From Emma Lavelle's websiteTrainer Emma Lavelle has bought the Bonita Racing Stables at Ogbourne Maizey from Peter Makin who is retiring at the end of this Flat season after 48 years as a trainer. She will be moving from Hampshire to Wiltshire and to some of the finest gallops in the country.
Since 1998 she has been training at Little Hatherden between Andover and Newbury.
Peter Makin's yard and gallops were on the market for £3,000,000. Word that Emma Lavelle was the successful buyer had been circulating in the village for some time, but it was said the deal was still subject to contract.
Now it has been announced and Ms Lavelle has told the Racing Post: "It's massively exciting. It's the most fantastic place with beautiful gallops and a great deal of history."
Bonita was set up by the theatrical impressario George Edwardes in the 1890s. Before Makin came to Ogbourne Maizey other fanous racing names associated with the yard included Bill Marshall, Sir Gordon Richards and Bob Turnell.
The training establishment has 154 acres of private gallops, 54 boxes in two yards, two houses, two flats, a cottage, a staff hostel and 45 acres of paddocks.
Emma Lavelle told the Racing Post: "I'd love to think we could train more Flat runners, given the facilities, if people want send horses to us, but we'll remain predominantly National Hunt."
As a National Hunt specialist in the Marlborough area she will join its two other jump trainers - Alan King (Barbury) and Neil King (Upper Herdswick Farm.)
Peter Makin will be staying in on in the yard's main house. He says that some of his current horses will go to the sales, some to other trainers and some might stay to be trained by Emma Lavelle for the Flat.
Tullius - with KVT colours - wins the 2014 Group 2 Bet365 MileIf you are interested in racing, or even obsessed by it, and have always wanted to feel the thrills of ownership, joining a syndicate and buying a share in a horse is a first step. Racing manager Sam Hoskins can certainly find you a share in one of the horses Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds (KVT.)
The KVT syndicate was started in 1988 by Nick Robinson - the man who helped get Robert Sangster into racing. He suggested Sangster put a bet on Chalk Stream - a good Wiltshire name. The horse did not win, but Sangster bought the horse as a gift for his fiancée.
Nick Robinson, now aged 77, was a pioneer of horseracing syndicates. He was the publisher of the racing industry's Pacemaker magazine, which has now merged with Thoroughbred Owner and Breeder magazine.
Last year Robinson handed over management of KVT to a very much younger man - 28-year-old Sam Hoskins. And he has now retired as KVT's Chairman - but still owns shares on some of KVT's horses. Over the years KVT have sent out 122 winners and earned £2.8million in prize money.
Sam Hoskins at Newbury Sam Hoskins became interested in racing when his grandmother owned half of Errant Knight - a chestnut gelding trained by Martin Pipe who won sixteen races in the early 1990s. Sam got a great thrill from leading him in after races.
When he was seventeen - and still at school - he found out how to lay off his bets. Then one day he forgot to lay off what was for him then a huge gamble - a £20 bet on the Nicky Henderson trained hurdler Geos. It was the 2004 running of Newbury's Tote Gold Trophy Hurdle. Faced with a field of 25 runners, Sam spent an agonising time waiting to lose his £20. But the horse won and he pocketed £400 - that hooked him on racing.
Sam Hoskins trained on the Irish National Stud course - a course that covers many aspects of racing: "I lost a stone and a half mucking out!" He then worked at studs in Kentucky and Cambridge, New Zealand where there is a mix of breeders, trainers, polo, eventers and racing: "I learnt the ropes there."
Back in Britain, he spent two and a half fulfilling years working for the Niarchos family - leading racehorse owners and breeders.
With that £400 win behind him, and a head for the niceties of breeding and form, he went on to win racing's lottery prize: he landed the Racing Post Ten-to-Follow Competition for the 2008-2009 jump season - a cool £440,000 win. It allowed him to set himself up in business.
In 2012 he started the Hot to Trot Racing Club with Luke Lillingston. This is more a racing members club than a syndicate. They lease horses rather than buying them and so can provide a much more affordable way into racehorse 'ownership'. Hot to Trot currently has seven horses.
The KVT silks Sam and Piers Winkworth are continuing KVT's regime of selling shares in single, named horses - 16 shares for each horse at around £7,000 per share. With trainers' fees at between £50 and £60 per day, it is an expensive business. But winnings and any money left over at the end of the season is returned to shareholders.
The syndicate has horses with trainers Andrew Balding, Charlie Hills, Ralph Beckett and Richard Hannon. It is mainly involved with young horses - buying at the yearling sales in the £30-50,000 range. This season they have four two year olds - three colts and a filly.
They have one 'old timer' - the much cherished syndicate star Tullius. He is an Irish bred seven year-old chestnut gelding trained by Andrew Balding at Kingsclere. On 25 April 2014, Tullius, with Jimmy Fortune aboard, ran on strongly to win Sandown's Group Two BET365 Mile by three and three-quarter lengths. That win was worth £53,800 to KVT.
And last month he won the Betway Doncaster Mile Stakes by half a length. But Jimmy Fortune could only bring him in fourth of a field of five in last Friday's (April 24) BET365 Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown - like humans, horses have to have 'off-days'.
Sam takes a realistic view of Tullius: "He's not the most straightforward horse. And we are already thinking ahead about ways to give him a good retirement after racing."
KVT horses earned their owners £238,477 in 2014: "Last year," Sam told Marlborough News Online, "was our most successful season for many years, mainly due to the fantastic year had by our star Tullius."
KVT's other horses for this flat season are: Bishop's Leap, Frenchman, Magical Memory, Match my Fire, Maxwell, Signal Hill and Stroke of Midnight.
Some people may find that joining a syndicate not only brings the thrill of winning, but also some doubts when something goes wrong with your horse. But the good days in the winner's enclosure always make up for any set backs.
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 TurtleHRH 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 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 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.]
Mike O’Kane presenting mementoes to winning connections of Gala Ball, who won The Ladbrokes Supporting Greatwood Handicap Hurdle RaceGreatwood Charity, held its annual race day at Newbury Racecourse on Saturday (March 5) with a lunch attended by 350 guests. This year's major fundraising effort was bigger and better than ever with a phenomenal amount of money being raised.
In excess of £135,000 - net of costs - was raised which equates to a quarter of Greatwood’s total annual running costs.
"This", one of the organisers told Marlborough News Online, "is an astonishing amount of money, which will have a hugely positive impact on the charity."
Greatwood Charity, based at Clench Common, just south of Marlborough, looks after retired racehorses and uses them to help children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). It is an accredited alternative provider of SEND programmes and provider of ‘Positive Activities for Young People’ with the Wiltshire Council.
Greatwood’s Managing Director & co-founder, Helen Yeadon, called the day - the ninth to be held at Newbury - a resounding success: "I would like to thank our sponsors: Betfair, Betway, Ladbrokes, StanJames.com, Moore of Devizes Ltd, BetVictor, Bloor Homes, Haygrove and Irish Thoroughbred Marketing for their immense support of the day."
Tanya Stevenson of Channel 4 Racing - but shouldn't she be on the telly?"The silent and main auction contributes to a large proportion of our fundraising efforts and I must thank all those who contributed and placed bids but also to our Patron, Jenny McCririck, who worked tirelessly procuring so many of the wonderful prizes."
And Helen Yeadon added: "A special note of thanks must go to Mike O’Kane from Ladbrokes who presented Greatwood with a cheque for £50,000 - a staggeringly generous donation for which the charity is enormously thankful."
"Finally a big thank you to the intrepid riders in the charity race, for training so hard and raising a huge amount of money in the process - along with the Stewards, Richard Osgood The Clerk of the Course, Sarah Oliver of the Amateur Jockeys Association."
"We are hugely grateful to the Chairman, the Directors and all of the staff at Newbury Racecourse for helping to make the day such a triumph.”
Mike O’Kane presenting mementoes to winning connections of Gala Ball, who won The Ladbrokes Supporting Greatwood Handicap Hurdle Race
Some of the Greatwood team surviving a very cold and wet day's racing
Kauto Star and Laura Collett in July 2013Kauto Star - the gelding who won races and racegoers' hearts - has been put down after falling in the paddock and suffering severe neck and pelvis injuries.
The British eventer Laura Collett announced his death on Twitter.
The 15-year-old had been retired from racing in 2012 and Laura Collett had successfully retrained him in dressage.
Kauto Star and Laura gave a dressage display at the Barbury Horse Trials last year. And in March they appeared together in publicity for Channel 4's Cheltenham Festival coverage - along with Denman, Big Bucks and Masterminded.
Kauto Star won the Cheltenham Gold Cup twice. He won 23 of his 41 races, including five King George VI Steeplechases.
Kauto Star's owner, Clive Smith told BBC Radio 5 live: "It is really devastating - he was looking fit and well at Laura Collett's yard. The main injury was to the neck, as it gets worse it attacks the spinal cord. He also fractured his pelvic bone. A really sad time indeed."
"He had a great talent for never giving up. He wanted to win. With jockey Ruby Walsh riding him, he put this massive effort in at the end of races. He had a heart of a lion."
Laura 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.
Neil King with Lil Rockerfeller Trainer Neil King's "best season ever" ended on an especially high note with Lil Rockerfeller's win at Sandown on the last day of the 2014-2015 jump season - also remembered widely as the day of AP McCoy's last professional ride.
A year after moving from Newmarket to Upper Herdswick Farm on the Marlborough Downs just by Barbury Castle, King is really pleased with his new Ridgeway Racing stables: "We're over the moon. We're so fortunate the ball has rolled for us - it won't always happen like that when you've just moved."
During the jump season he has had 29 winners and his horses have won £240,000 in prize money. And he has gained more owners and has more horses at the yard. You only have to look at the well groomed state of the yard itself to see what a busy year it has been.
Lil Rockerfeller's win at Sandown is a story all of its own. "Disappointingly", Neil told Marlborough News Online, "after all the work we had done with him, neither I nor his usual jockey, Trevor Whelan, were there to see his victory." Neil was in Ireland to see Trevor getting married: "So it was his fault!!"
But the story has another twist: the ride went to another conditional jockey (the jump equivalent of flat racing's apprentice jockeys): Sean Bowen. And with his win on Lil Rockefeller he clinched the Conditional Jockeys Championship for the season - edging out Nico de Boinville, who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.
Sean Bowen is seventeen. He is the son of Peter and Karen Bowen - Peter trains in Pembrokeshire. After the race Sean said: "It was brilliant of Neil to put me on him. This week I've been working hard to get in front of Nico and he's been hard to beat. It's been good and there's been plenty of highlights."
Trevor Whelan There is, as it were, a sub-plot to this story, Trevor Whelan finished third in the Conditional Jockeys Championship.
Neil King bought Lil Rockerfeller last August, but it took until Christmas to find buyers for him: "Since we started racing him, he's improved and improved."
At the end of March, he won at Ascot with Trevor Whelan aboard - running on well to win the Coutts Juvenile Handicap Hurdle by six lengths. After the race Whelan was very positive about the horse: "He's a nice horse, but he only ran last week, so he's been busy. That's my first Ascot winner and it's been a good season for me."
For the next jump season - which has, it should be said, already started - Neil will still have Trevor Whelan as his stable jockey. There will also be another conditional Lizzie Kelly at Newburyjockey, 22-year-old Lizzie Kelly who joined the yard earlier this year.
She too has had a season to remember. On New Year's Day she won at Cheltenham on Aubusson - leaving AP McCoy eight lengths behind her. A couple of weeks later she won Kempton's Lanzarote Hurdle on Tea for Tea.
Both horses are trained by her step-father Nick Williams and she rode them both at the Cheltenham Festival - though without a place. She's gathering quite a fan club of youngsters who admire the way she takes on the big and male names in racing.
Last week, on her twenty-second birthday, she rode another winner for Neil King - Dire Straits won at Plumpton in a novices' hurdle - never mind it was a two horse field. She brought Dire Straits through to beat the favourite, Thats My rabbit.
Southway StarZeroeshadesofgreyOther Ridgeway success stories have included Southway Star who had four wins in a row at the start of the season - having been bought by King at the October sales for £2,300. One of her wins, at Fontwell, gave King a hat trick of winners in a day - with Zeroeshadesofgrey and The Boss's Dream winning at Uttoxeter.
On New Year's Day Zeroeshadesofgrey made his debut at Cheltenham - coming a creditable third.
But before Neil King starts to plan for next winter's campaign and the stable's open day in September, he has some horses at the yard for the flat season - and stepping up to hurdles. In March Conserve won on Wolverhampton's all-weather track and on Tuesday (May 5) is entered at Fakenham - over hurdles. Regulation is entered for an amateur riders hurdle race at Kempton on Monday (May 4) and later at Royal Ascot.
FOOTNOTE: You can get odds of 25-1 on Sean Bowen succeeding Tony McCoy as champion jump jockey - for the 2015-2016 season.
David Grant with Nikki NewmanNikki Newman, who lives in Marlborough, did not even realise she had been nominated until she got the email telling her she had been judged as runner up for Haddon Training British Grooms Award. Nikki is a freelance groom and was nominated in secret by the employers she works for.
The Marlborough based company Haddon Training were sponsoring the awards for the first time and were delighted by the number of nominations they received. The awards have not been run for the past six years due to the lack of a sponsor.
Haddon Training provide work-based training and apprenticeships - especially got the equestrian industry. They are an OFSTED 'outstanding provider'.
The awards are open to grooms working in all parts of the equestrian industry. They were presented by Haddon Training’s chief operating officer David Grant at the annual British Breeders awards dinner.
The overall winner was Caroline Heard who works for a hunting yard in winter and in summer as a showing groom and producer.
|David Grant with Caroline Heard ||David Grant with Jessica Errington |
Jessica Errington won the award for grooms who were part of the British team at the 2014 Alltech World Equestrian Games in France.
She was looking after British eventing team member Harry Meade’s mount Wild Lone who collapsed and died immediately after completing a clear round in the cross country. Meade said the tricky conditions on the course were not the cause of Wild Lone’s death.
Nominating Jessica, Meade said she had dedicated her life to looking after Wild Lone and had handled an extremely difficult situation with huge dignity. Wild Lone was a thirteen year-old gelding and the World Games were his sixth four star eventing competition.
As a freelance groom Nikki Newman shows great versatility in handling a point-to-pointer one day, an eventer on another day, a dressage horse the next day and a mountain and moorland show pony after that. The nomination pointed out that she gave each kind of horse attention and care of the highest standard.
Commenting on her award, Nikki said: “It’s not that I have done anything different to any other groom in the country. Everyone is at home in the rain, dealing with muddy fields and the cold weather, it doesn’t matter if you are an apprentice or a head groom, everyone is doing the job. But it’s great that grooms in general are being recognised.”