Gareth Southgate’s England squad may be playing pretty damn well, but there is another player snapping at their heels in a bid for World Cup glory.
Northumbria Police horse Peroni, 20, showcased some top footwork to score three goals in the mounted section’s own “England V Panama” match.
Despite one goal being disallowed after some illegal footwork was picked up on the video assistant referee system (VAR), England still managed to claim a 2-0 victory.
Panama’s only chance drifted far wide of the goal posts.
Sergeant Stu Coats explained why football is an essential part of training police horses, such as 10-year-old Parker and Peroni.
“It looks like they are just larking around playing football,” he said.
“But this is actually an exercise we do quite regularly, not only for displays, but also in training.
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“It is very important that the horses, when they are out and about in public order situations, know exactly where their each one of their legs are.
“This is to make sure they are not standing on people — it is very much a control exercise, you’ll see the horses stepping over the ball and the officers asking to use not only their forelegs but their hindlegs as well.
“It’s a great exercise for the horses, they enjoy it and it is a bit of versatility for them, and it is also a very important practical tool that we use to ensure the officers have control of the horses at all times.”
It could be argued that having four legs gives the players a slight advantage, but we’ll leave FIFA and the FEI to go over the finer details…
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In this week’s Horse & Hound magazine, out on Thursday 21 June 2018, don’t miss our full report from Bolesworth International, including all the showjumping and dressage action plus more.