Don’t miss Fontwell’s National Spirit Hurdle race

One race meeting not to be missed is that which features the £80,000 National Spirit Hurdle race at Fontwell Park, this coming Sunday, February 24.

This race at Fontwell Park always attracts top class horses and is one of the historic races featured on the annual calendar.

This will be the 54th running of the popular race, which is named after the dual Champion Hurdle Winner National Spirit. The horse was a regular runner at Fontwell Park in the 1940’s.

Salmon Spray, a top class horse of his time, won the inaugural running of the race and went on to  win the 1965, 1966 and 1967 Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham and the 1964,  1967, and 1968 Schweppes Gold Trophy Hurdle.

2016 National Spirit winner Lil Rockerfeller trained by Neil King and ridden by Trevor Whelan
Photo Jeannie Knight

Today the race is widely regarded as a trial for the World Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Fontwell has been a good track for subsequent notable winners of the race, for  Comedy of Errors went on to win the Champion Hurdle twice while in 2001 Baracouda won the race before going on to win two World Hurdle crowns for  French trainer, Francois Doumen.

A similar feat was achieved  by trainer Alan King  in 2006 when he sent out My Way De Solzen to success in The National Spirit before lifting the World Hurdle crown the following month.

Old Guard , trained by Paul Nicholls, with  Harry Cobden up, coming home to win the National Spirit Hurdle Race last year

Lough Derg won back-to-back renewals of The National Spirit Hurdle for David Pipe in 2008 and 2009 while Paul Nicholls has won three of the last five renewals of this top class race with Celestial Halo in 2011, Prospect Wells in 2013 and Old Guard in 2018.

Also Vagador, trained at Coombelands Racing Stables by Guy Harwood won The National Spirit Hurdle twice- in 1988 and  in 1990.

Sunday is a day of racing not to be missed at Fontwell Park.


£50,000 prize money on offer at next Plumpton raceday

PLUMPTON Racecourse is staging what is expected to be one of the most competitive racedays of its season on Monday February 25, with more than £50,000 prize money on offer.

Plumpton offers top class jump racing
Photo: Jeannie Knight

The feature race is an extremely competitive Class Three handicap hurdle, last year won by the Gary Moore-trained Not Never, which recently went on to win a very competitive 0-140 Class Three handicap hurdle at Fontwell Park.

Not Never was impressive when trotting up in the 2018 R.A.B.I/Joan Collison Memorial Handicap Hurdle at Plumpton. Then six-years-old, he followed up his course-and-distance success at the track in January with an authoritative performance.

Jamie Moore with his father, trainer Gary Moore
Photo: Jeannie Knight

Jamie Moore was in the saddle and took the 5-4 favourite into the lead after the third-last flight and Not Never strode away to win by 16 lengths from Jumping Jack.

The Moore family is in good form and will no doubt have some competitive entries at this popular meeting where the first race is at 2pm and the last at 5.15pm.

Good racing is guaranteed at this popular racetrack, which has train services with a stop on the outer edge of the racecourse, while there are good parking facilities.

The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (R.A.B.I) is also being welcomed at Plumpton for the day. This organisation looks after people from the farming industry of all ages and in all sorts of circumstances so well. This day is a big fund raiser for them too, and gives the chance for a closer look at what they do and how you can help.

Admission tickets start at just £13 when booked in advance.

There still some availability in the Paddock Restaurant either by booking on line or through the office on 01273 890383. Advanced admission tickets start at just £13 when booked in advance.

Competitive racing at Fontwell Park

INVICTA Lake, trained by Suzy Smith at Lewes, scored his first victory over fences at Fontwell Park yesterday in fine style.

The 12-year-old bay gelding, ridden by Paddy Brennan, had been placed twice previously over the larger obstacles but this time won decisively, beating 13-8 favourite Sartorial Elegance by 15 lengths. Invicta Lake should go on to win again over fences.

Invicta Lake following a previous victory, with owners Bernard and Jan Wolford, jockey Paddy Brennan, trainer Suzy Smith and assistant trainer Sergio Gordon-Watson Photo Jeannie Knight

His past career over hurdles had been impressive with five wins and ten places to his credit.

It was double for rider Paddy Brennan, for he had won the opening race of the day, a handicap hurdle over two miles three furlongs, on board 16-1 shot Ted Bach for Paul Henderson, who trains at Whitsbury in Hampshire.

Trainer Paul Henderson

Ted Bach plugged on for a narrow half-length victory from the Sheena West-trained Fading Icon, sent off at 20-1 under Marc Goldstein.  Amzac Magic, the 2-1 favourite, trained by Jack Barber finished in  third place.

Paddy Brennan and Ted Bach on the way to victory: Photo courtesy of Fontwell Park

Four-year-old Christopher Wood had joined trainer Paul Nicholls this term, after previously racing on the flat and came good when winning the two miles one furlong hurdle race,  by a seven length margin under a good ride from Harry Cobden.

Horsham trainer Gary Moore’s patient training reaped a good result with promising eight-year-old Le Capricieux at this meeting. This smart bay gelding, owned by himself and Mr A Forman  had previously run over hurdles, until switched to fences this season.

Le Capricieux and Jamie Moore en route to victory
Photo: Fontwell Park Racecourse

At Fontwell, under a good ride from Jamie Moore, Le Capricieux won impressively by nine lengths from The Mighty Ash, trained in Dorset by Fiona Shaw. Le Capricieux should turn into a smart chaser.



Good day’s racing at Plumpton

Racing resumed in fine style over jumps at Plumpton on Wednesday when chief executive of the track, Dan Thompson reported attendance of almost 1,200 and said the outcome on the day had been a decent crowd.

Jockey Tom Scudamore spoke out, reflecting the views of many others when he referred to the original close-down, saying he liked the clarity the BHA had given at the beginning, but there were a few grey areas as they now started the return of racing.

The meeting opened with a good victory by Acey Milan for trainer Anthony Honeyball and jockey Aidan Coleman in the two mile handicap hurdle. They snatched the lead in the closing stages to win by half a length from The Flying Sofa, trained by Gary Moore and ridden by his son Jamie.

Winner Acey Milan with jockey Aidan Coleman, trainer Anthony Honeyball and connections Photo: Jeannie Knight

Just three runners went to the post for the Novices Limited Handicap Chase over two miles three and a half furlongs. Again Gary Moore had to settle for runner-up spot when his runner, All Currencies, ridden by son Joshua Moore, was beaten by one and a half lengths. Winner Good Man Pat, trained by Alan King and ridden by Wayne Hutchinson, justified his starting price as 5-6 favourite. There should be more wins to come with this six-year-old gelding, who was having only his second outing over fences.


Winner Good Man Pat with trainer Alan King and jockey Wayne Hutchinson
Photo: Jeannie Knight

There was a close finish in the two mile four furlong handicap hurdle when trainer David Pipe’s French-bred runner, Duc de Beauchene came home just  one length ahead of runner-up 7-1 shot Mr Jack, trained by Lynda Jewell.

Trainer Seamus Mullins sprang a surprise in the two mile one furlong handicap chase when Miquus, a 22-1 shot trained by Seamus Mullins and ridden by James Best  beat 40-1 shot Away For The Slates, trained in Wiltshire by trainer Milton Harris and ridden  by Kevin Jones,  by half a length.

There was a Sussex-trained winner in the handicap hurdle over three miles one furlong, when Suzy Smith sent out 9-2 shot Little Boy Boru at 9-2 to beat  David Pipe’s Three-Star General by a length. There was a lot to like about Little Boy Boru and he should go on to win again.

The Conditional Jockeys Mares’ Handicap Hurdle was won by Hope’s Wishes at 11-4, ridden by Jordan Naylor and trained  by Barry Brennan.

The next raceday at Plumpton is on Monday February 25 when the first race will be at 2pm.




All horses should be tested for equine ‘flu say experts

ALL owners have been urged to have their horses tested for equine ‘flu after the current outbreak among racehorses has been described as ‘the worst ever’ by experts.

This unexpected outbreak has caused racing to be cancelled in Britain, initially until  next Wednesday, when the situation was set to be reviewed by officials, to see if the ban needs to be extended.

But yesterday (Friday) the BHA also revealed there was another suspicious case relating to a runner on the all-weather this week, that has led to another 50-plus yards being placed in lockdown.

When will racing action return?

Also there are fears that horses outside racing could be infected if they have been in the same environment as the affected horses.

As a result all horse owners have been urged to get their animals vaccinated against equine flu as soon as possible in order to protect them, especially if they are in the same area as racehorses.

This is thought to be the worst outbreak of horse disease since foot and mouth, with racing yards closed and racing stopped after the initial confirmations of the disease.

Following three confirmed cases in racing, more horses are expected to be confirmed with the disease in the coming days. It takes 48 hours for the disease to incubate, while it can be up to three days to get the test results back.

It is now less than five weeks before the start of this year’s Cheltenham Festival – the annual highlight of the National Hunt calendar, and this  event could be under threat if there is any escalation in the numbers of racehorses affected by the disease.


Don’t miss Plumpton Charity Raceday next week

PLUMPTON Charity Raceday in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund (IJF), which takes place on Wednesday February 13, is  looking to raise funds for one of racing’s main charities, the Injured Jockeys Fund.

This charity  is renowned for its outstanding work for jockeys of all distinctions and their families in difficult times.

The IJF will be holding a charity lunch and auction in the Marquee restaurant, priced at £75pp or a table of 10 for £700. If you would like to book a table or have any questions please email quoting Plumpton Charity lunch.

This raceday also marks the end of the Cheltenham Bonus Series for the 2018/19 season. What a great year it has been, with some top quality horses gracing Plumpton, such as Kalashnikov, Ok Corral, Mister Dino and Mister Malarky- the best series to date.

Get close to the action at Plumpton Photo: Jeannie Knight

Last years winner at the corresponding fixture was Eamon An Cnoic, which went on to run in the Ultima Handicap Chase, finishing ninth.

There is still some limited availability in the Paddock Restaurant which can be booked through the office on 01273 890383. It is the perfect way to join all at Plumpton in January, with a three course meal, a table for the day, entrance badge, racecard and a great all round view.

Plumpton’s Easter Festival follows on Easter Sunday April 21 and Easter Monday April 22 and is the pinnacle of the season for Plumpton, a two day bonanza on Easter Sunday, featuring the Sussex Champion Hurdle (Sunday) and Sussex Champion Chase (Monday), both worth £50,000 and ensuring some quality horses will be taking part.

Plumpton offers top racing action and a chance view the horses at close quarters                          Photo: Jeannie Knight

Elsewhere it is a day for all the family with children 17 or under going racing free.There will be a variety of entertainment, music and activities, and, as usual, a great atmosphere at this popular racecourse. Tickets are available now, and the Paddock Restaurant and private suites are selling fast, so do ensure you book now to avoid disappointment.

Boxes at Plumpton are great value for money packages, with amazing service and spectacular views of the home straight, winning post and South Downs. With a range of packages starting at £80 there is something for everyone, whether it be work related or for friends and family.

To book or for more information, please call the racecourse office on 01273 890383 or email:

England v France in arena polo

This year’s Playnation Arena Polo Test Match on Saturday March 2 will see the Flannels England team play France for the first time at Hickstead.

Both teams will be aiming to pick up the Bryan Morrison Trophy, which is presented to the winners of the annual Test Match held at the All England Polo Club. England has an excellent record in this fixture, winning all but one of the matches since the first Test Match was held at Hickstead in 2008.

Fast action by England team in a previous match

“We’re delighted to once again be chosen to host the Hurlingham Polo Association’s annual international test match, and we are very grateful to Playnation for coming on board as title sponsors of this match”, said AEPC Chairman John Bunn.

A full day of polo gets underway with the 12-Goal Challenge at 11.30am, followed by the Test Match at 1.30pm. The Polo Clubhouse will be open from 10.30am onwards, serving a range of food and drinks.

Admission costs just £5, and parking is free. Spectators also have the option of upgrading to the post-match luncheon, which is held in the Al Shira’aa Suite overlooking the International Arena. Tickets for the luncheon cost £49.50 each.

In Arena Polo, there are only three members per team instead of four. The pitch is smaller, the ball is larger and softer, and shots can be played off the boards of the arena, making it an exciting game to watch. The All England Polo Club has fixtures nearly every weekend from October to March, while lessons, livery and pony hire are also available.

Tickets are available at the gate or can be purchased online in advance from


London’s 2019 Polo in the Park

London’s first polo event of the summer season returns to Hurlingham Park, Fulham to host its tenth birthday. Kicking off the change in seasons with an ultimate three-day summer celebration, Chestertons Polo in the Park takes over the capital’s social calendar on June 7-9 2019.

Limited ‘Early Bird’ tickets have now been released with new prices in celebration of the event’s tenth birthday. Chestertons Polo in the Park will reward the keenest ticket buyers with £10 off. Group bookings of 10 tickets but only pay for 9 and finally, to celebrate the event’s 10th birthday, children 10 and under are now FREE. Tickets available now via

One of the biggest social sporting events of the summer, Chestertons Polo in the Park is one of the largest and most popular polo tournaments in Europe combining world-class sport in the perfect setting of sunny champagne gardens with fantastic food and music.

The three-day sporting spectacle has firmly established itself as one of the most anticipated and sought after events in South West London. Perfect for polo fanatics and social enthusiasts in equal measure, the rules have been uniquely simplified so that newcomers will be able to follow the fast and furious polo without needing any prior knowledge of the game.

International Day, Friday June 7, is set to be an action-packed opening day featuring the Flannels England Polo Team as they take to the hallowed turf against a rival country in a thrilling international match to kick start the tournament.

Ladies Day presented by Lancaster, Saturday June 8, provides the perfect excuse to dress up and enjoy a day out with your closest friends, watching quality sporting action while sipping champagne in the sun.

Finals Family Day, Sunday June 9, rounds off the weekend with a world-class finale match to crown the tournament champions. A day for all the family where parents can watch on from London’s best cocktail bars or Champagne Lanson garden while the children are entertained at the Little Hooves Kids Club and stampede onto the Sharky & George Pitch Invasion.

Over the course of three days, teams representing six different cities from around the world will be taking part in the hotly contested event.

There will be plenty more to see and do all weekend with the Grazing Paddock hosting top restaurants and delicious street food, the Champagne Lanson Garden returns alongside the iconic Mahiki pineapples, Slingsby Cocktail Bar and Fever-Tree Garden. Splash out in the Luxury Shopping Village housing, and on Sunday bring the whole family to enjoy  Little Hooves Kids Club and Sharky & George Pitch Invasion.

For more information and to book tickets

Moorcroft continues its outstanding work

Moorcroft Racehorse Welfare Centre at Slinfold in West Sussex is continuing its outstanding work, training former racehorses to go on to a bright future outside racing itself.

This registered charity’s mission is to re-school and rehabilitate former racehorses that have been gifted to it, so that they can have a real chance at a second career.

Thanks to the expertise of highly qualified centre manager, Mary Frances and her hard-working, caring team of girls at the yard, this thriving charity continues to operate to the highest standards. It also has a new team of supportive trustees, familiar with its work, to take it forward into the future

Moorcroft enables more than 40 ex-racehorses a year to be re-homed after after they have been skilfully been retrained, so that they can to caring and suitable people and enjoy active lives outside racing.

A transformed and retrained Goodtime Boy in a past long-reining demonstration at Moorcroft
Photo: Mark Beaumont

This flourishing charity consistently re-homes these horses each year after they have been re-trained for a life after racing.

As a result of generous legacies and donations from its supporters, Moorcroft has been able to bring its facilities up to a very high standard, and has built an indoor school, a hay storage barn, replaced its twenty year old horsebox with a three horse Betfair sponsored box, and work on a new gallery will soon be completed and unveiled.

A BHS Stage 2 Stable Management Course is being held at the Centre.  For more details contact Mary on 07929 666408 or email to book your place.

British 2019 dressage bronze championships

British Dressage has announced three host venues for this year’s Bronze Championships, Summer Music Championships and Nettex Associated Championships.

The Nettex Associated Championships, a unique series of ten title opportunities for horses of all shapes and sizes, is set to be bigger and better than ever with the breeds combining to make two show-stopping festivals.

The first of these will take place from October 31 –  November 3 at Bury Farm Equestrian Village, Buckingham, and will incorporate Championships for Draught, GB PRE, Lusitano, British Native Ponies, traditional gypsy cobs and Arab horses. The second Associated Championship fixture will be hosted by Leicestershire venue Vale View EC and will provide the setting for CHAPS, RoR, Thoroughbred and Veteran Horse and Rider combinations to battle for the accolades.

Returning after a successful debut year, the Bronze and Summer Music Championships has a new home for 2019 in premier venue, Sheepgate Equestrian Centre in Lincolnshire.

Dressage at Sheepgate Equestrian Centre , which will host the 2019 Bronze and  Summer Music dressgage championships.  Photo: courtesy of Sheepgate  Equestrian

The team at Sheepgate are no strangers to the big occasion, as hosts to the annual BD Youth Under 25s Championships, Sheepgate Premier League as well as an Area Festival, the Bronze and Music Championships promise to be well worth the journey.

Date Championships Venue
31 October – 3 November Associated Championships (1)
Inc. Draught, GB PRE, Lusitano, Native Pony, TGCA, Arab horse
Bury Farm, Buckinghamshire
7 – 10 November Associated Championships (2)
Inc. CHAPS, ROR, Thoroughbred, Veteran horse and rider
Vale View EC,
Date to be confirmed


Bronze and Summer Music Sheepgate EC,

The Nettex Associated Championships will come together to form two celebrations of all breeds. The ten-strong championship series has grown steadily in number and gone from strength to strength with the valued support of title sponsor Nettex and proven Championship venues Bury Farm and Vale View EC are on board as hosts.

Sarah Payne’s team at Sheepgate EC is renowned for hosting major events and the Bronze and Music Championships will flourish under their care.

She said: “Both myself and the Sports Operations team have thanked all venues involved in the tender process and offered congratulations to the three successful show centres. We are very much looking forward to the year ahead.”