News and views 

Thorneyside Stud Promotional day for Welsh Cobs strikes Gold

On St Leonard’s Farm, Windsor overlooking the grandstand at Eton Dornay where the Olympic rowing competitions took place on the Thames and a wonderful view of Windsor Castle – the Thorneyside Stud Welsh Cob Promotional Day  was awarded gold medal status by almost 2000 visitors and Welsh Cob enthusiasts from all over the UK and Europe.

On Sunday September 2nd 2012 all roads in the UK and Europe led to St Leonard’s Farm, St Leonards Hill, Windsor, the new home for the Thorneyside Stud of Peter and Fiona Gray and their son Jack. The gates opened at 11am and Welsh Cob enthusiasts from all over the UK and Europe flocked in through the gates to witness a promotional day for Welsh Cobs. The Thorneyside stud of Welsh Cobs was formally registered in 1973 but Peter Gray’s life has been steeped in working horses in the trade in the south east urban area following in the footsteps of his grandfather and father. A full colour programme charting the history of the family going back 3 generations and giving full details of order of appearance of Welsh Cobs  on the day and lot number for the forthcoming  sale  was compiled and designed by Dr Glyn Jones Gwarchod Stud, PR Consultancy ably assisted by Fiona Gray with excerpts quoted below 

‘Peter Gray’s grandfather and father before him were the main suppliers of harness horses to Express Dairies and most horse- drawn trade businesses in the London and the South East area in their time. Jack Gray would purchase horses from far and wide and then have them transported to Uxbridge by rail.

At that time there were quite a few Dairies around – all looking for horses and vehicles –Express, United, Holliers and Bill Day Dairies. The yard at Uxbridge was always full of vehicles and horses for sale. It was common to see more than 50 horses in the yard at one time, all tied up in stalls and each one had to be worked and exercised. There were no hired staff as such and the whole family mucked in and no one had breakfast until all the horses, pigs and poultry had been fed and watered- brilliant early day values and good hearty breakfasts !!

Peter’s job as a youngster was to show or ‘flash’, sometimes as many as 15 to 20 horses a day to potential customers who all wanted to see the horses in harness doing the job with vehicles. They would take in unbroken horses and some off hire – a lot of them not right! and a lot of horses that had or could not be broken in by others. They were always up at 5 am taking horses out to break in or exercise on the roads in Uxbridge town centre before the traffic got heavy. Peter was always working when he was young ,even at a show he was always at work, and looking back  what a great upbringing! Peter’s father always used to say ‘Forget the breeding – they are your foals and somebody else’s horses.’ Showing horses in harness was an essential part of Peter’s parents business in the Trade as well as Private Drive Classes showing Hackneys, Shires, Vanners and Welsh cobs. The emphasis was on getting the best out of each horse- work ethic was paramount.’

Peter Gray’s name is synonymous with Horses - Welsh Cobs, Hackneys and Standardbreds. Welsh Cobs such as Welsh Section D stallions Thorneyside Flyer, Thorneyside The Boss, both male champions of the breed at the Royal Welsh Show,,Thorneyside The Terrminator and  Welsh Cob Section D mares Thorneyside Welsh Model, Thorneyside Flying Lady and Thorneyside Welsh Maid. In the Hackney world - Holmfield Narrator, Thorneyside Viscount, Thorneyside Pioneer and Wentworth Ebony. In harness racing the infamous’ Grey Wonder’ Nijinsky and the jet black The Joker.

Almost 100 Thorneyside Welsh Cobs were shown during the display, in- hand, under saddle and  in harness as well as stationary displays of vintage trucks and horse – drawn vehicles. The day started at 1pm with opening remarks by John Kirk of the Donys Stud, a close friend of Peter Gray and their respective fathers were also very close.

Then started an afternoon of pure magic with an organised display of Welsh Cobs, mares and foals, young -stock and stallions in hand, in harness and ridden orchestrated by producers George Mitchell and Clare Granger of the Dycott Stud in Essex with a team of around 25 handlers – all enthusiastic young people involved with Welsh Cobs.  The Commentators were Dr Wynne Davies MBE, FRAgS, Ceulan Stud, Dai Harris of the Pennal Stud and John Kirk of the Donys Stud. Dr Wynne Davies stated ‘ What a great  unforgettable display of Welsh Cobs – and so touching to see the two old stagers Thorneyside the Boss at 29 and Thorneyside Flyer at 27 looking so well and the Welsh Cob’ exhibits on show would be very exciting prospects for the forthcoming Brightwells Autumn Welsh Cob sales on Saturday 20th October 2012, and thanks to Joey Giles of the Leyeswick stud for purchasing my book The Welsh Cob for £350 for the Charity collection on the day’. Dai Harris of the Pennal Stud, Blaenpennal Tregaron.said  ‘ A day that made me proud to be associated with Welsh Cobs – Truly amazing’ John Kirk, Donys Stud said ‘ I was very proud and priviledged to be part of this memorable day at Thorneyside , where there was an abundance of quality Welsh Cobs with plenty of flair and action on offer.’

Mr Jack Hargreaves, The Queen’s Head Coachman from the Royal Mews in London  and his wife Kate and son Joseph were special guests representing the Queen’s Equerry Lt. Col. Toby Brown and he gave a very special address complementing Peter Gray for the quality and movement of his Welsh Cobs and congratulating the forefathers of the Welsh Cob Studs for their sterling work in keeping the bloodlines of the old and traditional Welsh Cob stallions and mares and for their meticulous breeding programme. Mr Hargreaves told the 2000 plus audience that his son Joseph was smitten with what he saw and that they would be attending the Brightwells Autumn Cob Sales in Llanelweddd, near Builth Wells on Saturday 20th October 2012 where 52 lots of the Thorneyside Welsh Cobs would be sold at a genuine reduction sale.

Mr Edwin Prosser, President Elect of the Welsh Pony and Cob Society thanked Jack Hargreaves, The Queen’s Head Coachman, for attending and for his kind words and went on to congratulate Peter Gray of the Thorneyside Stud for setting up this promotional day for the Welsh Cob and for his determination over the years for sticking to the type of Welsh Cob he set out to breed in 1973.

The finale to the promotional day was a spectacular show of Welsh Cob Stallions in harness to Show Wagons with young Jack Gray driving his little pony Shortie and a show of Thorneyside Welsh Cob Stallions from the Stud and those brought back for the day by other owners. Then the wonderful  emotional sight of Peter Gray leading in Thorneyside Flyer -27 years of age and his brother John leading in Thorneyside The Boss – 29 years of age – both male Champion of the breed at the Royal Welsh Show and  looking exceptionally well considering their age – both striding out and with tails uplifted as they trotted around the arena – to which there was a standing ovation. One of those moments when all present said ‘ I was there.’

Terry Court Managing Director of Brightwells Auctioneers – the official auctioneers to the Welsh Pony and Cob Society and a previous President of the Welsh Pony and Cob Society in 2010  then auctioned three items – a service to the famous Welsh Cob  stallion Thorneyside Flyer by natural covering or a straw which made £1000 and purchased by Mark Swistun, Llanmorlais Stud, Gower; a bronze resin bust of Thorneyside Flyer – a limited edition purchased by Chris George, Killam Stud,Gower for £300  and Dr Wynne Davies’ book – The Welsh Cob purchased by Joe Giles Leyeswick Stud for £350. The total raised for the charities Cancer Research and CORPAL – a charity dealing with brain damaged children, including donations for the programmes was £2250.

Terry Court then concluded the formalities with his Vote of Thanks and  invited all helpers, handlers and commentators into the centre of the arena and then invited  Peter and Fiona Gray into the arena where young Jack Gray presented his mother with a bouquet of roses and lilies to a standing ovation from the crowd. Terry Court said ‘In all my years involved with the Welsh Pony and Cob Society I have never seen such a fantastic display to promote The Welsh Cob, nor probably will ever see again.’      

This was undoubtedly one of the biggest and best promotional days ever for the Welsh Cob in the UK, according to most of the attendees. Dr Glyn Jones stated ‘Peter and Fiona Gray were very honoured and humbled by the comments they received on the day and for all the cards and good wishes received since from all in attendance. We set out to celebrate the Welsh Cob in 2012 Olympic Year and in Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Year and we only hope we have managed to do so.’

For those wanting a copy of the Programme please contact Dr Glyn Jones mob: 07977 038027 or Email:



1st Oct 2012