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,

British Showjumping acts fast on European outbreak of Herpes Virus

CURRENTLY, there is a Europe-wide alert of increased risk of disease associated with Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1), which originated in Valencia (ESP) and has already resulted in related outbreaks in at least three other countries in Europe.

In response, British Showjumping is putting in place the following measures for all horses returning from France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Poland, Netherlands, Germany and Slovakia from 1st March 2021:

  1. All horses  returning to the UK from France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Poland, Netherlands, Germany and Slovakia should be isolated from others which may attend British Showjumping  competitions and training events. Further we strongly advise that they are separated from all other horses.  The same also applies to horses which have transited through the above countries on their return to the UK.
     
  2. To be considered isolated, the isolated horses must be kept in a building that is physically separated from other horse buildings by a public highway or equivalent.
     
  3. Isolated horses must be attended to by separate staff and riders who are not in contact with horses on other (non-isolated) premises.
     
  4. To minimise risk of disease spread within an isolation premises, biosecurity measures on the property must include
     
    1. hand-sanitising facilities so that staff can clean their hands between handling each individual animal
    2. foot dips outside every stable
    3. separate coveralls outside each stable that are changed between caring for different horses
    4. separate tack, equipment, feed bowls for each horse
    5. facilities for disinfection of mucking out equipment must be in place
       
  5. British Showjumping expect their members’ local veterinary surgeon to verify these standards are in place on the isolation premises.
     
  6. All horses on the premises, including those which have NOT travelled in Europe recently, must have close clinical monitoring with twice daily temperature recording. Temperature records should be kept and made available for review by the members’ local veterinary surgeon.
     
  7. All horses on the premises including those which have not travelled in Europe recently will be excluded from participation in British Showjumping’s competitions and training events and all other BEF Member Body competitions and activities.
     
  8. The excluded status will apply until:
     a)  Either: All horses on the premises have been free of clinical signs for at  least 28 days   from the day the last horse(s) returning from areas of Europe defined above arrived on the isolation premises.
      b)  Or: Laboratory data confirming that all horses on the premises are free from disease is provided to British Showjumping. These laboratory data  must include: 
           i)    Paired serology (to measure antibodies against EHV) with two  samples taken a minimum of 10 days apart, using the complement fixation test (CFT) which is available at Rossdales Laboratory.
           ii)   And, a pair of nasopharyngeal swabs taken at the same time as the serology samples.
           iii)   For the purpose of interpretation of these data, day 0 is defined as the day the returning horses arrived at the isolation premises.
           iv)  Samples must be submitted to  Rossdales Laboratory. Veterinary surgeons should contact the laboratory (via  laboratory@rossdales.com or by telephone 01638- 663017,   Emergency (24hrs) 01638 663150 for advice on shipping of and processing schedules for samples and to request supplies such as  suitable nasopharyngeal  swabs and transport media.

      9.  The above requirements for laboratory data to clear excluded status will apply to  both horses which are unvaccinated and those that have received vaccines at any previous time and interpretation of laboratory data will be informed by vaccination history that should also be provided at the time of sample submission.

    10.  Samples must be accompanied by a submission form available at  Rossdales      Laboratory.
 

The Loch Lomond Whiskies National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell Park tomorrow, Sunday, February 28

THE National Spirit Hurdle is the most valuable and prestigious race in Fontwell Park’s racing calendar, and always promises a thrilling day. Named after the winner of the champion hurdle in the 1940’s, this race continues to attract some of the finest racing talent in the country.

This year it takes place this Sunday, February 28 and the Grade 2 £50,000 National Spirit Hurdle has a new sponsor- Loch Lomond Whiskies– an independent distiller and blender of some of the rarest scotch whiskies in the world. The company also produce a range of popular vodkas and gins. 

Unfortunately, Coronavirus has meant that this year, Lomond Whiskies National Spirit Hurdle will have to be held behind closed doors. The race has always attracted a quality field of runners and recent winners include Vision Des Flos, Old Guard, Camping Ground and Lil Rockerfeller.

Champagne PIAFF is expertly blended by 6th generation wine makers Épernay and can be ordered direct from their cellar to your door. www.champagnepiaff.com

Eleven times champion trainer Paul Nicholls has won the race three times including with Celestial Halo ten years ago.

Celestial Halo, trained by Paul Nicholls on the way to victory Photo by John Simpson

This year Paul Nicholls has entered the highly regarded McFabulous, winner of the Grade 2 Unibet Persian War Novices’ Hurdle at Chepstow last October.  Also entered is the 2019 Grade One Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle winner, Cornerstone Lad from the Micky Hammond yard and the Harry Fry trained If The Cap Fits, successful in the Grade One Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree in 2019. 

There are eight entries in total for the big race :  Ballyandy, Brewin’upastorm,  Call Me Lord, Cornerstone Lad, If The Cap Fits, McFabulous, and Molly Ollys Wishes and Reserve Tank.

It is 20 years since dual Stayers’ Hurdle winner, Baracouda, won the National Spirit Hurdle for owner JP McManus and trainer Francois Doumen. 

The seven race card starts at 2.10pm and is live on Sky Sports Racing.

Frustrating time for horse racing says Plumpton

Dan, Holly and the team at Plumpton have been reflecting on the lack of positivity regards to racing generally and feel the timings of lifting restrictions have been poorly placed.

They said: “For example, the Grand National is run on Saturday April 10 but the betting shops don’t open until Monday April 12 which will cost the industry a huge amount of levy from bookmaker payments which help fund the sport.

“Similarly, crowds in full may be allowed from Monday June 21, but Royal Ascot is run between June 15-19 and we are not sure if moving such large events would be possible, but it would be hugely beneficial if they could.

They added: “Similarly, we were disappointed with the announcements from our own perspective, as our funding now faces some restrictions and as it stands it doesn’t look like we will have any crowd before September.

Racing action could be back at Plumpton later this year Photo: Jeannie Knight

“Our last fixture of the 2020/21 season is Sunday May 8, but it doesn’t look like crowds will be allowed before Monday May 18 -and so that is quite frustrating!”

Dan said:” I am just exploring whether we can move any of our April or May fixtures to different dates (to allow attendance!) and if we can have a crowd as a “pilot” but to be frank with you all, it looks unlikely.

“This will no doubt be very frustrating for you to hear and it likely brings to a conclusion a long and strange season. Once I hear about the fixtures mentioned above, I will get back in touch and I’ll also provide options on the membership details for 2021/22 where it looks like full attendance will be allowed….we hope. There will of course be options regarding your money held here and again, I’ll re-iterate my thanks to you all for the support and understanding.”

In more positive news, last weekends racing was particularly enjoyable and also successful and Plumpton’s “home team” trainers. One of Plumpton’s favourite teams (The Moores) had a super day at Wincanton, with Goshen romping home in the Kingwell and firmly back into the picture for the Champion Hurdle.

“We’ll be in touch with you again ASAP, and our apologies that we can’t get you back with us sooner but we hope in your own lives there can now be some more to look forward too.

“Meanwhile the Grand National is run on Saturday April 10 but the betting shops don’t open until Monday 12  which will cost the industry a huge amount of levy (bookmaker payments which help fund the sport) and similarly, crowds in full may be allowed from Monday June 21 but Royal Ascot is run between June 15 and 19. I’m not sure if moving such large events is possible, but you never know and it could be hugely beneficial if they could.”

Expect top class jump racing at Plumpton when racing resumes. Photo: Jeannie Knight

“Similarly, we were disappointed with the announcements from our own perspective, as our funding now faces some restrictions and as it stands it doesn’t look like we will have any crowd before September. Our last fixture of the 2020/21 season is Sunday May 9 and as it stands, it doesn’t look like crowds will be allowed before Monday May 17- and so that is quite frustrating!

” I am just exploring whether we can move any of our April or May fixtures to different dates (to allow attendance!) and if we can have a crowd as a “pilot” but to be frank with you all, it looks unlikely.

“Once I hear about the fixtures mentioned above, I will get back in touch and I’ll also provide options on the membership details for 2021/22 where it looks like full attendance will be allowed….we hope. There will of course be options regarding your money held here and again, I’ll re-iterate my thanks to you all for the support and understanding.”

“In more positive news, the weekends racing was particularly enjoyable and also successful for Plumpton and its “home team” trainers. One of our favourite teams (The Moore’s) had a super day at Wincanton, with Goshen romping home in the Kingwell and firmly back into the picture for the Champion Hurdle.

“Chris Gordon’s Annual Invictus has been a winner with us twice this season (and you saw one of them live on December 14 as this horse flew home in the Betfair Hurdle to finish fourth.

“Andy Irvine (Zoe Davison’s husband) had a first winner at Market Rasen with Blarney Bateleur at 28/1. Some of our past winners also developed into “Saturday horses” too in Thibault (2nd at 80/1!) at Ascot, The Two Amigos following up his Welsh National runner-up achievement with a  fine 3rd in the Grand National trial at Haydock,.

“First Lord de Cuet bolted up at Wincanton and Gellino Bello followed up his fine December win here with a third in the listed bumper at Newbury on Sunday. It’s great to see that good horses are still coming here and progressing on nicely.

“We’ll be in touch with you again ASAP, and our apologies that we can’t get you back with us sooner but I hope in your own lives there can now be some more to look forward too.”

Best Wishes,

Dan, Holly & Team at Plumpton

Three RDA volunteers have won prestigious award

THREE long standing volunteers have been selected as recipients of this year’s Riding for the Disabled Association Presidents’ Award – the most prestigious award presented by the RDA for exceptional dedication to this charity. What is more exceptional is that two are from the same Group.

Bridgyd Richards from Fairwarp and Sally Grainger (Bidborough) are both from Eridge RDA (which meets in normal times at Chelwood Gate) and Jo Lee is from Epsom RDA. It is hoped that all three will be able to receive their awards in person from the RDA President, HRH Princess Anne, at a prestigious event as soon as circumstances allow.

BRIDGYD RICHARDS OF ERIDGE RDA is pictured below with Ockey

Bridgyd is a stalwart of Eridge RDA and has been for 46 years, having joined soon after the Group’s inception. She has been a committee member and trustee ever since – a record of volunteer service unequalled in the Group.  Indefatigable in attendance at committee meetings, riding sessions and fundraisers, she has shown a life-long commitment and loyalty to the riders.  She is the Group’s memory-keeper and an unflagging proponent of the charitable aims for which the group was founded so many years ago.

Bridgyd has never missed the Monday session despite the years of milking and caring for her prize Jersey herd of cows until her retirement and now, despite hip problems, she still attends to keep records of each session.

“I am so thrilled to have received this award as it was so unexpected. I have had a wonderful time, visiting many other groups and competing three times at the RDA Pony of the Year at Wembley – even coming second” says Bridgyd. “It’s been a great ride and still is!”

Her many years of experience with disabled children has stood the Group in good stead. Bridgyd simply is Eridge RDA.

SALLY GRAINGER, ERIDGE RDA

Sally has given a lifetime of service to Eridge RDA and has remained quiet, unassuming and constant throughout. She started as a teenager over 40 years ago and has always been a firm favourite with the riders with her reassuring and friendly manner. 

Sally Grainger of Eridge RDA

Sally has been the Group’s Secretary, a pony keeper, a pony transporter, an occasional rider’s chauffeur, a Christmas Lunch Chef, a weekly volunteer, a keeper of confidences for parents, volunteers and trustees. She has supported the Group in at least five moves, secured and overseen healthy finances, seen many riders progress from tots to young adults and shy volunteers become confidant instructors.

“I was really surprised but absolutely delighted to have been given such an amazing award” says Sally. “It has been a privilege to have been able to help and I have met so many inspiring young people, their parents and carers and have learned from them all”.

Sally is certainly a rock of the Eridge Group which would be lost without her and would not have flourished in the way it has.

JO LEE, EPSOM RDA

Jo Lee began with Epsom RDA in 1989 as part of her Duke of Edinburgh Award and in the three decades journeying from teenage volunteer to Trustee and Group Coach, Jo has made an outstanding contribution to the Group and is very much at its heart.

As well as coaching disabled riders on her regular Wednesday evening riding sessions, Jo has responsibility for overseeing the care of the charities’ herd of 10 horses. In addition, she is always prepared to step up and lead on a myriad of other activities to help the Group including organising the in-house riders’ championships, tackling the logistics of volunteers, riders and ponies travelling to Regional Championships and National Championships as well as fundraising and making sure the yard is kept in an orderly fashion.

Jo said “When I first arrived at Epsom RDA as a teenager I never for one moment imagined that Epsom RDA would become such an important part of mine and my family’s life. I am delighted to have been recognised in this way, but I am mindful that I am one individual representing the wider Epsom RDA community.”

About Riding for the Disabled (RDA) in the South East:

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

RACING AT PLUMPTON HAS BEEN ABANDONED TODAY

Plumpton Winter Raceday – Monday February 8 2021 cannot go ahead

Racing at Plumpton today was subject to a morning inspection, and was abandoned because of rain, snow and frost. If the card had gone ahead it would have been racing behind closed doors.

A Plumpton spokesman said:”So this is February! And it all feels remarkably similar as we are still struggling against the elements (rain, snow and a frost threat) and we still race behind closed doors.

“Unfortunately I don’t have any further insight as to when we might be able to get you back with us, but as soon as we do we will get in touch and please remain assured we will get you back as soon as we can.

Breen Equestrian opens state-of-the-art new stud


Showjumping team Breen Equestrian has expanded its business by launching a luxurious new breeding facility close to its home base at Hickstead in West Sussex.

Pook Bourne Stud is a state-of-the-art breeding premises with space to accommodate up to 85 mares and young horses. Nine stallions will stand at the stud, including prolific show jumping winners- Golden Hawk, Can Ya Makan and Clyde VA.

The aim is to breed around a dozen foals each year under the Breen Equestrian prefix, while the stud will also cater to clients who wish to send their mares to the stud with the aim of breeding their own potential superstars.

BELOW: SHANE BREEN EN ROUTE TO WINNING THE HICKSTEAD AL SHIRA DERBY Photo courtesy of Hickstead


Breen Equestrian is run by Irish international showjumper Shane Breen and his wife Chloe, who already have a superb reputation for breeding, producing and selling top class sport horses.

Fellow showjumper Greg Le Gear, a qualified AI technician, is the Stud Manager at Pook Bourne Stud and is in charge of the day-to-day running of the breeding side of the business.

Shane Breen commented: “I’m very proud and excited that Breen Equestrian can offer some of the world’s best stallions, as well as facilities that are second to none.”
For more information visit www.breenequestrian.com

New chairman for Cowdray Park Polo Club

Cowdray Park Polo Club has announced that, following completion of his term of office, Roderick Vere Nicholl has stepped down as Chairman of the Club.

New chairman for Cowdray Park Polo Club

The Club’s President, Viscount Cowdray, stated: “On behalf of the Committee we are hugely grateful to Roderick for the enthusiasm, energy and commitment he brought to the role, and for steering the Club through a difficult year.”

The Club is further delighted to announce that Andrew Swaffield has accepted the President’s invitation to be appointed the new Chairman.

WINTER RACEDAY AT PLUMPTON SUBJECT TO INSPECTION

A RACEDAY at Plumpton today, Monday January 25, is still subject to a third inspection.

Monday’s other scheduled jumps fixture at Market Rasen was cancelled on Sunday due to a frozen track, which could leave all-weather fixtures at Chelmsford and Kempton as the only action of the day if Plumpton does not go ahead.

Plumpton Racecourse had been hoping that there is no further frost, after a heavy frost yesterday. It had taken the precaution of holding an inspection at 8am because frost had been forecast overnight.

A statement from the track said: “One of the difficulties we have found in the current lockdown is that we don’t have an end date like we did in November/December and so whilst we optimistically hope for relaxations, it feels like more of a slog than ever -especially with Storm Christoph doing his worst.

Below is an example of some damage to our beloved racecourse.

An image

But don’t worry, we had it gone the same day!

As ever thanks for sticking with us and being so understanding. It’ has been a real pity as if you’ve been watching on TV, there has been some really enjoyable racing and the January Jumps fixture was a cracker with some lovely novice performances from Here Comes Johnny (Olly Murphy) and Gericault Roque (David Pipe), although Natural History and Loughan made a thrilling race of Gericault Roque’s victory (a race over 6 seconds quicker than the other division of the same race).

High Up In the Air won his third Steeplechase in a row this season with another beautiful round of jumping for Gary Moore, however Cyclop winning the Veterans Race (Minimum Age to run is 10 years old) from the 150/1 shot Young Turk was the day’s highlight.

The introduction of Veterans’ Races has been a fantastic initiative which seems to be enjoyed by all of the sport, but we can’t have too many as you would not get the runners .It is amazing to think Altior is 11 going for the Champion Chase and how Faugheen won his Grade 1 Chases in Ireland last year as 12 year old).

Let’s hope today’s card is as competitive and enjoyable as the last few. If you wanted a few tips, please do have a look at the Tote’s tips for the day here, and the racecard is also attached.

In the meantime, have a great rest of the weekend and we’ll keep you updated on any developments and if we get to know anything about getting out and about again!

Buzz is likely to run in Betfair Hurdle

A PARTICULARLY striking performance by the Nicky Henderson-trained Buzz, has earmarked this talented grey horse for a tilt in the Betfair Hurdle, which is likely to be his next outing.

Buzz finished third on his first outing of the season in the Welsh Champion Hurdle behind Sceau Royal. That was an impressive performance itself, but he went on to clock up an easy win at Ascot in November, when he won the race by seven lengths.

Trainer Nicky Henderson Photo: John Simpson

Although he was given an 11lb weight rise for that impessive victory he returned to Ascot four weeks later to contest the Betfair Exchange Trophy and finished runner-up to the winner that day- Not So Sleepy- who was receiving 6lb .

The grey finished third on his first outing of the season in the Welsh Champion Hurdle behind Sceau Royal, before bolting up at Ascot in November by seven lengths.

Raised 11lb for that success, he went back to Ascot a month later for the Betfair Exchange Trophy and beat all bar a rejuvenated Not So Sleepy, who was receiving 6lb and won the race for the second year in succession.

Buzz (left) gets his head in front on a previous run Photo: John Simpson

“The irony of his last run was that we were beaten by a horse trained by Hughie Morrison – who we bought Buzz off! I don’t think Buzz really saw the winner on the other side of the course, but our horse ran a blinder off top-weight!”

“We’ll keep an eye on everything. It’s unlikely to dry out too much, but he does like soft ground. Top-weights don’t have a great record in the race – which is something else to consider.”

Stafford is mindful of a proliferation of dangerous opponents in what is always a hugely competitive race.

“You usually want to be a novice on the up,I suppose the ones who have stuck out so far have been Cadzand, who was impressive at Kempton, and maybe Llandinabo Lad. Of course there’s the Tolworth winner (Metier) too, who could run – so there are plenty to be wary of.”

“We could use a conditional to take some weight off – but I haven’t discussed that with Nicky yet. I think there’s a fair chance he’ll run, though.”

Echo Brava runs well for Rebecca Woodman after two-year lay off

Echo Brava, who finished second at 22-1 at Kempton Park for trainer Rebecca Woodman
RACEHORSE trainer Rebecca Woodman continued a long family tradition of horse racing successes when she sent out Echo Brava to finish second at 22-1 on the all-weather at Kempton Park yesterday in a highly competitive race.

Following the run Rebecca said: “Today saw me saddle my first runner on the flat as a fully licensed racehorse trainer.”

Well ridden by Liam Keniry, the 11-year-old made smooth headway in the race to secure runner-up spot behind the winner, Mr Zee, sent off at 8-1 trained by Michael Blake and ridden by Marco Ghiani.

Echo Brava had seven wins to his credit on the Flat, and now has notched up three second places over hurdles, and should go on to win over the obstacles.

Based at Parkers Barn Stables, East Lavant, near Chichester, Rebecca comes from a highly successful horse racing family, which has been there since her grandfather, Sydney Woodman, started training. Her father John died in 2014 after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer , leaving his wife Penny, son James and daughter Rebecca.

Her grandfather, Syd Woodman, had died in 1986, having held a licence for 25 years, and was a well respected trainer. He was a former head lad to the legendary Captain Ryan Price who trained there after the War.

Following his death, his son, Steve Woodman, eventually took over, sending out runners on the Flat and over jumps. The yard had 20 boxes and Steve said at the time:
“Fifteen or 16 horses is quite enough for us, we have reliable local staff and we use gallops at the bottom of the hill on the Goodwood Estate so the set-up is pretty compact.”

He trained at Parker’s Barn for 15 years with good success for a group of owners, some of whom had horses with his father, Syd, in the Sixties and Seventies.

At that time, Steve Woodman said: “When dad died in 1986 he had held a licence for 25 years. He had been head lad to the legendary Captain Ryan Price who trained here after the War. When Ryan moved to Findon dad stayed on with some of his horses and Syd Dale, who also became a successful trainer, was head lad at Findon.”

After Ryan Price closed the East Lavant operation, Syd Woodman was able to buy Parker’s Barn. His two boys, John and Steve, were into ponies in a big way at the time and John eventually became a professional jockey, but Steve, on account of his weight, remained an amateur. John Woodman, Rebecca’s father, sadly died at age of 67 in 2014.

Now Rebecca has made an excellent start in carrying on the family tradition of training racehorses. Echo Brava had seven wins to his credit on the Flat, and now has notched up three second places over hurdles, and should go on to win over the obstacles.

Following his father’s death, his son, Steve Woodman, eventually took over, sending out runners on the Flat and over jumps.

The yard had 20 boxes and Steve said at the time: “Fifteen or 16 horses is quite enough for us, we have reliable local staff and we use gallops at the bottom of the hill on the Goodwood Estate so the set-up is pretty compact.”

Steve went on to train at Parker’s Barn for 15 years with success for a group of owners, some of whom had horses trained with his father in the Sixties and Seventies. Steve was keen to maintain the tradition. He said: “When dad died in 1986 he had held a licence for 25 years.”

“He had been head lad to the legendary Captain Ryan Price who trained here after the War. When Ryan moved to Findon dad stayed on with some of his horses and Sid Dale, who also became a successful trainer, was head lad at Findon.”

After Ryan Price closed the East Lavant operation, Syd Woodman was able to buy Parker’s Barn. His two boys, John and Steve, were into ponies in a big way at the time and John eventually became a professional jockey, but Steve, on account of his weight, remained an amateur.

Former jockey and bloodstock agent John Woodman sadly died at age of 67 in 2014.

Now Rebecca has made an excellent start in carrying on the family tradition of training racehorses. There should be a bright future ahead for her.

Echo Brava had seven wins to his credit on the Flat, and now has notched up three second places over hurdles, and should go on to win over the obstacles for Rebecca.