The Grissell Racing team are renowned for chasing down winners on the racetrack, but they found themselves involved in a different kind of pursuit when they encountered four loose ponies running loose on the M25 on Sunday (3 January).

Point-to-point jockey and trainer Rose Grissell was driving in convoy with the stable’s horsebox from the fixture at Cottenham, near Cambridge, to her family’s yard at Brightling, East Sussex, at around 5pm. She encountered the runaways on the Essex stretch of the M25 between junctions 29 and 30.

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“There were two mares, both with foals, dodging in and out of the traffic. It was pouring with rain and visibility was very poor. It was a miracle they hadn’t been hit,” said Rose. She tweeted a picture of the scene together with the words: #m25closed because of naughty ponies — Grissell Racing to the rescue!

“Fortunately an off-duty police officer stopped at the same time and together we made some makeshift headcollars using scraps of rope,” Rose added.

“A number of people pulled over to help, including one lady who was petrified of horses, but we were the only ones with any experience.

“Fortunately the traffic police arrived quickly and both carriageways were closed. We managed to catch the mares, but we couldn’t get anywhere near the two foals; they were terrified.”

The ponies were eventually shepherded into an adjacent field while transport was arranged to pick them up.

“Our lorry, which was carrying four horses, was parked on the hard shoulder for around half-an-hour altogether,” said Rose. “Luckily it had been a reasonably successful day on the track — one of our runners finished a very pleasing third in a high quality race.”

The Highways Agency confirmed that four horses had been removed from the motorway although it is not known how they got there.