British Open Polo Championships go under way at Cowdray Park

The King Power Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship 2020, Europe’s leading tournament, opens today, WednesdayJuly 1 at Cowdray Park, the Home of British Polo. The Final will take place on Sunday July 26.
Sponsored by King Power, the tournament is regarded as one of the top three polo competitions in the world, alongside the US and Argentine Opens. The Final attracts thousands of spectators annuallywho flock to the prestigious ‘Lawns’ polo grounds in West Sussex. However this year, due to current,government restrictions on spectators at sporting events, the competition will be held behind closed doors.

Exciting Cowdray polo action will be streamed live Photo: Cowdray Park Polo

Roderick Vere Nicoll, Chairman of Cowdray Park Polo Club, commented: “We are living inunusual times and it is terrific that we have 8 strong teams in the tournament. The two best players in the world, Adolfo Cambiaso and Facundo Pieres, are playing along with some rising young stars. It should be an exciting tournament and you can enjoy the Gold Cup on Cowdray TV.”

Sadly, spectators will not be permitted to attend matches, however all games will be live
streamed via Cowdray TV. The Club has collaborated with Polo Cam and InPlayer, the world’s leading pay per view subscription solution, to bring the sport to fans all over the world in the comfort and safety of their own homes. Eight teams will take part which will see some of the best players in the world in action.

The tournament will be played with the usual speed and skill of high-goal polo, under modified rules which adhere to HPA (Hurlingham Polo Association) and government regulations. Chris Bethell, Cowdray Park Polo Manager commented: “We are very much looking forward to play commencing. It has been a challenging start to the season. The grounds are in perfect condition; there are some exciting Gold Cup team entries and 2020 has the potential for newtalent to shine and perhaps provide an unexpected winner.”

New documentary celebrates 60 years of Hickstead

This summer marks 60 years since the All England Jumping Course at Hickstead first opened, and a new documentary on Horse & Country TV will showcase the incredible history of the showground.

The one-hour documentary ‘Hickstead: 60 Glorious Years’ charts the development of Hickstead from its inception in 1960 to becoming established as one of the best-known equestrian venues in the world. The programme has been produced by Lizzie and Daisy Bunn, daughters of the showground’s legendary founder, the late Douglas Bunn. 

Exciting action round the showjumping course is always guaranteed.

William Funnell in thrilling show jumping action at Hickstead Photo: Nigel Goddard

The documentary features many of equestrian sport’s biggest names, including David Broome, Eddie Macken, Nick Skelton, Laura Kraut and John Ledingham. Recent winners of the Al Shira’aa Derby such as William Funnell and William Whitaker reveal what it means to win one of showjumping’s most iconic classes.  

Hickstead is and always has been a family business, and in the show the Bunn family give exclusive insights into running the international shows, what goes on behind the scenes and how the showground has developed and diversified over the years. Interviews include Douglas’s second wife Sue, who shares her fascinating experiences of the creation of the venue and tells the famous story of why Hickstead’s Derby Bank is 18in taller than its Hamburg counterpart.  

Over the past six decades Hickstead has been the scene to many of showjumping’s greatest moments, and this rich history will be explored in ‘Hickstead: 60 Glorious Years’. The documentary will also look ahead to what the next 60 years might hold for the All England Jumping Course.

A must-watch for any fan of equestrian sport, Hickstead: 60 Glorious Years will be shown exclusively on H&C+. It premieres on Sunday 28th June at 8pm and can be viewed on-demand thereafter. To find out more visit horseandcountry.tv.

Tragic death of Liam Treadwell

A SUSSEX jockey who beat the odds to win a memorable Grand National has died at the age of 34. Liam Treadwell, who was born and bred in Arundel, West Sussex was found dead at his Shropshire home  this week.

Currently His death is unexplained and tributes have poured in from all sections of the racing community. The jockey learned how to ride at Castle Stables in his home town and went to Angmering School.

His parents, Lorraine and Mark, had both worked at Castle Stables for trainer the late John Dunlop, and Liam was brought up with racing.

In 2009 his name was in the headlines when the jockey won the 2009 Grand National on 100-1 shot Mon Mome, trained by Venetia Williams, for whom he often rode.

The racing community was left reeling on Tuesday after hearing of his death — at the age of just 34.

After being called to his home in Shropshire, West Mercia police said there was ‘no third party involvement’ in Treadwell’s death.

His tragic death comes less than four months after he was a pall-bearer at the funeral of his friend and former jockey James Banks, who had taken his own life. 

Venetia Williams described Liam, who had ridden many winners for her, as ‘ a lovely person and usually a happy person’ and said: “It’s a massive shock. I think we all thought he was in a good place now, having been through some tough times in previous years.”

“We thought his renewed career had put in him in a situation where he was happy. It is desperately sad news.We shared a day that was certainly the best day of my life, and I suspect of his.”

Together they had also won the Grand Sefton Handicap Chase at Aintree with Bennys Mist in 2015 and the Byrne Group Plate with Carrickboy at the Cheltenham Festival in 2013.

The tragic news has shocked the racing community and people everywhere who knew Liam and his family.

Racing behind closed doors at Goodwood

Tomorrow, Sunday June 14, there will be racing from Goodwood behind closed doors,shown on ITV4, 13:30 – 16:30pm.

In a statement, Goodwood said: “We are thrilled to invite you to join us online for racing behind closed doors, this coming Sunday and Monday. “

“The racecourse team has put together some exciting activities to keep you entertained , including a live zoom preview for both days and a tipping competition. We hope you enjoy getting involved.”

“We will miss our racegoers but we kindly request that you please do not attempt to watch the racing from any of the public sites surrounding the racecourse, including The Trundle.”

Goodwood added: “We hope you understand that, in line with Government advice, we want to actively discourage any public gatherings.”

Watch racing live from Goodwood on television

BHS warns public not to feed horses

The British Horse Society (BHS) has issued a warning to members of the public not to feed any horses they may encounter whilst out and about.

With more people taking to the countryside during the COVID-19 pandemic, the BHS has been made aware of instances where horses have been seriously injured, made extremely ill or in some cases having died due to the public feeding the horse or through actions such as leaving gates open.

Alan Hiscox, Director of Welfare at The British Horse Society said: “The BHS is urging members of the public not to feed horses in fields as this can cause serious illness and be potentially life threatening.

Horse grazing in a field Photo: John Simpson

“We believe many people act with no malicious intent and are simply unaware of the risks that certain foods or grass cuttings can pose to horses.

“We encourage horse owners to download signs the BHS has produced warning the public not to feed their horse. The greater the awareness of the issue, the more likely people are to change their behaviour in the future.”

The BHS is offering the following advice to the public:

Although feeding horses may seem harmless, it is important not to due to the following reasons:

  • Any type of food, grass cuttings or any other plants can cause horses to become extremely unwell or even kill them
  • Fighting between horses could break out and cause an injury
  • Horses may mistake your fingers for food and accidentally nip them

If you cross land with a right of way where horses are kept, the above points will be applicable but also ensure you:

  • Leave gates and property as you find them 
  • Keep to the right of way
  • Take your litter home
  • Keep your dog on a lead and bag and bin your dog’s mess
  • Give horses lots of a space and avoid coming between mothers and their young
  • If you see a horse in distress, alert the nearest farm/yard or check for a sign with owner’s detail on.

The BHS has produced signs for horse owners to place around their fields warning the public not to feed their horses. These are available for download at bhs.org.uk/behorseaware.

Family of wrens found in RDA stable

Good news to boost the spirits is always welcome, particularly given the current climate. So volunteers at Chalkdown Riding for the Disabled Group were surprised and thrilled to find a family of wrens nesting in an unexpected location recently.

Emma Ginger discovered the ‘self-isolating’ family in an old grazing muzzle that was hanging up in the entrance to the hay shed and snapped the fabulous photo as she was doing her usual daily yard duties looking after the ponies.

Members of Chalkdown RDA Group prepare for action: Photo and words by Joanna Sale

“It has been such a rewarding sight and gives us all a bit of hope in these unprecedented times.”

With the whole of the Riding for the Disabled operation shut down for Lockdown, it was a joyful boost to spirits when Eastbourne RDA discovered that they had a new addition to the Group on the way.

One of their lovely volunteers, Helen Waters, bought a cob mare called Coco last spring. “In the summer, we started to use her in our sessions and she was wonderful” says Sarah Groome from the Group. ”But by December, Helen began to have a suspicion that Coco was pregnant”.

At the end of January, her suspicions were confirmed by the vet and on March 21, right near the start of Lockdown, the adorable Arizona (Ari for short) was born!

Luckily, Helen keeps Coco and Ari at a friend’s yard and she arranged for Helen to ‘self-isolate’ in the groom’s accommodation so she could be close to the new arrival.

“I believe that this is Eastbourne’s first home-bred, RDA pony” said Sarah.

RDA ponies are very special as they have to look after their riders with a calm, well behaved manner. But Ari is already proving to be a great RDA mount in the making, having passed the ‘umbrella’ test with flying colours.

In the South East there are 35 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. Our instructors work closely with physiotherapists and other health professionals to encourage every individual to aim for attainable goals – some modest, others far more ambitious.



Surprise addition for Eastbourne RDA group

There was a surprise for Eastbourne RDA group during the lock down for Riding for Disabled operations.

With the whole of the Riding for the Disabled operation shut down for Lockdown, it was a joyful boost to spirits when Eastbourne RDA discovered that they had a new addition to the Group on the way.

Arizona, known affectionately as Ari, newest recruit to Eastbourne RDA group
Photo Joanna Sale

One of their lovely volunteers, Helen Waters, bought a cob mare called Coco last spring.

“In the summer, we started to use her in our sessions and she was wonderful.” said Sarah Groome from the Group. ”But by December, Helen began to have a suspicion that Coco was pregnant”.

At the end of January, her suspicions were confirmed by the vet and on March 21, right near the start of Lockdown, the adorable Arizona (Ari for short) was born!

Luckily, Helen keeps Coco and Ari at a friend’s yard and she arranged for Helen to ‘self-isolate’ in the groom’s accommodation so she could be close to the new arrival.

“I believe that this is Eastbourne’s first home-bred, RDA pony” said Sarah.

RDA ponies are very special as they have to look after their riders with a calm, well behaved manner. But Ari is already proving to be a great RDA mount in the making, having passed the ‘umbrella’ test with flying colours.

In the South East there are 35 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.