our-patrons

Our Patrons

Our Patrons come from a huge variety of roles across the horse world

Our Patrons come from a huge variety of roles across the horse world

Our Patrons are recognisable in their varied roles across the horse world and we are very grateful to them for their public support and enthusiasm for our work helping horses around the world.

Our Patrons are:


Jonathan and Emma Agnew
Jonathan and Emma Agnew 

Commentator Jonathan Agnew is best-known for his vibrant broadcasting style on the jewel in BBC radio’s crown – Test Match Special.

At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio Jonathan turned his talents to covering the equestrian disciplines – he said: “No-one was more surprised than me when I was asked to commentate on equestrianism at The Olympics. I had never ridden before or ever wanted to…but now I have taken up riding.”

In preparation for this he attended key events in the equestrian calendar, including Badminton, Burghley and Blair and along the way befriended many of the UK’s leading riders, including our own Pippa Funnell. He also commentated at the Tokyo Olympics for the radio.

Emma Agnew describes herself as ‘wife of cricket waffler Aggers’ and is an accomplished rider, regularly competing at dressage up to medium level.

We are so delighted to be involved with this important charity. Horse welfare has been close to my heart for many years and I am now delighted to be able to share my love of horses with Jonathan. Together we look forward to being able to give back to the animals who give so much to us.


Gabriella Atkinson
Gabriella Atkinson

Canadian businesswoman Gabriella Atkinson is the proud owner of Bedgebury Park near Tunbridge Wells in Kent. Gabriella bought the 125-acre estate in 2009 with the vision of transforming it into a state of the art equestrian centre for the south east.

Bedgebury Park has attracted riders from all over the region to attend clinics with top coaches, train and compete in the covered arenas and newly refurbished cross-country course.

The next stage of Bedgebury’s exciting development includes a new focus on the properties within the Estate to create a unique blend of cottages and family homes. Never one to stand still, Gabriella has also created the Bedgebury Collection – a lifestyle and sports fashion brand.

Horses are such a huge part of my life and I have learnt so much from them at home as well as out competing and showing.  They give so much to the people around them and they deserve to be understood and cared for. I believe that welfare can be improved through communication and raising awareness of issues to the people around the horses and World Horse Welfare are so good at promoting the importance of education and welfare that I want to do everything that I can to support them in getting this message across.


Andrew and Jane Black
Andrew and Jane Black

Andrew Black is the co-founder of innovative betting exchange Betfair, and has always had a keen interest in horseracing. He and Jane purchased Chasemore Farm in Surrey in 2008 and set about transforming the 330 acres of arable farmland in to what has now become a thriving thoroughbred stud. Chasemore is currently home to 40 broodmares and also has a significant number of horses-in-training, predominantly with UK based trainers, but also in Ireland, France and Australia.

Jane and Andrew have long been supporters of World Horse Welfare and are keen to raise awarenes, within the horseracing and thoroughbred breeding community, of the invaluable work the charity does through its support of the responsible involvement of horses in sport.

We are honoured to be patrons of World Horse Welfare, particularly at a time when the racing industry’s social licence to operate becomes ever more precarious. We fully endorse the charity’s principle that responsibility for equine welfare rests on the shoulders of those who own, breed, train, ride and care for them, and that the welfare of the horse must come first. We shall continue to make every effort to raise awareness of this message within the horseracing community both in the UK and abroad, and support the charity’s wider remit wherever possible.


Sara Cox

Sara Cox was born in Bolton and is best known for her broadcasting work. She is currently to be found hosting BBC Radio 2’s ‘Drivetime’ show Monday to Friday evening from 16:00 to 19:00. 

Her talents are not just confined to Radio 2 – she has been Clive Anderson’s co-host on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Loose Ends’ and previously presented BBC2’s ‘Great Pottery Throw Down’.

Sara has ridden since the age of six; from the ponies on her dad’s farm, to racing at Goodwood’s Ladies Day for charity. Horses are a huge part of Sara’s life and she is passionate about them and their welfare.

Sara has been lucky enough to be schooled in show jumping by Olympian Tim Stockdale for Sport Relief, has raced against Frankie Dettori for her role as QIPCO Champions Series’ ambassador and been given a polo masterclass by British Polo legend Alan Kent.

Sara currently exercises an ex-racehorse in Epsom and loves taking her eldest daughter for riding lessons in North London.

Sara is extremely proud to become a World Horse Welfare Patron and is looking forward to raising awareness of all the issues regarding horses and their treatment, health and welfare.


Suzanne Dando
Suzanne Dando Reynolds BEM

Suzanne is a former British Gymnastics Champion who competed at the 1979 World Gymnastics Championships, before going on to compete in and captain the British team at the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

She was later selected as one of the Olympic Torch Bearers for London 2012. Since her retirement, she has worked as a television broadcaster for a number of channels. Suzanne became the main presenter for the Sky Sports Equestrian Coverage of British Show Jumping, having the privilege of interviewing the world’s top show jumpers. In 2015 she co-produced and presented the documentary on Equine Cloning for Sky Sports Originals, ‘Cloning: Creating Designer Horses’.

Although she doesn’t compete herself, when not working, Suzanne enjoys riding when she can. Her great passion is her charity work, and in 2015 she was awarded a BEM in the New Year’s Honours List for her services to charity. A longstanding Ambassador of The Prince’s Trust and Patron for Against Breast Cancer, she has coordinated and taken part in many charitable events including successfully reaching the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro raising money for The Children’s Trust.

It was while filming for Sky Sports at World Horse Welfare’s Somerset centre that she became interested in the work of the charity.

I am hugely passionate about animal welfare, and our home is constantly filled with rescued animals, my husband Adam is incredibly understanding! I am therefore delighted to become a Patron for such a worthy charity. The work they do both here and abroad is immeasurable. Horses have for centuries played such an important role in human lives, working with us domestically, entertaining us for pleasure and serving us during conflict. These strong, noble creatures ask no questions and it saddens me that even today, some find it so easy to abuse their trust. I look forward to working with World Horse Welfare and helping to make a difference to horses in need.


Pippa Funnell MBE
Pippa Funnell MBE

Pippa Funnell is one of the world’s leading eventers and the first and only holder of the Rolex Grand Slam of eventing which she won in 2003 with Primmore’s Pride and Supreme Rock.

Pippa is a dual Olympian achieving team silver in Sydney and Athens as well as an individual bronze in Athens. She also has had multiple wins at Badminton, Blenheim and Windsor Horse Trials. In 2005 her tremendous achievements were recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours list, being awarded an MBE for services to equestrian sport. 

Pippa continues to be consistently placed at top level international competition and she also produces sport horses at the Billy Stud farm which she runs with her husband William. 

Pippa is the author of the popular children’s books ‘Tilly’s Pony Tales,’ creating a series of 18 successful titles. She will be relaunching ‘Pippa’s Pony Tales’ in 2023.

Pippa has long been closely connected with World Horse Welfare:

Throughout my career I’ve realised the importance of having a practical voice within horse sport and I support charity’s position to protect the safety and welfare of horses involved in competition. I also want to use my voice to raise awareness of the transportation campaign and urge supporters to help in any way they can so we can collectively put a stop to this awful trade.

I’m proud to be Patron of World Horse Welfare, a charity which has always been close to my heart and has made such great progress promoting better welfare for horses all over the world.


Esme Higgs

Esme Higgs is a video content creator with a monthly reach of over 15 million viewers across various social media platforms. Specialising in captivating and informative content centered around her equine lifestyle, Esme sheds light on responsible horse ownership and animal welfare. Her mission is to democratise equestrianism, making it accessible to a broader and more diverse audience. Spanning her creative endeavours across 20 countries and 5 continents, Esme is not only an accomplished content creator but also a best selling international author and host of the chart topping podcast ‘Esme’s Country Life’ on Spotify.

In 2021 Esme rehomed World Horse Welfare Duke, an 10hh three year old Welsh Mountain Pony – who is completely full of charisma! ‘Dukey’ has quickly settled into the herd and is companion to Esme’s retired first pony Mickey. Duke has captured the hearts of Esme’s audience effectively illustrating that a happy and healthy horse doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to be ridden.

Esme has lent her support to the charity for a number of years and in 2023 Esme joined World Horse Welfare’s ride to parliament to raise awareness of the importance of the Kept Animals Bill – a campaign the charity remains committed to.


Alex Hua Tian
Alex Hua Tian 

At Beijing 2008, as the youngest ever eventer and his nation’s first at an Olympics, Alex Hua Tian cemented his place as China’s face and pioneer for equestrian sports. Since then, Alex has competed at two further Olympics, including finishing 8th with Don Geniro at Rio 2016, won two individual Asian Games medals, two FEI Awards and started his own community outreach program in China, The Horsemanship Movement.

Alex has proudly worked with World Horse Welfare as a patron since 2014 and is committed to using his profile to promote equestrian sports and horse welfare especially in the rapidly developing Chinese equestrian market Alex is based in Cheshire with his team of horses and is busy focusing on Paris 2024 qualification and the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.

I am very proud to have worked with World Horse Welfare since doing a video for the charity before my first Badminton in 2010 as a raw 20 year old! As riders, the welfare of our horses at home and at competitions is central to our lives and our sport, whether that is the day to day quality of care or the larger decisions that impact each horse’s health and happiness. With the increasing importance of the ‘social licence’, we all have a responsibility not only to our horses but also to the future of our sport to uphold and demonstrate the highest welfare standards at all times.

For me, World Horse Welfare has always championed the vast majority of those within equestrian sport around the world who spend their lives caring deeply for their equine partners and helping the equestrian community, both here in the UK and internationally set clear welfare guidelines. As modern equestrian sport continues to expand its reach beyond its traditional shores, World Horse Welfare will continue to hold a very important place within the international equestrian community and I hope that I can do my part to support that.


Lee Mckenzie
Lee McKenzie

Lee McKenzie is a presenter for Channel 4, BBC and ITV. She is mostly known for presenting Formula One but can also be seen on 6 Nations and International rugby, Wimbledon, Olympics and Paralympics. Her first book ‘Inside F1’ was published in 2022. 

Horse riding has always been part of her life and her family teach and compete in dressage and eventing. Lee has presented the equestrian disciplines at the Olympics and World Equestrian Games and presents the London International Horse Show for both the BBC and in the main arena. When ‘At The Races’ launched, Lee was one of the first faces on the channel. She is also very proud to work with Cheltenham Racecourse too. One of her favourite equestrian memories was taking part in a challenge with Michael Schumacher at his ranch in Switzerland learning reining. 

Lee started working with World Horse Welfare in 2009 when she made a series of films for BBC Scotland’s Landward show at our Belwade Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre. On days off Lee can be found riding or spending time with horses.


International Dressage Rider Gemma Owen - a brown haired woman stood next to a black and white horse smiling at the camera
Gemma Owen

International dressage rider, businesswoman and influencer Gemma Owen began her dressage career at 8-years-old, competing with British Dressage by the time she was just 11-years-old.

In recent years Gemma and her horse, Sirius Black III (Siz), competed in the British team for the European Junior Riders Championship, in the British U21 Championships and most recently at the Prix St Georges level in 2023. She tragically lost Siz in February 2023 and after taking some time out of the saddle, Gemma took on 8-year-old MSJ Florenza (Faye) with the prospect of them competing together.

Gemma has over 2m followers across social media, where she documents her dressage career as well as her glamorous lifestyle. She lives in Cheshire with her parents, brother and sisters, and a menagerie of dogs and horses – including 30-year-old Daphne, the pony that helped her fall in love with dressage, who is living out her retirement alongside retired racehorses from the family’s racing yard, Manor House Stables.


Ian Renton
Ian Renton

Ian is Managing Director of the west region of The Jockey Club, a role which carries with it responsibility for the Cheltenham Festival – the most important four days in jump racing’s calendar. 

Formerly managing director of racecourse operator Arena Leisure, Ian was assistant manager of Cheltenham in the mid-1980s and also held the position of clerk of the course at Aintree racecourse.

I am delighted to take on the role of Patron and support the much-needed work of World Horse Welfare as the charity achieves so much for horses here in the UK and overseas. It is right that our sport of horse racing acknowledges the good, often unseen work of the charity within racing and across all horse competition to ensure that welfare remains a top priority. This has always been the hallmark of our work here at Cheltenham and across Jockey Club Racecourses.


Zara Tindall MBE
Zara Tindall MBE

Zara is at the forefront of British eventing. In 2003, at the age of 22, Zara finished second in her first four star event, Burghley Horse Trials. She went on to collect individual and team gold medals at the 2005 European Eventing Championships and individual gold and team silver medals at the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games. 

Zara took High Kingdom to the London 2012 Olympics, where they won silver in the team eventing. The following year they finished second at the prestigious four star Luhmühlen Horse Trials and in 2014 they collected team silver at the World Equestrian Games. In 2017 they finished third at the four star Rolex Kentucky.

Zara actively supports many charities, including the Sargent Cancer Care Trust and the Lucy Air Ambulance for Children.

In 2006 Zara was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Beyond her successful equestrian career, Zara is a qualified physiotherapist and a keen sportswoman. She lives in Gloucestershire with her husband, former England Rugby Union captain Mike Tindall and their three children, as well as their three dogs.

My horses perform on the world stage and their health and welfare is not only scrutinised by me and my team but also by professionals at every competition we take part in. In stark contrast, there are many millions of horses here in the UK and all over the world whose welfare depends on charities like World Horse Welfare so I am proud to support their important work.

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