Rosettes galore - (l to r): Georgia King, Lily Jump, Holly StephensThe St John’s Academy National Schools Equestrian Association (NSEA) teams did well last weekend (May 14/15) at the Mini, Junior and Senior Inter-Schools competitions held at Stonor School near Melksham.
They came well up the NSEA competitions both as teams and as individuals - and won a hard fought for team trophy.
These competitions involve all three eventing disciplines on a single day - held under the guidelines of the British Eventing Rules for 2016.
St John's riders have had a good few weeks. They won at the West Wiltshire NSEA Jumping and Style event on April 24. This victory means they have qualified for the national championships in October.
And on May 1 they came second at the Swalcliffe Park Equestrian One Day Event - photo below.
At Stonor the competitions attracted teams from Marlborough College, Cheltenham Ladies College, Cheltenham College, Westonbirt, St Mary's, Calne, Dauntsey's, St John's Academy - and several Stonor teams.
On Saturday, Georgia King, Daisy Down, Evie Baggaley and Flossie Lloyd Jones had brilliant rounds in Class 1 (85cm). Their rounds gained the team fifth place - with Georgia King taking first place in the individual results
St John's team ready to start - (l to r): Georgia King, Lily Jump, Holly Stephens On Sunday, St John's Imogen Thompson was the school's only individual entry for the 75m class. However, after a winning dressage score, she had a nasty fall in the cross country. Both rider and pony are fine.
Later on Sunday afternoon, the St John's Pink Team were ready for the 90/95cm class. Georgia King was riding Mojo IV, Holly Stephens on Joey and Lily Jump on Chilli Pepper.
They all had excellent rounds and won the class. The individual rankings saw Georgia King gaining third place, Lily Jump fifth and Holly Stephens seventh.
The trophy is currently being engraved and the girls will then present it to the school - a good addition to its trophy cupboard.
It was a successful day's eventing. As one Mum put it: "Everyone was courteous, well turned and did St John's proud."Success at Swalcliffe - (l to r) Georgia King, Holly Stephens, Hannah Hall & Lily Jump
[Click on photos to enlarge them]
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 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) 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) Victoria & 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]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.
Carruthers (No 3) takes a fence in his strideOld timers and new young - some very young - talents were the centre of attention at the annual and very well attended Tedworth Hunt Point-to-Point at the Barbury Racecourse on Sunday (April 10.)
Many horses race at point-to-points at the start of their careers, some others take to point-to-pointing towards the end of their careers. One of the latter was Carruthers - entered for the feature race of the afternoon The JM Finn & Co Tedworth Gold Cup Mixed Open race.
The talk around the bookies was whether Carruthers would repeat his victory at the Hackwood Park point-to-point on Easter Monday. There he gave jockey Lily Bradstock her first race win with an impeccable show of jumping in the Ladies Open.
The thirteen-year-old Carruthers is most famous for his startling victory for trainer Mark Bradstock in the 2011 Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury - coming home three-and-three-quarter lengths ahead of the much more highly rated Planet of Sound.
On his last but one outing under rules he won again at Newbury in March last year. Nico de Boinville rode him to beat the David Pipe trained Amigo by a neck - for the £12,500 prize. His total winnings under rules were £327,631.
All eyes on Carruthers Mark Bradstock Sara Bradstock & Lady Oaksey
Carruthers was bred by the late Lord Oaksey and is now trained by Lord Oaksey's daughter Sara Bradstock - mother of Lily who is rider and travelling head girl for her parents, trainers Mark and Sara Bradstock. Connections indeed!
Carruthers looked a dream. But the dream did not come true. Although he jumped gallantly and safely, he was beaten into third place - it was, however, a very exciting race with the eventual winner coming from behind with a strong run home.
Carruthers in the mixLily Bradstock after the race Tedworth Gold Cup winner Sarah Rippon
The race winner was another thirteen-year-old, Good Egg ridden by his part owner Sarah Rippon who also trains him.
Perhaps Carruthers did not think much of the state of the ground. The going on the Barbury course was officially described as 'good to soft' - though one owner thought that was an under-estimate and the ground was decidedly on the tacky side. He did, however, admit that it was drying out all the time.
And so it should have been. For most of the afternoon as icy wind swept across the Marlborough Downs - the type of wind that thinks it has come straight from Siberia. But the rain held off and there was even a brief show of sunshine.
Keyflow's Managing Director Cam Price with assembled pony race jockeysAt the Bradstock training yard Carruthers has been treated for some wear and tear a front fetlock with the Keyflow product BoneKare - a vet prescribed supplement that provides vitamin K. The Marlborough-based feed and supplement provider Keyflow is now a sponsor of the yard.
And - connections, connections - Keyflow were the sponsors of the Tedworth's three pony races that preceded the six point-to-point races and a charity race. Pony racing over flat courses is now seen as a really good training ground for young jockeys.
In Britain and Ireland it has become an established part of horseracing and here it even has its own Authority. Organised by Jonathan & Sarah Geake
the three races were for various ages between 10 and 15, over differing distances and for ponies of differing sizes.
There were two cups to win - the Stableware Cup (for 13.2 over four-and-a-half furlongs) and two races for the Sedgley Perpetual Challenge Cup (for 14.2 over one mile and two furlongs.) The races were fast and furious - there were rosettes all round.
Pony race jockey Alfie Godfrey (aged 10)Young fans watching the pony racing Race winner Poppy Scott (aged 12)
And for the very young there were other sorts of rides (Click on photos to enlarge them)
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 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 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!
Smad Place leads on Barbury's all-weather gallops (Feb 2014)LATER NEWS: It has been confirmd that Smad Place will run in the Timico Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival. Jockey Richard Johnson believes the grey has the ability to dominate his rivals. Smad Place is currently 12-1 with some bookmakers.
Smad Place has done it again. The tough grey, trained by Alan King at Barbury Castle, took the BetBright Trial Chase at Cheltenham on Saturday (January 30) with a twelve length win over Many Clouds. The race is seen as a trial for the Cheltenham Festival's Gold Cup.
Alan King notched up a treble of wins at Cheltenham on Saturday - with Yanworth and Annacttoy adding to his victories. And to cap that, the same afternoon brought him two wins at Doncaster - including a win for Ziga in the three mile Sky Bet Chase.
As the Racing Post headline over its full report on Cheltenham's trials races put it: "Bouyant King reigns supreme on trails day."
Nine-year-old Smad Place, owned by Mrs Peter Andrews, was leading the field when the Gold Cup favourite Djakadam, ridden by Ruby Walsh, fell at the tenth fence. It was Smad Place's third success in four outings and he was said to have "completed the task in fine style."
Smad Place's win leaves King with a tough decision. After he was beaten in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day, the trainer had thought he would run in the Cheltenham Festival's Ryanair Chase.
Now the pressure is on for an entry for the 2016 the Gold Cup. In March last year Smad Place was eighth out of the eleven finishers in the Gold Cup.
Alan King When asked after the race whether Smad Place would go for the Gold Cup, King said: "Don't ask me that. I'm going to enjoy this afternoon. If I was confused before, I'm probably more confused now, but it doesn't make the Gold Cup less likely."
Smad Place's victory at the Cheltenham trials meeting was under Richard Johnson after his regular rider and King's stable jockey, Wayne Hutchinson, had to pull out with an injury. He fell at Doncaster on Friday injuring a foot - he is expected to be out of action for a few days.
Cheltenham reported big crowds for its trials meeting. But jump racing has been badly hit recently by the rain - and heavy conditions abound.
Fontwell was abandoned today (January 31.) Ayr's Monday (February 1) meeting has been abandoned. Parts of the course at Plumpton are said to be waterlogged with an inspection at 7.00am on Monday.
Tuesday's meeting at Lingfield has already been abandoned and Taunton - 'waterlogged in places' - also faces an inspection on Monday morning.
An urgent phonecall...On Thursday morning (April 28) at Mere Farm, up on the downs above Mildenhall, Jonelle Price was schooling Ringwood Sky Boy, the horse her husband Tim will be riding in next week's Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (May 4-8). Tim was asleep in Lexington, USA - or maybe just waking for the first day of the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event and getting Bango ready for the dressage.
The season has been going for a couple of months - somewhat interrupted by sodden courses and cancellations. "Now", says Jonelle, "with Badminton we start six weeks on the trot" - six weeks of hard work, hard riding and a lot of travelling.
At Badminton she will be riding the thirteen-year-old mare Classic Moet - known as Molly - they are fresh from a competition win at Belton Park International: "She's in great form."
The new challenge this season is the introduction of the Event Rider Masters (ERM) competition. This is a concerted effort to bring eventing into the twenty-first century, popularise it through television coverage, make it more exciting and provide bigger prize money.
The first of the six-leg competition is a fortnight away at the Dodson & Horrell Chatsworth International Horse Trials in Derbyshire (May 14 and 15.) Both Tim (currently at number three in the world rankings) and Jonelle (currently number 17) will be taking part.
The third leg of this ground-breaking competition will be at the St James's Place Barbury International Horse Trials (9-10 July) - up on the Marlborough Downs.
"It is", Jonelle told Marlborough.News, "slightly going away from the traditional sport as we know it. Eventing takes place at beautiful places, but it's stuck in the last century. This will target the television audience and make it more exciting."
The ERM cameramen have been at Mere Farm - and the result is the stylish Are You Ready?
Click on image to access promo
Warming to the prospect of ERM, she adds: "They're coming from a completely different angle - revolutionising the sport really. Television is the key thing."
Jonelle schooling Ringwood Sky BoyCompetitors will wear the same numbers throughout the competition: "That'll make it all easier to follow for new comers to the sport."
With just 40 riders (from ten nations) accepted for this new contest, the dressage will take place on day one, the show jumping in the morning of day two and the cross country in the afternoon of day two.
The bottom 20 competitors after the show jumping will ride the cross country stage in a randomly drawn order. But the top 20 will go in reverse order and the prize giving will take place at the finish line - none of that waiting around while they double check the figures and get everyone in the right place.
The ERM team have been brought together by Di Brunsden and five other people involved in the sport - and passionate about it. Di Brunsden is part-owner of Sir Mark Todd's horse Leonidas II and former director of JP Morgan.
Jonelle Price waits her dressage entry: how long will the top hat survive in the Event Rider Masters era?Also in the team is Alice Plunkett (of Channel 4 Racing) who is also Mrs Fox-Pitt - wife of champion British eventer William Fox-Pitt. They have tapped the business expertise of Christopher and Lisa Stone - Christopher Stone is an owner of event horses and CEO of Northgate Information Solutions.
The ERM team will be going hard to make a big impact on social media - building on the reputations of their top riders like William Fox-Pitt who has 60,000-plus Twitter followers and 50,000-plus Facebook fans.
Tim Price's challenge at Kentucky ended at the last obstacle in the cross country when he parted company with Bango. He had been at tenth place after the dressage. Next stop Badminton.
Badminton is the next stop too for Germany's Michael Jung. He won the Rolex Kentucky riding Fischerrocana FST - becoming only the second rider to win this four-star event on the same horse in consecutive years. He returned an uncatchable 13.3-point lead.
If Jung wins Badminton this week, he will become only the second rider to win the lucrative Rolex Grand Slam with its $350,000 prize. Britain's Pippa Funnell is the only previous winner of the Grand Slam, - in 2002-03.
FOOTNOTE: Jonelle says that Wesko has started his rehabilitation from the injury that took him out of contention for Rio: "He will be back next year." Wesko has had three top placings in four-star competitions.
His injury is a blow for the New Zealand Olympic team. Last month Tim Price told Eventing Nation: "I think Wesko has Rio written all over him. I've felt it since he sort of came of age. He's proved himself at the four-star level and is finding that job easier." He said then his number two horse for Rio would be Bango.
Barbury Racecourse - a specialist venue for point-to-pointsThere were two doubles on the card at the Tedworth Point-to-Point held at a bright and breezy Barbury Racecourse (April 12) where a large crowd gathered to watch the feature race of the day. The Tedworth Gold Cup (the JM Finn & Co Mixed Open Race) is a stayers test over 3 miles 6 furlongs.
Patiently ridden by Charlie Dando, the Michael Hawker trained mare, Cecile De Volanges, was tucked in behind the leaders for much of the race. Dando made his move five fences from home. Although Turtle Boys was not going to go down without a fight, the mare eventually got up to win by two and a half lengths.
"She travelled well although she made a couple of mistakes early which knocked her confidence," explained Dando. "But as the race progressed she became more fluent, winging everything down the back straight and running on well."
Hawker dashed off to saddle Bobble Mist in the next race, who duly obliged when finishing alone in the Simpsons Subaru and Jockey Club Mares Open Maiden, giving her trainer his second win of the day.
Trouble Digger, partnered by Joe Drinkwater gave elder brother and trainer Sam Drinkwater his first win in a tightly fought finish to beat Joe the Trucker by a neck in the William Bartholomew Party Organisers Club Members Race for Veteran & Novice Riders.
John Wills, who owned and bred the winner, is no stranger to the saddle himself having taken part in the Grand National - back in 1969! Drinkwater's second win came in the 2 mile 4 furlong Open Maiden Race with Breath of Blighty - having run out in his previous race - firmly anchored by jockey, Charlie Deutsch to beat Deal Of the Day, who has now been placed five times in Maidens this season.
Sent to post the 1-5 favourite, the Sally Alner trained Garstin under Luke Kilgarriff led for much of the way and stayed on well to hold off a challenge from Getyouractogether and Amelia Glass and take the Prestat Chocolates Confined Race.
Coeur Brûlée, owned, trained and ridden by David Turner won the Pheasant Inn at Lambourn Restricted Race cosily from Daves Venture. "He's kept and trained from a field belonging to Paul Coombes - my farrier", smiled Turner. "So I have him to thank."
In the Haddon Training sponsored pony races that preceded the main card, Harriet Godfrey, one of the leading pony race riders in the country won Division 2 of the 14.2hh race on Goldwell's Gucci, just ahead of the fast finishing Alfie Martindale and Otterburn Lady. Poppy Scott won the 13.2hh pony race aboard Coveham Generation followed by Division 1 of the 14.2hh race won by Ben Sutton riding Scribblin.
The day concluded with the Tedworth Hunt Charity Race, run in good humour in aid of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance and won by Michelle Williamson and Spider.
Chelsea Pearce with (left) Djakota EB aka Hugo & (right) Kilnaboy Buffet aka KilliIt is a very busy time for eventer Chelsea Pearce: next month she celebrates her seventeenth birthday, she has just gone back to school, a new horse arrived a couple of weeks ago from Austria, the eventing season is not yet over - and she is in the process of winning her way from Pony Trials to Junior Trials.
Two weeks ago she rode her ten-year-old gelding Albert VI to win the Open Novice under 18 event at the Treborough Hill horse trials near Minehead. She then came third there on her second entry - seven-year old gelding Djakota EB. A very satisfactory way to round off her sixteenth year.
It all began with GianniShe has been a dedicated rider since she got her first pony at the age of two - that was Chelsea's age not the pony's. And that pony, Gianni, who came from the Blue Cross animal charity, still puts his head out of his loose box at her stables near Marlborough - just to say hello.
There is ample proof of her dedication in hanging in from the kitchen ceiling - row upon row of rosettes!
Chelsea has had great successes at the pony level of eventing. In 2013 she was in Arezzo as an individual competitor with the Great Britain team at the European Pony Championships. The next year she represented Great Britain again at the European Championships - this time at the Millstreet centre in Ireland and despite a fall, she returned with a silver medal.
Chelsea and Albert VI competing at Treborough Hill (photo copyright Jayphotos)Once back at Stonar School, near Melksham, she has to juggle her A-level work with the last weeks of the eventing season. And there must be time too for the other sports she has excelled in - being in school teams for hockey, netball, cross country running and swimming. She is the daughter of the footballer and manager, Stuart Pearce.
It is probably quite lucky that her journey to and from school each day gives her two hours for homework on the bus. She is doing A-levels in PE, psychology, English and biology.
She does not want to go to university: "I really do want to become an eventer." Her mother, Liz, smiles: "The A-levels are just in case she needs them to fall back on when it comes to earning a living."
Once a week she has training sessions with Annabel Scrimgeour who lives in Marlborough, works with Andrew Nicholson at Lockeridge and is also a judge for dressage and eventing competitions. Liz is her greatest supporter - and drives the horse box.
Chelsea...and some of her rosettesChelsea is supported by Ariat who make footwear and clothes for riders, by Haygain the Hungerford firm who make hay steamers, and by Pewsey company Aqueos which makes water-based disinfectants and other products for horses and dogs. And she wears a new skull-cap from Gatehouse and a body protector from Rodney Powell.
She has also had financial support from SportsAid UK - which some years ago supported William Fox-Pitt on his way to becoming a British eventing star.
Chelsea now has three horses. Djakota EB is a seven-year Dutch bred gelding - also known as Hugo. Chelsea has been successfully competing Djalota EB at Novice level.
Ten year-old Albert VI - or Albie - is another Dutch bred horse. He has been with Chelsea for six weeks - which makes their success Treborough Hill all the more remarkable.
The newest arrival is from Austria: Kilnaboy Buffet - a seven year-old Irish bred horse who has been competing at CIC2** level - and twice at CIC3*. Chelsea describes Killi as a "very easy" ride. Just the sort of horse to help her rise up the eventing rankings next season.
(Photo of Chelsea and Albert VI competing at Treborough Hill by kind permission of Jayphotos. Click on photos to enlarge them.)