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,

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.

Racing consultation on use of whip put on hold

The consultation on British racing’s whip rules and penalties, which was part of the recommendations made in the Horse Welfare Board’s landmark five-year strategy, has been temporarily postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Use of whip consultation temporarily postponed Photo: John Simpson

The British Horse Association has made the request as the consultation would have required large input from senior officials who are now working hard to deliver an operation plan for racing to deal with the current crisis.

The HWB’s independent chair Barry Johnson said the body had given its backing to the BHA’s request.

Johnson said: “The Horse Welfare Board fully supported the BHA’s request to postpone the planned consultation on the whip and will work with the BHA, at an appropriate time, to agree a new timetable. 

“We are keen to ensure that any consultation on the whip is done thoroughly and well, with maximum involvement from people in the sport, which would be enormously challenging in the current circumstances. 

“This postponement will allow British racing to focus on more immediate concerns relating to the welfare of people and horses. The Horse Welfare Board will support these efforts in any possible way and applauds the exceptional work that thousands of people in the industry are continuing to do on a daily basis, in caring for future, current and retired racehorses.”

Hickstead Derby meeting postponed

The Directors of the All England Jumping Course at Hickstead have released an official statement regarding their forthcoming season, in response to the current Coronavirus situation.
The All England Jumping Course at Hickstead

The Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting, scheduled to take place from June 24 to June 28, has been postponed.

Organisers hope to be able to run in combination with their national show, the Science Supplements All England Jumping Championships, from September 1 to 6 September, subject to approval from the relevant governing bodies.

At present, preparations for the Longines Royal International Horse Show (July 21 to 26 ) are continuing, although this will be re-assessed on an ongoing basis.

The All England Jumping Course at Hickstead was first opened in 1960, and this season it is due to celebrate its 60th anniversary. The All England Jumping Course at Hickstead in West Sussex was founded in 1960 by Douglas Bunn, who had dreamed of creating a venue that could rival those on the continent.

In 2020, Hickstead is due to celebrate its 60th anniversary. The showground has been the venue for several World and European Showjumping Championships.

It now hosts two major international shows each year – the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting and the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Great Britain at the Longines Royal International Horse Show.

Friday nights at Goodwood 2020

Goodwood Racecourse’s electric Three Friday Nights presented by NOW TV is scheduled for the tenth year with its biggest names yet taking to the stage throughout June 2020- subject to Coronovirus having been eliminated.

The series begins on June 5 with Ibiza legend, house and techno veteran, Carl Cox. Followed on the June 12 by Guilford-born drum and base superpower Sub-Focus, before Mike Skinner spins the ultimate crescendo on the 19 June.

Expect high energy and good vibes from “The King of Ibiza” Carl Cox. In a career spanning five decades and four albums, Cox is perhaps known best for his unprecedented fifteen-year residency at the legendary Space Ibiza. He was a key part of Britain’s exploding rave scene in the late eighties and early nineties and has been a prolific producer ever since.

The boss of record label Intec Digital and owner of his own motorsport brand, Cox can often be found revving an engine at Goodwood Motor Circuit, but promises to bring a very different sort of noise to the racecourse.

Known as a maverick for mixing up familiar hard-hitting drum and bass with influences spanning all strains of dance music (from 80s synth to futuristic techno, dub-step, old-skool breakbeat, electro and rock) Sub Focus has had a profound influence on the landscape of the electronic scene. If the breadth of his hits is anything to go by – ranging from the heavy, super-charged “Rock-It” to the tear-jerking sound of “Tidal Wave,” it’s going to be memorable.

Back by popular demand is another pioneer and stalwart of the British music scene – Mike Skinner. Best known as the poetic lyricist and ingenious producer behind The Streets, Skinner is innovative with his work showcasing a fusion of sound.

His musical selections are as eclectic as his production capabilities, ranging from house to old-skool hip hop, via drum and bass bangers and peppered with his own, up to the minute remixes and classic tracks.

Three Friday Nights at Goodwood is known for being one of the most exciting series of events to take place on the South Coast, with DJ sets following an evening of horseracing. After the last race has been run and the sun sets, the parade ring transforms into a laser-lit dancefloor, and the atmosphere is ignited for three unforgettable nights.

Adult tickets start from £40, with Juniors (13-17) starting from £30. Hospitality packages start from £102. Tickets will be able to be purchased at Goodwood.com or by calling 01243 755055 subject to Coronovirus having cleared.

Coronavirus closes betting shops

No betting shops will be open in Britain for the foreseeable future after being included as part of the government’s shutdown of social and leisure life as it attempts to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Betting shops were included alongside the likes of cafes, pubs, museums, leisure centres and cinemas that have been asked not to reopen on Saturday after expert advice outlined “more needs to be done in order to tackle the spread of infection,” which has claimed 184 lives in the United Kingdom.

The closures, which firms privately fear could last for up to two months, were announced alongside a fresh range of measures from chancellor Rishi Sunak, including, for the first time by a UK government, an offer to pay 80 per cent of wages for employees at any business who would otherwise have been laid off, up to £2,500 a month.

Rishi Sunak

As well as stepping in to help pay the wages of staff, business VAT payments were pushed back until June and access to the Universal Credit benefit was opened up to the self-employed with the lifting of the minimum income floor, meaning the self-employed will be paid the same as someone on Statutory Sick Pay.

Sunak, said: “This is unprecedented in the history of the British state. Combined with the previous announcement, our planned response is the most comprehensive in the world. 

“We need a collective national effort with a role for everyone to play. It’s on all of us.”

The actions to protect businesses and employees were welcomed by the BHA, which has been working alongside representative industry bodies in racing on a financial submission to the government for aid and help after cancelling all racing in Britain until at least the end of April because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement following the announcement, the BHA said: “The details that have been given so far will be analysed by senior executives, using the most recent information on the commercial revenues and employment generated by the racing industry. 

“A wide-ranging submission to government outlining the impact of the shutdown on racing and proposing areas for potential help is being adapted to respond to the chancellor’s announcement.”

Racing professionals also expressed their satisfaction with Sunak’s intervention to help businesses and employees. Group 1-winning trainer Michael Dods wrote on Twitter: “Still digesting details of the chancellor’s jobs retention plan but the government needed to act in a big way and, to be fair, that’s what it’s done. Hopefully, it could make all the difference to a lot of businesses, including those connected to the racing industry.”

The betting industry has been hugely impacted by the Covid-19 shutdown of sport, with shares in the likes of GVC Holdings, parent company of Ladbrokes Coral, William Hill and Flutter Entertainment, the group which contains Paddy Power and Betfair, falling significantly over the past two weeks.

In addition, betting shops were classed as not being eligible for the business rates relief Sunak had unveiled earlier in the week, something Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, believes should now be reconsidered due to the closures.

Dugher, a former Labour MP, wrote on Twitter: “Betting shops must close, rightly, because they are ‘leisure’ businesses, like clubs etc. Yet HM Treasury tells us that unlike all the other businesses on the list of those who must close, betting shops, casinos and bingo halls can’t access help with business rates. Time to rethink that?”

Prior to the government announcement, Paddy Power was the first layer to confirm it would be closing all its 350 betting shops in Britain from Friday night until the end of April.

New sponsor announced for Cob of the Year Championship

RONNIE and Debbie Harrod, together with their daughter Polly Coles, are delighted to be extending their association with Horse of the Year Show by sponsoring the Cob of the Year Championship in 2020.

The Cob of the Year Championship was among the first showing classes at Horse of the Year Show at Harringay in 1949 when Rosemary Cooke’s ‘Knobby’ took the title. Since then, the championship has seen many big names take the title including international judge, and top showing producer, Robert Oliver.

In 2019, the championship saw an emotional win for the returning HOYS 2016 Supreme Champion, ‘Our Cashel Blue’, after having been diagnosed with cancer in 2018. Affectionately known as ‘Blue’ by owner Caroline Tyrell, the handsome coloured gelding made a triumphant comeback to the show with Allister Hood, claiming the Cob of the Year title.

‘Our Cashel Blue’ and Allister Hood winning the Cob of the Year Championship 2019 Photo: 1st Class Images


The first and second placed Lightweight and Heavyweight Cob of the Year classes will feature in the Cob of the Year Championship and each, which will see new naming rights for 2020 to:

  • The Harrod and Coles Family Lightweight Cob of the Year
  • The Harrod and Coles Family Heavyweight Cob of the Year
  • The Harrod and Coles Family Cob of the Year Championship

Debbie and Polly are no strangers to the showing scene, having owned and ridden many champion Hunters and Cobs over the years.

Debbie Harrod commented: “We are delighted to extend our family commitments within the showing world, having been involved since Polly was competing in pony classes from a young age. The Ridden Show Cob classes have always been one of my favourite sections, having admired the many champions over the years.

“It is an absolute privilege to be associated with one of the most famous horse shows in the world and we look forward to presenting this supreme accolade to the newly crowned Cob of the Year Champions in October.”

Horse of the Year Show Event Director Emma Williams commented: “We are thrilled that the Harrod and Coles family have extended their class sponsorship at the show to not only include the Catplant Group of Companies Ltd. Show Hunter of the Year Championship, but also the Harrod and Coles Family Cob of the Year Championship. The family’s sponsorship over the last five years has been greatly appreciated and we look forward to working with them once again this year.”

For more information on Horse of the Year Show 2020, please contact Horse of the Year Show Press Office, Grandstand Media Ltd. Tel: 02476 858205.