Lizzie Kelly in her mother's racing colours - at Newbury earlier in 2015Conditional jockey Lizzie Kelly, who works full-time for trainer Neil King at his Burderop yard near Barbury Castle, made racing history on Saturday (December 26) becoming the first woman jockey to win a British Grade One jumps race.
She brought Tea for Two home to win the three mile Kauto Star Novices' Chase at Kempton by four lengths. The six year-old bay gelding is trained by her step-father Nick Williams and owned by her mother Jane Williams with Len Jakeman.
Kelly, who is 22 years-old, has been riding Tea for Tea in races since April 2013 - a total of fourteen outings. Her first race on Tea for Two was a National Hunt Flat Race at Wincanton which she won by one-and-a-half lengths.
After the race she told Channel 4 Racing "I'm delighted to do it on this horse. He showed what he is worth today." Channel 4 Racing's Gina Harding tweeted: "What a treat to interview Lizzie Kelly making history as the 1st Lady jockey to win a Grade 1 over jumps. What an achievement." To which Lizzie Kelly replied: "Thank you!"
Recently retired jockey Hayley Turner tweeted: "Wow...no steering job. Take a bow." Lizzie Kelly's mother stressed that Tea for Two is no easy ride and commentators praised the race Kelly rode.
The pair had won in great style at Exeter over two miles and three furlongs earlier in the month - Tea for Two's chase debut.
The appearance of Tea for Two in Saturday's prestigious race had been planned for a long time - and Lizzie Kelly said she has warned her boss (Neil King) long ago that she could not ride any of his Boxing Day entries.
Kelly told Channel 4 Racing that she could not go out celebrating on Saturday night as she would be back at Kempton on Sunday with two rides. But what are the odds of the pair returning to Kempton next year for the King George VI chase?
Lizzie Kelly leads out Golden Thread at Neil King's Open Day last September
ERM has brought a little of Formula-one's pizzazz to eventing with podium interviews & bubbly: here Jonelle Price is on the right showing her expertise at spraying champagne! (Photo by ERM TV)The inaugural series of the six-leg Event Rider Masters (ERM) competition that has brought big prize money and live television coverage to British eventing, ended at the Blenheim Palace horse trials last weekend.
With a complicated points system Britain's Oliver Townend took first place overall, with Mildenhall-based Jonelle Price in second place just five ERM points behind him.
Australia's Paul Tapner (based at Highworth) was in third place. While winners of each of the six contests took home £16,000, the top riders across the competition won bonus prizes.
Oliver Townend took the £30,000 top bonus prize - with his victories in two of the legs that brought his total winnings for the ERM series to £74,000.
Jonelle Price won a £15,000 end of series bonus prize - though she had not won one of the six contests, she had been consistently with leaders through most of the series.
France's Thomas Carlile took Upsilon into first place in the Blenheim contest and came in fifth in the overall rankings. At eight years-old his stallion was thought to be too young for the Olympics.
The series was interrupted by the Olympic Games - at which Jonelle Price represented New Zealand and so missed one of the competitions. It will be interesting to see how the rankings develop in next year's series without that interruption.
Andrew Nicholson (from Lockeridge) won the Barbury leg - so winning the top prize for each of the six rounds of £16,000. But in the overall rankings he was equal twentieth with China's Alex Hua Tian who won the ERM round staged during the Bramham International and whose prize money was also £16,000.
Jonelle Price's prize money for being placed during the series was just £8,900. Her placings were sixteenth, third, eighth, fourth with third place at Blenheim.
All six contests in the series can still be watched at www.eventridermasters.tv
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.
Jonelle Price & Faerie Dianimo at Barbury 2013Les Etoiles de Pau, the season’s final four-star eventing competition (October 23-26), was won by the German rider Ingrid Klimke on Horseware Hale Bob. They took joint first place in the dressage and first place in the cross country, and despite four faults, held on in the show jumping to win by a clear 6.2 points.
Mildenhall-based Jonelle Price kept the New Zealand flag flying – and local hopes very much alive - to finish fourth in the overall placings. With her nine-year-old grey mare Faerie Dianimo, she was in eleventh place after the dressage, in sixth place after the cross country – and went on to take the season-topping fourth place.
Jonelle Price (copyright Libby law Photography)Mrs Price was one of only three riders with a clear round and no time penalties in the final show jumping stage.
After her fourth place at the World Equestrian Games this summer in France, she must be keener still to get into the top three placings.
“It was about giving her a good trip, and if we were competitive, then that was a bonus,” said Price of the feisty little grey who is owned by Trisha Rickards and Jacky Green. “To be able to do both was super.”
She’s confident it is just the start of an exciting future for Faerie Dianimo.
“The cross country was quite strong,” said Price. “It was tough from start to finish, and at 12 minutes was the longest one we have had all year. The questions came thick and fast, with problems right throughout. It was a true four star out there.”
“We had one moment in the showjumping. If ever she is in doubt, she goes sky high – which is what she did. She always gives it everything..”
Price says while the nine-year-old horse is dainty, unique and beautiful to look at, she is “a little fighter”.
“She keeps me on my toes and is relentless. She loves what she does and is bloody good at it! She is incredibly talented – give her another 12 or 24 months and she could be really special.”
For Price and her husband Tim, the result at Pau caps off their best-ever year: “It’s been a combination of everything coming together . . . horsepower, training, belief and a bit of luck to carry you across the line.”
It was a bleak day for the British contenders. William Fox-Pitt on Parklane Hawk was in joint first place with Klimke in the dressage. And on his second entry Seacookie TSF (last year’s winning pair) was in fifth place.
However, Fox-Pitt retired Seacookie TSF during the cross-country and withdrew Parklane Hawk before he started the course. He blamed the hard ground.
The highest placed British pair was Nicola Wilson with One Two Many - finishing in eighth place.
The final results saw Germany's Abdreas Dibowski in second place and France's Arnaud Boitteau third. In fifth place was Ireland's Joseph Murphy on Sportsfield Othello who had been in fourth place after the cross-country, but had twelve faults in the show jumping. Murphy had worse luck still on Electric Cruise - they were in second position after the cross-country, but were eliminated at the horse inspection before the show jumping.
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.]