Guests often ask about the horses they see in the field opposite the cottages. They are a couple of amiable old fellas called Zippy and JD and they love a chat if you wander over to the fence.
What Zippy won’t tell you, because he’s a modest gelding, is that his professional name is “Aversham” and he raced all over France and even Dubai winning three times and being placed many more.
One of his jockeys was the legendary Frankie Dettori MBE.
Zippy retired from racing when he was 9 and now at 20 years old, he is a “happy hacker” plodding around our local woods and lanes dreaming of the days when he graced winning enclosures with his famous jockey. A nice retirement with Viv, Carol and Neave.
JD (the brown one) in contrast is not famous but a 17-year-old Cob/Irish Sports Horse that owner Kim describes as stubborn but lovely.
In the field to the right of the cottages you’ll often find “King” who is a 16-year-old Irish Sports Horse. He competes in local show jumping and cross-country events. He’s a very friendly and well-mannered horse who loves to see people over the gate.
These three horses are owned by some of our liveries. We have three horses ourselves who we are happy to introduce if we are about. The one you may see with his head sticking out of the stable window looking across the yard is “Paddy”, a Connemara.
We also have a retired gentle giant called “Caspar” and children’s favourite “Pumpkin” who came off Dartmoor in 2019 and has settled in very well. She often acts as a “lawnmower” in our garden. “Fuzzy” is her little Shetland companion.
If you like horses and fancy going to an equestrian event you have chosen, the right place.
On our doorstep you have Chepstow Racecourse and the David Broome Event Centre.
Chepstow holds 32 race events every year including the Welsh Grand National on December 27th. It’s a very friendly course with tremendous views over Piercefield Park to the River Wye. If you’ve never been racing you should give it a go and try your luck with the local racecourse bookies. Check out dates on https://www.chepstow-racecourse.co.uk/
Showjumper David Broome CBE competed in the 1960, 1964, 1968, 1972 and 1988 Olympics and won individual bronze medals in 1960 and 1968. In 1960, he was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year. His equestrian centre, which is the family home near Caldicot, holds major show jumping, dressage and cross-country events throughout the year. A very pleasant way to spend an afternoon as we have often done over the years watching our two boys compete when they were younger. Check out what’s on http://www.theshowground.com/wales-and-west.html There’s a nice pavilion where you can get a meal and a drink.
Let me end with a recommendation for a walk in Piercefield Park next door to the racecourse. It is open to the public and can be entered by a path which runs up the bank from Welsh Street, a few hundred metres from the entrance to the racecourse. There’s a section of woodland you follow to the right and then it opens up into the park. The old ruin and landscape have a fascinating history.
The mansion, designed by John Soane, and estate, primarily laid out by Capability Brown, was a famous example of the “picturesque” movement – a term coined to describe the beautiful Wye Valley which the estate overlooks. Piercefield was occupied by 8 different families over 150 years and it bankrupted three of them.
The house was abandoned in 1923 and during the second world war US troops used it as target practice leaving the house a shell surrounded by ruined pavilions designed by Joseph Bonomi.
For a number of years, Chepstow Horse Trials have been held in the grounds in the Spring with the show jumping and dressage rings in the centre of the racecourse while the cross-country course winds around the park and in front of the ruin. Chris, my wife, is the event’s health and safety steward while I sometimes provide commentary for the cross country from a vantage point overlooking the course. It is an extraordinary sight to see the horses and riders tackle the course in front of the old mansion and around the landscaped grounds.
When Colonel Valentine Morris commissioned the work in the mid-1700s he could never have imagined the history he was setting in motion.
Definitely worth having an explore of the area for the history and the views. Perfect if you have a dog.
The not so famous JD
King with rider Clare
Pumpkin is keen to say Hello
Chepstow Racecourse is worth a visit
The entrance to Piercefield Park off Welsh Street in Chepstow. Its a short distance from the roundabout outside Chepstow Racecourse and you can park in the road opposite. Highly recommended walk.
The cross country section of Chepstow Horse Trials are held around Piercefield Park in the shadow of the once magnificent mansion