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Stable worker at Aldbourne stud is finallist for the Godolphin Newcomer award


People like Josephine Saunders, who works at the Hillwood Stud in Aldbourne, are the backbone of the racing and bloodstock industries - the six thousand or so women and men who look after the horses at training yards and stud farms throughout the British Isles.

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Luke Harvey talks about riding, owning & training point-to-point horses - his love for the sport & its future

14-02-2018 Jake Exelby

Where do I start with Luke Harvey - the man who tweets as @LeglockLuke? Jockey, trainer, TV personality, comedian, bon viveur - all that and he's probably the best-known owner of point-to-pointers in Britain.  Luke lives at Kingston Lisle - just over the downs from Baydon.

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Emma Lavelle's young horses take centre stage as the jump season winds up the excitement


You would be forgiven, as you passed a string of racehorses in Ogbourne Maizey on its way to the gallops, for thinking that a polo pony had come along for, as it were, the ride.  That would almost certainly be Dissavril - a striking five year-old grey mare who is...

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Kalashnikov wins the Betfair Hurdle on Betfair Super Saturday at Newbury Racecourse - and Barbury Castle's Valdez is back


Despite some atrocious weather, there was a large crowd at Newbury Racecourse for Betfair Super Saturday (February 10).  They saw a great performance from the novice Kalashnikov to land the £155,000 Betfair Hurdle, Britain's richest handicap hurdle - they saw Altior cruise to victory - and they saw return of...

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Rescheduled date for Vine & Craven point-to-point at Barbury Racecourse


The Vine & Craven point-to-point meeting at Barbury Racecourse, originally due to take place last Sunday (February 11), has been rescheduled for Saturday, February 24.

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Famous five storm Newbury's Betfair Hurdle - champion trainer Nicky Henderson's bid for sixth win - then there's Altior


Nicky Henderson has trained five winners of Britain's most valuable hurdle race - Newbury Racecourse's Betfair Hurdle.  On Saturday (February 10) he's sending a team of five horses into the race in his bid for a sixth victory.

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Barbury International Horse Trials stays firmly on the Event Rider Masters' 2018 calendar


With the new eventing season just a few weeks away, the Event Rider Masters Series (ERM) has announced its 2018 calendar of six legs, which builds on last year's international expansion into mainland Europe by including a new leg in Belgium.

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She's the official - and ace - photographer for Newbury Racecourse - known generally as 'Smiler'


Arriving at a race meeting last Saturday, braving some torrential rain and clouds hovering low on the nearby hills, a young photographer tweeted: "I've been coming here since 2011 and working here since 2014 and I still have to pinch myself every time I arrive...#LuckyGirl."  

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Eventing: Event Rider Masters looking for three consultants for 2018 season


Event Rider Masters who run the Barbury International Horse Trials and have brought new their competition to eventing in Britain and in Europe, are looking for applicants for three consultants for the 2018 season.

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Newbury Racecourse: 41 still going for the £155,000 Betfair Hurdle on Betfair Super Saturday


A total of 41 horses remain on course for the £155,000 Betfair Hurdle, following the January 23 scratchings deadline.  It is Britain's richest handicap hurdle and it's run at Newbury Racecourse on February 10 as part of Betfair Super Saturday.

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Beckhampton trainer Roger Charlton cheered by Time Test win at Royal Ascot

In the colours of owner Khalid Abdullah, with Frankie Dettori in sparkling form and the ground right, Time Test trained at Beckhampton by Roger Charlton ran away with the Group Three Tercentenary Stakes on Royal Ascot's Gold Cup day.

The race turned into a battle between Marlborough trainers.

Sent off as favourite for the race, Dettori took Time Test from midfield to beat the Queen's horse Peacock by three and a quarter lengths.    Peacock is trained by Marlborough trainer Richard Hannon and was ridden by local jockey Richard Hughes.

After the race Dettori said the three-tear-old Time Test felt like a Group One horse.

In the run-up to Royal Ascot, Roger Charlton had the disappointment of finding one of his star horses Al Kazeem had suffered an injury and could not run in this week's Prince of Wales's Stakes.  The seven-year-old suffered an injury when winning the prestigious Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh last month - by a neck.

Al Kazeem was retired to stud at the end of the 2013 season, but proved sub-fertile and returned to racing the following year.   The Tattersalls Gold Cup won his owner €155,000.

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The first day of Royal Ascot 2015 - a broadcaster's eye view of the horses...and a hat

The morning view from Sasha's 'office' - right above the finish The morning view from Sasha's 'office' - right above the finish Sasha Thorbek-Hooper takes time off from her day-job at Greatwood to broadcast from Royal Ascot for BBC Radio Berkshire:

As day one of Royal Ascot 2015 draws to a close, we realise sadly that the Sole Power dream has come to an end.  A third consecutive win in the Group 1 King's Stand Stakes was dashed by the 20-1 outsider Goldream trained in Newmarket by Robert Cowell and partnered to success by the ecstatic Martin Harley - the jockey's first ever Royal Ascot win.

No so subtle - but from the look of the lady on her right she might be wearing trainersNo so subtle - but from the look of the lady on her right she might be wearing trainersFrankie's 50th Ascot winner is within a hair's breadth, but we will have to wait until tomorrow to see if he is able to treat his adoring and waiting public with another of his legendary 'Frankie Flying Dismounts'.

The stand out horse of the day was the magnificent Gleneagles - adding the Group 1 feature race St James's Palace Stakes to his already impressive booty - including the Irish and English 2000 Guineas.

BBC Radio Berkshire Sports Editor Tim Dellor gets a word with Damian LewisBBC Radio Berkshire Sports Editor Tim Dellor gets a word with Damian LewisAs expected a plethora of celebrities swept through the gates including Ant & Dec and 'A Lister' Damian Lewis.

But as ever it was the Queen who stole the show looking stunning in a fuchsia dress coat over a white and floral dress.

The weather looks set fair for the rest of the week and we will be hoping for some Wiltshire success - the Hannon/Hughes combo are pretty buoyant about their runner tomorrow: Ivawood running in the opener - The Jersey Stakes - against the Queen's Ring of Truth.

My best tip for the day is to swap the heels for flats!

Don't look now Dec, but there's lady behind you in flats!Don't look now Dec, but there's lady behind you in flats!

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Ogbourne Maizey's Bonita Racing Stables for sale as Peter Makin decides to retire

Bonita stables - as shown on the Windsor Clive International websiteBonita stables - as shown on the Windsor Clive International websitePeter Makin's Bonita training yard at Ogbourne Maizey is up for sale following the trainer's decision to retire in November. He has been training for 48 years and has trained 780 winners - he is 71.

Bonita racehorse training centre has some of the finest gallops in the country - 154 private acres of them. With 54 boxes in two yards, two houses, two flats, a cottage, a staff hostel and 45 acres of paddocks, the agents are asking for offers "in the region of £3,000,000".

Explaining his decision to the Racing Post, Makin said: "I still love being with the horses on top of the downs every morning, but I find driving to the likes of Wolverhampton, Nottingham and Lingfield too tiring these days, which, at the age of 71, is probably something I must accept."

He added: "The time is right for me now. I feel privileged to have been involved in the sport for such a time. If I don't retire this season I'd be tempted to make it 50 years, by which time I'll be 73."

Makin sent out many winners of group races and high class handicaps from Bonita including the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot twice, the Stewards Cup at Goodwood and the Magnet Cup at York.

Bonita was set up by George Edwardes, the theatrical impresario in the 1890s. Former trainers there include the Hartigan brothers, Sir Gordon Richards and the leading national hunt trainer Bob Turnell who used the gallops and facilities to train many winners including the Gold Cup and the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham. Bonita has been owned by only two families in the last 120 years.

One of Makin's most successful horses was Elbio who won Ascot's King's Stand Stakes twice - and Makin thinks Elbio would have made it a hat-trick if there had not been interference during that third race.

Full details of the sale can be found on the Windsor Clive International website.

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The Willis Brothers of Malmesbury to build Rio Olympics cross country course

Willis Brothers team repairing an obstacle at Barbury Castler Horse Trials 2014Willis Brothers team repairing an obstacle at Barbury Castler Horse Trials 2014The Willis Brothers have been selected to build the cross country course for the eventing competition at the Rio Olympics next year.

The family business based near Malmesbury have specialised for over 30 years in building fixed and portable cross country obstacles for eventing and steeplechase jumps and hurdle fences for the racing industry.

They build and maintain the St James's Place Barbury International Horse Trials cross country course - as well as courses for Badminton, Gatcombe Park and many other events large and small throughout the UK and the world.   

The Willis Brothers built cross country fences and courses for the Olympic Games in Barcelona (1992), Atlanta (1996) and in Sydney (2000) as well as the World Equestrian Games.

This is their first Olympic Games contract for sixteen years.  As Ashley Willis told Marlborough News Online: "It's an honour - it really is."

For many years the Brothers have sourced some of their most essential materials from Savernake Forest - by arrangement with the Forestry Commission they cut young birch brushwood which they use for jumps at Cheltenham and racecourses far wide.

Six members of the Willis team will go to Brazil in July to build the course for the Olympic test competition at two-star level.   That will stretch the family a bit as July sees the Barbury Castle Horse Trials - so some members of this long-standing family firm will be staying behind to make sure every goes to plan at Wiltshire's premier eventing competition.

The course is being designed by Pierre Michelet who designed the course for last summer's World Equestrian Games in Normandy.

The Rio Olympic eventing competition will take place between 6 and 9 August 2016.  But work has already started and they will soon start shipping fences out to Brazil.

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Night of Thunder wins the richest ever Lockinge Stakes at Newbury for Marlborough trainer Richard Hannon

IRichard Hannon receives his Lockinge trophyRichard Hannon receives his Lockinge trophyt was the first time Newbury Racecourse's Lockinge Day was sponsored by Al Shaqab - the major equestrian and training centre in Qatar.  And the card's prize money topped £750,000 making it Newbury's richest ever in the course's 110-year history.

The Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes  - with a total prize fund this year of £350,000 - was won by the Godolphin owned four-year-old colt Night of Thunder, trained at Richard Hannon's Marlborough stables and ridden by James Doyle.  

Second by a neck in the 15 horse field was another Hannon trained horse, Toormore ridden by champion jockey Richard Hughes, who is Hannon's stable jockey.

For Richard Hannon it was his second consecutive win in the Lockinge after Olympic Glory won the 2014 race: “We are delighted. Toormore has run a super race and Night Of Thunder looked to me that he was going to go and win very well and has probably just got tired after a long time off the track. I couldn’t be more pleased."

Night of Thunder was Godolphin's sixth Lockinge Stakes victory - a new record for the race. The race was watched by a crowd of 13,343 - up on last year's attendance.

Ryan Moore and Mrs Charlton on the podiumRyan Moore and Mrs Charlton on the podiumThe race before the Lockinge Stakes was the Al Zubarah London Gold Cup - won by another local trainer, Roger Charlton of Beckhampton.  Time Test was ridden by Ryan Moore who won five of the day's seven races - a spectacular achievement which enthralled the crowds.  His feat was said to be a 1,961.6/1 chance - if anyone had thought to lay a bet with the bookies on the number of his winning rides.

Roger Charlton reported on his website: "Time Test behaved beautifully in the prelims and the work that had been done on away days at other racecourses appeared to help him. They went slowly, as the time suggested and Time Test sat at the rear of the field. Ryan rode him as confidently as we had hoped and he quickened through the field in taking fashion, having to be brave along the way."


James Doyle talks with Godoplhin representatives James Doyle talks with Godoplhin representatives Richard Hannon talks to Channel 4 Racing Richard Hannon talks to Channel 4 Racing Richard Hughes - second by a neckRichard Hughes - second by a neck


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It’s Royal Ascot : if you fancy a flutter here are SAM HOSKINS’ FIVE TO FOLLOW - a winner each day?


Sam Hoskins Sam Hoskins Sam Hoskins is racing manager of the Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds syndicate.  Here he shares with Marlborough News Online his ‘Five to Follow’ for Royal Ascot - a horse for each day of this prestigious meeting (June 16-20) which this year has attracted a truly international entry.  As ever, watch what the coming rain might do to their chances:
MAKE BELIEVE, St James’ Palace Stakes (Group 1), Tuesday. 4-1.
The St James’ Palace Stakes promises to be one of the races of the meeting with the dual Guineas-winning Gleneagles taking on the Andre Fabre pair of Territories, who was second to the former in the English 1,000 Guineas, and Make Believe, who won the French 2,000 Guineas at Longchamps a week later. With Gleneagles having had two hard races, I am inclined to side with Make Believe who was so impressive at Longchamps and who would not be running unless his masterful trainer thought he would go very close indeed.
CANNOCK CHASE, Prince Of Wales’ Stakes (Group 1), Wednesday. 12-1.
Cannock Chase goes into Royal Ascot this year as almost a slightly forgotten horse, but I still haven’t quite erased the memory of his superb Tercentenary Stakes (Group 3) win over this trip at this same meeting last year. He has had two relative warm-up runs in unsuitable conditions and they will have put him bang on for this whilst making him an interesting each-way betting proposition at the same time. He could very easily go an easier route than this but Sir Michael Stoute clearly thinks he is up to ruffling the feathers of the likes of market leaders Free Eagle and The Grey Gatsby.
FORGOTTEN RULES, Ascot Gold Cup (Group 1), Thursday, 11-4.
The Ascot Gold Cup is hotting up well with many eventualities possible in advance of this centrepiece race of the whole meeting. The most fascinating variable to consider for this race is that of the ground because if ever the ground ended up on the soft side of good, then it would heavily favour the Dermot Weld-trained Forgotten Rules, who is unbeaten in four starts including a Punchestown bumper on his debut last spring (!) and the Marco Botti-trained mudlark Tac De Boistron. Whilst the likes of Mizzou and Vent De Force represent the improving four-year-old generation form, I can’t help but think they will have their work cut out to beat Forgotten Rules, who has the world at his feet and will be very hard to beat as long as the ground is no faster than good.
ERVEDYA, Coronation Stakes (Group 1), Friday, 7-2.
Ever since the Aga Khan’s Aliysa was disqualified in the 1989 Epsom Oaks, his distinguished green colours with the red epaulettes have become a rarity on British racecourses. However, when they do turn up, they invariably go very close and I suspect this will be the case for his superstar three-year-old filly Ervedya, trained by Jean-Claude Rouget in Pau. She was scintillating in the French 1,000 Guineas last month and I think she can reverse Marcel Boussac form with the likely favourite Found.
POSTPONED, Hardwicke Stakes (Group 2), Saturday, 4-1.
Trainer Luca Cumani has a strong hand at Royal Ascot this year and I suspect he will hit the target at least twice - one of whom could be Postponed (don’t ask me who the other will be though!)  Postponed was highly progressive at three-years-old last year and has run two decent races so far this term - coming third in the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup at The Curragh last time behind the wonderful Al Kazeem over 10 furlongs which is shorter than ideal. He steps up to 12 furlongs here and with his newfound positive tactics, he might just lead them a merry dance and finish off a good week for his smooth Italian handler.
Our Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds (KVT) syndicates are represented on Thursday at Royal Ascot with MAXWELL in the King George V Handicap for Andover-based Ralph Beckett. Maxwelll has won his two starts to date including an impressive victory at Salisbury last time.

He promises to be suited by the step up in trip in the King George V handicap and whilst the form of his Salisbury race hasn’t worked out great, he could give us something to shout about granted a good draw and some luck in running!

One of our other stars, TULLIUS, bypasses Ascot for a tilt at the Coral Eclipse (Group 1) on Saturday, July 4 at Sandown. However, he needs some softer ground to increase his chances..

For more information on our syndicates, visit the KVT website or email Sam on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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AP McCoy back in the saddle for Barbury's JCB Champions Challenge at July's International Horse Trials


AP McCoy (photo by Niels Van Gijn - courtesy JCB Champions Challenge)AP McCoy (photo by Niels Van Gijn - courtesy JCB Champions Challenge)Twenty times champion jump jockey AP McCoy is set to make a return to the saddle at this year's St. James’s Place Wealth Management Barbury International Horse Trials in the JCB Champions Challenge on Saturday, July 11.
McCoy retired from race riding in April following an extraordinary record-breaking career with 20 consecutive jump jockey titles and over 4,300 winners.  The 'Champ' will be joined by a trio of jump jockeys in the second running of the JCB Champions Challenge, a unique horse race between the country's top riders held in aid of Injured Jockeys Fund.  
The race will feature jump jockeys versus event riders over a specially designed course - including a water jump.  The winning junior and senior teams from the Inter Hunt Scurry, held on the same day with over 30 teams taking part, will form the other two teams.
Joining AP McCoy will be Sam Twiston-Davies, at 22 one of the brightest of the new generation of young jump jockeys, Richard Johnson, who is the second-most successful jockey in jumps history with over 2000 winners, and Wayne Hutchinson, stable jockey to Barbury trainer Alan King.
The eventers boast an awesome line-up:  Andrew Nicholson, who has won the Barbury International three star and Burghley horse trials three times in a row with his grey Avebury, will lead the team. 

He will be joined by fellow New Zealander, Sir Mark Todd, and two of Britain's finest riders Harry Meade, who finished second at last year's Badminton Horse Trials, and multiple Olympic medallist Tina Cook.  Nicholson last raced for the Injured Jockeys Fund at this year's Cheltenham Festival.
Nigel Bunter, Chairman of the Barbury International Horse Trials expects a 'nail biting' contest: "Last year the jump jockeys were victorious in the inaugural running of this John Francome and Zara Phillips battle it out at Barbury in 2014's inaugural JCB Champions Challenge at the St James's Place Wealth Management Barbury International Horse Trials (photo by Trevor Meeks - courtesy JCB Champions Challenge)John Francome and Zara Phillips battle it out at Barbury in 2014's inaugural JCB Champions Challenge at the St James's Place Wealth Management Barbury International Horse Trials (photo by Trevor Meeks - courtesy JCB Champions Challenge)event and with the some of the greatest names in horseracing and eventing taking part and it's also very exciting we will be welcoming AP McCoy to Barbury." 

"The eventers will be hungry for a win.  We are delighted to host the Champions Challenge again together with JCB and supporting the Injured Jockeys Fund.  May the best team win!"
 Tickets for the Barbury International Horse Trials start from £12 per person per day booked in advance.  Children under 12 years go free.  

For information and tickets visit the Barbury website or call 01672 516125.

And keep checking @Barburycastle #championschallenge



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The Queen watches Wiltshire PCSO Annabel Twiddy and Donnerbolzen's winning rounds

PCSO Annabel Twiddy & Donnerbolzen PCSO Annabel Twiddy & Donnerbolzen A Wiltshire Police Community Support Officer is celebrating after displaying her show jumping skills to the Queen while competing in her first ever police event at the Royal Windsor Horse Show. 

Riding her horse Donnerbolzen, PCSO Annabel Twiddy, of the West Swindon Neighbourhood Policing Team, represented Wiltshire Police,and beat off competition from 98 others to win individually.  

Her individual performance put PCSO Twiddy's team into sixth place out of a total of 33 teams. 

"All three members of each team jumped, and then the top 12 teams went into a jump off in the afternoon where Her Majesty The Queen came to watch."

"Our team qualified, and I was put forward to jump again," she said.
 "I've now been invited to represent the UK Mainland forces in Guernsey in August. Our team has also qualified for the Forces Equine Championships." 

"It was a true honour to present Wiltshire in front of the Queen, and I am so proud to have ridden for the force. I can't wait to do it again soon."

Annabel started with Wiltshire Police as a Special Constable in May 2013 and five months later joined the control room as a dispatch assistant and 999 call handler. In January 2015, she began training as a PCSO before joining the West sector team. 

A keen horse rider, she represented England Under 18s in show jumping: "I have ridden since before I could walk."

"I used to compete and breed horses full time but when the recession came around, unfortunately I had to sell all my horses bar one, which took me from 13 to one."

In 2015 PCSO Twiddy found Forces Equine who organise teams and various events for serving officers. This enabled her to compete in a mixed police team, with officers from Avon and Somerset and Derbyshire. 

She asked to be allowed to represent the force and wear a Wiltshire Police uniform:
"Permission and uniform was granted - I had a special PCSO tunic made for me and I was issued with a hat band and badge for my riding hat." 

 She is currently in the top three of the Forces Equine Champions League.

Annabel and Donnerbolzen...watched by The Queen.Annabel and Donnerbolzen...watched by The Queen.

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Laura Thomas's successful point-to-point season - and a Fontwell winner


Laura Thomas rides Full Trottle up the long gallopLaura Thomas rides Full Trottle up the long gallopAt Hackpen Farm - just below the downs near Barbury Castle - Laura Thomas trains point-to-pointers.  Her yard always hopes to have a horse ready to go beyond the point-to-point circuit and tackle a Hunter Chase and on Thursday (May 14) she had a winner in the evening's Hunter Chase race at Fontwell Park.

Ridden by Mr Jonathan Bailey, the six year-old gelding Full Trottle won by one and three-quarters lengths in the starspreads.com Maiden Hunters' Chase over two miles and six furlongs.  He was last of the 12 runners at the ninth fence, but was in fourth position by the thirteenth and led before the next fence.

Full Trottle is owned by Laura's father, Norman Thomas.

With the end of the point-to-point season now in sight, Laura's yard has had ten winners so far.


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