About Jeannie Knight

Jeannie Knight confesses to a lifelong passion for horses, which started at the early age of four when accompanying her father and uncle to a race meeting at Wetherby. Born and bred in Yorkshire, she has been a journalist all her life, working for a range of northern papers, including the Northern Echo and Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, later moving to the south of England. She worked for The Sporting Life, writing features and racing news for Sussex area when her three sons were small, and later joined the West Sussex Gazette as chief reporter. There she created a full page of equestrian news for the West Sussex Gazette, which still continues. The first woman to fly a hang glider in this country, she and her husband Tom ran a hang gliding school for ten years and when Tom turned to microlights and light aircraft, she sold her hang glider and bought a racehorse that had been destined for Ascot sales. She used her to hack across the Downs around Findon and Washington, later breeding a foal from her, which she sold to go eventing in the north of England. "There are so many untold stories about horses and their riders, whether in racing, show jumping or any other sphere, that my aim is to highlight as much equestrian news and achievements as possible," she said,

RDA qualifier for National Championships

Disabled carriage drivers from the Riding for the Disabled’s South East Region met at Sands Farm, Warnham recently in the annual qualifying competition for the RDA National Championship held in July 2020.

Drivers from across Surrey, Kent and Sussex went head-to-head in the three combined disciplines of dressage, cones and obstacles with only the top placed competitors qualifying.

The Carriage Driving Groups represented included East Sussex’s Kipling County (Chalvington), West Sussex’s Cherry Park (Chichester) and Happy Landings (Billingshurst), Surrey’s Stella Hancock group (Worplesdon), Kent’s Bradbourne (Sevenoaks) and for the first time, Alkham Valley (Dover).

Steven Holland of Alkham Valley drives Ted through the cones. Photo: Joanna Sale

There was edge-of-the seat excitement, particularly in the Novice Whip where young sisters, Gemma and Stacey Tiley from the Stella Hancock Group competed against each other in their first competition. Happily, they came first and second (respectively), both qualifying for Hartpury and both scoring exactly the same time in the cones.

Sisters Gemma and Stacey Tiley both qualify for the Nationals Photo: Joanna Sale

The final results showed less than a point between them. Linda Redmond, also of Stella Hancock, came third to make the hat-trick of qualifiers.

Following his second place at the Nationals this year, Jack Marr from Bradbourne continued his winning streak in the Intermediate Whip qualifying again but at the higher level. Amanda Hardy of Happy Landings also qualified for coming second.

Sandra Spininer of Cherry Park, hot on the heels of winning the Championship at the Nationals this year, qualified safely in the Open Class.

Jean Leverett of Bradbourne drives Disney in the cones Photo: Joanna Sale

In the non-qualifying Assisted Whip’s Class, Amanda Wakefield pipped team mate, Josie Cyster, both from Kipling County, to first place.

Julia Hockin of Regional Sponsors, Cowan Architects, presented the awards. She was impressed by the speed and agility. “These drivers are really inspirational but it’s also lovely to see their warmth and pleasure at having achieved so much. I’ve been amazed today” she commented.

The day’s organiser, Helen Pritchard, gave thanks to the hard work of the team behind the scenes in putting the event together saying: “I take a lot of pride in the events that we offer to our regional members and the team is amazing at getting stuck in when we really need it. We’re also very grateful to our wonderful judges led by Sara Howe, an internationally acclaimed carriage driver and Team GB member.”.

Successful polo challenge for retrained racehorses

Earlier this month 43 former racehorses competed at The Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club to contest the RoR Racing to Polo Challenge, kindly supported by Lycetts.

The event continues to grow in popularity and is open to all RoR registered horses who have been in training or raced under any recognised racing authority.

As the rain fell, competitors arrived to declare their horses for one of the four classes being held on a ground at this prestigious Polo Club. This year, for the first time, an award was presented to the best playing lady rider.

Polo action with ex-racehorses
Photo John Simpson

The judges panel included Judith Balding, Senior Judge for conformation, joined by Rob Cudmore, Will Brasher, Nick Evans, Chris Price and Piers Plunkett who were judging performance. Each competitor presented their horses to the Conformation Judge prior to commencing their one and a half minute performance element of the Challenge.

The first class of the day was for three-year-olds, with nine horses coming forward to compete and demonstrate their adaptability to a second career on the Polo field. Judges focussed primarily on performance with type and conformation being taken into account in case of a tie, the winning combination was Ireland’s Angel, ridden and owned by Sebastian Chiavlo. The filly, by Lethal Force, was formerly trained by David Evans with whom she had four starts on the flat before retiring in September 2018. Second place was awarded to Cheeky Lola, formerly trained Tim Easterby, ridden by Nick Johnson and owned by Alan Kent

The four year old class, saw 11 horses come forward and was won by Whererainbowsend, formerly trained by Bryan Smart, owned and ridden by Ed Hitchman with second place awarded to Newton Place, formerly trained by Pat Fahy, ridden by Adam Buchanan and owned by Aurora Cotton-McKean.

The five year olds then came forward with 14 horses entered, the winner was Powerpuff owned and ridden by Ed Hitchman with No Luck Penny owned and ridden by Ben Eeley receiving the second prize.

The day culminated with the six year old and upwards class where nine horses were presented to the judges and proved to be a good class for Ed Hitchman who took first and second place with Sweets‘N’Sheets and Mrs Frosty respectively. Sweets’N’Sheets, part owned by Will Brasher, was in training with Paul Midgley when she ran twice finishing plum last in both starts. Clearly she has found her calling on the Polo field.

Lady riders, Katrina Thomas and Hannah Parry-Jones were awarded the inaugural overall Ladies prizes for their performances in the four classes.

RoR would, again, like to thank the Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club for hosting this wonderful event and also the judges, players and organisers for making this event such a success year on year. Special thanks to the HPA and Lycetts for their continued support.

Full results:

Class 1 – 3 year olds

1st. Ireland’s Angel owned and ridden by Sebastian Chialvo
2nd. Cheeky Lola ridden by Nick Johnson, owned by Alan Kent
3rd. Annie’s Bow ridden by Monty Campbell and owned by Jack Richardson

Class 2 – 4 year olds 

1st. Whererainbowsend owned and ridden by Ed Hitchman
2nd. Newton Place ridden by Adam Buchanan, owned by Aurora Cotton-Mckean
3rd. Runway Bay ridden by Nick Johnson, owned by Alan Kent

Class 3 – 5 year olds 

1st. Powerpuff owned and ridden by Ed Hitchman
2nd. No Luck Penny owned and ridden by Ben Eeley
3rd. Joy ridden by Miguel Ayala, owned by Pedro Harrison

Class 4 – 6 year olds and upwards 

1st. Sweets’N’Sheets owned and ridden by Ed Hitchman
2nd. Mrs Frosty owned and ridden by Ed Hitchman
3rd. Palavicini’s Girl ridden by Rupert Lewis, owned by Richard Le Poer

Fontwell Park’s two-day October Festival coming up

Fontwell Park Racecourse is one of the most popular National Hunt racecourses in the South of England, located in the village of Fontwell, West Sussex, where it is now owned by ARC Racing.

The oval racing track, over jumps, has good viewing facilities and also has an interesting history- as well as good jump racing coming up.

Highly competitive jump racing at Fontwell Park
Phoro: Jeannie Knight

It was founded by Alfred Day, who trained racehorses at The Hermitage, by the Chichester to Arundel road, from 1887. Day brought the name Fontwell back into use after researching the history of the area, and by 1924 he had purchased enough land to open a racecourse there.

The hurdles track was a normal shape, but the steeplechase course was laid out in a figure of eight shape to use the space on the site. The first meeting took place on 21 May 1924. The grandstand and the weighing room were built with thatched roofs. The opening race was won by the 5/4 favourite Gem, ridden by jockey Fred Rees.

It was the course where Queen Elizabeth II, then Princess Elizabeth, had her first winner as an owner when Monaveen won the Chichester Handicap Chase there in October 1949.

In 1984 John Francome rode his 1,036th career winner at Fontwell Park, passing Stan Mellors record for a National Hunt jockey – Francome’s record has subsequently been beaten.

The feature race of the season at Fontwell Park is the Grade Two National Spirit Hurdle run over a distance of two miles and four furlongs in February. It is  has such standing that it is a recognised Cheltenham Festival trial.

Previous National Spirit Hurdle winner Lil-Rockerfella, trained by Neil King and ridden by Trevor Whelan. Photo: Jeannie Knight

.Fontwell Park remains a popular and well-maintained track, attracting racegoers from a wide area with some competitive and often exciting jump racing over both hurdles and fences.

There is the chance to watch racing at close quarters in the centre of the course, from the rails or one of the grandstand areas at the track.

The next meeting there is a two-day October Fest meeting on Friday October 4 and Saturday October 5- with more fixtures to follow in every month through until the end of the season in June. The new season will start on August 2.

For more information see: https://www.fontwellpark.co.uk/

BHS aims to make horse welfare universally protected

THE British Horse Society is working for a world in which the welfare of horses is universally respected and protected, and in which all those who ride, drive or work with horses can do so safely, enjoyably and with the highest personal competence.

The Society, along with its dedicated network of 200 volunteer Welfare Advisers, works hard to promote the prevention of neglect, cruelty and harm to horses and provide support, advice and education to horse owners to try and remedy problems before they become too serious.

BHS Welfare Advisers respond to around 2,000 welfare concerns annually. They send thanks to everyone who takes the time to contact it and raise concerns.

But the society can only continue its welfare work if it has the funds to do so. Help it to do more for horses – by considering  making a donation to the BHS or joining it.

ABOUT US

  • The British Horse Society strives to promote equine welfare by educating, advising and supporting horse owners and carers to prevent cases of neglect.
  • It trains and supports a network of welfare advisers to deal with local welfare concerns
  • It promotes responsible breeding with our Healthcare and Education Clinics
  • Its Welfare Advisers work tirelessly to help improve the lives of horses around the UK.

Royal opening for WHW facilities

The expanded facilities of star attraction World Horse Welfare’s Penny Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre in the Northwest of England has received a royal stamp of approval at the official opening of its redeveloped visitor centre as the charity highlights its work in the area, and overseas.

World Horse Welfare President HRH The Princess Royal recently formally opened the expanded facilities at popular Lancashire attraction

View the video: https://youtu.be/6cZJW_aWq00

Established in 2001, Penny Farm, one of the charity’s four rescue and rehoming centres across Britain, has long been a destination of choice for tourists and Lancashire families seeking fun, food, activities and education with rescue horses, ponies, donkeys and mules.

HRH opens Penny Farm Visitor Centre
Photo: WHW

Now the expanded facilities will enable so many more visitors to enjoy the company of these amazing animals who seek new homes – and have so much to teach us through their heart-breaking stories of rags to riches transformation – and the charity’s work helping horses in the UK and far afield in Africa, Latin America and Asia.

Addressing the 60 guests who attended the opening, World Horse Welfare President HRH The Princess Royal said:

“This [event] does give us the opportunity to celebrate what has been achieved here … and to understand how horses are still very much a working animal in many parts of the world. For World Horse Welfare that extended programme of education in farriery and saddley and nutrition is so important to those who still rely on them for their livelihoods.

“Sometimes you say to people – ‘people still work with horses’ – and they don’t understand why that can be true.  I’m sure that here it is made very obvious, particularly with the projects in Haiti which make such a difference to those who really do depend on their horses and donkeys for their livelihoods.”

World Horse Welfare is currently appealing for donations to its ‘Helping Horse Owning Communities in Haiti’ appeal, which will be matched pound for pound by the UK government if received before 17 September.

“The understanding we get from making sure that they are properly trained in their care… also reminds us that there are people here who have lost part of that knowledge, and we need to be ready to support those who don’t manage here in the UK.

“This visitor centre has always been important but now it can play an even bigger role … to have more space to help the understanding, fundraising, education, training and seminars which are part of extending the knowledge that is gained through the staff working at Penny Farm.

“Their ability to change the life of those animals who come here in a really poor state – who may be unlikely to survive – to living a life which has real value not just in themselves, but to those who have them as rehomed horses or as an interest to those visiting here. This place will add a huge amount to what Penny Farm can achieve.

“They start as really hard stories, but they have the potential to have really good endings.”

Penny Farm is located on Preston New Road just outside of Blackpool and is open every Wednesday, weekend and Bank Holiday from 11am to 4pm.

Find out more at https://www.worldhorsewelfare.org/Farm/Penny-Farm

Season finale at Brighton Racecourse on Monday

BRIGHTON Racecourse stages its season finale on Monday, September 16- with the chance to get £5 off admission for anyone cycling to the racecourse.

This will be the season’s finale at this stunning seaside course with plenty of ticket options to choose from, whatever the weather.

Thrilling racing promised at Brighton’ final fixture of the season.
Photo courtesy of Connor Press Associates

This September, the popular racecourse has partnered up with Love to Ride for Cycle September. Love to Ride is an organisation designed to encourage cycling in return for online points, allowing you to win a range of prizes.

Brighton Racecourse is offering £5 off tickets and a complimentary soft drink to those who cycle to this September Race day, so hop on your bike, and come and see some thrilling racing!

Cycle September is a fantastic programme encouraging you to get active and have fun, all while helping the environment. Cycling for as little as 10 mins a day can earn you points, which gives you the chance to win prizes such as a seven-day mountain bike trip in New Zealand. To register for free, go to https://www.lovetoride.net/brighton/signups/new?locale=en-GB or go to the Love to Ride website to find out more.

At Brighton’s season finale, dress code in hospitality areas and the Premier Enclosure is smart casual. Sportswear, trainers and fancy dress are not permitted. There is no dress code in the Grandstand, or when One Enclosure is in operation. Fancy dress is allowed, providing it is decent and would not cause offence to other guests. The dress code does not apply to children under 10.

There are a range of ticket opportunities if bought in advance for the Grandstand and Paddock.The Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure allows access to the Long Bar, The Café, Tote betting facilities, the Parade Ring, and the picnic area. There are a wide range of food outlets in this area serving hot and cold snacks.

Dramatic finish at Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials

By Wendy Nix

It was drama all the way to the finish line at this year’s Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (September 5 – 8 ) as Pippa Funnell regained the trophy she last won in 2003 by the tightest of margins, 0.1 penalties.

Hot on her heels was Piggy French on her 2019 Badminton winner, Vanir Kamira, who finished 0.4 of a penalty ahead of third-placed Oliver Townend riding his 2017 Burghley winner, Ballaghmor Class.

Burghley Winner Pippa Funnell
Photo: Kingswood Associates

Show jumping in reverse order, with literally nothing in hand, Oliver toppled the second fence to add four penalties to his score. Piggy also had a fence down which was just as well for Pippa as MGH Grafton Street – at his first 5* event – took out fence 8, an upright of rails, by the roots. He was clearly unsettled after that, and it took all of Pippa’s horsemanship to bring him home clear over the rest of the course to a tumultuous cheer from the crowds.

Piggy French and Vanir Kamkira in action
Photo: Kingswood Associates

Thursday and Friday saw the dressage taking place with Pippa, Piggy and Oliver all coming near the end although Pippa also rode Billy Walk On on Thursday.

Overnight on Friday, Pippa was in the lead on MGH Grafton Street with 22.8, Oliver lay second with a score of 25.3 with Piggy close at hand in equal fifth (26.9). Gemma Tattersall’s test on Arctic Soul gave her 32.7 while her second ride, Santiago Bay, fared better for 29.9.

Gemma Tattersall and Santiago Bay clearing an obstacle well
Photo: Kingswood Associates

Also from West Sussex were Nana Dalton on Absolut Opposition (35.4), Francis Whittington on Evento (35.3), Australian Isabel English, based at Billingshurst, with Feldale Mouse (34.0) and American Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp, based in North Chailey, riding Deniro Z. Elisabeth lay in equal seventh place after dressage on 28.4.

Oliver Townend and Ballaghmore Class at one of the obstacles Photo: Kingswood Associates

With 22 first timers taking part at Burghley, including Isobel and Elisabeth, it was clear that the cross-country course would take some riding. As ever, course designer Capt. Mark Phillips had offered several options for the not so brave but not even he anticipated the problems caused, particularly at the Rolex Triple Brush (Fence 6) and Joules at the Maltings (Fence 13).

This latter, with three elements for the short route or five for the longer, accounted for no less than 10 retirements or eliminations and three lots of added penalties. The crash team were kept busy replacing rails that had dropped thanks to frangible pins – causing Mark Phillips to comment later that the course had probably set a world record for frangible pins in action.

The scene was set early in the day at the Maltings when the usually very reliable Arctic Soul tipped Gemma out the plate. Isobel knocked a frangible pin to add 11 penalties to her score before also being tipped out the saddle for elimination. Nana retired here after a run-out while Francis, having got through the Maltings unscathed, was eliminated at Fence 20, Clarence Court at the Dairy Mound.

Those who rode forward on committed strides made it all look easy, which it was not, and determination was etched across the faces of Elisabeth who jumped within her limits to go clear, adding 34.4 time penalties to her dressage,

Gemma, who was very pleased to put the Maltings behind her on Santiago Bay, and Pippa who had faith in her ‘lucky number 77’ which she was wearing. Unfortunately, at some stage on the course she lost her much-loved 30-year-old blue hat silk.

“I hate the nerves on Friday night and Saturday morning,” she said afterwards. “I had to stay focused, be brave and committed on ‘Squirrel’ who’s not very experienced. It was a fair course and rode every bit as big as it walked.”

Piggy agreed, “The course felt enormous when walked, the oxers rode as big as they looked and the gates [Fence 16, Land Rover at the Lake, a double on a bending line of two strides or straight on one] were hideous. But I have faith in [Mark Phillips]. The course was as hard as its ever felt and I’ve never made the time before, my horse is a real trier.” Piggy was the sole clear across country inside the time; Pippa added four time penalties while Oliver added just two.

At the end of Saturday, Pippa was in the lead on 26.8, Piggy lay second on 26.9 with Oliver in third on 27.3. Gemma was in sixth on 41.1 and Elisabeth was in fifteenth with 62.8.

The Trot Up on Sunday morning saw four horses sent to the holding box for further inspection, including Santiago Bay. Thankfully, he and two of the others passed on representation to go forward to the show jumping phase. Clear rounds were quite hard to come by, Elisabeth dropping one pole to retain her place while Gemma also had one down which left her in seventh.

And so the weekend ended with thrills to the last second and it was perhaps appropriate that the first three, along with West Sussex’s Tina Cook, had returned from Germany just the week before as European Team Silver Medallists.

BHS annual coaching awards 2019- nominate now

Hosted by UK Coaching, the annual coaching awards will be held at The Tower Hotel London on December 5 2019 and will showcase the diverse work of coaches from all walks of life helping people improve their well-being and activity levels.

UK Coaching’s research shows that the UK coaching community is diverse at grassroots levels, and through working alongside UK Sport and Sport England more is being done to attract a wider range of people into coaching at all levels.

With more than 3 million people coaching across the UK regularly, this year’s Awards has been designed to ensure all coaches who give so much, from grassroots to the global stage, are recognised. Nominate someone now.

For the Awards, UK Coaching uses the broad definition of coaching and welcomes nominations on behalf of coaches, instructors, leaders, teachers, trainers and others who support people to achieve their sport and activity goals.

Emma Atkins

UK Coaching’s Director of Coaching Emma Atkins, said: “We are very excited to be opening this year’s awards nominations. Through our summer of great coaching, we have demonstrated to more people than ever the transformative and long-lasting effects of coaching, contributing to the nation’s health, social integration and happiness.

“Broadly speaking, the coaching family across the UK is made up of a range of people from different backgrounds, experiences and motivations with a common belief to help people be the best they can be, whether that’s to win a gold medal or move more than they did yesterday.

“We would like the public to celebrate the work of coaches by nominating a diverse array of coaches that have made a difference in people’s lives and their communities.”

Overall, there are 12 award categories, eight for coaches, three in support of coaches and the Great Coaching Moment of the Year. All honour #GreatCoaching and truly celebrate coaches and organisations that make a difference.

New for 2019 is the Changing Lives Award, which will be awarded to a coach who is leading the way to empower, inspire and connect people from diverse communities to overcome life challenges using the power of #GreatCoaching.

Make your coach feel special, nominate them for the UK Coaching Awards.

The Awards for Coaches are given to individual coaches who have excelled and shown outstanding commitment in a certain area, or to an individual and/or group over the last 12 months. Collectively, they are:

  • Community Coach of the Year
  • Changing Lives Award
  • Talent Development Coach of the Year
  • High Performance Coach of the Year
  • Young Coach of the Year
  • Lifetime Achievement Award
  • And the Coaching Chain, which recognises contributions made by individual coaches throughout an elite athlete’s life in helping achieve their potential.
  • The Awards in Support of Coaches recognise those who recruit, develop, educate, qualify, and/or deploy coaches effectively in the UK. Collectively, they are:
    • Coach Developer of the Year
    • Transforming Coaching
    • Coaching for an Active Life Award

    The Great Coaching Moment of the Year, which celebrates a moment in time when a coach’s support and guidance paid off, will be back again this year. The Sports Journalists’ Association will be providing this year’s shortlist which will then be made open to a public vote. Further details will be announced soon.

    Public nominations for the awards will close at noon on September 18 and what follows is a rigorous, independent and impartial judging process. To ensure welfare is at the heart of the UK Coaching Awards, UK Coaching has a strict set of guidelines and criteria, through which an independent judging panel select the finalists.

    All finalists are verified by their respective governing body sport or representative organisation and all finalists are asked to sign and adhere to the UK Coaching Code of Conduct. All nomination information is treated as confidential until shortlists and winners are announced.

    Nominate a coach for an award at ukcoaching.org/coachingawards.

Jockey Barry McHugh enjoys first treble

Barry McHugh celebrated a first treble of his career at Wolverhampton on Saturday night courtesy of victories aboard Moon Of Love, Stone Soldier and Blyton Lass.

McHugh’s first winner was on board 5f novice stakes scorer Moon Of Love, trained by Richard Fahey and owners The Cool Silk Partnership, before teaming up with James Given for his second and third winners.

Trainer Richard Fahey    Photo: Jeannie Knight

Stone Soldier won impressively at 14-1 on his nursery debut for Given and the same owner-jockey combination before 7-1 shot Blyton Lass, owned by Andy Clarke, landed the 1m 4f classified stakes.

Jockey Barry McHugh Photo courtesy of John Simpson

McHugh, who has been riding in Britain for 18 years, said: “This year has been going well so it’s great to get a first treble.  Winners like this make the early starts and long drives worthwhile.”

James Given, who is based in Lincolnshire,  trained two of McHugh’s  three winners winners in Stone Soldier and Blyton Lass.

Trainer James Given
Photo: Jeannie Knight

“She’s a very honest mare and responds well. Trainers James Given and Richard Fahey have been great supporters of mine and this makes the victories even better.”

Earlier on the card, the Mark Johnston-trained Love Dreams won the 7 furlong claimer under Franny Norton on his 17th start of the year and was claimed by Jamie Osborne for £10,000.

Goodwood’s autumnal seasonal finale

THERE are still two more racing fixtures to look forward to at Goodwood before this highly successful season ends.

On Wednesday September 25, racegoers will have the opportunity to enjoy racing at a more relaxed pace in a midweek atmosphere.

Then there is the autumnal Season Finale Harvest, Hops and Horseracing,to look forward to on Sunday October 13. This will celebrate everything harvest, hops and top class horse racing- featuring hog roast and toasted marshmallows.

Goodwood  Racecourse welcomes racegoers to share in the celebrations and say farewell to the highly memorable and successful season in true style.

Action packed Goodwood finale Photo courtesy of Dominic James

This traditional, rural-themed, end-of-year fixture. The Season Finale, in association with All Call Signs, provides one final chance to experience racing at Goodwood in all its glory before the winter break.

This fiinal raceday has a relaxed, laid back feel with the atmosphere of a country-style meeting. In between some memorable racing, enjoy the sounds of a string band playing merry tunes against a backdrop of roaring fire pits, hay bales and toasted marshmallows.

Gates open at 11:30am and the first race will start at approximately 1:30pm.