Princess Anne at military horse race and opening new centre for Hearing Dogs

Princess Anne, The Princess Royal, has presented trophies to the jockey and winning connections of today’s Grand Military Gold Cup at Sandown Park, and opened a new welcome centre for charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People at The Grange in Prince’s Risborough.


Princess Anne went to the races on Friday. Isle of Eigg

The Grand Military Gold Cup is run each March at Sandown Park racecourse. The National Hunt steeplechase has been run since 1841 over a distance of just over three miles and is open to horses aged five years or older, who must be owned by serving or ex-military personnel; jockeys must be currently serving or retired military amateur jockeys, too.

A similar race, the Royal Artillery Gold Cup, is run at Sandown each February.

Princess Anne, herself a highly skilled horsewoman, who as well as competing in three day eventing and representing Great Britain at the 1976 Olympics, also competed in the Grand Military Cup in 1987 finishing in eighth position.

A regular at the races each season, it seemed an obviously enjoyable engagement for The Queen’s daughter; it was also her job to hand out the winner’s trophy. This year’s race was won by Baden ridden by Lieutenant Billy Aprahamian of the Irish Guards and trained by Nicky Henderson. Last year’s winner Rathlin Rose ridden by Guy Disney came in a close second, narrowly missing out on consecutive wins.

In 1974 the winning jockey was Major Andrew Parker Bowles, who was then married to Camilla – now remarried to The Prince of Wales. Interestingly, Anne and Andrew were once an item, too!

Anne spent some of this week in the Midlands: she visited Birmingham and Leicester.

The Princess Royal had another engagement, opening a new welcome centre for charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People at The Grange in Saunderton, Buckinghamshire. We haven’t been able to find any photos of the royal visit.

Hearing Dogs for Deaf People train dogs to alert deaf people to sounds they would otherwise miss – simple sounds that many people take for granted like the doorbell, alarm clock and even danger signals like the fire alarm.

The charity was formed in 1982 and currently has over 900 working hearing dog partnerships across the UK. It costs £40,000 to train and support each hearing dog throughout their lifetime.

The new centre will allow the charity to generate greater awareness of their work amongst the public, as it will be open to all throughout the year.

Designed to be specifically welcoming to the deaf community, it will operate an apprentice scheme for two profoundly deaf young adults. The training centre has been transformed from being an operational site rarely open to the public, into a centre where hearing loss can be understood by all visitors, and a variety of employment opportunities will be offered.

The centre includes a café restaurant, gift shop and a space that can be used for private functions.

All the profits generated will be ploughed back into Hearing Dogs and will develop into an important new income stream for the charity.

The Princess Royal has been patron of the charity since 1992.

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