Hickstead 2020 international fixtures cancelled

Directors of the All England Jumping Course have released an official statement below regarding the cancellation of both Hickstead international fixtures in 2020.
The All England Jumping course at Hickstead Photo:: Craig Payne

“Following further government advice, it is with regret that we have had to make the difficult decision to cancel both of our international events for this year.

“These are the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting originally scheduled for June 24-28, and the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ at the Longines Royal International Horse Show from 21-26 July. 

“At this time, the health of our staff, competitors, officials, sponsors, trade exhibitors and visiting public is our top priority.

“We are currently working with the relevant showing societies to ensure that qualification where possible will be carried over to the 2021 Longines Royal International Horse Show.  

“The Hickstead office remains closed but all stakeholders will be contacted directly by email and will receive a refund as per our terms and conditions in due course. Competition prizes and gift vouchers will be valid for the corresponding day next year.

“It is still our intention to run our four-day national show, the Science Supplements All England Jumping Championships, from 3 – 6 September.

“We wish to thank all of our partners and stakeholders for their continued support during these unprecedented times.  We look forward to welcoming you back to Hickstead in the future.

Hunt helps ponies return to farm

Bill Bishop, huntsman of the Crawley and Horsham Hunt returns the ponies Imogene and Bella back to the farm recently.

Heartfelt thanks have gone to Bill Bishop, huntsman of the Crawley and Horsham Hunt, from Vauxhall City Farm, for transporting Imogene and Bella back to the farm recently.

Thanks have also gone to the Countryside Alliance for arranging free grazing for the farm’s other horses at a home of a supporter, and for committing to arrange the transport to facilitate their return to Vauxhall City Farm, when it will be possible to do so. 

A spokesperson for the farm added: “The impact of the Covid-19 outbreak has had a devastating effect on the farm. I would like to thank the Countryside Alliance and the hunting community for their generosity in helping us to transport the horses to their new residence for the foreseeable future.

“This type of support means a lot to us and we are very grateful that you were able to help us in this way.” said VCF chief executive, Monica Tyler.

BHS launches Approved Centre Hardship Fund

The UK’s largest equestrian charity, The British Horse Society (BHS), has launched its BHS Approved Centre Hardship Fund, to help support riding schools affiliated to the charity through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fund, launched this month, is specifically aimed at BHS Approved Riding Schools which have been financially impacted due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and the fund is designed to support any costs which go towards the health and wellbeing of the horses and ponies under their care.  

James Hick, Chief Executive Officer at The British Horse Society: “The Coronavirus pandemic has caused immense difficulties for many areas across the equestrian industry and riding schools have been hit. particularly hard. 

“Their income stopped on March 23, but the need to look after the wellbeing of horses continues at high cost.  The welfare of horses is at the heart of everything the BHS does, and we are working incredibly hard to help support our Approved Ridings Schools through these unsettling times.

“We hope that this Hardship Fund will help alleviate some of the financial strain riding schools are currently facing, whilst also serving to protect the health and wellbeing of the horses and ponies under their care.”

Grants from the fund will be allocated based on a payment of £750 per BHS Approved Riding School. The fund has been made available from several sources, including generous contributions from BHS National, Regional and County Committees, all of whom work closely with BHS Approved Riding Centres.

The British Horse Society has also been able to access a number of their restricted funds, held aside for welfare specific purposes.

Additionally, the BHS has waived all Approved Centre membership fees for the next 12 months and will be launching a donations appeal in the coming weeks to help provide further support.

All BHS Approved Riding Schools will have been contacted with details on how to apply for the funding. If a centre has not received communication then it is recommended they contact the BHS Approvals team approvals@bhs.org.uk or call 024768 40500.

Furthermore, the BHS continues to update its COVID-19 hub with information for all horse owners and the BHS Helpline, 02476 840517 is also available Monday through to Sunday, from 08:35 – 17:00 and can offer advice and support for those that need it.

Equine Hospital acted promptly in current virus crisis


AS soon as the Sussex Equine Hospital and vets in Billingshurst Road, Ashington, West Sussex, knew the country was facing an epidemic ,the directors had a meeting to work out how they were going to protect its dedicated staff, writes John Periam.

Senior vet Rob Van Pelt explained: “When we built the hospital we put in an internet-based system, so all the reception team picked up their telephones and computers and went home to work from there.

“Initially we were getting rather wishy-washy instructions from our professional bodies – the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the British Equine Veterinary Association.

Gates closed at Sussex Equine Hospital as part of security measures against virus Photo: John Periam

“Each case was assessed individually: was it a true emergency, and then how could we minimise risk to the veterinary surgeon attending?

“However, the situation was changing on a day-to-day basis, they would publish guidelines in the morning and these would be out of date in the afternoon.

The latter was done by asking the owner questions about their current health issues, and asking them to think of ways to avoid the vet being contaminated. As the country went into full lockdown, and we were doing emergencies only, we had to make some tough decisions in order to save the practice as a whole.

“At the beginning of March we had twenty horses in the hospital, and the end of March we had just two. I have been a vet for 35 years and I will always remember March 27, 2020, as being the saddest day of my career.

“This was the day we had to furlough 29 staff members. Some of those people I have worked with 25 years plus – they aren’t just employees, they are close friends. Ironically they were so understanding, yet there were a few tears shed.

“Many responded by saying ‘if you get stuck I am happy to muck out’ or they offered kind words of encouragement by saying ‘we will come back stronger for this’.

The practice continues to provide a service using a selected team who could cover all potential problems, including emergency surgery.

Rob added: “Yes, there have been situations where I have been disappointed with some clients’ attitude to the global crisis. We had a few who were phoning around to see who would vaccinate their horse, or investigate their horse’s lameness which had been ongoing for three weeks.

“I am glad to say that all our local practices have abided by the rules and showed solidarity. One person phoned in saying that they had the virus so was at no risk to anyone, so couldn’t see why we were reluctant for them to come and see their horse’s sarcoid.

” I explained that until either a test is developed that can prove that she isn’t a potential risk or the rules of social distancing were lifted, I was unable to do so.

“In conclusion I would like to say that currently we are doing our best for our staff, our clients, our equine patients and humanity. Despite political or religious beliefs we are all in this together. I hope that we can control the spread of the virus to lessen the impact.

” I guess it is not until your loved ones, either in the hospital or even worse that the reality of the crisis hits home.

“Our business will survive and I look forward to the day when everyone returns to work. The welfare of the horse has been and will be what we at the Sussex Equine Hospital have strived for over many years!”

Nick Gifford Racing continues fine tradition of training from Downs Stables at Findon

NICK GIFFORD is a successful trainer, based at historic Downs Stables, Findon, where his father, champion jockey, Josh Gifford, trained before him.

There are top class facilities for his string, and he has a great team working with him, including his wife, Ruth.

Pictured above: National Hunt trainer Nick Gifford receiving an award after one of his racehorses, Brandon Thomas won a key race at Plumpton.

Nick’s wife , Ruth, is an integral part of the team at the historic Downs Stables, where they both ride out and also host events there.

For full details about this training operation see: https://www.nickgiffordracing.co.uk/

Nick Gifford Racing

Address: The Downs Stables, Stable Lane, Findon, West Sussex, BN14 0RR

No racing at Plumpton until September 20

Racing action will not return to Plumpton until September. Photo: Jeannie Knight

FOLLOWING on from the continued lockdown due to the COVID-19 epidemic, and the uncertainty this brings for the resumption of racing, the BHA (which regulates racing) has decided that no jump racing will take place until July 1, at the earliest.

This unfortunately brings an early close to the 2019/20 season at racecourses, including the popular jump meetings at Plumpton.
A spokesman for Plumpton said: “Whilst this has cut our season short by five meetings, we appreciate there are bigger matters to contend with other than racing.

“So, whilst of course disappointed, we pass on our heartfelt thanks to all the NHS Staff, emergency workers, delivery drivers, supermarket and shop workers and the continued list of essential staff that are propping us all up at the moment.

“The Easter Weekend contains our two biggest days of racing and crowds, but this year we will all have had to celebrate slightly differently and very much at home.

Whatever you do, Plumpton hopes you have a good weekend and please do it safely – we very much look forward to welcoming you back for the 2020/21 season at Plumpton which begins on Sunday September 20.
In the meantime, stay safe and well . Thank you for the support in 2019/20!
Best Wishes,
The Plumpton Team

Family celebrates ten years at HOYS

‘Lord Alexander’ and Stephen Norris pictured above winning the Maxi Cob of the Year Championship 2019 © 1st Class Images
HORSE of the Year Show is delighted to be welcoming the Leeman family back as class sponsors in 2020.

For the tenth consecutive year, Richard and Lisha Leeman will be sponsoring the Maxi Cob of the Year Championship, which will be making its debut in the Andrews Bowen International Arena this October.

The Leeman family owns the well-known Kellythorpe Stud in Chelmsford, Essex. Since starting with their foundation mare ‘Meacham Mambo No. 5’ , Kellythorpe Stud has produced an array of winning show horses and ponies, some of which have gone on to become Horse of the Year Show champions

Last year saw Elizabeth Bury’s Irish Draught gelding ‘Lord Alexander’ become the ninth champion to be crowned The Leeman Family Maxi Cob of the Year since the class’ introduction to the show in 2011.

The generosity and support of the Leeman family also extends to other events including the Kellythorpes Leading Sire and Kellythorpes Leading Breeder Showing Awards Series which will run for its ninth year at Horse of the Year Show 2020.

Lisha Leeman commented: “Horse of the Year Show is an exciting time for all. As a family we love to see our horses competing, especially the home-bred horses and ponies.”

Horse of the Year Show Event Director, Emma Williams, commented: “The generosity and support of Richard and Lisha Leeman goes a long way in encouraging competitors and promoting this fantastic showing championship.

” We look forward to seeing who will be crowned the tenth winner in the Leeman Family Maxi Cob of the Year Championship in October 2020.”

Tickets for Horse of the Year Show are now on sale via the Horse of the Year Show website hoys.co.uk/tickets and the Box Office: 0844 581 8282 (calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge).

Disabled bookings can be made by calling 0800 640 5001 and discounts are available for groups of 10+ through the Groups Booking Line on 0800 358 0058 or by emailing groups@theticketfactory.com.

Family celebrates ten years at HOYS

Virtual Grand National winner

Potters Corner won the televised Virtual Grand National yesterday after the cancellation of the big race itself because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Sent off at 18-1, Potters Corner, winner of the Welsh National and the Midlands National, beat runner-up Walk In The Mill (16-1) in the computer-simulated race, with Any Second Now (10-1) third.

This idea of simulating the big race filled a huge gap after the 173rd running of the big race was cancelled, along with the remainder of racing.

The outcome of the simulated race was a big disappointment for fans of Tiger Roll, the horse trained by Gordon Elliot, which had been due to seek an unprecedented third win in the race on Saturday before it was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tiger Roll in action Photo: John Simpsom

This was the first time that a simulated race had been screened on television and it was shown at 5.15pm, the time the normal race should have started.

This emergency measure certainly filled the enormous gap left by the cancellation of the big race itself- and was an entertaining success with many viewers.