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Keyflow Stage1v3

Three retired racehorses, trained by local riders qualify for the horse of the Year Show


Three former successful racehorses, stabled and trained now at Overton Manor Farm (and owned by the White family) in Wroughton have qualified for the Horse of the Year Show at Birmingham’s NEC in October. Trained by the ladies who will be riding them, the three horses will be competing in the...

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Bishopstone's Greta Mason looks forward to this weekend's Badminton

04-05-2023 Jan Perrins

  When Greta Mason drives through the famous Badminton gates for her debut appearance this week it will be a culmination of a three-year plan. Greta and her 16.1hh gelding Cooley for Sure (Murphy) moved to base themselves with former Badminton winner Rodney Powell at his Bishopstone yard in 2020, with a...

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Rabson Manor - a popular equestrian cross country course and training centre is to close


Rabson Manor, a popular BHS Approved Facility which offers a wide variety of cross country fences for grassroots training is to be closed so we understand, because increased insurance and running costs have made the business unviable. The show jumping and dressage arenas will also close with immediate effect. The owners of...

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Larkhill point-to-point - back on Saturday 21 January - Now postponed until 28 Jan


Weather has forced the postponement of this meet by one week - it will now take place on Saturday 28 Jan. Military point to point organisers say they are ‘immensely grateful’ to Defence Secretary Ben Wallace for saving the Larkhill Racecourse from closure. The Point to Point racing season sees the...

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Marlborough's Tim and Jonelle Price achieve third and fourth places at the first Burghley Horse Trials for three years


Marlborough based eventing power couple Tim and Jonelle Price have finished Burghley International Horse Trials in third and fourth place. Tim and his ride Vitali took the prize from HRH Princess Anne at the event.

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Bad news for Barbury - Point-To-Points to cease


Point to point races are to cease at Barbury. The estate owners blame inflationary pressures:  “We are saddened to announce on behalf the Barbury Castle Estate that a difficult decision has been taken to cease Point-to-Point racing at the estate this season and into the foreseeable future,”  said a Barbury Castle Estate...

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Ladies Day at Newbury Races this weekend (14th) - and the first female commentator ever to call a race will…


Dani Jackson is to commentate on the very first race of the day, a charity race in celebration Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee to raise funds for the Injured Jockeys Fund.   Racegoers will also have the chance to hear from some leading sporting figures before the live action starts with their Panel...

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Jane Holderness-Roddam talks to Niki Hinman


As the dressage phase finished at Badminton,  two time Badminton and one time Burghley winner Jane Holderness-Roddam CBE spoke to Niki Hinman about the ‘bette noir’ that is dressage, the value of smiling down the centre line, and reflects on the change in cross country courses since her day.   West Kington based...

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Ice cream, truck driving - and British Team ambitions


David Doel is going to his first Badminton with a plan.   He wants to make the British team. His CV says it all, and this charmingly modest, mild-mannered farmer’s son sees Badminton as the next logical step in his hopes for team glory with the GB equestrian team.

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Doughnuts and Olympic dreams for Falco and Tim Price


Falco is fast becoming a super star, and tipped for the Olympic team in Paris.   He’s now the number one ride of Marlborough-based New Zealand event rider Tim Price.The 13-year old pocket rocket (he’s a ‘nuggety’ 16hh) certainly has diva-like tendencies to suit the big stage.

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Darcy is by no means the only attraction at High Hope’s Stud at Chisbury


Darcy and Tom Hanlom at High Hope's StudDarcy and Tom Hanlom at High Hope's StudFor the latest news on Darcy the mare shot in the head while in a field at Chisbury - see Marlborough News Online news pages.

Darcy’s home is the High Hope’s Stud which is run by Mark Hope and Tom Hanlom.  They moved to what had been Chisbury Manor Stud in March. Mark had run a stud farm at Hungerford Park and Tom was based at Boomerang Stables in Chilton Foliat.

They have teamed up to run a multi-enterprise equestrian centre. They have been doing a great deal of renovation to house, barns, stables and fencing and have had the fields ploughed and re-seeded to provide better grass for the horses.

Across the road they are about to put in an arena with an all-weather silica sand and fibre surface.  They have sixty acres which includes part of the moat or ditch around Chisbury’s Iron Age fort.  

They lease indirectly from the Ramsbury Estate – both land and buildings were bought recently from the Crown Estate by Stefan Persson as part of his purchase of the ‘Savernake Estate’ agricultural holdings.

At the heart of their operation is the stud.  In the summer, when it is busiest, they can be taking in 40 mares a month.  They arrive, are either covered or artificially inseminated, get a 14-16 day scan to see if they are bearing twins, have a second scan at 28 days to check the foetus’ heartbeat – and if all is well, they go home.

Silver Pond Silver Pond The stud has a range of top class stallions.  The thoroughbred Silver Pond is one of the best known.  He raced flat and was placed in Group 1 and was a winner of Group 2 races, taking prize money of over £417,000 in his short racing career.

It was a career that ended in a disastrous anti-climax:  arriving for the Dubai World Cup – for which was a favoured entry – he left his horsebox with an injury and could not run.  And he had just been sold for £5million.  

He  is now a much favoured stallion.  Irish breeders are keen on him for flat and National Hunt progeny and the stud already have half a dozen bookings for January and February – and two people have recently tried to buy him.

Another stallion standing at High Hope’s Stud is Maxmillian Voltucky – a Dutch warm blood who won 32 national and international dressage championships in a row.  He was sired by Voltaire who in 1996 was rated number two in the world on the dressage and jumping index.

Nelson van de HelleNelson van de HelleWorld class show jumping stallion Nelson van de Helle is the newest addition at High Hope’s Stud and will be available this stud season for the first time since retiring from his show jumping career. 

A Belgian warm blood, Nelson jumped at top level in South Africa before moving to Europe to compete. He has numerous wins to his record including the South African Derby with international rider Ronnie Lawrence.

High Hope Condor on the way to a clear roundHigh Hope Condor on the way to a clear roundOne of their stallions bears the stud farm’s name:  High Hopes Condor is now with the highly successful French showjumper Dan Delsart competing in Fox Hunter competitions – with plenty of double clears.

Delsart is now running a training competiion yard with Victoria Wearing at Farndish on the Northamptonshire and Bedfordshire border.

High Hopes CondorHigh Hopes CondorCondor has had four seasons at stud.  He has appeared consistently in the top five in the annual ranking of showjumping sires.  One of his progeny, Condors Boy, was named Leading Showjumping Yearling in 2011.

The High Hope’s Stud’s other enterprises include livery at various levels – they currently have ten client horses.  They run a cleaning and repair service for pony and horse rugs.  

They stable horses for private owners and undertake pre-training work, work with ‘difficult’ horses and rehabilitation work.  Tom Hanlom is known for his skills with tricky horses and also teaches.  He and Mark laugh as they explain that they specialise in doing some of “the hard work” for owners – hard work and sometimes hard knocks.

As an undergraduate Tom studied equine science at Limerick University and then did a research MSc at Essex University.   He loves sport and was in the Irish judo team before switching to eventing.

Among the yard’s eventers he has a 14-year old gelding Uptown Jonny who is ‘sharp’ and quite naughty – but with “one hell of a jump”.   Uptown Jonny is returning to eventing having last competed in 2008.

It is difficult to find the time to push young horses up the eventing grades, but Tom says: “I am looking to build up the string for next season.”  He has already qualified for the Badminton Grassroots competition.  This is run before the main event to give young riders and young horses experience of that iconic eventing course.

[Click on photos to enlarge them.  Photos of the stallions are copyright of High Hope's Stud.]

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David Quinn long-serving stalwart at Beckhampton yards dies aged 90

1985: David Quinn (in trilby) and Steve Raymont lead Rainbow Quest to the start for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe1985: David Quinn (in trilby) and Steve Raymont lead Rainbow Quest to the start for the Prix de l'Arc de TriompheDavid Patrick Quinn, who for many years was travelling head lad for trainer Jeremy Tree at Beckhampton, has died shortly after celebrating his 90th birthday.  He lived in Avebury Trusloe.

Quinn continued to work at Beckhampton after Tree retired and when his assistant trainer, Roger Charlton, took over the yards in 1989.  Roger Charlton continues to train at Beckhampton - now with his son Harry as his Assistant Trainer.

Talking about Quinn, Roger Charlton told Marlborough News Online: "He was a huge part of the Beckhampton team."  

Charlton remembers David Quinn travelling with Sanglamore to Chantilly in 1990 for the French Derby - which he won by half a length with Pat Eddery aboard.  And then, four days later, Quinn took Quest for Fame to Epsom for the Derby - again with Pat Eddery.  Quest for Fame won by three lengths.

Quinn, from Ballingary, Limerick began his career in racing as an apprentice to Curragh trainer Michael Collins.  He moved to England in 1947 and worked for trainer Monty Smyth.  

He started work at Beckhampton on 13 December 1960.  His weekly pay was a bit over £17.  His name is linked to some of the most famous horses Tree sent out:  Danehill, Sharpo and Rainbow Quest - who famously, on his final outing, won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe after a steward's enquiry.  [See photo above.]

Steve Raymont, now the Charlton's head lad and who had worked closely with Quinn, described him as "A thoroughly nice, ordinary guy with no airs and graces.  He was very straightforward and new his job inside out."

After he retired he still kept his interest in racing and would ask Steve Raymont how the horses were doing at the yard.

When Tree died in 1993 Quinn received a bequest of £5,000 - one of the key members of the Beckampton staff to be remembered in his will.   

Quinn is survived by his daughter Teresa, son Sean and four grandchildren.

There will be a memorial service at 1.30pm on Monday, March 21 at St Thomas More Catholic Church in George Lane.

[Photo courtesy Roger Charlton - with thanks.]

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Barbury's JCB Champions Challenge pits Dickie Johnson's team against Sir Mark Todd's

2015: Jump jockey Richard Johnson leads from Harry Meade in Barbury's  JCB Champions Challenge (Photo: Alan Dale)2015: Jump jockey Richard Johnson leads from Harry Meade in Barbury's JCB Champions Challenge (Photo: Alan Dale)This year at the St. James's Place Barbury International Horse Trials (7-10 July) senior riders from the eventing and horseracing world will clash once again in the third renewal of the JCB Champions Challenge on Saturday, 9 July.
The race, run in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund (IJF), will feature a stellar line up of two teams of the world’s very best jump jockeys and eventers riding against each other over a specially designed course.  Sir Mark Todd and Richard Johnson have been named as the two team captains.
Eager to defend their Champions Challenge crown for a third consecutive year, the jump jockeys will be led by the newly crowned champion jump jockey Richard ‘Dickie’ Johnson. 

Dickie will be joined by a trio of current and former jump jockeys: 2015 Hennessy Gold Cup winner and stable jockey to Barbury's Alan King, Wayne Hutchinson, one of the most successful jockeys of the modern era Tom Scudamore.  Completing the team will be John Francome MBE a former multiple champion jump jockey, who is also vice patron of the IJF.
Having been beaten by the narrowest of margins in the two previous years, the event riders have submitted a team comprised of speed and quality that includes two members of New Zealand's team for the 2016 Rio Games. 

2015: Sir Mark Todd in Barbury's JCB Champions Challenge  (Photo: Alan Dale)2015: Sir Mark Todd in Barbury's JCB Champions Challenge (Photo: Alan Dale)Sir Mark Todd, who will captain the eventers, and  Jonelle Price, known as ‘the fastest rider cross-country’.  They were both members of New Zealand’s Olympic bronze winning team at London 2012. 

Jonelle's husband Tim joins her in the team.  The couple made history in 2014 when they became the first husband and wife team to represent New Zealand at the World Equestrian Games in France. 

Australian eventer, Paul Tapner, completes the eventers' challenge.  He is a past winner of the Badminton Horse Trials and is renowned as a speed specialist in the cross-country phase.
The winning junior and senior teams from the inter-hunt relay, held on the same day, will form the final two teams in the JCB Champions Challenge.
Commenting ahead of this year's ‘Barbury battle’, Dickie Johnson said:  “In the summer months, as jump jockeys we try to take things a bit easier – but not this year, myself, Hutchinson, Scudamore and Francome – are in serious training and can’t wait to lay down the gauntlet to the eventers.”
In response, Sir Mark Todd (who at 60 has become New Zealand's oldest ever Olympian) aimed a cheeky shot at the jump jockeys: “I may be advancing in years, but I am confident I can get one over on Francome – as he is even more advancing than me!”
A new addition at this year’s St.James’s Place Barbury International Horse Trials will be the third leg of the Event Rider Masters (ERM). The inaugural ERM is a new sporting series, showcasing the world’s best ‘Event’ riders with a total of £350,000 in prize money and each leg promising minimum prizes of £50,000 - and with television coverage which is being seen around the world. 
Tickets for the Barbury International Horse Trials start from £12 per person per day booked in advance.  Entrance is free for children under 12 years.   There is more information on the Barbury website where you can book tickets - or call 01672 516125.

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Beckhampton: Roger Charlton starts his flat season campaign with an exciting squad of two-year-olds - and some older timers

Roger Charlton with AyradRoger Charlton with AyradRoger Charlton hopes to run Ayrad, a 5-year-old chestnut owned by Saleh Al Homaizi and Imad Al Sagar, on Friday (April 22) at Sandown in the bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes.  It all depends on the state of the ground.

The continuing wet weather that has affected the jump season so badly, is now starting to worry flat racing trainers.  Earlier in the month Roger Charlton took two runners to Lingfiled and said he was "happy to be avoiding the softened turf elsewhere".

When Newbury's two-day Spring Trials meeting was lost to waterlogged ground, the major Saturday races were switched to Chelmsford's artificial surface course.

It was a tremendous organisational feat.  But there were disadvantages - not all the trainers wanted their horses to run on Chelmsford's all-weather surface - which is considered to run fast.  And with the Friday card abandoned, a clutch of maiden hurdle races was lost leaving several dozen horses still to find races to kick off their season.

Roger Charlton has every sympathy with jump trainers' problems during the season with some needing to run a horse who then gets "a harder race than you want it to have" on heavy ground.  But he adds: "It's the same for everyone".

Bad weather can lead to all sorts of problems.  In the terrible winter of 1947, when Tudor Minstrel was being prepared for The Guineas, they had to lay straw on part of Beckhampton's gallops so he could beat the frozen ground and get some proper exercise.  He won in a record distance.

On a grey and decidedly chilly Monday morning the third group of horses in training with Roger Charlton are being ridden out.  They start with a warm-up on the all-weather trotting ring - a fairly recent addition to the yard's facilities and he says a really valuable one.

They do not exercise on Sundays so they are quite fresh and after their warm-up need only to canter twice round the seven furlong wood chip gallop.   This group is mainly two-year olds and includes two Frankel offspring.

There are five two-year-olds sired by Frankel at the Beckhampton yard.  At the present stage of their development they appear to be taking as much after the mares as Frankel.  One in particular is quite a small horse - at the moment.

A Frankel two-year-oldA Frankel two-year-oldChecking with riders to see how their horses wentChecking with riders to see how their horses went(On the right) Al Kazzem's brother Kazawi [Click to enlarge](On the right) Al Kazzem's brother Kazawi [Click to enlarge] 

Roger Charlton says that just twenty per cent of foals sired by outstanding thoroughbreds will have the potential to achieve similar results - the other eighty per cent will be good but not outstanding.  This dose of reality gives some context to Frankel's £125,000 stud fee and the £1.15million paid for his first foal (in June 2014.)

As this flat season progresses it will be fascinating to see how the Frankel two-year-olds fare in their races.

Roger Charlton with 2-year-old Sfumato in the new barnRoger Charlton with 2-year-old Sfumato in the new barnRoger Charlton worked at Beckhampton for thirteen years as Jeremy Tree's Assistant Trainer and then took over the licence in 1990. He had a momentous first season with Sanglamore winning the French Derby and Quest for Fame winning the Epsom Derby.  Beckhampton is one of the country's top yards and he now has his son Harry as his assistant trainer.

The Beckhampton Inn became a training yard in the late 1820s and sent out its first classic winner in 1839 - when Deception won the Oaks.  Since then the yard has seen thirty classic winners trained on its famous gallops.

Some of its buildings and loose boxes go back to the 1890s.   They still provide an excellent environment for the horses - their thick walls giving them a steady temperature.  

Beckhampton's two yards have room for ninety horses in training.  At the moment there are 85 horses there.  The other five are still in pre-training or just waiting till the season is underway.  

They should not wait too long - Roger Charlton says: "May is one of our most prolific months."  But the yard has no entries for this June's Investec Derby: "We've not got really good three-year-olds this year."

Last year Beckhampton saw the retirement of one of its stars - Al Kazeem went to stud at Oakgrove Stud near Chepstow where he was bred by John Deer.  Now Beckhampton has Al Kazeem's full brother in training - the two-year old colt Kazawi (Dubawi/Kazeem.)

On the way back from the gallopOn the way back from the gallopThe riding out board: a much used relic from earlier daysThe riding out board: a much used relic from earlier daysVirtually in the shadow of Silbury HillVirtually in the shadow of Silbury Hill

So that's two horses under Roger Charlton's expert eye to watch this flat season - first Ayrad who is entered for the Group 1 Investec Coronation Cup at the Derby meeting on June 4.  (He is also entered for a Newmarket one mile and four furlong race on April 30.)   And secondly, the two-year-old Kazawi.  

Apart from Ayrad there are other older horses to watch - like Quest for More who came ninth in the Melbourne Cup and won two important races last season - at Goodwood and Newcastle.  And Countermeasure and Time Test - both entered for Newbury's Group 1 Lockinge Stakes on May 14.

That is not, of course, to forget those five Frankel-sired two-year-olds - Zefferino, Occurrence, Fair Eva and two more which are still to be named.  It should be an exciting flat season - weather permitting.

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Biscuit is the Kennet Valley Driving Group's new recruit

Doug Middlemiss driving BiscuitDoug Middlemiss driving BiscuitThe Kennet Valley Driving Group has just welcomed its newest recruit:  Biscuit who is being driven out with his new and specially adapted trap.  He is a traditional gypsy cob loaned to the group by Elinor Goodman.  

He recently passed the stringent test horses have to go through before they qualify to work with a driving for the disabled group.

One of his first drivers was Doug Middlemiss, who has been driving with the group for two years.  He is delighted by the way Biscuit is going: “There is a real spring in his step and he doesn’t mind what goes past him on the roads.”

Doug Middlemiss is one of thirteen disabled people who regularly drive out with the Kennet Valley group.  All disabled drivers are  accompanied by a qualified 'whip' who has a second set of reins and can take over if necessary.  

The group - part of the Riding for the Disabled Association network - offers the opportunity for those with disabilities who are unable to ride the chance to drive a horse and carriage on an equal footing with the able bodied. It is an experience that improves drivers' health and wellbeing - providing an interest and fresh air.

Doug Middlemiss takes the reinsDoug Middlemiss takes the reinsOther helpers are needed to go out with the carriages, either on foot, or in cars, to help with changeovers and to warn traffic about approaching horses and carriages - making sure traffic slows down.

The group is always in need of volunteers to go to Lockeridge, where the horses are currently kept, on a Tuesday or Thursday morning.

No experience of working with horses is necessary as there are many ways volunteers can help like assisting the disabled drivers as they get ready to drive, preparing equipment and making refreshments..

The group has two other heavy horses, and has had to buy a new, specially adapted  trap for Biscuit.   It is always in need of funds.  

Its main main annual fund raising event is the plant sale, held at Barbury Castle Racecourse, which this year is being held on April 24 at from 10.30.   Entry will be £3 for adults with children under 12 going free.

Specialist nurseries will be selling a range of plants that aren’t usually available in garden centres together with garden accessories and sculptures and homemade cakes and refreshments.

Full details are here.


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Designed for television: Barbury International to host part of the new Event Rider Masters three star series

Opening day's cross country - Barbury International 2015Opening day's cross country - Barbury International 2015Although the BBC have televised what was known as The Badminton Three-day Event for many years, as a whole the sport of eventing has kept a pretty low profile in Britain - and it is certainly not one that features regularly on television.  This may be the year all that changes.

A group of enthusiasts and television producers have got together to organise a six-leg CIC*** contest called Event Rider Masters - and the Barbury International (July 9-10) is to host one of the legs.  

As a television sports director once told Marlborough.News, the Barbury cross country course, held in a natural amphitheatre on the Marlborough Downs, is ideal for live coverage: "You could just about do it all on a couple of cameras!"

The format of the CIC*** competitions involved will stay mainly the same.  The aim of Event Rider Masters is to package the sport specifically for television audiences with the lure for owners and riders with levels of prize money as yet unseen in the world of short-format Eventing.

Event Rider Masters - organised in partnership with EventingLive - promises new technology and reactive data to give a better experience at events and on television for spectators, riders, owners and sponsors alike.  The series will include a 30-minute magazine style TV show, and a condensed 90-minute live show for each of the six legs.

Barbury International 2015Barbury International 2015Barbury International 2015Barbury International 2015The other legs of this new competition will be at Chatsworth House (May 14-15), Bramham Park (June 10-11), Gatcombe Park's Festival of British Eventing (August 6-7), Blair Castle (August 27-28) and Blenheim Palace (September 10-11).

Each of six classes will be run under International Equestrian Federation (FEI) rules and be open to 40 horse and rider combinations.  The contest has a guaranteed prize fund of £350,000 - £50,000 for each class and a £50,000 end of series prize fund for top riders.

The series has the support of British Eventing, the British Equestrian Federation, the Event Horse Owners Association, the Event Riders Association - and has the approval of the FEI.

Yogi Breisner, the British Eventing team's World Class Performance Manager and Chef d’Equipe, believe the series is bound to attract new riders, owners and horses:  “It will be a fantastic development for the British team and will, without doubt, help us build on and sustain our impressive Olympic track record.”

Tim Price walking the Barbury cross country courseTim Price walking the Barbury cross country courseMarlborough area based New Zealand national team eventers Sir Mark Todd and Tim Price are both firm supporters of this development for their sport.  As Tim Price puts it: "A sport's growth and development is key to its ultimate success. I believe the Event Rider Masters team have these values at their core. By delicately repackaging our ‘brand’ and delivering it to a world-wide audience, the benefits to our sport and to anyone involved and passionate about Eventing, will be immense.”

And Sir Mark adds:  “The Event Rider Masters is without doubt the most exciting development in eventing that I’ve ever seen.”

The series organisers are planning a swift roll-out into Europe - with plans underway for worldwide coverage.

In addition to the excitement of this new attraction, Barbury will be welcoming the world's top eventers for their pre-Rio run out.  There will be a fun contest between jockeys, eventers and show-jumpers in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund.  

The charity lunch will be in aid of Great Western Hospital's Brighter Futures appeal for its planned radio-therapy unit - with the chance to meet charity's patron, Rory Bremner.  And, once again, there will be the irresistible dancing sheep.

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

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

The race turned into a battle between Marlborough trainers.

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

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

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

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

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Before the memorial service in Marlborough for Toby Balding, Ian Balding writes about his brother - the much respected racehorse trainer who died in September


Toby Balding 1936-2014Toby Balding 1936-2014Next Monday (December 15) many members of the horse racing world – among them well known owners, trainers and jockeys – will gather in Marlborough for the memorial service to mark the life of the much respected and very successful trainer Toby Balding, who died in September aged 78.

The memorial service will be held in the Marlborough College chapel and will start at 2.00pm.

Toby Balding’s brother Ian was also a successful trainer.  He trained the legendary Mill Reef (who won the Derby in 1971.)  Ian Balding retired in 2002 passing his Park House (Kingsclere) training licence to his son Andrew.  Ian Balding’s daughter is Clare Balding the racing journalist and presenter.

Ian Balding has very kindly written this account and appreciation of his brother's life for Marlborough News Online:

Toby was born in England on 23 September 1936.  He went to the USA soon afterwards (our mother was American) and I was born there in 1938.

We stayed in America with our mother in Far Hills, New Jersey all through the war. Our father Gerald Balding, who was English and a famous polo player, fought in the war - with the Life Guards.  

After the war he took us all back to England where he set up as a racehorse trainer. We were both sent to school - first at Beaudesert Park and then to Marlborough College. In the holidays we quickly became cheap labour for him and found ourselves mucking out and then riding the racehorses.

Toby was always going to be too big to be a jockey, so being smaller I was the one destined to be the jockey and Toby the future trainer. In spite of that Toby actually rode a few winners under National Hunt rules – jump winners and a few point-to- point winners too.  

Our father trained at Westonbirt in Gloucestershire for a few years and then moved to Bishops Cannings in Wiltshire.  After a few years there he moved finally to a large stable at Weyhill near Andover.  

All this time his main patron was the American newspaper publisher, philanthropist and sportsman John Hay (Jock) Whitney, who was also Toby`s Godfather.  Toby, by the way, was christened Gerald Barnard Balding, but was always called Toby (after a great family friend) so as to distinguish him from his father.

Sadly our father died of cancer in 1956, and with Jock Whitney`s blessing, Toby who was then 20 and had recently returned from doing his National Service with the Life Guards, took over the training licence. He became the youngest ever trainer to have held a licence in this country.

Jock Whitney, who by now was the American Ambassador in London, was extremely kind and generous to both of us (he financed my further education at both Millfield and Cambridge University for example) and supported Toby very much with his training career.

My younger brother Robin and sister Gail will be very upset if I don`t mention them. They were born in England after the war. In fact they both went back to the USA with our mother soon after our father died. They both went to college over there, married Americans and have continued to live there ever since.

Toby`s training career was very much helped by a big winner on the flat very early on. He won the Portland Handicap at Doncaster with a horse called New World – and had a big bet on him at 25-1!

However, for many years, he was much better known as one of the leading National Hunt (jump) trainers.  He won the Grand National twice – first with Highland Wedding (ridden by Eddie Harty) in 1969 and then again in 1989 with Little Polveir (Jimmy Frost).

He won the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham with Beech Road (Richard Guest) in 1989 and again in 1991 with Morley Street (Jimmy Frost).  He also won the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Cool Ground (Adrian Maguire) in 1992.  And so he became one of the few trainers to have won all three of these great races.

Morley Street was the best horse he ever trained winning the Breeders Cup Chase twice in the USA and being voted American Champion Steeplechaser of the Year in America in 1990 and 1991.

Toby always enjoyed racing politics and played a big part in it for many years.  He virtually founded the National Trainer`s Federation and was its Chairman for many years.  After he retired from training he served on the British Horseracing Board for several years and was awarded the O.B.E. for his services to Racing in 2011.  He was elected an Honorary Member of the Jockey Club in 2006.

Toby Balding was a great supporter of young jockeys and helped both A.P. McCoy and Adrian Maguire on their way to successful careers.  When Toby Balding died the Daily Telegraph tweeted the news with a photo of McCoy and Balding – and AP added his own tribute:



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Bonita Stables: Ogbourne Maizey's new racing trainer looks ahead

Coming up the new all-weather gallop Coming up the new all-weather gallop The summer jumps season has been good for trainer Emma Lavelle as she settles in to Ogbourne Maizey's Bonita Yard.  Her last ten entries have produced five winners.  She told Marlborough.News: "They've been running fantastically well - it's great.  They like the Wiltshire air!"

Emma Lavelle Racing moved from her well-established Hampshire yard and all her owners have come with her to Ogbourne Maizey.  Even the most locally based of her syndicates have followed her to Wiltshire.

A fifty per cent strike rate is certainly a good omen for the coming jump season.  The first placed horses were Celtic Passion (Uttoxeter), Mr Mountain (Newton Abbot) and Casino Markets Worcester).  And at Worcester today (Thursday, August 11) Celtic Passion came home in third place.

The yard has some new young horses now coming up to strength and she is looking ahead to the coming jumps season with some excitement.  That part of the Marlborough downs now has three top-flight jump trainers almost it seems within hailing distance of each other: Neil King, Emma Lavelle and led by Alan King.  It will be interesting to see how the competition between them develops.

Emma Lavelle moved to the Bonita yard formerly owned by Peter Makin earlier this year and has been giving it a major overall and expansion. She has fifty-two horses there at present with ten more still to come in.

One of the two new stable blocks One of the two new stable blocks The new & old horse walkersThe new & old horse walkers After exercise: Mythical Legend gets a wash down in the new 'showers'After exercise: Mythical Legend gets a wash down in the new 'showers'

Both the new stable blocks are fully in use.  The new eight-berth horse walker is in use - as well as the existing six berth walker.  There is a new warm-up ring.

On the way home from the gallopOn the way home from the gallopHer horses now have not only the incomparable miles of grass gallops on top of the downs, they also have a four-and-a-half furlong all-weather gallop using carpet fibre. 

It has a steep climb and, as one rider said, from the top there is a truly great view over the downs.

A large empty space marks only major outstanding development at the yard:  the arrival of the pre-built office unit.  This will be installed soon - complete with a kitchen that will be welcomed by early morning riders and stable staff alike.

Leading out the morning's last lot to exercise was Mythical Legend - a five-year-old chestnut mare who came second when she ran in May this year in a flat race for mares at Bangor-on-Dee.

Assistant trainer Barry Fenton was riding Unnamed Oscar - a four year-old which he reported had settled down well and ran really steadily.

Bonita's bottom yard has been mothballed for the present.  But two new houses being built there will be ready for staff to occupy within the next couple of weeks.

For a before and after look at the yard you can catch the before here.

The all-weather gallop - with the downs beyondThe all-weather gallop - with the downs beyond

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