SOME outstanding equestrian achievements marked 2011 in West Sussex. They were achieved in a wide range of fields, from horse racing through to side saddle and included up and coming young riders who could be stars of the future and also seasoned competitors.
The memorable performances are too many to mention individually, but some of the major achievements are highlighted here.
THE magnificent sight of Frankel winning the prestigious Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood will linger in the memory of anyone fortunate to see the world’s top two-year-old putting in an outstanding performance before a crowd of more than 18,000 this summer.
It was an unforgettable moment when this colt, trained by Sir Henry Cecil and ridden by Tom Quelly acquired a breathtaking victory. Hundreds watching will remember for ever his vast, easy stride, and the unbelievable burst of speed produced by a single shake of the reins, which left his three rivals far behind.
His run was so inspiring that the crowd applauded in a standing ovation that started a furlong from the finishing pole and continued for a full ten minutes afterwards when Frankel was paraded before the ecstatic crowd. He went on to win the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Champions Day at Ascot in October. It truly was a privilege to see him perform on Sussex soil.
So far as racing was concerned, two talented young riders emerged, with Harry Bentley of Storrington more than making his mark in Flat racing during the year, clocking up an amazing 47 victories and another 103 in the frame- a young man destined for great things. On the point to point scene, 16-year-old George Gorman had his first rides on his mother Carolyn’s horses, clocking up four wins in 2011, which would have been five but for losing a weight cloth during the race and being disqualified. Another talented rider certain to make his mark in the future.
IN a unique double, two major National Driving Championship were won by close neighbours in West Sussex. Gary Docking and Jeff Osborne celebrated winning top titles in private driving - and whilst they are highly competitive in the ring, they are the best of friends outside it.Jeff Osborne, (75) of West Ashling, near Chichester, achieved his first win in a showing championship at the Horse of the Year Show by taking the Xerox Special Event Services Harness Championship, driving his own black Hackney, Hamewith Lochnagar. Meanwhile, Gary Docking (45), who is based at Heyshott, won the British Driving Society National Championship, held this year at Addington, with Marion Woolley’s warmblood, Striker.
“Jeff and I live within ten miles of each other, and it is the first time that two major championships have been won by West Sussex competitors in the same season, “ said Gary, who has been in the sport for 30 years.
For full story and more highlights and pictures, see Equestrian Page, West Sussex Gazette on December 28