Woman jailed on equine and animal welfare charges

Olveston farmer Susan Smith, 61, has been jailed this month, and banned from keeping all animals for life.  She had  been prosecuted for numerous animal welfare charges that dated back to 2015, including horses running in several herds.

Two people had already been jailed, and Smith was sentenced this month, relating to the case in which  investigators found livestock at Ingst Manor Farm in terrible conditions, surrounded by dead and dying animals.

Three of the horses were taken in by charity World Horse Welfare, which cared for them until they had been rehabilitated and were able to be sent to new and loving homes.

Susan Smith banned for keeping equines and farm animals for life. Cattle were also found dead and dying on her land. She was sent to prison this month.

Smith had arranged for Mark Downes, 51, to manage her farm in exchange for allowing him to keep his horses there. However, he neglected all the livestock, including cattle, pigs and sheep, as well as his own horses, so much that when the RSPCA arrived they found “a total animal welfare disaster”.

Downes was jailed in June 2018 for a total of 32 weeks and banned from keeping farm animals for life. Smith was sent to prison this month.

World Horse Welfare Field Officer Tony Evans described the situation they found, saying: “The situation with the horses was that they were running in several herds, with no clear fencing down there. There was indiscriminate breeding going on and the horses were running amok all around the farm.

“As well as the various carcasses that we found on the premises, the horses hadn’t been wormed, their feet hadn’t been attended to and some of them had weight issues as well.”

A multi-agency operation took place in 2015 to remove all the animals from the site to be cared for properly, with the RSPCA, Redwings, Horse World, The Donkey Sanctuary and World Horse Welfare all working alongside each other. World Horse Welfare Field Officer Tony described how the operation unfolded:

“On the day we went to remove them we had various charities there, including Redwings, Horse World, the RSPCA, and World Horse Welfare, so we could cope with the number of animals there. We were split up and working in our respective groups – some people were doing the equines, some were sorting out the cattle, and other people were looking after the pigs and the sheep.

“What we decided to do with the horses was to bring them in in their herds rather than try to separate them, so slowly, slowly we brought one herd in at a time. We had assistance from The Donkey Sanctuary with their lorries and were then able to transport the horses to a safe place.

“As a welfare organisation for us the best outcome would be that obviously the owners of these horses never get them back and never get to look after any other equines, so that we can take care of these horses and it doesn’t evolve once again into a large equine case.”

Five of the ponies were removed to World Horse Welfare’s Glenda Spooner Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre in Somerset. Sadly, two of them could not be rehabilitated and they had to be put to sleep.

Thankfully, the remaining three equines flourished with World Horse Welfare’s care and went on to be happily rehomed after being successfully rehabilitated.

To see video of the rescue of the horses, click on the link below.

Video here: https://youtu.be/UmiFWQiHMwA

British jockeys team performs well in Barbados

AN International Jockeys Challenge in Barbados this weekend saw the British team put in a fine performance, going under to Team Barbados only in the final stage.

Held at Garrison Savannah, the four-race event proved to be an extremely tight battle, decided only in the last race.

Team GB was captained by Jamie Spencer, with the remainder of the team consisting of Danny Tudhope, Luke Morris, Seamie Heffernan, Stevie Donohoe and Louis Steward.

British team captain Jamie Spencer Photo: John Simpson

Stevie Donohoe won the first race over 1570 metres, riding Provence, with Luke Morris runner-up on board Graceful. Fonohoe was thrilled to win his debut at Garrison, where he described the track as ‘much sharper than Chester’.

Jamie Spencer, on board Eyecatcher went to the front two furlongs from home in the 1100 metre second race but was passed at the post by local apprentice Eric Daniel on board Mischief Maker.

It was a very close contest and with only two races to go the two teams were level on points. Then Louis Steward brought his mount Sing Sing through to win.

Jockey Louis Steward
Photo: Jeannie Knight

This gave the British team a one-point advantage, but they were out-ridden by their opponents who were the first three past the post, with Rightontime, ridden by N’Rico Prescod winning the race.

Even so, the British team won two of the four races and Jamie Spencer praised his team, saying everyone played their parts, but the local jockeys deserved their victory.

Captain of Team Barbados, Rasheed Hughes, said his team had enjoyed competing against some of the world’s top riders. He added: ” We look forward to renewing the rivalry next year.”






Hickstead hosts top class arena polo

HICKSTEAD showground in Sussex is not only renowned for show jumping, but also hosts top class arena polo, which takes place there during winter.

The All England Polo Club was founded in 2006, and quickly became established as one of the premier Arena Polo venues in the country. It hosts tournaments throughout the winter season, including the International Arena Polo Test Match each March.

Tough competition between English player Jack Hyde (right) and Will Tankard USA in  a previous contest at Hickstead: Photo courtesy of  Russell Kirby 07711741769

USA 10-goaler Tommy Biddle, who came to Hickstead for the first time in 2014, instantly became one of Polo at Hickstead’s biggest supporters: “This is the best surface I have ever played on. Hickstead has the best arena in the world!”

Founder member Jack Kidd attributes this success to the huge surge in popularity of arena polo in recent years: “In the past ten years the science of arena polo has evolved to create the most passionate, gladiatorial, fast game that I have ever played.”

The difference between summer and winter Polo is akin to that of football and five-a-side football. Arena is played with three team members, using a larger and softer ball than traditional polo, and shots and angles can be played off the boarded sides of the arena.

It is an ideal way to bring on young horses or improve those that are too much of a handful on the bigger summer pitch.

Make sure you are in the crowd to experience one of the highlights of the global winter polo season, as England takes on an international rival in the hope of winning the Bryan Morrison Trophy.

Close action between the two teams at All England Polo Club, Hickstead Photo: Equestrian photographer John Periam 01243 584718

Head to Hickstead for an unbeatable winter day out, and enjoy a drink on the clubhouse viewing deck as you are treated to the spectacle of fierce, world-class polo action unfolding in the arena below you.

Another huge selling point of Arena is that it requires less horse power, thus eliminating the need for a large string of ponies. A club member could happily play with two ponies throughout the season, only having to rent an additional one or two for tournament days.

“The best way to understand Arena Polo is to experience it, after which players guarantee you will stop thinking of it as just a ‘winter fill in’ and grow to love it as a sport in its own right,” said a player.

For more information about Hickstead’s arena polo programme for the winter and spring seasons see https://www.hickstead.co.uk/polo




Rory is winner of Hickstead ‘s Roger Stack award

Working Hunter supremo Rory Gilsenan was the winner of this year’s Roger Stack Award at Hickstead.

An Oxfordshire-based show producer. Rory was announced as the recipient of the Roger Stack Award at Hickstead’s Showtime Ball  on  November 16.

The award is presented in honour of Hickstead’s former Showing director Roger Stack, who died in 2016, and is given in recognition of the standout showing performance of the season.

Rory was an extremely worthy winner of this year’s award, having completed the HOYS/Hickstead double by winning the Charles Owen Supreme Working Hunter title at the Longines Royal International Horse Show in July, while battling an aggressive brain tumour.

The popular Irishman had celebrated winning his first Working Hunter title at the Horse of the Year Show in October 2018, when his diagnosis came just a few weeks later. Following months of arduous chemotherapy treatment, Rory showed his tenacity by returning to the saddle in time to win the championship at Hickstead.

Following a period of remission, unfortunately the tumour returned and Rory has recently undergone another operation. Sadly, he was not well enough to attend the ball in person, but his close friend Lee Middleton from Equine America accepted the award on Rory’s behalf.

Rory Gilsenan, winner of Hickstead’s Roger Stack Award

“We cannot think of a more deserving winner of the Roger Stack Award than Rory, who spent five years working for Roger at the start of his career,” said Hickstead Director Lizzie Bunn. “Rory’s performance this summer with Atlantic Slim was pure perfection, especially considering how he beat the odds just to compete at Hickstead, let alone pick up one of the most coveted championship titles of all.”

Now in its fifth year, Hickstead’s annual Showtime Ball saw around 130 members of the showing community gather to celebrate the end of another successful season. Profits from the Ball are put towards improving the showing facilities at the showground, with a total of £9150 raised during the fundraising auction.

This year, a decision was made on the night to put the £2,000 proceeds from the raffle towards the #RootingforRory fund, which has been started to help Rory Gilsenan during his treatment.

Nick Gifford’s string is in fine form

Findon trainer Nick Gifford has his string in fine form at present at Downs Stables, where recent runners have been in peak condition.

Theo’s Charm, which  has always shown potential, put in an excellent performance at Lingfield . Running in the Class three handicap hurdle over two miles three furlongs, he tackled the heavy ground well.

Theo’s Charm following his good run, pictured at Downs Stables Findon with Nick and Ruth Gifford    Photo courtesy of Michael Harris

Ridden by Leighton Aspell, and owned  by Michael O’ Shea, he was carrying almost two stone more than the winner of the race. Nick Gifford said Theo’s Charm had benefited from a wind operation, enabling to finish his races well.

Nick added: ” One day soon hopefully he will get his head in front. He deserves to win as he is so honest. Head lad Andrew Tony Veale led up Theo’s Charm today and congratulations to all the connections.”

Paddys Poem with jockey James Davies following his Fakenham win    Photo: Downs Stables

Nick followed up with a fine victory, when homebred Paddy’s Poem, owned and  bred  by Mrs T Brown, won impressively at Fakenham, on his first run after a break.

Nick said:” He will improve for the experience. James Davies gave him a brilliant ride as always. His jumping got better the further he went. Congratulations to all the connections. Paddy’s Poem is ridden everyday at home by Vova and was led up by Vova too.”



Kent RDA group visits local care home

Chalkdown Riding for the Disabled Group in Staplehurst, Kent, has introduced a regular hack to their local nursing care home to visit the Abbotsleigh residents who enjoy meeting the riders and horses, to its weekly activities.

“The ride is about half a mile down a leafy country lane and along a long private driveway up to the home,” said Pauline Roestenburg, the group’s chairperson.

“At first the residents used to wave from the window each week when they saw us coming.  Now we have an arrangement where I call ahead to say the horses and riders are on their way so that some of the residents can come outside to stroke the horses and say ‘hello’, ” she added.

Abbotsleigh resident Mabel Finn from Chalkdown RDA strokes Finn Photo: Joanna Sale

Having witnessed the simple pleasure and joy that the horses can bring on their weekly visits, the group is planning to expand these activities.  Some recent sponsorship will now allow it to take a couple of the horses to other suitable nursing homes in the region over the summer next year.

RDA in the South East has 35 groups across Surrey, Sussex and Kent with more than 2,000 riders of all ages. They are able 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.

RDA has 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.

Liverpool International Horse Show will be spectacular

If you are a fan of top class show jumping, breath-taking dressage and great family entertainment, then what better way to end the year than a visit to the spectacular Liverpool International Horse Show.

The TheraPlate UK Liverpool International Horse Show returns to the M&S Bank Arena from December 28 – 31 2019.

Liverpool’s iconic equestrian spectacular features a huge line up of International horses and riders, unrivalled family entertainment alongside extensive luxury shopping, new premium food and drink outlets that will keep the champagne flowing until late!

In the arena, live music from ‘The Kings’ – featuring Mitchel Emms – The Voice finalist, will perform throughout, alongside the new exclusive act ‘Electric Storm’…a circus themed fusion of stunt horses, pyrotechnic dance show, aerial acrobats, and LED Trials bikes!

For 2019, general admission tickets can be upgraded with the NEW ‘Audience With’ sessions in the afternoon, or Champagne Reception, Coursewalk and Meet & Greet in the evening.

Celebrate the  New Year in extraordinary style with general admission, upgrade and VIP Packages available.

The tickets hotline  number is: 0344 8000 509


Good racing at Plumpton yesterday

PLUMPTON racegoers were rewarded by competitive jump racing yesterday afternoon, when a good crowd turned out for this popular raceday.

Plumpton offers top class jump racing
Photo: Jeannie Knight

The opening Novices Hurdle over two and a half miles had a popular winner, when trainer Chris Gordon sent out 2-1 joint favourite Go Whatever, ridden by Tom Cannon, to win comfortably by six lengths from runner up Fort Dennison.
Runner-up Fort Dennison trained by Tim Vaughan, with Alan Johns in the saddle,  had made the trip from Glamorgan for this race and ran well- while a stablemate secured a good victory later in the card.
Third place was claimed by the Gary Moore-trained Quloob, owned by Heart Of The South Racing.This five-year-old gelding, ridden by Jamie Moore finished five lengths adrift of the runner-up, but will come on for the experience.
Somerset trainer Jeremy Scott enjoyed a  when victory he saddled up six-year-old Champagne Court, 4-5 favourite, ridden by Nick Scholfield, to take the Novices’ Limited Handicap over two miles three furlongs.

Jockey Nick Scholfield with winner Champagne Court        Photo courtesy of Plumpton Racecourse

He got the better of Diable De Divola, trained by Gary Moore and ridden by son Joshua, which was unable to make ground on the winner from two out, but kept on for second place. In third spot was 9-2 second favourite, Mercy Mercy Me, trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by Harry Cobden.
The selling handicap hurdle attracted ten runners, but the field was decimated when two were pulled up and a third fell. But trainer Bernard Llewellyn of Bargoed, Wales, made the journey to  Plumpton pay off when he saddled up Flanagans Field to win this race.
The 11-year-old gelding, owned by the trainer, was well ridden by 5lb claimer Charlie Price.
Amateur rider Brodie Hampson rode a winner for Upper Lambourn trainer Archie Watson on  board French-bred Juge et Parti in the Amateur Riders Handicap Hurdle.
This was their second win on the trot with this horse, which impressed and handled the track well. The combination should go on to more successes .

Brodie Hampson with Juge et Parti trained at Lambourn by Archie Watts                                     Photo courtesy of Plumpton Racecourse

There was a good performance from Dunhallow Lad, trained in Somerset by Alan Jones and well-ridden by Tom O’ Brien to take the two miles three furlongs handicap chase. The seven -year-old gelding, owned by Burnham P&D Ltd stayed on well to win and there should be more to come.

Sussex-based trained Gary Moore secured a decent victory when he sent out seven-year-old Cheque En Blanc at 9-4, ridden by son Jamie, to win the three and a half mile chase in good style.  Fences are clearly the future for this horse.

Final race winner, Timely Gift, trained by Tim Vaughan with jockey Alan Johns and connections. Photo courtesy of Plumpton Racecourse.

The final race of the day, a three mile handicap hurdle, saw the trip from Glamorgan pay off for trainer Tim Vaughan. He sent out Timely Gift at 7-2, ridden by Alan Johns to win the last race- a three mile handicap hurdle- in good style. More victories should follow.

Plumpton’s next meeting is on Monday December 2, with a Festive Fun Raceday.



Don’t miss Fontwell Park’s festive fun fixture

FONTWELL Park racecourse is starting the countdown to Christmas and has planned an afternoon of Festive Jumps Racing on Tuesday December 10 to enable racegoers to get into the Christmas spirit.

The track’s popular Best Christmas Jumper competition will be held on this raceday, with a £500 prize for the winner.

This Fontwell Park race meeting will have plenty of festive fun

Don’t miss  this Festive Jumpers Raceday with six excellent National Hunt Races at the UK’s only figure of eight jumps track!  Book your tickets now

You could make your day even more enjoyable by entering Fontwell Park’s Festive Jumper Competition, giving you the chance to win this great cash prize.

Simply wear or create your best Christmas jumper and Fontwell Park’s spotters will select a winner on the day.

This racing fixture is perfect if you’re looking for something to do over the winter months, so book your tickets now for a great day at Fontwell Park.

Booking tickets in advance for this seasonal raceday will save £5 on the normal entry fee.

This is the ideal opportunity to enjoy a day out with all the family, with tickets starting from just £18- plus there is free entry for Under 18’s. Also there is plenty of entertainment for all ages including funfair rides.

Premier tickets sell out in advance, so book yours now. Contact Fontwell Park Racecourse on 01243 543335 or info@fontwellpark.co.uk

Southern National success at Fontwell Park


FONTWELL PARK RACECOURSE- the UK’s only figure of eight jumps track- hosted one of the most popular Jump Racedays in the county- The Mansionbet Sussex National, yesterday.

This is one of the biggest race days of the year at this popular racecourse, with  a unique figure-of-eight track. This feature race, a handicap chase, is a three mile and three furlongs test of endurance for both horse and jockey.

Seven runners were attracted for this year’s event, covering three miles and three furlongs on ground that was soft with heavy patches in places. The race, worth £12,913 to the winner, was a thriller this year, despite having only seven runners.

Sussex jockey Jamie Moore brought 9-2 shot One Of Us to victory, winning by just a neck. The seven-year-old, trained by Nick Williams at George Nympton in Devon, was always prominent in this race.

One Of Us , on the right., ridden by Jamie Moore and trained by Nick Williams, on the way to victory .
Photo courtesy of Fontwell Park.

Given an excellent ride by Jamie Moore,  One Of Us, jumped well and went clear before the last- and was all out on the line to beat runner-up Captain Cattistock ridden by Lorcan Williams and trained by Paul Nicholls, by just a neck.

Jamie Moore unsaddling the winner of the Southern National Photo: Fontwell P:ark Racecourse

Back in third place was 4-1 shot, The Two Amigos, a seven-year-old trained by permit holder Nicky Martin, who is based on Exmoor,  and ridden by Matt Griffiths. In fourth spot was 5-1 shot Shanroe Santos, trained by Lucy Wadham and ridden by Leighton Aspell.