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news Christmas comes in July for Kayley

15th July 2022
  • RoR Racing to Polo Challenge won by Kayley Smith and Christmascametwice

Held at Cowdray Park between two thrilling semi-finals in the British Open Gold Cup, the annual RoR Racing to Polo Challenge produced a memorable result for Kayley Smith.

First prize in the challenge went to the 16-year-old mare, Christmascametwice, owned and ridden by Kayley Smith, who also took fourth place with another mare, the 5-year-old, Katniss Everdeen. On the track Christmascametwice ran a total of four times in 2009 for trainer Jamie Osbourne, her best effort being when third of four at Lingfield Park.

Winning owner and rider Kayley Smith said: ‘I purchased her in 2020 from Hazel Jackson when she and I were playing for Monterosso polo team. She was always a strong and powerful mare and I have found the longer I’ve had her, the better she has got. I always start my matches on Christmascametwice because she is such a confident pony. This year, despite her age she feels amazing, and I am delighted for her to be recognised today.’

Currently in its sixth year, the challenge is supported by Lycett’s Insurance and attracted 13 former racehorses to show off their ability and skills on the pitch in front of a panel of judges and a guest commentator Philip Ghazala. The panel comprised professional polo players Rob Cudmore and Henry Brett, alongside bloodstock agent Charlie Gordon-Watson, David Morley and Christopher Price from the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA).

Runner-up in the challenge was Salire, a 7-year-old mare ridden by Nick Johnson and owned by Alan Kent, and in third place was Ireland’s Angel ridden by Sebastian Chialvo.

RoR Chief Executive, Di Arbuthnot, said: “Today was another fantastic day to highlight the versatility of the thoroughbred. More and more polo players are retraining former racehorses because of their speed, stamina and adaptable nature, all of which make them suitable for retraining as a polo pony.

“I would like to thank Cowdray Park Polo Club for allowing us to stage this event on such a prestigious occasion as Gold Cup semi-finals day and to our judges for giving their time and expertise.”

RoR and Lycetts also made a Best Playing Thoroughbred Pony award following the exciting semi-final won 12-11 by Dubai against Scone, in which the winning goal was scored in overtime. The award was given to a 9-year-old mare by Le Cadre Noir, known as Maddie, the mount of Matt Perry, one of Dubai’s star players. The mare was in training but did not make it to the track. Matt Perry is the also rider of 2021’s RoR Elite Polo Champion, Les Seours.

This weekend further Best Playing Thoroughbred Pony prizes will be on offer at the British Ladies Open Championship at Cowdray Park on Saturday, once again thanks to the generous support of Lycetts.

To be eligible, horses must be registered with RoR:

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