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Para-equestrian dressage rider has to forego selection to represent Great Britain


Alison Fryer lives in a village in the Marlborough area and keeps her horses in stables at Rockley - and she was selected to represent Great Britain in a one star para-equestrian dressage competition.  

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Newbury Racing: Signora Cabello among 56 confirmations for Weatherbys Super Sprint

16-07-2018 A Correspondent

Royal Ascot winner Signora Cabello headlines 56 six-day acceptors for the feature £250,000 Weatherbys Super Sprint at Newbury this Saturday (July 21), with a live performance from Craig David after racing.

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Wesko's back! In France Tim Price and Wesko take second place at fifth Event Rider Masters leg


Fifteen year-old eventing star Wesko is back to top competitive form with a vengeance - after more than two years out following an injury - with a brilliant dressage score and no show jumping or cross country faults in a top international competition.

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Barbury Horse Trials leg of 2018 Event Rider Masters goes to France - with an amazing performance by Tom Carlile…


Frenchman Tom Carlile defended his Barbury Event Rider Masters (ERM) title in magnificent style, leading from the front on his striking grey stallion - a fitting climax to the 2018 St James's Place Barbury Horse Trials.

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Barbury Horse Trials: local eventers leave the jockeys behind in spirited charity relay challenge

07-07-2018 Catherine Austen & Tony Millett

Three-times champion National Hunt jockey Richard Johnson doesn’t concede defeat easily – but he met his match today at the St James’s Place Barbury Horse Trials.

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Barbury Horse Trials with international stars of eventing - top horses - top riders - and there's fun for grown-ups…


The St James's Place Barbury International Horse Trials this week (5-8 July) will see 1,000 eventing horses and some of the world's top riders competing on the Marlborough Downs.  The event reaches a climax on Sunday with the final cross country round of the fourth leg of the 2018 series...

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Marlborough's Jonelle Price takes Luhmühlen title


    Following her recent success at Badminton Marlborough's Jonelle Price followed up with another CC14 win this time in Germany at Luhmühlen Horse Trials.   Eventing NZ tweeted their congratulations to Jonelle, a key member of their team who has only just returned to competitive action following the birth of son Otis last...

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Newbury Racecourse introduces the new £100,000 JLT Cup

11-06-2018 A Correspondent

Newbury Racecourse has announced the introduction of a new £100,000 stayers' handicap sponsored by JLT - and named the JLT Cup.  

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Eventing: Chelsea Pearce leads all the way - as Brits lead the world


Local eventer Chelsea Pearce has scored a major victory at the Brand Hall International Horse Trials (June 1-2) near Market Drayton. 

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Andrew Nicholson honoured in New Zealand's Queen's Birthday Honours


Andrew Nicholson has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to equestrian sport in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

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They've done it! Andrew Nicholson and Avebury clinch their fourth successive title at the Barbury Horse Trials


Nicholson & Avebury at the Owl HoleNicholson & Avebury at the Owl HoleLockeridge-based Andrew Nicholson and the 'little' grey' Avebury won the CCI*** title - the feature competition at the St James's Place International Barbury Horse Trials on Sunday (July 12) - for an astounding fourth year running.

No horse in the history of eventing has ever won a class of this stature four times in succession. Last to go after a long afternoon’s tense wait, Rosemary and Mark Barlow’s wonderful 15-year-old grey was flawless across country, finishing 12 seconds inside the optimum time and easily holding his lead.

What was more Andrew Nicholson - a New Zealand Olympic medal winner - and the 15-year-old chestnut gelding Nereo took second place.  After the dressage, show jumping and cross country phases Nereo was a mere 4.4 penalty points behind his stable mate.

Members of the New Zealand elite squad took third (Sir Mark Todd and Leonidas II from Badgerstown) and fifth place (Tim Price and Ringwood Sky Boy from Mildenhall.)  There were two British entries in the top ten places: Nicola Wilson and Beltane Queen were fourth and Laura Collett and Grand Manoeuvre were sixth.

A sign of the form as the European Championships approach was the placing of two French entries in the top ten - and a third French pair at eleventh.  

The Barlows (who own Avebury) holding trophies - either side of David Bellamy (of St James's Place Wealth Management) with Penny Bunter and Nicholson on the rightThe Barlows (who own Avebury) holding trophies - either side of David Bellamy (of St James's Place Wealth Management) with Penny Bunter and Nicholson on the rightA celebratory family group: Andrew with his wife Wiggy and children Lily and ZachA celebratory family group: Andrew with his wife Wiggy and children Lily and ZachThe Championships will be held at Blair castle in Scotland in September - and it is very likely that Nicola Wilson and Laura Collette will have earned their place in the twelve strong British team.

It rained - sometimes very hard - up on the Marlborough Downs during the final cross-country section - and everyone got pretty wet.  But there were very few falls on the 3,910 metre course designed by Sir Mark Phillips. And not many riders overran the 6 minutes and 52 seconds optimum time for the course.

It was noted by the experts that the top five riders had no penalties against them in both the show jumping and cross country - and finished with just their dressage penalties.  A remarkable achievement - especially for those who went round the course later in the somewhat more slippery conditions.

In the final, cross country phase of the competition the riders that top the leader board from the first two phases go last and the crowds certainly stayed to watch the last few riders and see whether Avebury would make history.  

It was a very exciting finish. Not only was there a very tight margin between Nicholson's two horses, but Sir Mark Todd was just one tenth of a penalty point behind Nicholson and Nereo.

Sir Mark & Front StreetSir Mark & Front StreetEarlier in the day, Sir Mark Todd won the eighth running at Barbury of the Retrained Racehorse Eventing Championship title - a competition for racehorses that have not lasted long on the racetrack and are being retrained in another discipline - in this case as eventers.  

Sir Mark was riding Front Street. After his victory, Todd said: "I love thoroughbreds they have brilliant minds to work with.  I used to train racehorses in New Zealand and now we've just won a big Retraining of Racehorses class here at Barbury proving their versatility.   Front Street is such a genuine fellow and tries his heart out, which is typical of his breed."
Front Street, 11 years old, ran a total of eight times.  In his most successful outing  he took third place in a steeplechase at Plumpton. The competition is sponsored by the Retraining of Racehorses charity and the National Trainers Federation- the racehorse trainers' association.

[Click on photos to enlarge them.]


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Barbury Day Three: Avebury and Nicholson primed for fourth victory - and all the fun of the chaotic Champions Challenge delights the crowds


Nicholson and Avebury clear one of the Olympic fences at BarburyNicholson and Avebury clear one of the Olympic fences at BarburyFor the third day of the St James's Place Barbury International Horse Trials the weather stayed dry - and Avebury and Andrew Nicholson stayed top of the leader board in the feature competition.

Nicholson and Avebury were clear in the showjumping phase of the CIC*** competition.  With the neatest of rounds, the little grey gelding showed the wisdom of his fifteen years.

Alex Hua Tian & Don GeniroAlex Hua Tian & Don GeniroChina's Alex Hua Tian and Don Geniro are in second place - they also had a clear round.  Nicholson and Avebury's stablemate Nereo are in third position and fellow New Zealander Sir Mark Todd on Leonidas II are fourth - they are based not far from Barbury at Badgerstwon, on the edge of the Marlborough Downs.

Francis Whittington & Easy TargetFrancis Whittington & Easy TargetThen four British pairs - Sarah Bullimore & Lilly Corinne, Louise Harwood & Whitson, Francis Whittington & Easy Target (their four faults in Saturday's showjumping bumped then down from their overnight second place) and Laura Collett & Grand Manoeuvre.

There is keen competition amongst the British riders to gain a place in the British squad for the Longines FEI European Eventing Championship at Blair Castle in Scotland in September - as host nation the British team will have a twelve members team rather than the usual six.

A huge crowd assembled on the bank overlooking the main arena for the second running of the JCB Champions Challenge between teams of jockeys and eventers - and winners of the Inter Hunt Team Relay - in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund.  

Captain of the EventersCaptain of the EventersCaptain of the Jockeys Captain of the Jockeys The two teams were:  for the jockeys -  AP McCoy (back in the saddle for the first time in public since he retired in April), Sam Twiston-Davies, Richard Johnson and Wayne Hutchinson (who rides for Barbury trainer Alan King.)  For the eventers -  Andrew Nicholson, Sir Mark Todd, Harry Meade and Tina Cook.  And it takes the vague form of a relay.

The two teams chose their horses from those which had previously run in the hunt relay races.  There had to be a little manipulation of the results as, amidst the chaos,  a hunt team won one of the heats - and the whole point was to have a ride-off between the jockeys and the eventers.   

The races had rules and rule breakers all of their own - and Richard Johnson managed to plough his way through two of the jumps.  But unlike one of the young hunt riders in the semi-finals, none of the jockeys or eventers ended up in the water.

If you believe social media, the eventers won.  But if I was on the jockeys team I would ask for a review of the photo finish.  Was there one?  And see below for further photos...

Eventers make a successful handoverEventers make a successful handoverWas that a handover ...?Was that a handover ...?Back to the serious competitions:  locally based New Zealand riders swept the board in the three sections of the CIC** class with Andrew Nicholson, Tim Price and Jesse Campbell taking one apiece.
The in-form Andrew Nicholson was unstoppable in section B, winning on the Headley Stud’s Loughnatousa Joey on the first occasion he had ridden the horse. He was the only rider of the 93 cross-country starters in the section to achieve the optimum time.


It would take more than a spot of rain to dampen the crowd's enthusiasm if Nicholson and Avebury achieve a fourth CIC*** win in a row.


Rosettes all round...Rosettes all round...

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Barbury Day Two: Andrew Nicholson and Avebury lead the three star competition after the dressage

Andrew Nicholson & Avebury (Photo: Katy Vincent)Andrew Nicholson & Avebury (Photo: Katy Vincent)You could hardly ask for a better or more exciting way to end the first two days of the premier CIC*** competition at the St James's Place Barbury International Horse Trials: three times winners Andrew Nicholson and his amazing grey Avebury top the leader board with a dressage score of 33.9 penalty points.

The crowd was strangely silent as New Zealand's Andrew Nicholson and the fifteen year gelding performed a near perfect test - then came the applause.  They have a two point lead over Britain's Francis Whittington on East Target (37.1.)

After their performance Nicholson said: "I don't warm Avebury up for too long, I trust him, he is fifteen now and knows his job.  It's mission accomplished so far - it's only a starting number, but it's a good one. And it would be great to make history again by completing a four timer here at Barbury."

Avebury was bred by Nicholson and is co-owned by Mrs Rosemary Barlow.  Last year Nicholson and Avebury went on from Barbury to win the Land Rover Burghley CIC**** competition.

Alex Hua Tian & Don GeniroAlex Hua Tian & Don GeniroFrancis Whittington & Easy TargetFrancis Whittington & Easy TargetIn third place after the dressage are China's Alex Hia Tian and Don Geniro (37.3.)  He is based in Britain and is China's only eventer competing internationally.

Andrew Nicholson and Nereo also hold fourth place at the end of the dressage.  With 38.3 penalties they led after the first day. There are eleven Brfitish riders in the top twenty places.

Saturday morning sees the show jumping discipline of the CIC*** competition - with the cross-country to follow on Sunday.  At lunchtime on Saturday the main ring sees the second running of the JCB Champions Challenge - a relay race between teams of jockeys (led this year by AP McCoy), eventers (led by that busy horseman Andrew Nicholson.)  This event raises money for the Injured Jockeys Fund.

Friday saw the novice classes - novice horses with some very experienced riders - tackle a shortened (800 yard) version of Barbury's famous downland cross-country course, designed by Captain Mark Phillips.

Of the nineteen obstacles the  St James's Place water and the steps at the Earthline Quarry seemed to giving riders and horses the most trouble.

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Barbury International Horse Trials break a world record - can Nicholson and Avebury set another record?


Nigel Bunter at the cross-country courseNigel Bunter at the cross-country courseThe St James's Place Wealth Management Barbury International Horse Trials will be welcoming 1,150 horses when they open on Thursday (July 9.) That total is a hundred more than last year, is a record number for the event and it makes Barbury the world's largest international horse trials.

Barbury Chairman, Nigel Bunter, told Marlborough News Online: "We've spent a month looking at weather forecasts.  After the recent rain, the going should be near perfect - and it looks set fair for the weekend."  

The chalk under Barbury's famous grass downs and a wind over the top of it, dries the ground very quickly - even after last Friday's freak storms.  The grass is looking wonderfully green.

The highlight on Sunday will be the three star eventing competition's cross-country and all eyes will be on Lockeridge-based New Zealander Andrew Nicholson and his amazing 15-year-old grey Avebury who have won Barbury's premier three star event three years running.  

Nigel Bunter says they've already notched up a 'remarkable achievement' at Barbury: "They've been using our gallops for the last few months, so we know he's fit and ready to defend his title."

The 'Avebury' obstacleThe 'Avebury' obstacleWhatever happens in this year's competition, Avebury's name will live on at Barbury as they have now re-named their cross-country course's signature obstacle - the Stonehenge jump - after him.

Saturday's highlight will come at lunchtime with the second running of the JCB Champions Challenge - a relay held in the main ring.  The event raises money for the Injured Jockeys Fund.  

This year sees former Champion jockey AP McCoy's first ride in public since he retired at Sandown in April.  He is teamed with Richard Johnson (who may well take over from AP as jump champion), Sam Twiston-Davies (Paul Nichol's stable jockey) and Wayne Hutchinson (stable jockey to Alan King who trains at Barbury.)  

Opposing them will be a team of eventers led by Andrew Nicholson with Sir Mark Todd, Harry Meade and Tina Cook.  The third team will come from the winners of the Inter Hunt Scurry competition.  Last year the jockeys - then led by John Francome - won.

When we were at Barbury on Tuesday morning it was obvious the downland site was nearly ready for the horses - and the crowds which usually number about 15,000 over the four days.  The Willis Brothers were out working on the cross-country course.  

They have to give the obstacles a make over a few days before the event so the birch can stay green in the jumps.  Some of the birch they were using comes from Savernake Forest.  Later the jumps will be inspected to make sure they are exactly the right height and thickness.

 Ashley Willis and Stewart Roberts at work on a cross-country jumpAshley Willis and Stewart Roberts at work on a cross-country jump

The Willis Brothers are based near Malmesbury and create obstacles for designers of many cross-country courses.  In the past they have made Olympic courses and have won the contract for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

This September the European Eventing Championship are being held at Blair castle in Scotland.  This has brought a much larger than usual contingent of European eventers to Barbury.  And, of course, the locally-based New Zealand eventers will be there in force too - including Jonelle Price (third in the world rankings), Andrew Nicholson (fifth) Tim Price (at 16) and Sir Mark Todd (at 17.)


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Changing places: Sally Randell takes over Broad Hinton training yard from Andy Turnell


Sally Randell and KillimordalySally Randell and KillimordalySally Randell has just applied for her training licence.  For the past year she has been assistant trainer at Andy Turnell's yard on the edge of Broad Hinton - soon she will be taking over the yard.  

Turnell, who as a youngster was a star jockey and then became the quiet man of racehorse training, is still recovering from the stroke he had two years ago which paralysed much of his right side.  He will be changing to a 'supporting role' at the stables.

He and his wife hit it off with Sally from the word go.  He told the Racing Post: "I'm confident this will work.  Apart from being a tireless worker, Sally is bringing new owners to the yard."

Turnell 'inherited' his licence from his father who trained at Ogbourne Maizey.  But Turnell, who is now 66, moved his training establishment around England, before settling back to Wiltshire and his everyday view of the Hackpen white horse.

Sally had been training point-to-pointers in Wales and when she arrived at the Turnell yard just a year ago, it was empty.  While Andy was recovering from his stroke, the horses had gone to other other trainers.  Working together closely , Andy, his wife Gilly and Sally have re-built the yard and have been having successes - six winners in the 2014-2015 jump season.

There are now seven horses training in the licensed yard for the summer.  In the winter Sally hopes to get that up to sixteen or seventeen.

Sally has completed her three modules at Newmarket's British Racing School.  Also on her courses was another soon-to-be trainer from just the other side of Marlborough, champion jockey Richard Hughes.

On the all-weather circuit On the all-weather circuit When Marlborough News Online was at the stables, Sally and amateur jockey Brodie Hampson were riding out the final two horses of the morning.  Brodie was on the eight year-old Waddingtown Hero who has had two recent wins in chases at Ffos Las.

"Ffos Las has been good for us," says Sally with a smile.  But looking closer at the results tables you find that Waddingtown Hero has come third-first-second-second-first in his last five races - providing quite a tonic for the yard.

Sally was riding the bay gelding Killimordaly - a six year-old named after a village near Galway.  His Irish owner, Patsy Hardiman, died recently - very suddenly.   

Sally Randell, Donnas Palm, Brodie Hampson Sally Randell, Donnas Palm, Brodie Hampson His  family are keeping Hardiman's other horse, the four year-old Any Destination.  But Sally is now forming a syndicate to keep Killimordaly at the yard.  He raced over hurdles last season and early in June he came second in a two mile seven furlong chase at Ffos Las.

Brodie, in the earliest of her twenties, has known Sally since she was eleven.  Her father was Sally's detachment commander when they were serving with the Royal Artillery.  And she met Brodie who kept a pony at the regimental Saddle Club when Sally was there.  

They have worked together for five years and Sally believes Brodie has a great future as a jockey.  She won her first ever point-to-point race and with six wins over jumps and under rules she came second in the 2014-2015 Amateur Lady Jockeys National Hunt Championship - behind Bridget Andrews.

Sally told us that one of best memories of her year at the stables was seeing the delight on Andy Turnell's face when Brodie rode Aristocracy to a three lengths victory in a hurdle race at Wincanton last November: "He thinks the world of Brodie."

Sally herself was no mean jockey and only announced her retirement earlier this year.  In 2009, riding Oakfield Legend, she became the first woman to win Sandown's Grand Military Gold Cup.  She won it again in 2014 on Bradley and again this year on Loose Chips.   

Another boost to her year has been seeing how Andy made great progress in his recovery once the horses were back in the yard: "He's back to his old self."  

He travels to the races with Sally, but gets pretty tired.  Every week he goes to Oaksey House, the Injured Jockeys Fund headquarters in Lambourn, for physiotherapy - and he rides with the Lambourn Riding for the Disabled.

Sally says the Turnell training establishment is "A really great yard" and she is very pleased to be taking it over.  It has 17 licensed boxes, enough paddocks for the horses to be turned out every day, an under-cover horse walker ("Great for the winter!") and a long all-weather circuit.  Further down, the barn has sixteen more horses that Sally plans to keep for point-to-pointers.

Brodie Hampson & Donnas Palm at the Cambridge Harriers Point-to-Point, Cottenham December 2014 (Photo copyright Racehorse Photos) Brodie Hampson & Donnas Palm at the Cambridge Harriers Point-to-Point, Cottenham December 2014 (Photo copyright Racehorse Photos) On the day we visited Sally, yard manager Gerald Burton and his son Sam were away on training courses.  Sam is just turning sixteen and joins as a novice aiming to be an amateur jockey.

Sally has just appointed Emma Owen to look after the yard's admin and publicity, and she too has been at the Racing School.  And Kate Leahy is joining the team soon.

And then we are introduced to Donnas Palm - an eleven year-old grey gelding with a history and now quite a magisterial presence at the yard.  

Beginning in 2008, Donnas Palm raced in Ireland and chalked up six wins and three seconds in his first 13 outings.  Ridden by such well-known jockeys as Paul Carberry and Barry Geraghty, he won eleven races under rules.   Racing in England from April 2013 onwards was not such a success.

He is now trained by Sally for point-to-pointing.  In that first race in Ireland at Navan he was ridden by Nina Carberry, so it is fitting that Brodie Hampson has been racing him recently.

Brodie says he is an 'absolutely straightforward horse'.  There is, however, a 'but'.  If he finds himself in the 'wrong position' with other horses in a race "He simply tries his best to stop."  Brodie now has the measure of him and Sally hopes he will be at the yard for the rest of his days.

Thanks to Racehorse Photos for use of their photo of Brodie Hampson and Donnas Palm.

[Click on photos to enlarge them.]



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Libby Law: eventing's premier photographer - with an accent on the New Zealand team


She is a familiar figure on the British eventing circuit - she wears dark clothes embroidered with her name and the name of her sponsors. She is about the same height as her two very long lenses - if you stacked one on top of the other.  And you can tell she works outside in the sun.

Libby Law is a New Zealander and since 2011 she has worked in Britain for about six summer months each year. At the end of October, when her business visa runs out,  she returns home for the New Zealand eventing and showjumping season.  

This year she came back to Britain via Kentucky for the Rolex CIC**** three day event - the first four star competition of the northern hemisphere season. And she had to watch her fellow New Zealander, friend and client, Tim Price and Wesko take down one rail in the showjumping to lose out on the $100,000 first prize to Germany's Michael Jung and Fischerrocano FST.

She is, she told Marlborough News Online with one of her cheeky grins, the only photographer to cover all six of the world's four star eventing competitions: "I love being part of the media for these occasions - I get a real adrenalin surge when I send good photos out to people who are really keen to use them."

She did not grow up with media connections, indeed she came to professional photography quite late in life.  She was brought up on a farm and rode horses.  But at nineteen and after her second scary three day event, she sold her horse and went off travelling.

She worked in Australia - in hotels, in marketing, the travel business and in radio. Shed went to Canada and fell in love: "Beautiful country, beautiful people."  Seven good years, but the love did not last.  And in 2010 she returned to New Zealand: "I was a little baffled with the world - but excited to be home."

Aged 34, she used her marketing experience to set up a cleaning company - paying good wages and with contracts to clean offices: "Never clean for private homes!  It's not worth the bother they give you."

Then along came another idea: photography.  She had had a camera from the age of eight and loved her photography and in Australia she had done some amateur courses.  So she set out on a new way of life: "I thought to myself, get a camera and allow yourself to follow your feet."

Having bought a good camera and set-up a website, her feet took her to meet some of New Zealand's young eventing stars - Lizzie Brown, Jock Paget and Jesse Campbell before they (and many other New Zealand eventers) moved to Britain.  They told her about eventing in Britain.  

The Little TurtleThe Little TurtleHRH Ninja - by HondaHRH Ninja - by HondaWith a 'you can only ask' attitude she applied to Badminton for accreditation - and got it.  She was amazed by the Badminton eventing scene - and then succeeded in getting accreditation to Burghley too.  That was in 2011.

"I know horses and am quite a confident person - I didn't worry about what people thought of me."  As good as her word, in 2012 she invested £40,000 in her first full season in Britain.  Some of that investment was a mobile home - her 'Little Turtle'  - which makes travelling round Britain and Europe so much easier and cheaper.  In winter it is kept at the Prices' Mere Farm.

Libby Law covering a polo tournamentLibby Law covering a polo tournamentIt is a full-on life: most of her regular clients are in New Zealand and  she will start to get emails from them at about eleven o'clock at night - and is often still sending off photos at three in the morning.  

She has a contract with Equestrian New Zealand's High Performance Squad, with the major Australian website An Eventful Life - which in fact covers most of the world's eventing and horse trials, and with the popular magazine New Zealand Horse and Pony.  She has other contracts and is, as she insists, a freelance: "I have the freedom to do what I want."

At home she is now sponsored by Honda New Zealand and is the proud owner of 'HRH Ninja'  - "My fab Honda CRV-Limited."

Has Libby Law Photography, I ask gingerly, now become known and valued internationally?  She mouths a 'yes'.  Recently she was invited to cover an important competition in Qatar, which is preparing an eventing team for the Rio Olympics:  "It was a fantastic occasion - and the light was just great for photographs."

In Britain she has the whole flock of New Zealand eventers around her - many of them in the Marlborough area: "Everything revolves around the New Zealand eventers. I love the closeness of the community - it's very comfortable."  But the more there are over in Britain the harder she has to work - in May there were 26 New Zealand horses taking part in Tattersall's International Horse Trials three day event in Ireland - and running between the rings and the events and catching all the competitors at the right moment is quite a skill - and she covers quite a few miles each day.


Libby Law's classic photo of New Zealander Jesse Campbell & Amsterdam IILibby Law's classic photo of New Zealander Jesse Campbell & Amsterdam II"Mark Todd is my hero - and I love the New Zealand eventers."  But she tells a story against herself about her first commissioned article shoot with Sir Mark: "I even left the lens cap on.  Mark just smiled - a little."

Libby Law is an enthusiast for her photography and her specialty: "Each year I love what I am doing a bit more.  I adore my work."  Now she is in the least bothered by the world.  She just smiles at life - and she smiles a lot!

[All marked photos are the copyright of Libby Law Photography.]

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Barbury Day One: Andrew Nicholson and Nereo take the lead in the three star dressage


Andrew Nicholson and NereoAndrew Nicholson and NereoAfter the first day of the CIC** dressage competition at the St James's Place Barbury International Horse Trials, New Zealand's Andrew Nicholson tops the leader board on Nereo (with 38.3 penalties.)

Second is Britain's Louise Harwood on Whitson (39.6) and in third place is France's Mathieu Lemoine on Bart L (40.7.)    British rider Nana Dalton and Abbeylara Prince are in fourth position - having led up to the lunch break (43.5.)

Nicholson and Nereo came sixth at this year's Badminton, won the CIC**** at Pau in 2012 and came fourth at the London Olympics.  Nicholson has seven rides at the various competition levels.  Nicholson and Avebury (who have won the Barbury CIC*** for last three years) will be in dressage ring just after three o'clock on Friday afternoon.

Nicholson, who is based in Lockeridge, is lying second equal in the CIC** - behind fellow New Zealander Sir Mark Todd on Brownsville Bertie (38.6).  Nicholson and Loughnatousa Joey are in joint second place with Britain's Harry Meade on Vrolijk (38.7.)

Yogi Breisner & Nana Dalton and her assistantYogi Breisner & Nana Dalton and her assistantYogi Breisner, Louise Harwood & assistantYogi Breisner, Louise Harwood & assistantThe dressage performances by both Louise Harwood and Nana Dalton caught the eye of Yogi Breisner - the British Eventing National Coach and World Class Performance Manager.  And he took details of both riders and their assistants.  Though as someone watching the dressage noted:  "It is not quite a ticket to Rio, but it is certainly going in the right direction."

On Friday the novice competitors are first to take on the cross-country course.  And it looks as though the weather will hold through Saturday - though the ground might get a soaking for the CIC*** cross-country on Sunday afternoon.

The competitions are being live streamed through the Barbury website.The Willis Brothers team 'greening' the cross-country's ReadySupp Owl Hole The Willis Brothers team 'greening' the cross-country's ReadySupp Owl Hole

Click on photos to enlarge them. 


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It’s Barbury week: Jonelle Price back at third place in world eventing rankings : five Brits in top twenty

Jonelle Price Jonelle Price With the Barbury International Horse Trials starting later this week, there is special interest in the International Equestrian Federation's new set of worldwide rankings for eventing riders.  This list covers the twelve months up to June 30 - and Mildenhall's New Zealand rider Jonelle Price is back as number three in the world.

She had been at three last year, but dropped to fifth in the FEI's previous list.  In June she came a tantalising second in the Luhmuhlen four star on Fairie Dianimo

Jonelle's husband Tim has dipped in the rankings from nine to sixteenth place - and that despite his brilliant performance coming a close second on Wesko at this spring's prestigious Rolex Kentucky competition.

The Prices are great fans of the Barbury International Horse Trials - not least because they are based so close by.  And they have put their names to Barbury's fundraising for the Prospect Hospice.

The top two places in the new rankings see Germany's Michael Jung and Britain's William Fox-Pitt change places with Jung now top of the list.

Lockeridge-based New Zealander Andrew Nicholson is at five - down one rung.  And another locally-based New Zealander, Sir Mark Todd is back in the top twenty at 17 - up from 42nd position.

There are now five British eventers in the FEI's top twenty - with two of them joining William Fox-Pitt in the top ten.  Oliver Townend is at eighth - from seventh.  Nicola Wilson stays at tenth place - with a good performance at Kentucky behind her.  

Pippa Funnell has come back into the top twenty with a startling jump to fifteenth position from 31st.  And Gemma Tattersall is at 19 - up from 21.  

Many of these big eventing names will be competing at this week's Barbury International Horse Trials.

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Switching saddles: Newbury racecourse welcomes Victoria Pendleton's first public outing as a jockey


Riding down to the start (photo by kind permission of Betfair)Riding down to the start (photo by kind permission of Betfair)Victoria Pendleton - the 'golden girl' of British cycling - started riding just nineteen weeks ago and at Newbury Racecourse on Thursday evening (July 2) she took part in a charity race - her first outing in public.  The flat race, The George Frewer Celebration Sweepstake over one mile and five furlongs, was the first on the evening card raising funds for the Key4Life charity.  

She said afterwards that she was thrilled with her first ride in a race.  She finished eighth in a field of eleven on the eight year-old bay gelding Mighty Mambo - trained by Lawney Hill at her Oxfordshire yard and for whom Victoria is now riding out.  

As one seasoned racing correspondent put it: "Few novice riders would even begin to contemplate anything like a public race and fewer still would have sustained such enthusiasm in the face of the inevitable tumbles and petty humiliations that horses deliver." (Chris Cook, The Guardian.)

The walk from the weighing room: Victoria and Charlotte PlunkettThe walk from the weighing room: Victoria and Charlotte PlunkettPendleton and Mighty Mambo got away rather slowly from the start.  But she made some late progress: "I gave him too much to do. There's a really long straight here and I thought some horses would blow out so I wanted to bide my time.  It was over too quickly.  I wish I could do it again."

 The charity race was won by Oratorio's Joy trained by Mr J.A.Osborne and ridden by Maisie Turner, with Charlotte Plunkett (Barbury trainer Alan King's PA) second on Uriah Heap - trained by her boss.

Safely on board - watched by Alan King (at right) Safely on board - watched by Alan King (at right) The age range of the riders taking part in the charity race was staggering.  The youngest was Jacob Jelfs (aged 20) - he rides out for trainer Charlie Hills.  And the oldest was Sir Mark Todd (aged 59) New Zealand eventing star based just over the Marlborough Downs at Badgerstown.  He almost certainly has more Olympic medals than Ms Pendleton.

The challenge to Victoria Pendleton from Betfair proved to be one she could not refuse. It was not just a challenge to switch from bicycle to horse, but to become a race jockey.  

Once she had retired from competitive cycling after the London Olympics, she had been looking for a challenge - perhaps a challenge a little more atuned to her skills and love of speed than Strictly Come Dancing.  Betfair provide it: they wanted to find "an unexpected and entertaining perspective on horse racing, while also profiling the skills, athleticism and courage faced by jockeys every day."  

Training is hard work:  riding out (Betfair photo) Training is hard work: riding out (Betfair photo) Victoria & AP McCoyVictoria & AP McCoyBetfair assembled a team of experts to make sure Victoria could reach their ambitious target.  The team included chef d'equipe of the British eventing team, Yogi Breisner, trainer Lawney Hill, para-dressage rider Tamsin Addison, champion trainer and Betfair ambassador Paul Nichols.  Oh, and she had some words of wisdom from another retired champion - AP McCoy.

At 34-years-old, Victoria had been riding bicycles since she was three-years-old and had only had the occasional holiday pony ride.  Her record made her Britain's most successful woman Olympic athlete, so she certainly knows about the hard work and dedication the change of saddles would involve.  

[To enlarge click on image][To enlarge click on image]The Betfair challenge aims to get Victoria ready to take part in the Foxhunters Amateur Chase at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival.  On the way she will have more charity races before she goes to the British Racing School to see whether she qualifies for an amateur's licence. And before the end of 2015 she hopes to be able to have some point-to-point rides.

Betfair's Mark Ody, is more than hopeful she will make the Cheltenham race:  "With Victoria's Olympic pedigree, our support network, a lot of hard work, we're all hugely confident that we'll be cheering Victoria on in the Foxhunters Amateur at Cheltenham Festival 2016."

The George Frewer Charity Race at Newbury (sponsored by the Bernard Sunley Charitable Foundation) was in memory of George Frewer, who died in a freak accident on what would have been his 17th birthday.  His passion was horse racing. To date over of £450,000 has been raised in his memory.


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