The Cheltenham Festival is the Olympics of racing and having my first win there was a feeling like no other.
The way in which Willoughby Court won the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle, leading from pillar to post, was impressive. The last horse I remember doing that was Vautour, and, although you shouldn’t make comparisons, it takes a very good horse to do that at Cheltenham.
Harry Fry’s Neon Wolf was much talked-about ahead of the race, but we were very confident about our lad’s chances. He is only six but was a very backward youngster, hence why he spent two years running in bumpers. He used to be on edge all the time and was rather a nutter. However, he’s been injury-free and we had no problems during his Cheltenham preparation.
I wasn’t surprised when he won. We had most his rivals covered, so it was just what Neon Wolf could do, and it turned into a great ding-dong battle up the hill.
We have a very good local pub called The Plough in Cold Aston where we celebrated afterwards, it was rammed and there were plenty of sore heads in the morning.
I’m a farmer’s son and have always been local to the racecourse. I’ve been a member since I was 16 — it’s a special place for our family and it was nice so many friends and family were there on the day.
My wife, Sophie, is seven months pregnant with our second child and she has been brilliant — luckily all the excitement didn’t make her go into early labour!
We’ve grown from eight horses to 60 in three years. It’s a huge team effort, including my assistant, Mary Vestey and head lad Tom David, but all the team are hugely appreciated for their hard work and dedication. Also Greg Walters, who rides Willoughby Court every day and has done a fantastic job.
I’m very fortunate to have Paul and Clare Rooney on board as owners. Willoughby Court was, in fact, the first store horse they purchased, after a bit of convincing. I found him through bloodstock agent Tessa Greatrex at the Goffs Sale in Ireland. It’s been a patient training game with him but it just goes to show how important it is to let horses mature properly.
He was an anxious horse to start with, not nasty, just fractious. However, he’s one of the best jumpers I’ve seen. He’s still maturing and will probably go chasing next year — he’ll get three miles.
David Bass gave him an exceptional ride. I told him beforehand not to go mad quick to start with and keep an even gallop, then let him quicken coming down the hill.
Aside from our Festival victory, the highlights for me were Buveur D’Air’s win in the Champion Hurdle; he’s a seriously smart horse and that was a masterful piece of training by my former boss Nicky Henderson.
During my years working for Henderson I learnt many lessons, but most of all how to train with patience, and how to prep horses for the Festival, and now I’ve managed to pull it off for myself.
You’d take any win at the Festival but to take a Grade One like that one was particularly exciting.
Ref Horse & Hound; 23 March 2017
The FEI has clarified it was not the body behind controversial proposals for “harmonisation” of entry fees in showjumping – and its president said he is not personally in favour of the idea.
Riders including Steve Guerdat have shared videos on social media in which they set out their opposition to the plans, put forward by the Association of Jumping Organisers (AJO).
Currently two distinct systems exist — the US system in which entry fees are calculated on a percentage of prize money and the European system in which they are fixed.
The proposal from the AJO seeks to charge a global standard rate for entry fees, which in some instances could equate to costs trebling.
Steve Guerdat said the scheme would make showjumping elitist, and that it made him “ashamed of his sport”.
Rider Kevin Staut added: “In Europe we work closely with our breeders with whom we really need to be able to collaborate to develop the young horses.
“The costs are already so high for our breeders, as well as for the international competitors, that it seems to me absurd to double, triple or even quadruple the cost of entry fees.”
But FEI president Ingmar de Vos said that although he does not personally agree with the proposal, the question is a valid one.
“[In one part of the world], the organiser of a five-star event cannot ask an entry fee but has to offer riders a four-star hotel but in the rest of the world an organiser can ask entry fees and doesn’t have to offer that service,” he said
“We need to look at whether it would be a better idea to allow the event — wherever it is or whatever star level — to ask the correct fee for the services they provide.
“We need to listen to the organisers because if we don’t have organisers, we don’t have sport, so we are opening the debate.”
European Equestrian Federation president Hanfried Haring attended a meeting of national federation (NF) secretary generals on 14 March.
In a letter to members after the meeting, Dr Haring wrote: “Regarding the harmonisation of CSI/CSIO requirements, the European NFs were united in their position and feedback provided to the FEI, making it clear that the proposal put forward by the AJO is not acceptable for equestrian sport in Europe. We sincerely thank all NFs and stakeholder groups that actively participated in the discussion and feedback process, enabling us to represent the interests of Europe in this very important matter.”
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The topic is due to be discussed at the FEI sport forum on 10-11 April.
The future of showjumping: don’t miss the full report in this week’s H&H magazine, out 23 March.
Your chance to compete in the atmosphere of an international event, and appear in H&H, is on offer this summer thanks to Horse & Hound and Keysoe.
The College EC is hosting the first annual Horse & Hound Championships, an unaffiliated CCI-format three-day event, on 27-29 May.
Classes will run at 70, 80, 90 and 100cm and the event will be extensively reported, both in the magazine and at horseandhound.co.uk, with “amazing” prizes also on offer.
And as well as the equestrian action, there will be plenty of entertainment on offer, including a drinks reception on the Friday and a hog roast and live music on the Saturday.
H&H editor Pippa Roome said: “The H&H Grassroots Eventing Championships offers a wonderful opportunity for riders to experience the competition and atmosphere of a three-day event.
“I have such great memories of riding at three-day events — getting to know other competitors stabled and parked next door, the challenge of building up to a big event and the challenge of seeing it through.
“This championship will let those competing at the grassroots of the sport enjoy all that and feel like they are at their own mini Badminton.”
Entries open, via Equo Events, on 1 April and close on 6 May.
Keysoe owner Simon Bates said the venue has experience of running international showjumping and dressage so he hopes the same atmosphere will be provided.
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“For people looking to go on to one- or two-star competition, it’s a gentle step into it,” he said. “It’ll be a good experience of a three-day event, and hopefully a three-day party too.
“We’re hoping it’s going to be a really good event.”
The devastated owner of a three-year-old bred to showjump who “died in agony” after she was panicked by a spent helium balloon is calling on merrymakers to think before they act.
Espoiro, who was by Ramiro B out of a successful showjumping mare, ran through two gates in “blind panic”, suffering two broken legs and a broken neck.
Owner and breeder Jennifer Birtwistle, of Harrogate, North Yorkshire, said the young mare, who was due to be backed this year, had swallowed the string of a helium balloon.
“The first we knew was when a taxi driver came up the drive saying there had been a terrible accident,” Mrs Birtwistle told H&H.
“She’d been crashing round the field, choking with the string of the balloon down her throat, then she went through the gate and broke her leg.
“Then she went through the other gate, breaking another leg and her neck. She was lying in the driveway, tangled in the gate; she must have been dying in agony and absolute terror, and all we could do was stand there helplessly.
“I’ve been around horses all my life and have never seen anything like this, it was absolute carnage.”
Mrs Birtwistle, a British Showjumping judge who “breeds one special horse a year”, said the fields are checked regularly for any sort of litter.
“These balloons have been landing for a long time,” she said. “This has been so tragic but I’m not surprised.
“I’ve been worried about them for years and on red alert for them all the time but I never in my wildest imagination expected anything as bad as this.”
Mrs Birtwistle said Espoiro had been nicknamed Feisty when she was a foal.
“She was so brave and bold, which was how she’d been bred,” she said. “So anything landing in her field – and the string looked like a piece of hay – she’d have gone and nibbled at it.
“She must have swallowed it, and the balloon was attached.”
Mrs Birtwistle is calling for the practice of letting off balloons to be stopped.
“Litter is litter; if you or I dropped paper in the street, we’d be fined,” she said. “But people don’t understand. I can’t tell you the response I’ve had; people ringing up to say they’d done it and hadn’t realised the consequences.
“It’s a craze; people let them off at weddings or after someone’s death; do they think God is up there reading all the messages? That’s not going to happen.
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“Generally, we’re a nation of animal lovers, of kind people, and I think that includes those who let these balloons off; they just don’t make the connection between that and them coming down somewhere.
“Feisty was bred to be special and she was in that field – with her mother, as it happens – as it was the safest place we could find for her without bringing her into the kitchen.
“But nowhere’s safe from these balloons landing from the air.”
Learn How to Spot Trading Opportunities in Your Charts will run from March 20-24.
Elliott Wave International (EWI) is hosting a free Trader Education Week, March 20-24. Register now and get instant access to free trading resources – and you’ll receive more lessons as they’re unlocked each day of the event. You’ll learn about Elliott waves, Fibonacci analysis, indicators and oscillators, Japanese candlesticks and more.
When thinking about equestrian art, one usually conjures up images of elegant statues of horses, Stubbs paintings and traditional hunting scenes. But a new project is exploring the subject matter in a completely different way.
Under-Horse, a collection of photographs captured by Lithuanian-based photographer Andrius Burba, pictures horses from underneath a clear glass floor.
Mr Burba, who has photographed a variety of animals in this way, including, cats, dogs and rabbits, described Under-Horse as his “biggest project so far”.
“It required a way bigger glass, new solutions, a horse-friendly environment, beautiful brave horses, their helpful owners, lots of heavy equipment and an amazing crew to make this project come to life,” he said.
“It was a great challenge but the results were worth every second of any struggle.”
The images of a black, a liver chestnut and a grey, are set in front of a black background and show a striking new perspective of our four-legged friends.
“I’ve recently found a great interest in taking pictures of various animals from underneath,” said Mr Burba.
“As I’ve tried it I fell in love with the results and I wanted to show them in the best possible way.
“I am flattered that I can finally share my work with you.”
For more information visit www.underlook.org
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Publisher Riva, who has created books depicting Mr Burba’s cat studies has largely funded the work.
“Thanks to them the cat photo book has been recently published and soon to be followed by another photo book on dogs,” said the artist.
“These books can be bought both in Germany or online. Books are in German but the pictures are the ones that count, right?”
A Rice Beaufort trailer has been transformed into a mobile bar by two enterprising Irish sisters.
Siobhan Reilly, 33 and sister Karan McLernon, 34 spent three months refurbishing the two-horse trailer, which they bought from a dealer last September.
The trailer, classed as a vintage vehicle as it has no serial number, was chosen for its looks and easy access by the sisters, both of whom rode as children.
“We were looking for an aesthetically pleasing, versatile vehicle. The Beaufort fits the bill because of its dual access. It is the perfect mobile space,” said Mrs McLernon.
She has worked in events management for the last 15 years and was looking for a new business project after having her first baby.
The trailer’s original wooden floor was sanded down, a bar and two fridges installed, one capable of holding 400 bottles of beer, the other 20-24 bottles of wine. There are additional fridges in the towing vehicle.
“One of the biggest challenges was the hot water system because we had to engineer a system with a pump and a hot water heater,” said Mrs Reilly.
Coming up with a name for the new enterprise was another headache. They finally settled on The Giddy Box to reflect the bar was in a horse box and the feeling of joie de vivre after a few glasses of prosecco.
The trailer went to its first wedding three weeks ago, where guests enjoyed a glass of fizz outside the church while the bride and groom greeted guests.
“We’ve got lots of bookings for the summer including two horse shows, several weddings, a 50th birthday party and a couple of festivals,” said Mrs McLernon.
“Some people in the horsey world have welcomed the idea of the possibility of having a drink at an event because there’s nothing available at the moment.”
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This weekend the sisters will be at the Legendary Food Festival in Co Derry serving up milkshakes made from local milk and ice-cream, homemade lemonade and other soft drinks.
“We try and use as much local produce as possible,” said Mrs Reilly. Behind the bar is Boat Yard Gin made in Co Fermanagh, and Quiet Man Whiskey made in Co Derry was served up at the Derry Music Festival. In winter hot toddies, tea and hot chocolate will be on offer to customers coming up the ramp.
“This is something we wanted to do for many years. We’re looking forward to getting on the road this summer,” said Mrs Reilly.
A rider whose horse trampled her head, face and torso after a fall on the gallops credits her helmet and air jacket for saving her life.
Claire Parnell was riding her KWPN gelding Eddie with a friend in January near her home in Sevenoaks, Kent, when the “freak accident” happened.
“My friend’s horse bucked and mine jumped on to the verge, which completely unseated me,” she told H&H.
“We continued, with me on his neck – he’s such a good boy, he didn’t put his head down – but then my friend thought if she stopped, he might.
“He did, but he swerved round to see where his mate was. I twisted round and went between his legs and he went straight over the top of me.”
Eddie trod on Claire’s leg and her torso, which was protected by her air jacket.
“Then the last thing was, his back foot went straight on to my head and face and took an enormous slice off my face.
“If I hadn’t been wearing a hat, that slice would have carried on up my head.
“I’ve had a few accidents but this was the first where I knew I’d done something serious; I put my hand up and my fingers disappeared into my face. That’s when I knew it was bad.”
Although this graphic picture shows the extent of Claire’s injuries, her PROtector helmet had done its job.
“At the hospital, they said that if I hadn’t had a decent hat on, I’d have had at least severe concussion; they were amazed I hadn’t lost my eye and didn’t have a bleed on the brain,” she said.
“I had a massive laceration on my face and three cheekbone fractures; I was very lucky.
“When you think the impact snapped three parts of my cheekbone but didn’t damage my skull – I was told it was the equivalent of being hit by a car doing 40mph – it just shows what a decent hat can do.”
Claire’s Point Two air jacket had also done its job.
“If I hadn’t had it on, I’d have had a lot of internal organ damage, and the impact would have broken my ribs and sternum,” she said.
“I’m glad I invested in safety equipment, I never go anywhere without it or jump without it.
“If I hadn’t had a decent hat and air jacket, I might not have been killed but it would have caused some serious damage.
“You realise how vulnerable you are. I regularly see a girl riding with no hat, in trainers and on her phone. People say it’s their choice but it’s not, it’s whoever has to deal with it when you’re on the floor.”
James Bebbington, of PROtector, said the team was “very glad to hear Claire’s ok”.
PROtector has always put hat safety as the most important thing, and so has always aimed for the highest standards of certification to provide the safest hats possible,” he told H&H.
“There are a number of different components within the hats that bring them up to the standard, for unfortunate events such as this. There have been other stories like Claire’s where the hats have done their job and we’re very pleased about that.”
Lee Middleton, founder of Point Two, was glad to hear the air jacket had prevented serious injury.
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“We know from letters that come in that they’ve saved a lot of people; it’s great to hear about it,” he told H&H.
“We were the first to introduce air jackets, to eventing in 2009, but they’re not just for eventing and Claire is a perfect example.
“Riding is a great sport but you can be hacking down the road and have an accident, and that’s what the air jackets are for. What we’re doing is making a difference to the sport.”
UC Berkeley To Remove More Than 20,000 Online Videos From Public Access In Response To DOJ Captioning Demand
Seyfarth Synopsis: Fewer online videos from UC Berkeley will available to the public as a result of a DOJ demand that the videos have closed captioning.
Starting March 15, 2015, more than 20,000 videos of classroom lectures and podcasts on UC Berkeley’s YouTube and iTunes channels will no longer be available for public viewing, according to a recent statement by the university. The statement explains that the decision will “partially address recent findings by the Department of Justice which suggests that the YouTube and iTunesU content meet higher accessibility standards as a condition of remaining publicly available,” and “better protect instructor intellectual property from “pirates” who have reused content for personal profit without consent.” UC Berkeley stated that it would focus its resources on creating new accessible online content and continue to offer free courses in accessible formats to the public through massive online open course provider, edX.
On August 30, 2016, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued the findings UC Berkeley referenced in its recent statement, after conducting an investigation into the university’s compliance with Title II of the ADA. DOJ concluded in the findings that that a covered entity subject to Title II has a duty to ensure content that it makes available to the public free of charge is accessible.
Similar to Title III of the ADA which applies to public accommodations (i.e., twelve categories of privately-owned entities that do business with the public), Title II of the ADA requires public universities and other covered entities to take appropriate steps to ensure that communications with individuals with disabilities are as effective as communications with others to afford qualified individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in, and enjoy the benefits of their services programs, or activities. It also requires covered entities to furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services where necessary to achieve effective communication. A covered entity is not, however, required to take any action that would result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of its service, program or activity or in undue financial and administrative burdens.
As set forth in its findings letter, the DOJ opened its investigation after receiving complaints from the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) on behalf of two of its members that some of UC Berkeley’s online videos did not have closed captioning. Significantly, these complainants were members of the public seeking access to free information, not students, prospective students, or faculty. The DOJ concluded that many of UC Berkeley’s online videos did not have proper closed captions, and has threatened to file an enforcement lawsuit against the school unless it agrees to enter into a consent decree, caption all of its online content, and pay damages to individuals with disabilities who had been injured by UC Berkeley’s failure to provide accessible online videos. This DOJ matter is still pending as no resolution or enforcement suit has been announced.
The DOJ’s position in its findings letter to UC Berkeley — that a covered entity has a duty to ensure that content that it makes available to the public free of charge is accessible — certainly pushes the boundaries of the ADA and has not been tested in the courts. If covered entities must in fact ensure that all of the information that they put out for the world to use for free (no matter how remotely related to their central mission) or face lawsuits and DOJ investigations, there may well be a significant reduction in the amount of information provided on the web for public consumption.
A court may at some point rule on this precise question in the pending lawsuits brought by members of the NAD against Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Massachusetts federal court. The plaintiffs there are members of the public who are asking the court to order the universities to provide captioning for tens of thousands of videos on their websites. As we reported, the court rebuffed the universities’ efforts to dismiss the case early and President Obama’s DOJ filed briefs supporting the NAD. As the case continues, the universities will likely focus their efforts on proving that providing captioning for tens of thousands of videos is an undue burden or would fundamentally alter the nature of the videos they are providing. We would not be surprised if these lawsuits result in these universities deciding to follow UC Berkeley’s lead and limit the amount of public access to their online videos.
Edited by Kristina Launey.
Spillers’ equine nutritionist Clare Barfoot provides one H&H forum user with some helpful advice on how to feed a barefoot horse for optimum health
Q: “Feeding a barefoot cob — I’m very new to horse ownership and want to research the best diet I should be feeding my cob cross, who I believe has been barefoot her whole life (she is nine-years-old). She’s on full livery, so gets fed as part of that, but I want to make sure she’s having what she should be to keep her and her hooves in the best condition. Could anyone give me some advice please?”
A: The importance of healthy hooves has been known for generations of horsemen with the saying “no hoof, no horse” often quoted. Hoof problems are a very common headache for horse owners and while good hoof trimming is essential, the importance of sound nutrition is often overlooked. Nutrition can play a vital role in the cause and prevention of many hoof problems therefore the growth of healthy hooves is dependent on a well-balanced diet.
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A balanced diet is key
Hoof formation is a highly complex process requiring good quality protein, vitamins, minerals, fats and not least energy. All of these need to be present in sufficient quantities and in correct proportions to produce a strong hoof so the entire diet needs to be balanced. Adding lots of one particular nutrient to a poor diet is unlikely to be of any benefit and some nutrients can even cause more harm than good if given in excess; for example, vitamin A and selenium can actually cause hoof problems if they are added to the diet at very high levels.
Good doers, like your cob cross and horses in very light work often get all of the calories they need from grass, hay or haylage but forage-only diets often lack some essential nutrients. As far as diet is concerned, the first step towards maintaining optimum hoof health in horses on forage only diets should be to provide a good quality feed balancer, some even include hoof supporting nutrients such as SPILLERS Lite and Lean Balancer or a broad spectrum supplement. This also applies to horses receiving less than the recommended daily ration of compound feed.
What about additional supplements
If you are confident that your horse’s current diet is fully balanced and meets all of his normal requirements, additional supplementation may help with poor hoof quality. Biotin is probably the most well-known nutrient as far as hoof supplements are concerned; this member of the B vitamin family is a key component for hoof horn quality and there is also scientific evidence to support this. Biotin should be fed at around 15 to 20mg per day for a typical 500kg horse i.e. 3 to 4mg per 100kg bodyweight. Calcium, phosphorus, zinc, MSM, lysine and methionine may also be useful additions to a hoof supplement.
For more information on feeding to support weight gain call the SPILLERS Care-Line on 01908 226626.