Hickstead celebration season tickets on sale now

Hickstead is back with a bang as tickets go on sale for 2022 celebration season .The Box Office for Hickstead’s international shows has opened, with the organisers looking forward to a full return to competition for next summer.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of both the Derby Meeting and the five-star Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Great Britain for two years running. But now, following the return of crowds at large sporting events, the organisers are excited to announce that their premier fixtures will be running as usual.

Action Down the Derby Bank will thrill the crowds


“The past two years have been incredibly challenging, with our main events being cancelled,” says Hickstead’s executive director, Lizzie Bunn. “We were fortunate that we could run some events behind closed doors or in a reduced format, but we did miss our large-scale shows and especially our iconic classes. Now we are busy planning a spectacular return for both our international fixtures, starting off with the celebrations of the 60th running of the Al Shira’aa Derby.”

The Hickstead Derby, which has been sponsored by Al Shira’aa since 2017, is one of the oldest and most famous classes in showjumping. Many of the biggest names in the sport have won this class, including four-time winners Eddie Macken, Harvey Smith, William Funnell and Michael and John Whitaker. The most recent winner was Ireland’s Mikey Pender, who was just 19 years old and making his Derby debut when winning in 2019.

“The Al Shira’aa Derby is our busiest day of the year, with crowds flocking here to West Sussex to see who can conquer the fearsome course and be added to the roll call of champions,” says Lizzie. “This year will be the 60th running of the class, and we can’t wait to see who will lift the trophy in this important year.”

With few events running in 2020 and restrictions still applying last summer, it was decided to postpone the 60th running of the Derby until 2022. “It’s one class that people love to watch in person, and a full and enthusiastic crowd is part of what makes the Al Shira’aa Derby special,” Lizzie adds. “After a two-year hiatus we hope showjumping fans will be back in their droves for the return of the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting, which runs from 23 – 26 June.”

The following month Hickstead will welcome the return of five-star international competition with the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup at the Longines Royal International Horse Show (26-31 July).

“The Royal International includes some of the most prestigious classes anywhere in the world, including the Longines King George V Gold Cup and the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Great Britain, in which only the most elite riders take part,” says Lizzie. “It’s been two years since we’ve run these classes and every equestrian fan will be looking forward to them being back in their usual place in the showjumping calendar.”

With championship showing classes, a myriad of equestrian disciplines in action, a large shopping village, fun for all the family and a host of options for bars, restaurants and dining, Hickstead’s international shows are among the sporting and social highlights of the British summer season.

To encourage spectators to make the trip to the All England Jumping Course, an early bird discount of 10% applies to all tickets bought online. Under-15s attend free of charge every day of the season except Al Shira’aa Derby Day (when booked in advance), while general admission is free for everyone on Thursday 23 June.

Visit www.hickstead.co.uk to book.  

Plumpton racing resumes on December 13.

Plumpton is currently in the middle of a short fixture break. with its next raceday not until December 13, and our team are hard at work preparing the facilities for the Festive period.

A spokesman for plumpton said: “We have three fixtures in 20 days, so there’s plenty of opportunity to enjoy a day at the races over the Xmas holidays. The last of those fixtures will play host to the 2022 edition of the Sky Sports Racing Sussex National, which always generates a competitive field and a great atmosphere.

“Like all of our other feature races last year, we didn’t have the added buzz of the Plumpton faithful cheering the winner home and we can’t wait for the ‘normal’ roars to return on January 2.

“Talking of normal, we are delighted that the Sussex National will return to its full prize-money level this season. Due to the pandemic, we had to significantly cut the funds for last maximum prize-money level for a Class 3 Handicap Steeplechase.

“Later in the season our Easter feature contests – the Sussex Champion Chase and Sussex Champion Hurdle – are also returning to their pre-pandemic prize-money pots, with £50k up for grabs in each contest.

“Back to the Sussex National though and preparations are already underway on the track to provide the optimum conditions for the maximum field size of 18. The 3m4½f is a proper test for the horses – who have to jump 20 fences in the process – and the Oliver Sherwood-trained Seaston Spirit put in a game performance to take out the 2021 edition under Aidan Coleman. For more on the history of the Sussex National, visit our event page by clicking here

“We hope you can join us for this season’s renewal, with tickets available in advance for £20 and £17 for groups of 10 or more. 


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Plumpton Form Update
Now four meetings into our 2021/22 season, we take a look at some of our winners from previous racedays and see how they have fared since.
Glory And Fortune
Those who came to our first meeting of the season on September 19th may remember the Tom Lacey-trained Glory And Fortune (pictured above) running out an impressive four-and-three-quarter-length winner of the feature Class 3 Handicap Hurdle. He followed that up by landing the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las, winning £26,000 in the process, before taking his chance in the Grade 3 Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham. Sent off at 14/1, Glory And Fortune ran a solid race in finishing 6th, beaten 10 lengths by the winner West Cork. He is set to appear next in the 1.50 at Newbury on Saturday.
Impulsive One
Another to impress on our opening fixture of the season was three-year-old Impulsive One, who brushed aside his rivals in the Juvenile Hurdle to win by 12 lengths for Nicky Henderson. He put in a similar performance at Huntingdon next time, winning by 10 lengths, before finished second to Knight Salute at Kempton. Despite losing his unbeaten tag over hurdles that day, he looks one to keep an eye on in the juvenile division this season. 
Up The Straight
Sussex trainer Richard Rowe has a smart horse in Up The Straight, who landed the Class 3 Novices’ Chase on the Bob Champion Cancer Trust Raceday last month. He picked up some black type last season when finishing runner-up in a Listed contest at Sandown and impressed on his seasonal appearance, winning by 14 lengths under Niall Houlihan. Rowe then chanced his arm in the Grade 3 Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham, but Up The Straight could only finish 14th behind winner Midnight Shadow. 
Annual Invictus
Despite only being a six-year-old, Annual Invictus is becoming a familiar runner here at Plumpton having won on three of his four visits. The latest of which was in out first Cheltenham Bonus Series qualifier of the season, where he ran out a convincing eight-length winner over Dino Velvet.

Now rated 144, Annual Invictus has plenty of good races in front of him for the rest of the season and we await his next outing, with trainer Chris Gordon possibly eying a Graded contest at Ascot before Christmas.

We wish him well and hope he lines up at Cheltenham in March!

Plumpton has three more racedays before Christmas

PLUMPTON has thanked everyone who came along to its fourth race meeting of the season on Monday. Another great atmosphere was generated by the Plumpton faithful and we hope you all had a great day out!

You wouldn’t believe it from the ground conditions in the UK at the moment but Christmas is fast approaching and we have three racedays for you to enjoy within as many weeks. 
The festive action started twelve days from Christmas with our Goodwin Racing Christmas Raceday on Monday December 13.

 Away from the action on the track, Plumpton has a wide range of festivities on offer for all those wanting to get into the Christmas spirit.

Expect competitive racing at Plumpton’s seasonal meetings Photo: Jeannie Knight

The first 250 racegoers through the door will receive a free mince pie, glass of mulled wine and a Santa hat. We also have a live band playing all your favourite Christmas songs in the Paddock Bar and Christmas jumpers are actively encouraged! 

Following the 13th, we have our Festive Fun Raceday on December 21 before we celebrate the New Year with our Sky Sports Sussex National Raceday on January 2. 

Hopefully you can join Plumpton for some or all of its festive meetings – Grandstand & Paddock tickets for the 13th and 21st December are available to buy in advance for £16 individually and £14 for groups of 10 or more.

For the Sussex National Raceday, tickets are £20 individually and £17 for groups of 10+

Buy your tickets early to avoid disappointment.


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Festive Hospitality
Our hospitality options over the Xmas period have been selling fast and as such we have no remaining availability in our restaurants or private boxes for the Christmas Raceday on December 13. However, there is still space to join us in our trackside Marquee Restaurant on December 21 and January 2.

 For £70 per-person you can enjoy a three-course set menu, welcome drink, complimentary racecard, admission and private table for the day. The restaurant, pictured above, is situated beside the final fence and is a great option for those wanting to get up close and personal to the action.

For anyone interested in a more private fine-dining experience, Plumpton has one remaining hospitality box available for December 21st and January 2. These hospitality boxes are positioned overlooking the winning post and have their own private balcony for you to enjoy the action on the track. Too see the package options for our hospitality suites, click here.

For further information, please call the racecourse office on 01273 890383. We encourage you to book now to avoid disappointment.

Don’t miss outstanding racedays at Plumpton

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Sky Sports Racing November Raceday – Monday November 15

The November Meeting at Cheltenham is always a telltale sign that National Hunt racing is hitting full stride for the season and following three days of high-class action at Prestbury Park beginning tomorrow, attention turns to Plumpton’s Sky Sports Racing November Raceday on Monday. 

Plumpton has received 100 entries for the seven-race card which features the first qualifying race of this season’s Cheltenham Bonus Series – a Novices’ Handicap Chase run over 2m 3½f (1.15pm).

The winner will qualify for a £50k bonus should they go on to win any steeplechase at the Cheltenham Festival in March 2022. 

The track has seen some impressive Bonus Race winners at its November Raceday in recent years – including Mister Malarky (2018), Benatar (2017 – pictured above), Baron Alco (2016) and Uxizandre (2013) – and hopefully all roads will lead to Cheltenham for this year’s victor!

Eight horses have been entered in the race, including Gary Moore’s exciting prospect Nassalam and recent Cheltenham winner Annual InvicGates open at 10.45am with the first race at 12.45pm and there’s still time to join us – advanced tickets are available for £16 until midnight on Sunday and on the day tickets can be bought for £18. Plumpton hope to see you then!

CHRISTMAS AT PLUMPTON

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This year Plumpton has your Christmas period covered with three racedays in as many weeks giving you plenty of opportunity to celebrate with us. Our Goodwin Racing Christmas Raceday on Monday 13th December kicks off the action, closely followed by the Festive Fun Raceday on Tuesday 21st December. There will be a range of festivities on site for each fixture, including free mince pies, mulled wine and Santa hats for the first 250 racegoers through the gates, plus a live band playing all your favourite Xmas songs.

For something to look forward to post-Christmas, our ever-popular Sky Sports Sussex National meeting wraps up the festive action on Sunday 2nd January.
For our Grandstand & Paddock enclosure, we offer discounted tickets for groups of 10 or more that purchase in advance. Prices start at £14 for our December racedays and £17 for the Sussex National.

Hospitality packages for the Christmas period have proved popular and both our restaurants are now sold out for the 13th, although we do have one suite remaining. There is also just one suite remaining for both the 21st December and 2nd January alongside some very limited Marquee Restaurant availability, so please do book now to avoid disappointment!

For any other hospitality enquiries, contact Molly Taylor on molly@plumptonracecourse.co.uk or call our racecourse office on 01273 890383.


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Did You Know: Monday will mark 56 years to the day since Bob Turnell’s Drinny’s Double, winner of back-to-back editions of the Champion Chase at Cheltenham in 1967 and 1968, won the Beacon Novices Chase here at Plumpton.
Winning jockey Frank Nash (pictured aboard Drinny’s Double above) had been concussed at Newton Abbott the day before his second Champion Chase win but went on to ride at Cheltenham in the absence of stringent health and safety rules at the time.

Plumpton has more competitive racing action in store

PLUMPTON Racecourse hopes for more competitive racing action on Monday next week when there is a seven-race card , including the return of the first qualifying race of the Cheltenham Festival Bonus Series we run each season, which is the feature race of the day.

Expect highly competitive racing at Plumpton Photo: Jeannie Knight

The contest is over 2m 3½f  and is run as a Novices’ Handicap Chase. The winner will qualify for a £50k bonus should they go on to win any steeplechase at the Cheltenham Festival in March 2022.

So far Voy Por Ustedes, winner of the Arkle in 2006, is the only horse to land the bonus, however plenty of high-class novices have won a Plumpton qualifier in recent years. These include Top Notch, Baron Alco, Lisp, Kalashnikov and Ok Corral.

Plumpton is looking forward to seeing more future stars in this year’s series. Gates open at 10.45am with the first race at 12.45pm.

Advanced tickets are available for £16, discounted to £14 for groups of 10 or more, and on the day tickets can be bought at the gate for £18. Plumpton hopes to see you then!

2021 Gold Cup final at Cowdray Park

With persistent rain, looming dark clouds and even the threat of thunder and lighting, the conditions were testy for the Final of the 2021 Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship on Sunday July 25 at Cowdray Park Polo Club.

Unperturbed by the wet weather, enthusiastic spectators sheltering under a canopy of umbrellas along the side-lines, looked eagerly on as Harald Link’s Thai Polo NP and H.H. Sheikha Maitha’s UAE Polo Team battled it out for the prestigious title. Leading in the early stages of the game, Thai Polo NP effectively managed their lead to never trail in the game and emerged as the champions, defeating UAE Polo Team 9-7 to raise the coveted Gold Cup. 

Gold Cup Winners Thai Polo NP celebrate success

The inclement weather did nothing to curb the excitement of the day as spectators embraced the rain and flocked to the beautiful Lawns Polo Grounds to picnic by the pitch with family and friends, peruse the shops in the luxury retail village, which included tournament Official Apparel Partner U.S. Polo Assn, sip glasses of Nyetimber English Sparkling Wine, listen to live music on the bandstand, and enjoy The Naked Food Company’s delectable seafood platters and lobster rolls in the EFG Lawns Enclosure. 

A competitive match under consistent showers left Thai Polo NP and UAE Polo Team battling in open play where the balanced attack of Thai Polo NP proved to be a winning factor. All four players found the scoreboard along with six assists on nine field goals as Thai Polo NP scored all nine of their goals from the field.

Led by three goals and three assists from Nico Pieres, Thai Polo NP took the lead and never looked back against the solid UAE Polo Team. Holding Polito Pieres scoreless, Thai Polo NP’s defence helped guide them to victory, despite the best efforts of Tomas Panelo and Tomas Beresford who combined for all seven of their team’s goals. Outshooting UAE Polo Team 22-5 throughout the game, Thai Polo NP overcame the rain to claim the hard-fought tournament victory.  

Two minutes into the game, Thai Polo NP opened the scoring after Ned Hine left the ball for Harper and he skilfully finished the goal with a nearside neck shot. Heavily outshooting UAE Polo Team 7-0 in the first chukka, Thai Polo NP increased their lead to two after Nico Pieres outran Beresford and knocked the ball out of the air to end the chukka ahead 2-0.

Displaying a balanced attack, Thai Polo NP scored their third consecutive goal to begin the game, this time off the mallet of Ned Hine, as UAE Polo Team was left with the challenge of playing from behind. Rain forced a temporary break in play, however the Final went on with UAE Polo Team ending their scoreless drought on a Penalty 4 conversion for Beresford. Finding momentum at the start of the third chukka, a pass from Polito Pieres was converted by Tomas Panelo to bring their team within one, but Thai Polo NP provided a significant response as 15-year-old Louis Hine scored to get all four Thai Polo NP players on the scoresheet and end the first half with a 5-2 advantage.  

The conditions impacted the scoring throughout the game as field goals proved to be difficult to achieve, however after the halftime break, both Thai Polo NP and UAE Polo Team produced offense in open play. Trading goals back and forth, Thai Polo NP was led by the young Hine brothers, Louis and Ned, contributing one goal each in the fourth chukka, while UAE Polo Team relied on two goals from Beresford on consecutive plays to remain trailing by three.

Making a push for the victory, Louis Hine scored on the first play of the fifth chukka, hitting a backhand through the goal off a pass from Nico Pieres. Generating a goal of his own, Pieres left Thai Polo NP with a four-goal advantage and just one chukka between them and the tournament title. As the rain continued to fall, UAE Polo Team inched closer with a goal from Panelo, but Thai Polo NP saw the Jaeger-LeCoultre clock tick down and the trophy come within reach. A late penalty goal from Beresford ended the game as Thai Polo NP began their celebration, capturing the 9-7 victory and the Gold Cup for the British Open Championship.  

Emotional scenes ensued in the Thai Polo NP team tent for the Hine, Harper and Pieres families. The young Hine brothers were embraced by proud parents, whilst James Harper and family celebrated his second Gold Cup victory, and Nico Pieres savoured the success of winning his first ever British Open. 

The Hon Emily Pearson, daughter of Lord Cowdray, presented the golden trophy to Thai Polo NP Captain, Nico Pieres, who also stepped down from the podium to receive the Most Valuable Player prize from U.S. Polo Assn. representative, Boo Jalil of Brand Machine. Nine-year-old Argentine mare, Open Lourdes (Virgin x Sportivo), played and owned by Nico Pieres, was awarded the Best Playing Pony rug, presented by the Hon Mrs Lila Pearson. Celebrations continued into the evening with music and dancing in the EFG Lawns Enclosure and the Goalmouth Mouth as DJ Simon Horn took to the decks.  

NAF Five Star Bronze League Qualifier at Felbridge

With the fastest triple clear of the class, Hannah Smith from Crawley, West Sussex claimed first place in the NAF Five Star Bronze League Qualifier which took place at the Felbridge Showground on Saturday.

Hannah Smith and Pauldaries Mysteque winning the NAF Five Star Bronze League Qualifier at Felbridge Showground
[PHOTO: Felbridge Photography]
 

Riding Samantha Baker’s 17 year-old mare Pauldaries Mysteque, Hannah was one of ten riders to take up a spot in the final jump off from a starting field of sixty combinations.

With her eyes firmly on the red rosette, Hannah was able to produce the winning triple clear in 34.53 seconds, just 0.08 of a second faster than her closest rival.

NAF Five Star Bronze League Qualifier

1st Hannah Smith & Pauldaries Mysteque – 0/0/0 – 34.53 seconds

2nd Louise McDonald & Fanta-astic – 0/0/0 – 34.61 seconds

3rd Elizabeth East & Kennedy 55 – 0/0/0 – 40.25 seconds

Plumpton Racing to restart

Competitive racing at Plumpton

RACING is about to restart at Plumpton following an announcement today saying: “It feels like we have gone from feast to famine at the course. We had a gluttony of fixtures in March and April to having to wait a month for our finals.

“However it is finally here and we have 69 runners over eight races ( there was a division in the 3m handicap hurdle) and taking place on groudnd described as Good, Good to Firm in places. We are due a fair bit of rain on Saturday morning so we hope this will ease the going a tad. We will have to wait and see what we get- the for4ecast is 8-11mm approximately

“We’ve been watering since March and recorded only 4.5mm of rain in April, the lowest rainfall in April we have had since our records began in 1997. For perspective, the average for April is 61mm and in 2012 we had 149.5mm!!

We’ve averaged 55 runners a fixture (not including Sunday’s 69 decs), which is great going as in just 2016/17 it was an average of 47 so has steadily been climbing and so all credit to the groundstaff team for this!

“The 2020/21 season will have welcomed an aggregate attendance of 2,077 people thus far, and only two days with any paying spectators – both in December 2020. Again for perspective, the 2018/19 season welcomed 33,561 with just one abandonment  (2019/20 had two abandonments and then we lost 5 fixtures to COVID so isn’t comparable).

“It has been incredibly odd and not something we ever wish to repeat, so we very much hope to have you with us and restriction free for Sunday 19th September 2021.

“Unfortunately though, Sunday will mark the end of Mark Cornford’s tenure here as Clerk of the Course . He’s been a Plumpton employee here for over 40 years and a darn good one – liked and respected by colleagues, professionals and racegoers alike for the entire time.

“He will be sorely missed but will always be welcome and we plan to honour his tenure in September when we can do so more appropriately. Our new Clerk Marcus Waters has been with us for the entirety of the 2020/21 season and so he will be well ready for September and hopefully you’ll get a chance to meet him at a stable visit before the 2021/22 season.”

“Speaking of the 2021/22 season, we of course haven’t forgotten about you and/or getting you back and sorting the seasonal membership but with the full restrictions yet to be released and no sign of the 2022 fixture list being confirmed we can’t advise exactly what dates we have nor what reciprocals we can offer.

“Our sincere apologies for any inconvenience, but we certainly haven’t forgotten and will sort this as soon as we possibly can for you.

I”n the meantime, enjoy Sunday’s racing from afar and lets hope that this is the last one without you for a long, long time!”

Very Best Wishes,

Dan, Holly & Team

FLAT RACING TO RETURN TO BRIGHTON IN APRIL

Brighton racecourse has announced that the return of flat turf racing is just around the corner as the season gets underway at its sister track, Doncaster Racecourse, this Saturday with the UNIBET Lincoln weekend.

The first fixture at Brighton Racecourse takes place behind closed doors on Saturday April 17. Be sure to tune in on Sky Sports Racing to watch all the action live. Then racing returns for the public from May 17.

Top Flat Racing returns to Brighton Photo courtesy of Brighton Racecoure

A spokesperson said: “We now have tickets on sale for all of our fixtures taking place between May 17- September 30. Tickets have been very popular, be sure to get yours before they’re all gone!”

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.