The Met Office has indicated temperatures should be 4 degrees C first thing Monday morning, getting up to a possible 7C tomorrow.  The track could thaw quickly at 4C,” she added.

The first race of seven is scheduled at the East Lothian track at 12.15pm and this early winter start, because of limited daylight hours, could mean the track would struggle to race because of early darkness.

But course officials  estimate that currently the chance of racing is 60:40.

There are unlikely to be problems on  Monday at Plumpton, where the going is soft. The only other meeting is on the all-weather at Wolverhampton, which should go ahead.

Meanwhile Fairyhouse Winter Festival is set to go ahead for a second day today, providing the only racing of the day, following the cancellation of fixtures at Leicester and Carlisle.

Carlisle passed its Saturday afternoon inspection but the meeting was not confirmed to go ahead with another look scheduled for 8am on Sunday morning.

However, course officials made the early call just prior to 7am to cancel the meeting at the Cumbria track, which was set to feature the Listed Houghton Mares’ Chase.

Speaking on Sunday morning, clerk of the course Andrew Tulloch said: “It’s disappointing because we were raceable yesterday but it went down to -6C.

“A couple of the crossings are frozen solid and even the fences are frozen. The forecast is for it to get to 0C today so it may come out a bit, but not as much as we need.”