Monday, 8 September 2014

Warriors - all....

Due to a lack of time to string a sentence together, my latest blog offering of the projects I’ve been working on will simply be in quotes and pictures (which will probably be more interesting than my usual blurb anyway!)

Mongol Derby August 2014
Copyright Richard Dunwoody
“There are two problems here; One: they serve vodka in mugs. Two: we are stupid enough to drink them!” German rider Alex Piltz

2nd September 2014 - Warrior is awarded the animals VC’, the PDSA Dickin Medal on behalf of all the animals who served in WW1
Brough Scott receives the PDSA Dickin Medal from the PDSA Director General at The Imperial War Museum
“Warrior is an extraordinary example of the resilience, strength, and profound contribution that horses made to the Great War.  Recognising him with an Honorary PDSA Dickin Medal is a fitting and poignant tribute not only to this remarkable animal, but to all animals that served.”
Steven Spielberg

Focused by Andrew Nicholson - launches at Burghley 4-7 September 2014 as Andrew achieves a historic hat-trick on Avebury

Andrew and Avebury deliver what Captain Mark Phillips describes as a 'masterclass' in Cross Country riding
“I didn’t scorch him away like I usually do, but knew what I had to do around the second part of the course – and he always goes better if I ride him like I stole him!”
Andrew Nicholson

Gary Witheford: If Horses Could Talk to launch on 21st September 2014 at the Newmarket Open Day
Brujo in 2014 as Jilly Cooper comes to visit - not looking quite so 'sad' now!
 “He was the saddest horse I had ever seen. He was called Brujo and he was a big Andalusian colt tied to a concrete wall down in Spain with barbed wire round his nose and a boy alongside with his arm in a sling. They said the colt was crazy. That he had tried to kill the boy. That all he did was buck, buck, buck. That he was going to be shot for meat that evening.” 
Gary Witheford

PHILIP BLACKER ‘Farewell, Leicester Square’ - An exhibition of bronze friezes - a perspective from one hundred years on, 5th – 16th Nov 2014, Thompsons Gallery, London
“The inspiration for my WW1 friezes come from a variety of sources. A couple are inspired by paintings, notably by CRW Nevinson and Paul Nash, but mostly they come from poems, letters, songs and books.” 
Philip Blacker

And finally... When I’m not working…..Balder Succes, Barbury Castle, August 2014

“In riding a horse, we borrow freedom” 
Helen Thompson

Thursday, 31 July 2014

A sizzling summer!

The music in the video above sums up wonderfully not just our fabulous event at Barbury at the beginning of July, but my summer in general – which I seem to have spent in a ‘Benny Hill’ type fashion chasing around the country – but having a lot of fun along the way!

As soon as I touched down from a sizzling few days in Ibiza (just love the place – makes me feel young again!) we were off to the St James’ Place Barbury International Horse Trials for the JCB Champions Challenge on the Saturday and Laura Collett and Ed Chanin dressage display on the Sunday, both as part of Barbury’s celebration of the IJF, their charity of the year.

To see the top riders in the world racing each other over rustic jumps – and having so much fun in the process – was a real highlight of my working year and then a dressage display from injured jockey, Ed Chanin (who is paralysed down one side of his body) made us all feel pretty emotional – and proud.  We had a few issues with the sound system just a few minutes before Ed was due to go on, so he had to change his routine at the last minute.  A top rider may have thrown their toys out of the pram at this point, so for Ed with his disability not even to bat an eyelid but to go and perform a routine he hadn’t practised for a few years just demonstrates what an amazing guy he is and what an inspiration to us all.
Laura Collett on Kauto Star with Ed Chanin on My Rubicon
Francome (in his 1970's breeches!) and Zara go head to head in the water
It was fantastic that Andrew Nicholson won Barbury for the third consecutive year in a row on his amazing horse, Avebury – and we used the event to announce that his book, Focused, will be out at the end of the summer.

We have used such incredible pictures, many of them never seen before, to tell the story of Andrew’s life and whilst the book is definitely not a ‘sex and secrets’ type autobiography, we hope that people will appreciate what we have tried to do.  This is to tell Andrew’s story in his own understated way, through his horses and through the pictures from his life, and to deliver his take on how to make it to the top when you come from humble beginnings and how to make it pay having had no early privileges that set you on your way.  As Captain Mark Phillips says in the intro to the book “If Andrew Nicholson says something today, you are a fool if you don’t listen” – and we hope that this sets the tone for what the book is, and why people will enjoy reading it.  For more info, see 
A young Andrew shows us how to jump!
A few weeks ago, I showed this pic to John Francome (once himself a top young show jumper – before he became a jockey) and he said that in spite of all the years that have passed and his four decades at the top, Andrew’s style over a fence has changed little since these early days in NZ and that the natural talent he has is something you can’t ever really learn…

Former Horse & Hound journalist Catherine Austen has co-written the book with Andrew, she has done a great job, and we look forward to launching it officially at Burghley at the beginning of September, where we will have daily interview and signing sessions with Andrew in the ‘Celebrity talk’ area.

As previously mentioned in an earlier blog, we will also have lots of activity around the Gary Witheford book, If Horses Could Talk, co-written with Brough Scott.  I’ve just finished reading it, and it’s truly excellent – shocking, sad, inspirational, but most of all, it makes you want to understand horses better.  Anyone who owns a horse, or is interested in them in any way, should read this book. 

Do come and see one of Gary’s demos (Malton Open Day 31st August, Newmarket Open Day 21st September, Cheltenham Countryside Day 14th November).  Plus if you didn’t see them, have a look at the two pieces Channel 4 did on Gary during July Cup week (links below)

I paid a flying visit to the Isle of Wight a few weeks ago, where we unveiled a statue of our old friend ‘Warrior’ at Carisbrooke Castle – almost 100 years to the day that he stepped on to one of the first boats to France in 1914 and within a stone’s throw of the place in which he was born and which he died and spent most of his 33 years of life (with just that little interlude on the Western Front between 1914 and 1918!).

Brough and I toast Warrior!
This incredible Philip Blacker bronze has been paid for by proceeds of the book, Warrior: The Amazing Story of a Real War Horse – and there will be more very exciting news to follow about Warrior in a few weeks time!

This week I was back at Goodwood for our annual pilgrimage as a guest of sponsor, Markel, and to see the ‘duel on the downs’ which started with Frankel vs Canford Cliffs four years ago, and has not disappointed since. This year’s renewal was a tactical affair with Hughsie on Toronado striking first blow but the sublime Kingman (loaded by Gary Witheford!) displaying his scintillating turn of foot as he tracked him down in the dying strides of the race.

We also had a bit of fun taking some pictures with jockeys William Buick and Sam Thomas to publicise our event at Olympia on 19th December where the IJF will be the benefitting charity.  The Markel Champions Challenge for the Injured Jockeys Fund will be the first class on the Friday evening and feature a team of flat jockeys take on a team of jump jockeys with a celebrity show jumper on each team….

Sam Thomas and William Buick get into the spirit of Olympia!
Once again the autumn looks set to be a busy one at equestrian events all over the country, but I shan’t be complaining.  It may be hard work organising it all, but it’s also incredible fun and a real privilege to spend time with so many extraordinary people.

One of my own ex-racehorses is also set to go eventing in the autumn (although not at Burghley!) and now capable of doing dressage to a basic but consistent level, we have gone back to basics with his jumping to encourage him to jump out of his stride rather than to lock on and hurdle everything as fast as he can! It is also really interesting to put into practice some of the techniques I have been witnessing first-hand with my work with Gary Witheford and to start asking questions as to the accepted way of doing things, and then modifying them to try ‘Gary’s way’!

Sarah Mitchell-Sheppard has been such an incredible help to me in so many ways in the last six months, and I have been delighted to re-pay the favour as she embarks on her own business venture with SMS equestrian, her own riding school and no mean feat to achieve at the age of 26.  I know she will be a huge success in this area and can’t recommend her enough for anyone living in the Wiltshire area.  She has a FB page  - – with a website set to launch in the next few weeks (

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The gloves are off for Barbury!

Throwing down the gauntlet!
We love this picture of AP and Zara which we took last week to promote The JCB Champions Challenge at the St James’s Place Wealth Management Barbury International Horse Trials in a few weeks’ time.

It has been great fun working with the team at Barbury on behalf of the IJF and our line up for the 5th July is a pretty awesome one with AP, Dickie Johnson, Sam Twiston-Davies and John Francome for the jockeys, taking on Zara, William Fox-Pitt, Mark Todd and Laura Collett representing the eventers with a team of show jumpers (yet to be announced) and the winning hunt scurry team from earlier in the day.
We took our sponsor, JCB, on a site visit a few weeks ago, and I was completely blown away by the amazing course that Nigel Bunter’s team at Barbury have built.  In spite of the fact that I ride out at Barbury every Saturday, I haven’t actually been that close to the cross country course before and the fences are not just huge, but really beautifully thought out and designed – with the famous Stonehenge fence, quite a lot of water and even a dinosaur…
Plus there is a sizeable lake in the main arena and it could be quite exciting/interesting/a little bit hair-raising watching the jocks and the others tackle that at speed racing against each other!
To get special priced IJF tickets for the Saturday or Sunday (Ed Chanin and Laura Collett IJF dressage display), ring 01672 516125 and quote code IJF14.

A colleague sent me a linked-in message last week to point out that I’ve been working for myself for eight years this month, something which I find pretty hard to believe!  When I first set up on my own in 2006 I had two beauty / fashion clients, one private island (for those suffering from addiction – later the casting venue for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Superstar!) and one horsey TV venture.  My original plan, was to slowly move away from the world of beauty and fashion, that had formed my career to date, and move more into horse racing where my passion lay, albeit with little experience at grass roots level.  So to be doing exactly that eight years later, and still I hope with as much enthusiasm as ever, gives me a real sense of fulfilment. Quite simply, I love it!

One thing about having your own business is that it is very hard to leave and take time out, especially when it is so continually busy, but it is important to try and switch off and remind myself that another world exists, so I am heading abroad for a few days of sun, sea and R&R next week. I am also planning a trip to the Somme battlefields in September, which is something I have always wanted to do, and which also ties in nicely with the First World War work I am involved in with both Philip Blacker (exhibition in November – more on that later) and our old friend, Warrior, ‘the horse the Germans could not kill’.

On the 9th July at Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight we will unveil a Philip Blacker statue of General Jack Seely on Warrior. The proceeds from Racing Post’s very successful book, Warrior: The Amazing Story of a Real War Horse, have enabled the Seely family to commission this statue as a permanent memorial to this amazing horse in the place he was born and died some 33 years later.  When I go to France in September I will visit the site of the cavalry charge at Moreuil wood, which was led by General Jack on Warrior in 1918. There will also be another really exciting announcement about Warrior later in the year. This horse seems to have so much continuing lives!

My own amazing horses continue to give me so much satisfaction and I was absolutely thrilled to take them both out to do dressage a few weeks ago, both doing two tests each and scoring over 60% in all four.  For ex racehorses with ongoing issues, to get them to such a level – however lowly it is – is one of my greatest achievements of the last few years.  Sarah Mitchell-Sheppard, who has given us so much of her time in recent months, has done such an incredible job on working on both our skill and our confidence and I hope to be able to repay her efforts by helping her out as she sets out on her own business venture. Exciting times ahead!
My lovely (we got there in the end!) Lord's Bidding

My eager-to-please (even if tongue out as always!) Kings Troop!

Friday, 23 May 2014

Much missed

The Racing Post books teams descended on Lords Cricket Ground on Wednesday evening for the annual British Sports Book Awards.
We were thrilled that Brough Scott’s Henry Cecil: Trainer of Genius picked up best Racing Book.

The book is an absolute masterpiece, and critically acclaimed as one of the best racing books ever written.  I sent Brough an email yesterday which said:

“If HRAC is up there feeding hip berries to his fillies he will surely have realised by now that you immortalised him in a way that nothing else ever could.”

If you haven’t read the book, you simply must – the way Brough writes and the homage he pays to Henry’s genius, whilst at the same time not shirking some of the disasters along the way, is pure literary brilliance.

I finished my email to Brough by saying:

“Incidentally, I still have the rose petals in a sherry glass in my office that he gave me the first time I went to WP - although I do not have the courgette he also gave me..!”

I shall always treasure those memories of spending time with Henry, him showing me proudly round his beloved rose garden, and being on the reciprocating end of his wit and kindness. He had such an extraordinary gift with both people and horses, and when you were with him, you always had this sense that you were in the presence of someone special. 

He was not a flawless man, but he was a great one.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Out and about...

A few weeks ago, one of this year’s winners of the Martin Wills Awards, Laura McKibben, wrote to me and said “I’ve been looking at your blog, and wow, you have the dream job!”
This made me think and it would be true to say that during the last few months, which have been really challenging for me personally, my work has been my solace and my joy and the one thing that has kept me motivated to get out of bed in the mornings.  I am always so busy that I rarely have time to think, so I thank Laura for giving me affirmation that I am extremely fortunate in what I have chosen to do for a living!

I met Laura, and the other winners of the 2014 Martin Wills Awards ( at the Craven meeting in Newmarket and spent an action packed few days with my wonderful friend, Jilly Cooper, who was kind enough to present the awards this year.  As well as an evening dinner at the Jockey Club rooms (stunning), Jilly and I managed to squeeze in a morning visit to David Simock’s yard to see one of Jilly’s favourite horses in training, the 5 year old colt, Caspar Netscher.  He is a Group 2 winner and the horse who went to stud but came back again due to subfertility – being bought back by the same owner he had before for what was probably an inflated price! (a typical Jilly heart-warming story!).

Jilly and Caspar Netscher
It was also great to catch up with Mike Marshall, who was Assistant Trainer to the late Sir Henry Cecil, and who was always so welcoming to me whenever I was at Warren Place during those heady days when Frankel graced our racecourses.  Mike is now working for Martyn Meade and I’m sure he will be a huge success there.  Along with new Irish trainer, Paul Duggan (formerly Alan King’s head lad and now starting out on his own – first winner yesterday!), Mike is one of the people I admire most in racing and who I would send a horse to, had I the spare millions….

Jilly and I once again stayed at the Bedford Lodge Hotel, which has become like a second home to me, and had a fascinating, highly illuminating and hilarious few days.  I have known Jilly for a good number of years now and as well as being brilliantly successful in what she has achieved in life, has been such a wonderful and supportive friend to me and a real kindred spirit. 

I also took Jilly to meet the ‘horse whisperer’, Gary Witheford, as Racing Post are publishing a book on him in the autumn (

This book is one of our most exciting for the autumn made more so as the sublimely gifted Brough Scott is writing it.  Gary’s road has been a rocky one – from an abusive childhood to a troubled youth – but finding salvation and ultimately redemption in this amazing gift he has with horses.  I have been spending some time with Gary and his lovely wife Suzanne at their yard near Marlborough, and cannot emphasise just how strongly I am in awe of what he does, and the way he does it.  Anyone who owns a horse, or has even the remotest interest in horses, should read this book.

My work with the Injured Jockeys Fund continues apace in this, their 50th anniversary year, and I was thrilled with the final results of the DVD that we have made to showcase their work – see link on the homepage DVD has been a long time in the making and we are extremely grateful to our friends at IMG (who produce Channel 4 Racing) for working with us so patiently on this.

C4 Racing continue to be so very supportive and a piece they did from York races last week has already had a dramatic effect in terms of money donated to help find the £3.1 million needed to build Jack Berry House, the IJF’s second rehabilitation and respite centre set to open in Malton at the end of this year.

Waterproofing work for the hydro-pool at Jack Berry House

I have been working with Nigel Bunter and his team at Barbury Castle on their International Horse Trials, 3-6
th July, ( for which the IJF are the benefitting charity.  On Saturday 5th at approx. 4.30pm in the main ring we will host a Celebrity Challenge at which the top jockeys (including AP McCoy and John Francome) will take on the top eventers (names to be announced next week), the top show jumpers and a special hunt team.  They will ride against each other over a set of obstacles (including some water) in a hunt scurry style class and it is set to be highly competitive and loads of fun!  On the Sunday, we will then host a dressage display featuring Laura Collett riding Kauto Star, and injured jockey, IJF beneficiary and para-dressage rider, ED Chanin.  Anyone wanting tickets for the Horse Trials or a VIP lunch on both days do ring 01672 516125 and quote code IJF14 for special prices.

I can’t wait to see Kauto back in action (apparently last year he was a bit on the lively side!) and this is especially thrilling for me as I have two of my own ex-racers at home, one of them being Kings Troop, having himself come from Barbury’s resident trainer, Alan King, and before that, from Sir Henry in Newmarket.  Everything in my life always seems to be connected in some way! 

My two continue to surprise me, although for anyone with, or thinking about, taking on an ex racehorse, especially one with miles on the clock (Kings Troop ran 42 times over five consecutive seasons on both the flat and over jumps), patience is the one thing that is needed over everything else.  Just as soon as they start to come right, you then have to back off them again and give them time.  The satisfaction I get from mine though far outweighs the frustration that is part of the deal, and I have spent quite a few of my recent spring evenings sitting with them in their field watching them graze in this beautiful place we live and contemplating life...  Happiness for me outside such a busy work life is in these very simple things…!

Kings Troop on his first XC outing!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

From Aintree to Avebury...

The last few weeks have been absolutely flat out with work, but terrifically exciting and interesting at the same time. 

I was up at the Crabbies Aintree Grand National meeting to celebrate the Injured Jockeys Fund's 50th anniversary and we were incredibly privileged to have HRH The Princess Royal with us for the day. As Patron of the IJF, she takes a strong and enthusiastic interest in everything that goes on, has sound opinions and suggestions and is such a positive influence on everyone connected to the charity. She spent the day chatting to many of the IJF's beneficiaries which I know gave so many of them such enjoyment and motivation. 

HRH The Princess Royal chats to jockeys past and present
The sports media are always so supportive of the IJF and I spent much of the day at Aintree arranging interviews and photos. Trying to get a lot of busy jockeys out of the weighing room, across the racecourse and into position at a specific time (which kept changing as HRH was slightly behind schedule) was an interesting challenge! It couldn't have been achieved without the wonderful Peter Scudamore who was in situ in the weighing room waiting for my call and then led the jockeys like the pied piper across a busy Aintree racecourse at exactly the right time. Scu is simply one of the nicest people in racing, and certainly one of the most helpful.

The whole of the Crabbies Aintree meeting was brilliantly executed and a wholly positive meeting as there were no equine fatalities over the three days. Whilst we all accept the risks in racing, the team at Aintree in conjunction with welfare groups, have done so much work to minimise the risk, and this is extremely important at the one meeting which invites in the wider world and is played out under such media scrutiny. I expect some of the 'antis' were pretty disappointed with this outcome - which says it all in my opinion! 

I was also particularly pleased to see jockey-turned-TV-presenter, Sam Thomas, doing so well as part of the C4 Morning Line team. Sam has had a tough time in the last few years and yet he is now turning his hand in a new direction - both as a TV presenter and working as an assistant trainer. He has certainly come on in leaps and bounds in front of the camera and is a good new face for the C4 team to have. Their coverage of Aintree was brilliantly done and I wish people would stop their constant criticism of it. Racing is so lucky to have one terrestrial broadcaster showing our sport every single weekend and the industry should get behind this and nurture it, instead of a constant barrage of negativity which has a damaging effect and achieves little.  

From Aintree to New Zealand (or actually, the depths of Wiltshire!), I was extremely privileged last week to spend the day at six time Olympian and World No 1 eventer, Andrew Nicholson's. I was there with Racing Post photographer Edward Whitaker for a project we are working on with Andrew later in the year and we spent the most fabulous sunny day at home with Andrew, his family and his horses. Andrew's 'place' is like the man himself - beautifully up together, beautifully unpretentious and beautifully relaxed - and to see him go about his business in his own quiet, but industrious, way gave me one of the most enjoyable work days I've spent so far this year. We saw him work both his young horses and his superstars - on the flat and over jumps - as well as attempting to organise his kids into an orderly line to 'cavalry charge' in formation across the field! 

Edward Whitaker's extraordinary work
The picture above is just one example of why I love working with Ed Whitaker and why he is one of best equine photographers on the planet. As soon as he arrives in a situation, he knows exactly the pictures he wants to capture and goes about getting it in the most straightforward of ways. Him and Andrew together were a joy to behold - two masters at their work and yet both making the others job as easy as possible. If you think this picture is good, just wait until some of the ones that will be revealed later this year... My favourite is of a stunning man on a stunning white horse (which just happens to be Avebury) against a stunning Wiltshire skyline...!

Equally as exciting (albeit at a slightly lower level!) my two ex racehorses, Lord's Bidding and Kings Troop, are providing me with such a lot of fun, and with a friend, Megan Jenkins, we're managing to get out almost every weekend to do something new. When you work in racing and know how tough the industry can be, to have two of your own at home to look after and to bring on is such a positive and fulfilling experience, especially when they give you as much back as you have to put in to keep them healthy and happy! In Sarah Mitchell-Sheppard I have found a brilliant instructor who has worked wonders on both my horses - and me - and given me so much confidence to start competing them across both dressage and jumping disciplines.
My two!
So this week the fabulous rollercoaster that is my working life will take me to Horse Whisperer Gary Witheford's for another Edward Whitaker shoot on Tuesday and then onto Newmarket with my friend Jilly Cooper who will present the prizes to this year's Martin Wills Awards winners at the Craven meeting on Wednesday. There is never a dull moment...! 

Thursday, 6 March 2014

The year that was...

As part of the celebrations for the Injured Jockeys Fund’s 50 year anniversary we have put together 50 facts about 1964 - the year that was - as well as about the history of the IJF.  These are really worth a read and give fascinating historical context e.g. in the year the IJF was set up Nelson Mandela was sent to prison for life and Top of the Pops first aired on the BBC! 

1964 was also the year that Arkle won the first of his three Cheltenham Gold Cups and to commemorate this, Racing Post Books have published a special anniversary edition of Sean Magee’s celebrated book Arkle: The Story of the World’s Greatest Steeplechaser.

The Racing Post also sponsor the Arkle so we are all looking forward to Cheltenham next Tuesday.  We are particularly delighted that Arkle’s groom, Johnny Lumley, will be joining us for the day.  Johnny had no previous experience with horses before going to Tom Dreaper’s yard; never sat on any horse during his time with Dreaper; also looked after Flyingbolt, the second-highest rated chaser ever (Arkle was highest); left racing soon after Arkle retired and worked in various jobs, but nothing again in racing.  He has many fascinating stories to tell…  As well as presenting the trophy for the race with Racing Post’s CEO, Alan Byrne, we have put together a programme of on course media for him the day – so look out for him and his stories on C4, 5 Live and talkSport.

Cheltenham is always such an exciting week, although with JT McNamara’s terrible fall last year, this year there will be an added sense of poignancy.  I remember spending Gold Cup day in the weighing room last year working with the racecourse, Dr Adrian McGoldrick, Lisa Hancock, the BHA and in liaison with the hospital, as we dealt with the huge media spotlight that turned to Cheltenham and to racing after JT’s life-changing fall the day before.
A year on, JT now continues his rehabilitation at the North West Regional Spinal Injuries Centre in Southport.  In spite of his situation, he is in excellent spirits and looking forward to watching the Festival.  His plight is yet another reminder of why the IJF was set up in 1964 and how important its work always has been and will continue to be.

I was personally thrilled this week by the entries for this year’s Martin Wills Writing Awards, which at 140 were 50% up on the year before.  I have been working in conjunction with Jack Cantillon in Ireland to develop the reach of the awards with PR and social media activity and we are so pleased that this seems to have produced a really good strength and depth of entry.  The awards will now be judged and Jilly Cooper has kindly agreed to come to Newmarket on 16th April to present the prizes to the three winners.  Jilly and I will take the opportunity to have a night away at my favourite hotel, the Bedford Lodge (home from home in 2009 as Richard Dunwoody walked up and down the road for 1000 hours!), and no doubt we will go and visit a trainer or a stud for research for Jilly’s next book – and she will ask a few interesting questions that have never been asked before (she is still the Queen of the ‘bonkbuster’ after all!)

On our last Newmarket trip Jilly and I went to visit an old friend!
In mentioning Richard Dunwoody, he was on R4 Midweek on Wednesday and his interview is really worth a listen as he talks about some of the far flung places he has been to recently in his new career as a photo journalist.  He also mentions the Mongol Derby, that he will work on again in August this year, and for which I have just started the PR.

One of my PR ‘riders’ in the Mongol Derby, Csgt Rob Skinner, is also riding in the Grand Military at Sandown today and I am off there this afternoon to cheer him on!

Thursday, 27 February 2014

The White Turf

This has to be my picture of the week, jockey and Markel Ambassador, Lucy Alexander riding in the White Turf at St Moritz last Sunday.

Lucy comes second on Winston Rocket
First staged in 1907, the event is held every year in February racing on the frozen ice at St Moritz.
Lucy came second in the third round of the 1600m HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubrak Ladies World Championship IFAHR riding Winston Rocket trained by Swedish trainer, Camilla Nillson. It was the first ever Ladies race held on the White Turf.

The event attracts crowds of more than 30,000 and is a magnet for the rich and famous across Europe. The cards are a mixture of Flat races, Trotting races and also a unique discipline known as Skikjoring, which is a trotting race in which the riders are pulled along on skis! 

Markel were absolutely thrilled to see Lucy's picture (in her branded breeches) across many of the papers - the best form of sponsorship in picturesque action! 

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

New beginnings...

2013 was a rather hectic year for me both personally and professionally (thus my lack of blog communication!) but 2014 has already got off to a racing start and I am excited and inspired by the projects on the horizon.

Last year Racing Post Books was fortunate to publish two great titles in Brough Scott’s Henry Cecil: Trainer of Genius and Jamie’s Reid’s Doped: The True Story of the 1960’s Racehorse Doping Gang.  The former was highly acclaimed as one of best racing books ever - with sales to match the accolades – and the latter won us the prestigious William Hill Sports Book of the Year award.  For a small publisher this is a real achievement and we were all thrilled that this came to pass.

The Racing Post team and author Jamie Reid celebrate our big win!
I have worked with the team at the Racing Post for six years now and frankly you could not find more dedicated, motivating and simply, nicer people.  In addition to the 40 or so annuals we publish, our challenge is to continually sustain the momentum of a strong books ‘pipeline’ and as we go into 2014 we have the bit between our teeth and some exciting titles lined up.  These include a book with the world’s number one eventer, Andrew Nicholson,  and with the horse whisperer, Gary Witheford.  I can’t wait to get out and about in the autumn to attend some of the equestrian events as our promotional vehicle kicks into gear and I expect we’ll plan a few big ‘demos’ with Gary so he can showcase his work in action.  I’ve seen him at work a few times, and visited him at home last week, and am personally inspired to learn more about what he does and how he does it.  I’ve already practised a few of the techniques he uses on my own horses (with some success!), and I hope – and think – that the book we are doing with him, will have a huge impact in the equestrian world.

A foray away from racing will also be the backdrop for a few of the Injured Jockeys Fund’s 50th anniversary events as in 2014 the IJF will be the official charity of both Olympia in December and the Barbury Horse Trials in July.  At both these events we will host some kind of ‘Jockey’s Challenge’ (all to be revealed!) and it is going to be a tremendous amount of fun putting some of our top jockeys in front of big crowds to see how they get on in ‘Prince Philip Cup’ style activities!!  A list of all the IJF’s planned events are viewable at and every race course in the country will also host some kind of IJF race day to celebrate 50 years of the Fund.  It is a hugely important year for the IJF with a programme of awareness raising activities, the climax of which will be the opening of Jack Berry House in the autumn, the eagerly awaited respite and rehab centre – and the north’s equivalent of Oaksey House in Lambourn.

Jack Berry starts work at Jack Berry House with injured jockey Brian Toomey
As well as more projects for The Bob Champion Cancer Trust, I am working again on the Martin Wills Writing Awards and this year we have added a new prize for the overall winner of a ‘Literary Lunch’ with Jilly Cooper.   I’ll also be involved in the 2014 Mongol Derby and a fascinating WW1 project with the sculptor Philip Blacker. 

So I am set for a busy year but am planning to update this blog on a more regular basis with some snippets and pictures of the fascinating people I meet and the extraordinary places my work takes me…

On a personal note, and after a recent move up onto the Cranborne Chase in the depths of Wiltshire, my ‘leisure’ year is set to be pretty taken up with my two ex-racehorses, ‘Lords’ and ‘Troopy’.  They are both coming along in leaps and bounds (although these days not literally!) and I shall be starting to get them out and about competing, albeit at a very low level!!  

There is an undeniable pleasure having my horses this close to home!