Racecourse ‘adopts’ rare zebras, plus the latest equestrian sponsorship news

  • Chester racecourse has adopted the zebras at its local zoo in a £40,000 deal.

    The racecourse has become an official supporter of Chester Zoo and has signed a four-year commitment as part of the charity’s “save our zoo” campaign.

    The deal involves Chester racecourse adopting the species at the zoo and providing an annual £10,000 donation towards the running of a conservation breeding programme.

    The worldwide population of Grevy’s zebra, which makes up of one of the 500 animal species at the zoo, has declined by more than 80% in the past 40 years. They are classed as endangered, with fewer than 2000 individuals left in the wild.

    “As key stakeholders within the horse racing industry, animal welfare is top of our agenda,” said Chester racecourse chief executive, Richard Thomas.

    “Through our adoption of the Grevy’s zebra species at the zoo, we hope to generate positive awareness through a unified approach, highlighting the duty of care we all have towards the protection of animals.

    “We are huge advocates of everything the zoo does within our local community and on a global scale and we are extremely proud to now hold the title of ‘official supporter of Chester Zoo’.

    “We hope our commitment of funding will ease a small part of the damage done by the impact of Covid-19 and support the crucial ongoing work in the coming years.”

    In 2016, the zoo hosted a symposium at Chester racecourse looking at commercial breeding techniques, specifically within racehorse breeding. A new strand of the zoo’s conservation breeding programme is also now using racehorse breeding techniques to explore innovative and non-invasive approaches to identify key biomarkers in the zoo’s own wildlife.

    These markers help provide insights into what’s needed to create the correct environment for breeding in a number of endangered species, including Grevy’s zebra, the Eastern black rhino, African elephants, giraffe and okapi, while maintaining the highest welfare standards.

    The £40,000 from the racecourse will go directly towards this project and to support work to prevent extinction among a number of species in the wild.

    “This support comes at a time when we need it most, and we’re really looking forward to working together on the road to recovery, after this incredibly tough period in our history,” said Chester Zoo’s chief operating officer, Jamie Christon.

    “Crucially, this four-year partnership will provide us with a little extra stability and help us to continue our vital efforts to prevent extinction.”

    Equine Health Centre

    The Somerset-based business has announced a partnership deal with Australian Olympian Chris Burton.

    The business is the UK distributor for Horse Gym 2000 and Vitafloor and has been working with the double CCI5*-winning event rider to develop the training and rehabilitation facilities at his base.

    “We’ve been delighted to work with Equine Health Centre. It’s a fantastic facility here at

    Chedington, and thanks to Equine Health Centre we have all of these options available to us,” said Chris.

    “I’m quite excited to see how we can use the Aquatrainer, Horse Gym 2000 dry treadmill and the Vitafloor as a way of both preventing injury and improving performance.”

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    Shearwater Insurance

    The insurance provider has welcomed Irish international para dressage rider Michael Murphy and talented young rider Barney Siddle to their ambassador rosta.

    Michael, who competed at the 2019 European Championships, has insured his horses with Shearwater for several years.

    “It is a comfort to know that the horses are insured with Shearwater. They are a professional but friendly company, competitive and knowledgeable. On the claim we had they were fast and efficient, and nothing was too much trouble,” he said. “Shearwater took the time at the beginning to work out the individual needs for each horse and came up with a competitive quote, which included flying which was essential for us.”

    Barney, 10, has competed at a host of championships, and aims to compete at Badminton Grassroots when he is old enough.

    “We love to share in our client’s successes and follow their journeys. Being able to support these two talented riders is a privilege and we wish them all the best for the coming season,” said Laraine Taylor, Shearwater Insurance’s equine manager.


    Five-star event rider Imogen Murray has extended her sponsorship agreement with La Chanvriere de L’Aube’s bedding brand, Aubiose, for a further year.

    “We’re extremely grateful to Aubiose for their continued support, at a time when we realise budgets are tighter than ever in our new and unpredictable world,” said Imogen. We’ve seen great savings in time spent mucking out, over the past 12-months, and a general reduction in waste, since changing to Aubiose, and the horses all seem very happy with their bedding.”

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