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  • Writer's pictureFran Cleland

Bits: Fire destroys clubhouse, record doping scandal & a vale

Updated: Jun 22, 2023


ABOVE: The stairs where pony club riders used to sit to have their photos taken after award wins can be seen as the fire engulfs the building. Picture: SHARON MERRITT

THE Macclesfield Pony Club buildings have been destroyed in a fire, thought to be arson.

It's a huge blow to the members and sad to see so much history lost, including historical photos, awards and memorabilia. The club has a long history and many past members have fond memories of their time spent there.

The police are investigating and ask anyone in the community to share information that may be relevant through Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

With the help of the Macclesfield Adult Riders, who share the grounds, they will rebuild.


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DEENA Peters, who was a passionate contributor to the sport of equestrian and a past employee of Equestrian Victoria, has died. Her warmth, humour, charm and wit will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved her. Some of Deena Peters fondest memories were those shared with friends and family at Werribee Park doing what she loved most and she will be greatly missed. Many nights spent camping in the “caravan of courage”, many early mornings and late evenings helping organise and facilitate some of Australia’s biggest events and, most importantly, being the chief groom, coach, support and driving force behind “team Peters” and her daughters Lucy and Tiffany.

Funeral details: Tuckers Chapel - Barrabool Hills Centre, 4/32 Province Boulevard, Highton, at 11am on Tuesday, June27. Dress: bright and cheerful.


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NEARLY half of the horses competing in the world’s richest FEI endurance ride, known as the “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup,” at in Al Ula in March tested positive to a banned substance.

With 15 of the 32 horses affected, this is the greatest number of positives ever returned from a single FEI event in any discipline ‒ a rate of 47 per cent.

Saudi Arabia is due to stage the showjumping and dressage World Cup finals next year, the first time an FEI title event in the Olympic disciplines is staged in the Middle East. It will be interesting to see if any sanctions are applied.


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IF you have a spare $4.5 million to spare, cricket, football and horseracing identity Simon O’Donnell is selling the regional Victorian farm where he’s been breeding horses for many of the past 30 years.

The property near Kilmore has three homes – a four-bedroom main abode, a three-bedroom guesthouse and a three-bedroom manager’s quarters.

The property has a mix of hills, valleys and a creek weaving through it. A driveway lined with pear trees leads up to the main house and its tennis court and pool.

Improvements include round yards, a walker, and a nine-box stable complex with tack, feed and vet rooms. Have a sticky beak here.


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FORMER apprentice jockey Kate Nipperness and her SW Cruiser, a three-quarter warmblood and quarter Clydesdale cross are looking to try for a Para Olympic dressage place. Nipperess, 36, was involved in a trackwork incident at Warwick Farm in 2016. Like many others in that situation, the love of horses and riding never left her and a meeting with Julia Battams, the coach of Australia's Paralympic Equestrian team fuelled the flame.

"Horses are what I do, they are who I am, and after I found Julia's program, it has completely changed my life,” Kate said. "Julia has helped me a lot. She is based in Melbourne but I do clinics with her every eight weeks. I send her videos of my training and she gives me advice.”


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EQUESTRIAN Australia has announced that the individual female representative for the CVIO4* vaulting competition to be held at CHIO Aachen, Germany, from 22 to 24 will be GingerKennett. Ginger will also be competing in the FEI Vaulting World Championships for Young Vaulters and Juniors in Dweden from July 26 to 30.


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THE Victorian State Government and the Cranbourne Turf Club will fund a new $4.6 million equine veterinary clinic and hospital, which will be built at the Cranbourne Training Centre.

Victoria's Racing Minister Anthony Carbines said the government will invest $2 million from the Victorian Racing Industry Fund, with the remainder of the funding to come from the club.

"It's very significant, this is going to make a huge difference to trainers and the technology that's going to be available to them to look out for their horses and their animals here at Cranbourne," he said.

That technology includes X-ray and ultrasound machinery, a bone scanner and standing CT equine imaging to be housed at the ever-expanding training centre.

"It's the largest training centre we've got in the state, it deserves this investment," Carbines said. "It's going to make a huge difference, rather than having to move horses around for the care that they need, we can do it all here at a vet hospital with state-of-the-art facilities right here in Cranbourne."


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THE Pony Club Association of Victoria is urging members to enter a Ride To Time zone qualifier, which are now in full swing across the state. Racetrack venues include Benalla, Cranbourne, Pakenham, Yarra Glen, Moe, Penshurst, Warrnambool, Kerang, Avoca and Geelong.

All dates and links to enter are listed on the PCV website events calendar. The 2023 Ride To Time State Championships will be held on September 9 and hosted by Moonee Valley Racing Club.

Not sure what the Ride To Time discipline is about? Watch last year's event here.


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WHO would think a donkey would live until age 64. Bubbles, thought to be the oldest in the UK, if not the world’s oldest donkey, has been put to sleep at the Hatton Adventure World Centre in England where she had lived for 25 years. Bubbles starred in the film Nativity and also took a star role in Hatton’s own nativity plays each year.

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MUCH-loved Midland Zone pony club president and showjumping judge Peggy Mills is sidelined at present after a heart turn. Those who know her realise she wont be down for long and the hundreds of kids that benefit from her hard work all wish her well.


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MAREE Tomkinson’s mare Imagine continued her good form in the young horse competitions in Achleiten, Germany, finishing second with a score of 85 per cent. Maree also won the FEI Young Horses seven-year-old Preliminary Test with Friday IV.

And while speaking of dressage, Equestrian Australia announced Lyndal Oatley and the bay Elvive and William Matthew with Mysterious Star as the individual representatives for the CDI4* competition to be held at CHIO Aachen from June 28.


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IF you fancy yourself as a driving, endurance or vaulting selector, High Performance Equestrian Australia is now accepting expressions of interest for non-olympic discipline selectors.

Applications for all disciplines close at 5pm on July 7 and will be appointed as per the National Positions Appointment and Procedures Policy.

Interested parties should read the position description on the EA website. Further details.



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