Ukraine, horse racing in Australia and top showjumping in the USA is in the news this week. However, over recent weeks, we have all seen the horrific pictures of the war in Ukraine as the EEF and FEI are act as fast as possible. The Ukrainian equestrian community and Ukrainian horses have been equally terribly affected. We look to see what the rest of the world’s equine community are doing to try to help.
Many have been moved by what they have seen and have made a commitment to help, whether by giving money to a charitable cause or even opening up homes to Ukrainians made homeless by the senseless destruction. In the world of horses, one notable act of help given to these poor unfortunate people is from The Coolmore Group in Ireland. It is believed that Aidan O’Brien, the Coolmore trainer based in Ballydoyle in Ireland, employs over twenty Ukrainians at his stables. It is with delight that the Coolmore Stud Group have been able to announce that they have managed to get out every family member related to those employees out of Ukraine and house them safely in Ireland and give those unfortunate people safety and food for as long as is necessary.
It is wonderful to see so many people around the world giving of their time, money and concern for the Ukrainians; it does belie the fact that the world is such a terrible place with no thought for others. The FEI and the European Equestrian National Federations came together last week with the Ukrainian equine governing bodies to see what else could be done to alleviate the problems for the horse men and woman in that country as well as what to do to help with equine welfare. The FEI committed to continuing to give as much financial support as possible by further using their ‘solidarity fund’ However, it was recognised that money was not the only issue, there were now major problems with supplies. Horse feed and veterinary products have become very thin on the ground even with the general equine world providing what they can. Thus far, the world equine community have pledged 75,000 euros in donations as well as 375 tons of materials delivered to a hub in Poland. Many Europeans have also invited Ukrainian nationals together with their horses to come to Europe and live with them in safety. The FEI have now managed to open another hub between Lviv and the Polish borders, with room for 40 horses, where they can be looked after and have the necessary paperwork completed before the transportation to other European countries.
However, despite all this good work, Jean-Phillippe Camboulives of the FEI warned that there were at least 2000 horses in dire straits as he spoke and more relief would be needed over the coming weeks and months. The FEI asked Brussels and the European Union to relax the import regulations to move horses out of Ukraine more quickly. The EU have obliged while keeping the important regulations in place to protect other horses within the EU already. The FEI have received the EU proposals and will respond as soon as they have completed their own enquiries – hopefully this week.
The FEI Solidarity Relief funds have been boosted by the FEI with another 1 million Swiss francs and money has also started to be given to the fund by the United States Equestrian Federation. All concerned have pledged that 100% of the funds raised will go directly to help those in difficulties in the equine community of Ukraine.
In the United States, the main class of the week at Wellington in Florida was the Rolex Grand Prix – a 5 star event attracting 40 top riders with a prize pot of half a million dollars. Fifteen national were represented in the 5 star class. Guilherme Jorge from Brazil set the course for the event for the fifth time but due to the weather conditions, he had to change his original design to spread the final Oxers and also shorten the course, to give both riders and horses a little more respite. Spencer Smith from the USA was the first in and he got a clear to progress to the jump off riding Quibelle. There were four others to gain a clear in the first round. In the jump off, Spencer Smith was the first to go and left having knocked down one pole, as did Daniel Coyle from Ireland who was riding Legacy. Daniel did however ride round the jump off in the fastest time. The podium places were filled by the only three double clear, so the time was the deciding factor of the winner. In third place was Chloe Reid from the United States riding Souper Shuttle, in 47.63 seconds – putting her into the lead for a short while. Daniel Bluman from Israel, a previous winner of this event in 2012, finished in second place with 44.29 seconds riding Ladriano. The winner was a fellow Israeli Ahlee Bond riding a horse she only took the ride on five weeks ago from Nicola Philippaerts from Belgium – Karoline of Ballimore in 44.09 seconds.
Major Racing in Australia
In Randwick, Australia, four Group 1 contests took place including the Bentley Australian Derby. Brenton Avdulla piloted the winner of the first Group 1, The Inglis Sires Stakes for 2 year olds over seven furlongs – Fireburn, a filly by Rebel Dane out of a So You Think mare. The filly is trained by Gary Portelli won by 1 ½ lengths from She’s Extreme who in turn beat Let’srollthedice by a further 4 lengths.
The second Group 1 of the day was the Australian Derby in which there were 18 runners taking on the 1 ½ mile turf track. Hitotso took this race in a tightly fought finish. In heavy ground Jockey John Allen took his charge to win by a neck for dual trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustice. The second home was Benaut, just missing out with Brenton Avdulla on board trained by John O’Shea. Alegron was just a short head behind the second home to take third with Hugh Bowman on board. The rest of the field were some way behind the first three and finished in a rather pedestrian fashion.
In the Furphy TJ Smith Stakes for 2 year olds and up over 6 furlongs, again the favourite obliged, Nature Strip, winning by 3 ¼ lengths sent out by trainer Chris Waller. The 7 year old gelding was ridden by James MacDonald. Second home was Eduardo, this one being an 8 year old with Nash Rewiller on board, beating a mere child at only 3 years old, Paulele ridden by James Kah who was a further 1 ½ lengths behind.
The final contest at Group 1 level was the Star Doncaster Mile Handicap for 3 year olds and up. This time the favourite was beaten and the race was taken by Mr Brightside, trained by Ben and DJ Hayes and ridden by Craig Williams. There were 20 runners. Hugh Bowman was again in the winning enclosure with I’m Thunderstruck losing the race by just ½ length. The Mick Price and Michael Kent trained third Icebath was just another ½ length behind the second. The first two home are 4 year olds and Icebath is five. The race was an exciting contest with all the horses bar two coming home in more or less a blanket finish.
The editor Bernard Simpson has been involved with horses and the industry for over 40 years. Together with his wife, he bred many flat racehorses including some which were Royal Ascot winners. He is also experienced in equine media using video, photography and journalism. Bernard currently lives in Wiltshire. He and guest authors now present this blog and hope you like our articles.
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