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MONDAY 21st JULY 2014

 

GO MANGO!

For the second year in succession the a row the Kilboy Estate Stakes at the Curragh was won by team Sir Michael Stoute/Ryan Moore. The latter was aboard MANGO DIVA who took the Group Two contest by a short head in the final strides. It seemed as though David Wachman's LAHINCH CLASSICS, who made a bold challenge in the final furlong, had done sufficient to claim the prize but it wasn't to be. It became apparent, however, that Ryan Moore had already booked his place in the winner's enclosure and was in no mood to be denied victory.

 

The Great Farm Barns' travelling head lad, James Savage, commented afterwards: “We were glad there wasn’t much rain last night. She’s a good-moving filly and wants top of the ground. I was praying for it to stop but in the end it just made it nice ground. She’s progressive and forward moving and while that could be her trip, she will stay 10. She just gets caught on her head a bit over a mile. The boss and the owner will look for her next race, but she might follow the Dank route.”

 

TWIN PEAKS

TAGHROODA and MUKHADRAM are both planned to take Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum's racing successes even higher as they are both entered in the £1 million King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on Saturday. The season's leading owner committed ommitted his Oaks champion, TAGHROODA, trained by John Gosden the line-up last Thursday but the decided to strengthen his attack against the ante-post favourite, TELESCOPE, by including his William Haggas-trained, Eclipse Stakes winner, MUKHADRAM, tto be ridden by Dane O'Neill. It will be the latter's highest-profile ride since he was appointed second jockey to Sheikh Hamdan in October 2012. Interestingly, the former champion apprentice will partner MUKHADRAM instead of the owner's first jockey, Paul Hanagan, who has ridden him on all 13 previous outings.

 

As things stand, Paul Hanagan will be aboard TAGHROODA, who will be seeking to become the first three-year-old filly to win the mile-and-a-half contest since PAWNESE in 1976.

 

For the other partnership it will be unknown territory for both horse and jockey. MUKHADRAM has never run more than a mile-and-a-quarter and Dane O'Neill has never ridden the five-year-old son of SHAMARDAL at home or on the track.

 

Trainer, William Haggas, commented: "I'm expecting Mukhadram to run in the King George on Sunday. I haven't heard any different and he's been in good form at home since Sandown. I'm pretty sure Paul Hanagan will be riding Taghrooda and, anyway, Dane O'Neill would struggle to do the weight on her which is 8st 6lb whereas Mukhadram will be carrying 9st 7lb. I expect Dane will ride Mukhadram and I'm not worried about the fact he's never ridden him before as he's quite a straightforward horse."

 

THE RICHARDS KEEPING IT KOOL

Middleham Park Racing-owned, Richard Hannon-trained and Richard Hughes-ridden KOOL KOMPANY won the Group 2 level in the Prix Robert Papin at Maisons Laffitte yesterday and thereby took his record to five wins from six starts. Connections were delighted that their two-year-old, named in honour of Manchester City defender Vincent Kompany, was able to bring his recently proven skills to the track and was well up to fighting it out with the Charlie Hills-trained STRATH BURN.

Richard Hughes had let it be known that he would be quite happy to let KOOL KOMPANY amble along ahead of the field but, in the event, it didn't work out like that and he had to settle for second spot when the favourite, GOKEN, decided to get into the act.

 

The son of JEREMY was, in fact, the first one to come off the bridle but, as he has demonstrated on previous occasions, he keeps finding more to give and when Richard Hughes asked him to tackle the leader, he did just that and soon wore him down and managed to hold off the fast-finishing STRATH BURN, ridden by Jamie Spencer by half-a-length who in turn pipped French horse, LEHAIM by a head.

 

Memorably this victory for Richard Hannon came nineteen years after his father claimed the same race with LUCKY LIONEL, ridden by John Reid and marks Great Britain's second success in the last three years. Charlie Appleby's RECKLESS ABANDON scored in 2012.

 

 

 

SUNDAY 20th JULY 2014

 

PIPE DREAM ACHIEVED

So a Lincolnshire race track became the historic setting for a 19-times champion jockey to surpass the record of a 15-times champion trainer. At Market Rasen yesterday Tony McCoy finally established himself as the most successful race-winner of all time, by notching up his 4,192nd winner of his career, thus beating the now retired Martin Pipe’s record of career wins.

AP McCoy passed 4,000 wins in November and decided to set his sights on another record, the one set up by the Somerset trainer, Martin Pipe, a former boss and later good friend, who retired from training in 2006 with 4,191 winners.

 

The Moneyglass master was aboard Jonjo O'Neill's IT'S A GIMME in the Betfred Summer Plate seemed to be having no problems for most of the two-and-three-quarter-mile listed contest and easily moved into the lead in the back straight. The last furlong wasn't the easiest, however, as he was strongly challenged by LOST LEGEND, also trained by Jonjo O'Neill and ridden by Richie McLernon. Then the champion launched one of his trademark late rallies and sealed the historic victory by one-and-three-quarter lengths.

Tony McCoy's winning total consists of 4,049 British jumps, 134 jumps in Ireland and nine on the flat. This was just one of many landmark successes of a remarkable jockey who already has 76 winners and could be on his way to become the first jockey to ride 300 winners in a season. After that, who knows? He's bound to be secretly thinking about the magical number of 5000. Only 809 to go which might only take him three years.

 

AP McCoy commented after his triumph: “The record was just a very personal thing between me and Mr Pipe. He set the standard.”

 

IRISH EYES ARE SMILING

Another Classic success for a renowned Irish racing dynasty. Yesterday's Darley Irish Oaks was won by Aidan O'Brien-trained BRACELET but unusually not with son Joseph aboard but Colm O'Donoghue.

The three-year-old MONTJEU filly has proved herself to be top-class at a wide range of distances. She won the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, also over one-and-a-half miles and before that the Group 3 Leopardstown 1,000 Guineas Trial over 7 furlongs. Yesterday's victory was also her Sire's 31st Group 1 winner, and a back-to-back win because CHIQUITA won this event last year. What is more, Dad isn't the only success story. The winner's Dam, CHERRY HINTON has produced three successful runners so far: WADING scored in the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes and SIMPLY STAR was runner-up in the Listed Tipperary Stakes at the beginning of this month.

 

One disappointment for the O'Brien family is that daughter, Ana(stasia), didn't become the first female jockey to ride in the Darley Irish Oaks. It was a valiant effort but her 80/1 shot, BEYOND BRILLIANCE, just didn't have enough left in the final stages and came fourth, five lengths adrift. But trainer, Aidan O'Brien wasn't complaining. He had saddled the first, second (TAPESTRY) and third with a total prize money of over £250,000.

 

NOWHERE ON RETURN

Heavily backed 11/10 favourite, AL KAZEEM, proved a disappointment to all his supporters by not making the frame in the appropriately named Doom Bar Stakes at Newbury yesterday. The Roger Charlton-trained son of DUBAWI was back on the track for the first time since last October. The Wiltshire-based trainer remained upbeat about his protégé's performance, pointing to a lack of fitness as the main reason for the defeat. No game plan has yet been announced but it's a reasonable guess that AL KAZEEM will step up to Group One company in the autumn.

Roger Charlton commented: “I was really pleased. I thought, looking at him before the race, he was clearly happy and relaxed and, of all the horses in the paddock, he was sweating the least. James [Doyle, the jockey] said he felt fantastic going to the start and he came into the race like he was going to win it and travelled up there very smoothly. I think … he just got tired, which is fair enough. I don’t think one can criticise the horse. He’s only been in training since the beginning of May and that race will have done him a huge amount of good. It’s disappointing for most people watching but I don’t think you can condemn the horse on that at all. He ran really well, showed all his enthusiasm and will improve.”

 

The Beckhampton Stables' handler is on record as saying he thought that AL KAZEEM was about 20kg heavier than his ideal racing weight. It is interesting, therefore, that the six-year-old, who won three Group Ones last year, was so well supported and backed down from 15-8 to 11-10 favourite. The punters obviously thought they knew something that the trainer didn't!

 

RACING NEWS from ARAMIS RACING

SATURDAY 19th JULY 2014

 

CRIKEY, MIKEY!

A 7-pound claiming jockey added a Newmarket victory to a Midlands National win, a feat that not too many jockeys have added to their record. Someone who canboast such rare feat is thirty-one-year-old Mikey (Michael) Ennis who scored on Ron Harris-trained LIGHT FROM MARS in the 32Red Handicap (Jockey Club Grassroots Flat Sprint Series Qualifier) on the July course last night. Hprevious highlight was winning the 2013 Midlands National aboard BIG OCCASION. The nine-year-old grey seemed to give the Longniddry-born rider a fairly easy ride on his twentieth outing of the season, looking to have every chance from one furlong out and clinching the Class 4 contest by a neck.

The winning jockey commented afterwards: “We are quiet at David Pipe’s at the moment so I just decided to contact a few Flat trainers to ride out and help me improve my riding and Ron Harris was good enough to let me do that. I can’t thank Ron enough as to ride a winner at a place like Newmarket where I never thought I’d have a chance to ride is amazing.”

 

With the awful plane disaster in Ukraine dominating the news it was just as well that Phil McEntee's PUTIN came last-but-one of the ten runners!

 

ATTACK OF THE LEATHERJACKETS

Microscopic organisms are to blame for Chepstow's moving their next Friday meeting to Lingfield's all-weather track. It was announced that the course has been invaded by nematodes, which feed on plant roots and can, thereby, make racing surfaces unstable.

 

Richard Linley, who is the senior course inspector, paid a visit to the Welsh course and, as a result, it was decided that in the interests of horse and rider safety the Friday fixture on July 25 should be transferred.

 

Jim Allen, racing director of owners Arena Racing, commented: "Whilst the issue has been identified in its early stages there are small areas of track where the turf has become unstable and so it is in the best interests of horses and riders that the fixture is transferred. We have worked with BHA to transfer the fixture to Lingfield Park and apologise for the inconvenience this may course horsemen. Work is already under way to ensure the turf at Chepstow is repaired so racing can resume as soon as possible."

 

Chepstow last suffered an attack of nematodes in 2010. Since that time racecourse has received a monthly spray of turf conditioner to promote healthy, strong roots. Despite these measures, however, unusual nematode activity, involving an infestation of leatherjackets - the larval stage of the crane fly - was identified this week and remedial action had to be taken to heal the affected areas. This includes mowing, harrowing and re-seeding.

 

GOTTA KEEP AHEAD OF THE WEATHER!

Racetracks across the country seem to have been spared the excesses of the worst stormy weather, with the exception of Lingfield which did get its share of rain before racing today. Earlier in the day things looked grim as thunder, lightning and rain swept across Britain and Ireland as storms, an unwelcome gift from France.

 

There must have been concern over in Ireland as the biggest event of the day is the Darley Irish Oaks at the Curragh. Track manager, Paul Hensey, however, seemed relieved to be able to report: "It has been dry overnight and it is good to firm. The forecast is mostly dry although there is the chance of a shower."

 

Over in Lingfield, which suffered the most with half-an-inch of rain, the comment from Neil Mackenzie Ross, the track and clerk of the course, was : "We are good, good to firm in places from good to firm, firm in places. There are possible showers after lunch but it should be dry for racing."

 

Today Newbury presents hosts the Weatherbys Super Sprint amongst other key features but they only had a quarter-of-an-inch of rain so Richard Osgood, clerk of the course, was feeling fairly upbeat: "The going is good, good to firm in places from good to firm. The forecast isn't too specific but there is the chance of some thundery showers before racing."

 

Haydock and Newmarket got off even more lightly with half as much again overnight so from Haydock clerk of the course, Kirkland Tellwright, a positive comment: "We had some rain overnight and the going is good to firm, firm in places from good to firm. We are likely to get some rain before racing."

 

Michael Prosser, Newmarket's clerk of the course, expressed relief when reporting: "It is humid here and we could get a shower some time this morning. It is good to firm and we have got off lightly."

 

Even better news is that at Cartmel and Market Rasen, presenting the only jump events of the day, they have had very little of the wet stuff, enabling Jane Hedley, clerk of the course at Market Rasen, to say: "We had not had a drop of rain although we could get some this morning. The going is good, watered."

 

Not to be outdone, Anthea Morshead, Cartmel's clerk of the course, stated: "We had just less than 1mm of rain overnight. It is overcast here and humid but it is fine. It is good to firm, good in places and the Met Office tells me the worst of the weather will be to the east of us."

 

Last but not least, Ripon escaped the generally expected bad weather and clerk of the course, James Hutchinson was pleased to be able to state: "We had a dry night and it is good, good to firm in places. We could get some showers."

 

FRIDAY 18th JULY 2014

ANASTASIA THE SECOND?

Who will be the first female jockey to ride in the Darley Irish Oaks tomorrow? Hayley Turner? Kirsty Milczarek? Amy Ryan? Nope! None other than the daughter of champion Irish trainer, Aidan, and younger sister of Derby-winning rider, Joseph, Ana O'Brien.

The seventeen-year-old jockey has been given the ride on BEYOND BRILLIANCE, one of five entrants in the race trained by her father. The three-year-old daughter of HOLY ROMAN EMPEROR is chasing a fourth win in this contest and following in the hoofprints of MOONSTONE, who scored three Irish Oaks wins in a row for the Ballydoyle king in 2008.

Ana O'Brien, a 7lb claimer, knows her allotted ride very well as she has partnered her on nine out of the last ten starts this season, winning twice. There is an extra family connection as BEYOND BRILLIANCE runs in the silks of her mother AnnMarie.

On her last outing four days ago at Killarney in the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Cairn Rouge Stakes the bay filly finished third, just a length behind her stablemate, PALACE and will have the chance to reverse that result as the two rivals meet again at 5.45 tomorrow.

Ana (full name Anastasia) rode her first winner at Dundalk last year at the tenrder age of sixteen when partnering FAIRYLIKE in an apprentice handicap. She has ridden nine winners in her short career as well as completing her final secondary-school exams last month.

The first-ever and the last female jockey to ride in an Irish Classic was Joanna Morgan, who finished unplaced on RIOT HELMET in the 1976 Irish Derby.

 

CAN'T KEEP A GOOD HORSE DOWN!

So multiple Group One-winning chaser, SIZING EUROPE, won't be retiring after all. His trainer, Henry de Bromhead, has just announced that his twelve-year-old will shortly be going back into training with a view to racing in the PWC Champion Chase at Gowran Park at the beginning of October.

 

The son of PISTOLET BLEU was last seen firing away at the Punchestown Festival at the end of April when he won the boylesports.com Champion Chase by five-and-a-half lengths. It was after that race that his owner, Alan Potts, intimated that it might be the right to hang up his champion's saddle. That retirement idea was never followed up, however, and now, it seems, the veteran is being put back to work to see whether there is something of the old spark left in him. SIZING EUROPE has made PWC Champion Chase his own for the past three years.

Trainer, Henry de Bromhead commented yesterday: "I've been saying all year that he's been unbelievable form and the plan at the moment is that he'll come back in training and go for the race in Gowran that he's won for the last three years. If he does give us any indication that he's had enough, he'll be retired straight away. We'll leave it to the horse to tell us."

 

BLING, BLING!

South African jockey, S'manga Khumalo, the first black jockey to win last year's Durban July Handicap, South Africa's top horse race, has been announced as one of the riders taking part in the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup at Ascot on August 9th.

 

The KwaMashu-born 28-year-old, nicknamed 'Bling' after he dyed his hair blond, will be riding in Britain for the first time when he joins Japanese ace, Yutaka Take, and compatriot Yuichi Fukunaga on the Rest of the World side in the team competition.

 

Bling” commented: "Winning the Durban July was my career highlight and sent a message to all black South Africans that racing is a sport for all in the modern era. To be recognised globally and invited to ride in the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup on the back of that victory is another very proud moment for me and I look forward to meeting and riding with the two Japanese legends in the Rest of the World Team."

THURSDAY 17th JULY 2014

 

DON'T RULE OUT RULER!

Don't leave Aidan O'Brien's RULER OF THE WORLD from your consideration. It's still on the cards that that the four-year-old GALILEO son will line for one of the major Group One events towards the end of the summer. The Ballydoyle trainer's colt has not won a race since his triumph at Epsom when he adding the Investec Derby (Group 1) to his list of trophies. In addition to that, he has only had one race this year in the colours of part-owners Al Shaqab Racing and on that occasion he came a miserable 13th in the Dubai World Cup. He was also scratched from the Coronation Cup at the last moment.

Harry Herbert, Al Shaqab's racing advisor stated: Ruler of The World is in good form and it was very unlucky for Aidan and all of his team that he pulled muscles in his flank the day before the Coronation Cup. I saw his last piece of work, and he could not have been more impressive so we were all gutted that he couldn't run. He will now be prepared for a late summer campaign on decent ground, with no immediate plan as to where he might reappear but the Juddmonte International and Irish Champion Stakes will certainly come into the reckoning.”

 

EVERY HORSE A WINNER

The Horse Comes First” is the theme of today's fixture at Hamilton and the BHA, for one, is delighted about the track's support for the high standards of horse welfare in British Racing. “ The Horse Comes First” is an industry-wide backed initiative aimed at both promoting and increasing awareness of British Racing's commitment to horse welfare. Today at Hamilton Park there will be a range of activities and demonstrations organised to entertain as well as inform all racegoers about the level of care provide to horses by the sport, both during and after their racing careers.

 

Dr David Sutton, the Senior Veterinary Clinician at Glasgow University’s Equine Hospital, will be on hand to provide visitors the opportunity to learn about the remarkable physiology of the racehorse. Using a special live painted horse to show the anatomy of the racehorse, Dr Sutton will explain to racegoers how the various organs operate and what a remarkable animal the thoroughbred has evolved into. He will also provide detailed information of the huge investment, some £25 million since 2000, which the sport makes into veterinary projects through the Horserace Betting Levy Board This includes research and education benefiting not only racehorses but all breeds of horse.

Before the day's racing three locally based former racehorses will give a demonstration as to how they are now thriving in other areas. The three will be led by former Alan Swinbank and John Quinn-trained KAHLAN SANDS who is now making his name in the eventing world, aided and abetted by 15-year-old Rebecca Dunn. Racegoers will also see Joanna Heaton's seven-year-old SARASOLA, who has followed up a racing career with success in show jumping. He has even qualified to appear at next year's Royal Highland Show. Last but not least is BUNACURRY, a nine-year-old owned by Claire Halliday, who is now a promising show jumper.

 

The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) will be showing their skills and they have made their equine ambulance available to the five Scottish Racing tracks. It is a well-known fact that its own standards go far and beyond those of any welfare legislation. In fact British Racing has formed a constructive partnership with all the major animal welfare organisations, in particular with the SSPCA, who work closely with the sport in Scotland.

Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Authority, Paul Bittar, commented: “We very much welcome Hamilton Park’s support for The Horse Comes First. One of the key aims of the initiative is to promote British Racing’s commitment to upholding the highest standards of welfare throughout the year. The raceday will provide a great platform from which to educate and engage racegoers on the subject.”

 

Vivien Kyles, Hamilton Park Chief Executive, added: “We are delighted and proud to support The Horse Comes First initiative. This is a raceday which is perfect for everyone looking for an enjoyable and stimulating day out during the holidays. The fixture combines great fun for families, through the Kids Love the Races roadshow, with a true educational experience showing how well racehorses are looked after, all brought to life with colour, interesting stories and facts.”

 

WEDNESDAY 16th JULY 2014

ALWAYS ON THE GO

EXCEED AND EXCEL seems a good name for a Darley stallion who has just completed his 20th straight covering season, busy all the year round with only short breaks in between each season. He is one of a number of stallions dubbed 'shuttle sires' because of their itinerant lifestyle. As an Australian-bred son of DANEHILL, he quite naturally began his covering career down under at Darley Australia. The Sheikh Mohammed-owned fourteen-year-old, however, has just returned to Kelvinside in New South Wales to begin his twenty-first season he has amusingly acquired the sobriquet 'reverse shuttler'.

 

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum acquired EXCEED AND EXCEL towards the end of his racing career before he went on win two Group 1 sprints in Australia as well as returning to the UK briefly to run in the July Cup at Newmarket.

 

Since retiring to stud EXCEED AND EXCEL has sired nine top-class winners - including EXCELEBRATION and HELMET- and had the honour last year to be the first stallion to date the legendary sprint mare, BLACK CAVIAR.

 

AUSSIE RULES, OK?

Talikng of Down Under, Godolphin have announced that they plan to strengthen their world activities by establishing a permanent base in Australia. John O’Shea has been appointed as head trainer there. It is intended all the international racing stables' top horses runners will sport their famous royal blue colours from August 1. The well-known maroon and white colours will only to be carried by runners owned by Darley but trained by outside stables such as Gai Waterhouse and Anthony Freedman.

 

John Ferguson, bloodstock advisor, commented: “Over the last fifteen years, Sheikh Mohammed has led Darley's development and investment in Australia with incredible success and this announcement is a natural next step. Godolphin represents the crown jewels of Sheikh Mohammed's horseracing operations and the establishment of a permanent presence in Australia is not only testament to his on-going commitment to the racing industry but also to the country at large. We have some fantastic horses in Australia, and with John O'Shea at the helm, we're in good hands.”

 

Britain, Ireland, France, USA and Dubai all have an established Godolphin presence and the latest development, which is a sign of the ever-growing relationship between Dubai and Australia, will mean that Darley will be the main breeding operation.

 

GOTTA BE ASCOT

King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on 27th of this month could see the Coral-Eclipse champion, MUKHADRAM, attempting a mile-and-a-half for the first time. The five-year-old son of SHAMARDAL, trained by William Haggas made his mark by claiming his first Group One success at Sandown earlier in the month, a victory undoubtedly attributable to Paul Hanagan's riding acumen.

The racing manager for owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, Angus Gold commented: "It will be Sheikh Hamdan's decision and it comes down to whether we want to stay at a mile and a quarter or step up to a mile and a half. William (Haggas) has always been keen to try him over a mile and a half, so we'll see. He'll certainly be left in the King George and I would say at this stage it is more likely than not that he will run there."

 

TUESDAY 15th JULY 2014

CALL ME BRONCO!

A four-year-old American gelding coming fourth attracted more attention than his famous owner. UNDRAFTED, ridden by Frankie Dettori, made his debut in the Darley July cup at Newmarket, and commendably was only two lengths behind the winner, SLADE POWER. His owner, Wes Walker, was only too pleased for his horse to be in the limelight and for him to enjoy the novelty of remaining inconspicuous or as he put it: "It's nice to just go to the betting window and not have to worry about taking selfies with people."

 

Thirty-three-year-old, Wes Walker, is a famous American football player who has appeared in three NFL Super Bowls, taking the field for the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots, as well as the Denver Broncos, which makes him a recognisable figure across the USA. The Oklahoman bought UNDRAFTED for £29,000 in 2012. The four-year-old gelding has triumphed in four of his fifteen races and seems to be better suited to turf rather than the more common dirt tracks in the USA.

 

The wide receiver and return specialist (whatever that means!) for the Denver Broncos commented afterwards: "He's actually better on the turf. We finally found that six or seven furlongs on the turf and the hill at Newmarket fits him really well. It was a great effort as he was up against great horses in this race. The sticky ground was not ideal for him but I was happy with the outcome."

 

It has also been revealed that Frankie Dettori will continue his new association with the football superstar this weekend for a number of rides during the opening weekend of the season at Saratoga.

 

CITY SITTING PRETTY

It has just been announced that the British Horseracing Authority has allocated the newly-named Chelmsford City Racecourse, formerly known as Great Leighs, a dozen start-up fixtures each year for the next three years. In 2008 Great Leighs was the first new British racecourse since Taunton was opened in 1927. Things did not go well for the Essex all-weather track, however, because it went into administration in January 2009. During its short life it became very popular with trainers, especially for those based in nearby Newmarket. Interestingly a bookmaker, Fred Done, was the main instigator behind its re-opening.

 

Joe Scanlon, speaking for the racecourse management commented:“We were hoping we would get between 16 and 20 start-up fixtures but it allows us to get into the bidding process for a share of the others. “The main thing is that it is telling the world that we are back in business for 2015. All-weather racing gets a bad press but it is nothing that more money won’t sort out. With Newcastle also coming on stream there will be six all-weather tracks but only three of them – Kempton, Wolverhampton and Chelmsford – are floodlit, so we should be able to play a part in the twilight fixture programme.”

 

PRIZE SURPRISE!

Another £100,000 or more will be added to the previously announced prize money for York's racing highlight. The Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival will offer for the first time record prize money of £3.5m which includes prize money to at least sixth place for all 25 races. No race will be worth less than £40,000.

Chief executive and Clerk of the Course, William Derby, (what an appropriate name!) commented: "I am delighted that York has once again demonstrated its commitment to invest in prize money and so develop the race programme on the Knavesmire. I am pleased that in this prize fund boost we have been able to make a material investment to increase all races to at least £40,000 and extend prize money to sixth place, so rewarding more owners and horsemen for bringing their fabulous horses to race at York. The aim remains to attract the very best horses to York and to stage competitive, compelling racing action."

 

MONDAY 14th JULY 2014

MONEY TALKS - IN IRISH!

Barry Geraghty, was clearly tempted by the prize money to fly over from Ireland for one race. The race in question was the Chad Handicap Hurdle at Southwell, worth over £15 000 to the winner. Luck obviously also played a part as Newmarket trainer, John Ferguson, usually organises his rides on 'best available' policy and, fortunately for both, clearly the County Meath jockey happened to fit the bill. The horse in question was SHUBAAT who was going for a hat-trick after winning two novices' hurdles at Fontwell last month and Uttoxeter in May. The seven-year-old son of MONSUN clearly enjoys racing on quicker ground and demonstrated this by claiming the most valuable jumping fixture in the Nottinghamshire track's calendar.

 

Barry Geraghty kept his mount always to the fore and was in the lead after the first hurdle. The seven-length outcome came about because MASTER MALT, ridden by the nineteen-times champion jockey, Tony McCoy, weakened before two out, leaving SHUBAAT only one serious rival to contend with, as they turned for home, Dr. Richard Newland's MASTEROFDECEPTION who had nothing to match the prowess of the eventual winner, by stealth or otherwise, and it was all over bar the shouting. .

 

Former Irish champion jump jockey, Barry Geraghty commented afterwards: "You get good horses when you have good races, that's what it's all about. He did that nicely. He could have done with a bit of company, but he's progressive and would enjoy a fence."

 

THE MAIL ON THURSDAY

A great improvement is expected for FIRST CLASS MAIL, owned by you-know-who. No, not the Royal Mail! The Daily Mail! His trainer Mick Channon definitely thinks his two-year-old protegé can do better than his Windsor début when he only managed sixth. The chestnut colt, is scheduled to run in the six-furlong Bibby Financial Services Median Auction Maiden Stakes at Brighton on Thursday, sporting the distinctive blue and green colours of the Daily Mail and Mail Online Sport.

 

The race will not be easy for the son of WINKER WATSON as the other fourteen entrants have already made their owner and trainer's day but he did demonstrate a good strong pace early on in his last race and only seem to tire in the final furlong.

 

Trainer, Mick Channon stated: ‘First Class Mail has definitely improved for his first run. The Brighton race looks the right one for him – I have had it in kind for a couple of weeks – and you would hope he would go there with a decent chance. The ground shouldn’t be a problem. First Class Mail’s dam Hairspray seemed better when it was fast. I probably just wouldn’t want it really testing.’

 

Plans have not yet been finalised for the day but the choice of rider seems to be between stable jockey, Willy Twiston-Davies, and stable apprentice Charlie Bishop who is used to FIRST CLASS MAIL as he has ridden him a lot on the gallops and was aboard on his last race at Windsor.

 

MUD, MUD, NOT SO GLORIOUS MUD!

The very soft ground of at Longchamp proved to be too much for the Kevin Ryan-trained THE GREY GATSBY and he could only manage sixth place in the Grand Prix de Paris. To be honest, Ryan Moore never seemed too happy aboard the son of MASTERCRAFTSMAN, whose previous two wins were the Prix du Jockey Club (the 'French Derby') in June and the Dante Stakes in the middle of May as he laboured away towards the rear of the field. In fact, when the duo turned into the straight, it wouldn't have come as any surprise if THE GREY GATSBY were pulled up but to give him his due, he battled on stubbornly, managing to overhaul quite a few runners who were also struggling in the terrible conditions.

 

Trainer Kevin Ryan commented afterwards: "He hated the ground. Ryan said to me from the time he left the gates he knew he was in trouble. He's finished his race and wasn't all that far away so I think he'll get a mile and a half no problem. But we won't be running on this soft ground again."

 

THE GREY GATSBY wasn't alone in finding the racing conditions difficult. Four of the six British raiders managed to cover their travel expenses with the prize money but none of them made it to number one. BROWN PANTHER, owned by Michael Owen, acquitted himself the best by coming a worthy runner-up to the awesome TERRUBI in the Group Two Prix Maurice De Nieuil Stakes.

 

SUNDAY 13th JULY 2014

GROUNDS FOR PULLING OUT

A change in the ground conditions completely altered the make-up of two big races yesterday. Andrew Balding's TULLIUS was withdrawn from the Group 2 Fred Cowley MBE Memorial Summer Mile at Ascot, along with Richard Hannon's BALTIC KNIGHT and William Haggas' GRAPHIC.

TULLIUS had been the 3-1 favourite market leader for the Summer Mile after a very successful season, winning the bet365 Mile at Sandown in April, coming a valiant second to OLYMPIC GLORY in the JLT Lockinge Stakes at Newbury in May and a respectable fourth behind such notables as Richard Hannon's TORONADO in the Queen Anne Stakes at Ascot last month. With the going now changed to good to firm, however, connections had no choice but to pull the six-year-old out of the race. Owners, Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds, even took the trouble to tweet: "Afraid Tullius is a non-runner due to the fast ground. Gutted as it looked a winnable race."

With this trio of talent removed from the contest the pressure of favouritism came to rest on Richard Hannon-trained PRODUCER, with Dane O'Neill aboard, followed closely by Marco Botti's GUEST OF HONOUR at 100-30 second favourite. As fate would have it the honours went to the latter as the former was slow off the mark and only managed to work his way into fourth position in the closing stages.

 

The other big race of the day affected by the weather was ninety miles North-West of Ascot but for different reasons: the going at Newmarket had changed to good to soft. As a result there were seven non-runners in the 666bet Bunbury Cup which included two rival favourites, Luca Cumani's AYAAR, to be ridden by Frankie Dettori and Roger Varian's HORSTED KEYNES.

Sir Michael Stoute's ABSEIL consequently inherited the burden of favouritism which didn't sit comfortably on his withers. The four-year-old son of FIRST DEFENCE weakened well before the finish and came in last of the thirteen runners, leaving Richard Fahey's HEAVEN'S GUEST to make a celestial appearance in the winner's enclosure.

 

AMAZING SLADE

Eddie Lynam’s SLADE POWER put down his marker as the king of the sprinters at Newmarket yesterday. The son of DUTCH ART backed up his Diamond Jubilee Stakes victory at Royal Ascot with a triumphant performance in the Darley July Cup. This was his fifth success in a row, including a flying visit to Hong kong to take the Longines Hong Kong Sprint at Sha tin by an impressive five lengths.

 

The County Meath-based trainer's five-year-old was the well-supported 7/4 favourite and although there was a certain concern when he got a little warm before the start of the race, these fears were unfounded as this clearly had no effect on his performance. Spanish challenger, NOOZHOH CANARIAS, went well clear but SLADE POWER, ridden by Wayne Lordan, surged into the lead entering the last of the six furlongs and was completely in charge of things, passing the post with a length-and-a half in hand.

Owners, David and Sabena Power were clearly hoping for a double on the day but Sole Power, winner of the King’s Stand Stakes, was unfortunately one of the many who were taken out due to the conditions of the ground.

 

David Power commented on SLADE POWER's win: “We always said this horse needed time and this was always going to be his year. “That (sweating) was never a concern. It would be a concern if he didn’t sweat up. It’s part of his nature.”

 

BY GEORGES, HE'S BACK!

Willie Mullins's SIMENON notched up his first success over hurdles for over two years when winning the Kevin McManus Bookmakers Grimes Hurdle at Tipperary yesterday. This is by no means a criticism because the son of MARJU is probably one of the most capable dual-purpose horses in training and he has concentrating exclusively on the Flat over the past year or so, including trips to Hong Kong, Dubai, Japan and Australia where he came a respectable fourth in the Melbourne Cup.

 

Jockey paul Townend was content to keep his seven-year-old settled in mid-division in the early stages of his return to National Hunt, allowing Colin-Bowe-traine LITTLE KING ROBIN to set the pace. When approaching three out it was still apparent that SIMENON still had plenty left as he challenged Henry de Bromhead's DARWINS FOX after the second from home. The two rivals went over the last inseparably but the 10/11 favourite, SIMENON proved to be the stronger as they galloped towards the line, winning the contest by a length- and-a-quarter.

The winning jockey commented: "His jumping over the first couple was deadly and when I needed at the last he produced. It was a true gallop from start to finish, he has loads of class and it's nice to win that. I knew the other horse stayed very well but it's nice to get him back to winning ways - he's a real flag-bearer for the yard."

 

Trainer Willie Mullins added: "It can be very tough in those Flat races so it's good to get his head in front again. He's in everything from the Irish St Leger to the American St Leger and it also opens up jumps races in America for him. He'll be entered for the Galway Hurdle, but I'm not sure if he'd run carrying top weight in it. The Nakayama jumps race has a huge prize (Mullins won it last year with Blackstairmountain) and that's another option. "

 

SATURDAY 12th JULY 2014

 

LADIES, NOT DIAMONDS, ARE FOREVER!

Yesterday in the totepool Summer Stakes(Fillies Group 3) at York the Geoff Oldroyd-trained mare, LADIES ARE FOREVER, fought a last-minute battle with JOYEUSE and triumphed by a head. It was the six-year-old daughter of MONSIEUR BOND's third victory in this race, having won it in 2011 and last year. She was 7/2 joint favourite with the eventual runner-up and she was lining up with a slight cloud hanging over her after the disappointing result in the Duke of York Stakes on the Knavesmire in May where she came tenth from thirteen runners. In that race, though she was one of only two females taking part. Interestingly, the other one, Tom Easterby's filly, BODY AND SOUL, came in eleventh. This time it was an all-ladies affair and that seemed to make a difference. LADIES ARE FOREVER was much more in command and committed herself two furlongs from home, and in Danny Tudhope's capable hands, still had enough in reserve to book her place in the winner's enclosure. .

 

The winning trainer was unusually quite emotional afterwards when commenting: "It's some feat for any horse, never mind a mare, to win a race like this three years in a row. I'm just so delighted for her owner Reg Bond as it's the first time he's been racing since she won this race last year. It's the first time I've put full blinkers on her and I did that only because she tends to pull herself up when she's in front which she was there."

 

There is a rumour that a reward for this victory could be a future mean a date at stud with superstar, FRANKEL but her owner, Reg Bond, quashed that idea for the time being with the words: "She's a marvellous mare, but I've no intention of retiring her yet. How can you retire her when she wins a race like that again?"

 

SWAN SONG

Sadly it has been reported that the five-year-old winner of the world-class Prince of Wales’ Stakes, THE FUGUE, injured her near-fore when competing in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown last week seven days ago and has been retired to stud. Owned and bred by composer Andrew Lloyd-Webber and his wife Madeleine, the John Gosden-trained daughter of DANSILI has been closely linked with the meteoric career of William Buick who rode her for fifteen of her seventeen lifetime runs and claimed four victories out of the total of six.

 

THE FUGUE was clearly at home on the Knavesmire’s long straight as she demonstrated so well at last summer’s Ebor festival , winning the Yorkshire Oaks, one of four Group One triumphs for THE FUGUE. On that day there possibly more drama off the track than on it. Readers might recall that William Buick got stuck in a traffic jam on the A1 near Doncaster and had to commandeer a helicopter to get to York in time for the race.

 

The Norwegian-born flat jockey, with both British and Danish citizenship, spoke emotionally of his mount: “When things fell right for her and she was on her A-game, she was very good. She should be remembered for those good wins she had, especially in the Prince of Wales’ this year. She broke the track record and beat world champion horses. She lost nothing in defeat and she’s a filly that will always be close to my heart. On her day, she was awesome.”

 

AN INTEGRAL FACTOR

Sir Michael Stoute’s INTEGRAL won her maiden Group 1, the QIPCO Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket yesterday. The winner of the Duke of Cambridge Stakes handled the step up to Group 1 company with apparent ease. Ryan Moore was content let rivals, RIZEENA and SKY LANTERN, make the early running and battled it out. He decided, with hindsight rightly, to bide his time before making his move aboard the four-year-old daughter of DALAKHAMI on ground that had been softened by overnight rain. As the race panned out, Richard Hannon's SKY LANTERN, ridden by Richard Hughes, was suddenly out of the race as the grey filly got short of room against the rail, leaving INTEGRAL as RIZEENA's main threat. That's when Ryan Moore decided to go for it and surged into the lead a furlong from home with Clive Brittain's three-year-old Rizeena staying on strongly to come second, albeit two lengths down.

 

Runner-up trainer, Clive Brittain galantly commented: “She was just beaten by a better filly. She’s run right up to my expectations, though the jinx of Newmarket continues. Ryan knows my filly so well, he rides her in most of her work, so if anyone knows how to get us beat it is him and he did a great job.”

 

FRIDAY 11th JULY 2014

WATCH THE BIRDIE!

Richard Hughes on JEWELLED and Luke Morris aboard SAGESSE battled it out neck and neck in the final yards of the Daily Racing Markets At starspreads.com Fillies' Handicap at Brighton, oblivious of the fact that another rival was swiftly getting into the frame. It wasn't until the result went to a photo finish that the judges realised that a seagull had snatched second place.

 

This is believed to be the first record of any kind of bird's competing, let alone getting into the frame, in an equine event. All credit is due, it must be said, to the twice champion jockey on the Flat for holding off the last-minute avian attack and claiming victory in the final strides. The seagull's efforts, however, went unrecognised by the judges, even though he did beat SAGESSE by a long beak. Bookmakers also could not be persuaded to pay out on a place for this latter day Jonathan Livingston Seagull!

 

George Hill, the racetrack Marketing Manager, explained: “We are about a mile and a half from the sea, and there are a lot of seagulls around, but this has never happened before as far as we are aware. The bird just happened to be in the right place at the right time.”

 

It would have been an even better story if the seagull had competed in the next race which was won by BYRD IN THE HAND ahead of HAWK MOTH!

 

See for yourself what got the judges in a flap:

http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/76169000/jpg/_76169194_seagull.jpg

 

ONE FOR BRAZIL

Brazilian jockey, Silvestere de Sousa, compensated a little bit for his country's disappointing performance in the WORLD CUP by providing an impressive ride on CAVALRYMAN in the

Princess Of Wales's boylesports.com Stakes (Group 2) at Newmarket yesterday, beating the Godolphin-owned HILLSTAR by a neck. As mentioned in an earlier RACING NEWS, Silvestre de Sousa has suffered a kind of demotion by trainer, Saeed Bin Suroor, who has recently tended to prefer Kieren Fallon when it comes to riding the yard's top horses so it was good that the 2011 runner-up for British flat-jockey championship had a chance to remind his employers of his outstanding talents.

 

After the race the winning jockey intimated that he had to decide to make the pace as none of the others seemed to want to take it on: "It wasn't the plan but I had no choice, we had to make it. He stays two miles so I was happy with my position. He was very tough and very genuine."

 

CAVALRYMAN, winner of the Nad Al Sheba Trophy at Meydan at the beginning of March, hasn't had Group One success since 2009 when winning the Juddmonte Grand Prix De Paris Group 1 at Longchamp on only his third career run.

 

Godolphin trainer, Saeed Bin Suroor commented: "He always runs well fresh, as he showed in Dubai, and although he was a little bit keen, Silvestre didn't fight with him and he finished the race well. We'll now take him to the Goodwood Cup and will keep options open for going back for another try at the Melbourne Cup."

 

COOL HAND LUKE

A West Sussex trainer is raising a glass to a successful first half of the year. Pulborough-based Luke Dace has notched up seven wins so far so far this season which means that 2014 is proving to be one of his best campaigns after almost ten years of training winners. Another reason for the proverbial glass is that Luke Dace held a very successful open morning at his yard to publicise his world-class training facilities. A particular feature of the day was the special appearance Leighton Aspell, who won this year’s Grand National on PINEAU DE RE.

Another highlight of the morning was the chance for guests to meet Sussex trainer's top performers, including AMERICAN SPIN, ECHO BRAVA and BOBBY BENTON. The visitors were then conveyed to Goodwood Racecourse to watch the day's racing where they also had a chance to meet twice champion jockey Richard Hughes.

 

Luke Dace commented afterwards: “The open morning was a great success. It’s great to be able to show off our facilities to racehorse owners, who may be looking for a new trainer, or looking to making an initial investment in a racehorse. We were even able to sign up some new racehorses at the open morning, who we have taken under our wing to train, so watch this space.”

 

THURSDAY 10th JULY 2014

FESTIVAL FORECAST

Newmarket's July festival gets going today. After a dry night the ground condition is officially good to firm, although a little light ran covered the track this morning.

Michael Prosser, clerk of the course, commented earlier: "It has been raining for the last 20 minutes, but what it has accumulated is probably less than a millimetre. We were originally looking at 5-6mm, largely falling before racing, but it seems to have been delayed and could even arrive after racing now. We'll have to wait and see what happens."

 

TAKING THE MICHAEL

The conditions at Newmarket should be good enough to encourage Sir Michael Stoute in his bid for a tenth win in the Princess of Wales's Stakes as July Festival launches with a bang, the first three contests all being Group races: the Bahrain Trophy (Group 3); Portland Place Properties July Stakes (Group 2) and the Princess Of Wales's boylesports.com Stakes (Group 2). The latter is the is the big race on the first day and this is the one the ten-times Champion trainer is going for and, if he succeeds, that would make his sixth victory from ten renewals of this Group 2 race. It is obvious that the Barbadian-born knight would really like to win again as he has entered two horses from his yard. The strongest challenge will probably come from the 13/8 favourite, ARAB SPRING, a progressive middle-distance colt, owned by Ballymacoll Stud, breeders of FIORENTE, winner of this event two years ago who went on to score in the Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente. The second challenge will be mounted by HILLSTAR, no stranger to Group racing. The son of DANEHILL DANCER came second last time out at Ascot in the Hardwicke Stakes (Group 2) and month earlier runner-up to BROWN PANTHER in the Boodles Diamond Ormonde Stakes (Group 3)

 

Peter Reynolds, Ballymacoll Stud's Manager, commented:"It will be his (ARAB SPRING) first start in a Group race but we are hoping he is good enough. He has shown enough.”

 

Although HILLSTAR is the one with most experience of this type of race, having competed well against top Group rivals, Ryan Moore has chosen to ride ARAB SPRING and Frankie Dettori will be aboard his stablemate.

 

THREE-TIME MOORE

Talking of Ryan Moore, he scored a hat-trick yesterday at Yarmouth. His first success came in the Conferences At Great Yarmouth Racecourse Handicap on the Paul Darcy-trained GLOBAL LEADER. He didn't rest on his laurels there because in the very next race, he steered GENIUS BOY to victory in the Greene King Festival At Yarmouth Racecourse Handicap for James Tate. This was a bonus for the three-times Champion jockey as this was a booked ride for Kieren Fallon but the latter stood down not feeling well. The third entrance into the winner's enclosure came courtesy Michael Bell's bay filly, GOOD HOPE, an even more gratifying victory as the three-year-old daughter of CAPE HOPE was running in the Queen's colours. The Newmarket-based trainer also had every reason to be delighted as he hasn't had a winner since May .

It could have been a fabulous four for Ryan Moore because he was also scheduled to be aboard Sir Michael Stoute's ENNOBLED but he was withdrawn at the last moment.

 

WEDNESDAY 9th JULY 2014

 

OH LÁ LÁ! C'EST UN COCK-UP!

There was chaos at Castera-Verduzan when the jockeys in a beginners' chase went off on the wrong course. The venue, situated an hour north-west of Toulouse and twenty minutes south of Condom, is a popular French track but this disaster had all the social media buzzing with disbelief. When attempting to navigate a particularly tight intersection, the riders were scattered in four different directions, with most of the eleven runners coming up with ingenious of ways of taking the wrong course. Maxime Le Galliard was one of only two jockeys who sorted out the right direction. He was also lucky to avoid serious trouble when two other riders cut directly across his mount SAIRASTAR later in the race when following the incorrect cross-country course. So it must have been a blow for Maxime Le Galliard, who was the eventual winner, when he was disqualified for causing the original interference.

 

Trainer Jacques Ortet Originally, who originally aspired to be a 'Rejoneador', or bullfighter on horseback, commented: “I've been coming to Castera-Verduzan for 25 years and I've never seen such a mess. Luckily there was no incident but there could have been terrible consequences when the two horses on the right track had to cope with the two running across them from the opposite diagonal straight. It's not a particularly difficult chase track to follow and, while some of the horses were clearly unbalanced after the incident, what I really can't understand is the jockeys who carried on racing on the wrong course.”

 

If your French isn't up to it, you can still enjoy the video.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5Vu4PBove8

 

NOT A LONG WAY TO TIPPERARY!

Willie Mullins' SIMENON could be back over hurdles at Tipperary on Saturday after an absence of over a year. Last season the County Carlow trainer decided to return his seven-year-old gelding to Flat racing after a disastrous couple of races in the winter of 2012. The decision proved to be a good one as the son of MARJU finished second to ESTIMATE in the Gold Cup at Ascot and then appeared on racetracks all over the world, including coming fourth in the Melbourne Cup at Flemington. Therefore it did cause a ripple of surprise when SIMENON's name was listed in the entries for the Kevin McManus Bookmaker Grimes Hurdle together with stablemate, PIQUE SOUS, winner of the Queen Alexandra Stakes.

 

Owner, Nick Peacock, said: “It’s possible he could run, but it will be up to Willie when he’s looked at things later in the week. There aren’t many options for him at the moment, and we could send him over hurdles a couple of times when the ground is good. There are a couple of nice races. He is a good hurdler on decent ground, it’s just that he isn’t in winter ground. I’d think he’ll go back on the Flat later on, for something like the Doncaster Cup or the Irish Leger.”

 

NO RAIN FOR SPAIN

If NOOZHOH CANARIAS can reproduce the kind of form he has been showing on the gallops then perhaps Spain could have a celebration to help them forgot their brief appearance in the World Cup. The three-year-old oozed fitness and strength when he worked out over six furlongs of Newmarket’s July course this week. He is currently 11/2 to become only the second Spanish-trained horse to win the Darley July Cup. The three-year-old colt came second in the Group One Prix Jean-Luc Lagardère at Longchamp last year and, although coming sixth is nothing to write home about, the son of CARADAK revealed remarkable acceleration in the final two furlongs when he was first horse trained in Spain to compete in British Classic.

 

The only slight concern is there might be rain at Newmarket on the day and NOOZHOH CANARIAS obviously prefers good-to-firm as he demonstrated on the gallops on Tuesday.

 

Trainer Enrique Leon Penate commented: “I was very happy with the ground and I hope it stays like that on Saturday. I’m very happy with the horse. He travelled over very well and has handled everything very easily. He has a beautiful temperament. The Darley July Cup is always a very competitive race but he deserves to be there and the stiff six furlongs will suit him.”

 

TUESDAY 8th JULY 2014

 

A PIPE DREAM

Champion jockey, AP McCoy, notched up 4,000 winners at Towcester last November and he might have been forgiven for deciding to call it at day. It turns out, however, that nothing could be further from his mind. Not only is the forty-year-old rider from Moneyglass, County Antrim, careering towards a 20th championship but now he has made it known that he has his sights on another target - the record number of winners clocked up by the 15-time champion jumps trainer, Martin Pipe, whom Tony McCoy is proud to call a mentor and friend.

 

When he became aware that his own record was under threat, the sixty-one-year-old retired trainer, never stuck for a witty comment, responded swiftly: "If he does that, I'll take out a licence and train a few more winners!”

 

To which Tony McCoy responded: "Well, he'd have to do the trainer's course they have to now, and I haven't heard any reports of him being in Newmarket for that recently.”

 

That kind of affectionate banter is apparently quite the norm between this dynamic duo. Emails and texts are exchanged frequently even taking the mickey when the champion jockey fails to win on an odds-on favourite.

 

AP McCoy added: "I don't want to be bragging about beating him until getting five or six in front though, because he'll be keeping an eye on me, and will probably find another winner from somewhere. But, seriously, it's a huge number of winners and he's somebody I've always admired and been lucky enough to work with, so after the 4,000, this became the next target."

 

It has been established that Martin Pipe's final score when he handed over the running of his

Devon-based operation to his son David in 2006 was 4,191 winners. 3,930 of these were achieved in British jump races. There were five victories in Ireland, three in France, plus another 253 on the Flat in Britain.

 

Tony McCoy has is currently 4,188 winners as of yesterday, 7th July. 4,038 were in British jump races, including every major race, except, surprisingly, the Cheltenham Festival's World Hurdle . Then he had another 134 wins in Ireland and another nine when riding on the Flat.

 

So he has three to go and, as it happens, he has three rides in the last three races at Uttoxeter today – STRONGLY SUGGESTED in the 32Red On The App Store Handicap Chase, the favourite, BONNE FEE in the Racing Specials At 32RedSport.com Mares' Handicap Hurdle and FINDING YOUR FEET in the 10 Free Bet At 32RedSport.com Handicap Hurdle.

Another landmark could be reached by nine o'clock this evening!

 

I AM LEGEND!

There will be an unveiling of Newmarket’s ‘Legends of the Turf’ commemorative walk on the High Street before the July meeting at Newmarket this week. Heroes, both equine and human, who have figured in the Suffolk track's long and rich racing history will be remembered. This includes the likes of Frankel, Lester Piggott and the late Sir Henry Cecil who will all have paving stones dedicated to them in memory of their achievements on this illustrious racecourse. The Jockey Club will unveil the walk in a ceremony on July 9 and a number of connections of the various ‘Legends’ will be present.

 

The ‘Legends’ are split into three categories: horses, jockeys and other personalities.

This year’s launch will have two ‘Legends’ entered in each category. The idea is that others will be added to each category in subsequent years.

 

The six inaugural entrants are:

 

HORSES - Hyperion and Frankel

 

JOCKEYS - Fred Archer and Lester Piggott

 

OTHER PERSONALITIES - Sir John Astley and Sir Henry Cecil

 

SUNDAY 6th JULY 2014

 

FUGUE ECLIPSED

There was a kind of poetic justice in the Coral Eclipse yesterday. Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum's MUKHADRAM, trained by William Haggas, won the Group One contest at the second time of asking. Last year, it will be remembered, he was even cheated out of second place when jockey Paul Hanagan nearly went over the far rail in the last furlong. This time the five-year-old literally didn't put a hoof wrong. Once again aboard, Paul Hanagan positioned his mount perfectly behind SOMEWHAT, who had taken on the role of pace setter in the early stages of the race. Then two furlongs from home Paul Hanagan asked the son of SHAMARDAL the question and the answer was a sprint for the winning post that caught the rest of the field by surprise and claimed victory by two lengths. Jim Bolger's TRADING LEATHER, last year's Irish Derby winner, chased the 14/1 shot in the final furlong but it was no good. It was all over bar the shouting.

 

The winning jockey commented afterwards: "We went a nice gallop and it just suited perfectly. If there is a horse that deserves that, it's him. He's been second in the Dubai World Cup and could have been second in this last year, I'm just so pleased for the horse. Everyone at the yard has done a fantastic job with the horse. I'm chuffed to bits."

 

Trainer William Haggas used slightly different words: "I'm absolutely thrilled to bits, he so deserves to win a good race. It went well for him but he was always travelling well. I've lost my voice I shouted that much. We've always believed in him and I'm thrilled for everyone he's gone and done it today. I hope the King George is next."

 

THE FUGUE, just about everyone's favourite, had got the better of MUKHADRAM in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot in the middle of June, seemed to be stuck at the back and never looked like being a threat. Jockey William Buick stated that the ground conditions were entirely wrong for the five-year-old son of DANSILI.

 

NOW LOOK WHO'S TALKING!

Trainer, Jamie Osborne took his UAE Derby winner all the way to Belmont Park for the inaugural Derby and he was the leading fancy for the Grade One contest but he failed to live up to his name. TOAST OF NEW YORK hardly raised a cheer as he finished up sixth out of ten runners. The surprise winner was MR SPEAKER who established set a record time into the bargain.

Aidan O'Brien's ADELAIDE, with Colm O'Donoghue aboard, got an ideal position close to the rail aboard and they had a dream run through in the final furlong in what appeared to be a winning challenge but MR SPEAKER had other ideas, bursting through on the inside and, mugged ADELAIDE on the line by a neck.

MR SPEAKER is a Grade Three winner on both turf and Polytrack but wasn't rated for this event as he was making his first start over one-and-a-quarter miles.

 

SATURDAY 5th JULY 2014

TEMPUS FUGUE IT

Since Sandown’s Coral-Eclipse was first run in 1886, PEBBLES (1986) and KOOYONGA (1992) are the only mares to have won this prestigious Group One contest. This statistic could be about to change. The John Gosden-trained THE FUGUE is much fancied to join this dynamic damsel duo today. The five-year-old daughter of DANSILI has what it takes for victory but she does face very stiff opposition. She proved she was world class, winning the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Ascot last month, her fourth Group One win, but, somehow you feel that luck has to be on her side. William Buick will take the ride again and he seems to have had his fair share of problems on previous occasions. The positive consideration is that although THE FUGUE is drawn one on the rail today, she possesses more than enough class and turn of foot to get out of any trouble that may ensue. Only two of her previous Ascot rivals line up today and she certainly showed them a clean pair of heels last time out. From the rest, Richard Hannon's NIGHT OF THUNDER, probably the second-best miler of his generation after KINGMAN will be the greatest threat if he handles the step-up in trip. Aidan O'Brien's VERRAZANO, switching to turf after a successful career in the States on dirt tracks could put down a marker, if he has finally adjusted to the different surface. He's had two promising runs in the UK so far, second behind TORONADO in the Queen Anne Stakes at Ascot last month and third in the JLT Lockinge Stakes at Newbury in May. The big question mark is whether Derby runner-up, KINGSTON HILL will be in the line-up. For the second time in a week, (last time he was withdrawn from the Irish Derby at the last moment) trainer, Roger Varian, will keep the racing community on tenterhooks ('hung out to dry'?) while he walks the course to see whether his three-year-old grey will run.

 

RIDE LIKE THE WIND

Saeed Bin Suroor's WINDHOEK, ridden by Kieren Fallon, had his first victory in this country since his win at Newmarket in April last year. He showed his rivals how to run a race when winning the Ambant Gala Stakes at Sandown yesterday. This unexpected result may have opened up a new lease of life for the four-year-old son of CAPE CROSS because owners, Godolphin, seem to have had no other entries planned apart from this race. The Sandown turf was obviously more suited to WINDHOEKS's talents than Lingfield's Polytrack where he failed to score in the Winter Derby and the undulating courses of Goodwood and Epsom. This time the bay colt was the 5/4 favourite and won it easily by by two-and-a-half lengths.

 

The six-time champion jockey commented: "He's a horse I've always liked and he won well. I rode him in Dubai quite a lot, and I thought then he'd keep stepping up. There's a lot more to come, and he doesn't mind fast ground. He's improved a lot. He didn't really handle the track at Epsom, but he loved the hill here. He'll progress to Group company now."

 

STAKING HIS CLAIM

Time is running out for Oisin Murphy, (nephew of the legendary Jim Culloty, three times winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup); he's run out of claims and so, from now on, he will have to compete on level terms with his rivals. The Killarney-born jockey rode out his 3lb claim in the Noelle Reno Handicap at Sandown yesterday. It's hard to believe that it's barely a year since since the 18-year-old apprentice celebrated his first-ever win. Since then he has ridden in the Derby and was four times successful on Ayr Gold Cup day.

 

After reaching his 95th winner, which includes thirteen victories in Australia, Oisin Murphy commented on being handed a congratulatory bottle of champagne: "It's unbelievable. I've had the longest losing streak I've ever had, 31, and I've had six seconds.

 

Shefford Valley Stables trainer, Joe Tuite, added: "Oisin's claim was 3lb for nothing. This horse never runs a bad one, and we'll go and have a day out at Glorious Goodwood with him in a handicap on the first day."

 

FRIDAY 4th JULY 2014

 

THE BHA SEES RED

According to the latest statement by the BHA, there was already a growing concern among their ranks about the growing practice of renaming heritage handicaps. They have been forced to speak out after the current furore over the renaming of the Stewards' Cup at Goodwood as the 32Red Cup, mentioned in yesterday's RACING NEWS. It may not be generally known but the all the names of the Flat race equivalents, the Pattern races, are protected from any such change. The BHA plans is now proposing that all heritage handicaps such as the Stewards' Cup should retain their original name in the title regardless of any sponsorship deals.

 

Robin Mounsey, speaking for the British Horseracing Association commented: "We consider the heritage and history of the sport as one of its key selling points and as such it is disappointing when any aspect of the sport which carries that tradition and prestige is lost, for however long. With the exception of Pattern races, race names are owned by the racecourse. Consequently, we have no authority over name changes in heritage handicap races and as such were unable to prevent the name change for the Stewards' Cup. However, it is our intention to address this by amending our General Instructions in order to protect the names of heritage handicaps."

 

Any changes would not happen overnight as first they would have to be reviewed by the General Instructions committee, a process that would also involve consulting the Racecourse Association, who are part of that committee. So it's too late to save the Stewards' Cup for this year but surely, as I suggested yesterday, the race could be called the 32Red Stewards' Cup along the lines of the Investec Derby or Crabbie's Grand National. Perhaps Matt Booth, commercial director at 32Red, should consider doing this off his own bat and everyone will be happy and think better of 32Red!

 

FIRST FIRST AT FIFTY

One of the country's most northerly-based trainers, Jackie Stephen, whose stables are based west of Aberdeen, saddled her first winner yesterday at Scone Palace Park. Her six-year-old MO ROUGE won the Visit Scone Palace Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle with Tony Kelly aboard. The son of CROCO ROUGE had a fairly east time of it, was well in the clear by the last hurdle and went ahead by one-and-a-half lengths. The special occasion was heightened even further when it was revealed that it was also the trainer's 50th birthday.

 

Mrs Stephen commented afterwards: "I've had a permit for about a year and a half and I used to ride out for Lucinda Russell. I knew the horses were in good form and this is unbelievable. My husband Patrick has been very supportive and he farms all sorts but mainly pigs - they have been subsidising the horses! I only have four in training and we are west of Aberdeen, about two hours north of here by horsebox."

 

LET ME IN, I'M A CELEBRITY!

The latest celebrity owner to become a member of Europe’s leading racehorse ownership company, Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, is none other than self-taught chef, Heston Blumenthal. The renowned winner of Michelin accolades runs The Fat Duck restaurant in Bray. He has now decided to extend his interests to living animals and has become a part-owner of four race horses: two-year-old DIRECTOR, trained by William Haggas and MAGNUM (no details in Racing Post), both in the Highclere Thoroughbred Racing’s Gold Cup Syndicate; two-year-old ACOLYTE, trained by Roger Charlton, and Roger varian-handled PARISH who are part of the The Coronation Syndicate.

 

Paddington-born Heston Blumenthal commented: “I am thrilled to become an owner with Highclere Thoroughbred Racing. I have always enjoyed racing but never had the chance to own a horse. I met Harry Herbert at Ascot last year and he was extremely persuasive in convincing me to dip my toe into racehorse ownership for the first time.”

 

Harry Herbert who is managing director of Highclere Throughbred Racing added: “It is great to have Heston on board as one of our owners at Highclere and we wish him all possible luck with these four lovely horses. All have strengthened and developed really well since my brother-in-law, John Warren, bought them as yearlings last October and hopefully they will be racing this summer. ”

 

Other celebrity owners who are members of Highclere Thoroughbred Racing are: Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth Hurley, Denise Lewis and Sir Alex Ferguson.

 

THURSDAY 3rd JULY 2014

 

THE NAME OF THE GAME

None other than the grand old man of racing, Sir Peter O'Sullivan, has added his voice to the protestS about Goodwood's announcement that the 174-year-old title 'Stewards' Cup', one of Britain's longest-established handicaps, will disappear from the racing fixture. The six-furlong heritage handicap is run on the last day of Glorious Goodwood but this year it will have a new, less evocative, name - the 32Red Cup – after a sponsorship deal with the British online casino company licensed in Gibraltar.

 

The 96-year-old former racing commentator, who remembers he first called this race in 1952, made the following plea: "Don't let them do it. It will sweep away many years of great tradition. Racing, to its detriment, has extravagantly pandered to the wishes of sponsors and this is another example."

 

As expected this bombshell received a panning on Twitter and Facebook but Goodwood's managing director, Adam Waterworth, was unabashed and defended the name change. He commented: "It's something that was very important to the sponsor in this case. We've always had sponsors and commercial partners at Goodwood as most courses do. Part of the negotiation with those sponsorships does involve the race names. This was part of the negotiations we had with 32Red and it was very important to them that they felt they could put their stamp on the race, so hence the renaming. They feel from a value point of view one of the concerns is if the Stewards' Cup name remained in there people would simply refer to the race as the Stewards' Cup rather than using the sponsor's name.”

 

Adam Waterworth was also keen to stress that the deal was for this year only, although there were discussions about extending the period. It was also announced that the prize-money for the 32Red Cup would remain at the current £100,000.

 

It is not the first time that 32Red has taken over the name of an historic race. The Bunbury Cup in 2010 was renamed the 32Red Trophy, although, interestingly, the name was changed the next year to the 32Red Bunbury Cup. So, who knows? Perhaps next year Glorious Goodwood will be running the 32Red Stewards' Cup!

 

KBO AS WINSTON CHURCHILL USED TO SAY!

High drama at Worcester yesterday. Tony McCoy, had a bad fall in the Blazing Savills Handicap Hurdle. He was riding the Jonjo O'Neill-trained FLEMENSON. All seemed to be going well for the Champion jockey until the last-but-two flight when the five-year-old son of FLEMENSFIRTH unexpectedly crashed into the obstacle, flinging his rider to the ground. That would have been bad enough but the Harry Derham-ridden SUR LA MER was right behind and couldn't avoid stamping on Tony McCoy's chest.

 

There were a few anxious moments but both horse and rider were quickly back on their feet and, battle-hardened trooper that he is, Tony McCoy was soon wearing the colours of FULL THROTTLE for the next race, the BellBet.com Offers You World Cup Value Novices’ Hurdle, which he easily won.

Commenting after this victory, obviously a bit shaken, the winning jockey commented: “He [Sur La Mer] stood on my chest and I got a kick in my leg which I’ve got a couple of stitches in. I’m pretty sore so I’d say I’m done now for the day. I couldn’t do much there, I was a passenger.”

The man from Moneyglass then wisely decide to call it a day, missing the rides on another Jonjo O'Neill mount, DOWNTOWN MANHATTAN, ridden to fourth position by replacement jockey, Richie McClernon and Laura Mongan’s STAY IN MY HEART who came sixth, with Richard Johnson aboard.

 

Tony McCoy has two rides booked at Perth today so, presumably it's business as usual. He's on VASCO PIERJI, trained by Donald McCain Jnr in the Perth Racecourse Land Rover Experience Novices' Handicap Hurdle and the favourite in the last race of the day, the Watch All Scottish Racing On Racing UK Standard Open NH Flat Race foe Ian Ferguson.

After that the champ can take a break as there is no jump racing on Friday and Saturday but, as they say, there's no peace for the wicked, because he is booked for at least one ride at Market Rasen on Sunday.

 

WEDNESDAY 2nd JULY 2014

 

WINNING RICHES

Hamilton Park provided rookie trainer, John Riches, with his first-ever winner yesterday. INDIAN GIVER, also owned by the trainer, sprinted home to a two-length win in the Sunday Mail Summer Racenight Next Week Handicap in the hands of talented apprentice jockey, Ali(stair) Rawlinson, who has attracted much attention and earned considerable praise this season.

John Riches, based at Pilling, near Lancaster, commented afterwards: "I've only had a licence six weeks and this was only my 11th runner. We've had a few placed horses before today so we're not doing too badly. Garry Moss and Hugh McWilliams used to train for me but when Hugh got injured I decided to take out my own licence. Racing is my hobby but I'm up at 4.00am and I used to have a fish wholesale business."

 

LORDING IT UP

It looks like GORDON LORD BYRON, trained by Tom Hogan, will soon be back on the track and the plan is to run him again in the Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock in September. The six-year-old seems to have made this Group One contest his special niche as he won it last year and came second in 2012. Things didn't go right for him, however, last month at Royal Ascot in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes when he weakened in the final furlong and only managed to come eighth. Afterwards it was discovered that he had pulled a muscle.

 

This was confirmed by his County Tipperary trainer: "He tweaked a muscle, he had a very sore sacroiliac joint around his hamstring. I think he did it jumping from the stalls. He was running free, which when older horses do that you know there's something wrong. I knew after a furlong and a half he wouldn't win. We've had all the best services out to see him, physio, vets, and he's recovering well. Hopefully we'll have him back in September for the Haydock Sprint Cup again, that seems to be his race.

 

PIPE DREAM NO MORE

Gloucestershire jockey, Tom Bellamy, who has been riding for David Pipe since 2011, for whom he notched up thirteen winners, is to move to Swindon and join Alan King's team at the Barbury Castle Stables. The young rider is the son of Robert Bellamy, previously a successful jockey and now Towcester clerk of the course. Unfortunately Tom Bellamy was off the track for most of last year after breaking his leg at Taunton in April 2013 and only got back into the saddle in October. Since then he has ridden six winners.

 

Somerset-based David Pipe wrote on his website: “Tom is moving to pastures new shortly and joining the Alan King team. He missed a lot of last season due to a broken leg but has come back riding winners and he is a very capable young jockey. He will be missed but I would like to wish him the best of luck with his new career challenge.”

 

TUESDAY 1st JULY 2014

 

ECLIPSE OF THE STARS

With discussions still rumbling on about the standard of the Irish Derby, Sandown Park is looking forward to presenting one of the most competitive Group One fixtures of the season now that a potentially outstanding field of runners, including six previous top-class winners, was declared for the Coral-Eclipse Stakes on Saturday. The entries are all high quality and spread right across the board. For example, among 12 possible runners, John Gosden will be saddling his magnifiecent mare, THE FUGUE, who won the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in the middle of last month. Richard Hannon's 2,000 Guineas champion, NIGHT OF THUNDER will probably do the honours for the Herridge and Everleigh Racing Stables whereas VERRAZANO, who has failed to score in the last five outings but was a Grade One winner in the United States, could represent Aidan O’Brien, who may very well include Dewhurst Stakes winner, WAR COMMAND for good measure.

 

Roger Varian's, KINGSTON HILL, whose last-minute withdrawal from Saturday’s Irish Derby seems to have badly affected the status of the Irish Derby, is a consideration for the Newmarket trainer but his comment that his colt had been “left in just to keep our options open” does cast a slight doubt over the entry.

 

Godolphin's Jim Bolger-trained TRADING LEATHER, winner of last year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby, is the only other previous Group One winner on the list. Yet another Godolphin hopeful is Saeed bin Suroor's TRUE STORY, although his performance in the Investec Derby is best forgotten. The three-year-old son of MANDURO, even with all the coaxing from jockey Kieren Fallon, just couldn't get into his stride and finished seventh out of sixteen runners.

 

Richard Hannon commented on his website: “Kingman is very good and put us firmly in our place at Ascot, “so rather than take him on again, we are going up in trip. Obviously Mr Gosden is standing in our way again, this time with The Fugue, who was hugely impressive when winning the Prince of Wales’s Stakes in record time, but Night Of Thunder has bounced back well and has pleased us in the little exercise he has done since Royal Ascot. We all feel that he has a good chance of staying the trip, and though he is a first foal, the dam is by Galileo, so there is every prospect on pedigree that he will get further than the mile.”

 

THE GERMAN RACE

Ballydoyle and Godolphin, two of Flat racing’s biggest rivals metaphoriclly threw their hats into a ring of the Classic variety, namely yet another version of the 234-year-old English institution, the Deutsches Derby on Sunday, with the entries of GEOFFREY CHAUCER (Aidan O'Brien) and PINZOLO (Charlie Appleby).

 

Godolphin is one up so far as they won Germany’s prestigious race for three-year-olds in 2010 with BUZZWORD. The master of Ballydoyle, however, will be trying to score his first victory in the Hamburg Group 1 where the main obstacle will probably be the local unbeaten contender, SEA THE MOON who is currently the 9/5 favourite.

 

On the face of it it doesn't look much of a contest as neither of the English entries covered themselves with glory in the Epsom Derby. PINZOLO only beat two other rivals home in fourteeth place; one of these was stablemate SUDDEN WONDER, and the was GEOFFREY CHAUCER, who was subsequently withdrawn on the day from the Irish Derby. The son of MONTJEU's regular jockey, Joseph O'Brien, will not be aboard this time as he is serving a whip suspension, so Ryan Moore is expected to take the ride. PINZOLO's jockey is likely to be Charlie Appleby’s recent first-choice rider, William Buick.

 

There are 24 horses left in the race after the forfeit stage so four others will have to be eliminated to bring the number down to the official 20. This cull will be achieved by removing those horses with the lowest official ratings when final declarations are made on Wednesday.

 

 

MONDAY 30th JUNE 2014

 

DUBAI DUTY FREE DERBY DEMISE?

Roger Varian's decision to pull KINGSTON HILL out of The Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh on Saturday kind of put the mockers on this once revered contest. To be fair, the Kremlin House Stables boss had made no secret of the fact that if the word 'firm' was in the going description then his Epsom Derby runner-up would not take part. Well it was and he didn't. Unusually, Roger Varian wouldn't have been there anyway to see his son of MASTERCRAFTSMAN run, win or lose, because he flew to France in the morning for his sister’s wedding. In any event KINGSTON HILL was pulled out about an hour before the first race which cost the Newmarket operation a fine of £10,000. Interestingly, as prize money was available down to sixth place, presumably he could have won that amount just cantering around the track!

So the outcome was that AUSTRALIA was sent off at miserly odds of 1/8 and had the equivalent of an evening stroll in the sun to notch up a Derby Double. Regrettably, both as a spectacle and as a source of betting revenue The Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby was pretty much a non-event. This was not Aidan O'Brien's fault and nor does it detract from AUSTRALIA's performance – they could both only tackle what was on offer.

 

The race turned out to be a family affair. The two stable companions, KINGFISHER and ORCHESTRA went off at a good gallop and Joseph O’Brien, aboard the son of GALILEO, was quite happy to let the duo lead by a good bit early in the straight. This ironically provided the only moment of possible excitement in the contest. Just for a fleeting moment it looked as though the trainer's son had let them get too far ahead. Then we were reminded that AUSTRALIA was basically bowling along at half speed. In no time at all he caught them up, surging ahead inside the final furlong pole and won by two-and-a-half lengths, seemingly with no effort whatsoever.

 

Co-owner John Magnier was one of the first to make a valid observation when he said: “Now that the French Derby has literally been done away with, it has taken from this race. They (French Derby winner) would come here, it is a pity the French Derby isn’t run over a mile and a half. We are so lucky to have him (Australia), days don’t get much better than this. Joseph (O’Brien) sitting there, it was like watching Lester, like the old days.”

 

As mentioned in previous News, the French Chantilly Derby has been reduced from a mile -and-a-half to a mile, two-and-a-half furlongs. They haven’t quite done away with it, as the leading Irish business magnate says but but everyone knows what he meant and sympathises with the comments.

 

What now for the son of GALILEO after winning both his races over 12 furlongs? It is not likely that he will run that distance again. Perhaps the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe would be a suitable climax to the three-year-old brilliant career. One problem with that, as Aidan O'Brien quickly points out, is that AUSTRALIA would not want soft ground, which is a likelihood at Chantilly.

 

The saddest aspect about the Curragh contest is that this particular race is one that will be very quickly forgotten, providing further evidence that the Irish Derby is possibly in decline.

 

NOT QUITE A HIGH FIVE

Ryan Moore was back in the winner's enclosure four times at Windsor yesterday. The three-time champion jockey (2006, 2008, 2009) didn't waste any time getting his name on the scoreboard. The first race of the day, the unibet.co.uk Maiden Fillies' Stakes saw the thirty-one-year-old rider in fine form on Ralph Beckett's 8/13 favourite, PRINCIPLE EQUATION, who won the contest by one-and-three-quarter lengths.

 

He kept up the pressure half-an-hour later in the Unibet-By Players For Players Handicap when GROUNDWORKER, trained by Sylvester Kirk, lived up to his name and put a length between him and the runner-up, GULLAND ROCK.

 

It was beginning to look like a one-jockey fixture because Ryan Moore did it again in the third race, the British Stallion Studs EBF Fillies' Conditions Stakes, when the Richard Hannon-trained DANGEROUS MOONLITE outshone her two other rivals.

 

There was, however, a momentary misfiring in Moore's momentum because Yenhaab had to settle for second, by a length, in the Daily Unibet Early Prices From 9am Handicap, when riding YENHAAB for William Haggas. He made it up to the Somerville Lodge trainer in the next race, however, the New Horse Racing Odds At unibet.co.uk Handicap, when steering HOMAGE to a decisive two-length victory.

 

A chance of another win in the next race was denied him as his mount, HEDGE END, also trained by Richard Hannon, was was declared a non-runner. The Brighton lad, however, had one more chance to make it a high five. He was on the Jeremy Noseda-trained WORRIGAL, in the last race of the day, the Download The Unibet Pro App Handicap. No-one can accuse him for not trying. He went for it quite a long way from home on the 6/4 market leader but this one wasn't to be. John Ryan's THE CORNISHCOWBOY showed he had no respect for records and charged home half-a-length ahead of Seb Saunders on POSH BOY, thus relegating Ryan Moore to third position.

 

SUNDAY 29th JUNE 2014

 

THE NICK OF TIME

Echoes of the old Tommy Cooper joke about backing a horse at ten-to-one and it doesn't come in till ten-to-three! Nick Scholfield, rode his third winner of the season and did it on FIVEFORTYFIVE in the 5.45pm race at Uttoxeter and came in at one. The Castle Cary rider didn't have an easy ride, though. He had to work hard on the six-year-old son of ERHAAB from a long way out.

 

Nick Scholfield commented afterwards: “Fivefortyfive has won a point-to-point and is a 3m chaser and not really a bumper horse, so this race over 2m was quick enough for him. Even if we hadn’t have won, he still goes like a nice horse and is one for the future – I would have been happy if he had been third or fourth because he is such a nice type.”

 

The winning trainer, Polly Gundry, a point-to-point legend, who rode 303 winners, retired from riding in 2011 to concentrate on training racehorses at her home in Alfington near Ottery St Mary and has notched up a 13% strike record since then. She also finds the time to be a director at Exeter Racecourse. The successful trainer, it seems, doesn't hold onto her best horses and is always open to offers from interested buyers. FIVEFORTYFIVE might well attract a bit of attention as he has now won two out of two in his brief career..

Nick Scholfield celebrated his 25th birthday this week, rode 60 domestic winners last season plus two in Ireland. His highest score was 66 in 2012-13.

 

DERBY DOUBLE

The Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh yesterday went according to plan for Aidan O'Brien when he notched up an incredible 11th win in this famous event. In the end, sadly, there was no shoot-out between Epsom Derby rivals, because KINGSTON HILL was scratched at the last moment due to the firmness of the ground. That left a field of only five runners, three of them trained by the master of Ballydoyle and who obligingly finished 1, 2 and 3.

 

The winner, as predicted, was AUSTRALIA, victor of the Investec Derby just three weeks ago. His sire, GALILEO, took this prize in 2001 and his dam, OUIJA BOARD was the winner of the Irish Oaks in 2004. Closer to our time AUSTRALIA now emulates Aidan Obrien's CAMELOT who claimed the double in June 2012.

 

Jockey, Joseph O’Brien, son of the trainer, recording his second Irish Derby win, was content to stay in third position behind his stablemates, KINGFISHER and ORCHESTRA, who were making all the running. He then made his move in the straight going on to lead a furlong from home and from there it was easy peasy all the way to the post.

 

AUSTRALIA was sent off at the shortest of odds, 1/8, but ultimately the racegoers got the result they wanted and the County Tipperary trainer completed the Derby double in great style. Afterwards Aidan O’Brien commented: “He’s got a lot of speed and so much class, it’s incredible. He just relaxes in his races. Pace is his big thing, he just travels. It’s very strange that he gets a mile and a half, but I would say he will shorten right up after that. I imagine he’ll go back to a mile and a quarter now.”

 

ANGEL ON A PLATE

ANGEL GABRIAL, trained by Richard Fahey took the Northumberland Plate at Newcastle yesterday, thus switching roles with the Marco Botti-trained SUEGIOO who beat him to win the StanJames.com Chester Cup in May, much to the delight of Dr Marwan Koukash who owns both of them.

 

ANGEL GABRIAL, ridden by George Chaloner, caused a little alarm when he started to hang to the right in the closing stages but, as he was so far ahead, this didn't matter in the end. SUEGIOO battled on gamely for second spot, holding off REPEATER who suddenly found a second wind.

 

For jockey, George Chaloner, it was another moment to savour following his success last Saturday at Royal Ascot when he won the Wokingham Stakes on BACCARAT, also trained by Richard Fahey.

 

The Lincoln-born winning rider had this to say: "It's been an unbelievable couple of weeks. He's given me a peach of a ride round there. I just tried to let him settle and keep him happy. I couldn't have wished for it to have gone any better. We didn't want to get killed early on, but he's travelled well and picked up lovely."

 

Richard Fahey commented: "I'm absolutely delighted - we're having a fantastic time at the moment. It's one of them races you want to put on your CV and it was never in doubt. He's pretty talented and he does pick up. It looks like he's just bitten his tongue so we'll get him away now."

 

SATURDAY, 28th JUNE 2014

 

COME IN IRISH DERBY WINNER!” - “ROGER!”

Newmarket trainer, Roger Varian, only took over the running of Kremlin House Stables in February 2011 on the retirement of Michael Jarvis who had been his mentor and boss for 10 years. His record in the last three seasons has been impressive with 30 Stakes winners already to his credit, including four at Group 1 level. Roger Varian’s fourth campaign as a trainer has already positioned him within the top 10 in the trainers’ championship. A victory in a Classic, however, has eluded him so far and time is not on his side, not in 2014 at least. It looks like his best, and probably his last opportunity to achieve this goal this season is with KINGSTON HILL, who is second-favourite for the Irish Derby at The Curragh today. There is one major obstacle to his success, however, - the Aidan O’Brien-trained AUSTRALIA, who is destined to become the 17th horse to add the Irish Derby to victory in the Epsom original. The three-year-old GALILEO son is the odds-on favourite and the Ballydoyle trainer will be hoping for his eighth victory in the race in the last nine years. The one problem here is, unlike CAMELOT, winner of both Derbys for O’Brien two years ago, AUSTRALIA is not a horse to streak home with several lengths in hand of any opposition. This was noticeable at Epsom three weeks ago when it seemed that he would stride clear but seemed to let up, giving KINGSTON HILL a chance to make up ground and whittle the winning distance down to a length and a quarter. If the same situation arises at The Curragh, the tables could well be turned as the County Kildare track is a different kind of a challenge, with a flat, galloping track, different to the abrupt stop-start on the Surrey downs.

 

Roger Varian admitted that this race was more important than most: “It makes a huge difference [that the race is a Classic]. To tick the Classic box would be massive, particularly in a Derby. Sadly, it wasn’t the Epsom Derby [in which Kingston Hill, his first runner in the race, finished second to Australia] but the Irish Derby is very prestigious too. When you get a Classic under your belt, you can put it on the CV and no one can take it away. It helps to market what you do and hopefully build a stronger stable on the back of it. I’m not sure that Epsom is really up many horse’s streets. There’s no reason to think that The Curragh won’t suit Australia. We think that The Curragh will suit us, possibly more than Epsom, but it’s a pretty fair track and usually the best horse on the day comes out in front. I suppose we’re hoping for enough rain to turn it to good ground, because there’s a chance we won’t run if it stays too quick. Every time we’ve run this year there’s been a lot less rain arriving than was forecast, at both Newmarket [for the 2,000 Guineas] and Epsom. This time, we need a bit more than is forecast.”

 

LUCKY STRIKE

PIQUE SOUS was to have been Willie Mullins' strong contender in the John Smith’s Northumberland Plate running today at Newcastle but we may not be too disappointed after all. His replacement, LUCKY BRIDLE, could well prove to be an able deputy. The five-year-old has only had four career starts in Ireland so far with a win in the Cahir Maiden Hurdle at Thurles last November. The son of DYLAN THOMAS started off in France with Christophe Ferland where he demonstrated some potential by winning twice and being placed in a couple of Listed heats, including holding his own against a Group One-placed rival. This performance did not escape the eagle eye of Willie Mullins and before long he was acquired in May last year by Andrea and Graham Wylie, the latter, amongst other things, co-founder of The Sage Group, the United Kingdom's largest software business.

 

LUCKY BRIDLE put on a good show on the Flat at Cork last month. Perhaps the action was a bit brisk for him but he managed to doggedly stay on and was only beaten by half-a-length over the 10-furlong trip. The distance was possibly too short in that race and, as he is hurdles winner, today's two-mile contest shouldn't trouble him unduly. Paul Hanagan will steer the proceedings in what is commonly known as the ‘Pitmen’s Derby’ (first run in 1833) and, with a not unfavourable midfield draw, the bay gelding could well live up to his name.

 

FRIDAY, 27th JUNE 2014

HEADBUTTED OUT OF THE PLATE

Brian Ellison-trained TOTALIZE has just scraped into the John Smith's Northumberland Plate and as a result is favourably handicapped. That's the good news. The bad is that 7lb claimer, Megan Carberry, who rode the five-year-old son of AUTHORIZED to an impressive three-and-a-half length victory in the Garbutt & Elliott Stakes at York in the middle of June will not be aboard. The second cousin to Nina, Paul and Philip was unfortunately headbutted by a horse and had to go to hospital with a serious mouth injury. Robert Winston takes over the ride on the dual-purpose performer who got into the prestigious £140,000 event only after the non-declaration of 15 horses by the deadline of yesterday morning, including, surprisingly, the favourite, PIQUE SOUS, trained by Willie Mullins.

 

The Malton-based trainer, who also saddles his own horse, the five-year-old BUTHELEZI, commented: "I'm surprised he got in but delighted. It was touch and go, with only one below. He's in really good fettle and has got a big chance. Officially he is up 9lb from his win at York, but he carries only a 5lb penalty, so he's 4lb well-in. He won well at York, when he was quite impressive. Megan got headbutted in the face. She was riding one at home and was leaning over the horse when it came back and headbutted her. She had a brace on her front teeth and it went through her gums. She was in a mess and was at hospital all yesterday afternoon and is back there again today."

 

A SMOOTH OPERATOR

Another Megan, this time daughter of Champion jumps trainer Paul Nicholls, scored in the opening race at Hamilton Park last night. She rode the the six-year-old OPERATEUR, trained by Ben Haslam, in the Saints & Sinners Lady Amateur Riders' Handicap and took command from one furlong out to go on to win by three-and-a-half lengths.

 

Last night's result was the fourth win in three weeks for the six-year-old son of ORATORIO and he's not stopping there. He has been declared to run again today at Musselburgh in the Rotech M & P Ltd Handicap, this time with 5 lb claimer, Kevin Stott, aboard

 

A delighted Megan Nicholls commented: “He gave me a lovely spin and he seems to love his racing. Hopefully I can get a few more rides on the Flat before the point to pointers come back in as I had an amazing season last year.”

 

WARWICK ON TRACK

Remedial work had to be carried out on Warwick racecourse to realign the sprint course after jockeys reported a loss of confidence in some areas which brought about a tragedy in May when ARTFUL LADY had a fatal fall. The new track has been tested and declared a success. The modifications were just in time to save the two fixtures July 4 and August 25 which will now take place on the new sprint track but other races have already been transferred to Nottingham and Carlisle.

 

Jockey, Fergus Sweeney, was present in his additional capacity as Safety Officer for the Professional Jockeys Association and announced: "We were perfectly happy, they have done a good job and it was really nice ground. The configuration of the rails was spot on and this was a real test, we all came together on the turn and were going as quick as we could have done at the sharpest point. We got round it fine, it rode really well. It was lovely ground and there will be no problems for the next fixture - it gets the thumbs up from the lads."

THURSDAY, 26th JUNE 2014

 

ABLE WIN BY CHAMPION

Trainer Kim Bailey employed the services of Tony McCoy to score at Worcester yesterday when he rode ABLE DEPUTY in the Suckling Transport Handicap Chase to a two-and-a-half length victory. The 19-times champion jockey thus maintained the successful partnership making it an eigth win for the Northamptonshire trainer.

 

Tony McCoy said afterwards: "He seems to like this faster ground. It wasn't so much about getting there too soon, just keeping the bit up in his mouth."

That wasn't the only win of the day for the Moneyglass rider. He bagged the first race of the day, the World Cup Live Updates At footballscores.com Novices' Chase on the Jonjo O'Neill-trained IT'S A GIMME though his luck ran out on his other three rides, ZIP WIRE, MALLER TREE and AMUSE ME

 

MURPHY GETS ANOTHER ONE

Star apprentice, Oisin Murphy, was already close to beating his first-year total of 41 and was again victorious in the Ashbrittle Stud British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Fillies' Stakes at Salisbury yesterday. The Rod Millman-trained INDARIA gave him his first winner in a two-year-old race.

 

Earlier there had been a few problems as PRIZE EXHIBIT, who was the eventual runner-up, unseated his jockey, Ryan Moore, got out of the paddock and ran loose all the way to the start. The judges decided that she could still compete and, despite the waste of energy before the race started, almost made the race her own.

 

The Kentisbeare-based trainer commented: "She's a nice filly, very quick, and I was just a bit worried she might get tired at the end as she hasn't had a lot of work. I was quite surprised Oisin hadn't had a two-year-old winner. He's quite a little star, isn't he."

 

LUCKY TWELVE

Stall 12 has been a lucky draw just lately bucking the usual fate of high-drawn winners. The David Nicholls-trained JOHNNO, taking his course and distance record to two wins from two starts, also proved that winning from a double-figure berth is not as difficult as some think. After overhauling the fading early leader, TALENT SCOUT, jockey Adrian Nicholls, son of trainer, who had kept his five-year-old handy throughout, threw down the challenge to Tom Eaves, aboard another strong contender, SOUND ADVICE and it was left to these two to battle it out to the finish with none of the other runners capable of doing anything about it.

 

As they passed the post the five-year-old son of EXCELLENT ART managed to put a length between himself and the valiant runner-up, with with the nearest of the the rest of the field some two-and-three-quarter lengths further back.

 

The North Yorkshire winning jockey commented: "He's done well from the draw. I got a nice lead through the race and he's stuck to it well. He's a nice horse."

 

WEDNESDAY, 25th JUNE 2014

 

THE FUGUE FOR “THE MUSIC OF THE NIGHT”

The Group 1 Coral-Eclipse at Sandown on July 5th is already the focus of considerable bookie attention. The Andrew Lloyd-Webber-owned, THE FUGUE, impressive victor in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot last week, already heads the betting as 9/4 favourite after resolutely defeating Aidan O'Brien's Breeders' Cup winner, MAGICIAN, as well as Mme Christiane Head-Maarek's champion, TREVE.

 

Lloyd-Webber's racing manager, Simon Marsh commented: “It was thrilling to see her in such good form. She has such an amazing turn of foot over a mile and a quarter on fast ground. Of course we were surprised at how easily she beat Treve, but she's always been high-class and she is able to quicken so well off a fast pace. As for the Eclipse, that would be her next target but, as with everything, her participation at Sandown is ground-dependent.''

 

The five-year-old daughter of DANSILI may not have it all her own way this time, however. In contention will be NOBLE MISSION, recent winner of the Tattersalls Gold Cup; KINGSTON HILL, who came a valiant second in the Investec Derby; and MUKHADRAM who won the Dubai World Cup, although the latter only managed a fourth against THE FUGUE in the aforementioned Prince of Wales's Stakes.

 

A spokesman for Coral bookmakers explained: "Having beaten the colts in the Irish Champion and again last week, The Fugue sets the standard for this year's Coral-Eclipse, with her opposition headed by the Classic-winning Night Of Thunder, who will be stepping up in trip and taking on his elders for the first time in what should be an intriguing encounter. Of course we would love to see Australia attempt the Derby-Eclipse double last achieved by the great Sea The Stars but it looks as if he will heading to the Curragh.”

 

TURNING OVER A NEWMARKET!

Octagenarian trainer, Clive Brittain, must be hoping that RIZEENA can make it this time when she runs in the Qipco Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket on July 11. The problem is that his his three-year-old daughter of IFFRAAJ has five wins from ten races to her name but none at the Suffolk historic Home of Racing, where she has only managed two 2nds, a 5th and a 7th . This has led her trainer to think that maybe she doesn't run well on her home track.

 

After the star performance the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot last week, however, which complemented her success in the Queen Mary last year, Bruce Raymond, owner Sheikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum's racing manager, thinks otherwise: "It was good to see her back to her best. She was cruising all the way and Ryan (Moore) was always in the right position, as he always is, and looked happy. I imagine it will be the Falmouth next. I have no worries about her running below par at Newmarket. I know she has never won there, but it's only in the Guineas when she been well beaten and I think she probably needed the run more than we expected that day. She possibly doesn't come down the hill as well as some but she nearly won the Fillies' Mile.”

 

THE O'BRIEN DERBY

It looks like Aidan O'Brien will have his work cut out on Saturday in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby. He is planning to saddle seven of the 11 entrants left in this classy Curragh contest. His first choice is clearly this month's Investec Derby winner, AUSTRALIA, seeking to emulate CAMELOT, his former stablemate, who achieved the Classic double two years ago. A contributory factor for success will be the weather and the Ballydoyle trainer will no doubt be saying: “Rain, rain, go away.”

 

Also in his string of hopefuls Aidan O'brien includes: GEOFFREY CHAUCER, who didn't do well in the Derby and had to be pulled up; Galileo colt KINGFISHER whose last win was in May in the Betfair Cash Out Dee Stakes; John Magnier-owned MEKONG RIVER, second at the end of last month in the Airlie Stud Gallinule Stakes; ORCHESTRA, winner of the MBNA Chester Vase; TABLE ROCK with success at Naas in the Follow Us On Facebook Handicap and, last but not least, WAR COMMAND, who performed impressively at Royal Ascot last week when finishing a fast fourth in the in the St James's Palace Stakes.

 

Quite a line up for the County Tipperary trainer!

Oh, Saaed bin Suroor, Dermot Weld, John Oxx and Roger Varian will also be there, hoping to put a spanner in the Irish works.

 

TUESDAY, 24th JUNE 2014

FIVE MILLION POUND FILLY

If you had forked out five million guineas (£5,250,000) for a yearling as Sheikh Joaan Al Thani did, you would surely be expecting some good racing results for your money. A full sister to Oaks heroine Was, AL NAAMAH, was acquired last October at Tattersalls in Newmarket and went into the record books as the most expensive yearling ever sold at auction in Europe.

 

If past results are anything to go by, though, the amount of money paid for the offspring of of the likes of Galileo or Frankel does not guarantee success. On this occasion, however, the two-year-old daughter of GALILEO made a successful début at Chantilly when she won the seven-furlong De Pontpoint Maiden Stakes with Maxime Guyon aboard. There was a heart-in-the-mouth moment when she missed the break by half a beat but Maxime Guyon soon got her into a strong position shadowing the previous victor, KENOUSHKA, and from there it was just a matter the jockey asking and she went on to win by two lengths.

 

Harry Herbert, who is racing advisor to Sheikh Joaan Al Thani commented afterwards: “She did it very easily, she wouldn't blow a candle out. Andre [Fabre, trainer] likes her a lot and she has shown today that she could be very special. She is a beautiful specimen with a fantastic pedigree and she has her whole racing career ahead of her.”

 

UTTOXETER FOR YOU

A trip to Disneyland is the dream holiday for a certain little girl. Her family and friends will be appealing to the generosity of race-goers this weekend to try to help this dream come true. Imogen Evans sadly has neuroblastoma, a child specific form of cancer affecting fewer than than 100 children a year. Two good family friends, John and Sue Douglas, will be getting together on Sunday with twelve other volunteers at the Summer Cup, which is being held at Uttoxeter Racecourse with the aim of raising money to send this brave little girl and her family to the theme park in Paris.

 

The eight-year-old is currently undergoing chemotherapy which has left her sick, generally feeling weak and tired but, apparently she is quite a fighter and her grit and determination to win her cancer battle has moved anyone with whom she comes in contact.

 

John Douglas said: “I have known Imogen and her family for a good nine years and my wife Sue has known them all her life. We want to do this because she is such a sweet little girl. She knows everything that is going on and she is such a little fighter and she is battling this with every once of strength she has got. This collection is not for charity, we are doing it for Imogen and her family. The reason for this is we want to give her a treat and special days out when she is well enough so every single penny of every fund-raising event will go to the family, nothing will be taken away whatsoever. We have all been really touched by Imogen’s battle and we want to do whatever we can possibly do to give her as much as we can.

 

All the volunteers will be at the Staffordshire track when the gates open at midday and will stay there until after the last race of the day, appealing to the generosity of the departing racegoers.

The event looks worth attending as the Summer Cup includes a busy seven-jump fixture, including the feature race, the John Smith’s Summer Cup, a listed handicap steeplechase

 

THE PEOPLE'S TRACK

Southwell was all abuzz for the first Residents’ Raceday at the track and well over 2,000 people went there to make it an enjoyable evening. This recent innovation was obviously a big success as this was the biggest attendance for quite a while.

 

19-times champion jockey AP McCoy added his support to the event. He had four rides and produced two winners, both for Jonjo O’Neill – FULL THROTTLE and ON THE RECORD .

Two young jockeys both both had a successful evening. Trevor Whelan surged from last to first on RED ROSSO in the first race of the day and Tom Cannon refused to take no for an answer, riding the Laura Mongan-trained CINEMATIQUE.

 

MONDAY, 23rd JUNE 2014

 

JASON COULD FLEECE THE BOOKIES!

Thirsk's meeting tonight will provide champion apprentice Jason Hart the first opportunity to ride his first winners as a senior jockey, after joining the fully-fledged ranks last week by completing a treble at Hamilton Park.

 

It seems the Malton-based jockey will not be sorry to give up his 3lb allowance after notching up his 95th career success. This evening he rides for trainer, Mark Walford, and could well come up with a winner as he will be aboard two strong contenders, MEDIEVAL BISHOP in the Yorkshire Outdoors Adventure Experiences Handicap and BLUE TOP in the last race of the day, the Download New RacingUK iPad App Handicap.

 

MEDIEVAL BISHOP won at Thirsk 12 months ago in the mile-and-a-half handicap. Tonight, however, the five-year-old son of BACHELOR DUKE is stepping up in trip but is still highly favoured as he was a respected runner-up in his last two races at Musselburgh, both over one and three-quarter miles. BLUE TOP, ironically, is competing in the race won last year by MEDIEVAL BISHOP and promises to give a strong performance under the capable hands of the new senior jockey, Jason Hart.

 

DUEL IN THE SUN

Generally considered a two of the best milers around today, TORONADO and KINGMAN could well battle it out at Goodwood. The West Sussex track's MD, Adam Waterworth, made a special trip to Royal Ascot to see for himself these possible contenders for the Sussex Stakes. As a result this big contest during Glorious Goodwood week could be the scene for a highly-anticipated showdown between this dynamic duo. Omens were looking good when the Richard Hannon-trained son of HIGH CHAPARRAL, the current QIPCO Sussex Stakes champion, set the ball rolling with an impressive victory in the first race on the first day, the Queen Anne Stakes.

Not long after, one of the top of this year’s three-year-olds, KINGMAN, trained by John Gosden, put down his marker by winning the St James’ Palace Stakes by two-and-a-quarter lengths. Both trainers stated, after their respective successes, that all being well, their charges would be entered for the Sussex Stakes.

 

Later Adam Waterworth commented: “We have the winners of the big two mile contest at Royal Ascot coming to us, which is brilliant. Without wishing to over-hype it, you’re almost in the same territory as the 2011 Sussex Stakes, when the young pretender Frankel took on champion Canford Cliffs. Royal Ascot is very important to us in terms of beginning to see which horses are likely to come to our big races, and so far it’s working out well for us.”

 

WINNING IN THE RAIN

If the weather is right on Saturday then the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby could feature a rematch between Investec Derby winner, AUSTRALIA and the brave runner-up, KINGSTON HILL. Connections say they are confident that their three-year-old son of MASTERCRAFTSMAN can get his revenge but only if there is rain.

 

Only a length-and-a-quarter separated these two horses at Epsom earlier this month and trainer, Roger Varian, is reported to be delighted with how his colt has recovered from this latest Group One test. His jockey, Andrea Atzeni sat on him on Saturday and put him through his paces and seems to have been very pleased with his well being.

 

The Newmarket trainer commented: “We didn’t get the rain we expected at Epsom and it can drive you mad looking at forecasts as they change from one minute to the next. However, the Irish Derby is still very much the number one target and we would only consider the Coral Eclipse the following week if the ground was too quick in Ireland.”

 

Trainer and connections could well have their wish granted as there is a forecast for scattered showers and there could be three-quarters of an inch of rain at the Co Kildare venue on Thursday.

SUNDAY, 22nd JUNE 2014

 

ROYAL ASCOT'S OVER ...

Royal Ascot's over

The crowds have all gone away

Remember Hannon's Toronado won the Queen Anne

First race on the first day?

But it was time to wind up the royal parade

Just make your mind up the bookies had to be paid.

 

Royal Ascot's over.

But Kingman's glory'll never flicker and dim

He took the St. James's Palace

Reminding us all of the Frankel in him.

Sole Power delivered in the King's Stand

But it's time to get back to other business in hand.

 

Royal Ascot's over

Wednesday was Slade Power's day

The Diamond Jubilee was a victory

That came easily his way.

John Gosden showed us in the Prince of Wales

That The Fugue's a maestro who never fails.

 

Royal Ascot's over

It's time to call it a day

Frankie Dettori's success on Baitha Alga

Meant he's back to stay.

His first flying dismount since injury

Filled all the racegoers with heartwarming glee

 

Royal Ascot's over

But we must shed a tear

For three-year-old Rosalind who came from the States

For Kieren Fallon to steer.

When the stalls were opened, she stumbled and fell

Her race was over, the poor jockey's as well.

 

Royal Ascot's over

Now what's your memory?

For many it must be the Queen's Estimate

Not winning the trophy.

But Her Majesty just took it with royal reserve

Gave the cup to another with typical steely nerve.

 

Royal Ascot's over

It was time to call it a day

They've switched out the lights

And the pretty girls in their hats have all gone away

The Berkshire beano has finished, I fear

Just make your mind up to be back next year

Royal Ascot's over …..

 

(With apologies to Lyricists Betty Comden and Adolph Green and composer, Jule Styne who wrote the song The Party's Over in 1956)

 

BLAME IT ON THE FOOTIE!

Again Channel 4 Racing has been again called to account to explain the disastrous drop in its viewing figures. It is recorded that average audiences for this year's Royal Ascot have fallen three days out of four. Inexplicably Wednesday provided a little comfort to the beleaguered broadcaster as figures were up but the other days suffered heavily from declining viewers. The average audience for Friday fell fifteen percent to 535,500 from last year's 629,000, representing a 7.3 per cent audience share for Channel 4 Racing compare to 7.69 per cent 12 months ago. Channel 4 has been under the magnifying glass particularly this week after it was revealed that Derby viewing figures were the worst this century.

 

In response Channel 4 management made the following statement: "There was also naturally a great impact from the Italy v Costa Rica match which depressed our average audience volume - as there was a drop off between 5pm and 6pm in particular when the match, crucial to England's inclusion in the competition, was watched by over four million across this hour."

 

SATURDAY, 21st JUNE 2014

 

BOOKIES BASH BACK

The fourth day of Royal Ascot proved to be a turning point in the fortunes of the bookmakers when not one favourite scored in the six-race card. Thus far it seemed to be all going the punters' way.

Yesterday for the first time, the very first race, the Albany Stakes produced victory for the bookies when American challenger, SUNSET GLOW and PATIENCE ALEXANDER (9/2 Joint favourite with SEXY LEGS) were both clobbered by the 14/1 shot, CURSORY GLANCE, trained by Roger Varian and ridden by Andrea Atzeni. There is a certain irony in the fact that this winner is the two-year-old daughter of DISTORTED HUMOR!

 

Punters' problems proliferated further when, in the second event, the Wolferton Handicap, another royal hopeful, BOLD SNIPER, was on the receiving end of a last-minute assault from Ed Dunlop-trained CONTRIBUTOR.

 

Nor did the royally named King Edward VII Stakes halt the stakers' slippery slide when Aidan Obrien's 6/5 favourite, ADELAIDE, with son Joseph aboard, fell victim to the relative ignored John Gosden-trained three-year-old colt, EAGLE SWOOP, who finished three-and-three-quarter lengths ahead of his nearest rival.

 

Clive Brittain's three-year-old filly, RIZEENA, should have been the favourite for the Coronation Stakes which followed but a poor performance in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas at the beginning of May (she came 7th ) meant that she was out to 11/2 and LIGHTNING THUNDER and MY TITANIA were market leaders. The daughter of IFRAAJ, astutely ridden by Ryan Moore, had other ideas, however, and led and held on from one furlong out, winning by three-quarters of a length. Another one for the bookies!

 

The penultimate race, the Queen's Vase, which was expected to 'urn' a bob or two for the gamblers, was also a let down. The favourite, another John Gosden-trained three-year-old, MARZOCCO, seemed to have things well under control when chasing the eventual winner but then one furlong from home appeared to lose it, possibly being hampered when nearing the winning post. In any event, the win went to the credit of Mark Johnston’s HARTNELL, ridden by the irrepressible Joe Fanning.

 

The final punters' plight was pummeled home in the last race, the Buckingham Palace Handicap when the Sir Michael Stoute-trained RUSSIAN REALM, sired by DANSILI, could manage no better than ninth even with the talented Ryan Moore in the driving seat. The honours of the day went to the 33/1 outsider, LOUIS THE PIOUS, trained by David O'Meara, in the capable hands of Sylvestre de Sousa.

 

As Betfred's Andrew Griffiths put it: “It was a long time coming, but results have finally gone our way and the balance sheet is much healthier as we head into the final day.”

 

A WIN FOR BRITTAIN!

As mentioned earlier, the Coronation Stakes was won by RIZEENA, trained by the highly regarded Clive Brittain, who got a rapturous applause for his achievement. Almost every trainer present went to congratulate the eighty-year old Newmarket handler who commented: “That's what I get up for, every morning at 3.30am. I don't have as many horses as I used to but you are always searching for that next star. It does not get any better than this but I'm an old fool. I laugh when I lose but today I could not be more delighted.”

 

Clive Brittain saddled his first Royal Ascot winner back in 1974 with AVEROF in the St. James's Palace Stakes - and yesterday's success marked his 18th winner.

FRIDAY, 20th JUNE 2014

A ROYAL PARDON?

Yesterday' Ascot Gold Cup was a close-run affair, a neck and a short head being all that separated the first three. But there was a clear winner and it wasn't the Queen's horse. The victory went to the St Leger winner, LEADING LIGHT, the main attraction of the five-day Royal meeting, and, into the bargain, gave Ballydoyle trainer, Aidan O’Brien, a record sixth win in this two-and-a-half mile endurance test, first run in 1807.

Whilst not denying any glory due to the winning four-year-old son of MONTJEU, most racegoers might agree that the real heroine of the day was Her Majesty's ESTIMATE who ran the race of a lifetime to get so close to victory behind the triumphant Irish stayer. The effort is more creditable as the Sir Michael Stoute-trained filly had to recover from a muscle injury earlier in the season and there was no time for a trial run before this big day. The courage of the five-year-old daughter of MONSUN even earned the praise of the Duke of Edinburgh. And that's saying something!

Inevitably tactics played a strong part in the race. LEADING LIGHT, with the trainer’s 21-year-old son, Joseph, aboard, maintained a strong position on the outside, forcing Ryan Moore to negotiate a way through on the inside. At one stage there was the impressive sight of four horses battling it out in a row but the odds-on favourite managed to hold on and deny victory to the Royal defender.

 

Those at the track, who were able to observe the Royal Box will savour the sight of the Queen, enthusiastically urging on her champion. John Warren, Her Majesty’s racing manager, commented l ater: “It was tremendous, she was so brave and the Queen got such pleasure from it. Ryan said it was a career-best. Having no prep, everything was against her so to run so well was tremendous. The strange thing was last year no one clapped in the Royal Box. They all just said well done to the Queen. Everyone clapped this year afterwards. That says it all. There was a real buzz because she’d done so well. Prince Philip said ‘my goodness that was a good race’. It was great. A real thrill all round.”

 

But it was business as usual and it was the Queen's job to present the winning trophy to Aidan O'Brien who said afterwards: "I'm sorry we beat the Queen - she was an absolute lady. It was some performance from Estimate coming here without a run this season."

 

AND TO CROWN IT ALL!

Today's Coronation Stakes could provide a winning opportunity for the runner-up in both the Qipco 1000 Guineas Stakes and the Etihad Airways Irish 1,000 Guineas. Second-place finishes in both these top English and Irish events should be credentials enough for LIGHTNING THUNDER and her connections will be looking forward, at last, to enjoying the satisfaction of appearing in the winners’ enclosure.

The three-year-old daughter of DUTCH ART is currently fancied at 7/2 but she hasn't yet managed to nudge the John Oxx-trained MY TITANIA out of the favourite slot. So far the only jockey to ride LIGHTNING THUNDER in her six career starts has been Harry Bentley but this time the Kildare trainer has decided to make a change and has given the ride to the more experienced, forty-one year-old, French rider, Olivier Peslier.

On the down side, LIGHTNING THUNDER hasn't yet won a major contest, her only success coming in a debut maiden and a conditions race. The thing is that statistics show that nine of the last 10 winners of the Coronation Stakes already had a Group success to their name. More worrying is that this will be the three-year-old filly's third outing in just over six weeks and with the Irish Guineas being run on soft ground, there is some concern amongst connections that this race has come too soon. The only consolation is that the favourite, MY TITANIA, hasn't been seen on the track since September when she won the C.L. Weld Park Stakes on Good to Firm

So it seems to be six of one and half a dozen of the other!

 

THURSDAY, 19th JUNE 2014

 

GETTING A HANDEL ON

The John Gosden-trained THE FUGUE, ridden as usual by William Buick, added the Prince Of Wales's Stakes to her list of triumphs, at the same time breaking the 10-furlong course record set by the great Cirrus Des Aigles in the 2011 Qipco Champion Stakes. Not only that into the bargain the result thwarted any claims by the Prix De L'Arc De Triomphe champion, TREVE, trained by Mme. Criquette Head-Maarek.

The five-year-old daughter of DANSILI, owned and bred by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and his wife Madeleine, former top-class equestrian, won this the fourth Grade One win of her career in great style, beating Aidan O’Brien’s MAGICIAN by one-and-three-quarter lengths. The victory certainly made up for the unlucky performances in the 2012 Epsom Oaks and other top races in America, Hong Kong and Dubai.

 

Lady Lloyd Webber commented: “We’re so excited and she so deserves this. It hasn’t gone her way sometimes and this is a very big stage to do it on. She’s got her recognition as one of the best horses in Europe.”

 

AS YOU WERE

They applied about a quarter of an inch of water to the Ascot track last night so that the ground is reported to be unchanged, i.e. good to firm, good in places on the round course. Chris Stickels, Clerk of the Course made the decision to water after two track records were established on day two.

He commented; "The straight course is good to firm, watered, this morning, while the round course is good to firm, good in places and watered. The forecast is for a bright, sunny and warm day. It should be a clear morning and while it might cloud over slightly this afternoon, we expect some spells of sunshine."

 

HAPPY AND GLORIOUS

When the Queen's horse, ESTIMATE, won the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot last year, the losers must have almost felt it was worth the defeat to see the look of sheer delight on the monarch's face. Today sees the renewal of this famous contest and the Royal household must be crossing their collective fingers that history will repeat itself.

 

Lats year's victory was even more memorable by the fact that the Sir Michael Stoute-trained filly made history by becoming the first horse to win the cup, wearing the colours of a reigning monarch, since the race was initiated more than 200 years ago,

 

Unfortunately the five-year-old daughter of MONSUN was unable, for vaious reasons, to follow up this success in her only other appearance in the British Champions Long Distance Cup last October finishing a disappointing seventh and hasn't been seen in action since. It is also well known that ESTIMATE's preparations to defend her crown have not been the best, although connections seem to have become a little more confident over the past few weeks.

 

John Warren, racing manager to Her Majesty commented: "Estimate had a slow start in her preparation due to some tweaked muscles that prevented her from running in the Sagaro Stakes. It has been a little frustrating not to get a prep race into her, but she's trained by Sir Michael Stoute and if there is anyone who can get her there without the benefit of a prep race he's the man to do it.”

TUESDAY, 17th JUNE 2014

 

ROYAL ASCOT'S HERE!

The Berkshire racetrack had a dry night last night. As a result the ground for the first day of Royal Ascot is officially described as good for both the straight and the round courses. Yesterday the straight course dried out to good so Chris Stickels, Clerk of the Course, said he expected the round course to dry out similarly from good to soft, good in places by the time racing starts this afternoon.

He commented this morning: "The ground is now good, we're cloudy at the moment, but are due to have sunny spells with temperatures of 20C. The ground is ideal and I'm very pleased with it."

 

A PALACE COUP?

Royal Ascot's fourth contest of the day, the St James’s Palace Stakes, could be a chance for John Gosden's KINGMAN to get his revenge. His main rival, Richard Hannon-trained NIGHT OF THUNDER nudged him out of the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas by half-a-length at Newmarket at the beginning of May. John Gosden has an interesting theory as to why his mount didn't make it in that race. He firmly believes that, after the Christophe Soumillon-ridden NOOZHON CANARIAS faded in the closing stages, KINGMAN, who had been pursuing him, was left on his own in front far too soon and that gave the eventual winner the opportunity to come back and steal the race. This theory could have some substance as the three-year-old son of INVINCIBLE SPIRIT was a clear four-and-a-half-length winner the last time they met each other in the Aon Greenham Stakes at Newbury in April. If further proof of his ability is needed, then there is his resounding victory in the Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh last time out.

 

This is far from a two-horse contest, however. His stable mate, TOORMORE, last season’s top rated juvenile, has to be given due consideration, despite his disappointing seventh in the Guineas. Then there is Aidan O’Brien's WAR COMMAND, who, though failing disastrously in the 2000 Guineas, was a convincing winner in last year’s Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot and added the DUBAI Dewhurst Stakes to his list of trophies in October.

 

But it's Royal Ascot so it would be appropriate and it looks likely that a 'King' should join the ranks of the great horses that have won this race.

 

MUM AND SON FETCH £1.15 MILLION

Last night Goffs London Sale held in the Kensington Palace Orangery rocked the auction world. The first son of the great Frankel, along with his dam Crystal Gaze, was bought by another famous son, Michael Magnier, for £1,150,000. It has also been revealed that CRYSTAL GAZE is expecting a second foal by by the late Henry Cecil's champion next year. The nameless young colt, together with his mother, was listed simply as Lot 65.

 

Michael Magnier, the son of Coolmore boss, John Magnier, said: “He has been bought for a racing partnership, and there are four different people in it. It’s a nice, strong colt and the lads really liked it.”

David Redvers, owner and manager of Tweenhills Stud is owned commented: “It seems like an awful lot of money to pay for a horse and it’s a bit sad to see the whole package go, as the mare is a sweetheart. It was fantastic to bring them to London and Sheikh Fahad was very keen to support the sale.”

The sale took place in the open and attracted many well-known names from the racing community, including John Gosden, Luca Cumani, Roger Charlton and Ed Dunlop.

 

THE COLOUR OF MONEY

If you'r not interested in betting on the horses then how about this for a wager: what colour will the Queen wear on Royal Ascot's Ladies' Day on Thursday?

With William Hill: yellow 11/8 favourite; pink 4/1; blue 11/2; purple 7/1 and cream, green or white 10-1.

 

MONDAY, 16th JUNE 2014

 

A WATCHING BRIEF

Over 250,000 racegoers will make for the county of Berkshire this week to join in the excitement of Royal Ascot. The big question this year, however, is how many will bother to watch in on Channel 4? The anwer, if the viewing figures for the Derby are anything to go by, is probably not many. Viewing figures recently revealed that there was a twenty per cent drop in numbers of viewers this year compared with 2013. What is more, to add insult to injury, Channel 4 viewers for Royal Ascot last year were considerably fewer than what the BBC had managed in 2012. So the main concern has to be whether Channel 4 can stop the rot, let alone increase its number of viewers.

 

Theories abound as to the causes for the dramatic fall in the Derby’s television audience. Inevitably Channel 4’s presentation team has been criticised for being too serious and too obsessed with its celebrity image. Others say it might just be that there is so much competing sport on a Saturday afternoon, reminding us that the Derby used to be run on a Wednesday but that change happened twenty years ago. Wednesday may also not have been a good as it was a normal workday and fewer people would have been able to watch live anyway.

 

There is one possible answer that makes some sense. Maybe the Derby lost not far off half-a-million viewers in a year for the simple fact that most of the general public didn't know about it. It may generally be known that the Derby rates highly amongst the major events in British sport but most people are not necessarily aware that the first Saturday in June is Derby Day. They need to be reminded. That's what happened when the BBC handled most of the racing events. The viewers would get reminders via other programmes in the week running up to the Epsom event, on the News and in the Sports Reports, or a plug on Corrie or East Enders. Even in this modern digital age, it is a fact that many people still tune into BBC radio or TV and pick up general information there.

 

However effective and popular, it must be remembered that Channel 4 is a minority channel and could never be anything else. It cannot hope to compete with a major broadcasting company with the ability to keep in touch with thousands of more viewers. It's seems true that the BBC only seemed interested in the top races, such as the Derby, Grand National and Royal Ascot and neglected all the other national racing. This, unfortunately may have led to the decision to give Channel 4 a four-year monopoly on terrestrial racing. Criticism of Channel 4’s racing coverage may be justified but it possibly misses a valuable point. When it comes to a major sporting event, such as Royal Ascot, it's not that viewers are switching on and then switching off again because they don't like what they see. They are not switching on in the first place.

 

Channel 4 has undoubtedly tried hard to provide attractive coverage that will please most of its viewers but the danger is that the powers-that-be might ultimately decide that they are on a hiding to nothing and are not getting value for the £20 they forked out originally for the 4-year deal. Then with the BBC's seeming lack of interest in presenting racing as it used to, who will take it on?

So, love 'em or hate'em, there is no alternative but to hope that Channel 4's efforts pay off this week and viewing figures improve significantly to encourage the commercial channel to continue its involvement.

 

EXES MARK THE SPOT!

A team of former racehorses which were purchased collectively for £1,650, have gone on to win a British Dressage Team Quest qualifier at their first attempt. Jim Boyle’s Ex-Racehorses team consisted of six-year-old HOOVER, two firsts, two seconds and five thirds from seventeen career runs; four-year-old PERSIAN MARVEL, who only managed a third in his thirteen-race career; ten-year-old BENNY THE BAT, who got a first and a second in ten outings; 15-year-old JIMMY BOND, six firsts, seven seconds and four thirds from 35 runs. This equine quartet took part in the intro, prelim and novice sections and finished with a total score of 204.64 and, thereby, were the winning team. Pippa Boyle, the Team Manager, expressed her delight with the victory: “Not bad for a team of horses who can go out and hold their own against horses who will have cost considerably more than that,” she said.

 

SUNDAY, 15th JUNE 2014

 

GOOD TO SEE THE SUN!

Local trainer, Tim Easterby, scored a fourth win in the £100,000 Betbright Charity Sprint at York yesterday when his SEE THE SUN beat the Marco Botti-trained NAADIRR by a neck. The three-year-old son of ASSERTIVE, ridden by David Allan was adding a furlong to his previous run at Chester at the beginning of May when he only managed fourth, some three lengths behind BLITHE SPIRIT, given a plucky ride by North Yorkshire apprentice, Jason Hart.

 

The outcome of this contest was undoubtedly influenced by the pre-race antics of the well-backed favourite DANZENO, who played up in the stalls, made a bad start and was clearly beaten some way out.

 

As the winning jockey said: "He jumped the gates like a rocket, so I could afford to sit and let him travel in my hands. He was getting a bit lonely in front, but he dug deep and the line came soon enough."

Malton-based Tim Easterby added: "This is what he was made for and what we've been aiming at. I was a bit worried because of the way he ran last time that the handicapper might drop him and he might not get in this race. Chester didn't work out, but it's like that there sometimes. He's a fast horse and likes a good pace. I was a bit worried he'd gone too early, but he held on well. To be fair, if you have a horse that has got plenty of pace this is the place to use it to the full.

 

HUGHES A ROYAL FAVOURITE, THEN?

The Queen could now have a second runner at Royal Ascot next week to add to the excitement of a potential Gold Cup bid by ESTIMATE, thanks to the efforts of Richard Hughes in the Betfred "Double Delight" Handicap at Sandown yesterday.

 

Four-year-old SEA SHANTY, trained by Richard Hannon, a possible for the Royal Hunt Cup, on Wednesday managed to scrape home by a short-head, relegating Mark Johnston's TANSEEB to runner-up.

 

The winning trainer commented afterwards: "It was John Warren's idea (the Queen's racing manager) as he gets a 5lb penalty which should help him sneak into the bottom of the weights for the Hunt Cup."

John Warren added: "It's not our usual style to run them back quickly, but if the Queen approves we might well run. We'll see how the horse comes out of it."

 

GROUNDS FOR REJOICING

Relief all round! There was heavy overnight rain at Ascot yesterday which significantly eased the ground, making the going Good to Soft, Good in Places. The unexpected downpour came a few hours after officials at the track decided to spray half-an-inch of water on the straight course and a quarter-of-a-incho n the round course.

 

Chris Stickels, Clerk of the Course stated: "We had 15mm between about midnight and 5am and the ground is now good to soft, good in places. I'm absolutely delighted with the rain. We've a dry forecast from now and to be honest it would have been ideal if it had been tomorrow night. We'll probably have good ground, good to soft in places tomorrow [Sunday] and I can't see any problems. Hopefully we don't have to water anymore and we have perfect ground for Tuesday."

He was not sure, however, what the conditions would be like for the first day of the world-famous racing event but hazarded a guess that it would mainly good.

SATURDAY, 14th JUNE 2014

 

WELSH WIZARDS?

Two Monmouthshire- based trainers, David Evans in Abergavenny and Ron Harris 23 miles down the road in Chepstow, both experts at producing good sprinters, are vying for first-ever wins at Royal Ascot next week. David Evans will saddle, PATIENCE ALEXANDER, and Ron Harris MAJESTIC HERO. Both are just two years old and that's the youngest age that horses can compete on any UK track over the minimum trip of five furlongs. It is understood that the former was originally intended for the Queen Mary but her owner has decided that she will run in the Albany Stakes instead. The daughter of KODIAC has good form as she beat Richard Hannon's TIGGY WIGGY in listed company last time out. David Evans believes his highly progressive filly has improved considerably all round since that race at York in the middle of May.

The Abergavenny trainer commented: "She works with the older horses and we've had no hiccups with her preparation. The other horses in the race have got her to worry about rather than the other way round.”

 

Ron Harris's MAJESTIC HERO, on the other hand, full brother to NEW PLANET, is seeking to follow up his victory in the 32Red On The App Store/Irish EBF Maiden Stakes at Chepstow a couple of weeks ago.

 

The Chepstow trainer stated: "I am sure he didn't like the ground there but class got him through. He has a beautiful physique. David Probert rode him in a gallop one day and before he got on he didn't recognise he was a two year old."

 

HE KNOCKED 'EM FOR SIX!

Richard Hannon, who used to be referred to as Junior before taking over from his father, has marked his first six months of being in charge of training at the Herridge and Everleigh Racing Stables, Marlborough, by saddling six winners in a day.

His first success came at Sandown in the Openwork Foundation Cares 4 Kids EBF Sprint Maiden Stakes when two-year-old IVAWOOD did the honours with Richard Hughes aboard. There was no resting on laurels, however, because, half-an-hour later, he did it again with TUPI in the Enterprise Finance EBF Maiden Stakes, same jockey. The Sandown hat-trick followed with three-year-old CAY DANCER, ridden by Cam Hardie.

 

And the hits came on coming! Richard Hannon's only runner in the first race of the evening meeting at Chepstow, SMAIH, produced a three-length win in the EBF Stallions Novice Stakes, this time ridden by Frankie Dettori.

 

For the rest of the sextuplet we have have to head down to West Sussex for the Goodwood evening card where Richard Hannon saddled six runners. Here he scored in the second race of the day when Pat Dobbs steered the unusually named STEP TO THE SHEARS to victory one-and-a-quarter lengths ahead of the Richard Hughes-ridden L'ETACQ, trained by – you'll never guess - Richard Hannon!

 

The 'sixcessful' days' racing was concluded by DURSEY ISLAND's scoring in the Frankie's 27th Anniversary Maiden Stakes, with, once more, Richard Hughes showing the way.

 

VIVE LA FRANCE!

MISS FRANCE, trained by Andre Fabre produced a turn-up for the books by winning the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket last month and now could head for Royal Ascot if the ground is right. The race looks like a re-running of the French Oaks, as the three-year-old daughter of DANSILI will be once more joined by the unbeaten LOCAL HERO, also owned by Ballymore Thoroughbred Ltd. When she came up against French Guineas winner AVENIR CERTAIN and the Aga Khan's undefeated, SHAMKAL.

Anthony Stroud, spokesman for Ballymore Thoroughbred Limited commented: "Everything has gone well but it all depends upon the rain. What we need is good ground, so dry days before Sunday. Andre Fabre will look at the ground and make a decision, but she will also be confirmed for the Coronation Stakes next week at Ascot. Shamkala is obviously a good filly but she's taking on two Classic winners. Miss France's mother (Miss Tahiti) was second in this race and her brothers stayed well, so she should have a good chance of doing so herself.”

FRIDAY, 13th JUNE 2014

 

MA'AM'S UP FOR THE CUP

Barbadian Sir Michael Stoute is a patient man when it comes to training horses and his patience will certainly be tested next week at Royal Ascot when, on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen, he will endeavour to win the Gold Cup for the second time in a row with the five-year-old staying mare, ESTIMATE. Last year the daughter of MONSUN, bred by His Highness The Aga Khan, became the first horse owned by a reigning monarch to win the Gold Cup in its 207-year history and is currently 7/1 to do it again. The Berkshire trainer revealed that things haven't been easy getting the half-sister to another Gold Cup winner, the Aga Khan’s ENZELI, ready for Ascot this time around.

 

Sir Michael Stoute commented at Newmarket on Thursday: “Estimate is not straightforward. It is a big team effort with her, from the girl who does her, to the girl who rides her. We have had problems with her prep this year, so we are under pressure, but there has been some good progress in the last month. The win last year was so good for racing, so [that triumph] ranks very highly with me.

 

Everyone will recall the pictures of the Queen, smiling excitedly after her horse won the Gold Cup in 2013 and they were surely a powerful advertisement for racing and race horse owning. The obvious pride in achieving such an important victory was captured on camera and television news coverage broadcast all over the world and certainly enhanced the attraction of Royal Ascot.

 

The sixty-eight-year-old trainer was asked whether the Queen would be getting excited at the thought of another Gold Cup win and he merely replied: “The Queen has had so many losers during her life that she does not get carried away.”

 

FIRST FRANKEL-FATHERED FOAL

For the first time, on Monday, a thoroughbred racehorse sale will take place at Kensington Palace. This will be to mark the public auction of the first foal sired by FRANKEL, possibly the greatest racehorse of all time. The colt will be put up for auction together with his dam, CRYSTAL GAZE, at Goff's first sale in Central London. Demand for any offspring from the fabulous FRANKEL is so great that a fee of £125,000 is charged for each mare that is sent to him. That could value the unique stallion at some £125m, according to experts.

 

Goff's chief executive, Henry Beeby, commented: “Monday will be a day of firsts. Goffs will hold the first sale in central London, which will climax with the first foal by the greatest racehorse ever, Frankel, to be sold at public auction anywhere in the world. The sale location is stunning and so is the foal.”

 

The nameless colt be sold by agents, Tweenhills Stud, whose owner and manager, David Redvers, added: “He is a very handsome colt with huge presence and great action. He has what I would call a typical Frankel temperament in that he knows he is special and really owns the show. At this stage he looks like a speedy type, which is no surprise given his mother has bred some excellent sprint winners.”

 

ASCOT'S FINE

It looks like the weather for Royal Ascot week next week could be the best it's been for a long time. Conditions for the world-famous fixture, which runs from Tuesday, June 17th to Saturday, June 21st are forecast to be fair until at least until next Thursday.

 

Racecourse's clerk, Chris Stickels announced at press conference in Newmarket yesterday: "For the first time in a number of years, the weather does looked like it is going to be settled from now until at least Thursday of next week - dry and warm. The going is currently Good, Good to Firm in places and we started watering yesterday when we put 10 millimetres on the straight. We also put four millimetres on the round course last night. This is the first time we have watered the course since August of last year. The aim would be to start Royal Ascot on Tuesday on similar ground that we have got now - Good, Good to Firm in places - and it is highly likely we will put some more water on, maybe tomorrow but certainly over the weekend at some point.”

 

THURSDAY, 12th JUNE 2014

 

THIRTY NINE STEPS

Thirty-nine jockeys got off with only a caution yesterday. These are the riders, you will recall, who were involved in the shenanigans, involving two false starts at this year's Investec Grand National. The disciplinary panel hearing, however, did decide that they were in breach of the rules but wisely backed off going as far as doling out suspensions or other such punishment.

 

As readers will remember, there were chaotic scenes as the riders broke through the starting tape. One horse refused to line up with the others and that was the Johnny Farrelly-trained BATTLE GROUP, with Brendan Powell aboard, who has quite a reputation for acquiring the unusual letters RR (Refused to Run) after his name. It could be that the latter's disruptive influence may have influenced the disciplinary panel's decision to only issue a caution as they found that "the primary problems were from actions that were not theirs".

The BHA's statement runs thus: "The disciplinary panel found 39 riders in breach of [rule] (D)44.4 as they lined up at start before being instructed to do so in Grand National. All 39 riders have been cautioned."

This decision was probably greeted as some sort of a triumph by the jockeys because, despite being found guilty, they escaped receiving the the one-day ban, threatened by the Aintree stewards, which would have hit their pockets.

Five of the riders involved in the fiasco, Tom Scudamore, Sam Twiston-Davies, Tom O'Brien, Aidan Coleman and Brian Hughes, who originally refused to attend the on-the-day inquiry at Aintree, acted as representatives for the other riders at the hearing in London where they gave their version of what had led to the disastrous start to the world-famous event. As there is not much National Hunt racing around at the moment, the twehty-four hours they had to spend in London at the hearing may not have seemed as bad as a one-day suspension!

 

WETHERBY BE JUMPS OR FLAT

After successful trials, Wetherby, Yorkshire's sole jumps-only venue, plans to add more pressure to their wish to present Flat racing next summer. Their bid has been given more weight after winning the approval of a group of trainers and jockeys who put some 28 horses through their paces over a variety of distances on Tuesday.

 

Jonjo Sanderson, Clerk of the course, is clearly hoping to to persuade the racing authority to confirm a provisional fixture on the Flat, after the Yorkshire track lost its jumps' meeting on the last Sunday in April due to bad weather and pencilled in a replacement fixture.

 

He commented: "That fixture theoretically is still there and capable of being converted into a Flat fixture for 2015, but we'll have to see if we can get any extra as well. It is very much subject to the BHA racecourse department being satisfied that we can stage Flat racing. Yesterday was a big stride towards proving that, with both trainers and riders pleased with the way things went.”

 

FRANKIE SPEAKING

Frankie Dettori will join Channel 4 Racing as part of its presenting team for Royal Ascot and for the rest of the Flat season and maybe longer. The well-known Milan-born jockey, three times champion jockey, is currently the retained rider for one of the new driving forces in racehorse ownership, Sheikh Joaan Al Thani. It is appropriate that Frankie Dettori should be asked to comment on Royal Asscot as, in 1996, he pulled off the feat of winning all seven races on the day's fixture.

 

As he said yesterday : “I am thrilled to be joining the Channel 4 Racing presentation team for the Flat season and look forward to starting work next week at Royal Ascot - the racecourse that catapulted my career back in September 1996 when I won all seven races.”

 

Channel 4's head of live events and special programmes, Ed Havard, added : "Frankie Dettori is known to millions both inside and outside the sport of racing and his record as a jockey speaks for itself. We're delighted that he's joining Clare and the Channel 4 Racing team, not just for Royal Ascot, but also across the rest of the Flat season. Royal Ascot is one of the highlights of our year and we are continuing to invest in this incredible event across the channel and across the business to showcase the spectacle of Ascot for our audiences."

 

It may be no coincidence that Channel 4's peak audience figures for the Investec Derby were lower than usual and other coverage has not been as well watched recently. So the managers clearly see a need to bring in a celebrity to boost the appeal of their output.

WEDNESDAY, 11th JUNE 2014

 

A NIFTY FIFTY

It looks like the champion jump jockey is in a hurry. Last night at Worcester he notched up his fastest ever half century of winners in a season. Never content to rest on his laurels, Tony McCoy now says he has an ambition to 300 winners in a season. His best score, in this respect, was some time ago, during the 2001-02 season, in fact, when he made 289 winners. The 19-time champion's current tally has got off to a flying start in his latest campaign, putting him easily in the lead in the championship. His nearest rival is Tom Scudamore and he's only on 23 winners.

AP McCoy's double victory yesterday wasn't smooth sailing, by any means. Neither of his mounts, MISSION COMPLETE or BOB KEOWN looked as though they had it in them to win but one attribute their jockey is particularly noted for, is persistence and Tony McCoy showed plenty of that by refusing to admit defeat, cajoling and persuading each horse to the front in the final yards.

The champion jockey gave his thoughts about his quick-fire start to the season: "The only reason it has happened is because I have been lucky and others definitely not so. I feel very sorry for Jason Maguire who has been on the sidelines since the Monday before the Cheltenham Festival with a horrible injury. Of my 50 winners probably around 18 have been for Donald McCain and Jason would have been on most of those if he was fit and well. All I have got to do now is keep myself in one piece and who knows what the remainder of the season holds."

CHEF CHOOSES A GOOD BIT OF HORSE FLESH!

Highclere Thoroughbred Racing Ltd. has lured another well-known name into racing horse ownership. Celebrity chef, Heston Blumenthal, renowned for his experimental approach in cooking, has acquired shares in four two-year-olds.

 

The proprietor of the Fat Duck restaurant explained his latest venture: ‘I have always enjoyed racing but never had the chance to own a horse. I met (Highclere racing manager) Harry Herbert at Ascot last year and he was extremely persuasive in convincing me to dip my toe into racehorse ownership for the first time.’

 

The four horses are:

 

  1. DIRECTOR, a son of DANEHILL DANCER, trained by William Haggas.

  2. MAGNUM, a son of LAWMAN, currently trained in France Mikel Delzangles.

  3. ACOLYTE, a son of ACCLAMATION, trained by Roger Charlton.

  4. PARISH, a son of DARK ANGEL, trained by Roger Varian.

 

LUCK OF THE IRISH

It has just been announced that John Boyle, the owner of Boylesports , has agreed to sponsor the Irish Derby, initially, for the next three years. He has also agreed to, as he puts it “progress the prize level during this term and, just as importantly, drive a packed house to enjoy the event”. It looks as though this is just the beginning and the bookmaking company sees this venture as stretching over a number of years.

 

As John Boyle commented: “Greyhound racing is part of the national fabric and mine too. For instance, we started sponsoring the [coursing] Clonmel Derby in 2000 and 14 years later are still involved. I see this proving a similar co

TUESDAY, 10th JUNE 2014

 

DOUBLE HORSE POWER

County Meath-based trainer, Eddie Lynam, must surely have his fingers crossed that his top sprinters, SOLE POWER and SLADE POWER will be in top form for Royal Ascot next week because, if so, they could pull off a momentous Group One double. The former, it will be remembered, powered to an exciting finish in last year's King's Stand Stakes. His younger stable companion, SLADE POWER, on the other hand, is at the moment the clear favourite for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes on the last day of the world-famous fixture. Interesting to note that both horses bear the colours of Sabena Power, wife of David Power, one of the founders of the Paddy Power bookmaker company.

The seven-year-old SOLE POWER is already a twice Group One winner and has notched up more than a million in prize-money all over the world. Five-year-old SLADE POWER has yet to win a Group One but connections agree that he was really impressive with his two-length victory last month’s in the Weatherbys Ireland Greenlands Stakes and expect that better things are to come.

Trainer Eddie Lynam commented yesterday: “I think the world of the horse. He’s won a Group Two and couple of Group Threes and hopefully this can be the year he wins a Group One. Sole still holds the bragging rights here because of what he’s done. But it would be an easier job picking between my kids! Sole and Viztoria will be left in the Diamond Jubilee as well. But Sole puts a lot into his races so I doubt very much if he’d run in the two, and Viztoria would have to have the word soft in the going description. ”

 

CHARITY BEGINS AT … YORK!

Saturday is Macmillan Charity Day at York Racecourse and looks like being an afternoon of quality racing, combined with giving help to good causes by raising a record £6 million.

 

The main race of the day will be the BetBright Charity Sprint, one of Britain’s richest three-year-old sprint handicaps with prize money of £100,000. The six furlong contest includes such equine celebrities as 1992 Haydock Sprint Cup victor, SHEIKH ALBADOU.

 

For the third year, the first day will end with the running of the Macmillan Charity Race, where twelve supporters will have the opportunity to “ride the dream” by competing in a nine-furlong race around the famous Knavesmire track. Each of these supporters, aged from nineteen to fifty-six, has pledged at least £2,500 to the charity. The group has representatives from all walks of life and includes, Gemma Darley, the daughter of former British flat racing Champion Jockey in 2000, Kevin Darley and York Champion Trainer's son, Peter Fahey.

 

For the last two year's there has been a Listed race on the programme, which is generously supported by Ian and Kate Hall, Yorkshire-based racehorse owners. The one-mile Ganton Stakes offers prize money of £37,000.

 

The fixture kicks off at 2-05 p.m. and will present the the 26th renewal of he richest race for lady amateur riders in Britain, the Queen Mother’s Cup. Keeping it in the family, the Princess Royal won this race in 1988.

 

MONDAY, 9th JUNE 2014

 

THE ILLUSIVE CROWN

CALIFORNIA CHROME left Nassau County yesterday with a bandage on his right front foot after failing to win the Belmont Stakes which also denied him the coveted Triple Crown. The controversy surrounding this contest still rumbled on apace, mainly instigated by co-owner, Steve Coburn. His main contention is that it is unfair that any horse aiming for the Triple Crown has to win the Kentucky Derby and then the Preakness Stakes, the latter not too long before the Belmont Stakes. This makes it quite a tough campaign for contenders. Steve Coburn wants the rules changed so that horses that have not competed in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness should not be allowed to run in the Belmont. He is still upset that the winner, TONALIST, did not run in either of the first two legs of the Triple Crown. In fact there were only three horses in Saturday's 11-strong field that had done that – RIDE ON CURLIN who came last and GENERAL A ROD (7th).

CALIFORNIA CHROME, winner of the Kentucky Derby in March and and the Preakness Stakes in May was aiming for a ultimate prize that hasn't been won for 36 years but, disappointingly, only managed to dead-heat fourth. It seems the son of LUCKY PULPIT also unluckily damaged his foot after knocking against MATTERHORN who was next to him in the stalls, which may not have helped his progress in the race. Jockey, Victor Espinoza, felt that something was not quite right from the beginning of the race.

61-year-old Steve Coburn commented further afterwards: "It says Triple Crown. You nominate your horse for the Triple Crown. That means three. Even … the Triple Crown trophy has three points on it. Those 20 horses that start in the Kentucky Derby should be the only 20 allowed to run in the Preakness and the Belmont for the Triple Crown."

Trainer, Art Sherman announced that CALIFORNIA CHROME's foot should be better in a couple of weeks or so. Then the chestnut colt would have a well-earned rest for a couple of months after the tough Triple Crown campaign that involved running in three races at different tracks and distances over five weeks.

 

HURRAH FOR THE CURRAGH!

It is probable that Saturday's Derby champion, AUSTRALIA, could make for the Curragh and the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby on June 28. The three-year-old son of GALILEO certainly lived up to his illustrious ancestry in the way he claimed the Investec Derby by a length and a quarter, ahead of the Roger Varian-trained KINGSTON HILL and it seems that he has survived the Classic contest in good form.

 

Ballydoyle trainer, Aidan O'Brien commented: "He's fine, he was just out for a walk and he looks great. The Irish Derby would be a possibility, but it will be up to the lads (Coolmore) to decide. The ground will obviously be a factor and we will try not to run him on bad ground."

 

Joseph O'Brien, son of the trainer, was clearly confident taking on again the best in the business over a mile, particularly NIGHT OF THUNDER who narrowly beat him in the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. The winning jockey said: "When we heard about the forecast for Saturday, we'd have had no qualms about taking him out and taking on the other two horses (Night Of Thunder and Kingman) in the St James's Palace. He's got a serious amount of pace. We've made no secret of that. He definitely has seven-furlong pace - no doubt. I travelled as well as anything in the Guineas.”

 

SUNDAY, 8th JUNE 2014

TWO OUT OF THREE

It was AUSTRALIA's day yesterday but an American dream was once more unfulfilled. CALIFORNIA CHROME failed to win, by a length, the Belmont Stakes and so joined twelve other hopefuls over the past thirty-six years who lost out in the final leg and were, thereby, denied the Triple Crown. In an epic finale to the New York Classic, 9/1 shot TONALIST, trained by Christophe Clement, a New York-based Frenchman, convincingly outran the three-year-old to win the $1.5 million contest, beating the front-running outsider, COMMISSIONER by a head, with MEDAL COUNT a further length behind in third.

 

The fairytale CALIFORNIA CHROME began the day as the odds-on favourite to become the first horse to complete the Triple Crown since AFFIRMED in 1978, and, indeed, it looked as though his supporters would not be disappointed as the Kentucky Derby winner was travelling comfortably behind the pace on the rail. Reaching the final stretch, however, the Art Sherman-trained son of LUCKY PULPIT suddenly seemed to feel the effects of the step-up in trip and was making no headway in the closing stages which gave the late-rallying TONALIST an opportunity to overhaul the 28/1 COMMISSIONER.

 

The exciting day's racing was somewhat marred by part-owner, Steve Coburn's astonishing outburst after the race, accusing the winning connections of taking "the coward's way out" as their horses had not run in either of the previous legs of the Triple Crown. TONALIST and COMMISSIONER had qualified by finishing first and second in the designated Belmont Classic trial, the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes on 10th May.

 

Visibly upset , Steve Coburn continued: "You know what, he's run three very big races. These other horses - they always set them out and try to upset the applecart. I'm 61 years old and in my lifetime I'll never see another Triple Crown winner because of the way they do this. It's not fair to these horses that have been in the game since day one. I look at it this way: if you can't make enough points to get in the Kentucky Derby, you can't run in the other two races. It's all or nothing. Because this is not fair to these horses who have been running their guts out and for the people who believe in them. To have someone come up like this - this is the coward's way out in my opinion. Our horse had a target on his back."

 

Later, winning owner Robert Evans refused to make any comment about Steve Coburn's remarks but added: "We loved California Chrome and we hoped he'd win the Triple Crown - but we love our horse too."

 

"I'm a little bit upset about California Chrome," admitted TONALIST's jockey Joel Rosario.

 

A CLASSIC COLT

Aidan O'Brien, on the other hand, had plenty to celebrate at Epsom. He scored a hat-trick when the 11/8 favourite, AUSTRALIA, did everything expected of him and won the Investec Derby by one-and-a-quarter lengths, adding to the Ballydoyle trainer's successes in 2012 with CAMELOT and last year with RULER OF THE WORLD, making altogether five Derby wins after GALILEO in 2001 and HIGH CHAPARRAL in 2002.

 

The County Tipperary trainer is well-known for the superlatives he has used to describe the string of champions that have been trained by him over the years but when he recently said that AUSTRALIA was 'the best horse he has ever trained' he was clearly not far wrong. Jockey son, Joseph, and, in fact, all the connections never waivered in their confidence about their horse. Indeed Joseph O'Brien rode him like the best horse in the race, sitting off the pace, delaying his move until the home straight. After hitting the front it was then just a case of maintaining the supremacy.

 

The son of GALILEO is not surprisingly a favourite for the Prix e l’Arc de Triomphe – a race thought to be a natural target by one of his Coolmore owners, John Magnier. But on the cards also is the Irish Derby at the Curragh at the end of the month or possibly the Eclipse at Sandown in July.

 

SATURDAY, 7th JUNE 2014

 

DOWN UNDER DERBY

Today twelve furlongs of a Surrey racetrack will be the scene for the supreme test for three-year-old thoroughbreds. Anyone who hasn't been on another planet these past few weeks and days will know that today is Derby Day.

 

There has been plenty of comment about Aidan O'Brien and the the Ballydoyle/Coolmore stables. That's no surprise as the last three renewals of this world-famous event in the racing calendar have been won by horses bearing the colours of the D Smith/Mrs J Magnier/M Tabor/T Ah Khing. This powerful quartet of horse owners is going all out for a win today by sending four horse of their string to Epsom.

 

The one that has attracted continental consideration, without doubt, is AUSTRALIA, deemed by many, including his trainer, Aidan O'Brien, to be one of the most exciting horses in training at the moment. There are possibly three reasons for this view:

 

1) AUSTRALIA is the three-year-old son of the legendary GALILEO who has sired 6 Group 1 winners in 2013, including last year's Derby winner, RULER OF THE WORLD, gave Aidan O’Brien his first Derby success in 2001 and has sired two English Derby winners so far, the other being NEW APPROACH in 2008. AUSTRALIA's talents do not just come from his champion Sire. His Dam was the illustrious OUIJA BOARD who won the Vodaphone Oaks in 2004 and many other top-rank contests. So there is no doubt about it. This son of GALILEO is one of the best bred horses around at the moment and seems to have been born to run the Derby.

 

2) AUSTRALIA has only had four career starts and has won two of them – the Darley European Breeders Fund Maiden at the Curragh last July and the ICON Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Trial Stakes at Leopardstown in September. He made his dėbut at the Curragh, coming second in the Barronstown Stud European Breeders Fund. His last outing was at the beginning of May when he ran in the Qipco 2000 Guineas Stakes, finishing third behind Richard Hannon's NIGHT OF THUNDER and John Gosden's KINGMAN. This latter race was a bit of tricky contest as the field split into two groups but, all things considered, there were some good omens in the results. The runner-up, KINGMAN, went on to take the Irish Derby the next time out. And what about THE GREY GATSBY! He only managed to come tenth but has since won the Group 2 Dante Stakes and the French Derby.

 

3) Trainer, Aidan O'Brien, is already on record as saying that he thinks that AUSTRALIA could be the best he has trained since the great ISTABRAQ. Them's strong words, indeed, from from the master of Ballydoyle, who hasn't been short of equine talent for many years. Clearly expectations are riding high at the County Tipperary stables where the Epsom contest is considered to be the most important of the season.

 

Those are three powerful reasons for AUSTRALIA to win the Investec Derby today. The one factor that could negate all the above is the weather. Aidan O'Brien has already said that his champion will not run if there is rain. Earlier in the week the Met Office announced that there could be torrential rain, issuing a yellow weather warning for an area including the south-east of England. Today they state that the sun will be shining in the morning with very few high clouds. Thick cloud will provoke numerous stormy rain showers in the afternoon.

 

A DOUBLE VICTORY

Jockey, Paul Hanagan, was the object of much praise from all the connections of TAGHROODA, after producing a ride brimming with confidence and assurance aboard the three-year-old daughter of SEA OF STARS in the Investec Oaks at Epsom yesterday. This track is notorious for its treacherous challenges but, after one hairy moment, the Warrington-born rider showed a clean pair of heels to the rest of the field, winning the Group 1 Fillies' contest by three-and-three-quarter lengths. TAGHROODA provided one good reason not to take market confidence too seriously all the time. She had been offered at much shorter odds than her ultimate starting price of 5/1 after she won the Newmarket Pretty Polly Stakes last month.

The Investec Oaks gave two people cause for celebration; it was the thirty-three-year-old jockey's first win in this race; it was also a first success for trainer John Gosden, who was robbed of victory two years ago when his THE FUGUE was beaten by a neck.

 

FRIDAY, 6th JUNE 2014

 

RIGHT ROYAL PREPARATION

Trainer, Richard Hannon, seems confident that his two stable stars, TORONADO and SKY LANTERN, will be ready in time for their return to action at Royal Ascot next month. The former hasn't raced since last August when he was completely outpaced and came last in the Juddmonte International at York. The four-year-old son of HIGH CHAPARRAL did excel a month earlier, though, in the Qipco Sussex Stakes when he reeled in DAWN APPROACH and won by half a length, getting revenge for a similar defeat by this rival in the St James's Palace Stakes at Ascot in the middle of June.

 

SKY LANTERN had a treble success, winning the QIPCO 1000 Guineas, the Coronation Stakes and the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes last summer but then followed that up with a disastrous result, coming last of fourteen in the Longines Hong Kong Mile over in Sha Tin.

 

One horse not likely to be taking part is OLYMPIC GLORY who won the JLT Lockinge Stakes but then when racing only a week later and stepping up he was soundly beaten in the Prix d'Ispahan bin Longchamp

 

The Wiltshire trainer commented: "Toronado went to Newbury the other day and worked very well, he's on target for the Queen Anne," Hannon told At The Races. He's always been a horse that excites. Trainer, owner, jockey, gallop watcher, whatever you are if he doesn't get your blood up then it's pretty sure nothing else will. Sky Lantern is in the Queen Anne and Windsor Forest (Duke of Cambridge). She needs to be taken away as she gets very fat, that was the reason we managed to get her beat in a trial last year. She's actually heavier than Toronado would you believe and he's massive.

 

FALLON ON GOOD TIMES

Trainer, Saeed Bin Suroor and Godolphin owner, Sheikh Mohammed have been credited with many things but jockey, Kieren Fallon says he is indebted to them for helping him get his racing career back on track. Today he sees as one small way of thanking them for their trust when he rides IHTIMAL in the Investec Oaks which is being run in memory of the late Sir Henry Cecil.

 

If the County Clare jockey makes it today it will be his 17th success in a British Classic. He won the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at the beginning of May on the Richard Hannon-trained NIGHT OF THUNDER and the last success in a British Classic before that was in 2006, riding ALEXANDROVA in, what was then called, the Vodaphone Oaks.

 

IHTIMAL's trainer, Saeed bin Suroor also thinks this could be the day for horse and jockey when commenting: "Her third in the Guineas is really good and she's really pleased me at home since that race," said Bin Suroor. I'm really happy with her as her work has been really good and the one thing going for her is the fact she is real trier in her races. She's won in good to soft ground but I wouldn't want it too soft, so in an ideal world we'd like the rain to stay away, which would help her cause. She's in very good condition and I think she'll stay the trip as her pedigree suggests she should. I like her a lot and she has a good chance"

THURSDAY, 5th JUNE 2014

 

IT'S THE BALLY DERBY!

Coolmore and Al Shaqab Racing, joint-owners of RULER OF THE WORLD, have decided that last year's Derby winner will not run again this season. The four-year-old GALILEO son was last seen at the end of March in the Dubai World Cup at Meydan when he only managed to come 13th out of 16.

 

His trainer, Aidan O'Brien stated via Coolmore's Twitter: "Ruler Of The World worked very well yesterday but pulled out a little stiff this morning so we couldn't risk running him on Saturday."

 

Prior to that perhaps slightly unorthodox manner of imparting such momentous news, Harry Herbert, racing advisier for Al Shaqab's commented: "Ruler Of The World worked very well on Tuesday, I was there to see him myself, but unfortunately he isn't quite right this morning and I am almost certain he isn't going to run on Saturday. It's bitterly disappointing and very frustrating as everyone was very pleased with the way he worked, but he isn't right this morning and you can't line up in a race like the Coronation Cup unless you're 100 per cent. We don't think it's anything serious, Aidan thinks he may have tweaked a muscle. It's too early to say (where he will run next). We hadn't looked beyond Saturday."

 

The Ballydoyle trainer did have some positive news last night. He announced his jockey bookings for his four Derby runners. Ryan Moore will partner GEOFFREY CHAUCER who put up a strong performance in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial Stakes at Leopardstown on 11th May, after an eight-month absence from the track. The trainer's son, Joseph O'Brien, will, as predicted, stay with the favourite, AUSTRALIA. Seamie Heffernan who has been with the Ballydoyle stable since 1996, will see what kind of a tune he can get out of ORCHESTRA, winner of this year's Chester Vase whilst and Colm O'Donoghue, the successful multiple Group 1 and Classic winning flat jockey, will take flight on KINGFISHER, victor in the Betfair Cash Out Dee Stakes at the beginning of last month.

 

REAL KOOL

It appears Wiltshire trainer, Richard Hannon, is now considering an entry at Royal Ascot and another sortie onto the Irish tracks for his two-year-old KOOL KOMPANY who pulled off a surprising coup this week at Naas when, partnered by arguably one of the most under-rated jockeys in the weighing room, Pat Dobbs, he beat the Michael Halford-trained TOSCANINI by a head in the Alfred Nobel Rochestown Stakes.

 

Stepping up to six furlongs after his first two career wins over five furlongs at Leicester and Windsor, the son of JEREMY, out of ABSOLUTELY COOL, started off a bit too keenly for his jockey's liking but, commendably, the quick brown colt didn't slacken under pressure and claimed the prize.

 

The outright 8/15 favourite, once more trained by Aidan O'Brien, WAR ENVOY, seemed to be doing nothing wrong as he calmly tracked the leaders for most of the contest but, when push came to shove, he could find no more and finished a disappointing third.

 

This victory marked another notable success in Ireland for the Middleham Park Racing Syndicate, but it was a first for the trainer, Richard Hannon since he took over the licence from his father.

Tim Palin, manager for Middleham Park Racing, didn't seem fully in agreement with his trainer, however, commenting: “It was a bit of gamble going over to Ireland to take on an Aidan O'Brien horse in his own backyard. We would have been happy with second, but we went over there thinking he would run a good race. There is the Railway Stakes at the Curragh (June 28) and given that is a week or 10 days later than the Coventry and would just give him a bit more time to get over today, I would say that is at least as likely as going to Royal Ascot.”

WEDNESDAY, 4th JUNE 2014

 

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN'

You won't have time to catch your breath on Saturday because a short while after the running of the Derby a three-year-old chestnut colt with the unusual name of CALIFORNIA CHROME will line up in the Belmont Stakes in New York and seek to become the first horse to win the US Triple Crown since AFFIRMED 1978.

 

The Art Sherman-trained son of LUCKY PULPIT has already got the first two parts of the triple behind him, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. It now remains to be seen whether he can handle the taxing mile and a half around the sharp Belmont bends.

 

Since AFFIRMED's success thirty-six years ago, eleven contestants have won these first two parts of the Triple Crown but failed in the Belmont Stakes. If CALIFORNIA CHROME makes it on Saturday, he will celebrated all over America and recognised wherever he goes for the rest of his life. With America currently in the middle of economic problems, particularly in the areas of welfare, many might see certain echoes of the years of the Great Depression when SEABISCUIT became an unlikely champion and a symbol of hope to many Americans. Many a working man's hard-earned cash will be wagered on this dream outcome, that's for sure.

 

CALIFORNIA CHROME's origins are just as unpresuming as his illustrious Kentucky ancestor. His owner-breeders, Perry Martin and Steve Coburn, bought a mare. LOVE THAT CHASE, for $8,000 (£4800) then forked out another $2,000 (£1200) for her to be covered by the stallion, LUCKY PULPIT. They like to relate the story about what happened at the auction where they bought the mare. They overheard someone next to them say “only a dumb-ass would buy her” so their response was to establish DAP Racing (Dumb-Ass Partners Racing!) which they have embroidered on their colours.

 

The other ainteresting story is about how the colt got his name. The two owners and wives got together in a local restaurant. They were all asked to write down a name on a piece of paper and then a waitress was asked draw one of the pieces of paper out of Steve Coburn’s cowboy hat. To understand the story better you need to know that 'Chrome’ is Californian slang for the white markings on a horse. Hence CALIFORNIA CHROME!

 

An amusing follow-up to this naming story is that for the Kentucky Derby the name on his number cloth was misspelt ‘Califorina Chrome’. So his owners, not wishing to tempt fate, requested the Preakness organisers to repeat the mistake and Belmont will do the same on Saturday!

 

Let the last words be with co-owner, Steve Coburn: “I believe this horse will win the Triple Crown. If I shed a tear, just bear with me. This colt was born on my sister Brenda’s birthday. She died of cancer at the age of 36. It will be 36 years this year since there’s been a Triple Crown. That’s where we’re going.”

 

THAT'S ANOTHER STORY

Kieren Fallon will try to notch up his fourth Derby win. The County Clare jockey is an old hand at negotiating the unique Epsom terrain. His first success in this challenging contest was in 1999 aboard OATH, trained by the late Henry Cecil. He then went on to achieve back-to-back wins in 2003 and 2004 on Kris KRIS KIN and NORTH LIGHT, respectively, both trained by Sir Michael Stoute. The now freelance forty-nine year old, however, thinks we ain't seen nothing yet because on Saturday he has been booked to ride Godolphin's TRUE STORY, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, and he believes the three-year-old son of MANDURO is the fastest thing on four legs.

 

The six-times champion jockey commented: "I think he's got a better turn of foot. My three Derby horses were more horses that lengthened than quickened. This horse can really quicken. I was riding him in all his work even before the Feilden Stakes and he's always given me a super feel - he could have been a Guineas horse he has so much speed but obviously the Derby was the programme for him.

 

TRUE STORY is generally a 12/1 shot at the moment compared to the favourite AUSTRALIA who is 11/10.

 

TUESDAY, 3rd JUNE 2014

 

FOUR GO TO EPSOM

After the confirmation stage seventeen horses are still listed as running and that includes AUSTRALIA, one of the four Aidan O'Brien hopefuls, for Saturday's Investec Derby at Epsom. The three-year-old son of GALILEO is the red-hot favourite after his creditable performance in the the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket when he made third.

 

The Ballydoyle trainer Aidan O'Brien has had four previous Derby winners:- GALILEO (2001); HIGH CHAPARRAL (2002); CAMELOT (2012) and last year's winner, RULER OF THE WORLD.

 

John Magnier's esteemed trainer also intends to saddle:- GEOFFREY CHAUCER who was an unlucky third in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial; ORCHESTRA victor in the MBNA Chester Vase in the middle of last month and KINGFISHER winner of the Betfair Cash Out Dee StakesDee Stakes.

 

Andrew Cooper, Clerk of the Course at Epsom has let it be known that he cannot rule out completely the possibility of watering the world-famous track in the event that the forecast rain does not come. The past week-end was dry on the Downs producing a going that is on the soft side of good but things could change dramatically in the next couple of days as a lot of rain is predicted for tomorrow. But the Met Office doesn't always get it right so watering on Friday is still on the cards.

 

SOON BACK IN THE SADDLE

Good news on the jockey front. Daryl Jacob, replaced by Sam Twiston-Davies last month as Paul Nicholls' stable jockey, is hoping to be back in the saddle this month. It seems that his enthusiasm for the job has not in the least been dullened by his terrible accident at the Cheltenham Festival nearly three months ago when he broke his leg, knee and elbow.

 

After an invigorating family holiday in the Tenerife sunshine the 31-year-old rider from Donegal commented: “I’ve got so much fire in my belly. I feel really good and it’s going to be an exciting year for me – I just wish it was a few months ahead and we were going into winter rather than summer. The brace came off my leg after three weeks and then I used one crutch and that went after a month. I have done a lot of rehabilitation and been at Wincanton Leisure Centre regularly. I have been using a lot of weights on the leg and am getting all the muscle strength back in it and now I’ve started to do some gentle running and the leg feels just fine with no signs of any trouble.

 

EBOR A CUM!

CLEVER COOKIE, who 'dead-heated' RALSTON ROAD in yesterday's Stowe Family Law LLP Grand Cup, has definitely been ruled out of running at Royal Ascot by his trainer, Peter Niven. The Malton handler has not given up the dream of his competing in both the John Smith's Cup and the Ebor at York. But for now, the six-year-old son of PRIMO VALENTINO, a talented Grade Two winner over hurdles, is about to enjoy a well-earned rest.

 

Peter Niven said: "He has come out of his race well and will get a quite time of it for now. He has had a hard time since the new year so he deserves a good break. We will assess him later this month and make a plan, but my gut feeling is that he will be effective over both a mile and a quarter and a mile and six furlongs. I have always thought he was an Ebor horse so I would not be ruling it out. The John Smith's Cup is also on the agenda and I am not sure if any horse has won both before, but it would be nice to give it a go.

 

MONDAY, 2nd JUNE 2014

 

THE GREYT GATSBY!

Sunday’s Prix du Jockey-Club, the Chantilly French Derby was won by 20/1 shot, THE GREY GATSBY, trained by Kevin Ryan and given a masterful ride by Ryan Moore. Disappointingly, the three-year-old grey only managed 10th in the Qipco 2000 Guineas Stakes at Newmarket at the beginning of May and then, surprise, surprise, he went on to follow that with an unexpectedly convincing victory in the Betfred Dante Stakes, also partnered by Ryan Moore. And then, as a way of silencing any critics, the son of MASTERCRAFTSMAN, two weeks, later bags the the French Derby.

 

Jockey Ryan Moore thinks that trainer Kevin Ryan didn't receive the credit he deserved when his mount won the Dante. His view is: “If Sir Michael Stoute had trained him, it would have been a different story.

 

Anyway, in the light of THE GREY GATSBY's performance on the Rowley Mile last month, both AUSTRALIA (third in the 2,000 guineas) KINGSTON HILL (eighth) have become the clear favourites for the Investec Derby at Epsom on Saturday.

 

The key to the conundrum may well be the jockey, Ryan Moore, who is producing performances of a lifetime at the moment. As it stands, he is probably due to partner a rival from the following: ORCHESTRA, KINGFISHER or GEOFFREY CHAUCER. But he could again prove to be the secret weapon, if he opts for Kevin Ryan's three-year-old, just as he was in last year's Derby when he powered home on Aidan O'Brien-trained, RULER OF THE WORLD.

 

Ryan Moore’s intuitive style of riding is well recognised. For instance, yesterday, all seemed to be going well for THE GREY GATSBY but the thirty-three-year-old, Brighton-born jockey seemed to sense that horses crossing over from the outside were not going to give much room to manoeuvre. As he said: “I wanted to go forward, but everybody rushed forward. I got over to the rail and managed to get him into a rhythm. Turning in, I thought we would win, but I almost made a mistake by going to the wrong side of one horse [Prestige Vendome], who was hanging. I changed course.”

 

THE GREY GATSBY established a record time for the race: 2mins.05.58sec.

With my rusty maths I make that an average speed of 37.63 mph!!

 

DEAD LUCKY?

If records are to be believed, the strangely called 'dead heat' result, whereby two horses pass the post together in a photo-finish has only ever happened 33 times before in the history of racing and only five of these prior to the 1900s. Thirteen such outcomes were recorded in the 2000s, so it probably has something to do with the development of more sophisticated photographic technology.

 

Be that as it may, history was made again at York in the Stowe Family Law LLP Grand Cup. RALSTON ROAD and CLEVER COOKIE crossed the line inseparably in an exciting climax to the race. The contest didn't look as though it would develop into much as the 12 runners were content to be led along at a moderate pace in the early stages by Mark-Johnston-trained ALTA LILEA. With John Patrick Shanahan's 5 year-old son of DYLAN THOMAS kept quite handy by apprentice jockey, Ronan Whelan, who ultimately was not allowed to claim his 3lb-allowance because of the conditions of the race. The Peter Niven-trained CLEVER COOKIE, on the other hand, was kept well to the rear by Graham Lee but as the pace hotted up three furlongs out the 6-year-old son of PRIMO VALENTINO was urged by Graham Lee to come wide and challenge the leading group and he certainly looked as if he had the race in the (saddle)bag approaching 100 yards from the post but, to give him his due, the DYLAN THOMAS-sired colt lived up to the namesake poet's cry of 'Rage, rage against the dying of the light' and fought back valiantly to bring about the 34th dead heat in history.

 

The result, however, seems to be a bookies' boon because their rule is that if two selections dead-heat for any placing, half the stake is applied to the selection at full betting odds and the other half of the stake is lost and goes straight into their coffers.

In other words, half the bet is dead!

 

SUNDAY, 1st JUNE 2014

ATTENZIONE FRANKIE!

There's a new kid on the block out to make a big name for himself in the noble sport of Kings. Jockey, Andrea Atzeni, whose career closely mirrors British horse racing's most famous Italian exile – Frankie Dettori. It appears the two have more in common than is immediately obvious. They both come from Sardinia and arrived in this country as teenagers without a word of English. The young jockey, however, claims to share something else with his older compatriot – love of clothes.

 

The twenty-three-year-old confessed an expensive weakness for designer labels and stylish clothes. As he put it: ‘I don’t follow other sports but I love clothes shopping. I spend a lot of money. I think Frankie is the sharpish dresser among the jockeys. But, after him, it could be me.’

 

Frankie Dettori has a twenty-year head start over his younger countryman, including achievements such as winning 200 Group One races worldwide, so catching up won't happen overnight. Andrea Atzeni does, however, have a chance next Saturday to go one better than his Italian role model. It took Frankie Dettori 15 years, before he won the Derby in 2007 on AUTHORIZED. The younger jockey, if he has his fair share of luck, could make it on his first attempt, as he is riding Roger Varian's KINGSTON HILL who, at 12-1, is third favourite for the prize. The three-year-old son of MASTERCRAFTSMAN won the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster last October. Interestingly, this is a race that has been won by four previous Derby winners this century, including AUTHORIZED. Particularly in his favour is the fact that he will not be troubled by the softer going brought about by recent heavy rain, as some of the other entrants will be.

 

Andrea Atzeni pushed his winning score to 120 last year, more than doubling his previous season. His success has even attracted a new sponsor - Amlin Plus, the bloodstock and equine insurance specialists. A Derby win next Saturday would be just the ticket and, who knows, he might treat himself to a new suit with his share of the prize money!

 

SORRY TO WIN AGAIN!

The David O’Meara-trained PENITENT was a shock 33-1 winner at Haydock yesterday in the Timeform Jury Stakes. The eight-year-old son of KILLACHY has a string of successes to his name, including the William Hill Lincoln (Heritage Handicap) back in March 2010, but this was his first Group victory since being victorious in the Group Two Nayef Joel Stakes at Newmarket but that was in September 2012. So the bay gelding owned by Middleham Park Racing, had a bit of catching up to do. And he did that in style, battling to a short-head win under the excellent stewardship of Daniel Tudhope.

 

Trainer, David O’Meara, who had a double on the day with this victory, wasn’t present at the Merseyside track, preferring instead to be at his local racecourse where his DUTCH ROSE did the honours by fourteen lengths.

 

Tim Palin, the racing manager for Middleham Park Racing, together with the members of the syndicate celebrated PENITENT's 10th career win. (Well 11th really but the second win was on the all-weather so doesn't count!)

 

Tom Palin commented afterwards: “There’s life in the old dog yet. (That's what he said!)

I have to say I was surprised when they called him the winner. I thought we’d lost it in the photo and we were all commiserating each other.”

 

THANKS A MILLION!

The record-breaking £5.5 million Scoop6 bonus was won yesterday and was added to last Saturday's the £1.3 million win. Sadly, however, the winner was not Craig Brazier, the wheelie bin cleaner, mentioned last week. His selection only managed 11th.

 

No the lucky punters were some of the original members of the first syndicate and one of them, Bernard Marantelli, chief executive of Colossus Bets, actually selected the winning horse which was the appropriately named TOP BOY trained by Derek Shaw. He will share the £5,481,763 fund with two other ticket-holders who clubbed together in an attempt to increase their chances of success. That means they each got £1,827,254.

 

The bonus race, the BetBright Trophy at York was not without its drama and produced a nail-biting conclusion with TOP BOY claiming it by a neck.

 

Bernard Marantelli commented: "We tried to get everyone together but it proved too tricky to do. We had three tickets. One controlled by me and two by other people. A lot of people are very happy today."

 

Now that this bonus race has been won, the whole thing could start all over again because the final leg of this weekend's Scoop6 wasn't won and so the main bet rolls over to next week.

 

SATURDAY, 31st MAY 2014

 

RUM RESULT AT STRATFORD

Once more the water jump at Stratford is in the news after Tony McCoy's mount, RUM AND BUTTER was declared the winner of the Sims Garden Machinery Novices' Chase even though he was second past the post. The six-year-old son of MILAN actually finished a neck behind MCLLHATTON. ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies, but the stewards decided afterwards that he was obstructed on the run-in, as the two horses just avoided crashing into the rails coming out of the water jump. It must have been something of a déja-vu moment for Paul Nicholls' new stable jockey because in March, when riding BENBENS he had gained from a similar controversial stewards' decision only for it to be reversed on later appeal to the BHA.

 

The 19-times champion jockey,Tony McCoy commented last night: "I would have been amazed if I hadn't got the race in the stewards' room as the other horse definitely stopped me from winning."

 

Sam Twiston-Davies added "It was similar to myself and Gavin Sheehan in March. I was trying to ride my race, pushing and kicking."

 

Richard Westropp, Stratford's stipendiary steward explained: "Stewards found that Sam Twiston-Davies had kept a straight line from the last fence and did not allow Tony McCoy racing room on the outside. The side-on view shows McCoy's mount was level at the time of the interference and we considered he would have won without being hampered."

 

It never rains but it pours. Sam Twiston-Davies got a two-day ban after it was decided that he was guilty of careless riding.

 

A LOAD OF HOT AIR?

I guess if you'd paid 2.5 million guineas (£2,625,000 in real money!) for the most expensive yearling at auction in 2012, you could be forgiven for expecting great things on his first outing. That's not, however, how it worked out. Sheikh Fahad's HYDROGEN, ridden by Jamie Spencer, managed an unimpressive sixth, eleven-and-a-half lengths adrift, in the Lloyds Bank Commercial Maiden Stakes at Newmarket yesterday. Under normal circumstances the three-year-old son of GALILEO's début might not have been judged too harshly but it is clear that the owners, Qatar Racing, were thinking big as they had even left him in next week's Investec Derby.

 

HYDROGEN is in the capable hands of Newmarket trainer, Peter Chapple-Hyam, who saddled the colt's half-brother, the 2007 Derby winner, AUTHORIZED. Hence the ambitious speculations. Jamie Spencer did his best to get HYDROGEN going and the three-year-old seemed to be getting somewhere approaching two furlongs from home but the effort soon petered out.

 

David Redvers, racing manager for Qatar Racing, commented: "Obviously we would have loved him to have won, but it's all part of his education and he just got very tired at the end. He quickened well with the first smack, quickened again with the second smack and followed Frankie through, then got tired. I think all he does is gallop and in time he might step up to a mile and six and turn into a Cup-type horse if he proves good enough."

 

BETCHA BY GOLLY WOW!

Picking just one winner can be elusive enough but, incredibly, one lucky punter this week won £50,000 from just a £10 each-way treble. The horses that sent the Skybet customer laughing all the way to the bank were: PLAN AGAIN at 11/4 in the Daniel Thwaites Conditional Jockey's Handicap Hurdle at Cartmel; AREION, a 50/1 outsider in the (deep breath!) Goffs London Sale - Kempton-Breeze/Kinsington-Sale 16.06.14 Maiden Auction Stakes at Kempton and later at the same track BARNMORE, 25/1 shot in the Betdaq No Premium Charge Handicap.

 

It was certainly a lucky selection because the second winner, AREION had come nowhere in two previous starts and may have been spurred on by first-time blinkers.

 

Michael Shinners,Sky Bet's spokesman, said: "We congratulate the customer for an inspired each-way treble across the Cartmel and Kempton cards on Wednesday night. The first winner wasn't too much of a surprise at Cartmel but to add that with the 50/1 and 25/1 winners that book-ended the Kempton card was an incredible effort. It just goes to show that you can win a lot from a relatively small stake even on what looked a quiet evening's racing."

FRIDAY, 30th MAY 2014

 

FIRST FALL OF THE KING

The Anjou-Loire Challenge, one of the longest steeplechases in the world, yesterday proved to be the downfall of the Cheltenham cross-country chase winner and runner-up in the Grand National. Philip Hobbs-trained BALTHAZAR KING had his first-ever fall over fences. The ten-year-old son of KING'S THEATRE was on just his second outing in France since winning the Grand Cross Country De Craon - Crystal Cup in September.

 

The Minehead-based trainer commented: "The horse is all right and Richard Johnson is all right. He fell at the fifth-last, he was still going very well but it's one of those things - that's what the fences are there for. It's a tricky course, but probably less so than the one he won at in September. I would think he'll go back for that race (Grand Cross Country De Craon) and he won't run again before that - there's nothing for him."

 

DOWN UNDER THE WEATHER

Aidan O'Brien has certain anxieties about the prospect of soft ground at Epsom on Saturday and is clearly praying for blue skies ahead AUSTRALIA's run in the Derby. The three-year-old son of GALILEO has been the talk of the tipsters since his impressive close-run performance in the Qipco 2000 Guineas Stakes at Newmarket at the beginning of the month. The problem is that his four career start have been three on Good-to-Firm and one on Good. He has yet to be challenged by testing conditions.

 

The Ballydoyle trainer explained: "We wouldn't like the ground to be soft. He's a beautiful moving horse, everybody saw the class he showed at Newmarket. Obviously soft ground wouldn't be ideal, but we'll have to wait and see and hope it's not."

 

It has already been announced that the trainer's son, Joseph, is booked for the ride.

 

A HORSE , A HORSE, MY …

It's seven years since Frankie Dettori won the Derby on AUTHORIZED and he has a craving to do it again. He is so anxious to get a ride that he has offered his services to Aidan O'Brien, who has not yet finalised his riding plans for his four entries on tomorrow.

 

The jockey from Milan quipped: Of course I want to ride in the Derby. On Derby day I don't want to be going to Salisbury! This year, despite what the betting suggests, I think it's a wide-open race. The Derby is a completely different race. You can make a case for several of them.”

THURSDAY, 29h MAY 2014

 

KING RETURNS TO FRANCE

Ranked as the the world's longest steeplechase ( four miles and five furlongs ) the Prix Anjou-Loire Challenge at Le Lion d'Angers is a flat race that takes place on the River Oudon in north-western France. Trainer, Philip Hobbs, has decided to enter BALTHAZAR KING, who came second in this year's Grand National and the interesting thing is that the ten-year-old is currently the short-price favourite. What is more, the son of KING'S THEATRE seems to have raised the profile of this event to an even higher level.

 

The secretary of the pan-European Crystal Cup cross-country championship, Philippe Foucher said: ''Balthazar King is the best horse of his kind due to his adaptability. Garde Champetre, Chriseti and others were specialists but Balthazar King has won over ordinary fences at Cheltenham and came second in this year's Grand National. He won the Grand Cross du Craon in September and is obviously exceptional. We are honoured that he is taking part.''

 

The track takes some jumping but but the Somerset trainer is confident that his mount will take it in his stride just as he did at Aintree last month.: “He's fine, all good, and has settled in well. It's been the plan to come for this since last autumn, and afterwards I expect he will have a break until the Grand Cross Country De Craon which he won last September. Richard (Johnson) is really looking forward to it"

 

SANDOWN HOPES TO STALL

Racing officials at Sandown have got their fingers crossed that their top race, the Group 3 Cantor Fitzgerald Henry II Stakes will be started by the traditional stalls and not by flag this evening. With that in mind they are monitoring the ground conditions very carefully at the two-mile start which has been affected by the recent heavy rain. The official going at the moment is heavy (soft in places) on the round course and heavy on the sprint course after an inch-and-a- quarter of rain on Monday and Tuesday. The problem seems to be that, although the ground conditions at the two-mile start do not themselves pose any problems, it's another matter when it comes to the starting stalls.

 

As the Clerk of the Course, Andrew Cooper, explained: "At Sandown we have a 17-bay set of stalls and it is a big, heavy piece of kit. The ground is fine in that area - it is more the logistics of moving a big set of stalls before they come round again in that race. It is quite a tight area of ground and if we had ten runners - there are 12 declared - we could use a ten-bay set of stalls and have asked Racetech to bring one from Epsom in case it can be used."

 

LAMBE SPECIAL

It looks like Dermot Weld's PALE MIMOSA could be running in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot next month with a view to emulating RITE OF PASSAGE who won that esteemed event in 2010. The Curragh-based trainer also bagged that win for owner, Dr. Ronan Lambe and if he could do the same again with the five-year-old daughter of SINGSPIEL then that would crown a notable year for the good doctor, as his eight-year-old LORD WINDERMERE won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.

 

Dermot Weld commented:"I'm very happy with her. She came out of her Navan race very well and Ascot is the plan. I haven't decided whether she will take in the Saval Beg Stakes en route, but it does come a bit close to Ascot."

If PALE MIMOSA does run at Royal Ascot and does win the Gold Cup that would make a bit of history because she would be only the second mare to triumph in this race since INDIAN QUEEN in 1991. The Queen's five-year-old mare, ESTIMATE, did the honours last year.

WEDNESDAY, 28th MAY 2014

 

BIN AND GONE AND DONE IT!

It has been reported that one of the eight millionaire winners sharing last week's historic Scoop6 is Craig Brazier, who, it has been revealed, is a wheelie-bin operative. Craig Brazier has become one of Britain's biggest individual winners after scooping an amazing £1,342,599, the success of which all revolved around Alan King's CHATEZ winning the final leg at Haydock.

 

The 39-year-old from Mansfield asserts that he won't give up his day job but what if he wins an additional £5,481,763, which he could do if he gets lucky again next week-end and selects the victor in the bonus race! It seems the father-of-two, a fanatical fisherman, was on his way back from his local fishing-tackle shop where he had spent most of his money. On discovering that he still had a couple of quid left in his pocket, he decided to go into a Betfred shop to have a go at the Scoop6, which he had tried on two previous occasions without success.

 

The new millionaire commented: "I went home to watch the racing and started panicking after I got three out of three. I couldn't see the telly for the last leg because I was running up and down the room riding Chatez home. I went absolutely berserk when he won and I was still up at 4am wondering if it had really happened. I've always said I'd have a horse with Alan King if I had enough money. Now I might have two!"

 

A SITE FOR SORE EYES.

The contract for building a new grandstand at the racecourse that used to be known as Great Leighs has finally been agreed. Building works should start next week with a target date for completion set for the end of November.

 

The Chairman of the new Chelmsford City track, Joe Scanlon stated yesterday: “The place is looking great. The only thing outstanding is to build the grandstand and carry out some general repairs. Everything else is in place. When Great Leighs went bust, the temporary grandstand was snatched back. But the concrete pads that had been put in below it, those have been retained, so we can put steelworks straight on top of the concrete foundations and build up. Our stand will be able to hold 2,000 to 3,000 people and, unlike what was there before, it will have steppings in front and you’ll be able to watch from there and look down the whole of the home straight.”

 

Former Great Leighs had several unfinished projects and one of these was the unconventional grandstand, a temporary structure, which was situated on the inside of the circuit. It seems for practical reasons, as mentioned above, the proposed new Chelmsford City’s stand will have to be erected in the same place for the time being.

 

More important than re-siting the grandstand is the question of how many racing fixtures will be allotted in 2015. The British Horseracing Authority has already agreed in principal that there will be racing but has not yet approved a specific number. It is thought that the new owners are hoping for a total of about 40 race days a year but to achieve such a figure they will presumably have to bid against other tracks. If all the preparations are on time then there could be a few extra fixtures arranged in December, when, quite often, extra all-weather racing days are allocated to compensate for any turf meetings that are abandoned due to adverse weather conditions.

 

However, by far the greatest bureaucratic hurdle seems to have been scaled by the BHA's allowing Chelmsford City into the fixture process after it was satisfied last month that a sound business plan had been established. One of the main reasons for success this time around is that the site now has one owner, bookmaker Fred Done, whereas, before, any progress was stymied by the complication of having to deal with a group of owners.

 

TUESDAY, 27th MAY 2014

 

OSBORNE SAYS THAT TOAST COULD BE TAXED!

No, this is not some fiendish formula cooked up by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to raise revenue from our daily bread! It's another Osborne, trainer Jamie, warning that TOAST OF NEW YORK would find soft ground taxing and, therefore, might not participate in the Investec Derby. The three-year-old colt has been ear-marked for the Epsom Classic on June 7 after scoring in the three-quarters of a million pound UAE Derby at the end of March.

The Upper Lambourn trainer commented: "He's in good form and has been doing everything we ask of him well," said Osborne. One of my doubts would be him getting the trip, and if it is raining like this at Epsom and keeps doing so he won't run. In a way we're working back from next year's Dubai World Cup and I wouldn't want to risk him by running in a soft-ground Derby. He has won a Group Two and I would like him to win a Group One as a three-year-old. The obvious race to do that would be in Chicago in August for the Secretariat Stakes. I wouldn't be against going to the Breeders' Cup, which would be a nice preparation for Meydan."

 

FLUTTER FOR FIRST FRANKEL FOAL

Champion FRANKEL's first off-spring is ready to go to auction but not here in the UK but at the July 15th JRHA July Select Sale in Japan. The filly, just one of over two hundred for the auction, is out of GOODWOOD MARCH who is also the dam of the Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup winner at Sha Tin in March.

 

David Redvers, Qatar Bloodstock's adviser, said: "We went out to Japan last year and bought some foals and Sheikh Fahad decided to develop a project and send a number of mares out there. It looks very exciting and it will be interesting to see how it works out. She's a very nice foal and we hope she'll be well received. Being by Frankel, you'd have to be hopeful."

 

As expected, any foal from twice world champion FRANKEL is bound to cause quite a frisson among potential buyers at this year's series of foal sales. The unbeaten ten-time Group 1 winner has had a busy time his first season in his owner-breeder Khalid Abdullah's Banstead Manor Stud. He had to do the honours with, amongst others, 38 Group or Grade 1 winners and 26 dams of Group or Grade 1 winners.

 

GLORY OF ASCOT

It seems that Richard Hannon is still considering running OLYMPIC GLORY at Royal Ascot next month, even after the four-year-old's disappointing fourth place in the Group 1 Prix d'Ispahan at Longchamp on Sunday. As expected, the Wiltshire trainer attributes the poor performance to the extended trip of 9 furlongs, pointing out that the son of CHOISIR's previous successes were over a mile. He refuted, however, any suggestion that the race had come too soon after his victory in the JLT Lockinge Stakes on 17th May.

 

Richard Hannon commented: “Obviously, it was disappointing that Olympic Glory could not follow up his Lockinge win in France, but I don't go along with the theory that the race came too quick, nor that he does not like Longchamp. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but maybe we were being too optimistic in thinking that he wanted more than a mile, because he did not finish his race, which is not like him. We'll freshen him up, and he could still go to Royal Ascot, but we will see how he bounces back at home."

MONDAY, 26th MAY 2014

 

BLOOMING MARVELLOUS!

Ryan Moore gained his first victory in the Etihad Airways Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh yesterday aboard Aidan O'Brien-trained MARVELLOUS, thus also providing the Ballydoyle handler with his sixth win in this race. This was only the daughter of Galileo's third career outing in this Classic. Last time out, in March, the three-year-old filly languished a disappointing sixth in the Leopardstown 1,000 Guineas Trial Stakes, ceding victory to her stablemate, BRACELET.

 

It was a different story this time, however. MARVELLOUS seemed to hold all the cards and it was just a matter playing them at the right time, which she did when she surged three lengths clear in the final furlong, leaving the Olly Stevens-trained LIGHTNING THUNDER trailing in her wake. This is not to say that the three-year-old daughter of DUTCH ART ran a bad race. It's just that she was no match for the winner's final power thrust.

 

The trainer's son, Joseph, had had the pick of the rides and finally plumped for stable companion, PALACE. It turned out to be the wrong choice, however, as the running conditions changed between declaration time and the day of the contest and the ground was probably too soft for the FASTNET ROCK filly so she ended up back in fifth.

 

Aidan O'Brien commented about his winner: “She handled this sort of ground when she won her maiden at Navan last year. She then had the one run this year at Leopardstown and had a bit of a break after that as, like a lot of mine, she was coughing a bit. With Marvellous, the plan was to come here and then on to Epsom. You’d have to say she’d definitely get a mile and a quarter the way she ran to the line. She’s a nice, compact filly and I don’t think she’d have any problems handling Epsom.”

 

YES CIRRUS HE'S MY BABY!

After all the high hopes Richard Hannon's OLYMPIC GLORY could only manage fourth in the D'ispahan Stakes yesterday at Longchamp. The event had been billed as an Anglo-French duel but CIRRUS DES AIGLES turned it into a one-sided front-running victory under the talented steerage of Christophe Soumillon. The Corine Barande-Barbe-trained eight-year-old

came under a slight pressure from Freddie Head's ANODIN but any challenge was easily brushed aside and the eventual winner had sufficient in hand to ease down inside the final 100 yards.

 

OLYMPIC GLORY did rally a couple of furlongs or so from home but, used to shorter trips, he seemed to fade very quickly towards the end, probably also feeling the effects of his exertions eight days earlier when winning the Lockinge Stakes.

 

FLYING THE FLAG

Meanwhile back at the Curragh, not yet a year since the death of legendary trainer, Sir Henry Cecil, his presence was very much felt in the winner’s enclosure when NOBLE MISSION won the Tattersalls Gold Cup. It was an emotional occasion as it was Lady Jane Cecil's first Group One victory and she clearly battled against when explaining how important this victory was to her and all who remembered the great man at Warren Place, his Newmarket stable.

 

Lady cecil commented: “I just can’t believe it. It just shows that dreams can come true. Our big thing was to have a Group One, so that we could raise the flag for Henry.”

 

This was not just a figure of speech. There really is a Cecil family flag, which bears the coat of arms of the Scottish aristocrats family. Sir Henry Cecil used to to fly it from a flagpole every time he trained a Group One winner and now it was the turn of his successors to hoist it again.

 

SUNDAY, 25th MAY 2014

KING TAKES THE CROWN, MAN!

Trainer, John Gosden, is said to have been “very worried” about the testing ground at the Curragh yesterday when he saddled KINGMAN in the Irish 2,000 Guineas. His fears proved to be groundless (no pun intended!), however, as the three-year-old proudly lived up to his Sire's name, INVINCIBLE SPIRIT, beating his rivals to the post by five lengths, and these included the likes of Richard Hannon's SHIFTING POWER, with the formidable Richard Hughes aboard.

 

The irony is that last time out, three weeks ago, when KINGMAN came second in the Newmarket Classic, the Qipco 2000 Guineas Stakes the Clarehaven Stables trainer prayed for rain whereas this time around he was afraid his praying had been too effective and produced too much of it, with the danger of making the ground Soft to Heavy” in the straight. As any in-the-know racing enthusiast realises, such extreme conditions are likely to favour horses who specialise in these types of conditions and, what is more, can quickly sap the stamina of most unaccustomed favourite.

 

Indeed as the race developed, it started to look as if the contest was never going to be KINGMAN's anyway, having been drawn against the inside rail but, but then the action shifted over to the stands’ side and Cambridge-born jockey, James Doyle, was given an offer he couldn't refuse, with a faultless run up the middle of the track.

 

Of course, the task was made somewhat easier for KINGMAN, as the his biggest threat was always going to be Aidan O'Brien's WAR COMMAND but the latter was withdrawn earlier in the day because of the ground conditions. That, however, still left four other runners fielded by Ireland’s champion trainer - JOHANN STRAUSS, GREAT WHITE EAGLE, MICHAELMAS and FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH.

 

Confronted by such an array of equine expertise no-one could blame any jockey for getting the Ballydoyle blues. In fact, one English-based trainer at the Curragh last year described the experience as “entering the lion’s den”. James Doyle confessed to having such apprehensions but, ultimately, his fears, too, proved unnecessary and “straightforward” was the word he used to describe his first Classic success.

 

In Khalid Abdullah's retained jockey's own words: “I couldn’t have asked for the race to go any better. Kingman got into a nice rhythm, a lovely rhythm and when I let him down just inside the furlong pole, he really quickened up,” he said.

 

Trainer John Gosden was full of praise for the winning jockey: “I said, sit chilly, sit quiet, wait, wait, wait, because they’ll go strong enough and this mile takes some getting in these conditions. And he rode him beautifully”

 

WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE?

As of yesterday, this country's number of millionaires has increased by eight as an octet of lucky punters won £1.3 million each in the Scoop6 long-awaited prize which, after 12 weeks of roll-over, with countless heart-rending near-misses has become the biggest Scoop6 pot in history. The winning horse that made all this happen was Alan King's CHATEZ in the Betfred Mobile Casino Silver Bowl Stakes at Haydock, resulting in the lucky 8 sharing the the huge jackpot of £10,740,797. They will all have another chance to add to this sum next week with the bonus fund currently set at £5,481,763.

 

JOHNNY'S THE CAT'S WHISKERS

Johnny Murtagh, who, fans will never forget, rode Cheltenham Champion, KAYF ARAMIS, to that staggering 13-length victory in the theripleycollection.com Stakes at York in May 2009, is now going from strength in his new career as a trainer. Yesterday at the Curragh his 20/1 shot, PURR ALONG, bagged a Group Three prize on her first time out in this category when winning the Lanwades Stud Stakes by half-a-length.

 

Not that it was a foregone conclusion until close in the final stages as there were a few rivals in with a chance. Twice British champion jockey, Jamie Spencer, however, bided his time, surging into the lead inside the final furlong with strong-travelling five-year-old mare, FIESOLANA, doing all she could but powerless to stop the winner's progress, although she did keep on strongly to contain the lead to half a length.

 

The conquering County Meath trainer commented afterwards: "We've always thought a lot of her, she came with a big reputation. She was ready to run earlier in the year and was going really well in the spring. She had a few little hold-ups and we had to be patient and it paid off. Jamie gave her a lovely ride. We didn't know if she would handle the ground, but we knew she handled soft as she worked well on it the other day.

 

SATURDAY, 24th MAY 2014

 

LIKE FATHER LIKE SON

Richard Hannon's father was always successful at Goodwood and it looks as though the son, who has taken over the licence, has inherited similar lucky genes, as he ended the day with a double. He got off to a flying start in the first race of the day, the Spitfire Maiden Auction Stakes with two-year-old, 6/4 favourite, PARSLEY who, given a strong ride by stable jockey, Richard Hughes, was an impressive three-and-a-quarter lengths clear at the post.

 

Richard Hannon commented afterwards: "We'll probably try and find a nice novice race for her now. She improved for her first run, she was unlucky not to win that day so it's nice she's got her head in front and we can plan our way gently now.”

 

The two Richards were back in the winner's enclosure after the second race, the Reheat Handicap, when four-year-old RED REFRACTION mugged Amanda Perrett's CZECH IT OUT on the line to take the honours by a short head.

The Collingbourne Ducis couple were denied the treble, however, when BARLEY MOW, who had been making good progress until two furlongs out, was overhauled by practically the rest of the field and just seemed to run out of steam.

 

SCOOP6 CRAZY, SCOOP6 MAD!

Today's the day when you could win over £15million for a £2 bet. This is the biggest betting prize that's ever been offered in British racing. All you have to do is pick the winners of six selected races, followed by a further Bonus contest next week. This contest has been running for 12 weeks without a winner. All the big bookmakers and the betting exchanges will take the bet. A single line where you pick one horse in each race costs £2 but you can also draw up perms which make more than one selection per race. And it's still possible to win some money even if your selections lose, as long as they finish in the frame.

 

The size of the prize money is greater than potential winnings in the National Lottery so betting shops all over the country are expecting a surge of punters. Scoop6, however, is not a straightforward task as Betfred, who own Totesport, the organisers, have not made it so easy to win. There will be eighty-nine runners lining up in the six selected races, which consist of three handicaps at Haydock, two at Catterick and one at Goodwood.

 

Fred Done, Chief Executive of Betfred commented: ‘The bet is now bigger than the National Lottery and a real-life changing sum, it’s the reason the bet was first introduced. I want the Scoop6 to make millionaires.’

 

ON COURSE FOR IMPROVEMENT

As a result of last Tuesday's abandoning of racing at Warwick after the first two events (as reported in RACING NEWS on Wednesday), six scheduled Flat fixtures between June and September will be changed to two all-sprint cards on a re-configured track and four others will transfer to Nottingham.

These are some of the precautionary measures proposed after jockeys expressed their concern about the course. The British Horseracing Authority has also approved the track realignment at the point where the sprint course meets the home straight. It has also been agreed that the course will be watered so that each fixture starts on ground no faster than good. The realignment of the track will be tested before racing in July to make sure that all participants have confidence in the arrangements.

FRIDAY, 23rd MAY 2014

 

ALL THAT GLITTERS IS GOLDIE

Racing was full of spirit at Ayr yesterday. There were the Whyte and Mackay, Jack Daniels, Glenfiddich and Smirnoff Handicaps mixed, as desired, with the Coca Cola Stakes or Magners Cider Handicap.

 

One trainer was determined to continue his previous day's taste of success and this was Jim Goldie who notched up a 359/1 treble. After saddling two winners on Wednesday, the Renfrewshire-based trainer was soon back in the winner's enclosure with the lightly raced CLASSY ANNE who claimed the Whyte & Mackay Handicap under the talented riding of Jack Garrity. Half-an-hour later the seventeen-year-old jockey from Nawton, near Helmsley had another spirited success in the Jack Daniels Handicap, when he rode SLEEPER CLASS to a narrow victory (a head) making up for the three-year-old filly's disappointing run last time out at Musselburgh.

 

It was left to Jim Goldie's stable jockey, Graham Lee, to score the treble, partnering ANOTHER FOR JOE (part-owned by the trainer) to a convincing six-length triumph in the Magners Cider Handicap (Qualifier For The 15,000 Betfair Scottish Mile Series Final).

 

Jim Goldie is sending seven runners to Ayr today so there could be more celebrations in the Uplawnmoor yard.

 

NOT INTENT ON FLAT

In case you were wondering, Nicky Henderson's MY TENT OR YOURS will not be running on the Flat. That comes straight from his trainer's mouth. This possibility has been ruled out because Nicky Henderson believes it would not be beneficial for his (the horse's!) jumping career in the long-term. This speculation started after the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March when the seven-year-old seemed not too comfortable with the race and pulled strongly most of the time. The Lambourn-based trainer remarked afterwards that he might try to persuade the owner, Jim McManus to consider running him at Royal Ascot.

 

Subsequently the Seven Barrows assured everyone that it was just a joke when commenting:

"He's in the field as we speak and he definitely won't be running on the Flat. It would certainly be very interesting. He has plenty of speed and I have no doubt he'd be very good at it, but it wouldn't be the right thing to do. We have enough of a job trying to get him to relax as it is and I'm trying to win a Champion Hurdle or an Arkle with him. Training him to run on the Flat wouldn't help us in that respect."

 

AM I RIGHT OR AM I RIGHT!

Charlie Appleby, who trains 150 horses for the Godolphin operation at Moulton Paddocks in Newmarket has been obliged to defend his recent demotion of Mickaël Barzalona from the posion of stable jockey. He said yesterday that the results over the season will establish whether he made the right decision to share rides between a pool of leading jockeys.

 

The Godolphin trainer commented: “Traditionally it [a stable jockey] is what’s done and there are certainly pluses to it, they come in and get to know the horses and go on from there. But the pool of jockeys I’m currently using are all part of the team. I’m not just using anybody, I’m using the best guys around who I feel will suit the horses. Also the likes of Ryan [Moore], who I’ve used on a couple of occasions now, and Richard [Hughes], the experience they bring to the table is outside of the yard anyway. When they jump on a two-year-old first time out, they look after them and give you good feedback after the race.”

Charlie Appleby pointed out that Mickaël Barzalona had accepted the change to his role at Moulton Paddocks, and remains committed to the Godolphin stable.

 

THURSDAY, 22nd MAY 2014

 

OLYMPIC GOES FOR GLORY

The scene - Longchamp on Sunday: the race - the Prix d'Ispahan; key contestants - OLYMPIC GLORY and CIRRUS DES AIGLES.

 

Trainer Richard Hannon seems keen to get his four-year-old son of CHOISIR, owned by Al Shaqab Racing, quickly back on the track after his victory in the JLT Lockinge Stakes at Newbury five days ago. He has thereby thrown down the gauntlet to the Corine Barande-Barbe-trained CIRRUS DES AIGLES, who already caused quite a stir in April at the same course by mugging Mme. Criquette Head-Maarek's TREVE on the line in the Prix Ganay.

Connections realise that a week is a bit soon for another race but, it seems, they are all are prepared to take a calculated risk with last season's Queen Elizabeth II champion.

 

Harry Herbert, Al Shaqab Racing's racing advisor, commented: "It's unusual, obviously, but I think this is a slightly unusual horse in that he is hardened, tough and loves his racing. As long as Richard Hannon is happy, we feel like the horse is ready to go again."

 

For the competition Chantilly-based Mme. Corine Barande-Barbe stated; “Cirrus Des Aigles has lost none of his sparkle as an eight-year-old. He will run in the D'Ispahan on Sunday. Whether he will then go to Epsom (for the Coronation Cup) I'm not sure, we will leave the door open. He has been second in this race twice in the past, but this one we will win!"

 

SINS OF THE FATHER?

The BHA has rejected an application for a training licence from Tim Jarvis, who was hoping to take over his father's business next week. Alan Jarvis, his father, is about to lose his permission to train. The BHA came to a decision in March that he was not a suitable person to hold a licence and his appeal against this decision was dismissed last week. Consequently Alan Jarvis has applied for his temporary licence to be extended, as it runs out on May 25. This is to give his son time to make his appeal.

 

The cause of all this upset is that Alan Jarvis, who started as a trainer over forty years ago, was declared bankrupt for the second time last September because of a debt of £868,366 owed to Doncaster Bloodstock Sales Ltd. It was reported last week that the BHA appeal board stated that Alan Jarvis had acted with a "serious commercial lack of integrity". The licensing committee went further with their criticism, saying that the trainer's behaviour was "not befitting somebody with the privilege of holding a trainer's licence. Moreover, the committee has been struck by Mr Jarvis's attitude, expressed by himself and through his counsel. He has shown no understanding that anything he did was improper. Indeed, his primary stance has been to blame DBS for allowing him the credit, and then pursuing him for it.”

 

A BHA spokesman added yesterday: "Having considered the application and surrounding relevant factors, the BHA has turned down Tim Jarvis’s application for a trainer’s licence. Tim Jarvis has been notified of this and, having been informed that he may do so, has exercised his right to seek a reassessment of his application by the Licensing Committee. A date for this reassessment will be confirmed in due course."

 

It seems the BHA is concerned that, if Tim Jarvis got a licence, his father could carry on training at the yard as before.

 

WEDNESDAY, 21st MAY 2014

GROUNDS FOR CANCELLATION

The condition of the track two-and-a-half furlongs from the winning post worried jockeys so much that last night's fixture at Warwick was abandoned after the first two races. ARTFUL LADY, trained by George Margarson, sadly suffered a fatal fall at this spot. Stewards, jockeys and trainers dutifully inspected the area and after a certain amount of remedial work, carried out by the ground staff, it was decided that it was safe to continue the evening's racing. The second race was run considerably delayed but when all the participating jockeys still expressed their dissatisfaction with the state of the ground, for safety reasons, the officials had no option but to cancel the five remaining races on the card.

 

Richard Westropp, who is Warwick's stipendiary steward made the following statement: "We have abandoned the meeting due to the jockeys being concerned about the safety of the track following a heavy shower before and during the first race."

 

This comment clearly didn't satisfy jockey, Jim Crowley, winner of the first two races on CLIMAXFORTACKLE and GOLD WALTZ, as he was reported as saying: "It has happened too many times now - they need to sort out the camber. They have done it at other courses like Goodwood, so why not Warwick? It's a tight bend on fast ground and they mow the grass very short and then it rains. It's a recipe for disaster - why do you think Ryan Moore will not ride here?"

 

Huw Williams, General Manager, after later releasing a statement that racegoers would given a 50% of their entrance fee Commented: “We are very disappointed racing has had to be abandoned and very sorry for all those at Warwick today. Following heavy rain immediately before racing and after the fall of Artful Lady on the six-furlong chute in the first race, an inspection was carried out by the raceday stewards. In agreement with the jockeys, we put sand down on the track in preparation for the following races on the six-furlong chute. While the second race went ahead without incident, the jockeys did not feel confident to continue and the stewards had no option other than abandon the meeting after two races.”

 

BERRY GOOD WORK

It's hard to believe but the Injured Jockeys Fund (IJF) is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and deservedly is to receive a financial shot in the arm in the form of a new fundraising initiative.

 

Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the fifth son of former Emir of Qatar, has selected 20 horses from his Al Shaqab stables and will donate any prize-money won this season to the £3.1million target fund for the IJF’s 2nd rehabilitation centre, Jack Berry House, which is due to open in Yorkshire coming November.

 

As mentioned last Saturday, the £120,000 prize money from OLYMPIC GLORY's success in the Group One JLT Lockinge Stakes at Newbury was the first generous donation to the fund, although the Richard Hannon-trained four-year-old is not one of the so-called “Super 20”.

 

Harry Herbert, racing advisor for Al Shaqab commented: “Sheikh Joaan wants to support the fantastic work Jack Berry and the IJF are doing all over the country, and Jack Berry House is the perfect vehicle.”

 

Retired racehorse trainer Jack Berry is a man on a mission. The former racehorse trainer, has been involved with the Injured Jockeys Fund (IJF) since its formation in 1964. It was due to his vision that the first residential and rehabilitation centre, Oaksey House, in Lambourn, came into being. The current project is named Jack Berry House in his honour.

 

So far £50,000 prize-money has been received from four of the selected horses

 

TUESDAY, 20th MAY 2014

 

DON'T CRY FOR M. BARZALONA!

Mickaël Barzalona will no longer be number one for Godolphin and will have to share rides with other jockeys so announced trainer, Charlie Appleby, yesterday.

 

For keen racing fans it had probably not gone without notice that the 22-year-old French-born jockey, winner of the 2011 Derby on John Magnier's POUR MOI, has not partnered some of Godolphin's runners lately. The main beneficiaries from this change will be the likes of William Buick and Martin Lane. Funnily enough, fellow Godolphin trainer, Saeed bin Suroor, took a similar action recently at his yard which now makes it possible for him to call on the services of Kieren Fallon as well as Silvestre de Sousa.

 

Trainer, Charlie Appleby explained: "Their contracts [Barzalona and De Sousa] are that we can ask them to ride any horse under the Godolphin banner. I have first choice, but I'm also allowed to use any jockey in the country. It's nothing new, it's been right from the start of the season. William Buick and Martin Lane have been riding out for me, and I'm just moving the rides around and putting the jockeys to the horses as I see fit."

 

The Moulton Paddocks trainer stressed : "Mickaël was in on Saturday morning galloping horses. There's no fall-out. Mickaël is aware of the situation. I can't have all those jockeys riding out and not be giving them rides. Ahmed (Ajtebi) rides out for me now and he will be getting rides too. I've never stated that I've got a first jockey. Mickaël rides for the stable, but we've opened the pool up a little bit bigger by allowing jockeys to come in and ride out. Not every jockey gets on with every horse and I just feel it allows us as trainers to say that if I feel William Buick, Martin Lane, Ryan Moore or whoever will suit a particular horse, I can put him up. From my point of view and the stable's point of view, it gives me a lot more cards to play with.”

 

LEAD KINDLY LIGHT

Aidan O'Brien' LEADING LIGHT came back into assertive action yesterday at Navan when he won the Coolmore Vintage Crop Stakes and thereby laid down his credentials for the Royal Ascot Gold Cup. The four-year-old son of MONJEU triumphed in the Ladbrokes St Leger Stakes at Doncaster last September but his follow-up in October at Longchamps is best forgotten as it was a disappointing, to say the least. (12th. out of 17!) This time under the talented control of the trainer's son, Joseph, he maintained closer order on the tail of the front-running ROYAL DIAMOND about half-a -mile from the post. The eight-year-old son of KING'S BEST was determined to stick to the far rail so Joseph O'Brien steered his mount down the middle accompanied by PALE MIMOSA. Then it was just a matter of asking the right question and the evens-favourite surged well into the clear in the final 200 yards and took the event by three lengths.

 

The winning Ballydoyle trainer commented: "You'd have to be very happy with him, you couldn't be happier really. We haven't seen the bottom of him yet, at the end of two miles at Ascot last year (Queen's Vase) he didn't seem to be stopping so we will look forward to that (Gold Cup) and he could run in the Saval Beg before that."

 

After that victory, expectedly, bookmakers, Coral and Ladbrokes, made LEADING LIGHT the 2/1 favourite for the Ascot attraction.

 

MONDAY, 19th MAY 2014

 

TOO LONG A RUN

Cheltenham Gold Cup and King George VI Chase winner, LONG RUN, failed to add the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris to his list of triumphs at Auteuil yesterday. The nine-year-old returned to his homeland for the first time since winning the Prix Maurice Gillois Grand Steeple-Chase 4 Ans (Chase) (Grade 1) in November, 2009. Trainer, Nicky Henderson ascribed the lack of success to the effects of a long tiring season. As mentioned on Saturday, after twenty consecutive appearances aboard the son of CADOUDAL his regular jockey, Sam Waley-Cohen, was unable to ride on this occasion, as the race was part of the very popular ’Quinte’ bet, in which, according to French rules, amateurs are not allowed to ride. Therefore Ruby Walsh partnered the 4/1 favourite for the first time and, from the off, the duo stayed in a handy position close behind the leaders, jumping well for most of the three-mile-six-furlong trip. Down the back straight, however, all did not seem to be going well and, although Ruby Walsh seemed to be doing all the right things, his mount faded quite quickly before the home turn and finished ninth out of ten finishers.

 

Trainer, Nicky Henderson commented afterwards: “He’s a bit heat exhausted and dehydrated, but other than that he’s fine. It’s a very hot day. He travelled and jumped great for a long way, but Ruby said he ran like a horse who hadn’t taken all the travelling and I think that’s the case. It’s a race we could have probably done with earlier in the season rather than at the end of a long season. He’ll have a nice, long holiday now.”

 

WHAT KATIE DID

Ruby Walsh was in for another defeat two races later in the Prix La Barka Hurdle but this time by his sister, Katie, who rode Willie Mullins' THOUSAND STARS to his fourth victory at this track. The ten-year-old was well up with the pace from the off and took the lead before the home turn. A real ding-dong of a battle ensued when LA GRAND DUCE mounted a strong challenge after the last flight and the two contenders galloped virtually inseparably over the line. However, the photo showed that THOUSAND STARS got it by shortest of distances – a nose. Brother Ruby, on the favourite, DIAKALI, made a powerful dash for the post and finished third, one-and-a-quarter lengths behind his sister.

 

A delighted Willie Mullins said about his winning grey: "He's an extraordinary horse and I thought Katie gave him a fantastic ride. Hopefully he'll be back in three weeks' time for another crack at the Grande Course De Haies D'Auteuil (French Champion Hurdle). Diakali ran on well and probably didn't jump as well as he can. Hopefully he can improve his jumping and he'll come back here for the big one as well.”

 

SHUTTING UP SHOP

First William Hill then Ladbrokes and now Coral is to close some of its betting shops, accusing recent Government changes concerning gaming machines for bringing this about. Coral were actually just repeating the comments made recently by competitors which stated that, despite voluntarily adopting considerable measures to deal with problem gambling, by, for instance, introducing the ABB Code (Association of British Bookmakers Code For Responsible Gambling and Player Protection), in particular, the government “has continued to react to scaremongering and misleading information about the impact of FOBTs (Fixed Odds betting Terminals) on problem gambling”.

 

SUNDAY, 18th MAY 2014

 

JOCKEY'S OLYMPIC SUCCESS

Yesterday's JLT Lockinge Stakes at Newbury was a dream result for the popular 43-year-old jockey from Milan. Frankie Dettori achieved his 200th Group One success of his career and his fourth success in this contest, by riding the Richard Hannon-trained OLYMPIC GLORY to an impressive win in this 8-strong field.

 

MONTIRIDGE and TOP NOTCH TONTO were allowed to make the running in the early stages whilst Frankie Dettori patiently positioned the four-year-old son of CHOISIR and waiting for his moment which he negotiated by running very wide over the last furlong. Then he got an immediate rsponse when he signalled the 11/8 favourite to make tracks and was soon well clear with a winning distance of two-and-a-quarter lengths.

 

OLYMPIC GLORY won the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Qipco British Champions Day in October but his last running was a disappointing eighth in the Breeders' Cup Mile in Santa Anita Trainer, Richard Hannon admitted: "I felt some pressure today, after the disappointment of the Breeders' Cup, but to see him travel and win like that is hugely encouraging. He doesn't need soft ground, but he goes on a softer surface as well, which is very encouraging.

 

Winning jockey, Frankie Dettori commented: "I was thinking there would be no pace and it would be complicated, but it was just as easy as riding work. He quickened like a true champion. His form is rock-solid and he goes on any ground. He's a great ride, has a great kick and is a jockey's dream. I was on the best horse and I could go wherever I wanted."

 

Owner, Sheikh Joaan Al Thani generously donated his prize money to Jack Berry House, the Injured Jockeys Fund's second rehabilitation centre. It has already been announced that this season's winnings from twenty the Sheikh's horses will go to the fund to help it on its way to raising £3.1 million for the new building.

 

WINNING NEWS ON FRONT PAGE

Again a 20/1 outsider confounded many a Scoop6 ticket holder's dreams of becoming a millionaire ten times over. The Joe Breen And Sarah Morris Memorial Handicap was won by FRONT PAGE NEWS with Freddie Tylicki aboard.

 

After a disappointing appearance last time out at Leicester last month, when she came last, the four-year-old daughter of ASSERTIVE certainly seemed determined to live up to her sire's name. The Rowley Mile seemed to particularly suit her as she travelled smoothly along the stands rail following the long-time leader ZAITSEVG. At about one furlong from home the aptly named SHEIKH THE REINS looked quite a threat but eventually FRONT PAGE NEWS revealed a quick turn of foot and went on to win by two lengths.

 

The winning trainer, Robert Eddery, said: "I probably started her a bit early in the season and she didn't run any sort of race at Leicester. But on last season's third at Newbury she probably had the beating of these. She loves fast ground and is a Summer filly who comes and goes quickly."

 

SCOOP6 ON ITS LAST LEGS !

It did seem seem possible, however, that £6.8 million might soon be added to the bank account of one Scoop6 punter yesterday. As on so many occasions before, however, the selection for the last leg proved his or her downfall. Six-year-old ESCAPE TO GLORY came a close second (well one-and-a-quarter lengths adrift) in the Marion Gibson Brown Memorial Handicap at Thirsk.

That means that the bet will roll over for the 12th week when the winning pot is predicted to be £15 million.

SATURDAY, 17th MAY 2014

 

A FAMILY AFFAIR

Owner/breeder, Robert Waley-Cohen, has never made any secret of the fact that one race he really wants to win is the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris and, ideally, with his son, Sam, in the saddle. Sam Waley-Cohen, Cheltenham Gold Cup and King George VI Chase winner on his father's LONG RUN, is not allowed to participate in that race at Auteuil, however, because amateurs are not allowed to ride in 'Quinte' races (explanation in yesterday's blog). Never say die, however. Into the breach rides Ruby Walsh, who is over there to ride for Willie Mullins. He was supposed to be aboard GITANE DU BERAIS but he can't make the weight and that ride goes to Jacques Ricou.

 

Not to be left out, another member of the Walsh family will be joining her brother at the hippodrome, as the French call it. Katie Walsh rides the François Nicolle-trained UNZING in the first race of the day for owner Sue Bramall. She will also be seen later aboard Willie Mullins' THOUSAND STARS where maybe fascinating family rivalry will come into play as she will be racing against big brother, Ruby, hoping to steer stable-mate and current favourite, DIAKALI to victory.

 

GOSPEL ON SONG

The Sky Bet Yorkshire Cup was won yesterday by the lightly-raced GOSPEL CHOIR, ridden by Ryan Moore. The five-year-old has had his problems over the years but after bagging the Qatar Bloodstock Jockey Club Stakes at Mewmarket in May, he revealed a renewed confidence. There was a slight question mark over his stamina for the mile-and-three-quarter trip but he acquitted himself admirably and emphatically, easily beating off the last-minute assault by Marco Botti's TAC DE BOISTRON by a neck. A notable third was Alan King's TIGER CLIFF, last season's Ebor winner.

 

The early pace was set by Richard Fahey's GLEN'S DIAMOND but the six-year-old son of INTIKHAB didn't seem as comfortable with his front-line job as when he was successful in this Group Two event last year. So, when the group turned for home, there were fewer than a dozen lengths separating them. All Ryan Moore then had to do was bring his mount into contention on the stands' side of the group and rely on the son of GALILEO's stamina to get the job done.

 

The winning trainer, Sir Michael Stoute, celebrating a quickfire double after success of ARAB SPRING in the previous race commented: "The [good] ground is the key to him. He's a versatile horse as he showed when finishing fourth in the Earl of Sefton first time out this season. He's a very admirable, competitive horse, he sticks his neck out and doesn't like to get beaten. Ryan had doubts about the trip and he gave him a very good ride. That was a very good horse he's beaten, albeit he was getting 4lb from him. What's very important to him is the ground, he doesn't want bad ground."

 

FRIDAY, 16th MAY 2014

 

THE FRENCH HAVE A WORD FOR IT – AMATEUR!

It seems there might be an obstacle (not a fence!) to LONG RUN's competing in France on Sunday. The trainer, Robert Waley-Cohen, doesn't have a problem. He's already said that it is “all systems go” for the nine-year-old son of CADOUDAL to have a crack at the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris, France's version of the Gold Cup but, at the same time, warns that he could be withdrawn. The difficulty arises because France Galop, France's governing body of flat and steeplechase horse racing, has provisionally nominated this race as part of the main Quinte bet - a system of forecast betting, selecting the first five horses – sort of a Scoop5 but for the one race. The problem arises because under the current rules, ironically to be reviewed next month, amateurs are not permitted to ride in Quinte races and, of course, Sam Waley-Cohen is an amateur, albeit a highly talented and successful one.

 

Trainer, Robert Waley-Cohen, Sam's father, commented: "I think there may be an element of discretion as to whether they make it the Quinte race and of course they are taking a chance if there are 13 or 14 runners and then Long Run isn't declared. (Generally fourteen 14 runners is the minimum for the Quinte, although race officials do have some latitude and could decide to go ahead with 13 runners.) I don't say he definitely will [be scratched] but there is a distinct possibility. Sam is the only jockey who has ridden him for five years and he has won four Grade 1s on him. I have been warning them over the last year that this is going to be an issue. Just because Sam chooses not to be paid isn't a reflection of his ability."

 

If Long Run does participate then he will be attempting to join an elite small number of horses who have won both the Grand Steeple-Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup – one notable winner THE FELLOW (1991 and 1994 respectively)

 

BARRAGE OF SIGHS

One could almost feel the rush of air across the country yesterday afternoon as bookmakers everywhere breathed a sigh of relief when the odds-on favourite, TRUE STORY, didn't win the Betfred Dante Stakes.

 

The early stages of the contest were dominated by the front-running outsider, ODEON, and Ryan Moore, aboard THE GREY GATSBY, was content with that situation, making sure that he kept his mount handy to lay down a challenge as the field of six began to take closer order approaching the final three furlongs.

 

Frankie Dettori, on one of the market leaders, BUNKER, was the first to go for it one furlong out but Richard Hannon's three-year-old soon tired and drifted back whilst Kieren Fallon worked hard on TRUE STORY on the inside rail. As they entered the final furlong, THE GREY GATSBY began to veer sharply across the track, forcing a few of his rivals to go wide. Ryan Moore managed to gain control of the situation, however, straightened him up and went on to claim victory, three-quarters of a length ahead of Peter Chapple-Hyam’s AROD.

 

There was the expected stewards enquiry but, after a detailed analysis of the race, the Kevin Ryan-trained three-year-old was allowed to keep the race.

 

Sadly, trainer Saaed bin Suroor's great hope, TRUE STORY, was another three-quarters of a length behind in third place.

 

THURSDAY, 15th MAY 2014

 

ENTENTE NOT TOO CORDIALE

Derby day, is too good to miss. Someone who certainly thinks so is the Queen. She and the Duke of Edinburgh will be in France for three days at the personal invitation of President Francois Hollande to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day. The trip also includes a visit to the Elysée Palace on the morning of Saturday June 7, Derby Day but Her Majesty has no intention of missing one of her favourite racing events of the year. It is reported that plans have been made for a helicopter to fly the Queen back to Windsor and from where she will go on to Epsom.

 

Unfortunately the Queen will not be back in time for the traditional royal car procession along the Epsom home straight but but she is expected to get there in good time for the £1.3million Derby which is due to run at 4 o'clock.

 

Her Majesty's passion for this race is even more remarkable, because, apart from the considerable efforts she is making to be there, she may not now even have an entry in the Investec Oaks, due to the fact that her three-year-old filly, SHAMA performed so disappointingly (came 8th out of 9!) in the Musidora Stakes at York yesterday.

 

 

CALL ME MADAME

And the horse that put that royal runner in the shade was two-time winner, MADAME CHIANG, ridden by Kieren Fallon and trained by David Simcock. The veteran jockey won this contest by one-and-a-quarter lengths, ahead of runner-up LILY RULES and REGARDEZ.

 

Kieren Fallon who rode NIGHT OF THUNDER to victory in the 2,000 Guineas will be aboard Saaed bin Suroor's TRUE STORY (mentioned yesterday) in the Dante Stakes at York today.

 

The Musidora Stakes is regarded as a trial for the Oaks at Epsom on 6 June and that is why, it is believed, the Queen's SHAMA (mentioned above) will not be competing. Trainer, David Simcock also let it be known that MADAME CHIANG would not run if the ground were firm.

 

A PRELUDE TO SUCCESS

Someone else who could be praying for rain is leading German trainer, Andreas Wöhler, who has CHOPIN running in the JLT Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on Saturday. The four-year-old, owned by Qatar Racing Limited, came nowhere in last year's Epsom Derby or even later at Royal Ascot, but, the fact that his performance has improved of late, particularly in the Wettenleip Fruhjahrsmeile (Wettenleip Spring Mile) at Dusseldorf last month has encouraged his Ravensberger trainer to bring him back to the to the Berkshire track.

 

As Andreas Wöhler commented: "The dry forecast will suit others more than us, and while we wouldn't mind some more rain, we're happy to take our chance after supplementing him. It is a competitive race but I bring horses to Britain when it is the right opportunity for the right horse. We're looking forward to it.”

 

WEDNESDAY, 14th MAY 2014

 

RACE AGAINST TIME

Forget the competition! ESTIMATE, the Queen's horse, has a race against time if she is to be in a position to defend her Ascot Gold Cup crown next month. The five-year-old, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, has been off the track since only managing seventh place in the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot in October. To be fair, the result was so close that she was only three lengths behind the winner. But the daughter of MONSUN still has a lot to do if she is to ready for the Royal meeting.

 

The Queen's racing advisor, John Warren, explained: "She had a slow start this spring so she's been a bit off the pace and behind target a little bit. Sir Michael has her well on target and back on track now. Obviously time is running close, but that (the Gold Cup) is her aim and objective and hopefully she'll be there on the big day. She came home to Sandringham in the winter and fillies can be different each spring. The next three weeks will be crucial and Sir Michael will just be building her work up and hopefully he'll get her there in one piece."

 

IMPROVEMENTS ON TRACK

The redevelopment of York's new pre-parade ring in time for this season has won approval from at least one top trainer - Richard Fahey whose stables are near enough to make him a local. The Malton-based trainer went on a visit prior to this week's racing and was able to inspect the new pre-parade ring as well as the newly-built saddling boxes and vets facilities.

 

He had this to say: “It’s marvellous. Couldn’t be better. All we need now is some winners here!”

 

The three-day Dante Festival meeting kicks off today and there is no doubt that racegoers and racing professionals, alike, will appreciate the improvements introduced in the first phase of the Northern End Development Project. The new pre-parade ring forms a kind of hourglass shape alongside the main Parade Ring, a favourite location for retired Cheltenham champion, KAYF ARAMIS, and must be about 25% larger in circumference.

 

The farriers' box is now situated in the top left corner and a useful stock box which will be used by vets to tether horses as they are assessed and treated. There is another large treatment room, next to the vet's office. A trainers' room is located at the top right corner, providing office space with access to the internet and a screen where they can follow the progress of one of their horses running elsewhere.

Work is already progressing on a new weighing room next to the pre-parade Ring and should be ready in time for next year's Dante Festival.

The racing public has not been left out of these future benefits. It is planned to replace the existing Moët Pavilion with a completely new complex, consisting of a roof terrace overlooking the Parade Ring and the track.

 

THE STORY SO FAR

Thursday's Dante Stakes at York should see Saeed bin Suroor's TRUE STORY making public his Derby claims but there are still worries about the prevailing soft ground. The forecast is drying conditions from Wednesday morning and that has encouraged the Godolphin trainer to go for it.

 

Sheikh Mohammed's trainer cautiously commented, however: "We will wait until Thursday and decide then. They tell me it is drying there and it will help. They are nice horses in the race and it will be tough. "He is stepping up from a Listed to a Group Two, so we will see how good he is."

He revealed an interesting fact that, early in their juvenile year, he named all the yard's horses, taking particular care to give what he called a "nice name" to TRUE STORY as he considered him to be an exciting prospect for the yard.

 

TUESDAY, 13th MAY 2014

 

TAKING THE STRINE

It is reported that Aidan O'Brien thinks that next month's Investec Derby 6/4 favourite, AUSTRALIA, could be the greatest horse he has ever trained. This is praise, indeed, as the Ballydoyle trainer, has had quite a few champions in his time – GALILEO, CAMELOT and ST NICHOLAS ABBEY, to name just three.

 

He commented recently: “Listen, in reality I've never had a horse like this on this place. What sets him apart, is his relaxed manner and some incredible times he did over four furlongs, before he ever raced. I admit I was unaware of the speed he was showing because he always makes it look so easy. I can't recall a two-year-old ever doing those sort of times. He would pull up and then spend the rest of time yawning.”

 

THE LARK ASCENDING

Someone who is delighted that rain has been falling at York is trainer Michael Bell, as his THE LARK will be making her seasonal appearance in the Betfred Middleton Stakes on Thursday. The 4-year-old daughter of PIVOTAL performed well at Epsom last May when she came third in the Investec Oaks and went on to win the Group Two Des Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster in September with Jamie Spencer aboard.

 

The Newmarket trainer stated: "York is the intended plan for her. She's in good order, but the race conditions - she's having to give 2lb to a horse like Ambivalent - won't make life any easier. We're delighted that the rain has come."

 

ASCOT COVER UP

Ascot officials are investigating the possibility of investing in some kind of advanced cover as a way of minimising the effects of wet weather in the annual lead-up to Qipco British Champions Day. When Britain's richest race event was first run in 2011 it was on good ground but the going has been soft on each renewal since then. Like other race courses, the Berkshire track has resorted in the past to the use of rain covers to protect any area of suspect ground but no race course has yet considered covering the whole track. In any case, even if they do decide to do it, such a feature couldn't possibly be in place before the 2015 season, if then.

 

The Ascot powers-that-be refuse to be drawn on the suggestion that these plans are connected with their fears that concerns about the state of the ground ground might persuade some horse owners to go for the Breeders' Cup instead of Champions Day. For example, the two-day meeting Santa Anita has on offer this year $24.5 million in prize money, in an obvious attempt by the Breeders' Cup officials to tempt more Europeans to go there. Ascot's big day, on the other hand, has, by comparison, a mere £3.5m in potential winnings.

 

Chris Stickels, Ascot's Clerk of the Course made this observation: "Covering the entire course is an idea that has crossed our minds, and costs and logistics are being worked out at the moment. It is still early days and we haven't even decided how the cover would work. Would it be a dome? What material would we use? There are also issues of manpower and how we dispose of the water that lands on the covers. Technology moves on and we need to move with it, and if there is something we can do [to get the best possible racing surface for Champions Day] it is worth looking into, but I do know rainfall is historically quite high in October."

 

MONDAY, 12th MAY 2014

 

TAKE MY VOID FOR IT!

Reminds you of the old joke about 'drowning not waving'. It appears that advance flag operator didn't see the starter desperately waving his flag in an attempt to declare a false start at Ludlow yesterday. Subsequently the 3m toteexacta Available On All Races Novices' Limited Handicap Chase was declared void; not before, however, the ten runners had covered about two miles as far as the 12th fence, where they were stopped by a member of the racecourse staff. Jockeys and members of the public were left confused and bewildered about what was supposed to have gone wrong.

 

Greg Pearson, a track steward made the following statement: "We have held a full inquiry into the matter, with evidence taken from clerk of the course, head groundsman, starters, advance flag operator and all the jockeys who rode in the race. There was obviously a misunderstanding at the start of the race, followed by failure on behalf of the racecourse to stop the race before we did, for whatever reason.The race was voided under Rule B40.1.2, which deals with the recall flag being raised, and a full report of our findings will be sent to the BHA."

Interestingly, Sporting Life just lists the name of the race with the initials ABD alongside. Racing Post, however, gives the names of all horses and jockeys with the initials VOI before each one but it also states at the bottom; '10 ran Total. NON RUNNER: Teak (IRE)'!

 

FASCINATING WINNER

Curragh-based trainer, Dermot Weld, was not a happy man yesterday after the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown. He was heard several times saying: "It was not a satisfactory race." In translation this appears to be his understated way of saying that, as a trial for next month's Derby at Epsom, the race was a shambles from start to finish.

 

The record-winning trainer's FASCINATING ROCK was eventually declared the winner but not before a stewards' inquiry which lasted twenty minutes, after which EBANORAN, first past the post by a neck, was relegated to second. Also there had been no real pace in the race until about half way. Trainer, John Oxx's horse also obstructed Aidan O'Brien's second favourite, GEOFFREY CHAUCER, in the home straight.

 

So as clues for the Derby there was little to be learned from this race except that FASCINATING ROCK and EBANORAN will both be running at Epsom on 7 June.

 

BOUND TO ANDOVER – MORE CASH

Andover-based trainer, Ralph Beckett, will not be making any rash decisions about the Investec Oaks at Epsom on June 6. The cat was set among the pigeons by HONOUR BOUNDS surprise victory in the Lingfield Oaks Trial. His 3-year-old daughter of AUTHORIZED beat John Gosden's CRITERIA by a nose in the Listed event, leaving his better fancied stable companions, KALLISHA and MOONRISE LANDING trailing in her wake, fourth and eighth respectively.

 

Before he makes up his mond, however, Ralph Beckett wants to see what happens in the other Oaks trials at York and Newbury this week.

 

One major consideration must be that HONOUR BOUND's connections will have to come up with £30,000 to enter her in the Oaks contest!

SUNDAY, 11th MAY 2014

 

DREAM ON!

A four-year-old son of GALILEO put paid to the dreams of the remaining Scoop6 ticket holders and next week's competition could be worth an amazing, record-breaking, £10m. The heart-breaker was 25/1 outsider BALLYGLASHEEN in the fourth race of the day at Haydock, the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle. By the start of yesterday's racing nigh on 192,000 punters had contributed a grand total of £7.4m into the prize pots for the six-leg bet. By the end of the first four races, however, only 207 tickets were still active. The irony is that BALLYGLASHEEN was the only runner in the fifth leg of the competition not bearing a ticket and, as sod's law would have it, his nerve-racking win denied victory to BARIZAN and VIBRATO VALTAT, who were carrying 29 and 69 tickets, respectively, and meant that not a single ticket remained going into the last leg. Bookies were so sure that this week’s bet would be won or go very close that they were offering 8/11 on.

 

This how Scoop6 progressed throughout the day:

After leg 1: 191,878 tickets

After leg 2: 9,238

After leg 3: 1,348

After leg 4: 207

After leg 5: 0

 

Andrew Griffiths, spokesman for Totepool commented: 'The Scoop6 never ceases to amaze - we had a crazy week last week with two 40-1 winners and today Ballyglasheen has come from the clouds. Vibrato Valtat looked nailed on and punters would have thought ‘we’re in here’ but Ballyglasheen spoiled the party.'

 

INTO THE CHAMPION'S LEAGUE

The elder son of trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies, is generally considered a future champion of the jump racing scene. He enhanced his chances significantly last month by being appointed jockey for the champion trainer eight of the last nine years, Paul Nicholls and even getting off to a good start with a win on PRESSIES GIRL in the Wessex Waste Novices' Hurdle at Wincanton on Thursday. The Somerset-based trainer usually shared his best horses among a number of riders but his new boy, apparently, will have first say.

 

This appointment is probably the biggest threat in the last twenty years to the dominance of the current, 19-times champion, AP McCoy. Not that he has any ideas about toppling the greatest champion racing has ever had.

 

Sam Twiston-Davies, however, is quick to dispel any speculation on this score: “To think about ever challenging him is crazy. You wouldn’t ever think about trying to beat AP. Richard Johnson’s tried for 19 years and finished second and third every time. I think AP’s the most dominant champion in world sport, just to ride in the same generation as him is a privilege. The long-term dream for me is to be champion jockey but it’s never going to happen when AP’s around.”

 

SATURDAY, 10th MAY 2014

 

GOING AGAINST THE CROWN!

Michael Owen, former England striker, is shooting for next month’s Ascot Gold Cup, after his Tom Dascombe-trained BROWN PANTHER won the Boodles Diamond Ormonde Stakes at Chester. That means, however, that his six-year-old son of SHIROCCO will come up against ESTIMATE, the Queen’s defending champion. BROWN PANTHER who won the the Goodwood Cup in 2013 had his first outing since finishing a disappointing eighth behind FIORENTE in the Melbourne Cup last November. This time, after a sluggish start, he surged to the front at three furlongs, and, despite a few challenges from Sir Michael Stoute's HILLSTAR, kept on gamely and found that little extra in the final furlong, finishing two-and-a-quarter lengths to the good.

 

Michael Owen commented: ‘We didn’t want a dawdle because he has stamina. We mapped out the Ascot Gold Cup as his early season target and had a number of options for his first run.’

 

Winning trainer Tom Dascombe, with his first win of the May meeting at his local track on the cards, added: ‘He is more settled and not wearing his heart on his sleeve as much. He clearly stays and is related to three-mile hurdle winners.’

 

BACK IN THE UK

Christophe Soumillon is back in the UK today, eight years after winning both the Derby and the Oaks trial. The French champion jockey doesn't seem to have much spare time to ride over here but, after a gap of over four years, he is riding again for His Highness The Aga Khan, whose four-year-old filly, DALAYNA, is running in the Follow Scoop6 At totepoolliveinfo.com Chartwell Fillies´ Stakes at Lingfield today.

 

The Belgian jockey remarked yesterday: "I have very happy memories of Lingfield. I rode Linda's Lad in the Derby Trial for André Fabre and Sindirana for His Highness. Back then he had horses with Sir Michael Stoute. It is a Group Three today and hopefully she will run well. Then it is back to Paris for the Classics tomorrow."

 

Trainers seem to come and go with His Highness The Aga Khan. Neither André Fabre nor Sir Michael Stoute trains his horses any more - they are now with Alain de Royer-Dupré. It's also interesting that after he parted company with Christophe Soumillon at the end of 2009, the latter went on to win three championships on the trot, so, surprise surprise, owner and jockey are back together again!

 

A TART TASTE FOR TRIUMPH!

One horse that just loves running the Ascot straight seven furlongs is James Toller's LOVING SPIRIT. The £7.5 Million Totescoop6 Victoria Cup today at Ascot Saturday could just be the race to make up for the six-year-old gelding's recent near-misses over the course and distance. On his five earlier runs at the Berkshire track the son of AZAMOUR scored second, eighth, sixth, and two thirds in major, big-field handicaps. His best performances have been on slightly softer ground and, as there is rain forecast rain, this could be the day for a strong performance. It's always easy to make excuses for a horse that is regularly 'the bridesmaid but never the bride' but LOVING SPIRIT ran well over a mile at Kempton recently, so with Robert Tart aboard this unlucky equine could be worth at least an each-way bet, particularly as his odds vary from 10/1 to 15/1 in a very competitive field.

 

FRIDAY, 9th MAY 2014

 

GREAT SCOTT! HE MADE IT!

Jockey School”, the popular Channel Four documentary, which aims to explore whether discipline, hard work and a love of horses can give teenagers with troubled backgrounds a fighting chance of a better life, has come up with a star - Daniel Tudhope.

 

The Ayrshire-born rider had never sat on a horse or shown any interest in racing before he left Scotland, as a 16-year-old, and headed for Doncaster. Now the 28-year-old is one of the most prolific Yorkshire-based jockeys. He rode a century of winners for the first time last year with encouragement from trainer, David O’Meara, the rising star of the training ranks.

 

The road hasn't been easy, however. He suffered a broken collar bone in 2005 which denied him the chance of becoming champion apprentice. His daily routine is not one many would opt for, either. Tall for a jockey – he is 5ft 8ins – Daniel Tudhope’s life is ruled by the bathroom scales and by how much weight he has to lose each morning -which he does by running or sweating in the sauna. Porridge or muesli is his staple breakfast food. Yet he must feel it's worth it because of the triumphs. He had his first Group winner on BLUE BAJAN in the John Smith's Stayers' Handicap last July at York.

 

Yet no-one would have taken any kind of odds on Daniel Tudhope even riding at York, let alone winning major races, when he was growing up in Irvine, wondering what was in store for him after school in an area that suffered from higher-than-average levels of youth unemployment.

 

As he confessed: “I was 15, I didn’t know what to do, The schools careers adviser came up and mentioned this course at the Northern Racing College (in Doncaster). I wasn’t well-educated at school and I didn’t have many qualifications. There’s no history of racing or riding in my family. It got me away from home, more than anything, because there weren’t that many job opportunities in any line of work. I didn’t know what I would have done otherwise. I’d never sat on a horse until I went to Doncaster.”

 

Interestingly, Daniel Tudhope didn't get his first winner in the UK, however. This was achieved in Pisa, Italy, in October 2003 where there was a special meeting for Europe’s most promising young riders.

 

DON'T START THAT AGAIN!

39 jockeys involved in the controversial false starts at this year's Grand National are due to face British Horseracing Authority charges. The latter's disciplinary panel will attempt to decide whether the riders in question, including champion jockey, Tony McCoy and Leighton Aspell, were in breach of the rules “in that they attempted to line up and/or take a position for the start before being instructed to do so by the starter”.

 

It proved impossible to complete any enquiries on the day of the race because all of the jockeys decided not to go back the stewards’ room after the days' racing. Excusably, some of them, particularly the Irish contingent, had boats and planes to catch. So the matter was referred to the BHA as a result.

 

The hearing date will be announced shortly but the riders have been informed that they do not all have to attend the hearing. The matter of the jockeys' refusal to return to the session to complete the original hearing, however, will not be part of the disciplinary action, the BHA has decided.

 

The Director of Race Day operations and regulation for BHA, Jamie Stier, commented: “Managing the start of the Grand National and dealing with any incidents that occur during this process presents a unique challenge. After reviewing all the available evidence we have taken the decision not to pursue any charges relating to the fact that we were unable to complete the stewards’ inquiry on the day. Having reviewed all of the available evidence and footage into the incident prior to the start of the Grand National, it is the view of BHA that 39 of the 40 riders in the race attempted to line up or take a position before being instructed to do so, which was before the off time of the race. If the disciplinary panel finds that this is the case then this would constitute an offence under the Rules of Racing.”

 

All the jockeys will receive a one-day ban if they are found guilty of lining up before being called in by starter Hugh Barclay, as a result of which assistant starter, Simon McNeil, was knocked down. (by a horse!)

 

The only jockey who will not face any charges is Brendan Powell jnr. His bolshy horse, BATTLE GROUP, refused to join the line- up – not for the first time!

 

THURSDAY, 8th MAY 2014

 

THE SOUND OF MUSIC!

Cumbrian trainer, Dianne Sayer, saddled an impressive winner at Kelso yesterday in the Betfair Scottish Chase Series Final Handicap Chase. BAILEYS CONCERTO and jockey, Brian Hughes, were certainly in close harmony as they powered their way to an easy seven-length victory. The eight-year-old son of BACH always looked a strong contender when going 3rd before 10th fence and leading from the last. The bay gelding now has three wins under his girth since moving from Venetia Williams' yard.

 

The Penrith-based trainer said afterwards: "He had a lot of problems and was basically lacking in confidence when he got him at the sales last spring. It's been small steps but his confidence has been building and building. This race has been the plan for a while and we only got him qualified in the last qualifier at Perth. It was over an inadequate two miles but we had to take our chance and he will be a nice summer horse."

 

TIME TO MOVE ON

Today Joe Tizzard's successful riding career will be celebrated at Wincanton. The Dorset jockey recently announced his retirement from race riding and his plans to concentrate on training. He is particularly remembered for his partnership with CUE CARD who won the 2013 Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

 

This evening's six-race card will feature a three-mile race named Happy Retirement Joe Tizzard Handicap Chase. The contest has attracted 16 runners with HANDY ANDY representing the Tizzard father and son team, with two strong rivals from Joe’s former stable – OSCARGO and BUCK'S BOND, trained by Paul Nicholls. The latter may not have it all their own way, however, as there are competitive entries from top trainers Donald McCain, Venetia Williams and Philip Hobbs.

 

Steve Parlett, Wincanton's General Manager commented: “Joe has very much been part of the Wincanton team – through his marriage to Emma, our former sales executive, to our online blogger and his continual support across the racing seasons. On behalf of everyone associated at Wincanton, from staff to racegoers, we look forward to celebrating Joe’s successful race riding which started at Wincanton (with his first winner) and also provided him with his final winner.”

 

The Milborne Port jockey responded : “Wincanton is one of my favourite racecourses at which I have had many winners and will sorely miss being in the thick of the action. Nevertheless, I knew it was time for me to stop race riding and I’m thoroughly enjoying the new role and opportunities that unfold as assistant trainer to my father.

 

WHO'S ON FIRST BASS?

Roger Waters is certainly better known as Pink Floyd’s bass guitarist than as an owner-breeder but yesterday at Worcester he struck the right chord with LEMON'S GENT, trained by Paul Webber at his Banbury stables.

 

Partnered by Denis O'Regan, the seven-year-old son of GENEROUS was always handy in mid-division and slowly made headway from about 6 out. He was soon in the lead before the last and it was just a matter of holding on to win by a length.

 

Roger Waters has produced 10 winners in the last five years - six with Oliver Sherwood and four with Paul Webber.

WEDNESDAY, 7th MAY 2014

 

EURO COULD BE THE RIGHT CURRENCY

If all goes well, EURO CHARLINE could be on track to go one better than her Newmarket performance in the Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes when she competes in the Etihad Airways Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh on May 25. In general, connections seem to feel that she wasn't happy with the conditions and the fast ground in the Qipco 1000 Guineas on Sunday but took comfort from the fact that the 3-year-old daughter of MYBOYCHARLIE put up a good show in the wake of the eventual top-performing winner, MISS FRANCE.

 

Newmarket-based trainer, Marco Botti commented: "We were happy enough with the run. The jockey said the ground was a bit too quick and she got a little unbalanced, but she wasn't beaten far. She was handy all the way. It was a good run and we were very pleased with her. At least she got the £10,000 back it cost to supplement her. We will probably go for the Irish Guineas. We will monitor the ground, but at the moment that is the plan."

 

AND ALL THAT MUNJAZ!

Saturday's Listed betfred.com Lingfield Derby Trial over an extended 11 furlongs at Lingfield will see Investec Derby entry MUNJAZ's first competing in Pattern company. The 3-year-old son of 2009 Investec Derby winner, SEA OF STARS, trained by John Gosden had two promising runs last season, finishing second and third in his first two maidens at Newmarket and went on to win by half a length the NGK Spark Plugs EBF Stallions Maiden Stakes in the middle of last month back at the same track.

 

Owner Hamdan Al Maktoum's racing manager, Angus Gold, commented: "Hopefully Munjaz will run at Lingfield on Saturday - that is the plan at the moment. I think everything has been pretty good with him since his win at Newmarket. I thought he was workmanlike there, but he is still a very inexperienced, immature horse and I'm sure he is going to improve.

He is a nice horse. He is a big galloper and we have always known that he has a certain amount of ability. He will stay well and I think he will improve as the year goes on.

 

OH THE GRAND RACE DAYS AT YORK!

York's 2014 17-day racing programme will have record-breaking prize money of more than £6 million on offer. This year's campaign kicks off with its traditional three-day Dante Festival on 14, 15 and 16 May, comprising seven races a day. Every day's racing will be worth at least £100,000. In fact the first day of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival which takes place on Wednesday 20 August will be the most valuable contest ever featured on the Knavesmire, the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes with a value of £800,000.

 

The 3-day Dante Festival will offer its highest prize money in the region of £1 million. Over half of all the 21 races have increased rewards. As usual, the Festival will give racegoers a preview of the season's star performers, giving vital clues for the Investec Oaks and Derby at Epsom, Royal Ascot followed by another session at York in August.

 

Of particular interest to visitors will be the latest developments that have taken place over the winter months, particularly in the northern end of the course. There is now a newly enlarged Pre-Parade Ring situated right next to the current Parade Ring, with new saddling boxes on two sides. Under construction is a new Weighing Room, planned to be opened on May 2015 at the same time as a new Moet Pavilion. Further projects include the enhancement of the Grade II* Listed John Carr Grandstand which currently serves as a champagne bar.

 

The Tattersalls Musidora Stakes and The Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes will be the highlights of the opening day. In the former, top-class three-year-old fillies will be competing for a prize of £80,000 which is traditionally a strong form indicator for the Investec Oaks in June. This prestigious contest has been supported by Tattersalls, Europe’s leading bloodstock auctioneers, for twenty-nine years and has so far produced six champion fillies that have gone on to be Classic winners.

 

The £100,000 Group 2 Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes, run over six furlongs, is expected to attract the very best sprinters. SOCIETY ROCK won last year's race and went on to be runner-up to the best in Group 1 company. It is expected that several Yorkshire-trained sprinters will be entered for this race, supported for the second year by Leeds-based company, Clipper Logistics.

 

TUESDAY, 6th MAY 2014

 

FEATHERS RUFFLED AT KEMPTON

The kempton.co.uk Amateur Riders' Handicap Hurdle made the news yesterday for unusual reasons – swans on the track! 7lb claimer, Harry Beswick was unseated after the fourth flight when the horse he was riding, DARK ENERGY, collided with a family of swans. Luckily, horse, rider and swans were none the worse for the experience.

 

Barney Clifford, Kempton's Clerk of the Course issued the following statement: "Everything is absolutely fine. Because we have so many swans at Kempton, we have procedures in place where they (ground staff) go round and we chase them off if they try to get anywhere near the racing line. On this occasion it was a mother with two young and they flew in. Once my guys chased them off, they flew in behind them in the running line just as the horses were coming round behind. It was just one of those things and thankfully the swans are OK and the jockey and horse were OK."

 

THE YOUNG ONES”

It's good to see apprentices getting into the limelight! At Windsor yesterday the North Yorkshire trainer, Karl Burke, had a couple of his young talented riders on duty - Joey Haynes and Rob Fitzpatrick, although only the former was riding for Spigot Lodge on this occasion.

 

Joey Haynes was aboard the partially-sighted 4-year-old filly TRIXIE MALONE, the 11/10 favourite who valiantly made all the running, quickening well over 2 furlongs out and although hard pressed a furlong from home she held onto the lead to win the feature Bet toteexacta Fillies' Handicap by a head.

 

The happy winning jockey commented; "She's so tough. Two out I thought I was beat, but she just doesn't want to be beaten. That's six for the season now. I just want to be riding and the boss has been very good."

 

Rob Fitzpatrick was representing West Berkshire trainer, Pat Murphy in the Bet toteplacepot Apprentice Training Series Handicap. He was riding Lingfield specialist CATALINAS DIAMOND. The 6-year-old daughter of ONE COOL CAT was slow to get into her stride and lingered at the rear of the field unduly long but made some headway approaching two furlongs out, going into the lead one furlong from the post and just holding on to win by three-quarters of a length.

 

A delighted 21-year-old jockey commented: "That's three winners in a row, it's going great and I've been allowed to ride a lot of the nice two-year-olds at home”.

 

Pat Murphy said: "The race fell apart a bit but that puts to bed the idea she can't win on grass. I hadn't heard of the lad but he came well recommended. I've only got a couple of Flat horses for the summer. Like me, she needs a three-week break!"

 

FIVE LIVE!

Bank Holiday Monday at Warwick was certainly a good place to be for twice champion Flat jockey, Paul Hanagan, as he notched up a 280/1 quintet of winners. He got off the mark in the British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Fillies' Stakes when he steered Charlie Hills' 2-year-old, RISE UP LOTUS to a length victory. Then the boy was certainly in the right place in the next race when he partnered WHERE THE BOYS ARE in the TurfTV Handicap for trainer, Ed McMahon. After that he produced a pearler on IXELLES DIAMOND for Richard Fahey in the Quantum Manufacturing Fillies' Handicap. The fourth success came two races later on Sir Michael Stoute's MUNAASER in the Breeders Backing Racing EBF Maiden Stakes. SAHRA AL KHADRA made it a fiver and a double for Charlie Hills in the racinguk.com Handicap. The 33-year-old rider from Warrington was, however, denied a record six wins when Ed McMahon's GOLD GLASS made a meal of things and came fifth in the Dine In The 1707 Restaurant Handicap.

 

Paul Hanagan, now on 26 winners this season, didn't finish the day on a total high, however, as he heard later that he had been given a two-day ban for careless riding on WHERE THE BOYS ARE!

MONDAY, 5th MAY 2014

 

A BON JOUR FOR ANDRE!

24-time champion French trainer, Andre Fabre, achieved his grand slam of British Classics yesterday when his 7/1 shot, MISS FRANCE, won the 201st renewal of the QIPCO 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket.

 

France's leading jump jockey/turned trainer had already won the 2,000 guineas with ZAFONIC in 1993 and PENNEKAMP in 1995. To those he added the Oaks with INTREPIDITY in 1993 and the St. Leger with TOULON 1991. More recently he triumphed in the 2011 Derby with POUR MOI. This last success also made it a big-race double for the Chantilly stables. Stable jockey, Maxime Guyon, had earlier mounted a brave effort against Sir Michael Stoute's INTEGRAL and snatched victory by a head on ESOTERIQUE in the Group Three Dahlia Stakes after a photo was called for.

 

Funnily enough, the 2000 guineas didn't pan out as the boss had wanted over the Rowley Mile because his jockey allowed the three-year-old daughter of DANSILI a free head rather than take firm control in the early stages.

 

As Andre Fabre admitted afterwards: “It was exactly the opposite to how I wanted her to be ridden but it's worked out. I couldn't be more delighted. The dam went a mile and a half and she will definitely get a mile and a quarter so her next run is likely to be in the Prix de Diane."

 

NEW TROPHY

A new trophy was unveiled last week, sponsored by Investec, celebrating the Epsom Oaks. It was created by equestrian artist Charlie Langton. It is made from solid silver and modelled on the undulating Epsom track and incorporates a small sculpture of the first 1779 winner of the Classic, BRIDGET, owned by the 12th Earl of Derby. The prestigious race's history is highlighted by the engraving of the names of all the previous winners.

 

The artist said: “The design is similar to that of the Derby Trophy [which Charlie made in 2010], as I wanted to keep the dynamic shape of the base, which reflects the unique terrain of Epsom.

 

It has been revealed that this year's Investec Oaks will be run in memory of Sir Henry Cecil, who died last Summer. The late Newmarket trainer won the Classic a total of eight times, most recently in 2007, with LIGHT SHIFT.

 

COVER STORY

All-weather racing surfaces in Great Britain are to receive further investment by owners, Arena Racing Company (ARC). The first racecourse to have the new all-weather surface, called Tapeta, installed will be Wolverhampton. The Midlands track held its last meeting on the old surface on 29 April. Work has now started on laying the new surface.

 

Tapeta is a patented wax-coated mixture of sand, rubber and fibre that can withstand extreme weather conditions. It is the only all-weather system on the market today that has been tested over time to hold up under varied and severe weather conditions. The entire process of resurfacing the race track from ground breaking to completion takes an estimated three months. So around about the end of July the new surface will be tested, necessitating the transferral of fixtures to Lingfield Park and Southwell. It is then hoped that racing will recommence on 11 August. Newcastle racecourse, which has already announced that it wants to install an all-weather track, has been given the go-ahead by the BHA to use Tapeta.

ARC racing director, Jim Allen, commented: “ARC is establishing an unmatched record of investing in British all-weather racing through financing new surfaces at its existing tracks, as well as pioneering a new all-weather track at Newcastle and the introduction of the All-Weather Championships. We believe it is right time to bring a world-renowned surface like Tapeta to British racecourses for the first time. We remain absolutely committed to the existing Polytrack surface at Lingfield and Fibresand surface at Southwell, both of which have proved safe for horses and popular with trainers. I believe we can look forward to years of exciting and competitive racing at all-weather racecourses in Britain.”

 

SUNDAY, 4th MAY 2014

 

A NIGHT TO REMEMBER

Can you believe it! The 206th renewal of the Newmarket Qipco 2000 Guineas Stakes was won by a 40/1 outsider. Richard Hannon's NIGHT OF THUNDER, with Kieren Fallon aboard, showed the other fourteen competitors how to run a race. The favourite, KINGMAN, led overall inside final furlong but was headed near the finish. The 14 runners divided into two groups as the mile-long Classic of the British flat season got under way. NIGHT OF THUNDER joined the group on the far rail before eventually drifting to the nearside and scoring by half a length, giving Kieren Fallon his fifth victory in this race.

 

The winning jockey from County Clare commented afterwards: "I thought he'd given it away, but he's a good horse and hopefully he can continue."

 

Trainer Richard Hannon, who only took over his father's licence this year, was slightly more emotional: "We always thought a lot of him and he's done it well. He gets a mile, no problem, and he settled better today. He pulled a little bit in the Greenham [Stakes, at Newbury - where Kingman got the better of Night of Thunder] and he's turned the form around with Kingman."

 

NO SUPER SCOOP

Not everyone was delighted with NIGHT OF THUNDER's win, however. This shock victory put paid to the last ticket in the totescoop6. The remaining ticket-holder had gone for NOOZHOH CANARIAS, the first Spanish-trained runner in a British Classic. The 3-year-old bay colt certainly looked as if he might deliver the tapas. as he led the group on the far side and was, in fact, the overall leader until just inside the final furlong. But it wasn't to be. This means there will be another roll-over with the prospect of a history-making £7.5million Scoop6 next Saturday. Incredibly punters from all over the country contributed £3,427,714 to the pool, which means there is a total of £3,296,563 in the win fund and £2,291,377 in the bonus.

 

Andrew Griffiths who is spokesman for the Totepool commented: "It was a rollercoaster afternoon and you have to feel for the final ticket-holder, who was within touching distance of a life-changing win. Night Of Thunder was almost impossible to fancy and his victory has set up a potential £7.5m Scoop6 next week. Turnover has been staggeringly good of late and we'll keep riding the wave into next weekend."

 

POWER AND THE GLORY

ANNIE POWER, the new queen of of jump racing, following QUEVEGA' s retirement announced the other day, romped home by seven lengths in the Irish Stallion Farms E.B.F. Mares Champion Hurdle at Punchestown yesterday. It had been decided to drop her back to 2miles 2furlongs after she only managed second to MORE OF THAT in the Irish Stallion Farms E.B.F. Mares Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March. The shorter distance seems to have done the trick. Willie Mullins' 6-year-old daughter of SHIROCCO, with Ruby Walsh aboard, made all the running and, although she jumped slightly left at times, she went well clear from 2 out to clinch the decisive victory

 

Owner, former Barclays Banker, Rich Ricci commented: "She's a great, great mare and it's a privilege to own her. I think she can go over any distance. She stayed the trip at Cheltenham, she was just beaten by a good horse. This is her first race on Irish soil this season and it's nice to finish off the year with a win at home."

 

MAKING MONEY HAND OVER FIST?

There was something of a punch-up after racing had come to a close at Newmarket yesterday.

The brawl seems to have started between two groups in the betting ring. Police and stewards had to take action to deal with the fist-flying fury which lasted for about 10 minutes and it seems no charges were made.

 

Amy Starkey, Regional Director for Newmarket’s owners Jockey Club racecourses made this statement: “There was an incident in the betting ring after the last race involving a small number of racegoers. It was dealt with swiftly by racecourse security and Police teams.”

 

SATURDAY, 3rd MAY 2014

 

IS SHE BLUE? WELL HALF!

She was one of the first women admitted to a men's college at Cambridge in 1972. Even so, she was only allowed a "half Blue" when she fenced for the University. She is a lawyer, mother of four, founder of the Save Historic Newmarket Action Group and is passionate about Newmarket. The lady in question is Rachel Hood who is now President of the Racehorse Owners' Association and married to successful trainer, John Gosden. One of only a few women with such a senior position in the sporting world, she is a passionate persuader of the benefits of horse racing for the UK economy.

 

Her background belies her current situation, however, as she reveals that she grew up in a family that had no interest whatsoever in horses. She laughingly says: "My mother would turn racing off when it came on television, and was quite vocal about it. I think she felt the chaps in trilbies, well, she didn't want to listen to them …"

 

The future international lawyer named her first horse after Gertrude Bell, a mountaineer, writer, archaeologist and woman of unparalleled political power in her time, who was in the first group of women to go to Oxford. To the second one she gave the uunusual name of Dick Doughtywylie, said to be the love of Gertrude Bell's life.

 

Today Rachel Hood will definitely only have one thing on her mind as the tension in their Newmarket home mounts in anticipation of the running of their hot favourite, KINGMAN in the 2,000 Guineas.

 

Clearly feeling a little bit anxious she commented: "The trainer becomes increasingly taciturn as you get towards the big day. It's an exciting prospect, a horse like Kingman. But he's had his issues. He won the Greenham very well, so it would be lovely to think that can continue, but with horses you don't know … John's a very sweet person. I think the pressure is a nice problem to have. I'm up and I hope that helps him. No doubt he can cope perfectly well without me. It'll be fine. If it goes well, then great. Let's hope it does."

 

Despite her revered position in the business and legal world over the past 25 years this is probably one of the occasions when she will prefer to remain quietly in the background on Newmarket's Rowley Mile and await KINGMAN's fate.

 

FLY SWATTED

Trainer Jessica Harrington pulled off a treble at the Punchestown Festival for the second day running when JEZKI, ridden by champion jockey, Tony McCoy, outran HURRICANE FLY in the final fifty yards to win by three-and-a-quarter lengths.

 

As predicted, the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle champion took the initiative from the word go. The 6-year-old son of MILAN didn't prove to be the most stylish of hurdlers, jumping out to his left for much of the race but, as a compensatory factor, he had no difficulty dominating the pace of the race throughout. Towards the second-last, Ruby Walsh did manage to get his MONTJEU gelding to produce some of his legendary skills and for a brief while it looked like Willie Mullins' favourite could make it five in a row as he drew alongside the leader. But as they approached the last hurdle, Tony McCoy pressed the button and JEZKI readily responded and put an end to any threat that might have come from HURRICANE FLY.

 

The only other runner, STEPS TO FREEDOM, also trained by Jessica Harrington, was twelve lengths behind but still bagged a handsome cheque for €18,000 (£14,800 in real money!)

 

AP McCoy said afterwards: "It was a great training performance by Jessica and I'm delighted for JP (McManus) too. To be honest, he felt better than I've ever felt him, sometimes they get confidence from winning. It wasn't ideal [being in front] because he has a tendency to jump to his left and it's more exaggerated when he's in front. But he was good."

 

The winning owner generously acknowledged the runner-up: "He did it well, but full marks to Hurricane Fly. He's been an outstanding horse, coming here to win this for a fifth time, so we've a bit of catching up to do.”

 

Willie Mullins commented: "Jezki is a worthy champion and he's come back well from Cheltenham. Jessie's horses are flying. We have no excuses with Hurricane Fly. That's it for the season and he'll go out for grass now over the summer."

 

FRIDAY, 2nd MAY 2014

 

KAYLIF REMEMBERED

A sad day for the ARAMIS family. 7-year-old KAYLIF ARAMIS, full brother to KAYF ARAMIS, died in a freak accident at Nigel Twiston-Davies' Naunton stables. The rising star of the ARAMIS clan was still a close member of the family, even though he was owned by the Grangers at Grange Hill Farm. Condolences go to all connections.

 

We last saw him on Saturday at Sandown when, after making good progress and going into the lead four out, something seemed to go wrong and he was pulled up before the last.

 

'Karat', as he was affectionately known, (the breeder's then 4-year-old son was asked to give him a name beginning with 'K'!) never forgot his human 'mother' who had helped him into the world. Whenever he returned from the gallops and saw Isobel, he would neigh quietly and go straight over to her, to the amazement of all around.

 

KAYLIF ARAMIS had 19 career starts (4 NHF and 15 over hurdles) providing 3 Wins, 3 Seconds and 4 Thirds.

 

LAST RUN

QUEVEGA was defeated for the first time since 2009 in the the Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle at Punchestown yesterday. The 10-year-old mare was attempting to increase the six wins in a row at Cheltenham and the five unbeaten victories at Punchestown. But the fairytale came to an unexpected end as Jessica Harrington's JETSON proved too good on the day at Ireland’s biggest jumps festival and won by a length and a quarter. It was decided fairly quickly that the daughter of ROBIN DES CHAMPS had run her last race.

 

No-one seemed to be more disappointed than her trainer Willie Mullins, who was close to tears as he said afterwards: “I thought we didn’t have a lot of luck in running. And Davy rode a very good race on the winner. He got a good run and it proved a winning run. We’ll always be trying to buy another like her. But you can’t replace her. She is a very special mare. I’ve just spoken to the owner, I think we are going to start discussing her next career as a broodmare. It’s not too late to cover her. Her racing career is finished now. We didn’t get a lot of luck in running, let’s leave it at that,

 

The incredible QUEVEGA finished her racing career with a record of 16 wins from 24 starts, 10 of them in feature races at the biggest festivals. including six successive victories in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

 

BOOKIES RULE, OK?

The bookmakers certainly had it all their own way on the third day of Punchestown Festival when two high-profile horses lost in the well-backed races. The first big shock for punters came when, as mentioned above, Jessica Harrington's 20/1 shot, JETSON, got the better of the fast-finishing favourite, QUEVEGA. There was worse to come later, however, in the Ryanair Novice Chase. The 5/4 favourite, Willie Mullins' CHAMPAGNE FEVER, with Ruby Walsh aboard, could only manage 6th out of seven finishers and Alan King's much supported BALDER SUCCES was denied victory in the final yards and finished third behind the 25/1 outsider, GOD'S OWN, given an inspiring ride by Barry Geraghty.

 

Michael Shinners, Sky Bet's PR Manager, rubbed it in when he said: "The results could not have been any better if we had picked them ourselves with both the Willie Mullins pair of Quevega and Champagne Fever getting beaten. Punters have really suffered and this has to be out best day since the Grand National at Aintree."

 

THURSDAY, 1st MAY 2014

 

BOB'S BACK

The Bibby Financial Services Punchestown Gold Cup was won yesterday by Willie Mullins' BOSTON BOB under the masterful control of Ruby Walsh who snatched victory in the closing stages from from Barry Geraghty aboard FIRST LIEUTENANT. The 9-year-old was back over hurdles again after a couple of disappointments as a novice chaser. The son of BOB BACK, however, last time out reminded us how good he can be when in the last minutes he galloped to victory in the Aintree's Melling Chase. There was also some kind of poetic justice for owner Graham Wylie, who, sportingly, decided not to appeal the decision of the Cheltenham stewards when ON HIS OWN was controversially made runner-up in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase Gold Cup at the Festival.

 

Surprisingly the winning jockey from Kill, County Kildare. preferred BOSTON BOB on this occasion to his stable mate, ON HIS OWN, and clearly made a good choice as the 10-year-old son of PRESENTING, with Paul Townend aboard, faded from 5 out, after making the running for the half of the contest.

 

Ruby Walsh afterwards: "I have to thank Willie. I never thought I'd be siding with On His Own over Boston Bob, but I rode them both the other morning and I was definitely leaning On His Own's way. On Monday morning I was talking to Willie and he fairly convinced me to ride this lad, so thanks to him. He ducked and I nearly fell off him. He was a bit deliberate at the second-last and wasn't great at the last. He hung left, but he quickened up and won."

 

The County Carlow trainer, Willie Mullins, commented: "Boston Bob is just improving. I thought he'd been unlucky twice at Cheltenham (notably when falling in last year's RSA) but he's got his reward for what he shows me at home. I was disappointed with On His Own, who needed a bit of company and his jumping went to pieces. I'm thinking of the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris for On His Own and I think we'll bring Boston Bob back next season and aim him for the (Cheltenham) Gold Cup. He has turned the corner now.

 

ONLY THE BEST WILL DO

Richard Hannon is taking no chances in Saturday's Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. He's gone for the best with Frankie Dettori on SHIFTING POWER and Kieren Fallon aboard NIGHT OF THUNDER. The former, 3-year-old son of COMPTON PLACE, narrowly won the CSP European Free Handicap at Newmarket last week, whereas the latter had to be satisfied with being the best of the rest behind the incomparable KINGMAN in the Aon Greenham Stakes also at Newbury four days earlier. Three-times champion jockey, Ryan Moore, did the honours on both these occasions but as he is unavailable and with retained rider, Richard Hughes, deciding to ride the unbeaten Craven Stakes victor, TOORMORE, the Wiltshire trainer has called upon the services of two of the top jockeys in the business.

 

Richard Hannon (former junior now senior!) commented on his website: "As expected, Richard Hughes sticks with Toormore, but we are delighted to have secured two former champion jockeys for the other two. Kieren has already won the race four times and Frankie twice, so it would be folly to have two experienced world-class riders sitting in the stands. All three colts have completed their preparation and could not be in better shape, so all we need now is the rub of the green. Toormore and Shifting Power are unbeaten, and Night of Thunder's only defeat came at the hands of the red-hot Guineas favourite, so we have three solid horses going there at the top of their game."

 

A HORSE THAT COULD DELIVER

A colt due to run for the Daily Mail this summer has now been officially named FIRST CLASS MAIL, after an overwhelming vote by Daily Mail and MailOnline readers. Mick Channon is entrusted with the development of the chestnut two-year-old who could make his debut either in late May or June. The West Ilsley trainer is a natural to take on the job as he also handled FIRST CLASS MAIL's Sire, WINKER WATSON, who had a hat-trick of wins at Newbury, Ascot and Newmarket and his Dam, HAIRSPRAY with a quartet of wins on her card.

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY, 30th APRIL 2014

 

THINGS'LL BE SAM AS USUAL

Trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies, doesn't plan to hire a new stable jockey to replace his son, Sam, who is to take over the top job with Paul Nicholls. Incredibly, the Twiston-Davies father/son team were in action 414 times last season. Nevertheless the Naunton trainer thinks his son will be available on enough occasions so a replacement is not warranted. It has already been agreed that THE NEW ONE will always be Sam's ride. Also, as he hasn't formally left home yet, it seems that it is still thought that Twiston-Davies junior will continue to play an important part in the Grange Hill Farm operations.

 

As Nigel Twiston-Davies commented. "I'm not really losing a stable jockey because he'll still be living here. He will still be riding plenty for me when he's available. There's no point hiring anybody else - when he can, he'll be riding. It's a big opportunity for him, he's joining the champion trainer and hopefully he'll be winning plenty of big races."

 

SIZING UP THE COMPETITION

The Boylesports Champion Chase at Punchestown today was claimed for a second time by veteran, SIZING EUROPE, trained by Henry De Bromhead. The 12-year-old son of PISTOLET BLEU was competing in the race for the fifth time and connections were willing him to do better than his second place last year. In addition he had to put behind him the disappointing performance in the BetVictor Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham in March when he struggled to make fourth, almost ten lengths behind the victor. In this £103k contest BAILY GREEN took over the running from Willie Mullins' TWINLIGHT at the halfway mark. The good ground paid off for SIZING EUROPE as his rivals struggled approaching the home turn. Andrew Lynch successfully kept mount's mind on the job in hand and the duo surged ahead to establish a famous victory by five-and-a-half lengths. None were more moved than connections who were visibly emotional after the exciting result.

 

CHESTER MATTER OF LUCK!

Chester racecourse launches its three-day Boodles Festival on 7th May with the Stan James Cup Day. Chester Management has teamed up with sponsors, StanJames.com, to offer you the chance to win a fantastic day out, with incomparable racing and second-to-none hospitality. The highlight of the Festival will be the StanJames.com Chester Cup. You and a companion could be present as guests of StanJames.com on Wednesday, 7th May and enjoy the magnificent racing at, as many agree, one of the country's most picturesque racetracks.

 

The prize will include admission badges, hospitality in the Final Furlong restaurant in the Festival Village close to the race track... and, can you believe it, a £50 free bet with StanJames.com. County badges will be won by the five runners-up, providing entry for the Stan James Cup Day.

All you have to do to have a chance of winning a pair of tickets plus hospitality for two at Stan James Cup Day at Chester on May 7, is answer the following question...

At which racecourse will the Stan James Cup be contested next Wednesday? Is it...

a) Cheltenham;

b) Chepstow;

c) Chester.

Submit your competition entry online at www.thesentinel.co.uk

 

Duh! That's a tough one!! I'm thinking!

 

TUESDAY, 29th APRIL 2014

 

NOT KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY

A 21-year-old jockey is to become the Champion trainer's Numero Uno. The news was announced last night of the agreement between Sam Twiston-Davies and Paul Nicholls, thus bringing to an end Daryl Jacob's short spell as stable jockey for the Somerset trainer. It was revealed that he turned down the position as deputy and intends to ride as a freelance when he returns from injury.

 

Sam Twiston-Davies has had a very successful career so far riding for this father, Nigel, out of their Gloucestershire-based stables. Recently, however, he has been riding a number of high-profile horses for Paul Nicholls, including Big Buck's and Tidal Bay so there was increasing speculation that something like this might be on the cards. It seems there were other temptations for the young rider, too. It is rumoured that two top owners at Nicky Henderson's yard also put up a financially attractive counter-offer but inevitably the idea of riding a powerful string of Nicholls horses obviously won the day.

 

There seems to be at least one give and one take in the deal: the give - Sam Twiston-Davies will retain the ride on his father, Nigel's, rising star THE NEW ONE; the take - Noel Fehly will still partner Grade 1-winning chaser, SILVINIACO CONTI. Apart from that the potential future champion jockey will have the pick of the talent in the Ditcheat yard.

 

The new top jockey for Manor Farm Stables, whose contract starts on the May Bank Holiday, made the following statement: "It was certainly not an easy decision to accept the job as number-one retained jockey with Paul Nicholls. But he has some of the best jumpers in the country and I am in the game to ride good horses, so it makes common sense that if I ever want to be champion jockey the best way forward is to ride for the champion trainer. I obviously hope I have made the right decision and only time will tell but, whatever happens, I think I'm ready for this challenge and am looking forward to an exciting season with Paul. "

 

The newly crowned champion trainer commented: "Sam will have the pick of our team, with the exception that Noel [Fehily] keeps the ride on Silviniaco Conti. But it is also a two-way street as regards the top horses, and we have agreed that Sam will continue to partner The New One for his father next season. I told Daryl (Jacob) of the decision on Friday, when I also offered him the number two job. He then took the weekend to think it through, and he came back to me today to say that he would rather go freelance. But I have to stress that there has been no falling out, and Daryl will continue to ride out and school a couple of times a week here next season and ride too."

It has also been announced that Nick Scholfield will be number two to Sam Twiston-Davies

 

BONUS ON THE CARDS

Horse owners will be hoping to get their hands on some of £10,000 bonus on offer at Nottingham. It has been revealed that the Racehorse Owners Association has come up with the extra cash in time for the fourth in a series of 12 ROA Owners Jackpot meetings for 2014 which takes place today at the Midlands track in their busy 8-race card.

 

The General Manager of Nottingham Racecourse, Pip Kirkby, commented: "As part of The Jockey Club, we are continuing to invest in facilities for all our visitors, including racehorse owners, who we go out of our way to encourage to run the horses here."

 

Richard Wayman, ROA chief executive, said: "The ROA Owners Jackpot has proved a great success, with £30,000 in bonuses having already been paid out to owners. The Jackpot was set up to support grassroots racing."

 

MONDAY, 28th APRIL 2014

 

ONE LEFT STANDING

The 1967 Grand National is an event that remains firmly rooted in people's memories. (For those old enough to be around on that occasion, that is. My grandfather told me about it!). FOINAVON, a relatively undistinguished Irish racehorse, became famous for winning this prestigious race after the rest of the field fell, refused or were hampered or brought down in a mêlée at the 23rd fence. The fence was officially named after FOINAVON in 1984.

(The race is on Youtube)‎.

 

Recollections of this unusual event have been revived recently by someone, who when he was seven years old, listened to the race and was permanently affected by what he heard in the commentary. David Owen, who eventually became sports editor of the Financial Times, never forgot the story of the 100/1 outsider that won the National. His interest was fired even further when he discovered that John Buckingham, who rode FOINAVON on that auspicious occasion, lived close to his then home. When David Owen went to interview him, he also learnt that the trainer, John Kempton, was still alive.

 

In David Owen's words: “He took quite a lot of finding because he left racing and nobody knew where to find him, eventually I did, he was living in Devon and nobody had really asked him his side of the story. When I left the Financial Times I had a bit more time so I put a proposal together for a book and found a publisher.”

 

The outcome is that, two years and 200 interviews later, the definitive account of Foinavon’s incredible victory has been published by Bloomsbury with the title: “Foinavon: The Story of the Grand National’s Biggest Upset. It recently won the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award in America (an accolade to the best horse racing writers in the business.)

 

WEATHER TO WATER OR NOT!

After the wettest winter since national records began in 1910, it is hard to believe that they could start watering tomorrow at Newmarket. The final decision will be taken after taking into account the forecasts for next weekend. Clearly the condition of the ground is a worry for race officials as, among the many highlights of the two-day fixture, will be the 206th renewal of the Qipco 2000 Guineas stakes. Their concern has been increased by the fact that less rain fell at the track over this weekend than was expected. Current conditions are described as good to firm.

Michael Prosser, Clerk of the Course, is trying to put a brave face on things by saying: "We had three millimetres of rain over Friday and Saturday and have dried out over the weekend. If we feel we will not get the rainfall we would wish for to maintain our position, we will irrigate tomorrow. But we would only do so once we've reviewed the forecast for the week. There is the possibility of more significant rainfall Wednesday into Thursday. At the backend of the week it is forecast to be cooler but largely dry, and remarkably we might even get a frost Friday into Saturday."

SUNDAY, 27th APRIL 2014

 

THE PEOPLE'S FAVOURITE

The warmth and affection for KAYLIF ARAMIS, alone, should have been enough to propel him to victory at Sandown yesterday. My wife and I decided to go down to Sandown Park to hand out cards to racegoers giving them information about how to help fund the next member of the Aramis family, KAYLINA. Many of the people we spoke to, particularly of the younger generation, knew all about the 7-year-old brother of KAYF ARAMIS and had followed his career keenly (and made some money on him!) There were the two young men on the Esher train on the way to Sandown, who had followed his progress and spoke excitedly about his wins at Ascot, Uttoxeter and Ffos Las and his impressive second at Aintree at the beginning of the month. And again two young men on the rail by the finishing post, as we watched the race in the pouring rain. They said they always backed KAYLIF and were excited about his racing career. There were many others in the car park and the young family in the café nearby who spoke affectionately about KAYLIF ARAMIS.

 

Ultimately and sadly, all these fans were to be disappointed. The contest started well. Sam Twiston-Davies kept his mount in familiar mid-division and then suddenly the Naunton duo moved unexpectedly into the lead before 4th. It seemed a little soon to be front-running but all seemed to be going well. It was difficult to see, even on the large screen, because of the heavy rain. Approaching two hurdles out, however, KAYLIF ARAMIS seemed to weaken and was pulled up before the last.

 

Afterwards there was comment among connections that perhaps the pace was too slow (tactical?) and KAYLIF ARAMIS was pulling hard, seemingly keen to get on with it. Even the commentator remarked that maybe Sam Twiston-Davies was getting a move on because he'd had enough of the rain!

 

Whatever the reason, Sandown proved as unlucky for KAYLIF as it did for his brother, KAYF, ten years ago.

 

MOORE FOR SIRE

This blog is not famous for giving winning tips but yesterday's was an obvious one. The Preston family's star, SIRE DE GRUGY rounded off his incredible season with an easy win in the bet365 Celebration Chase at Sandown. As mentioned yesterday, the Gary Moore-trained 8-year-old probably didn't even need to be at his best to win, because any opposition he faced was mediocre at best. Perhaps the exception was PEPITE ROSE, a 7-year-old mare, trained by Venetia Williams, who did show some promise towards the end but eventually submitted to superior force at the last when the son of MY RISK surged ahead to claim victory by three-and-a-quarter lengths.

 

The trainer's son, winning jockey Jamie Moore was clearly happy with the result: "I've packed his flip-flops and sandals - he's off on holiday now! He's done us proud. He's rocked it in all the top races and he's won again, even though he's probably not 100 per cent. He's still winning dirty.”

 

His Dad, Gary, was a little more conservative with his language: "I was slightly nervous today because a lot of people, some good judges among them, told me I shouldn't come here and told me to put him away because horses don't always come back in the same form after Cheltenham. I was confident in myself that he was very well with all the help from the staff and Jamie, I was confident he was in good order. It shows what a great horse he is to win four Grade One chases in a season."

 

SATURDAY, 26th APRIL 2014

 

A FAMILIAR SKY AT SANDOWN

It's close on 10 years since Cheltenham Champion, KAYF ARAMIS, made his debut at Sandown. It wasn't, admittedly, an auspicious occasion. First, it was a 7-furlong sprint on Good to Firm ground, both of which would prove inappropriate for the future successful two-mile plus stayer. Also his inexperience, or even lack of training, showed when the opening stalls gave him such a fright that he left a deposit behind before setting out belatedly, some 16 lengths behind his eleven rivals. Interestingly he ran with guts and determination after that experience and finished exactly the same distance behind as he had started. Afterwards, a vet discovered that he had some form of virus and should not have run.

 

The good news is his brother is back today at the same track to avenge his sibling in the last race of the day, the bet365 Handicap Hurdle. The 7-year-old ran a big race in the Dominican Republic Handicap Hurdle at Aintree at the beginning of the month, coming swiftly from the rear to take second place. His 5-length victory at Ascot in the Great British Drama Handicap Hurdle at the beginning of February has finally started to attract more attention from punters and bookies alike for another successful member of the ARAMIS family, so much so that he is the Favourite right across the board at Oddschecker.

 

Oh. The brother's name? Those who are good at anagrams have already worked that out:-

A FAMILIAR SKY – KAYLIF ARAMIS!

YES SIRE, HE'S MY BABY!

The bet365 Celebration Chase has never been won by the reigning two-mile Champion Chase winner since it was introduced in 2001. SIRE DE GRUGY has plans to do something about that. He could well finish off the season with success in this Grade 1 event, which he won last year. The 8-year-old son of MY RISK has a 16lb advantage on official ratings so he perhaps doesn't have to be at his best to win. It seems that trainer, Gary Moore, thinks he is in as good a form as he was for the Cheltenham Festival. He originally had worries about the Sandown ground being too quick which might have meant that SIRE DE GRUGY wouldn't run. That situation has now changed, however, because there has now been some rain so the public will have a chance to see this Cheltenham favourite run after all.

 

As the trainer said yesterday: "He's been in great form. He took a good week to get over Cheltenham but the last two or three weeks his work has been fantastic. He's working as well as he's ever worked. He schooled good this morning and did so early in the week.”

 

STAND OUT IN A CROWD

Would ya believe it? Even the EU has been won over by the concept of crowdfunding as a way of financing small business operations. It has even released a document called “Unleashing The Potential of Crowdfunding in the European Union.” This concept has, in fact, been around for some time but sometimes it takes large institutions a while to catch up. Musicians, film-makers and artists have been well aware of and made successful use of the practice of funding a new project or album by raising small amounts of money from a large number of people. This process has been considerably enhanced and facilitated by the development of the Internet.

 

More recently the idea has spread to horse racing. Now someone who loves the sport but doesn't have enough money for an expensive syndicate, can now join hundreds of like-minded people and, for a small annual fee, can help train a horse, go to the races and genuinely feel that they are somebody in the race-going community.

 

An example close to home, is the Kaylina Aramis Racing Syndicate, where, for a modest £47.75 a year (£3 of which is donated to charity) you can:

 

  1. be an owner of a potential future champion.

  2. regularly visit the stables of top trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies and be present on the gallops.

  3. have a chance to win Owners' Badges when Kaylina Aramis runs.

  4. enter the parade ring and chat with trainer and jockeys.

  5. have a share of any prize money.

  6. receive regular updates via email and the website on the training progress of your horse.

  7. generally be a member of an exciting group of people with a passion for horse racing at very little cost.

FRIDAY, 25th APRIL 2014

 

FOCUS ON SANDOWN

Today's bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown will be TELESCOPE'S first appearance of the season and connections must be hoping that this will be the first step towards their 4-year-old's fulfilling his potential. Trainer Sir Michael Stoute will also be hoping to win this prestigious Group Three event for an eighth time.

 

The 4-year-old son of GALILEO was forced to forgo participation in last year's Derby because of various setbacks. He did manage to re-appear later in the season, however, going on to win the York Neptune Investment Management Great Voltigeur Stakes in August.

 

Trainer and owners, Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, very much wanted him to run in the Champion Stakes but such aspirations were shelved when they discovered that their champion needed to have a minor operation on the near-fore fetlock.

 

Harry Herbert, Director of Highclere commented: "Sir Michael is very happy with him and we're thrilled to see him back. He's so well that there's a good chance he'll need the run, he's had proper blows after the last two pieces of work. He's had a good break and this is a race Sir Michael likes to start off in, so hopefully he's in for a good season."

A HORSE WITH NO NAME”

Malaysian businessman, Vincent Tan, owner of Cardiff City FC, has now decided to join the world of British horse racing or, at least, it looks like it as he bought a two-year-old colt for £190,000 yesterday at the the Doncaster Bloodstock Breeze-Up Sales. Rumour has it that he also acquired two racehorses in Australia earlier this year; this, however, is his first acquisition in Europe. His latest purchase will probably be seen on the track for the first time later in the season but, as yet, he has not been named. The 2-year-old, son of DUTCH ART, who won the 2006 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot, will be trained in Wiltshire by Australian Jeremy Gask.

 

The nameless colt was born on 8 March, 2012. This may be a good sign because the number eight is said to be a lucky number in Malaysia. Red and yellow are also supposed to bring good fortune so maybe Mr. Tan will select these for his racing colours.

He recently caused a furore at Cardiff City FC by changing their colour from blue to red!

 

STAND OUT IN A CROWD

Would ya believe it? Even the EU has been won over by the concept of crowdfunding as a way of financing small business operations. It has even released a document called “Unleashing The Potential of Crowdfunding in the European Union.” This concept has, in fact, been around for some time but sometimes it takes large institutions a while to catch up. Musicians, film-makers and artists have been well aware of and made successful use of the practice of funding a new project or album by raising small amounts of money from a large number of people. This process has been considerably enhanced and facilitated by the development of the Internet.

 

More recently the idea has spread to horse racing. Now someone who loves the sport but doesn't have enough money for an expensive syndicate, can now join hundreds of like-minded people and, for a small annual fee, can help train a horse, go to the races and genuinely feel that they are somebody in the race-going community.

 

An example close to home, is the Kaylina Aramis Racing Syndicate, where, for a modest £47.75 a year (£3 of which is donated to charity) you can:

 

  1. be an owner of a potential future champion.

  2. regularly visit the stables of top trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies and be present on the gallops.

  3. have a chance to win Owners' Badges when Kaylina Aramis runs.

  4. enter the parade ring and chat with trainer and jockeys.

  5. have a share of any prize money.

  6. receive regular updates via email and the website on the training progress of your horse.

  7. generally be a member of an exciting group of people with a passion for horse racing at very little cost.

 

THURSDAY, 24th APRIL 2014

 

MEL GIBSON TO THE RESCUE!

The £40,000 Braveheart Handicap scheduled to run at Hamilton on May 16 will lose its Listed status, the European Pattern Committee has warned if the race rating does not reach the required standard. This rating is based on the average of the first three finishers. Apparently this warning has been issued because the last two renewals of this race for 4-year-olds plus, rated 96 – 110, dropped below the benchmark of 100.

As this race is an integral feature of Hamilton's first evening meeting of the season, the £76,000 Ginger Grouse Braveheart Night, all concerned are quite rightly alarmed and have appealed to owners and trainers to rally to the cause.

 

Hazel Peplinski, Clerk of the Course commented: "This early season highlight has been run as a Listed Handicap at Hamilton Park since 2003 and early winners on its role of honour include the globe-trotting Collier Hill, Allied Powers and Red Cadeaux, so it's something of a shock that the contest is in very real risk of losing its black type status. This is the last chance saloon to drum up support for this rare Scottish Listed race, and it's one we need owners and trainers to give some real consideration to supporting given the consequences if they don't."

GREAT SCOTT! IT'S GREAT LEIGHS - AGAIN!

The new owners of Chelmsford City Racecourse, which was known as Great Leighs, are once more (a third time!) considering plans to stage racing at Chelmsford after a gap of nearly five years.

 

Fred Done, an entrepreneur and bookmaker, together with partners SIS and Bet Solutions International, bought the disused track from the Royal Bank of Scotland last December and are proposing to build a new 2,000 capacity grandstand with £42,000 prize money on offer, if a licence is granted to the newly named Chelmsford City Racecourse for 2015.

 

Great Leighs track was shut down after the then owner James Holmes and his partner Jill Turner were arrested on suspicion of fraud by false representation, cheating the public revenue and money laundering.

 

Plans were submitted in 2012 and 2013 to revive the all-weather polytrack for top-level racing but they were turned down by the British Horse Racing Authority. Now another bid has been tabled by the new management and an announcement is expected in the next few days

 

STAND OUT IN A CROWD

Would ya believe it? Even the EU has been won over by the concept of crowdfunding as a way of financing small business operations. It has even released a document called “Unleashing The Potential of Crowdfunding in the European Union.” This concept has, in fact, been around for some time but sometimes it takes large institutions a while to catch up. Musicians, film-makers and artists have been well aware of and made successful use of the practice of funding a new project or album by raising small amounts of money from a large number of people. This process has been considerably enhanced and facilitated by the development of the Internet.

 

More recently the idea has spread to horse racing. Now someone who loves the sport but doesn't have enough money for an expensive syndicate, can now join hundreds of like-minded people and, for a small annual fee, can help train a horse, go to the races and genuinely feel that they are somebody in the race-going community.

 

An example close to home, is the Kaylina Aramis Racing Syndicate, where, for a modest £47.75 a year (£3 of which is donated to charity) you can:

 

  1. be an owner of a potential future champion.

  2. regularly visit the stables of top trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies and be present on the gallops.

  3. have a chance to win Owners' Badges when Kaylina Aramis runs.

  4. enter the parade ring and chat with trainer and jockeys.

  5. have a share of any prize money.

  6. receive regular updates via email and the website on the training progress of your horse.

  7. generally be a member of an exciting group of people with a passion for horse racing at very little cost.

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY, 23rd APRIL 2014

 

THREE FOR THE ROAD

A Richard Hannon trio will be bidding for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket next month. The Wiltshire trainer has confirmed that he will be saddling NIGHT OF THUNDER, SHIFTING POWER and TOORMORE in the prestigious even on May 3rd.

 

TOORMORE, probably the star of the trio, with four straight wins to his name, is the scheduled ride for Richard Hughes, who has three of the successes to his name. Last time out, however, Ryan Moore took the reins and demonstrated the 3-year-old son of ARAKAN's talents in the Novae Bloodstock Insurance Craven Stakes at Newmarket.

 

SHIFTING POWER is another undefeated 3-year-old who won the CSP European Free Handicap in a close finish last week, ably guided by Ryan Moore.

 

Of the three-some, NIGHT OF THUNDER was the unlucky one, as he failed to maintain his unblemished record at Newbury ten days ago, losing out to John Gosden's KINGMAN in the end in the Aon Greenham Stakes

 

Richard Hannon commented: "I'm quite happy for all three of them to run, at the end of the day they are all owned by different people and they all want to have their go. Hughesie will ride Toormore and we'd like Ryan to ride one, which depends on how many Aidan O'Brien runs. Then it will be the next best available on the other, depending what the owners want. I think they are three excellent chances. Shifting Power is the dark horse. He'll be a lot more suited to a mile and going a bit quicker. He's something a bit out of the ordinary as he's quite big and obviously very good. Night Of Thunder will have improved for the run at Newbury. He went off a bit keen and has an excellent chance of getting closer (to Kingman than four and a half lengths). Toormore did not turn in a performance in the Craven to match Kingman's demolition job in the Greenham Stakes”.

 

GOOD DAY!

It seems the powers-that-be in horse racing are delighted with the success of the inaugural All-Weather Championship Finals day at Lingfield on Good Friday, attended by 8,777 people. This high attendance confirmed the organiser’s faith in the All-Weather Championship series. This series began in October and terminated with the £1million fixture but, more than that, it is generally agreed that it provided a great day’s racing.

 

Tony Kelly, chief executive of the Arena Racing Company who own the all-weather track, commented: “We are delighted with the crowd which has lots of new racegoers among it. The racing has been top quality and thrilling. I haven’t had a smile this big for some time. The day has been a great success. It was very busy getting in and we will learn the lessons for next year. It has been fantastic. This was an innovative project and sometimes you just have to believe, push as hard as you can and go for it.”

 

Paul Bittar, British Horseracing Authority's chief executive added on the day: “It is a really different crowd. There are a lot of families here today and a real mix. The atmosphere has a real buzz to it, so congratulations to Tony [Kelly] and his team.”

 

STAND OUT IN A CROWD

Would ya believe it? Even the EU has been won over by the concept of crowdfunding as a way of financing small business operations. It has even released a document called “Unleashing The Potential of Crowdfunding in the European Union.” This concept has, in fact, been around for some time but sometimes it takes large institutions a while to catch up. Musicians, film-makers and artists have been well aware of and made successful use of the practice of funding a new project or album by raising small amounts of money from a large number of people. This process has been considerably enhanced and facilitated by the development of the Internet.

 

More recently the idea has spread to horse racing. Now someone who loves the sport but doesn't have enough money for an expensive syndicate, can now join hundreds of like-minded people and, for a small annual fee, can help train a horse, go to the races and genuinely feel that they are somebody in the race-going community.

 

An example close to home, is the Kaylina Aramis Racing Syndicate, where, for a modest £47.75 a year (£3 of which is donated to charity) you can:

 

  1. be an owner of a potential future champion.

  2. regularly visit the stables of top trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies.

  3. have a chance to win Owners' Badges when Kaylina Aramis runs.

  4. have a share of any prize money

  5. receive regular updates on the training of your horse.

  6. generally be a member of an exciting group of people with a passion for horse racing at very little cost.

TUESDAY, 22nd APRIL 2014

 

OPEN AND SHUT CASE

SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR provided Barry Geraghty with his first Irish Grand National win yesterday at Fairyhouse. The ride was fortuitous as champion jockey AP McCoy, who would have been the preference of owner JP McManus, received a whip suspension at the English Grand National earlier in the month. The victory also marked the second Irish National success for trainer Jonjo O'Neill and, interestingly, it was the first time a favourite has won the race for 15 years. It was also the ninth success in this event by a British-based trainer.

 

Jonjo O'Neill, who last trumphed in 2007 with BUTLER'S CABIN said afterwards: ‘He was in a great position all the way and jumped really well. Everything went right for him. He has done nothing wrong all season. He had a great run at Cheltenham and after that we thought this was the race for him. Plan B didn’t work out too badly.’

 

In yesterday’s spectacular the 7-year-old son of ACCORDION was close to the pace throughout and Barry Geraghty managed to produce such a huge leap at the last fence that he was able to get the better of Dessie Hughes' GOLDEN WONDER in the final hundred yards to win by three-quarters of a length.

 

BOOKIE BASHING

A small punter, staking just £4.80 on the 16p each-way multiple, got four winners in just over 20 minutes with odds ranging from 8/1 to 25/1 and, thereby, pocketed over £23,000 from a Lucky 15 bet. And the Easter Monday mourners were Sky Bet, a subsidiary of BSkyB.

 

The first lucky break of the day came with SHYRON who turned out to be not such a bashful 25/1 outsider and won the Try A totetrifecta Handicap at Yarmouth by a neck.

 

Number two on the list was 8/1 FOCAIL MAITH who came storming home by three-and-three-quarter lengths in the M&D Flooring, Home Select Service Handicap Hurdle at Huntingdon.

 

And the hits kept on coming!

 

The third leg of the multiple wasn't supposed to happen because COCKTAILS AT DAWN was, for many, the banker of the day at Chepstow. 8-year-old FEAR GLIC, however, appeared to have no respect for bankers and proved them all wrong by winning the K.N.M. Handicap Hurdle by three-and-three-quarter lengths.

 

Then, to add insult to injury, 16/1 shot, AD VITAM defied all odds to snatch victory, this time by a head, in the New Racing UK Anywhere Available Now Classified Selling Stakes victory at Redcar.

 

Michael Shinners, Sky Bet's PR manager commented: "When a bet like this lands, you have to hand it to the customer for some inspired selections. Getting a 4/11 hotpot from Nicky Henderson's yard beat a big call and the writing was probably on the wall when that one landed."

 

TOM TOM

Tom Scudamore scored a double yesterday at Market Rasen and thus clinched his first-ever 100 winners in a season, beating his last-season best of 85. Gloucestershire-born Tom Scudamore is David Pipe's stable jockey. He added the Arkle and the Ryanair Chase to his list of triumphs at last month's Cheltenham Festival.

His double consisted of a tasty 7-length victory aboard his boss's WESTERN DIVA in the Garnetts Sweets Novices' Hurdle, followed shortly afterwards by a win in the racinguk.com/anywhere: 3 Devices, 1 Price Handicap Hurdle on Ian Williams' GIFTED LEADER.

 

MONDAY, 21st APRIL 2014

 

GO ON MY SON!

Jim Dreaper is looking to make it win number five in this afternoon's Boylesports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse. The Kilsallaghan trainer scored in this contest on four occasions in the 70’s. In 1974, he made it with COLEBRIDGE and again in the following two years with BROWN LAD and coming back again in 1978. He is hoping that this time his progressive GOONYELLA will do the honours. The seven-year-old son of PRESENTING has a number of things in his favour: he weighs in at 10 stone 6lbs; he has certainly proved to be a good jumper and will have no problem staying the distance of three miles and five furlongs, having easily won at the Punchestown festival last year which was run over one furlong longer. As mentioned on 15th April, Jim Dreaper originally intended to run him in this year’s Aintree Grand National but he didn't get him in. Perhaps that's another plus in his favour as it means that he will certainly be fresh for the event. He's only had one outing so far this year. That was when he ran in a a Grade 3 hurdle at Clonmel in February, when he produced probably his best performance to-date, finishing second, three and a quarter lengths adrift of DON POLI, who went on to be victorious in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.

 

There are clearly a number of rivals that come under consideration but GOONYELLA should give us a good run for (y)our money and he wouldn't be the first horse to win this prestigious event after a prep race over hurdles.

 

LADIES FIRST

Historic videos have been released which feature old footage of North Devon. British Pathé has uploaded its entire collection of 85,000 films to its YouTube channel. One fascinating film shows the Queen visiting Barnstaple in 1956; another shows British troops tackling an assault course on Woolacombe Beach in 1939 prior to the outbreak of WW2.

 

Of particular interest to this blog is the footage of the first woman jockey taking part in the Bideford Races in the 1920s, where the lady in question is introduced as “Miss Stringer – the first woman to hold a jockey’s licence, finishing third in a big field”. Between September 27, 1922, and 1925, racing was held on a one-and-a-quarter-mile course between Abbotsham and Cornborough. With views from Croyde to Hartland, it was described as England’s most beautifully situated racecourse.

 

However, surprisingly, women were banned from racing under Jockey Club rules in the UK, until 1972, when after many years of arguing, a dozen races was approved for female jockeys. Meriel Patricia Tufnell overcame childhood disability and won the first race, the Goya Stakes at Kempton Park on 6 May 1972.

 

In recent years, the profile of women jockeys has risen considerably, particularly in Flat racing. In 2005 Hayley Turner was acclaimed Champion Apprentice rider, and then became the first woman to ride 100 winners in a season in 2008. Also in the same year, Kirsty Milczarek, born in the UK of Polish parents, became the first woman to ride three winners at a single UK race meeting at Kempton Park and she went on to ride 71 winners in that year.

There have also been notable successes in National Hunt racing, too, with Nina Carberry, the 2005/06 Irish Qualified Rider champion and Katie Walsh who came third in the 2012 Grand National on SEABASS

Watch this space!

 

SUNDAY, 20th APRIL 2014

 

MOORE THE MERRIER

East Sussex jockey, Ryan Moore, scored a treble at Kempton Park yesterday. His first of the day was in the feature race, the Betfred Mobile Lotto Snowdrop Fillies' Stakes where, aboard the 4-year-old ZURIGHA, he did the business for trainer, Richard Hannon. More importantly for the Wiltshire trainer, however, was the win in the very next race with SEA SHANTY, also with Ryan Moore steering, as this was his first victory for the Queen and that probably means that Her Majesty will be heading down to Royal Ascot in the Summer with this daughter of ELUSIVE QUALITY.

This was confirmed by Richard Hannon: "All roads now lead to the Hunt Cup and I'm happy to give him time to get over this."

Ryan Moore's hat-trick came half-an-hour later in the Betfred Supports Jack Berry House Fillies' Conditions Stakes when he rode the William Haggas-trained QUEEN OF ICE to a decisive 1¾ length victory. The irony was that, in doing so, he deprived Richard Hannon of a treble, as his filly, MIDNITE ANGEL, was just not strong enough when up against Ryan Moore's mount.

 

LATEST SCOOP – NO WINNERS

The Tote Scoop6 turned out once more to be too hard to win yesterday so that means next weekend there will be record roll-over prize pool money up for grabs. The total amount winnable exceeded £3million but all remaining tickets were wiped out after just four legs. There were still a few hopes left before the fourth race but these were soon dashed when STREAMS OF WHISKEY came in an 18/1 outsider in the ironically named ToteScoop6 Millionaire Maker Handicap Chase at Haydock. That disaster did rather leave Betfred, who own the Tote, with egg on their face as they had been offering 4/6 on that there would be a winner this weekend.

Spokesman for Betfred, Mark Pearson elucidated: “Turnover was massive at £1,585,098 and next weekend the combined win and bonus funds will go over £4 million. We could even end up with record combined funds which was in November 2008 when it hit £4.5 million. The Scoop6 has once again caught the public’s imagination.”

This week's rollover is the fourth biggest in the bet's history, with combined funds of £3,061,776.

 

SATURDAY, 19th APRIL 2014

 

THE MON(EY) OR THE SUN AND THE FUN?

A record crowd of 8,700 piled into Lingfield Park to mark the first ever Good Friday fixture. Everyone agreed that the £1million All-Weather Championship Finals day was an unmitigated triumph. This figure is almost double the expected attendance at next month's Lingfield Derby Trial event. The other track testing the holy waters was Musselburgh, which had to be satisfied with a more modest count of 3,000 racegoers. The important point is that the virtual taboo for racing on a day with religious connections has been broken.

 

Tony Kelly, Managing Director of ARC, owners of Lingfield, commented: 'We were pretty confident that on a Bank Holiday you could get a decent crowd but this is better than we expected. The £1million is an ongoing commitment. We are not going to stop here. Our ambition is to build the equivalent of a Breeders' Cup in Europe. We have already had interest in staging qualifiers for Championship Finals day from Meydan (in Dubai), Ireland and France.'

 

There may, however, be a question mark as to whether Lingfield's infrastructure is up to such high-flying ambitions but that shouldn't detract from the success achieved by the Lingfield organisation.

 

As for the argument that the valuable prize money on offer brought in the crowds as well as the trainers with their top-rank horses, it was interesting to note that quite a number of visitors left before the last race, even though it was a £200,000 Coral Easter Classic. This might possibly suggests that the quality of the racing on offer was less important to the general public than the chance of a having a good day out in the Bank Holiday sun.

That's one more blank day removed from the racing calendar. How long before Christmas Day racing?

 

SCOOP TO CONQUER

As much as £3 million could be won today by punters participating in the Combined Scoop6 pools. Altogether 73 runners have been declared covering four races at Haydock and two at Kempton and that's the challenge faced by anyone dreaming of scooping all that lolly. The winning amount begins the day at £973,464 and that figure has only twice before been beaten.

For the lucky pickers of all six legs there follows the bonus will increase to £1,295,763 - and due to rise further today but the dispiriting news is that 33 weeks have gone by without a winner.

 

Readers will recall that Geraldine Hughes, the gambling granny, missed out on the bonus after staking £2 on runners, chosen according their names. She won £154,792 in February but the next week she lost out on the bonus of £702,010 bonus.

 

Spokesman for Betfred, Andrew Griffiths believes the first five legs are wide-open contests, but the finale - the Tim Molony Handicap Chase at Haydock – could well give punters a banker where FENTARA is well fancied to beat her five rivals.

"There's no doubt punters are going to pile into the Scoop6 and the sheer weight of investment means it's more than likely it will be cracked."

 

FRIDAY, 18th APRIL 2014

 

FUND IT AND THEY WILL COME!

Hard to believe but it's 25 years since the phrase 'all-weather' started to be used and a new racetrack was constructed near Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire called Southwell. There are now three other all-weather tracks at Lingfield, Kempton and Wolverhampton but Southwell remains unique with its 'fibresand' surface, a mixture of sand and wispy fibres. This surface is quite deep and so it's quite a stamina test, requiring very fit horses and hard-working jockeys, particularly during the winter months. One popular jockey associated with this racecourse is Hayley Turner who grew up in the area and had her first racing job with a trainer based near the track.

Someone else who has fond memories of Southwell is Mark Johnston, now recognised as of the most successful Flat trainers . Back in 1989, though, he was a 30-year-old vet ambitious to succeed in his own business enterprise. When prompted to think back to those early days, he says the first thing that comes to mind is the antiquated weighing room at Southwell which could be depressing at the best of times. And many didn't realise that 'all-weather' also included fog, strong winds, floods or even frost. But he warmly recalls the enthusiasm of those keen to develop this new venture despite coming up against the traditionalists who pooh-poohed the whole concept as an irrelevance to real horse racing, staged for the benefit of a minority of crackpots.

 

Now, 25 years later it's all changed. After years in the shadows the black sheep of the family has just about been accepted as part of the big racing family. This is particularly celebrated today, with racing taking place for the first time on Good Friday, as Lingfield presents its first £1m Championship Day, the richest card of its type in Europe.

 

Mark Johnston confesses that, after his initial enthusiasm, he cooled to the concept of all-weather racing and even called it "a programme of dross" because it wasn't providing the quality of racing that he expected.

 

As he quite rightly comments: "It's not the surface, it's the prize money. Put on better-class racing and the good horses will come. This Lingfield venture wouldn't have worked overall without big prize money.

 

THE REIN IN SPAIN

More history in the making. This time in the Qipco 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 3. For the first time ever a Spanish-trained horse will be lining up for the prestigious prize. According to his Spanish trainer, Enrique Leon, NOOZHOH CANARIAS will have no problems dealing with his first experience of Newmarket's Rowley Mile.

 

Christophe Soumillon has been booked to ride the colt, who suffered his only defeat in last October's Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp, but made an impressive reappearance in Madrid at the end of last month.

 

Trainer, Enrigue Leon, who spent three years working in Newmarket for James Fanshawe, and even rode out on the great SOVIET SONG, has come over for a few days to reconnoitre.

He commented: "I just wanted to come over and sort some things and make some arrangements. Noozhoh Canarias will come over on the Thursday and will be stabled in Newmarket. The ground is usually drier here than in France, the conditions are better (for him). Coming to England is like playing in the Champions League."

 

THURSDAY, 17th APRIL 2014

 

A WELSH RARE BIT!

Cheltenham definitely seemed to be under a spell of Welsh wizardry yesterday. Two trainers from 'The Land of my Fathers' pulled off a double between them. First into the winner's enclosure was Dai Burchell whose 8/1 shot, REBECCA'S CHOICE, surprisingly won the Rundle And Co Handicap Chase by a neck. The narrowly defeated jockey was none other than Sam Twiston-Davies (see yesterday's write-up) riding MAJOR MALARKEY.

 

Next on the scene came Evan Williams with his BUYWISE who ran the opposition ragged to win the Wooden Spoon Charity Silver Trophy Chase by nine lengths. And guess who came second all this distance behind? Right. Sam Twiston-Davies aboard ASTRACAD!

 

Evan Williams was quick to sing the praises of jockey, Paul Moloney, for this latter victory.

"Paul did a wonderful job, it was a phenomenal ride and I can't take any credit. That's him(the horse!) finished for the season and the next time you see him will either be in the Paddy Power Gold Cup back here or in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury. There are no doubts at all about his engine, it is just getting the engine from A to B that can be the problem!"

 

AND THAT'S FINAL!

In case you missed all the brouhaha about racing taking place for the first time on Good Friday. Tomorrow marks the first of the All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Lingfield and there will be total prize money of £1 million for the lucky winners. The day will feature six championship category finals and a mile-and-a half apprentice jockeys' contest. To participate runners must run a minimum of three times between October 26 and the six-day confirmation stage for the Championship Final races. Alternatively they must win a 'Fast-Track Qualifier' which will guarantee participation in a specific race.

Three 'FTQs' have been designated for each race, other than the Fillies and Mares Final, for which there will only be one. These races will serve as useful form guides for the next Finals Day.

 

'WE'RE IN THE MONEY' WELL, THEY ARE!

You may not have made much money at the Cheltenham Festival but last year the Jockey Club achieved a record group turnover of £166.9 million, an increase of 11% and operating profits grew by the same amount to £22 million. That's the fifth year that business has been booming. The group also made a contribution of £18.24 million towards prize-money in 2013 making a total of £41.6 million available at the 15 racecourses supervised by the Jockey Club.

Simon Bazalgette, the Group Chief Executive reported: "I am delighted to report we grew our turnover as a Group in 2013. We also increased operating profits year on-year by 11 percent to a record £22 million. This performance not only exceeded UK economic growth of 1.9 percent in 2013, but also bettered the 8% turnover and 3% operating profit growth we were able to deliver in 2012. This was the fifth consecutive year of business growth for the Group with our racing festivals, media incomes and 'racing plus music' events continuing to be particularly important."

It's good t o see that all the money is being ploughed back into the business. One noticeable area is the £45 million redevelopment of Cheltenham Racecourse.

 

WEDNESDAY, 16th APRIL 2014

 

TWIST ON, DAVIES!

Not many people can say that they are “privileged” to be doing a job that they love but that's how jockey, Sam Twiston-Davies feels about his chosen profession, as he prepares to make the 14-mile journey down the road to Cheltenham Racecourse. The next two days mark the final fixture for professional jockeys at this course for the season. The 21-year-old son of trainer, Nigel, generally considered to be a future champion jockey in the making, has just had the most successful season of his career so far, notching up 100 winners for the first time and riding some of the best horses in the business, including THE NEW ONE, for his father. In addition he has developed good relationships with other trainers, in particular, Paul Nicholls for whom he has ridden TIDAL BAY and the acclaimed BIG BUCK'S.

 

In order to make his 100 this season Sam Twiston-Davies has had to demonstrate that he has the necessary energy and will-power to travel from one end of the country to the next to ride and pursue success. Of course, every jockey dreams about winning at Cheltenham but they've got to be prepared to go to the other smaller, perhaps less glamorous venues, because these are required to make up the winning numbers.

 

As the Naunton jockey put it: “It’s what you work hard for, to have winners every day of the week. When you ride the likes of The New One and Double Ross and horses like that, they all started off winning on a Monday to Friday and it’s great to see them progress.“I’ve had some very good rides and ridden for some very good trainers – I’ve been very lucky really. The target at the start of the season was 90 to beat last year’s total of 87, so to get to 100 is a massive milestone.

 

Sam Twiston-Davies starts today on 106 winners. He has only a small number of more experienced jockeys to emulate: 18-times champion, AP McCoy (211 winners), Richard Johnson (150), Jason Maguire (130) and Noel Fehily (122).

 

RECORD PUT ON BACK BURNER

So, after all the fuss about non-runners and all-weather records, STAND GUARD didn't make it 27 at Southwell yesterday. For a change John Butler's 10-year-old was out of the limelight and in second place by four lengths behind David Nicholls' BACK BURNER, a 14/1 surprise, who took over the lead two furlongs out from LICENCE TO TILL and never looked like losing from that point on. Jockey, Tom Queally got STAND GUARD into a good position to make a serious challenge one furlong from home but, somehow, the 10-year-old son of DANEHILL didn't seem to have what it takes on this occasion.

Trainer John Butler commented afterwards: "He ran a very creditable race. I think he ran up to form. We knew it was a better race. We'll see how he is tomorrow. There will be no snap decisions about retiring him. He'll make the decision for us. We might give him two or three weeks off. There's a race for him back here in June. I might just put him in the paddocks for a few weeks and then decide about whether to run him in June. That's probably when we'll make the decision."

 

TUESDAY, 15th APRIL 2014

 

GO ON FELLA!

GOONYELLA (Is that Go on, Yella! You never know with horses' names!) is trainer Jim Dreaper's hopeful for the Boylesports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday. The 5-year-old was among the reserves for the Aintree National but narrowly missed getting in. The county Dublin-base handler thinks his son of PRESENTING stands a good chance in what is one of the most iconic events in the Irish Calendar.

 

The Dreaper training family obviously have quite a soft spot for this race as they have a second entry, LOS AMIGOS. Jim Dreaper has, in fact, won the race four times but this record is completely overshadowed by the successes of his father, Tom, who, incredibly, has added ten victories to his name. As he commented recently: “It could be for luck that Goonyella missed Aintree. It means that we can go to Fairyhouse with a relatively fresh horse."

 

GOONYELLA certainly needs a bit of luck to go his way as he was pulled up in last year's event because his saddle slipped just after the sixth fence. On the other hand, 7-year-old LOS AMIGOS, although he has a similar profile to his stable-mate, is relatively lightly-raced but he seems to stays three miles well.

 

But let the trainer have the last word: ““We know that he stays three miles well, and we are hopeful that he will stay three miles and five furlongs. Just because they stay three miles, it doesn’t always follow that they will stay three and a half, but we are hopeful that this fellow will.”

 

THE NON-RUNNER RULE

The 26-all-weather record champion, STAND GUARD, may be running for the last time today at Southwell. He is entered in the Coral App Download From The App Store Claiming Stakes which the opening race. That should be enough to attract a lot of interest but there is more. The BHA and bookmakers have said they will be monitoring the race closely for reasons that sound a little complex and sinister. The background to the saga appears to be that the 10-year-old son of DANEHILL was withdrawn from his last three races at very short notice. It is reported that last month the BHA got in touch with the Gambling Commission over concerns about the seller from which SSTAND GUARD was taken out, because they feel it exposes a further weakness in the Rule 4 system, enabling early backers of subsequent race winner, MR BURBIDGE to get 1/4 on a horse that was eventually returned at 1/10.

 

In a recent Coral-sponsored race in January, STAND GUARD had been a 1/80 winner after LA ESTRELLA, his main rival was withdrawn and he won for the 26th time at 1/7 after four of his five rivals pulled out.

 

Trainer John Butler stated: “There are not a lot of races left in him. There are two more, tomorrow and Saturday week at Wolverhampton, but he might not run at Wolverhampton. This could be his last run.”

 

About STAND GUARD's recent withdrawals, he added: “There were no rules broken. Every horse is entitled to be a non-runner. You get them every day of the week so there was nothing really to look into.”

 

Robin Mounsey who is a spokesman for BHA said: “The ongoing issue regarding Stand Guard remains of interest to us. We will be monitoring the situation and continuing to liaise with the Gambling Commission on this matter.”

 

GONE FOR GOOD!

In my comments about first-ever horse racing on Good Friday, I overlooked the fact that Musselburgh is also not having a holiday on a Holy Day. There will be a full 7-feature race card including the £50,000 Royal Mile Handicap, part of a total prize money of over £115,000.

 

MONDAY, 14th APRIL 2014

 

WILL RACING BE GOOD, FRIDAY?

So horse racing will take place for the first time ever on Good Friday. When the idea was first mooted last year most riders were unhappy about the plans as they are worried about losing a rare rest day and the effect it would have on their awards night.

Also for many years Good Friday has traditionally been the day when trainers open up their yards to visitors to raise money for charity. In fact, more than 25 racing yards are expected to open their doors to the public in the Valley of the Racehorse (Lambourn) and over 10,000 visitors are expected to attend. All money raised will go to Lambourn's registered charity, The Lambourn Valley Housing Trust which works for the welfare of its stable staff, The Air Ambulance and other local needy causes.

So it is understandable that these organisations are upset that their good work will be in competition with an organisation offering an exciting day's racing.

Anyway. Love it or hate it, it's happening this Friday.

The first of the All-Weather Championships Finals Day takes place at Lingfield. A total prize money of £1 million will be up for grabs. There will be six championship category finals and an additional apprentice jockeys' contest run over a distance of a mile and a half. Competitors will be able to qualify by racing a minimum of three times between October 26 and the six-day confirmation stage for the Championship Final races. If they win a "Fast-Track Qualifier" they will be guaranteed a place in a specific race.

 

So Lambourn or Lingfield? Your call!

 

A LITERARY CHOICE

After racing was done at the Curragh on Sunday, top Irish trainer, Aidan O'Brien gave a workout to 40 of his horses. He was so pleased with the results that he has decided to let his unbeaten colt, GEOFFREY CHAUCER, have a go at the French 2000 Guineas next month. The three-year-old son of MONTJEU won the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Maiden at Leopardstown on his first time out in July last year and followed that up with a victory in the Juddmonte Beresford Stakes at the Curragh in September. Consideration is also being given to the possibility of sending him back in May to race in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains at Longchamp.

 

The Balleydoyle trainer commented: "Geoffrey Chaucer is very much in the picture for the French Guineas. He's showing a lot of speed for a Montjeu. I was thinking of running him at Navan on Saturday, but I was happier to come away here and he'll either start off in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial or the French Guineas on the same day."

 

SUNDAY, 13th APRIL 2014

 

NOT ON THE CARDS

So what was all that pre-race hot air all about? (not in RACING NEWS, of course!)

A Scottish-trained horse didn't win. Lucinda Russell's GREEN FLAG was 6th. Over 26 lengths behind the victor and her other two runners didn't complete the course.

An English-trained champion didn't make it. Paul Nicholls' TIDAL BAY was 7th. 28 lengths behind the winner.

An Irish-trained runner didn't come close, either. Stuart Crawford's YES TOM came 9th. - 66 lengths adrift.

So, who beat them all to the prize in the Scottish Grand National? A Welsh-trained French 40/1 outsider – AL CO, trained by Pembrokeshire-based Peter Bowen!

 

Add to that extraordinary news the name of winning jockey and you have a story you can dine out on for the next twelve months. It was quite a day for Jamie Moore, coming so soon after his outstanding performance on Sire de Grugy in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham festival and the importance of that win to the owners, the Preston family (Full story: RACING NEWS 13th March).

 

In what must be a race for the record books, only nine horses out of the 29 starters completed the course. 18 were Pulled Up, one Fell and one horse acquired the rare designation -RR (Refused to Run). Any guesses which one? That's right. BATTLE GROUP, reprising his performance in the Crabbie's Grand National last week!

 

In fact when push came to shove there were only three runners in a position to have any influence on the result of the contest when they approached the final fence – Alan King's GODSMEJUDGE (last year's winner); Tom Easterby's TRUSTAN TIMES and, of course, the eventual winner, AL CO. The latter did give his jockey a bit of a fright, though, when he spooked and jumped to the right on the run-in but Jamie Moore managed to keep him under control to beat GODSMEJUDGE by one-and-a-half lengths.

 

NOT READY YET, MA'AM

The Queen's racehorse, ESTIMATE, whose Dam, EBAZIYA was given to Her Majesty as an 80th birthday present, has become involved in more training recently but there is still no indication as to when she will be seen on the race track again. After her Gold Cup success at Royal Ascot last October, the 5-year-old daughter of MONSUN only had one more run, also at Ascot, and that was in the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup but only managed seventh place. Trainer, Sir Michael Stoute, however, let it be known that the mare had had an (unspecified) injury between those two races and so wasn't able to compete in the Lonsdale Cup at York in August of that year.

 

The Barbadian trainer (his father was Chief of Police for Barbados) stated: "She had a nice, long holiday at Sandringham, so we're just loosening her up and conditioning her now. We'll wait and see where we start her off. She had an injury just before the Lonsdale so she's been at home a long time. She's easy to train, but she's not easy to ride - she's just bouncy, bubbly and a bit naughty. We're just going into strong work and we'll wait and see what schedule she is on."

 

SATURDAY, 12th APRIL 2014

 

DREAM TEAM?

A lifelong ambition to win the Scottish Grand National could become a reality at Ayr today if the gods smile on Lucinda Russell. The leading Scottish trainer will saddle three strong hopefuls at the Ayrshire track in her bid to achieve this dream. The last time a Scottish-trained winner hit the headlines was in 2012 when Dumfriesshire trainer Andrew Parker's MERIGO did the honours, regaining the crown that was first his in 2010. Now the Kinross-based Lucinda Russell wants her name to go down in history.

 

As she commented: "Whenever I've been asked which race I would like to win the most, the answer has always been the Scottish Grand National. It would mean a lot to us and it's great to be going there with three good chances."

 

GREEN FLAG must be considered the strongest of her talented trio. He notched up a hat-trick at Kelso, Ayr and Newcastle in October and November last year and performed noticeably well at the Cheltenham Festival last time out when he finished fourth behind HOLYWELL, the subsequent Aintree winner.

 

The second of her potential dream-makers is 10-year-old LIE FORRIT who tackles his first contest over fences this season after two wins over hurdles at Kelso last month and Wetherby in October.

 

The long-shot of the team has to be 8-year-old NUTS N BOLTS who hasn't much recent form to go on, apart from a win at Haydock in November. He does know the track, though, having won there twice in January and February 2013.

 

SUCCESS ON TRACK

Nottingham Racecourse won a national award in 2013 in recognition of how welcome they make racehorse owners feel. On the strength of that the management decided to do even more for those who invest so much money in horse racing. Now an entire floor of the grandstand has been put at the disposal of owners and trainers. The development involved combining an informal restaurant and bar area with immediate access to an external terrace from where the races can be viewed. The new feature was opened by former trainer Barry Hills.

 

General Manager of Nottingham Racecourse, Pip Kirkby, commented: "The investment that we're making underlines the importance that we place on the owners and trainers who run their horses with us and how key it is for us that they enjoy the best possible experience at Nottingham Racecourse. We are also delighted to announce that prize-money will be £965,000 – at an average of £46,000 at each of our 21 fixtures."

 

 

FRIDAY, 11th APRIL 2014

 

AYR AWAY,TIDAL BAY!

Now we know. Paul Nicholls' TIDAL BAY will make for the borders on Saturday to compete in the Scottish equivalent of the Grand National at Ayr, maybe as a way of making up for the disappointment at Aintree when the son of FLEMENSFIRTH was badly hindered and unseated his jockey, Sam Twiston-Davis, early in the race. Due to the mysterious quirks of handicapping, the inclusion of the top-weight 13-year-old will mean that 21 of the entrants will be able to race from out of the handicap. That includes Stuart Crawford's YES TOM, ridden by Paul Carberry and Colin McBratney's SOLE WITNESS with Ben Dalton aboard. These two Irish handlers are hoping to lead the first Irish-trained horse into the winner's enclosure since 1869.

 

NOW YOU HAVE IT. NOW YOU DON'T

On the subject of TIDAL BAY, his booked rider for the Ayr event, Sam Twiston-Davies, had a funny old day yesterday. He discovered he had been deprived of his earlier win at Stratford on March 29. On that day the stewards had controversially disqualified Warren Greatrex's DOLATULO, ridden by Gavin Sheehan and given first place to Nigel Twiston-Davies' BENBENS, with son Sam aboard.

The story behind this is that Sam Twiston-Davies had mounted a challenge on the outside approaching the last but seems to have failed to take account of the fact that they had to skirt an obstacle in the straight and went into the rail when he ran out of room. DOLATULO appeared to keep a straight line after the last but the 7-year-old son of LE FOU was denied his first place and Gavin Sheehan was given a 4-day ban for careless riding.

This, for some, controversial decision has now been overturned on appeal but will be poor consolation to all those punters who backed Dolatulo at 9/1 on the day. It'll be a technical disappointment, too, for Sam Twiston-Davies, as he celebrated his 100th win of the season on that day, and now, as it turns out, prematurely. He has since made up for it, though, as he's now on 103! Yesterday at Ludlow, perhaps he celebrated another kind of record; he had a 1st 2nd 3rd 4th and 5th!

 

NOT A STABLE RELATIONSHIP

The National Trainers' Federation has taken the unusual step of criticising Newbury racecourse and demanding an apology. At the Berkshire venue's important meeting on Saturday many horses will be unable to race because there are too few stables even for those declared to run. In fact, nine horses accepted for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Maiden Stakes for 3-year-olds cannot take part. There is also great disappointment, as the rest of the high-class card features the first two domestic Classic trials of the flat season, including the Aon Greenham Stakes. The BHA has, however, ridden to the rescue and is planning an additional maiden race at Nottingham next Saturday in an effort to compensate trainers who have been unable to run their horses.

This sorry state of affairs has come about because the stable capacity at Newbury is restricted to 100 this weekend and not the usual 120, as some of the track's redevelopment work has not been finished in time for the first meeting of the Flat season.

 

THURSDAY, 10th APRIL 2014

 

IT'S ALL A MATTER OF TIME

When the experts at Timeform bring out their annual Racehorses edition, that has to mean that the long-awaited Flat season has started. This publication first came out in 1947, two years after the end of WW2 and the year that we celebrated the wedding of the Queen and The Duke Of Edinburgh. As a timely reminder of the latter event and of the Queen's passionate interest in horse racing, Her Majesty's Gold Cup winner ESTIMATE is represented on the front cover.

 

This doesn't mean. However, that Timeform's 'Racehorses of 2013' is just some glossy equine magazine. It carries the usual strong expert opinions about horses and racing that has made it a main-line reference work in the world of horse racing.

 

Jamie Lynch is Timeform's chief correspondent is happy to give a few tasty titbits for anyone contemplating buying the book.

 

There is, for instance, a review of the Mahmood Al Zarooni and Godolphin drugs case and exploring the 'mystery' as to how Al Zarooni was in Dubai for much of the time of the investigation whilst being accused - according to the BHA - for the drugs scandal evolving in Newmarket.

There is a report about one of the most controversial results of any race last year, when SKY LANTERN's connections failed to get the stewards to reverse the placings in the Falmouth Stakes on the day or subsequently at the BHA, despite suffering obvious interference from the declared winner, ELUSIVE KATE.

What is clear from the outset is that at Timeform, as its name suggests, the clock is king. We learn that HOT STREAK's performance last October at Ascot, for instance, with a time-figure of 125 was easily the best recorded by a two-year-old last season. Indeed the only horse that managed to match this figure in recent years was FRANKEL when he won the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes in October 2010.

The publication contains further information about horses to be noted this season and is an invaluable addition to any punter's armoury.

'Racehorses of 2013' costs £79 and can be ordered postage-free in the UK from www.timeform.com.

 

SHOULD I GO OR SHOULD I STAY? ALL THE WAY WITH TIDAL BAY!

At the latest acceptance stage, sixty-nine horses are 'still standing' in the bet365 Gold Cup to be run at Sandown Park on Saturday, including Paul Nicholls' TIDAL BAY who has still to make up his mind (the trainer not the horse!) about running the 13-year-old son of FLEMENSFIRTH. Perhaps bookies should be taking bets on the odds of the John Smith's Hurdle victor going up to Ayr, instead, to take his chances in the Coral Scottish National!

 

Another notable absentee at Sandown will be the Grand National winner, PINEAU DE RE, trained by Dr Richard Newland, who pulled him out yesterday but the Midlands Medic could still be represented by ARDKILLY WITNESS and MART LANE.

 

Sandown Park's Head of Racing and Clerk of the Course, Andrew Cooper, reported: "We are looking forward to a competitive and exciting renewal of the bet365 Gold Cup. A combination of recent rain and selective watering means the going on the Jumps course at Sandown Park is currently Good to Soft, Good in places."

WEDNESDAY, 9th APRIL 2014

 

AN IRISH LOTTERY?

According to the official track records the last time an Irish-trained horse won the Scottish National was in 1869. Emerald Isle trainer, Stuart Crawford, is hoping to be the one to make up for this 145-year omission but, whether he can or not, is becoming a bit of a lottery. It all depends on an English trainer - Paul Nicholls. But the Co Antrim handler, along with many others, has to wait and see whether top-weight TIDAL BAY runs or not. If the 13-year-old son of FLEMENSFIRTH does take part then rest of the field will be racing from out of the handicap proper. Paul Nicholls has said he's leaving this momentous decision to the latest possible moment. If the winner of the bet365 Gold Cup doesn't run then Stuart Crawford will not only be ferrying YES TOM across the Irish Sea to Ayr but also MR PHILSON and AIBREAN.

But it is YES TOM who seems to have aroused the most interest among punters and bookies and the 9-year-old winner of the Daily Mirror Chase at Down Royal on, appropriately, St Patrick’s Day, is a rising star and is a 20/1 shot at the moment to make history for a second time. As for a jockey, Robbie Power rode him last time out but his chances of riding the horse again on Saturday also revolve around what happens with TIDAL BAY

As Stuart Crawford put it: “Ten stone might be a struggle for him (Robbie Power) if Tidal Bay runs so if that happens we’ll try and get the best we can get. But if he doesn’t, the weights will go up and the whole race will change.

 

A CHAMPION DAY ALL ROUND!

A £250,000 Balmoral Handicap has been added to British Champions Day at Ascot in October, making it the richest handicap mile in European flat racing. The race will accept a maximum of 30 runners and only horses finishing in the top six of 18 qualifying races held throughout the British flat racing season will be allowed to run.

 

Qualifying races for the Balmoral Handicap include, among others, the Investec Mile Handicap at Epsom and the August Handicap Stakes at Goodwood. The first of 18 qualifiers, the Makfi Suffolk Handicap, will be held at Newmarket on May 3. Then Royal Ascot this June will follow suit with three others - the Royal Hunt Cup, the Britannia Handicap Stakes and the Buckingham Palace Stakes.

 

The Champions Series consisting of 35 races in all will highlight the best of British flat racing. Champions Day, itself, will offer over £3 million in prize money, making it the richest event in the British horse racing calendar. The final race on October 18th will the Balmoral Handicap, ending a day that will also feature the world's highest-rated race, the £1.3m Champions Stakes, and the £1m Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

 

Rob Street, Chief Executive of the British Champions Series Rob Street stated: "This record-breaking prize fund underpins the day's status as one of the most important race meetings in the world. Overall prize money on British Champions Day has increased by 25% since the inaugural [event] in 2011."

 

TUESDAY, 8th APRIL 2014

 

ROUND AND ROUND

The Richard Hannon-trained MAGICAL ROUNDABOUT, ably aided and abetted by Ryan Moore, won the British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Stakes at Windsor yesterday and, thereby, took things full circle. This is because the aptly-named grey colt is the first victorious offspring of Zebedee, who won the self-same event exactly four years ago.

 

(Some readers under a certain age may not remember the enchanting BBC children's programme 'The Magic Roundabout' with characters such as Zebedee (the Jack-in-the-Box), Brian (the Snail) and Dylan (the Cow), named after Bob Dylan !!)

 

Owner, Julie Wood, commented: Zebedee won this race four years ago, and this is his first winner as a sire, so it's absolutely brilliant."

 

The Hannons have ruled at Windsor for a long time and have scored in this particular race five times in seven years. Trainer Richard Hannon (formerly jnr!), just taking over the reins from his father, said: “Julie has four Zebedees so it's great for her. The horse liked the ground and needs six furlongs. Talk of Royal Ascot at the moment is ridiculous, but he has passed his first test and will go for a conditions race now."

 

That was not the end of a magical day's racing at Windsor, by a long chalk. Top jockey, Ryan Moore, notched up three other victories; one more for Richard Hannon on TOBACCO ROAD; one for Sir Michael Stoute on CANNOCK CHASE; and he finished off the day appropriately with his fourth win on his father Gary's CIVIL WAR.

 

It's performances like these that have made Ryan Moore the odds-on favourite with Coral to regain the championship crown from Richard Hughes this season.

 

AYR GO ON!

TIDAL BAY, who only got as far as the 8th fence in last Saturday's Grand National, may be entered for the Scottish equivalent at Ayr, even though he tops the weights for the event. This, at least, is under consideration by trainer Paul Nicholls.

 

The popular 13-year-old was badly hampered when GOLAN WAY fell at the Canal Turn and unseated the unfortunate Sam Twiston-Davies. The son of FLEMENSFIRTH, however, seemed none the worse for the experience, as he galloped on riderless for the rest of the first circuit before he was caught by track officials.

 

The Somerset handler commented: "He cantered as normal this morning and we'll make a decision later in the week about whether to let him run at Ayr. The options are this or the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown (April 26). It would be nice to get a steer on Sandown as I would probably run him there if the ground was good, but I'm a bit worried about it getting too quick.

MONDAY, 7th APRIL 2014

 

THE DOCTOR'S REPEAT PRESCRIPTION

Winning the Grand National might be enough for some but trainer, Dr. Richard Newland, and owner, John Provan, didn't stop there. The very next day they extended their winning streak to a double at Market Rasen. First off, they scored in the Racing UK Lady Riders' Selling Handicap Hurdle with DALMO. The victory may not have been up in the stratosphere like the previous day's success but to winning amateur rider, Ali Sterling, who won the same race a year ago it was just as exciting. The 5-year-old son of DALAKHANI was the 13/8 favourite and justified the odds since he just about made every yard of the running, ably steered by his jockey.

The Midlands Medic commented afterwards: “They all count! I've got no voice left now after yesterday and now that one. I thought Ali did really well there."

Owner John Provan added: "They are all sweet. I've been drinking champagne on a regular basis since straight after the National, we were even drinking it in the chopper!"

 

You'd think that the wheel of fortune would have stopped spinning at that point. But no. The Doctor turned trainer was in the winner's enclosure yet again one-and-a half hours later when he teamed up once more with his Grand National winning jockey, Leighton Aspell, to score in the Double M Novices' Chase with ARDKILLY WITNESS, – another dark horse, which he co-owns and from whom, it is mooted, he expects greater things before the end of the season.

 

WHERE DID IT GO WRONG FOR YOU?

OK. Your selection didn't win or even get placed.

So where did you lose your money?

 

Fence 1: Twirling Magnet (fell).

Fence 2: Burton Port (unseated).

Fence 3: Big Shu (fell).

Fence 6 (Becher's Brook): Last Time D'Albain (unseated).

Fence 8 (Canal Turn): Tidal Bay and Our Father (unseated), Golan Way (fell).

Fence 9 (Valentine's Brook): Long Run and Mountainous (fell), The Rainbow Hunter (unseated).

Fence 15 (The Chair): Teaforthree unseated.

Fence 20: Shakalakaboomboom (pulled up).

Fence 21: Quito De La Roque (pulled up).

Fence 22 (Becher's Brook): Tricolo D'Alene (pulled up), One In A Milan (fell).

Fence 25 (Valentine's Brook): Colbert Station (pulled up).

Fence 26: Vintage Star (pulled up) Rose of the Mon (fell).

Fence 27: Lion Na Bernai (pulled up).

Fence 28: Wayward Prince (fell).

Fence 29: Walkon (pulled up).

 

Non-starter: Battle Group.

 

SUNDAY, 6th APRIL 2014

 

THE JOCKEYS WERE REVOLTING!

What should have been the perfect ending to a perfect week descended into virtual chaos. Stewards had ordered an enquiry about the starting of the Grand National and also the incident where an assistant starter was knocked down by a horse. All the jockeys, apart from Brendan Powell, whose horse, BATTLE GROUP refused to race, had to go into the stewards' room after the race. They were questioned as to why they had approached the tape before the starter had signalled them to do so and how his assistant came to be knocked down. Tony McCoy acted as spokesman for the jockeys, but then when the enquiry was reconvened after the last race of the day, the jockeys refused to take part. The incident has now been referred to the British Horseracing Authority for a full hearing when the 39 riders could face further punishment for refusing to participate in the follow-up enquiry.

 

Paul Struthers, chief executive of the Professional Jockeys Association, commented later: "I wasn't invited to be present for the initial hearing, but I know that certain conversations took place between jockeys and stewards and the jockeys - to a man - decided that they would not take part when the hearing was due to re-commence. Only one of them would have needed to be present, but they all decided that they would not take part. They all agreed that they just weren't happy about the way in which matters were being conducted."

It seems that the main cause of the jockeys' grievance was that they were upset to hear that a decision had already been reached to give them each a two-day ban even before the second meeting was convened.

 

A PROVAN CHAMPION

The 2014 Grand National was won by a trainer, who used to be a GP, a jockey who 'un-retired' and a horse named after a fine French wine.

 

The Doctor - Dr Richard Newland - founder of the Newhall Medical Practice as Birmingham’s first private GP service, only took out his trainer's permit in 2006.

 

The jockey - Leighton Aspell- announced his retirement from race riding in 2007 but 'missed the camaraderie of the weighing room' and began his come-back in April 2009.

 

The horse, PINEAU DE RE, was bought in 2005 at Goffs France sale by Seamus Murphy for €20,000 (£16,500 in real money!) and went into training with Philip Fenton in County Tipperary. After several lack-lustre performances he was purchased by John Provan, owner of a successful Derbyshire print and packaging business, and put into training with Dr Richard Newland.

 

The trainer/jockey/horse combination delivered a superb performance on the day, with a winning distance of five lengths, thus fulfilling the trainer's 20-year-old dream of winning the Grand National and providing the jockey with his unbelievable triumph eleven years since he finished second on SUPREME GLORY.

And the owner pocketed over half a million pounds in prize money in addition to the bets he had on his own horse at 33/1 just before the off!

 

Ironically not many bookmakers and experts rated PINEAU DE RE for the sixteen-fence spectacular but the legendary Aintree track has its own way of deciding winners.

 

SATURDAY, 5th APRIL 2014 – GRAND NATIONAL DAY!

 

DOWN MEMORY LANE

It seems everyone around the world has heard of the Grand National. Even families that have no interest whatsoever in horses for the rest of the year and would never dream of entering a betting shop, will, on this one day, be picking potential winners by the sound of their name or some other personal system and placing money on the outcome. It is even reported that there has been a flurry of bets on MONBEG DUDE, just because he is owned by the Queen's granddaughter, Zara Phillips, and her husband Mike Tindall.

There are probably more stories and incidents about this race than any other in racing history. Space for just three today:

 

NEVER A TRUER WORD …. !

There's the lovely story, which appears to be corroborated by a number of reports, about the 1928 renewal of the Grand National. Just before the race was due to start, William Dutton who was riding TIPPERARY TIM, heard a friend call out: "Billy boy, you'll only win if all the others fall down!"

As the runners negotiated the Canal Turn on the first circuit, EASTER HERO failed to live up to his name and fell, which caused a pile-up from which only seven horses were left with jockeys aboard. Miraculously there were no injuries to horse or jockey. By the time the remaining field had come to the penultimate fence, however, there were now only three still complete with riders. GREAT SPAN was the odds-on favourite and looked the most likely winner ahead of BILLY BARTON and the afore-mentioned TIPPERARY TIM. But the drama wasn't yet over. GREAT SPAN'S saddle then slipped, affording jockey, John Buckingham, no chance of recovery. Thus BILLY BARTON, ridden by Tommy Cullinan, looked the likely winner until he, too, fell.

So the contest's unexpected victor was TIPPERARY TIM and the friend's jokey comments had come true.

 

TRUE CHAMPIONS

Surely for many people the 1981 Grand National evokes the most poignant of memories. Two years previously jockey, Bob Champion, had been diagnosed with cancer and was given only a short time to live. But miraculously he underwent chemotherapy treatment and, two years later, was pronounced fit to ride again. Almost parallel with these happenings, ALDANITI was undergoing treatment for serious leg problems that threatened to put an end to his racing career. To cut a long story short. He, too, was passed fit to race again.

The rest, as they say, is history. Bob Champion rode ALDANITI to a four-and-a-half length victory. The duo became instant celebrities and two years later their story was made into a film “Champions”, with the admirable John Hurt.

 

THE RACE THAT NEVER WAS

The legendary racing commentator, Peter O'Sullevan said it was "the greatest disaster in the history of the Grand National". The 1993 Aintree meeting was beset with problems even before the race, when fifteen animal rights protesters invaded the track near the first fence, resulting in a delayed start. Then a spate of unfortunate incidents occurred whilst under starter's orders. A first false start happened when several riders became tangled up in the starting tape. The starter waved his red recall flag and a second official further down the track was able to stop the race and signal the leading runners to go back to the start. At the second attempt, however, the tape became tangled again, this time around jockey Richard Dunwoody's neck and another false start was indicated but, unfortunately, on this occasion, the recall flag did not unfurl as the official waved it. So 30 of the 39 riders set off around the track, unaware of the second false start. Various course officials frantically tried to stop the runners by waving red flags but many of the jockeys just presumed that they were some of the earlier protesters and continued on their way. Altogether, seven horses completed the whole course but the result was declared void.

As a matter of interest the first horse past the post, in the second-fastest time ever, was ESHA NESS ridden by John White and trained by Jenny Pitman.

 

FRIDAY, 4th APRIL 2014

 

ONE WON – JUST!

Well, he did it! But it was close. By a head, in fact. THE NEW ONE, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies and ridden by son, Sam, squeaked home in the Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle yesterday to make up for his bad luck in the Champion Hurdle last month. The successful young jockey, who will be riding Paul Nicholls' TIDAL BAY in tomorrow's Grand National, seemed content to stay in mid-field for a good part of the contest. There were even moments when connections might have thought that the duo had left it too late to make a mark. But when effort was called for it was not denied. The 6-year-old son of KING'S THEATRE surged into second position after two out and led as he approached the last. It certainly looked at this stage that he would win easily but then he jumped awkwardly to the right, losing a bit of momentum. Noel Fehly and champion jockey, Tony McCoy, were not slow to realise that they had been offered another chance and they both fought back valiantly in the final yards. All three were virtually inseparable at the line and a photo was called for.

An anxious Sam Twiston-Davies, who had borne all the pressure of riding the short-odds favourite, was clearly not sure of the outcome as he waited nervously for the announcement. The result was close by any standards; ROCK ON RUBY, ridden by Noel Fehly was second a nose ahead of DIAKALI with Tony McCoy aboard.

Sam Twiston-Davies commented: "He was hit and miss, jumping wise. I didn't quite get into the same rhythm as I did in the Champion Hurdle. I was surprised to see two (horses) on my inside at the line!”

So was everybody else, Sam!

 

NOT WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED!

In the end KAYLIF ARAMIS had to be content with second place by one-and-three-quarter lengths to David Pipe's DOCTOR HARPER in the Dominican Republic Handicap Hurdle at Aintree. Once more jockey Sam Twiston-Davies was happy to keep the 7-year-old brother of KAYF ARAMIS held up towards rear for the most of the race. In fact, he was mostly indiscernible from the others until he started to make some headway approaching the third hurdle out. He did then show a good turn of speed but maybe he just had too much to do at this stage and could make no further impression on the 6-year-old son of PRESENTING but managed to remain half-a-length clear of Alan King's MEISTER ECKHART, another doughty descendant of the USA-bred FLEMENSFIRTH.

Still, that's £10,685 for connections but, unfortunately, the one-and-three-quarter lengths' defeat ruled out the breeder's prize on this occasion!

 

THE CHIEF WHIP

Tony McCoy got a a four-day whip ban yesterday for breaking the rules aboard third-placed DIAKALI in the Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle that could rule him out of the Boylesports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on April 21 and also exclude him from all jump racing over the Easter weekend, unless he has any success appealing.

The 19-times champion jockey commented: "I've probably had 2,000 rides since my last whip offence and I think four days was harsh. I'm going to miss the Irish National, which is a big disappointment for me. It's a race JP (McManus) likes and he would have three or four horses for it. I didn't realise I might be in trouble until I was made aware of it, and although I hit him maybe 11 or 12 times I thought two of them were with the backhand. I also thought I might just get two days because I had what I felt was a very good record considering the number of rides I've had. I doubt very much whether there will be any point in appealing, but I'll have a look at it and you never know. I know I broke the rules but I've had a lot of rides since the last time."

 

THURSDAY, 3rd APRIL 2014

 

AN OH 'K' DAY!

Two horses trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies have something to prove at the start of the greatest racing festival in the world. In the last race of the day, KAYLIF ARAMIS, brother of Cheltenham Champion KAYF ARAMIS, has another chance to shine with Sam Twiston-Davies aboard. He produced what was probably his career-best result at Ascot in February when he claimed his third victory. Last time out in the Cheltenham Coral Cup he wasn't so lucky, though. All seemed to be going well and he was making good progress on the outside when, inexplicably, he fell three out. This time the ground seems better suited to the 7-year-old son of KAYF TARA, although he is up against a large challenging field. RACING POST, however, rates his chances quite highly: “ … though it was too far out to predict where he would have finished, he has to be respected; 3m once before (on heavy) looked too much but very strong chance the trip will be fine on this ground.”

 

THE ONE TO BEAT

Earlier in the day, in the Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle, the other Grange Farm runner is THE NEW ONE, again with Sam Twiston-Davies riding. The 6-year-old has got to be everyone's odds-on favourite when he seeks to make amends after his unlucky run in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham last time out. On that occasion he was severely hampered at the third flight by the fatal fall of OUR CONOR but, nevertheless, managed to salvage something from the race by finishing third only two and three-quarter lengths adrift of JEZKI. In fact, it seems to be a score-settling day all round, as connections will no doubt recall that it is almost exactly one year ago to the day that their mount was beaten a mere half a length into second place by last year's winner, ZARKANDAR.

Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies seems fairly confident that THE NEW ONE can set the record straight: “Everything has gone to plan since Cheltenham and he seems in good form. We’re looking forward to it. He was unlucky in the Champion Hurdle – let’s hope we can make up for it.”

Jockey Sam Twiston-Davies, the trainer’s son, continues the optimistic mood: “He seems in great heart and we’re looking to put the unlucky stories behind us.”

 

WEDNESDAY, 2nd APRIL 2014

 

OH DEAR WHAT CAN THE MURTAGH BE!

Thank Goodness that's over! Former top jockey and now successful trainer, Johnny Murtagh, and any connections of SOLE POWER, winner of the Kings Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot last June, have been been cleared by the British Horseracing Authority. An investigation was instigated after an anonymous video appeared on YouTube which seemed to suggest that the County Meath jockey passed a suspicious object to Sarah, daughter of trainer Eddie Lynam, in the winner's enclosure just after the race.

 

The BHA has now issued a statement that “nothing untoward” happened and revealed that the investigation established that SOLE POWER's breast girth had merely been place over the saddle afterwards. It was also stated that it was clear that Johnny Murtagh did not pass any item to Sarah Lynam. The BHA was able to obtain additional, clearer, footage of the incident from At the Races and Channel 4 which facilitated their decision.

 

Johnny Murtagh wisely kept his own counsel until the BHA had finished its investigation but stated afterwards: “Having recently retired from race riding after twenty seven years in the saddle, I and my family were shocked to see the recent anonymous video up loaded on Youtube. The insinuation of impropriety on my part with respect to my ride on Sole Power at Royal Ascot 2013 has been deeply upsetting. This was compounded by the attention it received in the racing media and particularly on the website of a leading international trainer. There was an obvious intent to damage my good name, and my past and future reputation. I am delighted that the BHA, having reviewed additional video angles of my interaction with Sarah Lynam while helping to remove Sole Power’s breast-girth, have cleared me of any impropriety and vindicated my good name.”

 

Good one, Johnny!

 

A MANIA FOR RYAN

It's probably safe to say that a year ago very few people outside the world of racing would have heard of a young jockey from Galashiels with the unusual name of Mania, Ryan Mania. That is until the 2013 Grand National when he became famous overnight after his surprising win by nine lengths on the Sue Smith-trained AURORAS ENCORE.

 

Being a National Hunt jockey, though, is a hazardous occupation as Ryan Mania was soon to discover. His celebrations were terminated not long afterwards when he had what-looked-like a nasty fall from STAGECOACH JASPER at Hexham and had to taken to hospital. Fortunately the young rider from Scotland was not too seriously injured – as jockey's injuries go, anyway. His back and neck injuries soon mended and he is already ahead of his personal best score with still some weeks of the season still left to run.

 

Of course, it might be too much of a fairytale to hope that that the same trainer/jockey partnership can do the same again but the indomitable Bingley Moor-based Sue Smith will be saddling two hopefuls in the prestigious event – MR. MOONSHINE and VINTAGE STAR, with the rider's preference going for the former.

 

Ryan Mania commented: "It was my choice and I decided to ride Mr Moonshine. I just think with his experience of the course and the form he's been in, and of course it's the same owners - it's the right thing to do. Vintage Star may well be the better horse but I think it could just be a year too soon for him, he's a bit immature and thinks a bit too much. It might be too much to ask to win the race again and if I did I think I'd retire on the spot!"

 

Don't swap your saddle for an armchair just yet, Ryan!

   

TUESDAY, 1st APRIL 2014 

 

A NATIONAL WITH A DIFFERENCE 

To celebrate the new sponsorship of the Grand National by Crabbies there will be a special feature to start the day. A select team of jockeys who have previously won this prestigious event in years gone by, including Richard Dunwoody, Carl Llewellyn and Mick Fitzgerald, will race over the first eight of the fences with a difference. They will be riding bareback and, as everyone knows, this form of riding requires skill, balance, and coordination, as the rider does not have any equipment to compensate for errors, just his legs. Supporters of bareback riding argue, however, that it is natural, allows considerable communication with the horse, and improves a rider's balance. There are, of course, drawbacks; there is the possibility of considerable discomfort to both horse and rider due to the absence of any padding between the rider's seat bones and the horse's spine; and there is a higher risk of injury in the event of falling off the horse. But all the jockeys have bravely agreed to take part to celebrate this marvellous occasion and will all receive a flagon of Crabbie's cider to mark the occasion. 

 

On the other hand as it's April 1st they might have second thoughts! 

 

AN APPEALING RIDER 

As mentioned yesterday, DOLATULO was demoted to second place and jockey, Gavin Sheehan was given a 4-day suspension after being found guilty of careless riding by failing to take corrective action to prevent hindrance to the favourite BENBENS, ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies. The latter was subsequently pronounced the winner. 

It has now been announced that Gavin Sheehan has lodged an appeal with the British Horseracing Authority against the suspension he received at Stratford on Saturday. It will be interesting to see whether the ban is overturned as that will have consequences for the result where bookies will have already paid out on the winning BENBENS. It will also deprive Sam Twiston-Davies of a valuable victory.

 

MONDAY, 31st MARCH 2014 

 

ANOTHER FIRST CAME SECOND 

DOLATULO appeared to have won the Great Value Wines From Bordeaux Undiscovered Handicap Chase at Stratford on Saturday but the stewards had other ideas afterwards. They immediately held an enquiry into possible interference between the winner and the runner-up, 15/8 favourite BENBENS, ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies, and pronounced jockey, Gavin Sheehan, guilty of careless riding and reversed the result. Trainer, Warren Greatrex was visibly not pleased with this decision. It looks like the connections of DOLATULO will lodge an appeal with the British Horseracing Authority.  

The Hungerford-based trainer commented: "We're waiting to hear what Paul Struthers (chief executive of Professional Jockeys Association) thinks. He will advise Gavin whether he thinks it is worth appealing or not, so we'll go from there. I would imagine Gavin will go for it, but even if he doesn't, I know the owner is very keen to appeal so we'll explore that avenue as well. It's all about opinions, but normally with these things you have people saying they can see why they have reversed the result. I haven't spoken to a single person who thinks it was the correct decision. Gavin was given four days for careless riding and I'm not sure what he was supposed to do. Should he have just let the other horse through? I don't think you can do that. Gavin has lost a winner, we've lost a winner and the owner has lost a winner.”

  

DEREK THOMPSON RETIRES 

No, no that one! This Derek Thompson has worked as stable manager for the past 47 years at the world’s greatest steeplechase and will now be present at his last Grand National on Saturday. 'Mr. Aintree' as he is called, has looked after every champion, from Red Rum to Bobbyjo, since 1968. He had hoped to make the round 50 but he has health problems. Derek originally took the job for pocket money when he was on leave from the Army. He related that his wife’s uncle asked if he wanted to help to earn '30 bob' (shillings!) or £1.50 in today's money which was quite a lot of money in those days.  

The grandfather of five said: “It’ll be an emotional day. There won’t be a fanfare. I’ll have a few drinks with the lads in the stables canteen. I bedded down my last stables last week. I’m 70 this year, lugging bales of hay is a struggle.” 

His small office is a horse racing fan’s dream. The walls are covered from floor to ceiling with memorabilia – photos of horses he has cared for, owned and trained by racing heroes. His favourite is a huge picture of Red Rum. 

Rumour has it that a book about his experiences may be something he will be working on in his retirement. Should be something worth reading. 

 

SAM - A CENTURY NOT OUT 

Congratulations to everyone's favourite jockey, Sam Twiston-Davies, who has made his first hundred wins in a season from 679 runs (15% strike rate). This total also includes 97 Seconds, 91 Thirds and 75 Fourths with a total prize money of £1,232,488. 

 

SUNDAY, 30th MARCH 2014 

 

A TOAST TO JAMIE! 

The Meydan UAE Derby sponsored by The Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group provided trainer Jamie Osborne with the biggest win of his training career when TOAST OF NEW YORK beat the rest of the field by two-and-a-half lengths. 

It was always obvious that the Upper Lambourn trainer handler thinks a lot of his Michael Buckley-owned 3-year-old who had two previous victories at Wolverhampton in September and November and his faith was handsomely rewarded on this occasion. Even though the race was run at a rattling rate there was never any doubt that Jamie Spencer was confident that his mount had enough in reserve for the decisive finish. 

A delighted Jamie Osborne commented: "What I knew beforehand was that this was probably the best horse I've ever trained, but, having said that, I have trained an awful lot of moderate horses. Seeing him win like that was pretty choking and I'm trying to fight back the tears.” 

Owner Michael Buckley added: "The horse will now go back to Lambourn and Jamie will see how he is. The Kentucky Derby is not out of the question, but I can't say what the definite plan will be as I don't train him." 

One bookmaker wasn't taking any chances though. Sky Bet reduced the odds on TOAST OF NEW YORK to 25/1 from 40s for the Newmarket 2000 Guineas next month and listed him at 16/1 for the Kentucky Derby.

 

IT'S STORY TIME

The world's richest race remained in the domain of Sheikh Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum thanks to the enduring superior skills of his trainer, Saeed bin Suroor. Yesterday marked the sixth time that the Godolphin trainer had bagged the prestigious Dubai World Cup. Although AFRICAN STORY didn't originally seem to have what it takes, his jockey, Silvestre de Sousa, knew how to get the best out of him and was soon able to overhaul MUKHADRAM, who had led thus far, in the home straight. Sent off at 12/1, the 7-year-old son of PIVOTAL went two-and-three-quarter lengths clear on reaching the post. 

It was a memorable moment, too, for the the 34-year-old Brazilian jockey, who said after the race: "It was great. He was very unlucky here last time when he banged his head in the stalls, but he has proved he's the boy. It's an amazing feeling, one of absolute delight. Godolphin called me to ask me to join their team and I was privileged to accept.” 

 

SATURDAY, 29th MARCH 2014 

 

JUST FOR SHOW 

A 2011 Scottish National champion who never made it to the Grand is about to begin a new career. BESHABAR's injured ankle has kept him off the track since coming fifth in the Hennessy Gold Cup in November 2011. Trainer Tim Vaughan, based at the unusually named Pant Wilkin Stables, admits he has devoted much thought as to where the handsome son of FLEMENFIRTH would spend the rest of his years. 

Now the decision has been made. Charlotte Mills, a contact in the yard, will take over the task of retraining the once Grand National ante-post favourite for a career in show jumping. If BESHABAR takes to the new life and does well, then he could well be in competitions to win rosettes in special racehorse to riding horse classes. 

It is obvious that the Crowbridge trainer was reluctant to put and end to his mount's successful career just when he was hoping to enter him in the 2014 Foxhunters Chase where he was short as 8-1. The chestnut gelding leaves behind an achievement of six 1sts. and two 2nds. from twelve starts with earned prize money of £218,805. 

 

PULLING THE RUG 

A new partnership has been formed between the Staffordshire Horse Watch, led by Uttoxeter PCSO Lucy Hadfield, and Warwickshire Horse Watch. The aim of this new association is to protect horse owners against equine rug thefts. 

All over the country, apparently, horse rugs are being stolen from tack rooms, retailers and even off horses' backs in their fields and stables. The two 'Watches' decided something was required to deter these thefts and make the rug unique to the owner so that it could be easily identified later if stolen. Their first step, accordingly, is to launch a new rug label, whereby owners can put a special mark on their rugs. This label, consisting of waterproof reflective material, will means that it will be easily identified by day or night, showing that the owner is part of a watch scheme, supported by the police. The new rug's design will provide for the recording of a postcode or unique reference number, easily traceable to the owner. This is not the first time that these two organisations have co-operated. Two previous projects included the development and use of a leather stamp to mark the owners' tack with the Horse Watch logo, again alerting any potential thief that they are registered watch members and, thereby, make it more difficult for the stolen items to be sold. 

PCSO Lucy Hadfield added: “The label has many benefits, which combined with its low cost, mean it is affordable for all horse owners. Staffordshire has seen a number of rug thefts recently and we are pleased to be able to provide an initiative that can help tackle this problem.”

  

FRIDAY, 28th MARCH 2014 

 

NO LONGER MOTHER'S RUIN! 

Tickets for the 10th Stobo Castle Ladies Day, hosted by Musselburgh Racecourse, are selling out in record breaking time. With still another 11 weeks to go until the June 14 event, 6000 admission tickets have already been sold and there are no more hospitality packages to be had. The racecourse management is clearly over the moon about the success of this feature which has not failed to attract maximum capacity crowds since it was launched 10 years ago. 

Mary-Ann Sandercock, the commercial manager, said: “The rate of sales for Stobo Castle Ladies Day has been truly astonishing this year and we expect to be sold out within the next week or so. Last year’s event was such an outstanding success that word-of-mouth, combined with some very smart marketing initiatives, have grabbed the attention of thousands of smart women who know they will enjoy a top quality day at Musselburgh’s Ladies Day. 

A highlight of the Stobo Castle Ladies Day (apart from the Ladies!) will be the William Hill Scottish Sprint Cup – the first Musselburgh race to offer £100,000 prize money and their most valuable race to-date. An added bonus this year is that the racetrack has formed a new sponsorship partnership with with the awarding winning Edinburgh Gin brand, in co-operation with the Spencerfield Spirit Company. Edinburgh Gin will offer prizes for winning trainers until the end of the 2015 jumps season and, additionally, will sponsor the Jockey and Trainer Championships for both seasons.

It goes without saying that Edinburgh Gin will be on offer in all the course’s bars and special G&Ts and gin cocktails will be served on Stobo Castle Ladies Day, The Edinburgh Cup Race Day and at the two summer evening meetings. 

Alex Nicol, managing director of the Spencerfield Spirit Company, commented: “Edinburgh Gin is stylish, much loved locally and its reputation is growing by the week. While gin is currently enjoying something of a renaissance, Musselburgh’s rebirth as one of the UK’s leading racecourses continues at pace and we are delighted to be able to supply Edinburgh Gin at Scotland’s only five star visitor rated racecourse.” 

 

GOING BY THE BOOK 

A first edition of The General Stud-Book by James Weatherby will come up for auction at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions’ Godalming Saleroom in Surrey on Thursday April 10. This valuable publication is a breed registry for horses in Great Britain and Ireland and is used to document the breeding of Thoroughbreds and related foundation bloodstock such as the Arabian horse. 

James Weatherby, the Jockey Club Secretary in 1770, founded Weatherbys, an authority on British Thoroughbred breeding. In 1791, he published Introduction to a General Stud Book, which was an attempt to collect pedigrees for the horses racing then and that had raced in the past. It was full of mistakes and was far from complete, but it was popular and led, in 1793, to the publication of the first volume of the General Stud Book which contained many more pedigrees and was more accurate. Today Weatherby's still publishes the General Stud Book (GSB) every four years listing the breeding records for Thoroughbreds in Great Britain and Ireland. 

There appear to be only two other copies of this rare work in existence. So with an estimated selling price of £300-400 there is an opportunity for someone who reads this to own a piece of equine history.

 

THURSDAY, 27th MARCH 2014 

 

IRISH TRAINER NEEDLED 

Edward Lynam's comment on the BHA's investigation into Johnny Murtagh's handling of SOLE POWER at Ascot last June? “It's a stitch-up!” 

It looks like this story will run for a while. As reported yesterday the origin of all the hoo-ha appears to be a video on YouTube, allegedly showing Johnny Murtagh passing some unidentified object to Sarah, trainer's daughter, in the winner's enclosure.

 

The use of electronic devices, apparently called a “jigger”, to urge horses to run faster has been known about for some years in the racing community, if not by the general public. The use of such a device is considered one of horse racing's most serious crimes. A massive penalty of a four-year ban handed out to Australian trainer, Paul Preusker, seven years ago has been a stiff deterrent to anyone considering their use and very few people in racing are willing to even talk about the repellent practice of getting a sluggish horse to run faster by means of an electronic shock.

 

As the County Meath trainer continued: "They are trying to stitch Murtagh up. I heard about this a couple of months ago. I think it was some American chap on Twitter. I take it they [the BHA] would have examined it if there was anything to examine, but it may be someone trying to do Johnny a bad turn."

 

According to Edward Lynam his daughter was handing the jockey a piece of riding equipment. She was helping Johnny Murtagh to unsaddle the horse and went round to the other side of the horse and took off a bit of the breastplate to give it back to him. So she was handing something to the jockey. Not the other way round! 

 

To be continued …...!!! 

 

THE QUEEN'S GRANDDAUGHTER TRAINS GRAND NATIONAL HOPEFUL 

Zara Phillips has been helping to improve the jumping skills of Grand National entrant, MONBEG DUDE. Her husband, England rugby international, Mike Tindall, is a co-owner of the 9-year-old son of WITNESS BOX who, at the moment, is a 20/1 shot for the Grand National, having come fifth in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster last time out. 

Trainer, Michael Scudamore, commented: "He goes there with a major chance on form, he stays, I hope his jumping is not a problem and he goes on any ground so he ticks a lot of the boxes." 

This concern about jumping obviously was shared by the Queen's granddaughter as Mike Tindall confirms: "After the Welsh National, Zara said he was not quite respecting his fences and was lazy with his jumping. So she started doing some pole work with him and getting him sharp on his feet. The progression is there to see, now he bounces over his fences. He travels a lot better now and is conserving his energy and speed. He goes to Gatcombe most Mondays to do it, in the outdoor arena. He was there a couple of days ago and will go on Monday ahead of Aintree." 

 

WEDNESDAY, 26th MARCH 2014 

 

A SHOCKING REVELATION! 

A mysterious object has become the focus of a BHA enquiry. Video footage, posted on YouTube, seems to show Johnny Murtagh handing something to Sarah Lynam, winning trainer, Eddie Lynam's daughter, following SOLE POWER's EXCITING victory by a neck in last year's King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot. The film, it is claimed, originates in the States. The thlot pickens when it is revealed that American racing has been plagued by a number of incidents where, it seems, jockeys have been accused of using some kind of electrical device that literally shocks their horses into running faster. Both johnny Murtagh and Sarah Lynam state that they have no recollection of what the item was but strongly deny doing anything wrong or breaking any rules. 

Robin Mounsey, a spokesman for the British Horesracing Authority, made the follwing statement: “The BHA are aware of the piece of footage in relation to the King’s Stand Stakes and are in the process of obtaining further information in relation to the issue.” 

Johnny Murtagh, who recently retired from riding to concentrate on his training career, said: “I have nothing to hide but I just don’t want to speak about it for a couple of days until I have spoken to a few people.” 

The County Meath trainer also said: ‘My daughter has been to Australia and back since. I asked her to rack her brains about what actually happened but she doesn’t remember anything. The poor girl is mortified.” 

 

A RACE WITH HISTORY 

It is claimed, fairly convincingly, that the steeplechase originated in Ireland in the 18th. Century and was run from church steeple to church steeple, hence the name "steeplechase". Accounts vary but the first steeplechase may have taken place in 1752 as a result of a wager between Cornelius O'Callaghan and Edmund Blake It was a four-mile race cross-country from Buttevant Church to St. Leger Church in Doneraile, in Cork, Ireland. 

That at least is Channel 4's story and they are sticking to it! They are about to release an official trailer before the Grand National's renewal at Aintree in a couple of weeks' time. The film takes as its backdrop an 18th century Irish village and shows the rivals jumping over stone walls, ditches and hedges as they race through romantic fields and woods. The film then ends with the entry onto the track of our modern-day heroes, the 19-time champion jockey, Tony McCoy and Richard Johnson, only one of two jockeys to have ever won all four of the major championship races at Cheltenham. (The other was Barry Geraghty) 

Unfortunately there appears to be no record of who won the 1752 steeplechase so we don't know who's Cornelius and who's Edmund!  

TUESDAY, 25th MARCH 2014

 

JOCKEYING FOR POSITION

It's never too early to lay your money on the line. The Flat season doesn't officially start until Saturday, 29th March but Sky Bet has jumped the gun and is taking bets for the winner of the 2014 Flat Jockeys' Championship! You can get 2/7 on Richard Hughes to retain the honour for a third consecutive year. The problem is, if you bet now, you would be deprived of your hard-earned cash for eight months, during which time anything could happen - injury or even a lengthy suspension. All things considered, though, he is possibly a safe bet to retain this prestigious award as he's riding high at the moment, as is Richard Hannon's stable for whom he rides.

 

There again you might fancy Ryan Moore – a 10/3 shot – who was champion jockey three times before in 2006, 2008 and 2009. The 31-year-old jockey from East Sussex hasn't had his name on this trophy since those heady days mainly due to injuries, but also the fact that his main trainer, Sir Michael Stoute, hasn't been in form recently. Also, interestingly, the championship appears not to be something he cares much about. This attitude may put you off having a bet on him, even though, without a doubt, he's a rider you might put your last quid on if things were tight.

 

Brazilian jockey, Silvestre de Sousa, at 10/1, may appeal to your gambling instincts. After all he was runner-up for the championship in 2010 and, as he is the chief rider for Godolphin, he will not be short of a good horse or two, that's for sure.

 

However, if you are looking for a jockey who is currently making his special mark in the racing world then you might consider Sardinia-born Andrea Atzeni. He is admittedly a 66/1 outsider but after the current champion, Richard Hughes, he is probably the one jockey who is constantly improving. As he rides for a trio of top trainers, Roger Varian, Marco Botti and sometimes for Luca Cumani, he should have a few decent rides into the bargain.

 

 NEW ONE ON ME!

It looks like Nigel Twiston-Davies's THE NEW ONE is aiming for the Aintree Hurdle. Luck was against the six-year-old at last month's Cheltenham Festival in the Stan James Champion Hurdle. He was hot in pursuit of the leaders when he was badly hampered and dropped back to 7th. He lost some momentum bu still battled on, though, and made some definite progress three from home, ultimately staying on well to finish third. The son of KING'S THEATRE's final acceleration was so impressive that it is conjectured that he would have had no problem winning this Champion Hurdle if he had had a clear run. THE NEW ONE's connections, after this disappointment, were anxious that their protégé should make amends for this lapse. The only problem is that it is not yet clear who he will be up against. There is one of exciting possibility: Willie Mullins' ANNIE POWER might appear at the Merseyside track after her surprising defeat at Cheltenham. The daughter of SHIROCCO dominated the betting leading up to the start of the World Hurdle contest but, surprisingly, only managed to come second, one-and-a-half lengths behind MORE OF THAT. Apart from any other entrants, a contest between a 6-year-old mare and a 6-year-old gelding should prove interesting!

 

MONDAY, 24th MARCH 2014

  

A MATTER OF BREEDING 

A report to be published this week by the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association draws attention the fact that the British horse breeding industry is not keeping up with demand from the country's racetracks. Its findings will state clearly that the horse racing industry has to resort to importing foreign-born foals, estimated at about 8,000 a year, in order to satisfy the increasing requirements of racing. One area particularly at risk is National Hunt, which constitutes about 40% of our racing. The report will also reveal that only 647 National Hunt foals this year were born in England, as opposed to 2,400 in Ireland. One even more staggering piece of information is that only 11 of the 110 runners at this year's Cheltenham Festival were born in Britain. 

It is estimated that the UK’s breeding industry is worth in the region of £281m a year and significantly employs 86,000 people, most often, because of the nature of the work, in rural areas where there are few other opportunities for employment. Small breeders, in particular, are running at a loss and cannot possibly match the demand from racetracks that put on over 1,450 fixtures a year. 

Philip Newton, on the board of the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association stated: “We are totally dependent on imports from Ireland and France to deliver our racing programme. Any other industry would be foolish in the extreme to rely so heavily on imports, particularly as Ireland and France have their own racing calendars.” 

The Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association wants small breeders to receive more support and plans to investigate how other countries promote the growth of their businesses through the tax system.

 Small breeders, such as the Aramis Stud,  are doing all they can to provide the foals but they need more support from the general public. If you would like to help the racing industry, by own ing and racing a British-born horse, check out KAYLINA and BERLYF on this page. 

 

AND THE SECOND SHALL BE FIRST! 

Downpatrick Drama yesterday in the Toals Bookmakers Ulster Grand National EBF Handicap Chase. Cork trainer, Edward O'Grady's UNOCCUPIED, with Philip Enright aboard, went clear approaching the final fence but stewards awarded the race to Stuart Crawford's HIDDEN HORIZONS. The rivals, both sent off at 7-1, surged into into the lead after the third fence from home and were soon clear of any opposition, jumping two out in unison. UNOCCUPIED made strong headway after this but still HIDDEN HORIZONS found a little extra. Paul Carberry's Mare and and Philip Enright's gelding, however, came together, as the former squeezed through a narrow gap on the rail to make it home by a length and a half. Then came the drama. The claxon immediately sounded and there was a period of protracted deliberations before it was announced that the placings were reversed. 

Winning County Antrim trainer, Stuart Crawford commented afterwards: "You'd prefer to win it properly, but I thought she was always getting there. She always finishes her races well and I thought she'd have got up with a clear run. We've had this in mind for her since she was third here in December and these fences suit her. This is a race I've always wanted to win and if I had four or five for it I'd have let them all run." 

 

SUNDAY, 23rd MARCH 2014

 

THREE FEMALE FIRSTS

 

1) BIGGEST PRIZE

An incredible day for Devon-born trainer Harriet Graham, who moved to Scotland in 1989, taking out a full training licence in 2004 and scoring her first victory as a professional in the same year. Ten years later she has notched up her biggest success of her career when SCOTSWELL, with James Reveley aboard, won the £25,000 Liz Adam Memorial Handicap Chase at Kelso yesterday.

The 8-year-old son of ENDOLI kept up well with the leaders and went into the lead between the 6th and the 11th fence, losing dominance for a while but regaining the lead shortly afterwards. Although he seemed hard pressed 2 out, James Revely persevered and the duo were soon in command towards finish, beating FENTARA by two lengths.

Harriet Graham, who also finds time in her busy schedule to be Clerk of the Course at Musselburgh and Perth, commented: "He's home-bred and if he ran well today we said we would save some pennies and enter him in the Scottish Grand National. That's the long term aim so hopefully he will get in. I think it's bad luck to look at the prize money beforehand but I'd say that's our biggest win. I ride Scotswell out myself and I knew he was well as he dropped me yesterday."

 

2. A NEW RECORD

Another lady trainer from Scotland in the news yesterday was Kinross-based Lucinda Russell, who established a career best of 60 wins when LIE FORRIT, the 11st. 12lb. top-weight of the contest was victorious in the the Bentley Homes Handicap Hurdle. This victory also gave her stable jockey, Peter Buchanan, his 45th win, equalling his best score attained in 2004-05.

It is sad to recall that the 10-year-old son of SUBTLE POWER was ridden to his first seven wins by the late Campbell Gillies who died in a tragic swimming pool accident in Corfu two years ago.

Lucinda Russell added: "He's owned by Campbell's family and his mother, sister, grandfather and uncle were all here today. To win with this horse at Kelso is very emotional and is worth 20 winners - stats don't matter on occasions like this."

 

3. BIG WIN

Daughter of 1988 Grand National winner, Brendan and sister of rising star Brendan jnr, how could Jennifer Powell become anything but a jockey! Apprenticed to Cheshire-based trainer, Tom Dascombe, the 16-year-old rider put down her marker yesterday when she won the 32Red.com All Weather "Hands And Heels" Apprentice Series Final Handicap at Lingfield Park with a talented ride on MAHADEE. The 9-year-old son of CAPE CROSS was kept handy throughout, in a race that didn't seem to have much pace and finished two and three-quarter lengths ahead of his rivals.

The triumphant jockey commented: "That's my first professional winner. I had three as an amateur, one in Jersey for dad. I just let him bowl along and they went no pace."

A proud Tom Dascombe added: "She did brilliantly. If the horse is all right, he'll run again at Doncaster next week."

   

SATURDAY, 22nd MARCH 2014 

 

TIZZARD FOR SOME BUT NOT FOR JOE! 

Joe Tizzard was booked for to ride twice for his trainer Dad, Colin, at Newbury yesterday but when he got up in the morning he suddenly decided his racing days were over. The 34-year-old Grade One-winning rider made his name in the late 1990s riding for Paul Nicholls, winning, in particular, the 1999 Arkle Chase and Tingle Creek Trophy on FLAGSHIP UBERALLES. He was more recently associated with CUE CARD, whom he rode ten times to victory for his father. 

 

Wincanton's favourite jockey commented: "As a jockey I think you know when the time's up. I've had less and less rides over the last few seasons, and less winners. We've got two big operations at home, with the racing and the farming. I've done my time as a jockey, I've had a fabulous time of it, but it's time to move on. It's already sunk in for me and I'm happy with the decision I've made. Dad was fine. First of all he said he'd booked me for six rides over the weekend and would have to find somebody else, but he thinks I've made the right decision and he's now got to put up with me even more as I'll be on top of him at home.” 

 

Colin Tizzard commented: "He just decided this morning that he was going to stop. We've got a lot of horses in and that's his future. Everyone has been waiting for it for a long time and when you start thinking about stopping, you've just got to stop. If Cue Card had been going to Aintree I'm sure he wouldn't have stopped now, but he has. He'll be helping me and it's great he has finished in one piece." 

 

Top trainer Paul Nicholls added: "The news has caught me by surprise a bit. He rode a heap of winners for me and was champion conditional with an unbelievable amount of winners (91) that season. He's had a good career and is a great lad and a good friend. It got a bit difficult for him with us as we got bigger and bigger and a lot of the owners wanted the top jockeys on, but Joe was a real pro about it all. When he won the Ryanair last year on Cue Card I honestly think that was my personal highlight in racing, I was so pleased for him.” 

 

LOITERING WITH A TENT 

MY TENT OR YOURS had already been bought by JP McManus, prior to becoming a champion hurdler, so his previous owners, The Happy Campers, had no chance to relish the success in their own colours. However, the 16-length win by the Nicky Henderson-trained MY WIGWAM OR YOURS at Newbury yesterday in the Emma Lavelle Racing Maiden Hurdle has perhaps made up for what they missed. It wasn't an easy learning curve, by a long chalk, as it took 5-year-old son of BENEFICIAL seven attempts to score but when did, he certainly did it in style.

 

A delighted Simon Philip, one of the eight Happy Campers said: “It's nice to have an adequate replacement for Tent. After we sold Tent, we had Your Tepee Or Mine, who won a bumper at Ffos Las, and now My Wigwam Or Yours. As we became The Happy Campers after buying the first horse, that's where the names come from. I'm expecting there'll be caravans, motorhomes and ground sheets in the future!" 

 

Barry Geraghty, the lucky seventh jockey, commented: "He did it well and jumped nicely, apart from missing one down the back. He liked the better ground and is a nice chasing type." 

 

FRIDAY, 21st MARCH 2014 

 

JUST FOR THE RECORD 

It's just been announced that Brian Hughes has been booked to join Sue Smith's team for the Grand National, alongside last year's winning jockey, Ryan Mania. The Bingley trainer has two hopefuls entered, MR MOONSHINE and VINTAGE STAR. If either of them win, she would become only the 12th trainer in history to win back-to-back Grand Nationals. The last handler to achieve this accolade with the same horse was Ginger McCain in 1973 & 74 with RED RUM. That record will still stand, however, as, unfortunately, last year's winner, AURORAS ENCORE suffered a fracture in training this season and was retired. 

 

Another record is in Sue Smith's grasp, though. The last trainer to win the Grand National two years running with two different horses was Fred Winter with JAY TRUMP and ANGLO in 1965 and 1966. And something else that would make this a nostalgic win is that it was revealed yesterday that Brian Hughes will wear the same colours in the National that he wore when he won the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle on HAWK HIGH at last week's Cheltenham Festival, as VINTAGE STAR is also owned by businessman, Trevor Hemmings, whose HEDGEHUNTER and BALLABRIGS won the Grand National in 2005 and 2011, respectively. Talking of colours. MR MOONSHINE will sport the same colours as last year’s Aintree victor, being also owned by the successful trio, DG Pryde, J Beaumont and DP Van Der Hoeven. 

 

The 10-year-old son of DOUBLE ECLIPSE has been well prepared this season for the first £1 million Grand National, having come a creditable third in the Betfred Becher Handicap Chase in December. As this contest was run over the same Aintree fences as the Big Race it should put him in good stead for the real thing. 

 

8-year-old VINTAGE STAR, on the other hand, has never run at Aintree. His last success was in November in the Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance Graduation Chase at Carlisle, having fallen at the fifth at Cheltenham ten days ago. 

 

STAND BY YOUR MAN! 

Jockey, Pat Cosgrave, is appealing against a six-month ban he received from Dubai stewards on Tuesday, after his outing on ANAEROBIA earlier this month. The chief executive of the Professional Jockeys Association, Paul Struthers has confirmed that an appeal has been lodged with the Emirates Racing Authority. Trainer, George Baker, however, says he will stand by first-choice rider "100 per cent" whatever the outcome of his appeal. 

 

The ERA stewards declared that the County Down rider was guilty of a serious breach of riding rules by moving out from the rail and, thereby, leaving a gap for stablemate VERCINGETOREX. 

Marlborough-based George Baker had this to say: "We had great success last year and Pat was a massive part of that. We've got 75 horses this year and the plan is for Pat to ride all of them. Every racing jurisdiction has its rules and we all have to abide by those rules. I'm not a complete rulebook student but having watched the race, to take a guy's livelihood away for six months at this stage of the season seems a massive call. To have someone of his quality is a huge part of what we do. My short-term plans rest on whether he's allowed to ride pending the appeal, the result of which will take care of the long term."

 

THURSDAY, 20h MARCH 2014

 

COUP OR NO COUP. THAT IS THE QUESTION!”

It may be 'nobler in the mind' but DANIEL THOMAS finished a well-beaten eighth at Lingfield yesterday and that put paid to the first part of of a suspected huge all-weather gamble, which had bookmakers in a 'tiswas' earlier in the day. Some bookies, and even the British Horseracing Authority, kept a keen eye on these goings-on and then took the unprecedented action of stopping all bets for seven races on the all-weather tracks at Lingfield in the afternoon and Kempton in the evening. Spoil sports!

 

The reason for the alarm: owner, Stephen Arnold, banned by the BHA for three months, earlier in the season, after admitting to ten breaches of the rule which bans owners from laying their runners, had backed five of his horses, trained by Ann Stokell, running at Lingfield, starting with the aforementioned 12-year-old who was the 2-1 favourite for the Coral Mobile "Just Three Clicks To Bet" Handicap. There seems to have been no conspiracy there, though, as the son of DANSILI was a fairly permanent fixture at the back of the field.

 

Alarm bells rang again when four other Stephen Arnold horses, trained this time by Tony Newcombe, were heavily backed at Kempton. But again no threat as jockey, Martin Harley, hit the deck hard after falling from 5-year-old RED ART in the Ladbrokes Mobile Handicap and was was taken to hospital. This 7/4 favourite was making a strong challenge for the lead when he fell.

 

To add to the drama, Paddy Power halted betting on the 2.00, 2.30, 3.30 and 4.40 races at Lingfield and 6.10, 6.40 and 9.10 at Kempton. It wasn't long before Boylesports and William Hill did likewise. Then bet365, Coral and Stan James followed suit. Subsequently Coral decided to only offer bets at starting prices on the races concerned.

 

Simon Clare, Coral spokesman, commented: "It could be a coup. The trouble with racing is we don't know what's going to happen. Some of these horses, given the amount of money seen for them and given their recent form, they are in reasonably competitive races, some of these horses to win have potentially to show improved form which in itself may have to be investigated. It's just messy, it's a bit confusing and we just decided it was easier to not get too involved and let the afternoon unfold.”

 

So what was all the fuss about?

 

Robin Mounsey, spokesman for the British Horseracing Authority, said: "BHA alerted the Gambling Commission yesterday to the possibility of a complex betting-related issue involving races at Lingfield and Kempton. BHA's internal monitoring and intelligence networks gathered the information and acted positively once verified and these actions alerted the betting industry in order that bookmakers were able to act in a manner they felt appropriate. Any actions which we deem as either contrary to the rules or as a manipulation of our processes and systems will be acted upon, and subsequently we will ensure that the full circumstances surrounding the case will be examined."

 

Stephen Arnold had this to say: "Bookies are ripping people off all the time, so why not tell people (about what bets he has made)? I've had my money on already. It's just finding the right grade of races. It's not about stopping horses. I've had plenty of horses when I thought they've had no chance and they've still won. It just happened there was a load of races today that suited the horses I've got. The hardest part is finding the right races - that really is the art."

 

RESULTS OF THIS BETTING BONANZA:

LINGFIELD:

Trained by Ann Stokell.

DANIEL THOMAS – 8/12

DORBACK – N/R

AL KAN – 7/11

UNBREAK THE HEART 11/12

AMENABLE – 10/10

FAIRY WING – 9/10

BAY KNIGHT – N/R

 

KEMPTON.

Trained by Tony Newcombe:

MAMBO SPIRIT – 10/10

RED ART - F

CHAPELLERIE – WITHDRAWN

GUNG HO – 11/12

 

Did I miss something? It was more cooo! than coup!

 

IF YOU WANT TO GET AHEAD, GET A HAT!

It has been announced that the “official face” of the Investec Derby Festival is to be catwalk celebrity, Jodie Kidd. The polo-playing supermodel, lover of show jumping as a little girl, whose father, John Edward Aitken Kidd, was a maternal grandson of the first Lord Beaverbrook, admits to being passionate about horses since the age of 10.

 

The daughter of Wendy Madeleine Kidd, daughter of Sir John Rowland Hodge, 2nd Baronet, who runs the Holders Festival on Barbados, commented:

I find racing almost hypnotic. I look forward to watching these beautiful animals compete in the greatest flat race of them all.”

 

It has been announced that Jodie Kidd has modelled 3 different outfits, inspired by the Epsom racecourse: the Hill, the Duchess Stand and the Queen’s Stand, with the aim of portraying the variety of fashion at the Festival. Her hats are the creations of milliner, Philip Treacy, the Festival’s official hat designer for the last three years in a row.

 

The County Galway-born, five times British Accessory Designer of the Year commented:

Fashion at the Derby is a level playing field. Revel in the freedom of being able to play with different colours, styles and trends. Anyone can wear millinery and the Derby provides the ultimate platform to do just that. I look forward to seeing a wealth of beautiful headwear on Derby Day.” 

  

WEDNESDAY, 19th MARCH 2014 

 

THE JETS' SET 

The Jockeys' Employment & Training Scheme (JETS) has recruited over 20 former and current jockeys to act as racecourse hosts, with the aim of giving racegoers some expert insight into what is involved in a day at the races. The hosts include jockeys who have won the Grand National, such as Carl Llewellyn and Brendan Powell and Derby winners Michael Hills and John Reid. The job of these hosts will be to discuss their professional knowledge and experience with their guests, explaining what happens during a typical day at the races, showing newcomers how to understand the race card and arranging visits behind the scenes, etc.

 

Carl Llewellyn, former jockey, won the Grand National twice on PARTY POLITICS in 1992 and on EARTH SUMMIT in 1998. Business partner of Nigel Twiston-Davies since 2009, the Pembrokeshire-born trainer commentated, with regard to his new appointment, that he was looking forward to “sharing my unique experiences and stories from a life spent in racing. My aim will be for our guests to end their day with a better understanding of our sport and, most importantly, having had a hugely entertaining time.”

 

JETS was established with the aim of assisting former jockeys and particularly advising those approaching retirement on how to prepare themselves for other forms of employment.

 

Paul Fisher, who is the Group Managing Director of the Jockey Club added: “[The hosts] are a great way for our customers to get even more out of their day at the races and learn new things about our sport. At the same time, it’s great to be giving something back to hard-working jockeys and in the process we hope to generate funds that we will reinvest into the sport. This facility will be available at all 15 of the Jockey Club racecourses and initially it will be offered as an upgrade to a hospitality or group booking and will cost £275 

 

THE WEIGHTING GAME! 

Phil Smith is the British Horseracing Authority's Head of Handicapping and so is quite used to hearing trainers bemoan the weights their horses have to bear. His enduring hope, however, is that he has made this year's Grand National a ‘fair and competitive’ event. The Liverpool-born, former schoolteacher from Allerton, has a completely free hand when setting the weights for this prestigious race. It is the 16th consecutive year that he has had this task so he should know what he is doing. One problem is that the weights are fixed as early as February so it can happen that some horses appear favoured by their handicap, particularly if they have shown improvement in the last couple of months before the Grand National. But Phil Smith is undeterred by this and is still convinced that he has done a god job for this year’s competition. He feels his work will be vindicated if he achieves a result as close as the narrowest distance of a nose that separated Paul Nicholls' NEPTUNE COLLONGES from runner-up, SUNNYHILLBOY, in the 2012 renewal of the world-famous race.

 

Phil Smith commented yesterday: “Tidal Bay is a 13-year-old and he is carrying top-weight of 11 stone 10 lbs. I will be overjoyed if he wins as it will be great for the race for a top-weight to win. Tidal Bay has been a fantastic horse. I hope it will be a competitive race with a close finish. I think this year’s race is a significantly better contest than last year - just in terms of the depth of quality in the race. Teaforthree was beaten in the race last year (finished third) and is 4lb well in. Long Run is the most credible second to top-weight (11st 9lb) I have had in the Grand National as he has won a Cheltenham Gold Cup and two King George VI Chases. It is sensational and I am looking forward to him running.”  

 

TUESDAY, 18th MARCH 2014

 

FHB?

He didn't have much of a Cheltenham Festival – no success from 15 rides but jockey, Sam Twiston-Davies, could yet pull something out of the bag before the season comes to a close. It seems likely that he will be offered the ride on Paul Nicholls' TIDAL BAY in the Grand National. It's apparently not fully decided but the 21-year-old son of trainer, Nigel, seems to be in a good position for the job. The 13-year-old son of FLEMENSFIRTH is second-favourite for the world-famous Aintree attraction on 6th April, after being runner-up in the Hennesy Irish Gold Cup at the beginning of February. On that occasion his rider was Ruby Walsh and it was always presumed that he would be aboard at Aintree. However, things have changed in the Paul Nicholls' stronghold. Ruby Walsh has since committed himself to riding full-time for Irish trainer, Willie Mullins so he was presumed not to be available. Therefore the Somerset handler was minded to give the ride to Daryl Jacob. But 'the best laid schemes o' mice and men gang aft agley', as our good friends North of the Border shrewdly put it. Both Ruby Walsh and Daryl Jacob suffered severe injuries at Cheltenham on Friday and neither of them will be riding for a while. That leaves Sam Twiston-Davies who was the only one to ride TIDAL BAY to victory this season, scoring in the bet365 Hurdle at Wetherby in October. The only problem is that he does have existing obligations is to his father, Nigel, who has SAME DIFFERENCE entered in the National. The 2010 National Hunt trainer of the year, however, is reported as saying yesterday that he had been expecting his son would be considered to ride for Paul Nicholls and he would not stand in his way.

Maybe this ia a case for Family Hold Back!

 

RUBY TUESDAY

After his terrible tumble at the Cheltenham Festival on Friday, RUBY WALSH is expected to see a specialist later this week to find out the worst. The County Kildare jockey, brother of Katie, was going great guns in the lead on ABBYSSIAL in the JCB Triumph Hurdle when it all went wrong when the Willie Mullins 4-year-old fell at the second hurdle, plunging his rider onto the deck. It was announced afterwards that Festival's leading jockey had fractured his arm and also dislocated his shoulder.

Stoically the dual Grand National winner commented: "I've been worse – I'm not too bad. I had an operation on Friday night in Gloucester to put my shoulder back into its socket. There was a fracture at the top of the arm as well."

When asked whether that was it for the rest of the season, the answer was: "I don't know. I would have thought so, but I'll know more when I see the specialist later in the week. I need to wait for the swelling to go down before they can get a clearer picture."

 

MONDAY, 17th MARCH 2014 

 

DOUBLE WHAMMY FOR LOCAL BOOKIES 

Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, LORD WINDERMERE, really was the last straw for bookmakers near to Jim Culloty's stables in County Cork. Their coffers were bare after the winning trainer's SPRING HEELED pulled off a 12/1 victory in the Kim Muir Challenge Cup on Thursday. Then before they had time to recover, they were clobbered with the 20-1 shock result of the big race win the next day. 

Winning trainer, Jim Culloty, who as a jockey was the first to complete the Cheltenham Gold Cup treble on BEST MATE (2002, 2003, 2004) commented: "The local bookies ran out of money, and that was just after Spring Heeled won. It was even worse for them after Lord Windermere. Eliza (his daughter) had a two euro each-way double on Spring Heeled and Lord Windermere, so she's won over 1,000 euro." 

The Mount Corbitt House handler also revealed that both of his horses had worked out on the same gallops near Churchtown used by COTTAGE RAKE, who went on to win three Gold Cup between 1948 and 1950. These gallops, originally belonged to the great Vincent O'Brien, who in 2003 was voted the greatest influence in horse racing history. The farm is now owned by Vincent's nephew, Noel O'Brien who sent a text to Jim Culloty after the race saying he had been waiting for another Gold Cup winner to come off the gallops. 

Noel O'Brien's daughter, Pauline, said: "Dad is a dairy farmer but he keeps Vincent's old grass gallops open during the winter, not for public use as such, but more out of a sense of history.

 

CAN'T KEEP A GOOD MAN DOWN! 

Jockey, Davy Russell, still can't quite believe what's been happening to him recently. A few months ago, the 35-year-old rider from Youghal, County Cork, lost his job as the retained rider for the powerful Gigginstown House Stud operation, owned by the Chief Executive of Ryanair, Michael O'Leary. Then his replacement, Bryan Cooper, broke his leg and Davey Russell, by this quirk of fate, was called back into action. So once more he was riding in the Gigginstown colours and went on to win the JCB Triumph Hurdle on TIGER ROLL and the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase Challenge Cup with SAVELLO - both on the same day. Then, before those two wins had time to register, along came victory in the Gold Cup with LORD WINDERMERE. 

The triumphant jockey commented: "It still hasn't really sunk in. Gordon (Elliott) had been giving me good vibes about Tiger Roll and that got the whole thing rolling. Jim (Culloty) had been telling me for a while that his horse was coming back to himself. I'd been to ride him out and Jim kept saying "he's there now". There was very little I could have gained by showing my disappointment (at losing the job), that's just the way it was, they made their decision which they are entitled to do. I was lucky that when I wasn't going so well people still used me and that made a difference." 

 

SUNDAY, 16th MARCH 2014 

 

NOT AN APPEALING END 

Connections of ON HIS OWN have decided not to appeal against the stewards' decision in Friday's Cheltenham Gold Cup. As everyone must know by now, Willie Mullins' 10-year-old came second to LORD WINDERMERE by a short-head, after noticeably suffering interference. On the day, however, the stewards came to the conclusion that the result of the race was not been affected. 

Although the County Carlow handler announced: "Having spoken to Mr Wylie [owner of On His Own], we are not appealing," it was fairly apparent that he is far from satisfied with the rules or how the stewards interpreted. His other comments after Friday's racing were very revealing: "I don't see any need for stewards at this rate of going. There is absolutely no need for them." 

Clearly that's a strong reference to the general view that stewards in Britain are not keen to alter a result if interference is involved. Many people are puzzled as to how the stewards could accept that there had been some interference but then go on to decide that the result had not been affected, particularly as the winning margin was a few inches. ON HIS OWN passed the victor a few strides after passing the post, fuelling further contention that he could have won if his straight hadn't been hindered. 

Inevitably there has been much discussion about what factors could have influenced the stewards' decision. It is agreed that a major one could have been that David Casey overused his whip, earning him a seven-day ban. To the general public, however, it doesn't seem to make any sense to punish the one jockey for breaking one rule but then go on to reward the other for breaking another. One factor in LORD WINDERMERE's favour, however, clearly visible, causing him to move to the right, was SILVINIACO CONTI's veering dramatically towards him from the other side. 

Robin Mounsey, a spokesman for the British Horseracing Authority, however, maintained that neither of these two issues had anything to do with the stewards' decision, although he didn't say what points had been taken onto consideration. The damaging anti-climax to a successful Cheltenham Festival, if the result were changed, not to mention all the winnings that have already been paid out by bookies, for instance! 

Altogether an unsettling end to the four days of drama and excitement. 

 

NO MORE THIS TIME 

The winning jockey of the Queen Mother Champion Chase, Jamie Moore, had to come down from the clouds yesterday when back competing at his local track, Fontwell. He was on parade in six out the seven-race card, two for his trainer, Dad , Gary. But this time he was out of luck, failing to score once. He had to give way to two of his weighing-room colleagues, Tom Cannon and Felix De Giles, who celebrated a double each on the day. There may have been no re-run of the Cheltenham successes for Gary Moore but another Sussex trainer took his place in winner’s enclosure when Tom Cannon rode the 7-year-old COVE to victory in the first race of the day, the EBF Stallions Mares’ National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle and came back again later in the 32Red Free £10 Bonus Handicap Chase on BENNY THE SWINGER for trainer Chris Gordon. In between these two successes he made room for Felix De Giles to win two in a row - the 32Red Immortal Romance Slot Handicap Chase on Robert Walford's UMBERTO D'OLIVATE and in the very next contest scoring on HENRYVILLE in the 32Red.com Handicap Hurdle for the highly successful young trainer, Harry Fry. 

 

SATURDAY, 15th MARCH 2014

 

AN EMOTIONAL AFFAIR

What a dramatic Cheltenham Festival it turned out to be! The press couldn't have hoped for better headlines: BIG BUCK'S retires; JEZKI wins the Champion Hurdle; 50th birthday present, SIRE DE GRUGY, bags the Queen Mother Champion Chase; QUEVEGA champion of the OLBG Mares' Hurdle; Stewards' enquiry into the Gold Cup winner.

These events have all been mulled over at great length. For me, though, the prevailing memories of the Cheltenham Festival 2014 are the depth of human emotions that were revealed over those four days.

On Wednesday we had Jamie Moore, winning on SIRE DE GRUGY, his first Festival winner, and he his trainer Dad, Gary weeping with almost incredulous happiness at the result. And this moment was compounded by the touching moment after the race when all his weighing room colleagues provided him with a guard of honour to cheer and welcome Jamie Moore him into the winner's enclosure. As trainer Dad, Gary, put it: “It’s Jamie’s first Festival winner and the other jockeys coming out afterwards proved how popular Jamie is. And seeing Ryan (Moore- his brother) there as well. It meant quite a lot. It probably has been done before but I haven’t seen it done for a long time.”

Then on Thursday there was the Pertemps Network Final that KAYF ARAMIS won, (can it be five years ago!) when it really looked as though Daryl Jacob was slapping his side and yelling because he had won but it soon transpired that he was in agony because he had lost – by the shortest of margins, a nose! As Clare Balding commented: “He's very emotional!” And how moving to see the winning jockey, Richard Johnson, trying to console his colleague by putting his arm around him! That was before he could go on to celebrate his remarkable victory.

Then on the final day when the winner, LORD WINDERMERE beat ON HIS OWN in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup, only for the victory to be the subject of a stewards' enquiry where the result was upheld but could still be overturned by next Friday, if Willie Mullins decides to appeal. Unusually the cameras were allowed into the stewards' room where the three jockeys concerned, Davy Russell, on the disputed winner, LORD WINDERMERE; David Casey, aboard second-placed ON HIS WON and Tom Scudamore, who rode third-placed THE GIANT BOLSTER, all gave their account of what they thought had happened. The atmosphere was tense and it was obvious that they were trying not to make accusations against their colleagues. A study of controlled emotions was clearly visible in the faces of David Casey who felt he should have won and Davey Russell who, after recently losing his senior position in Michael O'Leary's stables, and picking up an unexpected spare ride due to Ruby Walsh's injury, clearly wanted this victory to somehow vindicate himself in some way.

 

THE TOPPER THE MORNING!

Kim Bailey, was actually someone who was pleased not to be at Cheltenham with one of his horses. The Nottinghamshire-based trainer decided not run his 7-year-old HARRY TOPPER in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, preferring to go for Betfred Midlands Grand National being run at Uttoxeter today. His Denman Chase winner in February will, however, have to concede 19lb or more to the rest of the field and, in addition, will have a new rider aboard, Nick Scholfield, because his usual partner, Jason Maguire, fractured his sternum at Stratford and will be out of action for a long time. It's well known that the son of SIR HARRY LEWIS only goes well on soft ground and it looks like the Uttoxeter track could do the honours whereas Prestbury Park was drying out too fast

As Kim Bailley commented: "It was an easy decision in the end with the way the ground dried up at Cheltenham. He's been in good form at home and we are happy to take his chance as long as the ground doesn't get any quicker than good to soft, and it would appear that there is very little chance of that . He's been trained for this week, so switching targets at the last moment won't affect him as the races are only 24 hours apart. The only real downside to his chance is that we haven't got Jason, for obvious reasons. Nick's a good jockey too, though, and I'm sure he'll be fine."

 

 FRIDAY, 14th MARCH 2014

 

WE'LL SEE MORE OF MORE OF THAT

Two men demonstrated once again their consummate skill at the Cheltenham Festival yesterday, carrying off the biggest prize of the day - the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, whilst everyone else seemed to regard it as a two-horse race between reigning champion, BIG BUCK'S and ANNIE POWER. Jonjo O'Neill-trained MORE OF THAT was only on his fifth start of his career since making his winning debut at Folkestone in December 2012 so perhaps he wasn't so much the focus of attention. But you ignore the combined talents of the County Cork trainer and jockey Barry Geraghty at your peril, especially as the latter had already deprived champion jockey, Tony McCoy of victory, by winning Tuesday’s Stan James Champion Hurdle on JEZKI.

The reasoning seemed fair enough. 6-year-old ANNIE POWER arrived on the scene with an unbeaten record more than twice as long as the same-aged MORE OF THAT (9 – 5 ). Add to that the undoubted Festival form of the trainer/jockey partnership of Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh, who both seemed to have such confidence in the daughter of SHIROCCO and it is understandable why there was such support for the chestnut mare right up to the start of the race. Ruby Walsh's plan seemed to be to tail his old companion BIG BUCK'S, whom he had ridden 18 times to victory. But then Sam Twiston-Davies, entrusted for the last two occasions with the stewardship of the 11-year-old, made an unpredicted earlier move after the third-last flight and it became apparent that the son of CADOUDAL was not responding in his customary way and all was not well. Ruby Walsh then realised that he had to employ other tactics. He decided to switch to the outside 2 hurdles out, managing to squeeze through between rivals to challenge before last. However, whatever ANNIE POWER produced MORE THAN THAT lived up to his name and surged bravely on to win by one-and-three-quarter lengths.

Poor Tony McCoy had once again made a wrong choice of JP McManus’ horses, as he did in the Champion Hurdle. AT FISHERS CROSS only managed a disappointing third. BIG BUCK'S sadly failed to make his usual mark on the contest.

 

BUCK'S CASHES IN

So the third day of one of the greatest racing Festivals saw another great champion ride off into the sunset. BIG BUCK'S had failed to make the championship his own for a fifth time.

Trainer Paul Nicholls said afterwards: “Younger legs beat him today. I could see halfway round we were in a bit of trouble and retirement is the right thing to do. We gave it a go. That’s what we wanted to do, but you have to be sensible. I wanted to bring him back for all the fans. They all like to see him. They won’t see him again racing, but I’m sure he’ll be back to see everyone.”

Owner Andy Stewart added that BIG BUCK'S would make the Somerset village of Ditcheat his retirement home and commented in similar vein: “The great horse is not as great as he was when a nine-year-old. We have done as much as we possibly can and there’s no way we can improve on that. It’s been very flattering the way the public have taken to him. He’s probably one of the greatest, if not the greatest, staying hurdler of all-time, and it’s time to enjoy his retirement. "We are going to buy a Polo factory to make sure he can have as many as he likes!”

 

THURSDAY, 13th MARCH 2014 

 

FAIRY TALES CAN COME TRUE. IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU, ...” 

It all began with a 50th birthday present. 50 good friends of Steve Preston decided to mark his landmark anniversary by depositing £2,000 in a bank account set up in his name and with the specific instruction that the money was only to be used to buy a racehorse. The Runcorn businessman had always enjoyed his days at the races with his three sons, Liam, Sean and Ryan but had never even dreamt of owning his own horse. So for his BIG 5 0 his family persuaded his friends to club together and fund the surprise birthday present. The birthday boy was obviously delighted but a little daunted. Although he loved racing he didn't know anything about horses. He decided that the only way he could be sure of the trainer’s commitment to finding the right horse from outside the yard was if he (the trainer) bought a 25% share. It certainly sounded like a good business plan but, sadly, he was rejected by trainer after trainer. When he was half-thinking of giving up the idea, riding to the rescue came Gary Moore, who had stables in West Sussex. 

In Steve Preston's own words: “Gary gave me all the warnings; that I could be throwing good money away, that 90 per cent of people who own less than two horses never see them win...blah, blah. But I told him, for me, it was about fun, a few good days out and if we blew our money in two years, then so be it. So on that basis, he said, ‘I’ll look for a horse but if I put my money in, I’ll decide everything. You can have the fun but I will run the show’.” 

So this rather unconventional partnership was sealed. Then, as luck would have it, jockey Jamie Moore, son of Gary, came across SIRE DE GRUGY in France. One fly in the ointment, though: the 4-year-old son of MY RISK was priced at about £35,000. A further £25,000 would be required on top of his £2,000 birthday present. So friends once again stepped in to the breach. Dave Simpson, a Surrey plumber, Neil McNulty, a sportswear buyer for Next, and Barry Lockett, a sales rep for a confectioner’s, teamed up with sons, Liam, Sean and Ryan and became part-owners. 

How does this fairy tale end? Just over four years later, on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival, SIRE DE GRUGY, went on to win the 2014 Queen Mother Champion Chase by six lengths. The joy and excitement of Steve Preston, family and friends was apparent from the beginning of the afternoon when all 18 of them flocked into the parade ring and their emotions were uncontrollable when they saw their champion pass the post well clear of the rest of the field. 

The reality behind the fairy tale is that the original £35,000 investment has been augmented to almost £500,000 in prize money alone but this is probably no time for realities. The Preston family and friends would probably agree that owning their own horse has provided them with some of the most enjoyable days of their lives. 

 

WIN SOME LOSE SOME 

The day did not, however, turn out to be a fairy tale for KAYLIF ARAMIS, full brother to the 2009 Cheltenham champion KAYF, running in yesterday's Coral Cup. He seemed to be running well with jockey, Sam Twiston-Davies, happy to hold him in the rear for a while. He made a slight mistake at the third but that didn't seem to affect his progress. He then started to make noticeable headway on the outside of the field approaching the seventh and was even making a bid to get in touch with the leaders. Then, unexpectedly, he made a mistake at the third from home and was down. KAYLIF ARAMIS was up on his feet before his jockey, although it was discovered later that he had a cut on his leg. He did continue the race quite energetically as a 'loose horse'. (Isn't it funny how horses lose their name after losing their jockey?) Sam Twiston-Davies also seemed to be none the worse for his fall, which is just as well as he has one of the most important bookings of his career – riding BIG BUCK'S in today's Ladbrokes World Hurdle. 

An interesting fact about this race is that no mention was made of the fall by the commentator. Usually the first thing we hear is that there has been a faller and a comment is made, at the time or later, about the well-being horse and rider. 

 

WEDNESDAY, 12th MARCH 2014 

 

CHELTENHAM FIRST DAY – AGAIN! 

I was for the high jump yesterday. Connections, as they say in the racing world, ticked me off for not writing about the first day of the Cheltenham Festival. I honestly thought enough had been said in this blog about the helter skelter of 'Chelters', e.g. Monday 10th March “ Bank on this guy. Ricci”; Sunday, 9th March “Festival Fanatics” and “Water, Water everywhere – but not on Cheltenham!” But it seems not. So to make amends here's a recap of some of the highlights of the first day for those of you who did not have the opportunity to see the action. Day One was undoubtedly a cracker. From the very first race it was apparent that we were in for a treat. It started off with the Sky Bet Supreme which really developed into VAUTOUR's race after, a few possible challenges along the way but the son of ROBIN DES CHAMPS soon put his stamp on the contest, giving the trainer/jockey duo, Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh their first success of the Festival and, it should be mentioned, also a good start for owner, Susannah Ricci, wife of ex-Barclays banker, Rich Ricci, as this was one of the six entries for the Festival. (Mentioned on Monday!). The next Ricci runner, CHAMPAGNE FEVER, appeared in the second race of the day, the Arkle Challenge Trophy, and it seemed that the 7-year-old grey had it sewn up from about half way but, out of the blue, he was headed at the post by the 33/1 outsider, WESTERN WARHORSE. A first downer for the for the County Carlow team and for anyone who had taken out an accumulator ( Not me! Honest Guv!) on the banker's sextet. 

The next race of dramatic interest was the fourth – the Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy. It was a fascinating contest on two accounts: first – champion jockey Tony McCoy, who had the pick of the horses to ride, decided to go for MY TENT OR YOURS and not JEZKI, whom he had ridden to victory twice before, and as fate would have it, he picked the wrong one and came second by a neck. The real drama of the race came when OUR CONOR (sadly had to be put down) fell at the third and seriously hampered Sam Twiston-Davies aboard THE NEW ONE. The talented jockey and horse, however, somehow managed to survive this incident and battle on gamely to finish third. One can only ponder on what might have happened without this incident. 

The fifth race, the OLBG Mares' Hurdle was 'such stuff as dreams are made on”, as the Bard put it. Willie Mullins' 10-year-old QUEVAGA, ridden by Ruby Walsh, although perhaps not as stylishly as on previous occasions, proved that she was Mistress of all she surveyed by winning this Class 1 contest for the sixth year in a row, beating GOLDEN MILLER's record of five consecutive Cheltenham Gold Cups. (1932 -1936). It was also a bonus for the top County Kildare rider who secured a doublefor the afternoon.

 

Those were the highlights of the day. (OK. Connections?) 

 

CHELTENHAM - SECOND DAY 

Today is another big day in the career of KAYLIF ARAMIS, full brother to the 2009 Cheltenham champion KAYF. He's running in the Coral Cup, in only his second appearance at Prestbury Park. The 7-year-old son of KAYF TARA won his last race, the Great British Drama Handicap Hurdle at Ascot in February, with Ryan Hatch aboard, by five lengths, with apparent ease. 

There is a large field of 28 runners today and it appears to be a wide open race, with Racing Post sporting BAYAN as their 8/1 favourite and Sportinglife answering with Clondaw Kaempfer at 7/1. 

Currently the ground is right – Good to Soft, and the distance is right – 2 miles 5 furlongs, and the jockey is certainly right – Sam Twiston-Davies. 

KAYLIF ARAMIS was rated 131 for the Ascot race and the handicapper has naturally added a few pounds for that victory. He's now on 138 placing him among the lighter of the contestants so that should not be a problem. 

Who better to sum up the situation than his jockey, Sam Twiston-Davies: “As for today, Kaylif Aramis is my best ride in the Coral Cup. I think the track, ground and style of race will suit him.” 

TUESDAY, 11th MARCH 2014 

 

CLARE DE LA LUNE! 

Simon Clare, who part-owns NOZIC, was reported to be "over the moon" when his veteran chaser defied his age and won the Bernard O'Brien Memorial Handicap Chase at Plumpton. Coral bookmakers originally bought the 13-year-old to run in the 2010 Grand National as part of various competitions being organised by them in conjunction with the Sun newspaper. Simon Clare, who is PR director for Coral, followed the fortunes of NOZIC as he changed owners a few times and was in the hands of various trainers including Paul Nicholls, Nick Gifford and now Zoe Davison. Yesterday the son of PORT LYAUTEY, having fallen down the weights, was given a 5/2 of winning the race he originally claimed in 2012. The Lump O'clock Syndicate's mount was full of go and produced what was necessary, when asked, to be victorious by three-quarter of a length. 

Simon Clare commented: "I've been involved in racing for 25 years and I can honestly say I have never been as emotional about anything in the sport as I am about this horse. Today was absolutely brilliant. It wasn't a great race and he's dropped down the weights, so I half expected him to do it, but it isn't easy getting a 13-year-old to the racecourse. Zoe is a brilliant horsewoman and I thought Wayne gave him a fantastic ride.” 

 

WELCOME IMMIGRANTS 

Uttoxeter, a traditional market town in East Staffordshire, has a population going on 14,000, well at least until nest Saturday. On that day its numbers will more than double when about 18,000 people will move in and take over. The reason for this is that Uttoxeter Racecourse will stage the most prestigious fixture in the Midlands racing calendar: the Midlands Grand National and added to that they will be celebrating the 45th renewal of this event. This temporary invasion of immigrants is welcomed as it provides a annual boost to the local economy. The race course staff alone will augment almost ten times to an incredible total of 400 which can't be bad for the local job market. In addition jockeys, trainers will swell the numbers by even more. Hotels in the area are already almost fully booked when, at this time of the year, they would normally only expect around 20 to 30 %. Other venues providing hospitality and, of course, the travel businesses will benefit for the whole weekend, including taxis, trains, cafes, pubs and shops. One surprising bonus will be for the florists who provide flowers for the hospitality suites, making it one of their best days in the year. The race course, itself, makes 20% of its annual profits on just this one day. One of the nearest pubs to the track is the Marston’s Dapple Grey and its turnover, it is claimed, will increase by over 30%. A big attraction is undoubtedly this year's prize money which will be upped from £100,000 to £165,000. 

Executive director, David MacDonald explained: “Coming off the excitement of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the Midlands Grand National is a fitting finale to the week – and with this year’s first prize hitting six figures for the first time we’re expecting much more interest this year from the racegoers’ favourite trainers, runners and riders. Over the last five years we have seen admissions for our most prestigious race increase steadily, with most of our guests coming from Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire." 

 

MONDAY, 10th MARCH 2014 

 

BANK ON THIS GUY, RICCI. 

Who is that guy in a trilby and sunglasses by the rails with someone looking suspiciously like a bodyguard? A famous movie star? A footballer? A celebrity? No it's ex-Barclay's boss, Rich Ricci, living up to his name. Whereas most of those blamed for the banking credit crisis last year went to ground, not this Barclay's investment banker. Rather he has raised his profile even more. He could this week, at Cheltenham, pocket a massive payout, leaving the bookies £30 million down the spout. The reason is this designer-shades-wearing, bespoke-suited American, owner of a horse called, believe it or not, FATCATINTHEHAT, has six star horses running that are rated highly for the winner's enclosure. If they're all victorious he could come into some £700,000 with all the punters adding further financial damage by claiming their share of the spoils. Just a £1 win accumulator bet on the six would haul in £3,537.19 for the lucky ticket holder, according to Ladbrokes' odds last night. 

David Williams, a spokesman for the company said: “Rich Ricci will become the most popular fat cat banker in Britain if he finds himself in the winner’s enclosure with these six hot pots. If all six win it could cost the industry £30 million.” 

Adding to the chances of success, top jockey, Ruby Walsh is booked to ride the sextet and he already boasts a record 38 Cheltenham winners. And nothing less than Ireland’s champion trainer, Willie Mullins' stables for the Ricci horses, four of which are favourites. His string of horses reads like an OSCAR Nomination list: twice Festival champion, 7-year-old CHAMPAGNE FEVER; unbeaten hurdlers ANNIE POWER and FAUGHEEN; BALLYCASEY, the successful novice chaser; 5-year-old VAUTOUR, making his debut in the UK, second favourite for the first race of the day, the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle and last but not least, ARVIKA LIGEONNIERE has put down his marker for the BetVictor Queen Mother Champion Chase. 

Rich Ricci retired last June as head of Barclays’ investment banking arm with a year’s salary which is estimated at around £700,000. If all goes well, he will have that amount in the bag by 3.30 pm. on Wednesday. 

 

THE NATIONAL'S GRAND 

Everyone's counting the days until the renewal of the world's most famous steeplechase, the Grand National. Like the Cheltenham Festival this is another event to which the so-called Irish raiders are attracted. Emerald Isle contenders have returned home on 24 occasions with their names written into history. The very first Irish success was in 1847 when the John Murphy-trained MATTHEW, ridden by Denny Wynne won by one length. The last success was sixty years later (2007) when the winner was SILVER BIRCH, trained by Gordon Elliott, also marking the end of a remarkable run of six wins in nine years between the years 1999 and 2007. That sequence was initiated by the Tommy Carberry-trained BOBBYJO, ridden by his son, Paul. It was also a sentimental occasion because trainer Tommy Carberry was the jockey aboard the previous Irish champion, L'ESCARGOT some 24 years earlier. In the following year there was another father/son victory when Ruby Walsh powered PAPILLON past the post for his father, Ted. That was Ruby Walsh's first attempt and first win in the Grand National and he repeated the exercise in 2005, riding Willie Mullins' HEDGEHUNTER into the history books. 

Perhaps as a consequence of the fierce rivalry between the two countries, Irish successes were not always achieved without a certain amount of controversy. In 1947 fog had descended on Aintree track on the morning of the big race. Long-time leader, LOUGH CONN, was dramatically overhauled by the strong-travelling CAUGHOO and beaten by a decisive 20 lengths. This naturally upset a number of people. In particular, the defeated, Daniel McCann, accused Eddie Dempsey, CAUGHOO's jockey, of hiding behind a fence near the start of the race before jumping in again late in the second circuit. Subsequently the winning rider was beaten up in the bar. 

Unfortunately this fracas soured racing history for decades but it's all part of racing folklore.  

SUNDAY, 9th MARCH 2014 

 

FESTIVAL FANATICS 

Just a few days now and Prestbury Park will echo with the customary tumultuous roars of the Cheltenham crowd. The Prestbury Cup is up for grabs for the first time in the 'friendly' rivalry stakes between the British and the Irish. It seems that all over the Emerald Isle Festival fervour has gripped the population. In virtually every city, town and village profit-seeking punters, who cannot make it across the Irish Sea to be present at the races in person, are quietly plotting to take every bookie to the cleaners. And, of course, the 'turf accountants' are quite determined that this should not happen. One good example of a battle-ready bookie is Paddy McAuliffe, with 33 years of experience in the business, from the delightfully sounding Dromin-Athlacca, County Limerick, whose betting shops are located in equally delightfully sounding towns of Bruff and Hospital, can't wait for the Festival to start and, in fact, from Christmas onwards he can hardly think of anything else. 

The Festival fanatic admits: “I have it marked on the calendar. As far as I’m concerned, as a bookmaker, Cheltenham opens the door to the year. It’s the festival that commands the most interest. Usually the betting shops are full for the Gold Cup. There is a fierce buzz, fellas shouting for their own horses - it’s like you are at the races. It’s as good as the Cheltenham roar. But it’s not specifically the Gold Cup people are interested in - it’s a spread of bets. All of south Limerick will fancy Enda Bolger’s horses. They will all be well backed. A local leading trainer, people will follow him.” 

It goes without saying that all eyes will also be on JP McManus, not just because he was born in Limerick but also because, as usual, he is bringing a formidable team of horses to compete at the Festival. 

Paddy McAuliffe has a word to say on that, too: “A lot of them are running in handicaps which are hard to figure out. I have no doubt but that JP will have winners at Cheltenham because JP gears his horses for Cheltenham. He absolutely loves it.” 

 

WATER WATER EVERYWHERE” - BUT NOT ON CHELTENHAM! 

The dynamic training duo, Paul Nicholls and and Nicky Henderson have formed an unusual alliance; they don't want the Cheltenham course to be watered for this week's festival. They have even sent a plea to that effect to Simon Claisse, Cheltenham's clerk of the course. As always seems to happen at Prestbury Park, the ground dries out very quickly, even after lots of rain and this has raised the possibility that watering may become necessary to prevent the ground becoming too quick. This applies particularly on the New course which will be in use for the first time on Thursday and Friday. 

These two top trainers expressed their opinions at a post-racing forum at Sandown yesterday. Three-times champion trainer, Nicky Henderson's view is: "I do sincerely hope they don't water, it would be a tragedy. You have got to let nature take its course. If nature says it's good ground, let them run on good ground and let the good-ground horses get their opportunity. Why should the good- ground horses be penalised just because they want to slow it down? It's wrong." 

The Somerset-based Paul Nicholls added his comments: "I spoke to Simon at length and I know he is worried it might dry up. Simon's concern is the track might get quicker by Thursday and Friday and whether he should water this weekend to make sure it doesn't. It's a gamble to take and it has been so wet.” 

SATURDAY, 8th MARCH 2014 

 

WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE – HE DOES! 

Someone desperate for a good tip today is a Nuneaton father of three. If he bets right, he could become a millionaire and, what is more, one of the biggest individual winners in Coral's betting-shop history. This Scoop6 punter stands to win £1,290,523. The sexagenarian staker made a £2 bet last Saturday and was incredibly the only one to select all six winners in the Scoop6 which earned him £411,959. More than that. This win made him eligible to compete in today's bonus race which would give him the chance to add £878,564 to that sum. The Imperial Cup would normally be the bonus race but, with only 14 runners, making it the smallest field this century, Coral has decided to substitute the EBF William Hill Novices' Handicap Hurdle Final at Sandown. The potential Scoop6 victor, who prefers to remain anonymous commented: "I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to win such a life-changing amount of money. It's what every punter who plays the Scoop6 dreams of. I still can't believe I was the only winner. If I go on to win this extra money, maybe a big holiday is on the cards." 

Simon Clare, a spokesman for Coral, added: "He's the most deserving winner imaginable. He's been a regular punter for over 40 years and an enthusiastic lifelong supporter and fan of horse racing." 

If this Mr. Lucky fails to find the bonus race winner then any winners of today's Scoop6 will be entered for a crack at an even bigger bonus next Saturday. 

Readers may recall that about a month ago 67-year-old Geraldine Hughes, from Hoylake in Merseyside, who has 19 grandchildren, was in a similar situation but, unfortunately, failed to pick the bonus winner. 

 

WHAT KATIE DID! 

The photograph by 35-year-old Kent-born Spencer Murphy that took the honours at last year's Taylor Lessing Award has gone on to become a familiar sight around London. It was featured on the Aramisracing website for a couple of weeks. It's been displayed in Tube stations, on the side of buses, in magazines and newspapers. In fact, the National Portrait Gallery has used it in its current promotion. You must have seen it somewhere even if you were not sure who it was. If it has caught your attention, you cannot have failed to be captivated by this striking picture. The face is covered in mud; the red and white silks are speckled with dirt; the expression is of total exhaustion and weariness. The eyes seem to say 'why do I do this?' Clearly the person has been photographed just after finishing a gruelling race in testing conditions. 

And whose portrait is this? None other than the successful female Irish jockey, Katie Walsh, sister of Rupert “Ruby” and daughter of County Kildare trainer, Ted. That much is fact. The image, however, belies its origin. The highest finishing lady jockey in the 2012 Grand National ( she was 3rd on SEABASS) gave the game away: “It was taken at Kempton Park. But not on a race day. They converted the owners' and trainers' bar into a studio. They asked me to bring my silks from my last race, not washed. That’s not mud on my face, it’s make-up. They just chucked the stuff all over me.” 

Even her exhausted, cynical and weary expression had other causes as the 28-year-old explained: “Yes, I was knackered all right. Fella had me in the studio for an hour and a half. By the end I was giving it, ‘What are you on about, just take a picture won’t you?’ So yeah, that is a real look in my eyes of, ‘Are you kidding me?’ ” 

Apparently when she first saw the portrait, she was quite upset because she is normally an upbeat person with a smile never far from her lips but eventually she came around to see what what the public sees: a determined, talented young jockey, a potential first female winner of the Grand National. 

 

FRIDAY, 7th MARCH 2014 

 

HE'S DONE IT AGAIN! 

Wednesday's piece, Record Matched, about equalling the world record number of straight wins on all-weather tracks has barely been added to RACING NEWS' archives. Now John Butler's STAND GUARD has done it again. This time he has surpassed the 13-year unbeaten record, established by CHINA CASTLE in 2001, by securing his 26th career victory at Southwell yesterday. Tom Queally, perhaps better known for riding the retired champion FRANKEL on his 14 victories in a row, now finds himself riding another equine hero into the record books with this 14-length win, just two days after scoring previously. Without detracting from the 10-year-old's success, it has to be said that, after four of the original entrants were withdrawn, only one rival stood between John Butler's trainee and history. The son of DANEHILL was inevitably the red-hot 1/7 favourite in this Coral Mobile "Just Three Clicks To Bet" Selling Stakes and he had no difficulty in putting his name on it. 

This success gives STAND GUARD's 26 wins from 73 starts under Rules with six 2nds and seven 3rds, gaining more than £80,000 in prize-money over his 7-year racing career. 

The winning Newmarket trainer commented afterwards: "I'm absolutely delighted for the horse and delighted for the owners. It's a good result. He's going to come back here on March 18. There's not a bother on him and Tom said he actually moved a little bit better today (than on Tuesday), so it's peculiar. As long as the horse wants to stay going, we'll stay going.' 

 

THE REAL MCCOY? 

It seems that Channelle, Eve and Archie are responsible for taming the wild man of horse racing, Tony McCoy. That's what the man says and even adds that family life is turning him into a better jockey. The 18-times champion rider from Moneyglass, County Antrim, is well-known for his obsession with racing and is certainly recognised as one of the hardest working man in sport, although he shrugs that off with: “A lot of people keep saying to me of my schedule: ‘you can’t keep this up, you’ll burn out’ but my best friend just laughs at that. He says, ‘Burn out? He does bleep all except ride. He gets picked up, goes to sleep in the car, rides five races which probably last about half an hour in total, gets back in the car and goes to sleep. If only we could all have a working day like that.’ And you know what: he’s probably right.” 

As he prepares for the Cheltenham Festival next week, Tony McCoy admits he used to lead a kind of tortured life unable to face failure but these days he feels more relaxed, even 'philosophical' as he puts it. After a hard day's racing he likes best of all to spend his time with his wife, Channelle and their children, Eve and Archie. 

The 2010 BBC Sports Personality of the Year admits: “The good thing is I’m home during the winter by 5.30. The only difference between mine and a normal job is I can go a long time without a day off. The only breaks I’ve had this year have been down to the weather. It is busy, but I won’t complain.”  

THURSDAY, 6th MARCH 2014 

 

AN STD CALL ? 

A rising star in the horse racing firmament has received an important call. Jockey, Sam Twiston-Davies, is to become the Jockey Club Racecourses' ambassador for the North West of England, particularly covering this year’s Grand National but also having responsibility for the promotion of Aintree, Haydock Park and Carlisle race courses. The top National Hunt rider is not a bad choice because his father, Nigel Twiston-Davis, trained two winners for this world-famous race: EARTH SUMMIT in 1998 and BINDAREE in 2002. In addition, Sam Twiston-Davies, himself, made his noteworthy debut in this event, when finishing fifth on HELLO BUD in 2010 when he was only 17 years old, the youngest rider in the race. His role of ambassador will include writing a monthly blog for the Aintree Insider and generally representing jockeys in the media for the whole region and particularly being directly involved in promoting the world’s greatest steeplechase. 

The Naunton-based jockey commented: “I am honoured to become an ambassador for Aintree, Haydock Park and Carlisle Racecourses, and specifically for The Crabbie’s Grand National. The Jockey Club is an exceptional organisation which has fantastic values and has been at the heart of British racing for more than 260 years. So, it is an honour and a privilege that I have been offered this position and I look forward to working with the team.” 

This year the Grand National is sponsored by Crabbie's, famous for their ginger wine, after John Smith's decided to pull out after nine years of involvement. This year will be the 167th renewal of the event and will also be the first £1million Grand National. 

Aintree and North West regional director for Jockey Club Racecourses, John Baker, gave the background to the decision: "We are delighted to announce Sam Twiston-Davies an ambassador for the racecourses in our region. Sam is a fantastic young national hunt jockey with a great future in the sport. He is also a great guy with a family who have a long and respected history in our sport. So, it was an easy choice for us and we are delighted he has accepted.”

 

AN OFFER YOU CAN'T REFUSE? 

Sky Bet have released news of a tempting offer whereby punters will get their stakes back on the first race of every day of the Cheltenham Festival. This is just one more incentive by bookmakers in their drive to get more cash out of the betting community, particularly at exciting times in the racing calendar, such as the Cheltenham Festival and The Grand National. A number of 'turf accountants' have already made attractive 'come ons' and now Sky Bet has joined them with the offer that, for all bets placed from 7.30pm on Wednesday March 5, stakes of up to £25 on win singles (or the win part of each-way singles) will be refunded on the first race on every day if the favourite wins. This offer takes in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle, the Neptune Novices' Hurdle, the Neptune Novices' Hurdle and the JCB Triumph Hurdle. 

Michael Shinners for Sky Bet said: "As we were already offering best odds guaranteed if the starting price is bigger, and a full refund of stakes on non-runners on all 27 races, this latest offer completes an impressive package of offers for our Cheltenham Festival punters."

 WEDNESDAY, 5th MARCH 2014 

 

CHAMPION JOCKEY'S PUSHING IT! 

Well at last the champion jockey has let slip the dreaded 'R' word! In a more candid interview than normal, Tony McCoy confessed that, as he approaches his fifth decade, the likelihood of this year's Cheltenham Festival being be one of his last has to be acknowledged. The 18-times winner of the title has produced 27 winners at the Festival including two Gold Cup victories, the first on MR MULLIGAN in 1997 and the second fifteen years later on SYNCHRONISED. He is 3-time winner of the Champion Hurdle- MAKE A STAND (1997); BRAVE INCA (2006) and BINOCULAR (2010). However, the esteemed rider from Moneyglass had to wait until 2010 before he finally added the elusive Grand National to his list of trophies when he triumphed on DON'T PUSH IT. 

Tony McCoy, well on his way to a 19th jockeys' championship, notched up a career record of 4000 wins in November and is about to pass 200 winners for the season but recognises that his main problem is getting the rides during jump racing's greatest event. On the subject of retirement he commented: "Sure it is going to happen but is it going to happen in the next two months? I hope not. I don't know if this will be my last festival but that's definitely not the plan. I'm not so stupid I don't realise I haven't got many Cheltenham Festivals left but I hope this isn't the final one. "I'm aware I'm going to have to retire at some point and I want that to happen while I'm still successful and champion jockey." 

 

RECORD MATCHED 

The record for the number of straight wins on all-weather tracks stands at 25. This was achieved by CHINA CASTLE in December 2001 at Southwell and has remained unbeaten for the past thirteen years. Now another strong contender has joined the ranks. Yesterday at the same Nottnghamshire track, the John Butler-trained STAND GUARD equalled this record with an eight-length victory in the coral.co.uk Best Odds Guaranteed On Racing Selling Stakes. Jockey, Tom Queally, aboard the 10-year-old son of DANEHILL was content to bide his time at the rear of the small field of four, only making his decisive move as they approached the final bend. 

The winning trainer was obviously delighted with the result: "A good performance. If we can hold him together now for another few races there should be another one or two wins in him before the end of the season. He's in here on Thursday but he's probably a doubtful runner and we'll probably come back for a race at Lingfield later in the month. We'll see how he is tomorrow and take it from there. It's going to take a serious a horse to break that record." 

Interestingly, no-one made a bid for STAND GUARD at the auction that took place after this 'Seller'. 

TUESDAY, 4th MARCH 2014

 

THAT'S THE TICKET!

Almost as old as the Cheltenham Festival is the Imperial Cup, first run in 1907, considered to be one of the most important hurdle races of the season. Usually held before the beginning of the Cheltenham Festival, the Imperial Cup is the ideal warm-up for the major jumps racing that will be taking place the following week. An added attraction, as in previous years, is the Cheltenham Festival preview, which will be chaired this year by Channel 4's Nick Luck and on the panel will be champion jockey, Tony McCoy, top trainer, Nicky Henderson, Andy Stewart and Kate Miller who, if past years are anything to go by, will be tossing plenty of clues into the hat for potential Cheltenham punters. As an example. Last year's session revealed the change of plans for the Willie Mullins-trained CHAMPAGNE FEVER who then went on to win the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, beating the 15/8 favourite. Nicky Henderson's MY TENT OR YOURS, ridden by this year's preview panel member, Tony McCoy.

Attendance at the preview will cost £1 which will be donated to the Injured Jockeys' Fund and normal entrance charges can be found online. However lucky RACING NEWS readers can get in for free. One pair of Premier Winner's Package tickets, including Premier Enclosure entrance, a food and drink voucher, racecard and £2 tote bet and four further pairs of Grandstand Enclosure Winner's Packages are up for grabs. The Premier Package winners will also enjoy front-row seats at the post-racing Cheltenham Preview.

To win one of these marvellous prizes all you have to do is e-mail: editorial@sportinglife.com with the name of the last horse to win the Imperial Cup and go on to win again at the Cheltenham Festival in the same year.

Entries must be submitted by the end of Wednesday March 5th.

Winners will be notified by e-mail the next day and will be asked to confirm their availability.

(Sshh! Try: Olympian 1993!)

A CLOUD OVER CHELTENHAM!

Champion Irish trainer, Willie Mullins has stated publicly he is anxious about his horses. He says he genuinely fears that his runners in the Cheltenham Festival might be "nobbled" with sedatives before next week. He also expresses concerns that the Irish Turf Club is not doing enough to deal with the potential threat. Clearly the County Carlow trainer is a very high profile at the moment with horses in top form for the Festival. Obviously some unscrupulous person(s) would have much to gain it they could illegally swing the odds in their favour. Added to that, there is the recently inaugurated Prestbury Cup which deliberately sets one country against the other, even if this is supposed to be a friendly competition. The recent events affecting another Irish trainer, Philip Fenton, charged with possessing anabolic steroids and other banned substances, have also added an urgency to Willie Mullins' concerns as he illustrated: "Everyone should be vigilant, especially if you have a fancied horse. You've got to be. Everyone's going on about the anabolic steroids but I'm always warning my lads here about guys using sedatives. If you wanted to nobble someone, who would you nobble? Nobble us. The one I had to look out for was the sedative. That was the one that was going to harm me. Everyone else was looking in the other direction."

Unfortunately this latest case concerning Philip Fenton has been adjourned until after the Cheltenham Festival and the trainer thinks this delay will "put a cloud over our game in the biggest festival of the year".

And he added: "That's what it will be known as – the year of the cloud."

     

MONDAY, 3rd MARCH 2014 

 

THE BOURN SUPREMACY 

Caroline Bailey, Northamptonshire trainer and first lady jockey to ride at winner at Cheltenham on Ptarmigan III, won this just over two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase at Southwell last year with NOBLE LEGEND and naturally she wants to do it again. This afternoon she is saddling GALWAY JACK with his regular jockey, Andrew Thornton, aboard. The 9-year-old demonstrated his skills two years ago at this track when he was victorious in the Hugh Bourn Beginners' Chase. Also the son of WITNESS BOX went to Fakenham last time out and came a creditable second in the Wendling Handicap Chase. So it's understandable that his handler is upbeat about her horse's chances today as she feels the Nottinghamshire racetrack is one of his strengths which he can play to his advantage. 

As Caroline Bailey put it: "He is 16.3 hands high and a big, long-striding horse so I was pleasantly surprised how well he handled Fakenham last time, but Southwell's two long straights should suit him better. He has won at the course before (in the Hugh Bourn Beginners' Chase) and would have won a second time but for parting company with his rider when clear. I've been pleased with him since Fakenham and he's in very good form."

 

THE WORLD AT HER FEET 

The Ladbrokes World Hurdle at Cheltenham a week on Thursday is building up to be an exciting race. The equine lady who is causing a lot of interest at the moment is the chestnut mare, ANNIE POWER. This feature event has been spiced up even more by the fact that this 6-year-old, unbeaten in her last ten races, will take on champion BIG BUCK'S, who, apart from his slight fall from grace last time out when he came third in the Cleeve Hurdle, was unbeaten on his previous eighteen outings. There has been speculation for some time as to whether these two would ever meet, as the daughter of SHIROCCO is also entered for the Champion Hurdle and the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle. But yesterday her trainer Willie Mullins 'let the cat out of the bag', after racing at Leopardstown: “Ruby will probably ride Hurricane Fly in the Champion Hurdle, Quevega in the mares’ race and Annie Power in the World Hurdle. We’ve had a long chat with the owners and at the moment that’s the way it looks, they are all happy.” 

So six-year-old ANNIE POWER will challenge 11-year-old BIG BUCK'S, four-times winner of this prestigious event, each time with Ruby Walsh in the saddle.  

 

SUNDAY, 2nd MARCH 2014 

 

SORRY. I HAVEN'T A CLUE!” 

Yesterday's discussion about the William Hill Grimthorpe Handicap Chase at Doncaster's providing vital clues about the potentials for the Grand National proved one thing: nothing's certain when it comes to horses! Only one of the hopefuls came within twenty-six lengths of the winner and that was MONBEG DUDE, managing fifth after non-fluent jumping and an inability to make any impression on the outcome of the race. The toast of the day was NIGHT IN MILAN who gave the Revely family, trainer, Keith and jockey, James a day to remember. The 8-year-old son of MILAN made most of the running, maintaining the lead from the first to the eighth, losing superiority for a while before going well clear as he approached the second obstacle. Victory was a decisive five lengths ahead of Jonjo O'Neill's STORM SURVIVOR. 

NIGHT IN MILAN who has had a first and a second from four races at Doncaster before this obviously called upon his course experience and jumped well. The only thing is that, at the moment, he is number 72 on the list of entrants and he may not make the final 40. 

Trainer Keith Revely stated: "He's in the National, but he's only got 9st 13lb and would need a lot to come out to get in. His owner Richard Collins is keen for him to run over the fences and so we'll also enter him in the Topham. I'd quite like to see him run in the Topham this year and the National next year. He's a brilliant jumper, but he must have this ground." 

One minor success for RACING NEWS was the 'dark horse'. Venetia Williams' 9-year-old RENARD, with Aidan Coleman aboard, just failed to come second by a short head. 

 

THINGS LUGGING BAD FOR RYAN! 

Talking of the in-form Venetia Williams, Tom Scudamore, picking up a rare spare ride for the Lady of Aramstone, notched up another winner at Newbury on the same day in the StanJames.com Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup. 8-year-old SHANGANI recovered from a couple of difficult moments to get the better of REBEL REBELLION by one-and-three-quarter lengths. Things got a little tricky when the two rivals approached the final fence of this Grade Three. It was plain to see that they were getting dangerously close to the cordoned-off area which separates the water jump from the run to the winning line. Ryan Mahon succeeded in forcing Paul Nicholls' mount back onto the right track just in time but Tom Scudamore seized the opportunity to slip up the inside rail and make tracks for home. 

Subsequently the Galashiels-born Ryan Mahon got a four-day ban for careless riding for letting his horse move left into the whip when seeming to know he might be in trouble. 

Tom Scudamore commented afterwards: "The other horse was lugging and it wasn't Ryan's fault - he pulled him around the island. He couldn't see anything and it's very difficult. We know the rules, but it's happened before and it'll happen again. I thought we were heading for the water jump and I couldn't exactly get round him but thankfully the horse has picked up, and it was a lovely spare to get." 

(lugging – deviating from straight course!)

 

SATURDAY, 1st MARCH 2014

 

IN THE NATIONAL INTEREST

First run officially in 1839, the Grand National, seems to be the one race in the year that most people know something about and have a flutter on, even if they have no interest in horses racing for the rest of the year. From the huge number of contestants - and this year more than ever - it is also probably the most difficult competition in which to pick a winner, because usually only a small number of starters finish, due to the distance of almost four-and-a-half miles and the number of fences (30). That is why today's William Hill Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster will be eyed by the keener of the Grand National punters, searching for clues as to possible winners. A number of National hopefuls will be testing their stamina and skills over the 3mile and 2 furlong track (over a mile shorter than the real thing!).

CLUE 1

One entry that could be worthy of some attention is Alan King's 2013 Scottish Grand National winner, GODSMEJUDGE, who, at the moment, is given a 20/1 chance of winning the world-famous race in April. On the face of it, the omens aren't good, as the eight-year-old son of WITNESS BOX was pulled up last time out at Sandown but, in his defence, it has to be said, that happened just before Barbury castle stables had to shut down due to a virus problem.

The Swindon-based trainer commented:"He has not run since disappointing at Sandown in early December, but that was the time when our horses were just starting to go wrong, so we put a line through that. He has been working well and, having skipped Haydock last week because of the heavy ground, we are looking to get back on track given the right conditions."

CLUE 2

Another runner for consideration is the Michael Scudamore-trained MONBEG DUDE following on his Grade Three win at Cheltenham in December. This nine-year-old, also, interestingly, sired by WITNESS BOX (but no relation by equine definition. They are from different dams!) also suffered the experience of being pulled up - in last year's Gold Cup – but has, nevertheless, shorter odds of 16/1 to bag the prize. A strong plus is that Paul Carberry is back in the saddle and he's the jockey who rode MONBEG DUDE to victory in the Welsh National last year.

Michael Scudamore, younger brother of successful jockey, Tom, based at Ross-on-Wye, had this to say: "Paul won the Welsh National on him with a great ride and we're delighted to have him back. We're lucky to have someone of his experience.”

CLUE 3

From the remaining ten runners Paul Nicholls' couple, MON PARRAIN and HARRY THE VIKING, catch the eye but only with the caveats provided by their Somerset trainer: "Harry The Viking ran a bit better in blinkers the last day and the better the ground, the better the chance he'll have. Mon Parrain would have a chance if he can come back to the form of a couple of years ago, but he has been out of form. Both horses have something to prove."

 

One 'dark horse' who may get into the frame is the 9-year-old RENARD, trained by the in-form Venetia Williams and her regular jockey, Aidan Coleman. This is only because this dynamic duo have produce outstanding, sometimes unexpected, results this season and, particularly it seems, with horses imported from France.

 

A ROPEY EXPLANATION!

When it was announced that reigning Betfred Gold Cup champion, BOBS WORTH, was going to 'skip Newbury', for a moment - I must confess - with my love of puns and plays on words, I conjured up a fleeting vision of two grooms turning the rope whilst the The Not Afraid Partnership's gelding jumped over along the track! Of course, what Nicky Henderson meant was that he had decided the ground was too testing at the Newbury track for his 9-year-old son of BOB BACK so they would give the Berkshire track a miss and, instead, give the horses a spin on the gallops back home at Lambourn on Sunday. Also on the Mandown gallops will be Grand National contender and Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup victor, TRIOLO D'ALENE, and ROYAL BOY, who won the William Hill Levy Board Tolworth Hurdle in January.

The three-times champion trainer commented: “I don’t think we want to be galloping on this ground, so we’re allowed to go to Mandown instead.”

It will be interesting to see whether he can keep up with his team!

 

FRIDAY, 28th FEBRUARY 2014 

 

GHOST BUSTER 

Top trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies, at a press event at Grange farm, Naunton, revealed that he is looking to lay a ghost to rest in the Stan James Champion Hurdle in eleven days' time. Back in 2010, when the race was called the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy, Nicky Henderson's BINOCULAR was originally a strong contender but was then was ruled out of the race due to a muscle problem. However, owner JP McManus and jockey Tony McCoy suddenly decided that their 6-year-old was fit to run after all and he was re-instated days before the event and went on to win by three-and-a-half lengths. In the process, however, he denied Nigel Twiston-Davies' KHYBER KIM victory. Clearly the Naunton trainer is still haunted by the memory of that result and whimsically told the surprised gathering: 

"We won the Champion Hurdle four years ago but the horse who was taken out of the race, Binocular, turned up again! Khyber Kim won by six lengths I think but some apparition came and stuffed him. There you are. We are looking forward to putting that right." 

The horse he is tipping to set the records straight is 6-year-old THE NEW ONE who seems to be a totally uncomplicated animal with a phenomenal turn of foot. The bookmakers seem to agree with this assessment as they have him as 3-1 joint favourite with HURRICANE FLY who has won it twice before. 

Nigel Twiston-Davies added: "He looks very glossy and happy. He is as easy as you can get. We have not had to do any racecourse gallops as we have the proper facilities here. Someone showed me some statistics. He covered the last two furlongs, over the same track as Hurricane Fly last year, unbelievably quicker.” 

 

EVANS ABOVE. HE'S A FLYER! 

The Forbra Gold Cup at Ludlow yesterday was won by the Evan Williams-trained FIREBIRD FLYER with Adam Wedge aboard. The 7-year-old son of WINGED LOVE showed no signs of suffering from his valiant efforts when he gained second place in the West Wales National at Ffos Las at the beginning of this month. The 7/2 favourite was in the lead at the final fence and surged clear on the run-in to beat FORGOTTEN GOLD two-and-a-quarter lengths 

The winning Glamorgan trainer commented afterwards: "We're delighted. His run at Ffos Las was a bit of a surprise as this horse had been a bit flat and hadn't been showing us much this year. I took him there as he just got into the race and it was local and he got a bit of confidence. He ran well there and he has run well at Ludlow in the past. He's no superstar. This was his Gold Cup and Grand National rolled into one. I'm over the moon for the horse." 

 

THURSDAY, 27th FEBRUARY 2014 

 

GB AND IRELAND UP FOR THE CUP 

This year the Cheltenham Festival is introducing something new – the Prestbury Cup. This will be an annual trophy to celebrate the two long-term rivals on the race track, Great Britain and Ireland. The winners of this new cup will be the trainers and jockeys from which of the two countries produces the most winners in the 27 races over the four-day Festival. The competition will start with first race, the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, running on Tuesday, March 11 and will be decided when either country has 14 winners or more, that is over half the of the total races. It looks as though it will be a fiercely fought contest, as last year, for the first time ever, there were more winners from Ireland than Great Britain, with a record 14 trophies returning across the Irish Sea. 

The Prestbury Cup takes its name from the village next to Cheltenham Racecourse, which is located at Prestbury Park, and to mark this special competition, some Cheltenham turf has been sealed inside it. So the winning country will not only have the trophy but also take away a bit of the famous racetrack where they were victorious. The 27 races at the Festival will feature 15 current favourites that are trained in Great Britain. The remaining 12 are all trained in Ireland. An added attraction of the Cheltenham Festival over the last fifty years or so has been the so-called “Irish invasion” with Prestbury Park packed with excited Irish visitors eager to watch their trainers and jockeys take on the local talent. 

 

TIME FOR RUPERT! 

Rupert “Ruby” Walsh would consider switching disciplines and train horses for Flat racing when the time comes to retire, which the 34-year-old insists, is a long way off. The champion Irish National Hunt jockey thinks it would make more sense economically. 

As he commented recently: "The lifespan of a jockey has definitely increased in the last 10 years. Whereas 34, 35 used to be the norm, it now seems to be 40 so hopefully I've a few more years in me, but if I was to go training horses I would train Flat horses. Flat racing is a business, it's where the money is. Jump racing, unfortunately, is the poor relation. Flat racing is global, worldwide. Jump racing is confined between ourselves, England, a small bit in France, a tiny bit in Australia and a little bit in America. We were in Japan (for Blackstairmountain's victory in the Nakayama Grand Jump last April), there's big prize-money there, but there's very few races. Flat racing is global." 

Ruby Walsh's recent dominance of the jockeys' championship in Ireland is all the more remarkable given that he had a rather complex arrangement, riding for two successful stables on either side of the Irish Sea. He is officially based in Calverstown, County Kildare, where he lives with his wife Gillian and young family. Over the past years he has ridden mainly for champion Irish trainer, Willie Mullins, at the Bagenallstown stables. In addition he has spent a substantial proportion of his time riding in England for Somerset-based champion trainer Paul Nicholls. Recently he decided to spend more time in Ireland and with his family so he has considerably reduced the amount of time he spends in this country. He will appear more for Willie Mullins and other Irish trainers. 

 

WEDNESDAY, 26th FEBRUARY 2014

 

JOHNNY GOES MARCHING HOME!

Johnny Murtagh has announced he is retiring from race-riding at the end of this season in order to concentrate on his training business. The 43-year-old jockey from County Meath won many of the major flat races in Europe, including every one of the Irish Classics, all the Group 1 Races at Royal Ascot, the Epsom Derby, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes and, to cap it all he bagged Europe's biggest race, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. If that wasn't not enough. He has also been Irish flat racing Champion Jockey five times.

Johnny Murtagh commented: “The training side of things is getting bigger all the time and I wasn’t happy giving the riding 50 per cent and the training 50 per cent. It’s the right time to call it a day with the riding and put everything into the training side of things. I’ve done extremely well and when you look at the list of horses I’ve ridden, there have been some brilliant horses.”

According to the Racing Post records, in the twenty-six years that he was in the saddle Johnny Murtagh clocked up 2131 rides, of which 308 were winners, making a strike rate of 14.5%. In that time he accumulated a total prize money of over £25 million for the owners.

Aramis connections will recall Johnny Murtagh's memorable ride on Kayf Aramis in May 2009 in the theripleycollection.com Stakes which the duo won by an incredible 13 lengths.

 

PADDY POWER

Another great jockey who perhaps has not had as many opportunities or perhaps as much luck as Johnny Murtagh over his 14-year riding career is Paddy Brennan. Well his luck was in yesterday at Leicester when he rode the 13/8 favourite, MORGAN'S BAY, trained by Tom George, to a five-length victory in the Captain Machell Handicap Chase. The County Galway jockey was clearly grateful for the ride, commenting: "I'd like to thank Tom as I told him after I rode him the last day he ought to put someone else on him. He left me on him and we got it right today. He was good and I didn't have to do a lot. It wasn't much of a race and a great bit of placing by Tom."

Paddy Brennan made the headlines in 2010 when he won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on the Nigel-Twiston Davies-trained IMPERIAL COMMANDER.

It is interesting to note that the racing world was almost denied the pleasure of ever seeing this talented rider in action, because as a younger man he was a keen GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) player and he just dreamt of becoming a county hurler. He only became involved in horse racing after a neighbour noticed his talent with hunt horses. Now that was a stroke of luck for racegoers!

TUESDAY, 25th FEBRUARY 2014 

 

UP FOR THE CUP? 

KAYLIF ARAMIS certainly started something at Ascot last Saturday when he won the Great British Drama Handicap Hurdle by five lengths. Now everyone is suddenly saying that he could be a major player in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham next month, if only he gets the soft ground which he obviously prefers. The Coral Cup, established in 1993 and sponsored by Coral Bookmakers ever since its initiation, is considered to be one of the most competitive races of the Festival and, this year, has attracted an incredible 136 entries. The race is over two miles and five furlongs and the winner usually has to be a thorough stayer. KAYLIF ARAMIS certainly alls into that category after his recent victory in testing conditions. For that win, however, the handicapper has given him a 7lb penalty, so the son of KAYF TARA is now on a mark of 138. 

An analysis of the previous winners of this esteemed contest reveals that most of them matched the following conditions so it will be interesting to see how the 7-year-old full brother of KAYF ARAMIS scores:

 

     1) an official rating of 148 or lower 138 

  1. won between 2m 2f and 2m 6f over hurdles 3 wins at this distance 

  1. won a race earlier in the season won last Saturday 

  1. not run for at least 32 days 25? 

  1. aged seven or younger 7 

  1. carried no more than 11st ? (Ryan Hatch rides under 11 stone) 

  1. no more than four runs that season 5? 

  1. no more than nine runs over hurdles 12?

  2. finished first or second last time out 1st

 

Five out of nine! Close on the others. Clearly the weight will be important. There are always exceptions to the rule, of course, and the key factor for KAYLIF ARAMIS will be the going. If he gets his preferred soft ground then some of the above generalised statistics will be irrelevant. 

 

AND THE WINNER IS ….” 

It's that time of year again – OSCARS, BAFTAS – and now LESTERS! Never heard of them?These awards are named in honour of that great jockey, Lester Piggott, who was British flat racing Champion Jockey eleven times and won thirty British Classic Races from 1954 to 1992. The awards were inaugurated in 1990, and they recognise the achievements of jockeys from both flat and jump racing during the previous year. They are now sponsored by the Stobart Group. The nominations for the 24th Stobart Lesters were anounced yesterday. The actual awards ceremony will be held at the Hilton Metropole in Birmingham. Tony McCoy, 18-times Champion Jump Jockey could increase his current total of 20 'Lesters' by three, as he has been nominated for 'At The Races Jump Ride of the Year', 'Jump Jockey Special Recognition' and 'Stobart Jump Jockey of the Year'. Richard Hughes, Flat racing Champion Jockey last year, which gave him his first 'Lester' of his career and he could do it again because he has been nominated for 'Stobart Flat Jockey of the Year'. Lucy Alexander, the current 'Lady Jockey of the Year' is up for it again in that category as is Hayley Turner, the winner of the Lady Jockeys' Championship gold award for the second year running in 2013. 

Seven of 'The Lesters' award are decided by a ballot among the Professional Jockeys' Association members. Readers of the Racing Post have had the vote on the 'Flat Ride of the Year'. The 'Jump Ride of the Year' is sponsored by At The Races and the winner has been decided by the viewers of the TV channel's website. 

MONDAY, 24th FEBRUARY 2014 

 

MODEL SHOW BY KAYF - NOT KATE! 

The totepool National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell yesterday was the scene of a thrilling finish between KAYF MOSS and MEISTER ECKHART. The John Flint-trained 6-year-old made it a hat-trick after previous wins at Leicester and Ffos Las. On the face of it ,the son of KAYF TARA was facing a stiff challenge and his odds reflected the market's view – 16/1. His greatest obstacle to victory was due to be the 2/5 odds-on Favourite, Paul Nicholls' SAPHIR DU RHEU, ridden by Daryl Jacob. It was clear from the start that jockey, Rhys Flint, was determined to make all aboard his father's grey and soon set up a comfortable lead with, at this stage, Daryl Jacob content to remain just just off the pace on the Favourite. The final circuit proved to be where the action was. The Favourite seemed to be travelling according to plan but when Jacob demanded more about a quarter of a mile from home he got no response. KAYF MOSS turned out to be a difficult rival to pass and SAPHIR DU RHEU soon gave up. MEISTER ECKHART and CHRIS PEA GREEN then joined in the attack but KAYF MOSS held on bravely and won by a head. 

Sadly the winning jockey's celebrations were short-lived, as the stewards announced that he had been given a seven-day ban for using the whip above the permitted level from the last hurdle. 

 

TRAINER RATHER THAN PRIME MINISTER 

Another Moss was in the news yesterday. This time the 6-year-old MOSSPARK, trained by Hampshire-based Emma Lavelle who is famously quoted as saying: “….my ambition was either training horses or becoming the Prime Minister, and to this day I am still not sure which is the easier option!” This time she was talking about her impressive Sidney Banks Memorial Novices' Hurdle winner at Huntingdon last week. It seems she is in no hurry to commit the 6-year-old son of FLEMENSFIRTH to an appearance at the Cheltenham Festival even though he is entered in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle next month. 

The lady who decided not to become Prime Minister commented: "All options remain open at this stage, I don't want to say yes or no just yet. The Albert Bartlett tends not to be the graveyard that many of the Festival novice events can be. Quite a lot of horses run in it and go on to make smashing chasers. I think that is because they go steady on the first circuit, not like in the RSA."

 

SUNDAY, 23rd FEBRUARY 2014 

 

BALLY GOOD SHOW 

Saturday's card at Kempton Park was conspicuous by the presence of leading British trainers, such as Paul Nicholls, Nigel Twiston-Davies and Venetia Williams, using the day to make decisions about how some of their Cheltenham Festival hopefuls. But there was one race that didn't turn out as these top names would have wished. That was the feature event, the BetBright Chase. Here the honours went to a not-so-well-known name, Caroline Keevil, who notched up her biggest success to date. The Dorset-based trainer saddled 33/1 outsider, BALLY LEGEND, for this three-mile Grade 3 Handicap whom she had specially worked on for the event and her 9-year-old son of MIDNIGHT LEGEND didn't let her down. He chased the leaders back in 5th, moved up into 3rd before the third fence, staying on bravely under pressure and was in the lead at the last. At the line he was one-and-three-quarter lengths to the good ahead of Paul Nicholls' BURY PARADE and the Favourite, Nigel Twiston-Davies' TOUR DES CHAMPS and his owner, Brain Derrick, was £100,000 better off. 

Caroline Keevil, originally from Middlesex before moving to Larkinglass farm, Motcombe, in 2010, clearly couldn't hold back the tears in the winner's enclosure. 

She commented afterwards: "I'm still shaking - that's my biggest winner by a long shot. As a small trainer, you have some highs and lots of lows, but whenever I'm at my lowest ebb, Bally Legend pulls it out of the bag." 

 

FOUR ON DEMAND 

It looked as though it was going to be a clean sweep for the top Irish trainer at Fairyhouse yesterday. Willie Mullins started the day by winning the first race, the Winning Fair Juvenile Hurdle, with his 4-year-old ABBYSSIAL, followed closely by his ADRIANNA DES MOTTES with Ruby Walsh aboard. Just over half-an-hour later 6-year-old BELUCKYAGAIN lived up to his name and gave the County Carlow handler another win in the www.fairyhouse.ie For Special Offers Mares Maiden Hurdle. Things didn't go well in the third race but Ruby Walsh, riding ON HIS OWN, made sure in the next, the At The Races Bobbyjo Chase, that his boss was not disappointed, securing victory by twelve lengths. There was a non-runner, KALMANN in the next race on the card. The last success at this track, 5-year-old WESTHORPE, was kept securely in the family, when jockey, PW Mullins, provided trainer, WP Mullins, with his fourth win of the day. 

 

SATURDAY, 22nd FEBRUARY 2014 

 

RUNNING WILD 

The time: the last race of the day at Exeter – the Bathwick Tyres Plymouth Handicap Chase. The scene: Paddy Brennan is aboard NODEBATEABOUTIT 10 lengths clear at the final fence. Punters can't wait to cash in on their 4/1 bet. 

The outcome: RINGA BAY, who had ditched his unfortunate jockey, Jake Hodson, at the second, had been happily running alone on the inside of the course when he caught sight of the paddock exit. So he suddenly veered violently to his left to try to get back to the stables and, in doing so, crashed straight into Paddy Brennan's mount causing him to lose all momentum. At that point Philip Hobbs' THOMAS WILD, who had been left hopelessly adrift with no hope of winning the race, found himself in the lead in the final hundred yards and won by one-and-three-quarter lengths. 

Such an unexpected victory is unlikely to come trainer, Philip Hobbs and jockey, Micheal Nolan's way ever again! 

 

THE LADY'S NOT FOR TURNING 

The racing world owes a lot to Jenny Pitman. Not only was she the first lady trainer to win the Gold Cup and Grand National some 30 years ago with BURROUGH HILL LAD and CORBIERE but her pioneering spirit made it easier for women to be accepted and respected as racehorse trainers. Their numbers have increased over the years but there is no more striking example today than 24-year-old Rebecca Menzies from Yorkshire, who is probably Britain’s second youngest trainer. Ferdy Murphy’s former assistant will today set her sights on the sixth victory in her short career when she saddles 9-year-old CHAVOY in the Betfred Eider (Handicap Chase) at Newcastle today. The lady from Brandsby, Yorkshire gives a clear demonstration of her strong youthful ambition by entering the son of SAINT DES SAINTS in this prestigious 4 mile-plus marathon, which is the horse’s first outing over fences in this country and he never won one in France. It may be relevant factor that Rebecca Menzies worked with CHAVOY with Ferdy Murphy before the latter relocated his training resources France so she obviously feels she knows something about the horse's capabilities. 

She is quite excited about the race as was evident in her voice when she commented recently: “I think he will stay the trip, and he should like the ground and he should be fit enough as long as Haydock hasn’t flattened him out. He had a couple of falls in France and the horses there are used to going quite low at the fences, but he used to jump over a lot of poles at Ferdy’s to build up his confidence and his hurdling has been good. I’m just lucky to have a horse of his calibre.” 

 

FRIDAY, 21st FEBRUARY 2014 

 

A FUN RUN FOR FIVE 

Paul Nicholls will be running his own private event after racing at Exeter today. The Somerset-based trainer is transporting a string of his horses 65 miles to the Devon track for a pre-Cheltenham work-out. The group includes primarily the 11-year-old, 4-times winner of the World Hurdle contest, BIG BUCK'S and 8-year-old world-leading steeplechaser, SILVINIACO CONTI. The acclaimed duo have only run three races between them this season. BIG BUCK'S was at Cheltenham at the end of January to compete in the Cleeve Hurdle, where he sullied his unbroken win record by coming third. SIVINIACO CONTI had two starts in November and December, scoring in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day, making him a favourite for the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup after his win in the King George VI Chase on his last start over Christmas. 

BIG BUSK'S is still, however, favourite for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle and recently his trainer said he was "my best chance of a Cheltenham winner" despite the disappointing performance last time out. These two will be joined by 5-year-old PTIT ZIG, 7-year-old SALUBRIOUS and 8-year-old SIRE COLLONGES. 

Should be a great day out. 

 

IN MEMORIAM 

Epsom racecourse has announced that this year's Investec Oaks will be named in memory of the late Sir Henry Cecil. The 10-times champion trainer, widely regarded as one of the great trainers in the history of horse racing, had eight victories in this esteemed contest between 1985 and 2007. This will be the first renewal of the race since the trainer's death last year so race officials deemed it appropriate to pay tribute by staging running the contest the Investec Oaks (In memory of Sir Henry Cecil). 

Sir Henry's widow and now trainer, Lady Cecil said: "I was delighted when I heard that Epsom wanted to celebrate Henry's life and career by staging this year's Investec Oaks in his memory. The Oaks is the Classic in which Henry enjoyed the greatest success with a total of eight victories. They were all special to him, but I can vividly recall his immense pleasure when Light Shift won the race in 2007 for the Niarchos Family. That was such a wonderful day for Henry and everyone at Warren Place."

 

THURSDAY, 20th FEBRUARY 2014

 

AGE NO CONCERN

The oldies were back in force yesterday at Doncaster in the Betdaq £25 No Lose Mobile Bet Doncaster Veterans' Handicap Chase. It was good to see the likes of TRANQUIL SEA(12), BIG FELLA THANKS (12) and MASSINI'S MAGUIRE (13) showing glimpses of their former class. The youngest contestants were 10-year-olds and amongst them horses who, it seems, not long ago were young geldings on their way to glory – TIME FOR RUPERT, AACHEN and SON OF FLICKA for instance. In the event it was TRANQUIL SEA who had had another day in the spotlight, thus also qualifying for a crack at the Grand National. The son of SEA RAVEN probably had his finest hour when he won the Paddy Power Gold Cup in 2009, doing battle with other now old-timers such as OUR VIC, BALLYFITZ and ACCORDING TO PETE.

Trainer, Warren Greatrex, bought the 12-year-old gelding with the specific intention that he should run at Aintree and to qualify he just had to finish in the first four in a chase over three miles. This he did fairly easily with a winning distance of two lengths ahead of TIME FOR RUPERT, making it his first success since the Webster Cup Chase in March 2012.

The Upper Lambourn-based trainer commented: "People thought I was mad buying him but it's great having a horse as good as him around, even if he's not as good as he was. The Topham (Aintree) is an option, but the Kim Muir (Cheltenham) could be tempting now as he didn't have a hard race."

 

VICTORY WELL IN HAND

Also at Doncaster odds-on favourite HOLYWELL, with Tony McCoy aboard, scored in the Betdaq No Premium Charge Novices' Chase in what turned out to be an exciting finish. Earlier on, it didn't look as though things would pan out as they did. The 7-year-old son of GOLD WELL had to be given a couple of reminders by his champion jockey and began to look to be under serious pressure. Last year's Pertemps Final victor, however, persevered and managed to wear down and pass VICTOR HEWGO in the final yards, despite some awkward jumping. The result was a winning distance of three-quarters of a length.

As 18-times champion jockey commented: "I think he finds chasing hard as he's not very big. He might not be as good over fences and could be a horse that goes back hurdling at some stage."

 

WEDNESDAY, 19th FEBRUARY 2014

 

JUMPS AHEAD

The Smiths, Sue and Harvey, know a bit about jumping. They should. They were both International show jumpers and the result of their combined experience was demonstrated yesterday when FILL THE POWER, with their regular jockey and rising star, Ryan Mania aboard, knocked the spots of his four rivals over the fences in the Goodbye And Good Luck Ben Atkinson Handicap Chase at Wetherby on Tuesday. The eight-year-old son of SUBTLE POWER, who only managed fifth, some 17 lengths behind the winner, GODSMEJUDGE, in the Coral Scottish Grand National Handicap Chase at Ayr last April, certainly made amends by beating his nearest opponent, HARRIS HAWK, by a staggering 18 lengths. That probably puts him back on track for a return match in this big Scottish event on its renewal in two months' time.

 

WORLD HURDLE OR NOT?

It's now official. Paul Nicholls' ZARKANDAR could have a crack at the 3-mile Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March. The problem is the seven-year-old hasn't raced more than a distance of two miles four furlongs yet. His latest start was over a shorter distance of two miles in the Bathwick Tyres Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton last Saturday when, even then, he was nudged into second place by MELODIC RENDEZVOUS. It seems on the cards also that the son of AZAMOUR will not be bidding just yet for HURRICANE FLY's crown in the Stan James Champion Hurdle, which is his only entry next month as that is also over a distance of three miles.

Ruby Walsh, however, who rode ZARKANDAR on four of his eight career victories over hurdles, seems to disagree with the Somerset trainer. He thinks the half-brother to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner, ZARKAVA, has got what it takes to do well in that feature event, if the ground is right for him.

He commented: “ I won on him at Aintree last year when he beat The New One over two four; that was on a sound surface and that was a really good performance.”

 

TUESDAY, 18th FEBRUARY 2014 

 

VIRAK GUNNING FOR A WIN 

The good news is that Taunton's on for this afternoon. And surprise, surprise! The ground is heavy! Now that means that many trainers will have had difficult decisions to make as to which of their charges will handle the testing conditions the best. Undaunted, Paul Nicholls is saddling four hopefuls at the Somerset track, where he has had many recent successes. One of his charges catches the eye out the quartet: VIRAK who will be lining up for the Bathwick Tyres Handicap Hurdle at 15.45. This 5-year-old could give the Ditcheat-based trainer his sixth victory from thirteen races this season at his local racecourse. The son of BERNEBEAU ran his four rivals ragged in the Bathwick Tyres Yeovil Handicap Hurdle in January when he won by an incredible 42 lengths. It was only his fourth start for Paul Nicholls in equally heavy ground. Of course, that winning romp has to be paid for and the handicapper has upped the weights by 10lbs. To compensate for that conditional jockey, Jack Sherwood, keeps the ride and so can claim his 7lb allowance which virtually cancels out most of the penalty. The other contributory factor is that VIRAK will be shortening his trip by two furlongs, a distance he has already mastered with a win at Pau, France. In addition in this small turnout of six runners, there doesn't appear to be any challenger who will naturally assume front running so Jack Sherwood should be able to employ similar tactics to last time out. If all the above valid reasons produce a triumph then VIRAK will bag the £11, 710 prize money for owners, Hills of Ledbury(AGA) and create a greater lead for Paul Nicholls ahead of Nicky Henderson in the annual trainers' title race. 

 

JOCKEY MANIA 

Traditionally a win in the Grand National is not necessarily a guarantee of future success. Often it can be just a one-off followed by a period of lesser renown. But one jockey who seems to be going from strength to strength since his victory in last year's iconic race is Ryan Mania who rode Sue Smith's AURORAS ENCORE to a epic 9-length victory. On Saturday at Haydock the Galashiels jockey struck gold again not only for Borders trainer, Sandy Thomson but for himself on SEEYOUATMIDNIGHT in the Betfred Mobile Hurdle (Registered As The Rendlesham Hurdle) (Grade 2). This win was Ryan Mania's 41st of the season and that's 10 more than his previous career best in 2009/10. In this very month he has notched up a double, again on SEEYOUATMIDNIGHT, at Musselburgh and at Warwick on MR MOONSHINE, who could well be his Grand National ride in April. All this has kept Ryan Mania in the spotlight whichhe seems to be enjoying. Sandy Thomson clearly has plans for this rising star and he is bound to be offered some further good prospects by Sue and Harvey Smith's stable, where he is the main rider. 

 

MONDAY, 17th FEBRUARY 2014 

 

TENT NOT STRETCHED 

It seems that Nicky Henderson was more than satisfied with MY TENT OR YOURS when he won the kempton.co.uk 'Jumpers' Bumper' by four-and-a-half lengths yesterday. In fact his 7-year-old triumphed so easily that the Lambourn-based trainer went so far as to call it a "perfect" experience and just what he wanted in readiness for the forthcoming Stan James Champion Hurdle. It was the son of DESERT PRINCE's first race since winning the williamhill.com Christmas Hurdle (Grade 1) at kempton on Boxing Day. Expectedly MY TENT OR YOURS was the odds-on favourite for this two-mile contest and, with one lap to go, he looked as though he was giving Tony McCoy a forceful ride. J. P. McManus' gelding is noted for his cruising speed so it came as no surprise how smoothly he travelled from mid-field to take the lead about two furlongs from home. From there he effortlessly left the struggling RANJAAN way behind in his wake. 

Nicky Henderson had decided to give Saturday's Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton a miss due to the heavy ground and the original plan was to give MY TENT OR YOURS a preparatory racecourse gallop but then he changed his mind towards the end of last week and announced yesterday's entry. 

The champion jockey made the following comments: "He was very fresh as he hadn't run since Christmas, but this was just to take the fizz out of him. I wanted to quicken up in the straight, otherwise I could have followed them along on the bridle all day." 

 

DAWN BRIGHTER THAN EVER. 

The Grade Two Flyingbolt Novice Chase at Navan yesterday gave BRIGHT NEW DAWN a chance to rise and shine when he won the event by seven lengths. MALLOWNEY, ridden by Andrew McNamara, took charge of most of the proceedings, as expected, and demonstrated some good jumping in the process, although was perhaps a little tookeen. The contest eventually turned into a two-horse affair with the two rivals jumping virtually together from two out. But then Dessie Hughes' son of PRESENTING asserted his authority as they made for the last fence and from there showed the son of OSCAR a clean pair of heels. 

The County Kildare winning trainer said: "I'm pleased with that, and he battled when he needed to. I don't know about Cheltenham, he looks an ideal horse for the Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse and maybe Punchestown after that. I'd be happy to go up in trip with him, even three miles. 

SUNDAY, 16th FEBRUARY 2014 

 

CLASS ACT AT ASCOT 

The Great British Drama Handicap Hurdle at Ascot yesterday took the stage with true theatrical flourish. The two protagonists, David Pipe's BYGONES SOVEREIGN and HEATH HUNTER, as expected, battled it out in the First Act, with the former leading until four out until he was headed by the latter. During this time the rising star, KAYLIF ARAMIS, seemed to be making no impression at the rear and must have caused a few anxious moments amongst connections and fans. However, as Ryan Hatch revealed afterwards, this was the prepared script for the race with the aim of keeping something in reserve for later, as the heavy conditions were bound to take their toll on the leaders. This, with hindsight, became clear in the Second Act, when KAYLIF ARAMIS slowly edged his way effortlessly through the field nearing the seventh hurdle and challenged the protagonists before two out. BYGONES SOVEREIGN dropped away by four from home but Tom Scudamore hung on gamely aboard HEATH HUNTER in the final furlong but he was ultimately no match for the the son of KAYF TARA, who seemed full of energy as he stormed powerfully into the lead. For a while Venetia Williams' ART PROFESSOR did look as if he could make some impression in the Final Act but, ironically the son of IN THE WINGS lived up to his Sire's name and could manage only second, five lengths adrift of the victorious Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained 7-year-old. 

 

BETTOR AND BETTER. 

Unfortunately, great-grandmother, Geraldine Hughes, didn't win her £700,000 Scoop6 bonus yesterday (RACING NEWS Friday) but a Sky Bet punter did pick up £62,000 from a 20p Lucky 63 and, indeed was only a whisker away from pocketing a further £200,000. The amazing wager comprised Ascot winners O'FAOLAINS BOY (8/1) and KAYLIF ARAMIS (11/2) as well as RIGADIN DU BEAUCHENE (16/1) and TOP WOOD (25/1), winners at Haydock. The winning punter then scored with ALDOPOCGROS (5/1) at Wincanton. Unfortunately the last bet, SWEET BOY (3/1) lost by a nose. 

Michael Shinners for Sky Bet commented: "Our trading team were reaching for the calculators as this bet progressed and had Sweet Boy Vic not gone down by the narrowest of margins we'd have been looking at an absolutely huge pay-out.”

 

SATURDAY, 15th FEBRUARY 2014

 

SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS FOR ARAMIS?

Guess who's running today! On his 16th start with two 1sts, two 2nds and four 3rds under the saddle, so to speak, KAYLIF ARAMIS is competing at Ascot in the Great British Drama Handicap Hurdle at 3.15pm, ridden again by Ryan Hatch.

None other than Sam Turner, successful tipster for the Daily Mail and the Mailonline, has him as his nb (next best bet!). The 7-year-old gelding has caught his eye a couple of occasions this season he says. He recognises that the son of KAYF TARA only managed a fifth last time at Kempton in the William Hill Lanzarote Hurdle but thinks his previous run at Ascot in the Ladbroke Hurdle was worthy of note so currently at 8/1 he could be a good value bet.

Racing Post's Spotlight also joins in the praise: “Two wins last season at around 2m4f on heavy; raised game again initially this term and not at all discredited in hot races both since, latest against several of these at Kempton when tongue tied first time; trainer and jockey (also on latest) won top race last week; serious each-way player here as well.”

So the full brother to Cheltenham champion, KAYF ARAMIS, is raising his profile!

 

AN EXPENSIVE TIME FOR ALL.

David Pipe's UN TEMPS POUR TOUT is making a step up in trip today at Ascot in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle and connections must be hoping that their expensive acquisition will do well. Owners Professor Caroline Tisdall and Bryan Drew bought the five-year-old for £450,000 on the strength of his third placing at Auteuil in November in the Grade One Renaud Du Vivier Grade 1 Hurdle, some seven lengths behind the winner, Paul Nicholls' PTIT ZIG. His first race in England was at Haydock in the middle of January when he failed to get the better of Venetia Williams' ZAMDY MAN. The son of ROBIN DES CHAMPS won't necessarily have an easier time of it today because he'll have some stiff opposition in the form of Warren Greatrex-trained COLE HARDEN, seeking a hat-trick and IRISH CAVALIER, trained by Rebecca Curtis, seeking a fourth win.  

  

FRIDAY, 14th FEBRUARY 2014

 

WINNER IN THE LONG RUN

The Ivan Straker Memorial Chase at Kelso yesterday provided LONG RUN with an opportunity to shine when, with Sam Waley-Cohen aboard, he finally left KNOCKARA BEAU trailing in the second place by 6 lengths. Although it seemed like it would be a close-run thing with Nicky Henderson's 9-year-old and George Charlton's 11-year-old going neck amd neck at the final fence, the son of CADOUDAL had enough in reserve to surge clear in final hundred yards. This was a welcome return to the winner's enclosure for the victor who was seen at Kempton unseating his rider in the William Hill King George VI Chase on Boxing Day.

Trainer, Nicky Henderson, was obviously delighted: "That was fantastic and it's lovely to see him winning again. He was very well treated by the conditions of this race - it was a fantastic opportunity and I love coming to Kelso. He got an amazing reception and the people here clearly appreciate seeing a good horse. He enjoyed himself and that was the main objective.” From here the main aim is the Grand National and the Gold Cup is looking a competitive race but nothing is ruled out yet."

 

THAT'S GREAT, GRANDMOTHER!

Choosing winners by their names has always been frowned on by so-called serious punters but the joke may just be on them this time. Geraldine Hughes from Merseyside, with 19 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, staked just £2 in the Tote's Scoop6 competition for Saturday. The 67-year-old picked all her horses by their names and, amazingly, she could become one of the biggest winners in the history of the Scoop6 if all goes well this Saturday. She won £154,782 last week which gives her a chance to have a crack at a £702,010 bonus which will be hers if she picks the winner of one of Saturday's races. Geraldine Hughes missed seeing her five winners pass the post because she was busy watching football on television with her family, when her team, Liverpool, beat Arsenal 5-1.

The mother of six commented: "I was delighted with the Liverpool result but we had the family round for the game so I wasn't able to watch the racing. I kept up to date with my picks via text on TV and when I got the first five up I had them all watching the last leg with me. It was fantastic and I've not been able to sleep since the win.”

 

THURSDAY, 13th FEBRUARY 2014 

 

ANOTHER BAY HAS HIS DAY 

Denis O'Regan partnered the John Ferguson-trained FENNELL BAY in an impressive victory in the Bet & Watch With RacingUK's App Novices' Hurdle at Musselburgh yesterday and, thereby, put his hat in the ring for the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham next month. The 5-year-old son of DUBAWI was successful on his debut over hurdles in January at Fakenham and had no problem showing his six rivals a clean pair of heels in this two-and-a-half mile contest. The freelance jockey from Cork kept his mount handy from the start and, although he appeared to have a few challenges in the final stages, he went clear after the third and scored easily by five lengths. 

The winning trainer who made his reputation on the Flat circuits commented: "He's in a few at the Festival but he's a Royal Ascot winner that has won two from over hurdles so he deserves to take his chance in a race like the Neptune." 

 

NO FLUKE FOR THE DUKE 

Today's Kelso fixture will see the outstanding DUKE OF NAVAN, trained by Nicky Richards, laying down the challenge in the Timeform Morebattle Hurdle, which will probably be not as easy as his previous victorious runs at this track - BetVictor Morebattle Hurdle in February and the Queens Head Hotel Kelso Novices' Hurdle in January - both races at the beginning of last year. But the 6-year-old son of PRESENTING is on course to demonstrate that these were not lucky wins and should take this one in style. 

Trainer Nicky Richards, son of the legendary Flat racing champion, Gordon Richards said: "I'd say he should take all the beating. He's in good order and we've taken it easy with him since the Christmas Hurdle. He goes well at Kelso and the ground won't be a problem. It's a nice race to win and our yard used to do well in it with old Jinxy Jack for a my father a few years back." 

 

WEDNESDAY, 12th FEBRUARY 2014

 

AGE IS NO HANDICAP

13-year-old TIDAL BAY has been allotted a more lenient handicap rating than expected for the Grand National and Phil Smith, the chief handicapper, stands by his decision. Paul Nicholls' son of FLEMENSFIRTH will carry 11st 10lb which converts to 164 but he will actually be running at a rating of 161. This a little confusing as in his last race at Leopardstown TIDAL BAY ran off an official mark of 168. In explanation, however, it seems the British Horseracing Authority's head of handicapping is given a certain leeway in the Grand National to make adjustments to the usual ratings of horses. So Phil Smith decided to allot LONG RUN just 1lb less than Tidal Bay although Nicky Henderson's 9-year-old is currently rated at 163 ahead of a possible race at Kelso tomorrow. And if he wins that race he would be expected to go up in the weights again.

Phil Smith added: “In Tidal Bay we've got a creditable top weight, and I think we've got the most creditable second top weight we've ever had. I don't think we've ever had a horse that has won a Gold Cup and two King Georges that hasn't been top weight. Most of these horses have handicap marks based on three miles but over four and a half miles and the Grand National fences, this is a completely different test. To carry top weight as Tidal Bay did in the Welsh National is wholly different to what he's being asked to do at Aintree.”

So now you know!

 

TINY MAKES IT BIG

A serious blunder offered a run-away victory on a plate at Ayr yesterday. Barry Hughes on TINY DANCER kept his cool and profited from SHE RANKS ME's serious mistake to score in the Back Of The Net At BetVictor.com Novices' Chase. And even he had to recover from a bad jump at the 12th. SHE RANKS ME was a clear 4/6 favourite for this contest but things seriously awry at the 10th fence for Donald McCain's grey mare when Jason Maguire was unceremoniously dumped on the deck when all seemed to be going just right for the 7-year-old. TINY DANCER , who was also making his debut over fences, wasn't slow to take advantage of this change in fortunes to present his in-form trainer, Alan Swinbank, with a 24-length win.

The successful Yorkshire trainer commented afterwards: "He's done it very well, but it's not a surprise he's won. He's been working very well with some of the bumper horses at home and we know he's pretty exciting. He's only a young horse so he'll keep on getting better."

 

TUESDAY, 11th FEBRUARY 2014

 

TIDAL TIMES

TIDAL BAY could win the Grand National - or so Ruby Walsh thinks- and he should know as he won this world-famous race in 2000 on PAPILLON and in 2005 aboard HEDGEHUNTER. That is, of course, if connections decide that Aintree is the next step for their 13-year-old son of FLEMENSFIRTH. It is also rumoured that trainer, Paul Nicholls is considering a crack at this big event. The County Kildare jockey was re-united with TIDAL BAY in Sunday's Hennessy Gold Cup Chase at Leopardstown and the duo managed to find a little extra at the end, after being outpaced earlier in the contest to finish second, some eight-and-a-half lengths down. Undoubtedly a contribution to this success was that FIRST LIEUTENANT and LYREEN LEGEND, who had every hope of success as they entered the final straight, just ran out of steam.

As Rupert “Ruby” put it: "I thought he ran a really good race, he doesn't ride like a 13-year-old, he has loads of enthusiasm and his jumping is as good as it's ever been. I should have forced Tidal Bay into going quicker a bit earlier. The lads didn't quicken up until halfway down the back and left me for dead and in fairness to Tidal Bay he kept going and got back up for second close home. They're thinking about going for the National with him and I'd be surprised if he's not there or thereabouts.”

 

TWO BUT NOT THREE

The Grand National must have benn in the air at Catterick, too. Last year’s winning trainer, Sue Smith and winning jockey, Ryan Mania, who were victorious with AURORAS ENCORE in the 2013 renewal of event, filled in time before considering the next entry by scoring a double at Catterick yesterday. They achieved this with PINEROLO in the Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance Novices' Limited Handicap Chase and HERDSMAN in the Weatherbys Private Banking Handicap Chase

It was 8-year-old PINEROLO who did his connections really proud by putting 22 lengths between him and the rest of the field at the winning post. HERDSMAN had a tougher contest and did himself no favours by blundering at the 8th. He managed to recover, however, and eventually held onto a two-and-a quarter length lead.

It could have been a treble for the day but the trainer/jockey partnership were denied this honour when BLAKE DEAN, who made all until two out, was headed in the final strides by Venetia Williams' THE CLOCK LEARY, ridden by her currently highly successful jockey, Aidan Coleman.

 

MONDAY, 10th FEBRUARY 2014 

 

LAST WAS FIRST 

The Hennessy Gold Cup was won yesterday by LAST INSTALMENT with Brian O'Connell aboard, giving him a welcome return to the big time. The remarkable thing is that 9-year-old was off the track the whole of last season because of a tendon injury and didn't get back to racing until three weeks ago when he came third in the Kinloch Brae Chase at Thurles. The Philip Fenton-trained chestnut geldingwas always prominent and led from the 2nd. Although rivals LYREEN LEGEND and FIRST LIEUTENANT endeavoured to get the better of him when they turned for home, the son of ANSHAN was having none of it and asserted himself approaching the straight, winning by an impressive eight-and-a-half lengths. 

13-year-old TIDAL BAY, in his bid to become the oldest winner of the prized cup, came from well back in the field and grabbed second place. 

The winning jockey commented: "I wasn't planning to make the running, but I found myself in front after the second and I thought it better to be lobbing along in front rather than behind. I kicked off the bend and he winged the second-last. He's a proper one.” 

 

GINGERLY DOES IT 

Nigel Twiston-Davies, whose SPLASH OF GINGE won the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday appears to be in no hurry to decide what Cheltenham target will be in his sights for the son of OSCAR. The six-year-old is booked for both the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle and Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle. 

The Naunton-based trainer stated: "That was very pleasing and a very good ride by Ryan (Hatch). The horse is fine this morning, 100%. He'll definitely go to Cheltenham, but what race I don't know yet. It just depends what the handicapper does to him and what the novice hurdles look like etc." 

 

SUNDAY, 9th FEBRUARY 2014 

 

TIME AND TIDAL WAIT FOR NO MAN! 

It's been three years since there was a British runner in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown. The honour on this auspicious occasion falls to TIDAL BAY. Ireland's top Grade 1 chase has also reunited the old partnership of Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh who will be hoping their 13-year-old can deliver another top-level success here, after his victory in the Lexus Chase at last year's Christmas meeting. TIDAL BAY, (3rd behind KAYF ARAMIS in the Sportinglife.com Handicap Hurdle in January 2012!) will be trying to become the oldest winner of this event. The previous veteran was Willie Mullins' FLORIDA PEARL who was 12 years old when he won this contest for the fourth time in 2004. It is seven years since son of FLEMENSFIRTH was narrowly beaten in the Neptune Hurdle and six since he won the Arkle. Since then he has left Howard Johnson's yard and changed trainers a couple of times before going to Paul Nicholls, with whom he won the Betfair Cleeve Hurdle in January 2010, the Bet365 Gold Cup last April and was second in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in Dececember 2012. 

Paul Nicholls had the following comments: "It's probably his last chance to run in a Grade 1. He won well at Leopardstown before and the track suits him and having Ruby on board is an advantage because he knows the track better than anybody else and knows the horse well. Graham [Wylie] and I were going to go straight to Aintree but this is his last year. He's ever so well and it was worth an entry. He won't run before Aintree after this.” 

 

WILD ABOUT HARRY 

HARRY TOPPER 'ran 'em ragged' at Newbury yesterday when he won the Betfair Denman Chase 25 lengths ahead of Paul Nicholls' AL FEROF, with Venetia Williams' KATENKO a further 24 lengths adrift in third position. Clearly the Kim Bailey-trained 7-year-old was completely at home in the extremely muddy conditions and connections are probably secretly (and selfishly) praying for the rain to continue until the Cheltenham Festival next month because they feel they have a strong contender for the Betfred Gold Cup. 

The Northamptonshire-based trainer has long regarded the son of SIR HARRY LEWIS as the best horse he's had since MASTER OATS won the Gold Cup in 1995. 

As he said : “We believed in him from day one. He loves this ground and that makes a huge difference. I know he dropped the bit and was given a couple of cracks down the far side, but once he gets going he's as tough as they come. We schooled him this morning over five fences and the last time I did that was when Master Oats won the Gold Cup all those years ago. They are similar horses with similar attitudes.” 

 

SATURDAY, 8th FEBRUARY 2014 

 

COULD BE A SMASHING RACE! 

The last time Irish trainer, Willie Mullins was succesful in the Betfair Hurdle was about ten years ago. Undeterred he's back again at Newbury this afternoon and this time with SMASHING, ridden by Andrew Lynch. This 5-year-old son of SMADOUN won his first two races in Ireland after a creditable record in France, particularly in the De La Foret Chase at Compiegne last May. One significant factor is that the grey gelding is not likely to have any problems with the heavy conditions because all his successes have happened on soft to heavy ground. The main concern for the County Carlow handler will be what the competition has to offer. Ironically it is Gloucestershire-born Paul Nicholls who will be saddling IRISH SAINT in the hope of thwarting the Irish trainer's ambition. Nicky Henderson, who won the event last year with MY TENT OR YOURS, has FAR WEST and the Tony McCoy-partnered GIBB RIVER.

 

A HARD ACT TO FOLLOW 

An impressive win in a bumper yesterday could provide the 3-year-old son of KING'S THEATRE the opportunity to emulate the achievements of his 8-year-old stablemate, also with the same sire but not related by equine definition. The Colin Tizzard-trained THIRD ACT won the Betdaq Value You Can Bet On Maiden Open NH Flat Race at Kempton by six lengths under the professional stewardship of his son, Joe Tizzard. The latter has also successfully partnered CUE CARD, in his triumphant 50% strike rate career thus far. Race enthusiasts will recall that the then-unknown and 40/1 outsider, CUE CARD, won the 2010 Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham and has since gone on to become one of this country's top chasers. 

The winning trainer commented: "We'll go to Cheltenham now. I don't know what he beat but he was impressive. Joe (Tizzard, jockey) said he had strengthened up so much since his last run in October and he has been brilliant on the gallops." 

 

FRIDAY, 7th FEBRUARY 2014 

 

THE FIRST OF THE MOHICANS! 

Yesterday's Eventmasters.co.uk Novices' Hurdle at Doncaster witnessed the successful debut of FIRST MOHICAN, trained by Alan King, formerly based at Lady Cecil's stables. The event was a much anticipated addition to National Hunt racing this season. As expected Dougie Costello on DAYLAN and Tony McCoy aboard ALLIED ANSWER made most of the running but things changed dramatically as the 14-strong field headed into the home turn. Robert Thornton had kept the 6-year-old son of TOBOUGG pretty much in mid-division for most of the race but the duo made steady progress to the front as they approached the third from home and closed the deal by three-quarters of a length. 

The winning jockey commented: "That was a professional job. It was important that he settled and that was a really nice race. He cannot do any more than he has today." 

Winning trainer Alan King added: "I'd have been disappointed if he hadn't won, it looked a good race on paper but he's very smart. He was a bit fresh and was jumped into at one stage which made him keen. He got there too soon and we can improve on fitness. He'll go to the Dovecote (Kempton, February 22) now, that has always been the plan. I'd love to get another run into him as I imagine he'll take it all very well.” 

 

COURT IN ACTION 

Emma Lavelle's COURT VICTORY could be the one to bear in mind for the the Betdaq 3% Commission Handicap Chase at Kempton today. It's true that the 9-year-old didn't produce much last time out at Warwick, returning to the track after two years off. The victor on that occasion was Donald McCain's CORRIN WOOD, a clear candidate for the Cheltenham Festival, so the son of OLD VIC might be forgiven for finding the competition a bit tough when push turned to shove. In his favour, though, is the success in the Total Construction Supplies Cares Approved Novices' Chase at Uttoxeter in December 2011, although he was relegated to second place, after being disqualified for bumping Tony McCoy on MISTER HYDE. Nevertheless Emma Lavelle's mount has clearly got ability and stands a good chance of turning this contest in his favour.

 

THURSDAY, 6th FEBRUARY 2014

 

THE COMEBACK KID

The Champion Bumper winner in 2011, CHELTENIAN, is making something of a comeback in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday and stable jockey Richard Johnson is looking forward to partnering him for Philip Hobbs. The 8-year-old, a 10-1 shot for this contest, made his debut at Uttoxeter in December in the 32Red Casino Maiden Hurdle. Richard Johnson was quite upbeat when assessing his ride's chances: "On what he achieved at Uttoxeter it's probably quite a harsh mark [134], but with the ability he's got you'd like to think he's got room to improve. He's very straightforward and Newbury is a galloping track, which I think will suit him well. He has got a lot in his favour. He's the unexposed horse in the race and we already know he can perform at the highest level."

 

THE HEART OF THE MATTER

SPRINTER SACRE will have a day at the races on Saturday. It seems that Nicky Henderson is keen to put all "bad memories" behind him when his 8-year-old parades in the paddock at Newbury as an ongoing process of rehabilitation from the reported heart condition. It was last December that the Queen Mother Champion Chase hero suffered his first defeat in 11 starts over fences. He was dramatically pulled up in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton. Afterwards it discovered that he was suffering from an irregular heartbeat. Fortunately the symptom seems to have passed Nicky Henderson is reported as being pleased with the gallop tests at the Lambourn stables. The son of NETWORK will walk around the parade ring before having a token race against twice Hennessy Gold Cup and former Cheltenham Gold Cup champion, DENMAN and will have a regular heart monitor fitted to check the results.

Nicky Henderson commented: "We're very grateful to Newbury for allowing us to bring Sprinter Sacre on Saturday. The whole purpose of the exercise is to give him a racecourse outing which doesn't bring back bad memories of what happened at Kempton. He'll be wearing his heart monitor, which he wears constantly anyway, and he will parade around the paddock with Denman. They'll make a nice double act!

WEDNESDAY, 5th FEBRUARY 2014

 

NEWBURY NOT YET BURIED

After nearly one inch of rain overnight the general view is that Newbury has handled the deluge "incredibly well", three days before its big meeting on Saturday. The Berkshire track is now officially heavy, soft in places. And there's more rain on the way but the course officials are remaining optimistic that it will be business as usual. Saturday's high-class card includes the Denman Chase (with Paul Nicholls' AL FEROF and TIDAL BAY taking on Nicky Henderson's TRIO D'ALENE and Venetia Williams' KATENKO), the Game Spirit Chase ( with Donald McCain's DESERT CRY challenging Paul Nicholls' DODGING BULLETS and FAGO and the Betfair Hurdle in which Nicky Henderson has provisionally four entries and Paul Nicholls and Jonjo O'Neill have three apiece.

Looks like a great day not to be missed.

 

CARRY ON CHELTENHAM

After an 8-length victory in the Watch Racing UK On Sky Channel 432 Juvenile Maiden Hurdle at Market Rasen yesterday, it seems that Oliver Sherwood's CARRY ON SYDNEY has booked his trip to the Cheltenham Festival. The first race of the day was hardly one to write home about but the 4-year-old, formerly trained by Richard Hannon, definitely showed potential. He only made his hurdling debut last month when he came second behind classy DAWALAN in the Betfred TV Juvenile Hurdle over an extended two miles. Partnered by Leighton Aspell, the son of NOTNOWCATO jumped off smartly and made all for an easy win. Oliver Sherwood' plan is possibly to run him in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at the Festival, where he will join his stablemates DEPUTY DAN and MANY CLOUDS.

The Berkshire handler commented: "He doesn't do a lot at home, but he's so laid-back. We'll see what the handicapper does with him next Tuesday, but he'll certainly get an entry in the Fred Winter. We'll need to get another run into him before then."

 

TUESDAY, 4th FEBRUARY 2014 

 

GEORGE THE FOURTH! 

The first four races of the day at Kempton yesterday were bagged by probably one of our most talented jockeys on all-weather tracks, George Baker. The tallest rider on the Flat (he's 6ft!) had six strong chances of success on the card altogether. His day started well in the Download The BetVictor App Now Claiming Stakes when JUBILEE BRIG, trained by Gary Moore, delivered a two-and-three-quarter- length victory in the six-strong field. The 32-year-old from Wilshire didn't have long to celebrate, however, as he was booked to ride in the second race on Stuart Williams' WELSH SUNRISE in the Back Of The Net At BetVictor.com Fillies' Handicap, which the 4-year-old filly won by the narrower margin of half a length. George Baker's hat-trick came in the third race, Book Hospitality At Kempton Park Handicap (Div1) when he rode again for Gary Moore, this time the 8-year- old GALIOTO. It was beginning to look as if nothing would stop him getting all six of his rides in the winner's enclosure but he suffered his first defeat of the day when he only managed a fourth on Martin Bosley's JOYFUL RISK in the BetVictor NonRunner No Bet Cheltenham 2014 Maiden Fillies' Stakes. This lack of success, however, didn't prevent him riding high again in the next contest on the William Jarvis-trained DIXIE'S DREAM in the Cheltenham 2014 NRNB At BetVictor.com Handicap. Now it looked as though another dream was within his grasp – to achieve a career-best five-timer but, sadly, this wasn't to be. In the last race of the day, he was back riding for Gary Moore aboard 5-year-old SUDDEN WISH in the TurfTV Handicap. Things, though, didn't click in this event because, somehow, the 5-year-old bay mare couldn't get her act together and never looked like doing better than sixth. 

 

MORE IN TUNE THIS TIME? 

Today at Lingfield will provide another opportunity to see Stuart Williams' FREDERIC CHOPIN in action in the last race of the day, the 32Red.com Handicap. The 3-year-old son of TAMAYUZ is only on his second outing in a handicap. Last time out in January, also at this track, he ran a good race, after making a nifty break. He seemed a little restrained for a while at the rear of the 9-strong field and when he did make his move, it was probably too late and consequently finished half-a-length down in third place. With that experience under his belt, there's a good chance that jockey, Sean Levey, will have different tactics today which could put the duo at least in the frame if not in the winner's slot. 

MONDAY, 3rd FEBRUARY 2014 

 

HAVE A GOOD TRIP? 

In an attempt to compensate for the possible cancellation of racing in England on Saturday, some of the 'big guns' of the training world – such as Paul Nicholls, David Pipe and Nicky Henderson – headed all the way up to Musselburgh where there was no rain, and even sun, forecast and the ground was acceptably soft, good-to-soft in places. In the end racing did take place at Ffos Las, Sandown and Wetherby, albeit in heavy conditions, and the trio had some successes there. The 800-mile round trip to the East Lothian track, however, only paid off for one of these trainers – Nicky Henderson who notched up a First, as Second and a Third, producing winnings of around £13,400. His win of the day was provided by 8-year-old ERICHT, ridden by Barry Geraghty in the John Smith's Scottish Future Champions Novices' Chase over two-and-a-half miles, which the son of ALDERBROOK won comfortably by nine lengths. The two consolation prizes for the Lambourn trainer, whose OSCAR WHISKY did the honours at Sandown the day before, came with a second for MR DILLON in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (Series Qualifier also with Barry Geraghty aboard, who also managed to get 6-year-old MEDIEVAL CHAPEL into the frame, albeit 25 lengths adrift in the Albert Bartlett Scottish Trial.

  

BROUGHT ON TO WIN 

This 4-year-old scored three times at this level last year for Mark Johnston so it was not surprising that BROUGHTON was the 5/6 Favourite in the fourth race of the day, the John Smith's Scottish Triumph Hurdle Trial (Listed Juvenile Hurdle). As expected Gordon Elliott's CLARCAM was front-runner but he was ultimately no match for the son of TEOFILO who poured on the power in the straight and, energetically partnered by Denis O'Regan, and went on to take first prize by five lengths. 

The winning jockey commented: "I was delighted with him. I wasn't sure if the trip would suit, because I think he would prefer a more galloping track. He's got a great attitude and he could be one of the best four-year-olds we've got. I don't know where we go now. John Ferguson knows more about things like that than I do, so we'll have to see." 

As a result of this win, Sky Bet shortened his odds from 20/1 to 12/1 for the Triumph Hurdle Cheltenham Festival. 

 

SUNDAY, 2nd FEBRUARY 2014 

 

ANOTHER BIG DAY FOR V & A! 

It was a great day for trainer, Venetia William and Aidan Coleman yesterday when they notched up a treble at Sandown, whilst 200 miles away at Ffos Las, Liam Treadwell added one more to the score. In the first race of the day at the Esher course the Lady of Aramstone produced a worthy winner in the 7-year-old SAROQUE who put two-and-a-quarter lengths between himself and the rest of the field in the Betfred 'Double Delight' Novices' Limited Handicap Chase. Meanwhile just over an hour later at the Trimsaran track Liam Treadwell was doing the honours on EMPEROR'S CHOICE in the Burns Pet Nutrition West Wales National which he won by eight lengths. This contest had barely concluded when back at Sandown the trainer/jockey duo struck again in the Betfred Mobile Veterans' Handicap Chase with 10-year-old AACHEN. The Herefordshire handler wasn't finished with the winner's enclosure yet, however, because her 9-year-old RELAX showed them how to do it when winning, fairly easily, the Betfred Masters Handicap Chase with three lengths to spare, making it three wins for the day. 

Venetia Williams commented: "I thought coming here that they'd all got their chances but that (three winners on the card) was fantastic. I'm absolutely thrilled with them all." 

A modest Aidan Coleman added: "It's not just myself and Venetia, the team at home work endless hours, and they deserve all these big days that we get." 

 

RACING'S NO JOKE! 

Channel 4 Racing seems to have lost its sense of humour and not just for the viewers. There have, apparently been heated discussions behind the scenes in reaction to a report that audience figures were down for 73 of the 90 days of broadcast last year. There had been great expectations for Channel 4 when they got the exclusive terrestrial rights for horse racing from the beginning of 2013. It gradually became noticeable, however, even to the average viewer, that the programme seemed to lack a certain imagination and that might account for viewing figures being down. Amongst management, of course, there must be concern that this 'lost audience' will be difficult to get back and bookies will start to question the efficacy of the large sums of money they fork out for advertising. 

Veteran broadcaster, Derek Thompson, who has appeared on fewer occasions since the new management took over, commented: "People come up to me in the street and say: 'Thommo, we're not having a laugh like we used to'." 

The general reaction is that the old Channel 4 Racing was much more easy-going and made the viewers feel they were relaxing with old friends and familiar faces. The new Channel 4 Racing programme, on the other hand, seems to take itself much too seriously and behaves as if it is running a classroom session where the aim is to teach the 'students' about the intricacies of racing. 

 

SATURDAY, 1st FEBRUARY 2014 

 

TAKING A FENCE – AGAIN! 

Trainer, Nicky Henderson, must have breathed a sigh of relief at the news that today's meeting at Sandown has go the go-ahead. (along with the other fixtures at Ffos Las and Wetherby.) The three-times champion trainer is obviously keen to give his OSCAR WHISKY further experience over fences and has entered him in the Betfred TV Scilly Isles Novices' Chase. This top-class hurdler was narrowly beaten into second place by TAQUIN DU SEUIL when making his chasing debut at Cheltenham in November. Since then, however, he has scored twice at Prestbury Park and so connections are hoping for a hat-trick in today's event which has just two other contestants. The ground is officially heavy but that does not appear to be a concern. 

As the Lambourn handler commented: “ … we desperately want to get another run into him. The conditions might not be ideal, but he has form in soft ground, so we'll see what happens. He's in good form."

 In such a small field, there's also prize money for all! 

 

YOU GOTTA A LONG WAY TO GO” 

Musselburgh has never been so popular. With the gloomy possibility of all three British jumps meetings being cancelled today due to heavy rain, a number of top trainers are making the long trek to the East Lothian track for its first major National Hunt meeting of the season. As it happens, Ffos Las, Sandown and Wetherby have all been cleared for take-off. In any case, the journey is especially tempting because the current going is good-to-soft and the weather forecast for the John Smith Scottish Cheltenham Trials day is that it will be cold but sunny and no frost. The event is recognised as a bona fide trials day for the Cheltenham Festival and its eight-race card includes five £20,000 races, including the Listed John Smith’s Triumph Hurdle Trial. A tempting day's racing too hard to resist. Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls are both sending strong teams and are also Venetia Williams and Newmarket’s John Ferguson. All in all this could be the best ever jumps programme ever presented at Musselburgh. 

Paul Nicholls' entries includes SAMETEGAL who will be top weight in the John Smith’s Scottish County Hurdle. This five-year-old won the Scottish Triumph Hurdle at this meeting last year. His biggest threat is probably the Henderson-trained LYVIUSyvius, although STRONGPOINT, trained by Stuart Crawford could well upseyt both of them. Champion jockey, Tony McCoy, will also put in his two-penny-worth on Brian Ellison’s YORKIST who has won his last three races. Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls will fight it out again in the John Smith’s Future Champions Novices’ Chase with ERICHT and FUNNY STAR, the latter seeking a hat-trick.

 

FRIDAY, 31st JANUARY 2014

 

A CERT FOR CHARLIE

Godolphin-owned CERTIFY, was back in action yesterday at Meydan for the first time since winning the Shadwell Fillies' Mile in September 2012, maintaining her unbeaten record in the Cape Verdi. The 4-year-old was one of 22 Godolphin horses given a six-month suspension from racing last year by the BHA as a result of the inquiry into the training methods of her trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni. The bay filly is now trained by the banned trainer's former assistant, Charlie Appleby. Despite the 489-day absence from the track the daughter of ELUSIVE QUALITY demonstrated her old form when she travelled smoothly in last-but-one position of the six runners and then, when asked the question by her regular partner, Mickael Barzalona, threw down the gauntlet early in the in the home straight and scored by three-quarters of a length

Trainer Charlie Appleby commented: "I'm delighted. She was training nicely but we hadn't asked any serious questions and she can only improve on that. I'm delighted Sheikh Mohammed and Godolphin have given the filly a chance to show what she was as a two-year-old."

 

TWO WINS AT WINC

Two out of three for trainer, Venetia Williams, yesterday at Wincanton, even though she saddled four horses. Disappointment came early in the second race of the day, the two-and-a-half-mile New Racing UK Anywhere Available Now Handicap Hurdle. 6-year-old UHLAN BUTE failed to follow up his Plumpton win last time out. Things seemed to be going well as Aidan Coleman took him into the lead 3 out after recovering from a mistake at the fourth hurdle. But thereafter the son of BRIER CREEK faded away and could only manage seventh in the field of thirteen. BENNY'S MIST brought a smile to the Lady of Aramstone's lips, however, by easily winning the next contest, the Dick Hunt Handicap Chase by three lengths. 10-year-old CARRICKBOY, ridden by Liam Treadwell in the same race, also gave her a third. The second bull's eye came in the Red And Yella Mickey Boley Memorial Novices' Limited Handicap Chase, when 7-year-old BRICK RED did the honours, bringing a successful conclusion to the Herefordshire trainer's visit to the Somerset track. 

 

IT'S A GREAT DAY FOR THE IRISH”

The first £1 million Crabbie’s Grand National at Aintree on April 5th has attracted the highest number of entries for five years - 115- and top Irish trainer, Willie Mullins, who won the coveted prize with HEDGEHUNTER in 2005, has bagged eight of the slots provisionally for a trio of horses owned by Andrea and Graham Wylie, namely ON HIS OWN, PRINCE DE BEAUCHENE and BOSTON BOB. The County Carlow trainer is also contemplating the inclusion of his Leopardstown Paddy Power Chase winner ROCKABOYA and last season’s Irish Grand National runner-up AWAY WE GO among the rest of his squad. Another Irish trainer, Martin Brassil, whose NUMBERSIXVALVERDE scored in 2006, may well have his DOUBLE SEVEN in the running.

Martin Brassil commented: “Double Seven has got a rating now that means he will be running in either a Crabbie’s Grand National or an Irish Grand National come the spring. It’s an obvious entry to make for a horse rated 146. The Grand National is probably not as much as a jumping test now as it was when Numbersixvalverde won, but Double Seven is a grand jumper.”

 

K ATIE'S A WINNER!

Yesterday RACING NEWS finally caught up with an event that happened two months ago! This was the 2013 Taylor Wessing Photographic Prize, the results of which are now on display in an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, running until 9th February. This year's outright winner is a stunning picture of jump jockey, Katie Walsh, Ruby's sister, looking mud-spattered, sweaty and tired, wearing the colours of Seabass, the horse on which she came third in the 2012 Grand National, the best position so far achieved by a lady jockey.

Spencer Murphy, the winning photographer said: “I was keen to include Katie. I wanted to show both her femininity and the toughness of spirit she requires to compete against the best riders in one of the most demanding disciplines in horse racing.”

WEDNESDAY, 29th JANUARY 2014

 

WE'LL MEET AGAIN” 

As reported yesterday, the modest three-horse race at Southwell, - The Coral App Download From The App Store Selling Stakes - attracted more attention than expected. That was because two of the protagonists were on the threshold of beating a British all-weather record that has stood for eleven years. Don Cantillon's LA ESTRELLA was intent on equalling the 25 wins set by CHINA CASTLE at Southwell in December 2001 and John Butler's STAND GUARD, with one less victory to his name, was out to deny the 11-year-old son of THEATRICAL this honour. But to disappointment all round, the much anticipated duel was called off at the last minute. LA ESTRELLA was pulled out of the race on veterinary advice. This left Tom Queally and his 10-year-old son of DANEHILL the simple task of beating his only rival, the 4-year-old BIX who was completely outclassed. Rarely has this Nottinghamshire track been the focus of such feverish attention in the racing world. It was sad for everyone that the event turned out to be such an anticlimax. All is not lost, however, because, as this was a seller's race, there was an auction afterwards and there were no bids for STAND GUARD. That raises the prospect of another confrontation in the near future. 

 

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER! 

Yesterday RACING NEWS finally caught up with an event that happened two months ago! This was the Taylor Wessing Photographic Exhibition in the National Portrait Gallery, now in its last week. Every year they hold a competition for the best portrait prize. This year's outright winner is a stunning picture of jump jockey, Katie Walsh, Ruby's sister, looking mud-spattered, sweaty and tired, wearing the colours of Seabass, the horse on which she came third in the 2012 Grand National, the best position so far achieved by a lady jockey. 

Spencer Murphy, the winning photographer said: “I was keen to include Katie. I wanted to show both her femininity and the toughness of spirit she requires to compete against the best riders in one of the most demanding disciplines in horse racing.”

 

TUESDAY, 28th JANUARY 2014 

 

JUST FOR THE RECORD 

Today Southwell stages the Coral App Download From The App Store Selling Stakes. Now sellers aren't always a great attraction but today's event is different. It may only be a three-horse contest but the stakes are high. Don Cantillon's LA ESTRELLA, will take on John Butler's STAND GUARD, a fact that will probably make it the most eagerly anticipated seller of modern times. The meagre prize money of £2,264.15 is certainly not what has attracted connections to this race. It is the chance to challenge the record of 25 all-weather victories set by Patrick Haslam's CHINA CASTLE back in 2001. If 11-year-old LA ESTRELLA wins he will equal this feat. If, on the other hand, 10-year-old STAND GUARD passes the post first then he will be one short of equalling the record which has stood for thirteen years. Both veterans have had to contend with their fair share of ailments over their long career and it is not really surprising that their closely matched Racing Post Ratings give them an equal chance of success. 

John Butler, STAND GUARD's trainer, commented: "It's the biggest day of my racing career and it's the only record I'm ever going to have a chance of breaking. I'm very surprised Don is taking my horse on. He knows my horse and even stroked him on the gallops. On BHA ratings we are 4lb better but La Estrella is a 4lb better horse at Southwell. That puts us on a par. The horse who turns up in the best form will win.” 

On the other hand LA ESTRELLA's trainer, Don Cantillon, responded: "Even though he won last time at Lingfield I thought he was useless that day. Southwell is his course. He is amazing there and really opens up down the straight. I'll be having a decent bet because I'm quite confident he'll win." 

 

HE'LL BE BACK! 

Last year's impressive Triumph Hurdle winner, Dessie Hughes' OUR CONOR, gave HURRICANE FLY a run for his money at Leopardstown on Sunday so the father of champion jockey, Richard Hughes, is confident his 5-year-old will be at the Cheltenham Festival with a "fighting chance" of winning the Champion Hurdle. Although the son of JEREMY was beaten fair and square on two previous occasions by Willie Mullins' star – in December in the Ryanair Hurdle and again in January in the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle, connections are confident that their bay gelding will have made significant improvements by March and are very keen to have another go. They must have been very disappointed in the final stages of the race on Sunday because, for a few brief moments, it looked as though OUR CONOR was going to pull off the impossible and claim the crown but HURRICANE FLY surged back into contention on the run-in and secured his fourth successive Irish Champion Hurdle crown and also his 19th Grade One win. 

Dessie Hughes said of his hopeful: "He's come out of the race absolutely fine and I'm very happy with where we are with the horse. We were a bit disappointed as it looked as though he might have it won at one stage, but I'm thrilled he improved, which I thought he would.” 

Clearly the County Kildare trainer is encouraged by the fact that his mount got much closer to HURRICANE FLY than he did on previous occasions and thinks he could do even better when the two meet for a third time at Prestbury Park in March. 

 

MONDAY, 27th JANUARY 2014 

 

RUN LIKE THE WIND 

HURRICANE FLY notched up his fourth successive BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle in a style to which we have become accustomed at Leopardstown yesterday. This sent out a clear message that his Cheltenham crown is not up for grabs in March. The Willie Mullins-trained 10-year-old was a short odds-on favourite to match the achievement of the remarkable ISTABRAQ who held the record of four wins in this renowned Grade One feature. There had been concerns, however, about the son of MONTJEU's poor performance on a work-out trecently but it eventually became apparent that a bruised foot had been the culprit. Understandably there were still lingering concerns among connections as their champion prepared for a second confrontation with the 'new kids on the block', Dessie Hughes' OUR CONNOR and Jessica Harrington's JEZKI whom he beat here in the Ryanair Hurdle just about a month ago. 13-year-old CAPTAIN CEE BEE set the pace, as expected, and led until about two from home and then battle commenced when the three main rivals came round the final bend, with Ruby Walsh riding HURRICANE FLY and Danny Mullins aboard OUR CONOR probably posing the greater threat. At the last hurdle there was very little to choose between them and for a while it looked as though it might be Dessie Hughes' day but the Willie Mullins' star surged back into the lead and won by a length and a half, despite an awkward jump at the last. 

Willie Mullins commented afterwards: "That was a huge relief. I have huge respect for the horse to do what he did, coming off the bit of work he did during the week. If he had been an ordinary horse he wouldn't have run. It was his worst bit of work ever. I was so disappointed coming off the gallops. I was saying to myself, 'Is the dream over with him and has he had enough?'. Thankfully we found he had a bruised foot. He seemed fine the next morning and he's been fine since. 

 

SURE THING 

The indomitable champion Irish trainer was not satisfied with this fourth Irish Champion Hurdle win. In the very next race, the trainer/ jockey partnership of Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh, secured another victory with SURE REEF in the the Synergy Security Solutions Novice Hurdle. The 5-year-old, course and distance on only his second start over hurdles in December at this track last month, steadfastly tracked the front-running GALLANT TIP as they came down the back straight, but then, incomprehensibly, dropped back to the rear of the field as he approached the second hurdle from home. That meant he still had each of his rivals, MOONSHINE LAD and GILT SHADOW ahead of him at the top of the home straight but, somehow, Ruby Walsh managed to get more out of this son of CHOISIR as they neared the last jump and the duo were three-quarters of a length to the good when they went past the post. 

Trainer Willie Mullins gave an explanation for the tactics: "He was very free and I was a little worried about him. Ruby decided to take him back, pull him out of it and give him a breather. 

He took a chance coming down the outside. It worked, but it wasn't plan A. Ruby felt that he couldn't continue to pull and run a race, so he wanted to get his lungs filled.”

 

Then the County Carlow handler made an interesting remark: "He's a horse I'd love to go back on to the Flat with. He goes on good ground and he has a Flat career as well." 

 

SUNDAY, 26th JANUARY 2014 

 

BEATING MR. BIG 

The galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle yesterday at Cheltenham produced a surprise result. The 66/1 shot, George Charlton-trained KNOCKARA BEAU defied the bookies' odds by winning the £34,000 prize. This was the much heralded comeback race for 11-year-old BIG BUCK'S. As the race evolved, George Charlton's mount seemed destined to failure when he was passed by the whole field and left in the rear from three out. But the son of LEADING COUNSEL, also an 11-year-old, confidently steered by Czech-born Jan Faltejsek, didn't seem to know the meaning of defeat. He mounted a supreme challenge when jumping the last hurdle and managed to hold onto a short head advantage at the post. It became apparent in the last fifty yards that the 4-times World hurdle champion, not seen on the track for 420 days, was feeling the pressure and couldn't hold off the advances of both KNOCKARA BEAU and AT FISHERS CROSS who both passed him in those vital final yards and so he and jockey, Sam Twiston-Davies, had to be satisfied with third place. 

Paul Nicholls commented on the son of CADOUDAL'S comeback: "I'm delighted with him, he travelled with all his old zest and jumped well, but he just got a little tired after the back of the last. It's very testing ground and we could easily have taken him out and saved him for another day, but I was desperate to get a run into him before the World Hurdle. This was only the second time he'd been on grass since his injury, I wanted another racecourse gallop but the ground wouldn't allow it. I said to Sam to be positive on him and if he got tired, he got tired." 

Winning jockey, Jan Faltejsek said of KNOCKARA BEAU: "He has run some amazing races at Cheltenham and always just missed out, but he's finally won and I'm over the moon. In the past he has made little mistakes that have cost him so hopefully he has learned his lesson." 

 

ELEMENTARY, MY DEAR TOM! 

The Johnson Family, who own RED SHERLOCK, must have been delighted with their 5-year-old gelding yesterday when he retained his unbeaten record of 6 wins from 6 runs, after scoring in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham. This victory also provided Gloucestershire-born Tom Scudamore with a double for the day. So celebrations all round! 

It wasn't the easiest of victories for David Pipe's mount, though, as he had to face a serious and sustained challenge from Willie Mullins' RATHVINDEN. The Irish raider, however, didn't have enough in reserve at the end and was beaten into second place by two and a half lengths. The next horse home was a startling 29 lengths adrift. 

As jockey , Tom Scudamore, commented: "We got in a bit of a pocket at the top of the hill and he got me out of trouble, that's the sign of a good horse. It's great to get back on him, he's got a great attitude and has taken the step up in class in his stride.” 

 

SATURDAY, 25th JANUARY 2014 

 

RUBY GROUNDED BY RAIN 

The Racing Post Lightning Novices' Chase at Doncaster this afternoon will go ahead without ROCK ON RUBY who has been pulled out because more rain fell on the South Yourkshire track. To be fair trainer, Harry Fry, had already hinted that his 2012 Champion Hurdle hero might not run when he commented: "it doesn't need to get any softer than what it is". Well his wish was not granted as another ¼ of an inch fell last night so the Dorset-based handler had no option but to withdraw his 9-year-old son of OSCAR. 

Harry Fry who is on a 34% strike rate for this season stated: "Plan A was obviously to run him this afternoon, but we said yesterday it was going to be dependant on the weather. I've spoken to the clerk of the course at Doncaster and they've had a good six millimetres of rain overnight. They also raced on Friday, so the ground has opened up and the rain will get in. We are being over cautious, but we can't take any chances with his breathing. If we get it wrong this close to Cheltenham, we could mess things up, so we'll just have to wait. We then have to hope the ground comes up good at Cheltenham in March." 

 

PRESSURE? WHAT PRESSURE! 

Today will be just like any other jockey's working day, according to Sam Twiston-Davies who rides record-breaking staying hurdler, BIG BUCK'S, making his return to Prestbury Park after 420 days' absence. Enough has been said already about trainer, Paul Nicholls, and owner Andy Stewart's decision to book potential future champion, Sam Twiston-Davies, to ride the 11-year-old son of CADOUDAL in the galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle at March Cheltenham Festival, in his attempt to make it five Ladbrokes World Hurdle championships in a row and his 19th consecutive win. It won't be an easy comeback, that's for sure, as among his five rivals, anxious to thwart his plans, are Nick Williams' twice Long Walk winner, REVE DE SIVOLA, Willie Mullins' progressive BOSTON BOB and last season's top novice, AT FISHERS CROSS, with champion jockey, Tony McCoy aboard. 

They'll certainly be more butterflies in the stomach more than usual on this 'normal day'! Perhaps even more so for Paul Nicholls than Sam Twiston-Davies, who will not have any time for 'nerves' once the race gets underway. 

FRIDAY, 24th JANUARY 2014 

 

SANDOWN UP 

An increase in prize money and extra races are among many changes offered by Sandown Park in an attempt to enhance its racing programme for the end-of-season 2014. The bet365 meeting, as well as the Saturday April 26 card which is the finale to the 2013-14 jumps season, will be an all-jumps meeting for the first time and will feature the £150,000 bet365 Gold Cup and also the bet365 Celebration Chase worth £125,000, recently upgraded to Grade One. Three new jumps races have also been announced for the Saturday fixture, including two Listed events with £50,000 in prize money available. Then Friday's new all-Flat card will include three Group races, which include the Group Two bet365 Mile. The value of the total prize money over the two days has been upped to £755,000 from £637,000 in 2013. 

Andrew Cooper, Head of Racing and Clerk of the Course at Sandown, said: "We are delighted to announce two such valuable and strong days of racing, including the creation of three new Jump races on the Saturday that have been the result of consultations with trainers and others, and have been supported all along by the BHA through its Race Planning team and Jump Race Committee. We believe this programme will provide a fitting and competitive finale to the season."

 

20 BUCKS FOR BIG BUCK'S 

Sky Tickets has a special offer of only £12.50 for a ticket to be at Cheltenham tomorrow to witness BIG BUCK'S on his return to the track. The incomparable 4 four-time Ladbrokes World Hurdle winner is staging his much-awaited comeback in the Cleeve Hurdle. It's also the last fixture at Cheltenham the great Festival in March. Racegoers will not only have the thrill of watching BIG BUCK'S, they will also have the chance to TRIOLO D'ALENE, winner of the Hennessy, make his bid for the Argento Chase. David Pipe's RED SHERLOCK will also be making a challenge for the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle. 

So, at that price, that's the ticket!

 

THURSDAY, 23rd JANUARY 2014

 

FRANKIE'S BACK!

That's what most of the rival jockeys saw in two out of three races yesterday at Lingfield. The irrepressible Frankie Dettori was back in action months earlier than expected after breaking an ankle in a pre-race fall at Nottingham in October. The 43-year-old jockey seemed to have recovered much of his old form when he rode ECO WARRIOR to a neck victory after making most of the running in the coral.co.uk Median Auction Maiden Stakes.He repeated the exercise an hour later in the 32Red.com Maiden Stakes when he steered Jeremy Noseda's GONE WITH THE WIND to a same-distance win. Things didn't go his way in his next and final race of the day, the 32Red Conditions Stakes, when the Alexandra Dunn-trained EXEMPLARY seemed outclassed in a strong field. But the former three-times champion jockey seemed happy enough and celebrated in his usual ebullient style as he signed autographs and sprayed young participants of the Racing To School initiative with champagne on the podium.

The rider from Milan commented afterwards: "It's silly but I was nervous this morning. As much as I would be riding in a big race. You're hoping your legs hold up, and your fitness. I'm probably back about a week or 10 days before I'd planned but some good horses are coming up now so I had to speed up my routine. Thank you to my surgeon, Mr Robinson, for screwing me back together and to everyone for putting up with me for the last three months.

 

RUBY TO TAKE ON MR. BIG?

Intriguingly the OLBG.com Mares' Hurdle at Doncaster on Saturday has been re-scheduled half-an-hour earlier at 14.05, which could make it possible for Ruby Walsh to make it down to Cheltenham in time for the Cleeve Hurdle at 15.35, if he gets his skates on. The County kildare jockey will then be able to challenge BIG BUCK'S, whom he has partnered on a total 19 occasions, coming first in all but one of them and so obviously knows the 11-year-old son of CADOUDAL better than anyone else, particularly Sam Twiston-Davies, recently chosen to take the ride. Successful Irish trainer, Willie Mullins, has increased the number of his runners in Britain this season and he has entered BOSTON BOB in the galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle and that is where Ruby Walsh could slip in and take on the BIG BUCK'S, who is returning from injury.

Vairy interestink!

 

WEDNESDAY, 22nd JANUARY 2014 

 

WEIGHT FOR IT! 

Today's 32Red Conditions Stakes Lingfield Park could be a good race for DUCHESS OF GAZELEY as she's the lightest in the 10-strong field. The 4-year-old Halling daughter has won four out of her last six starts, including two victories here at Lingfield. 

Trainer, Dean Ivory had the following comment: "Duchess Of Gazeley is in good form and shows us a lot of ability at home, but she loves soft ground and I don't know if the surface at Lingfield will be soft enough for her. It's a funny time of year, particularly for fillies as they like a bit of sun on their backs, and ideally I would have liked another couple of weeks with her. 

Strong opponents are possibly ARCH VILLAIN who won the Betdaq - The Sports Betting Exchange Handicap at Kempton in November and THEOLOGY who easily carried off the 32Red Handicap at this track at the end of December. 

Whoever triumphs today will be be guaranteed a free start in the £150,000 32Red.com Marathon over two miles on the £1-million All-Weather Championships Finals Day on Good Friday. 

 

DEUTSCH YOURSELF, CHARLIE! 

FITANDPROPERJOB displayed his superiority yesterday at Leicester when he won the Brook 'Hands And Heels' Handicap Chase by 10 lengths under the stewardship of Charlie Deutsch whose last ride on him was in July at market Rasen when the gelding was pulled up. But probably more pleasant memories will pass through the conditional jockey's mind as he resumes the partnership: the 8-year-old son of HELISSIO provided him with his first winner under National Hunt Rules at Folkestone in December 2012. 

 

TUESDAY, 21st JANUARY 2014

  

CAN BUCK'S FIZZ AT CHELTENHAM? 

Yesterday BIG BUCK'S was put through a schooling session by his new jockey, Sam Twiston-Davies on the next stage of his intended return to the racetrack. The 11-year-old is scheduled to run in the galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday. Since Ruby Walsh decided to leave his role as Paul Nicholls' stable jockey it was always on the cards for the son of CADOUDAL to get a new partner on his return to the fray. So according to plan, Sam Twiston-Davies went down to Ditcheat stables to jump a few hurdles on the 4-time Ladbrokes World Hurdle winner. 

As trainer, Paul Nichols commented: "It all went well, no problems at all. It was just a routine school, we would do it at the start of the week before any run of his life. He jumped well and did what we expected. Sam was pleased with him." 

The Naunton-based jockey was obviously delighted with how things went: "He felt in great order, it was my first time schooling down at Paul's, I'd been in on Friday to give him three steady canters but I jumped him today and it all went very smoothly, he jumped brilliantly. 

Obviously, if he retains his ability, which I'm sure he does, he's going to be very hard to beat."

  

GOING GREEN 

A former Grantham school student is making a mark in the world of horse racing. Walton Girls’ School ex-pupil, Amelia Green, attended the British Racing School in Newmarket and immediately impressed the leading jockey coach, Frank Condon, who is well respected in the horse racing business. It was the latter who persuaded his 20 year-old trainee to contact the late Sir Henry Cecil. To her great surprise and delight, Sir Henry offered Amelia Green a trial and even took her on as an apprentice jockey and she worked at Warren Place for three years, enjoying the excitement of riding alongside the likes of Frankel and many other Group One winners. After Sir Henry’s death last year, Amelia Green moved to America and has been located at the Santa Anita racetrack near Los Angeles. December proved to be her lucky month as she won her first race at Hollywood Park. The victory was made even more poignant as the track is scheduled to close after 75 glorious years of racing, having been the scene of epic races such as those run by Sea Biscuit and other great horses. 

Amelia Green is coming back to England at the end of this month, She is to be apprentice jockey to trainer, Clive Cox, in Lambourn, near Hungerford.  

 

MONDAY, 20th JANUARY 2014 

 

RING OF CONFIDENCE 

Saturday at Haydock was a day like no other for conditional jockey, Conor Ring, when he triumphed aboard 16/1 shot, WYCHWOOD BROOK. This was his second success of the day, having scored in the opening race - the Tate Contracts Handicap Hurdle, riding Evan Williams' EXTREME IMPACT. But it was probably the Peter Marsh Chase that will remain longest in the memory of the successful trainer/jockey partnership. The 8-year-old son of MIDNIGHT LEGEND made quite a few mistakes along the way but he stayed on well and ultimately deserved his victory in the prevailing tough conditions. It looked as though RACING NEWS' Saturday tip, VINTAGE STAR, trained by Sue Smith with Ryan Mania aboard, would make the column-writer's day, as he challenged the leader in the final straight. WYCHWOODS BROOK, however, was having none of it and held on to win by a length and a half. 

It was certainly Conor Ring's day and he summed it up thus: “The day started off a dream with Extreme Impact, but winning this is just brilliant. It was hard work but, to be fair, you have to give this horse all the credit. He battled all the way to the line.” 

 

GET AHEAD WITH A TURBAN 

Yet another memorable day at Fairyhouse for the Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh partnership. This time it was the 7-year-old TURBAN who did the honours, scooping the €60,000 (£50, 000) prize for the unstoppable County Carlow trainer in the Underwriting Exchange Dan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase. Ruby Walsh gave the son of DON ALCO a patient ride and only urged him into the lead as they neared the final fence and then it was all over bar the shouting. 

The Kill-born Ruby Walsh commented afterwards: “We’ve struggled with his trip trying to figure out what he was - he’s probably a flat out two-miler. It was a competitive race for his handicap debut but he travelled really well and it is a good pot to win.” 

 

SUNDAY, 19th JANUARY 2014 

 

A PIPE DREAM? 

KATENKO, may have been disappointing, only making fourth in the Peter Marsh Chase but Venetia Williams certainly had something to celebrate earlier on in the afternoon, when her 5-year-old ZAMDY MAN pulled off a remarkable victory by beating David Pipe's £450,000 purchase, UN TEMPS POUR TOUT, in the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices' Hurdle. The previous French Grade One performer never looked like getting the better of the Lady of Aramstone's son of AUTHORIZED, who now has a run of three straight wins in the bag for this season. All credit to jockey, Aidan Coleman, who decided to set the pace from some way out, challenging David Pipe's mount at every stage and eventually established a length and three-quarter win. 

As the winning jockey from Innishannon said afterwards: "He's a massive horse so we were delighted with him last season, even though he didn't win. This year he's strengthened up and is getting better with each race. He'll definitely handle better ground and you'd have to say he's a Cheltenham horse now." 

Beaten David Pipe put on a brave face with: "He's run a cracker. He handled the ground but didn't jump as neatly as we'd hoped. We'll see where we go next but he's definitely a Cheltenham horse, as is the winner." 

 

NOEL FEHLY VERY GOOD 

Noel Fehly was still basking in the glory of winning the Grade 2 OLBG.com Mares' Hurdle at Ascot on Harry Fry's HIGHLAND RETREAT when he went on to ride a blinder on Paul Nicholls' IRISH SAINT just thirty-five minutes later, running the competition into the ground by eleven lengths in another Grade 2 event, the Keltbray Holloway's Hurdle. He followed up this impressive Grade 2 double with another fairly easy victory on BURY PARADE in the Sodexo Handicap Chase, again for Paul Nicholls. 

Paul Nicholls' assistant, Tom Jonason, had this to say: "We hadn't had a clear run with him until today. He wasn't spot-on in the Gerry Feilden and the Ladbroke was just a fast-run handicap. Today was a different kettle of fish where he had plenty of daylight. Having spoken to Paul, he will have an eye on the Betfair Hurdle (Newbury, February 8) now. He'll be going up in the handicap now, so while it's probably a shorter trip than ideal, he can go there under a penalty." 

 

SATURDAY, 18th JANUARY 2014 

 

TIME FOR EVERYTHING 

The Grade 2 race at Haydock this afternoon, the Rossington Main Novices' Hurdle will be the first opportunity to see what David Pipe got for his money when he bought UN TEMPS POUR TOUT at the DBS Hennessy sale at Newbury two months ago. The Somerset-based trainer paid £450,000, which is the second-highest sum ever forked out for a jumper at an auction. Owners, Professor Caroline Tisdall and Brian Drew must be hoping that their five-year-old performs well today because then this could lead to even greater rewards in the Betfair Hurdle next month. The son of ROBIN DES CHAMPS was a French Grade 3 winner and was last seen coming third to Paul Nicholls' PTIT ZIG in a Grade 1 hurdle at Auteuil. 

David Pipe commented: "We had to start him somewhere and this looks a suitable race. He's won on heavy in France but I suspect he'll be better on better ground." 

 

WHEN YOU WISH UPON A STAR” 

The Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock is a top-rated handicap contest that sometimes discovers future Gold Cup winners. At the moment the market seems to favour Venetia Williams' KATENKO, ridden by Aidan Coleman, but the 8-year-old gelding didn't shine on his last two outings: he fell at Newbury in November and only managed a fourth place at Aintree in December in the Betfred 'Goals Galore' Chase. So, it would seem that either Jonjo O'Neill's MERRY KING or Sue Smith's VINTAGE STAR could be worth considering. Both of them ran very well in the Welsh National, where even TIDAL BAY could only manage third. Another consideration is that trainer, Sue Smith, is in great form at the moment with an 18% strike rate and total prize money of over a quarter of a million. So maybe it's time for another stellar performance. 

 

FRIDAY, 17th JANUARY 2014 

 

MUM AND DAUGHTER BEAT DAD AND SON 

Winning the G A Engineering Highland National at Perth in April obviously wasn't reward enough for this mother/daughter partnership. Sue and Lucy Gardner added another 'National' to their triumphs yesterday at Wincanton when FLYING AWARD scored in the Higos Insurance Services Somerset National. An experienced jumps rider, Lucy Gardner, showed determination from the off and when push came to shove her 10-year-old son of OSCAR showed he had plenty of stamina. Ironically it began to look as if a father/son team would beat this mother/daughter partnership when the Alastair Whillans-trained SAMSTOWN, confidently ridden by son, Ewan, took control of the race coming off the home turn and went a length clear over the final fence. Gradually, however, Lucy Gardner overhauled the 7-year-old son of KINGSALSA and snatched victory in the final strides of the race. 

The winning jockey commented: "He switches off a bit at the start, but he warms up and the further he goes the better he gets. He stays all day and he's been a brilliant yardstick for us over the years. Mum bought him unbroken as a four-year-old and he's a horse that means quite a lot to us." 

 

WHAT A BLOW. £20,000 A NOSE! 

After making it all the way to Thurles for the very first time, Nicky Henderson had to settle for second spot after UNE ARTISTE lost by a nose to BYERLEY BABE in the Fame And Glory & Sans Frontieres Coolmore National Hunt Sires E.B.F. Mares Novice Chaseyesterday. That meant that the Lambourn trainer had to settle for the smaller reward of £8,000 instead of the £28,000 he was hoping for but, as he said prior to his trip: "She could have run at Newbury for a first prize of £2,700, or go to Ireland and run for more than €30,000, so it wasn't a hard decision really”. 

So what with travel costs (human and equine), trainer and jockey expenses, it might have been better to go to Newbury after all!

 

  

THURSDAY, 16th JANUARY 2014 

 

FABULOUS FRANKEL'S FIRST FOAL 

Hardly has the young colt taken his first shaky steps in life than the bookmakers are offering odds on the first son of FRANKEL's winning his first race, just as his Sire did. He's even as short as 5/2 with Betfred who are also offering 33/1 on his winning the 2016 Dewhurst Stakes, 40/1 for the 2017 2,000 Guineas and 66/1 to win the Derby. 

Andrew Griffiths, a Betfred spokesman commented: “Frankel’s first-born has huge shoes to fill, but we don’t think he will be a late bloomer with a debut win just 5-2. However, when it comes to breeding horses, even the best-laid plans often go awry, and we make it a 25-1 shot he runs under National Hunt Rules in his career.” 

 

A TICK FOR ALUTIQ 

Eve Johnson Houghton-trained ALUTIQ, with Jamie Spencer aboard, won the Winners Are Welcome At Betdaq Conditions Stakes at Kempton last night. The daughter of KODIAC demonstrated a powerful finish beating ORIENTAL RELATION by half a length in this 6-furlong contest. This means that the 3-year-old filly, owned by Qatar Racing Ltd., is now eligible to race in in Lingfield's 32Red.com Three-Year-Old Championship on Good Friday, worth £150,000. 

 

ONLY CAME FOR THE CASH 

UNE ARTISTE will be trainer Nicky Henderson's first-ever runner at Thurles today when the 6-year-old mare runs in the (deep breath!) Fame And Glory & Sans Frontieres Coolmore National Hunt Sires EBF Mares Novice Chase. The total prize money on offer is €52,500 (£43, 575 in real money) so it is hardly surprising it has attracted a strong field of 12 runners. As it happens the highest-rated mare in the field is UNE ARTISTE. 

The Lambourn handler commented: "She could have run at Newbury for a first prize of £2,700, or go to Ireland and run for more than €30,000, so it wasn't a hard decision really. I've never been to Thurles, but Barry (Geraghty, jockey) knows his way round. Willie Mullins keeps coming over here and taking our prize money so we thought we'd try and take a bit of his. She does already have black type but from a purely financial point of view, making the trip is a bit of a no-brainer."

  

WEDNESDAY, 15th JANUARY 2014

 

A CENTURY A YEAR

For eighteen seasons in a row, Richard Johnson, has achieved the incredible feat of riding a total of 100 winners. It is generally agreed that, if Tony McCoy weren't around, this mild-mannered 36-year-old jockey from Hereford, former boyfriend of Zara Phillips, the Queen's granddaughter, would have have bagged nearly all the records and a number of championships as well. Even the current champion jockey has admitted that it is the likes of Richard Johnson that makes sure he never takes things for granted. The century was scored yesterday when the Philip Hobbs-trained ROYAL PLAYER surged ahead by three lengths in the 32Red.com Maiden Hurdle.

Richard Johnson revealed an amazing statistic: "I started when I was 19 and I've had 100 every year since then. My aim every year is to be champion but the same man gets in the way quite often!”

 

LANFRANCO'S BACK!

Newmarket's Shalfleet stables were abuzz with excitement yesterday. The reason? Frankie Dettori was riding out for trainer, Jeremy Noseda, prior to what is expected to be a comeback for the popular Milan-born rider, who hasn't been seen in action since fracturing his ankle in a fall at Nottingham last October. Sadly that was days before he was supposed to ride Treve in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. It must have been all the more galling for him when the then 3-year-old romped homed by five lengths. At least he can now look forward to resuming his rides on the daughter of MOTIVATOR as well as on other top-class horses when he resumes his activities with the Sheikh Johann Al Thani's Al Shaqab racing stables.

Harry Herbert, Al Shaqab's recently-appointed racing advisor, commented: “He (Frankie Dettori) was wonderfully upbeat and delighted to be back in action. I think the plan is for him to have his first race back on the All-Weather for Jeremy next week and he can't wait. It's great to hear the enthusiasm in his voice.” 

 

TUESDAY, 14th JANUARY 2014 

 

TRAINER/JOCKEY PARTNERSHIP DOES IT AGAIN 

Plumpton proved once again to be a winning track for Venetia Williams and Aidan Coleman. This time it was a double for the trainer/jockey partnership, coming just over week after securing four out of five hits on the same track. It was generally agreed that the conditions at the East Sussex racecourse were the toughest in memory and many contestants struggled just to get round. This didn't seem to bother Herefordshire trainer's charges, however. The first victory came in the first race of the day when the 8/11 favourite, UHLAN BUTE, who came 2nd at Leicester just six days ago, took the Race Passes At timeform.com Novices' Hurdle, by a neck ahead of the well-backed RAVEN'S TOWER. 

Venetia Williams' next entry was in the EBF Stallions Mares' "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle where TOUBERRA battled it out for a while with MASSANIE but eventually the 8-year-old daughter of TOBOUGG proved too strong for the David Pipe mare and went on to win by nine lengths. SAROQUE and ROCKY BENDER, the other two entries for the Lady from Aramstone, didn't live up to expectations so the result for the day was a two-timer. 

Venetia Williams commented afterwards: "I haven't always done well here. It's a long journey and I can remember some long drives home but they offer some very good prize money here." 

Aidan Coleman summed it up with: "When the yard's in form, it's brilliant, and you wish it lasted 12 months of the year. Venetia and I have always done well at this time of year, and long may it continue." 

 

ROYAL ASSENT 

For the first time the Queen is to allow a commercial partnership to be formed for Royal Ascot. Her Majesty has given permission for the ruling al-Thani family of Qatar, under the aegis of their holding company, Qipco, to establish a new high-class branding initiative which will also, incidentally, contribute millions of pounds to the Royal racetrack. This is a new development because thus far Her Majesty has not approved of any kind of sponsorship of races at her world-famous annual five-day meeting in June. 

Ascot’s head of communications, Nick Smith reported: “Sponsorship [of Royal Ascot races] is just not on our radar. But Qipco will have partner presence, which means they will enjoy everything that forms part of the most overt branding ever seen at the Royal meeting. There is regular dialogue with Buckingham Palace on all major proposals and that has included the new partnership strategy, including branding benefits at Royal Ascot. 

It has also been clearly stated that Qipco would be a partner on only the first day of Royal Ascot.   

 

MONDAY, 13th JANUARY 2014

 

DAMNED IF YOU DO, DAMNED IF YOU DON'T”

It appears that ' a lack of positivity' on the part of jockey, Daryl Jacob, about partnering BIG BUCK'S on his planned comeback in the Cleeve Hurdle on January 25th was the main reason for the unexpected choice of Sam Twiston-Davies to ride the 4-times Ladbrokes World Hurdle champion. The decision was obviously further complicated by the fact that Ruby Walsh is no longer stable jockey for Paul Nicholls, but rides full-time for Willie Mullins and so will be booked to ride rivals, ANNIE POWER or BOSTON BOB. It seems that the ride was offered to Daryl Jacob, now Ditcheat's stable jockey, but he was not too keen as because if BIG BUCK'S wins then everyone will give all the credit to the horse, if he loses, everyone will blame the jockey.

Paul Nicholls described Daryl Jacob's view of the ride as "something of a poisoned chalice", where he would be in a "no-win" situation.

He commented further: "If he had been keen, then he could have been on the horse in the Cleeve Hurdle. End of story. And with Andy's full blessing and agreement. So there is no need for anyone to feel sorry for Daryl, or read anything wider into this decision. Tough and difficult decisions have to be made in this game, and I won't shy away from them.”

It's also now officially on the cards that Sam Twiston-Davies will ride BIG BUCK'S in the World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

 

AYR WE GO AGAIN!

The 4500 members of the Racegoers’ Club have voted AYR Racecourse the 2013 Best Racecourse in Scotland and the North East. This track has now won this prestigious award for ten years in a row and an amazing 20 times altogether.

Lindsey Smith, Sales and Marketing Manager commented: “It is a great honour to be once again the recipient of this award. When one considers the competition we have from other tracks in our region it makes this a particularly pleasing accolade. Those who vote are all regular racegoers so for them to take the time and choose Ayr proves we must be getting things right. We are all delighted.” 

 

SUNDAY, 12th JANUARY 2014   

 

ANOTHER ROYAL BOY'S A WINNER ! 

The Nicky Henderson-trained ROYAL BOY battled it out with his stablemate JOSSES HILL to make the williamhill.com Levy Board Tolworth Hurdle at Kempton yesterday his second career win, after trouncing the opposition by 6 lengths at Ascot in December. It was a close-run affair as the Lambourn-based duo leapt neck and neck over the last hurdle. Ultimately the horse that triumphed was the one owned by Michael Buckley, with no little thanks due to the powerful finish inspired by champion jockey, Tony McCoy. 50 yards from the line, in fact, it looked as if the result could go either way but victory was decided by half a length. The Seven Barrows duo tracked the leader, THE LIQUIDATOR, for the early part of the contest but as soon as David Pipe's 6-year-old began to fade under the pressure, they needed no asking to smoothly go into dominance. The home straight is where the final duel was enacted. As Nicky Henderson commented afterwards: "We all thought that looked a good Tolworth and you'd have to say I was impressed with both of them when they drew clear like that. I thought about running Royal Boy at Warwick in the two and a half (mile race) but I thought that would be an awful slog and he's not a slow horse. I think you'd go two and a half at Cheltenham with him whereas Josses Hill is more of a two-miler."

 

LEFT HAND … RIGHT HAND. HOBBS' CHOICE! 

Kempton's Williamhill.com Chase was the scene of another emphatic victory by Philip Hobbs' CAPTAIN CHRIS. You can say that again! Kempton's Williamhill.com Chase was the scene of another emphatic victory by Philip Hobbs' CAPTAIN CHRIS! The 10-year-old son of KING'S THEATRE, ridden by Richard Johnson, put an amazing 23 lengths between him and nearest rival, CHAMPION COURT, ridden by Tony McCoy. 

The winning Somerset trainer said: "Twice this season we've been on the verge of running and he's had minor scares that have stopped us in our strides, but that was fantastic and he jumped so well. There's a Grade One at Ascot [the Ascot Chase] next month and he does want to go right-handed - he's always had that inclination to go right as we saw again today - so Ascot suits him. He could go for the Cheltenham Gold Cup but the track is left-handed and just doesn't seem to suit him, despite the fact that he won the Arkle around there." 

 

SATURDAY, 11th JANUARY 2014

 

KAYLIF ARAMIS CAN BE KEMPTON STAR”

At least, that's the opinion of Ben Linfoot in his review of the William Hill Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton today. The tipster for Sporting Life admits the outcome may well rest between JUNCTION FOURTEEN and SAPHIR DU RHEU but both of these have been hit hard by the handicapper as a result of their recent easy victories. Because of their short odds and doubts whether they can overcome these penalties, however, he is looking elsewhere for a value bet. After some consideration the choice falls upon Nigel Twiston-Davies' KAYLIF ARAMIS whose odds are currently hovering around the 8-10/1 mark. Interestingly this 7-year-old son of KAYF TARA, full brother of the recently retired KAYF ARAMIS, fitted with a tongue-tie for the first time and benefitting fron the 7lb claim of his jockey, Ryan Hatch, is back to two miles and five furlongs on heavy ground, both to his liking. When he previously raced over this distance and on this kind of ground, he produced two 1sts and one 3rd. All things considered Ben Lightfoot thinks he's worth a punt.

 

SAM GOES BIG TIME

The 4-time Ladbrokes World Hurdle winner BIG BUCK'S will be ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies next time out. This option seems to have arisen because Ruby Walsh and AP McCoy are committed elsewhere but this in no way diminishes the honour this bestows on the Naunton-based jockey. The Paul Nicholls-trained 12-year-old son of CADOUDAL hasn't raced since winning the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury in December 2012 because subsequently he was found to be suffering from a leg injury. Just before Christmas he took part in a racecourse gallop at Exeter and apparently passed the test with flying colours. The Cleeve Hurdle, which he has won twice before in 2012 and 2009, will be a preparatory outing before he goes on to make his bid for a fifth straight victory in the World Hurdle in March. Paul Nicholls' charge is on a run of 18 unbeaten starts and was ridden in 16 of those by Ruby Walsh, with Tony McCoy taking over when the former was out of action due to injury.

Andy Stewart, owner of BIG BUCK'S, commented: "We explored all sorts of possibilities but we had to make sure whoever rode Big Buck's in the Cleeve Hurdle would also be available for the World Hurdle. Daryl Jacob is Paul's stable jockey and our choice of Sam is no reflection on him. He will ride either Celestial Halo or Salubrious."

 

FRIDAY, 10th JANUARY 2014 

 

MOOSE NOT LOOSE ABOOT THIS HOOSE! 

Nigel Twiston-Davies trained MAD MOOSE has been banned from racing by the British Horseracing Authority. The BHA disciplinary panel finally lost its cool when the 10-year-old got up to his usual 'non-starting' tricks at the beginning of the BetVictor Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown in December. Jockey, Dave Crosse, did all he could to get MAD MOOSE into the race and partially succeeded but the son of PRESENTING refused to race properly and stopped before the first fence. This incident was referred to the BHA by the stewards at Sandown, not just because of this race but because the horse, on as many as six previous occasions over the last year, had refused, been reluctant to race or had tailed off in Flat and jumps races. 

The Naunton-based trainer even went to London in an attempt to persuade the BHA's panel to give his charge one more chance but he failed. 

 

BUCK'S BACK 

Paul Nicholls' BIG BUCK's hasn't been seen on the track for over a year but all of a sudden the bookies have shortened his odds to a little as 6/4 on the chances of his regaining the Ladbrokes World Hurdle crown at the Cheltenham Festival. The reason for this dramatic change? The current champion, SOLWHIT has been ruled out of the race due to injury. Trainer Charles Byrnes has had to take this drastic action after his 10-year-old son of SOLON is not recovering fast enough from the problem that forced him to be pulled out of the Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle in December. 

Hayley O'Connor of Ladbrokes commented: “Although the current champion won’t be defending his title, the return of Big Buck’s and a possible clash with Annie Power still whets the appetite.” 

 

THURSDAY, 9th JANUARY 2014 

 

DIAMOND RULES, OK! 

Donald McCain's DIAMOND KING won the Download The All New freebets.co.uk 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle at Doncaster yesterday. The son of KING'S THEATRE was the clear odds-on favourite and made all the running in the capable hands of Jason Maguire who clearly had a plan to dominate proceedings from the outset. In fact they were so far ahead that the duo didn't see another rival. That's not to say that the victory was the easiest. The 6-year-old can be his own worst enemy and had to be kept up to his task by the 33-year-old jockey from County Meath and ultimately came home clear by three and three quarter lengths. 

The trainer commented afterwards: "He's a smashing horse and we think the world of him. He was good today, he stepped into the last at Bangor and did well to stay up but it wasn't the best day. I came here for better ground and I'd like to see him over two and a half miles in a better race now." 

This win gave Jason Maguire his 100th win of the season. 

 

ON SONG 

Yesterday at Doncaster marked a reversal of fortunes for the James Evans-trained SOFT SONG in the 1stsecuritysolutions.co.uk Maiden Hurdle (Div 1). For Andrew Cohen's 6-year-old son of SINGSPIEL it was a first win since he started racing in April 2011 so it was no doubt appreciated by all connections. In the event the 5/1 shot delivered the goods in outstanding fashion, shrugging off any opposition by some 10-lengths, even though jockey, Liam Treadwell, was constantly looking around for any dangers. 

The Worcestershire trainer commented: "Hopefully there's more to come. He jumped well and I'd imagine we'll step him up in trip. The owners have made no secret they would like to go for the Pertemps Final, so we'll have to get him qualified now."

 

WEDNESDAY, 8th JANUARY 2014

 

BETWEEN A ROCK AND A SOFT PLACE

Who would have been one of the oldest horses in today's Check Out The All New freebets.co.uk Novices' Chase at Doncaster will not be running after all. Trainer, Harry Fry, has decided not to run ROCK ON RUBY in this two-mile-three-furlong race where the ground is officially Good to Soft because, it seems, he thinks it will too testing for his 9-year-old's stamina. He has deferred the son of OSCAR next outing until the Grade Two Racing Post Lightning Novices' Chase on January 25also at Doncaster.

Followers of the Seaborough-based trainer, who only obtained his licence in 2012 but is already on a 36% strike rate this season, will have adequate consolation in the form of KARINGA DANCER who scored easily over the same course and distance when on his chasing debut on 14th December.

Harry Fry commented about this 8-year-old son of KARINGA BAY: "He's a course-and-distance winner and has a very similar profile to Ruby in that he needs to take another step up the ladder now.”

 

FILIBUSTER

Kempton's Winners Are Welcome At Betdaq Fillies' Handicap today could well produce a few surprises. For one thing, BYRONESS, is is carrying 1lb less than her last victory in over this course and distance in February. Admittedly her last weak performance at this track last month would have to be forgiven. It seems on that occasion, Heather Main's four-year-old filly got herself a little boxed in at about two out in a similar 7-furlong handicap and was eased up by jockey, Andrea Atzeni, once it was obvious that that victory was out of reach. Another important factor is that BYRONESS is very familiar with this track, having triumphed there on three previous occasions, so it could well be a worthwhile bet with added value, considering that 5 plus odds are available across the board. Clearly the bookies don't forgive and forget her last mediocre effort so easily!

 

 

TUESDAY, 7th JANUARY 2014

 

THE FRENCH CONNECTION

As noted in RACING NEWS yesterday, Venetia Williams is in cracking form at the moment. The Hertfordshire trainer, with stable jockey, Aidan Coleman, is saddling four more challengers at Leicester today, the only jumps track to survice the current stormy weather. As with many of Venetia Williams horses three of the four entrants are French imports. First off the mark in the first race of the day, the Nomad Novices' Hurdle is 6-year-old UHLAN BUTE, who, although he didn't fare too well last time out at Cheltenham, produced a creditable performance a week earlier at Sandown when coming second, a length down, to Philip Hobbs' LORD PROTECTOR. An hour later the Aramstone Lady runs RENARD D'IRLANDE in the Leicester Annual Members Novices' Limited Handicap Chase who last won at Uttoxeter in November. It will be interesting to see whether this 6-year-old grey can outfox his five rivals. The last-but-one race will see MASSENA in action for the first time since his 5-length victory at Wincanton towards the end of November. Another French import, SANTO THOMAS, may well be the one more certain of adding to Venetia Williams' score, though. The 8-year-old grey runs in the Chieftain Handicap Hurdle. He only had one start last season when he won at Towcester. His two runs this season were no great shakes but it does mean that he is back to his 'fighting weight' of 107, which does boost his chances.

 

ADAM GOOD JOCKEY!

It seems that all that jockey, Adam Kirby, rides at the moment turns to gold. He has three bookings at Southwell today. Notably trainer Mike Murphy has obviously cottoned on to this and has booked the 25-year-old jockey to ride LIMON SQUEEZY in the Ladbrokes Maiden Stakes. It's true the 5-year-old mare's record to-date is hardly inspiring but, there again, none of the rest of the field has much to shout about. Adam Kirby hasn't ridden the daughter of ROYAL APPLAUSE before but his record to-date seems to imply that he is getting onto the right horses so this one could be a winner.

Adam Kirby stands a good chance as well in the 32Red.com Handicap when he will be aboard JAWAAB. 

 

MONDAY, 6th JANUARY 2014

 

VEE FOR VICTORY 

The first four races at Plumpton yesterday were won by horses trained by Venetia Williams and ridden by Aidan Coleman. The Herefordshire trainer had already made an impressive beginning to the her National Hunt season by notching up 35 winners by the end of Saturday. Not satisfied with that, another 4 successes were added to this tally. The first off the mark was DUBAWI ISLAND in the first race of the day, the attheraces.com Exclusive Barry Geraghty Blog Novices' Hurdle, where the 5-year-old son of DUBAWI beat Graham Moore's CIVIL WAR by two and three quarter lengths. Trainer and jockey only had half-an-hour to savour that win before the second race revealed another victor, BRICK RED, also a son of DUBAWI, who finished six lengths ahead of his rivals on his chasing debut. French origin, MARCILHAC, made it a hat-trick for the Herefordshire duo but things were clearly on a roll and there was more to come. Making it four from four for the day, MUDITA MOMENT added to his Warwick success in December by adding the At The Races Virgin 534 Handicap Hurdle to his record. It might have been five out of five for the Aramstone Lady but, unfortunately, 8-year-old BROWNS BROOK slipped and fell on the turn before the last, sending Aidan Coleman hurtling to the ground. Both horse and rider seemed unhurt and the jockey was even able to lead his mount back to the stables. 

 

A NEW STAR ON THE HORIZON 

LA ESTRELLA could very well equal the record for winning the most all-weather races in Britain, when he won the Coral Mobile Just Three Clicks To Bet Selling Stakes at Southwell yesterday. This takes him to within two wins of CHINA CASTLE, who holds the title since his last race in 2002. The 11-year-old, born a year after that record was established, trained by Don Cantillon, scored his 23rd victory on an artificial surface, also making it his 15th win at Southwell.

 

SUNDAY, 5th JANUARY 2014 

 

KEEPING ON COURSE 

Against all odds racing goes ahead at Plumpton today. As all over the rest of the country the Lewes track has had its fair share of rain this week. It passed a preliminary check on Saturday and was finally given the green light just before 7am this morning as there had been no rain overnight. That means that Plumpton can stage its main event of the season, the At The Races Sussex National fixture. 

Mark Cornford, Clerk of the course announced: "We've had an air frost, the grass is white but there's no frost in the ground and we've got clear skies now. "There's a front bringing more rain in from the west but it is not supposed to reach us until 2-3pm when the rain gets serious after 3pm but thankfully we'll be finished by then.” 

Trainer Venetia Williams and her regular jockey, Aidan Coleman, are are making strong bids in five of the seven-race card.

 

PASTURE'S NEW 

Yesterday's Compare Bookmakers At bookmakers.co.uk Handicap at Lingfield provided PERFECT PASTURE, trained by Mick Easterby, another opportunity to demonstrate his sprinting skills, winning the race comfortably by two lengths – his sixth win in a row. This winning sequence began when the 4-year-son of PASTORAL PURSUITS won the Free Bets At freebets.co.uk Handicap at Hamilton in August. Since then he hasn't looked back, notching up further successes at Carlisle, Nottingham, Redcar and Kempton. 

Trainer Mick Easterby's son David Easterby commented: "He's an absolute belter. The jockey [Adam Kirby] gave him a great ride. I haven't a clue where we'll go with him next but there's plenty of money around and we'll try and take it." 

And take it they did yesterday - £12,291 to the winner! 

 

SATURDAY, 4th JANUARY 2014

 

KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY

The father formally handed over the reins, so to speak, on New Year's Day and the son proved he was a chip off the old block. Champion trainer Richard Hannon's son Richard bagged his first winner of his tenureship when UNSCRIPTED landed the Ladbrokes Median Auction Maiden Stakes at Wolverhampton last evening. The son of ORATORIO made a well-orchestrated debut in this field of ten on the polytrack. The three-year-old took a while to get into his stride but soon began to make progress two furlongs from home. Sean Levey urged him into second spot at about one furlong out and then the duo went well clear, winning by ten lengths. The irony is that he beat COILLTE CAILIN, the 4-year-old daughter of the same sire.

 

THE LIQUIDATOR WILL SOON BE COMING AROUND”

Sandown's Grade One Tolworth Hurdle has been rescheduled to be held at Kempton next Saturday due to the waterlogged Esher track. The British Horseracing Authority announced: "Full details of the rescheduled race will be published on Monday and the race will be reopened for entries from Tuesday." This will, no doubt, be a great disappointment to connections of the David Pipe-trained THE LIQUIDATOR who easily won the Grade One bumper at the Punchestown Festival in April. He then went on to win at Carlisle by eleven lengths, then re-appearing at Cheltenham in November to put his mark on the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices' Hurdle by an astounding 15 lengths. So far the 6-year-old son of OVERBURY has notched up 4 Wins and 2 Seconds from 7 outings, truly living up to the name he bears.

FRIDAY, 3rd JANUARY 2014 

 

FIFTY FIFTY 

Brian Hughes, has Musselburgh in his sights in an attempt to maintain the momentum in what might be the best-ever campaign of his career. The Irish jockey achieved the fifth seasonal half-century of his career on New Year's Day and he's got three rides there today. His first chance comes in the 32Red Casino Handicap Hurdle when he rides Malcolm Jefferson's KNOCKTURNAL, a 6-year-old mare with six lifetime runs but no success yet. So perhaps not a good start to the day. The next opportunity offers itself half-an-hour later in the 32Red Novices' Chase. This time Nick Alexander has booked him to be aboard 8-year-old JETMASTER who has raced 26 times but hasn't been a winner since November 2011. Brian Hughes' last chance to improve his score will be in the bumper, the Read Aidan Coleman Every Friday racinguk.com Intermediate Open NH Flat Race, when he will hope to ride COOZAN GEORGE into the winner's enclosure. 

Perhaps not the best of rides for the 2008 Champion Conditional jockey but fingers crossed! 

 

FAIRY TALES CAN COME TRUE. IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU” 

A fairy-tale result on the racecourse. A 20-year-old girl rider beats the 18-times champion jockey almost twice her age. That's what happened at Cheltenham on New Year's Day when Lizzie Kelly, riding AUBUSSON, beat Tony McCoy (and five other men) to the post in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle. The amateur jockey has been riding racehorses since she was 10 and is most anxious that event is not just some one-race wonder. But Lizzie Kelly is quite pragmatic. She acknowledges that a riding career for female jockies is not the easiest. As she put it: “I don’t think the culture will ever change. It’s one of those things you just have to accept. If I was a trainer even I, as a female jockey, probably wouldn’t put a girl up. I feel awful for saying it, but the lads are just better, stronger.” 

Beating her idol and icon has also caused a little turmoil in her mind:“McCoy is something else altogether. In my mind he is almost, well, holy. I have worshipped that man since I was 10-years-old. As a teenager all I had wanted was for him to ride out with me on my 13th birthday.” 

 

THURSDAY, 2nd JANUARY 2014

 

RACING NEWS DOUBLE!

Yesterday RACING NEWS tipped a double that was no trouble. First Barry Geraghty partnered OSCAR WHISKY to victory in the Cheltenham Pony Club Raceday Novices' Chase, thus wreaking revenge on TAQUIN DU SEUIL who pipped him to the post by a neck in November. Then Nigel Twiston-Davies' DOUBLE ROSS romped home by four-and-a-half lengths ahead of Paul Nicholls' CEDRE BLEU and Alan King's KUMBESHWAR, another eleven lengths further back. As predicted the 8-year-old son of DOUBLE ECLIPSE, with Sam Twiston-Davies aboard, relished the soft ground.

 

NUMBER ONE TRACK

Haydock Park has been voted favourite large racecourse in Britain by the owners of jumps racehorses. The Racehorse Owners Association, with some 7,000 members, who were asked in a survey to rate the largest racecourses in England, Scotland and Wales. When visiting them, they were asked to judge each track from their experience of ticket allocation, the facilities on offer, including the bar, the food and drink and even the convenience of parking. From all the racetracks visited, Haydock was rated number one, ahead of Ayr and Ascot. Haydock Park Racecourse Manager, Garry Fortune commented: “We are delighted that jumps racehorse owners rate our racecourse so highly. The whole team goes out of its way to welcome owners to Haydock Park. Without racehorse owners, there would be no horse racing industry and we warmly welcome them as customers.”

It is interesting to note that more than ten years ago, Haydock Park pioneered the facility of providing racehorse owners with complimentary refreshments. That is a policynow adopted by many major racecourses today.

 

DOUBLE DOUBLE TOIL NO TROUBLE

The winner of last year's Grand National, Ryan Mania, started the New Year with a bang. The Scottish jockey from Galashiels muscled his way at Musselburgh to a 111-1 treble on Sue Smith-trained MR. MOONSHINE and SWING HARD and on ANY GIVEN MOMENT, trained by A. M. Thomson.

Trainer Sue Smith commented: “I haven’t been to Musselburgh for 20 years and Mr Moonshine fully deserved this win. He ran a terrific race in the Becher Chase and I was a little concerned about the trip and ground today. Auroras Encore has come out of Wetherby very well and is heading back for the National but Mr Moonshine may go for the Topham this year.”

It was a great start to the New Year, too, for trainer, Sue Smith as her other two runners at Catterick, EMRAL SILK and GRATE FELLA provided her with another massive double.

 

WEDNESDAY, 1st JANUARY 2014

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

MAKE MINE A DOUBLE!

DOUBLE ROSS returns to Cheltenham today in the Fairlawne Handicap Chase. On paper it looks as though his will be facing less of a challenge than on his last appearance at Prestbury Park, when he won the Stewart Family Thank You Gold Cup in great style. This was despite trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies' concerns that the ground might be too quick for his mud-loving son of DOUBLE ECLIPSE. This time he only has seven to beat.

The Naunton handler summed it all up perfectly: "Hopefully he'll like the ground and we're looking forward to it. It's the obvious race to go to, and it's possibly an easier race, and certainly a smaller field this time. He's in good form and as he's still a novice, there are plenty of options for him later in the season."

From the rest of the field only SILVER ROQUE, pulled-up last time, returns to have another crack at DOUBLE ROSS, although PICKAMUS and CEDRE BLEU acquitted themselves well in their last races.

 

THAT'S THE SPIRIT!

OSCAR WHISKY's connections must be hoping for revenge when their 9-year-old gelding comes up against TAQUIN DU SEUIL again in the Cheltenham Pony Club Raceday Novices' Chase. When the pair last met on this track in November, Nicky Henderson's protégé was the odds-on favourite. As, however, the race had no pace, it all came down to a sprint finish and the Jonjo O'Neill-trained son of VOIX DU NORD proved to be superior by just a neck. It was a different story one month later, though, when OSCAR WHISKY returned to run in the Ryman Stationery Cheltenham Business Club Novices' Chase and made all the running, proving too good for quite a powerful rival, WONDERFUL CHARM.

Owner Dai Walters, of Walters Plant Hire Ltd., had this to say: "I spoke to Nicky on Monday and he tells me Oscar is in really good form. We've got Jonjo's horse to beat and I'm sure Tony McCoy [Taquin Du Seuil's jockey] will be hoping the race plays out the same way as it did the last time they met, but it won't, I can assure you. I would imagine we'll have to go and try and make all the running as he did on his last run. It's not his ideal way of running, but Oscar can do that."

TUESDAY, 31st DECEMBER 2013

 

SENIOR AND JUNIOR SWAP PLACES

As of tomorrow a new training dynasty comes into being. After 43 years Richard Hannon has decided to hand over his training empire to his son, Richard Jr, who has been his assistant for many years. John Warren, the Queen's racing manager commented: "When the Queen goes there, she always comments how much fun she has there, it gives her so much pleasure."

Richard Hannon retires as champion trainer, a title he has held for three of the past four years. In 2013 he secured a total prize money of more than £5.5m, including winnings from overseas. Today on his last day in the saddle, so to speak, he will not be a Lingfield where he has three runners. He is obviously not expecting to end his illustrious career by beating his record of 235 winners in a season so he will be watching from home.

Tim Palin, founder-manager of the syndicate that owns Toormore, Middleham Park Racing. Made an amusing remark: "The only thing that will change is that, whenever you read about them in the papers, that word 'assistant' will be deleted before Junior's name and might now appear before Senior's."

 

BABY RUN NO MORE

Owner/Trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies, has decided to retire BABY RUN, who only managed a fourth in the Apollobet In-Play Betting Veterans' Handicap Chase at Haydock yesterday. The 13-year-old triumphed in both the Champion Hunters Chase at Punchestown in 2009 and the Christie's Foxhunter Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2010, on both occasions ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies who made the following comments after the race: "I love the horse to bits, but he was a bit lacklustre (at Haydock) and we just thought it was time to stop. The most important thing is that he has retired happy and in one piece. He'll go in the field now with Hello Bud and Bindaree and I'm sure he'll have a great time."

Even Sam's brother, Willy, shared in the son of BABY TURK's success when he rode him to victory in the 2011 Fox Hunters' Chase at Aintree.

BABY RUN only ran 26 times since his first race in November 2003 and collected a total of ten 1sts, eight 2nds and four 3rds, with a total prize money of over £170,000.

 

 

MONDAY, 30th DECEMBER 2013 

 

RAN LIKE THE WIND 

9-year-old HURRICANE FLY did it again. He upset the aspirations of two rivals almost half his age when he won the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown yesterday. At the same time the son of MONTJEU set a world record of 18 straight top-level victories in this Grade One event. Interestingly it was left to the oldest horse in the race, 12-year-old CAPTAIN CEE BEE, to try to step up the pace in the early stages when he overtook the early leader, THOUSAND STARS, and went well clear as they approached the second hurdle. It was a different story, however, by the second-last flight when JEZKI, also owned by J P McManus and ridden by champion jockey, Tony McCoy, started to close the gap but then seemed to run out of steam and was not helped by being hemmed in by OUR CONOR. 

Meanwhile HURRICANE FLY, who had been kept quietly towards the rear by Ruby Walsh, began to cruise powerfully down the outside of the field and was in fourth position by two out. And when his jockey asked him to go, he went, leaving JEZKI staying on two-and-a-half lengths behind. 

Willie Mullins said afterwards: "It was a hugely tactical race and Ruby was very cool on him. At one stage I thought the leader (Captain Cee Bee) had got away in front, and Ruby had to quicken up a bit sooner than he would have liked to. He's a fantastic horse and a horse of a generation."

 

RUN BABY RUN!

Forty-eight hours shy of his official 14th birthday (he was actually born on 2nd April!) BABY RUN is off to Haydock this afternoon to run in the Apollobet In-Play Betting Veterans' Handicap Chase. His connections will be hoping for an 11th career win but he hasn't won a race since scoring in the 2011 Fox Hunters' at Aintree and it is only his third outing since that success. The last time he raced was in the Betfred Becher Handicap Chase earlier this month when he came second but that was only his third start in more than 31 months. Jockey, Sam Twiston-Davies, confesses that there is some concern about the lack of appearances but he claims not to be too worried. 

BABY RUN, trained by the jockey's father, Nigel, has figured large in the riding careers of both the Twiston-Davies brothers, Sam and Willy and clearly it would be marvellous if their veteran partner could have one more triumph. 

SUNDAY, 29th DECEMBER 2013

 

FOUR ON DEMAND

The 'All Weather' champion jockey for 2013, Adam Kirby, now on 165 winners for the season, was in great form again yesterday when he scored four times from seven rides at Lingfield. He started the ball rolling in the first race of the day, riding Mark Johnston's JALINGO to an impressive two-and-a-quarter length victory in the 32Red.com / British Stallion Studs E.B.F. Maiden Stakes. Luck wasn't with him in the next two races, however, when he only managed a fourth and a ninth. But then he bounced back to victory in the Ladbrokes Handicap on another Mark Johnston-trained horse, GALICIAN, owned by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum. He came a good third on the 4-year-old son of GABRIAL'S KING in the next race, the 32Red Handicap. Not having a ride in the sixth, Adam Kirby added the last two on the card to his total, by partnering the Roger Varian-trained AGERZAM in the bookmakers.co.uk Handicap and followed that up with success on Clive Cox's 10/1 shot, PERFECT HAVEN in the Download The Ladbrokes App Handicap.

Unfortunately the celebration of the quartet of wins for the 25-year-old jockey from Newmarket was slightly marred by his picking up a two-day ban for careless riding on PERFECT HAVEN.

 

THE LUCK OF OLD NICKY

About the same time as bagging the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown with BOBS WORTH, Newbury trainer, Nicky Henderson, was busy sending a trio of his horses into the winner's enclosure. He kicked off with CAPTAIN CUTTER, ridden by champion jockey, Tony McCoy, scoring in the Betfred Goals Galore Challow Novices' Hurdle by four-and a-half lengths. He missed by a mile in the next race, when his OPENED HEARTED finished a staggering 21 lengths behind the victor, VUKOVAR. But all was not lost as there were still two more races to go. He won them both with WHISPER in the Betfred Racing Follow Us On Facebook Handicap Hurdle and with STAND TO REASON in the Betfred Call Us On 0800 221221 Introductory Hurdle m, once more with the champion jockey aboard.

  

SATURDAY, 28th DECEMBER 2013

 

KEEPING SIR AT BAY

It is estimated that some 30,000 racegoers will be at Leopardstown this afternoon intent on witnessing the exciting confrontation between two winners of both the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle in the Lexus Chase. Nicky Henderson's BOBS WORTH has some making-up to do after his disappointing performance in the Betfair Chase last month, when he came sixth out of eight runners, despite all the efforts of his jockey, Barry Geraghty. Willie Mullins' SIR DES CHAMPS has perhaps even more to prove as he fell in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase at the beginning of the month. This is, however, far from being a two-horse contest. Paul Nicholls has entered UNIONISTE and clearly has high hopes that his 5-year-old son of DOM ALCO can emulate his last-year winner, TIDAL BAY.

 

TURNING THE TIDE

Talking of TIDAL BAY, this son of FLEMENSFIRTH, Paul Nicholls' star entry in the Coral Welsh Grand National this afternoon, has clocked up 15 wins, 12 seconds and 3 thirds in his successful career and and could well have room for one more victory, three days away from his 13th birthday.

Paul Nicholls commented: “Tidal Bay’s form in handicaps in recent years is very good. He was second in the Hennessy, giving 6lb to the Gold Cup winner [Bobs Worth] and won the Bet365 Gold Cup under 11st 12lb. I’ve always felt this race would suit him. He might be rising 13 and have plenty of weight to carry, but he must be in with a chance.”

It will be interesting to see whether last year’s runner-up, TEAFORTHREE can achieve revenge, although he is 9 lbs heavier this time. Trainer, Rebecca Curtis, has attempted to offset this extra burden by giving the ride to jockey, Patrick Corbett, who can claim 5 lbs.

It will be mud-sodden three-mile five-furlong challenge to all the doughty stayers as Chepstow has had four inches of rain this week and could well get more before the off.

 

FRIDAY, 27th DECEMBER 2013

 

MY TENT FOR CHRISTMAS

It was the Boxing Day match that was expected – THE NEW ONE versus MY TENT OR YOURS - battling it out in the williamhill.com Christmas Hurdle at Kempton. Sam Twiston-Davies was obliged to track DUKE OF NAVAN who took the lead from the outset. Tony McCoy kept his mount cruising along smoothly in the rear. There was clearly not much pace in the early stages, so Sam Twiston-Davies decided to take THE NEW ONE into the lead from three out to test the stamina of the others. That is when the champion jockey urged MY TENT OR YOURS through the field into the son of KING'S THEATRE's slipstream and slowly moved alongside. As they galloped stride for stride, it became clear that the outcomecould well be decided by the jumping. In the event THE NEW ONE bungled the last hurdle which completely put him off his stride and Tony McCoy was not slow to realise that the race was his for the taking. In addition Sam Twiston-Davies had to contend with losing an iron and did well to stay on. He even make a gallant last-minute attempt to seize the prize but MY TENT OR YOURS found a little extra under pressure and won by half-a-length. This two-horse contest was played out 28 lengths ahead of the rest of the field.

 

TWO FOR ONE

The williamhill.com Desert Orchid Chase today at Kempton is expected to be another two-horse contest when SIRE DE GRUGY will challenge SPRINTER SACRE, who will be seeking to add to his eleven wins in a row. The Queen Mother Champion Chase winner, trained by Nicky Henderson, hasn't been seen since winning the Boylesports.com Champion Chase at Punchestown last April. SIRE DE GRUGY, on the other hand, has had three races this season, winning at Chepstow and Sandown and coming second at Cheltenham. In an attempt to stop this race being dominated by the 'big two', Paul Nicholls will be saddling his 5-year-old FAGO, who put up an impressive performance when winning the Wingate Signs & Graphics Graduation Chase at Haydock in November. Completing the field of six will be Colin Tizzard's OISEAU DE NUIT, Nigel Twiston-Davies' ASTRACAD and Richard Rowe's TATANIANO.

Surprisingly Nicky Henderson, although obviously pleased to have SPRINTER SACRE back on the track again, is not exactly brimming with confidence. When asked how he felt about his champion being challenged by the likes of SIRE DE GRUGY, he just commented: "It maybe good for some people. It will be interesting and we will have to see what happens. It's his first run of the year and on soft ground, so it's going to be tough. It's good he's back on the track and it's very good of Kempton to put extra money into the race. It's much appreciated."

 

WEDNESDAY, 25th DECEMBER 2013

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR! 

 

BY GEORGE! IT'S NICHOLLS AGAIN! 

What a hard act to follow! Paul Nicholls must have thought that his days of dominating Kempton's King George VI Chase had come to an end when KAUTO STAR retired.This son of VILLAGE STAR won this event for him in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011 and Paul Nicholls won it twice before, in 1997 and 1999, with SEE MORE BUSINESS. He came nowhere last year when KAUTO STONE struggled in 12th position and was then pulled up. But life goes on and, lo and behold, the Ditchleat handler will be saddling two strong contenders, capable of making his day – AL FEROF and SILVINIACO CONTI, who are both typical of the type of horse he likes to train, well-suited to this tough 3-mile endurance test, usually run at break-neck speed. 

Paul Nicholls commented: "They're both well and worked nicely last week. Everything is on schedule. I think the rain at Kempton will definitely help Silviniaco Conti; you'd be worried it wouldn't suit him so well round there if it was quick. Al Ferof is well, there is a bit of a doubt at the trip on softer ground but he's by Dom Alco, they stay well, and he looked like he was staying on up the hill when winning the Paddy Power last year. I can't split them really." 

 

BOXING MATCH 

The next stage in trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies' plan for THE NEW ONE, is the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton Park on Boxing Day. It certainly seemed that the son of KING'S THEATRE had plenty to spare when, with Sam Twiston-Davies aboard, he defeated Paul Nicholls' ZARKANDAR by six lengths at Cheltenham nine days ago. That victory was the 5-year-old five-year-old’s fourth at Prestbury Park and as a result he is now the clear favourite for the Champion Hurdle in March. After that triumph Nigel Twiston-Davies commented: “It was great – really good. It was a relief as he was expected to win. “It is all hype but he proved it today by quickening away like that. He is a most exciting animal – so lovely and straightforward. We are lucky we have him. We are looking at the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton which is only 12 days away. So we will see how he comes out of today’s race. He did not seem to have a hard race but he will tell us. Then it would be one more race or straight to the Champion Hurdle.” 

Someone who is also after this auspicious crown is undoubtedly trainer, Nicky Henderson who will saddle MY TENT OR YOURS. The winner of the William Hill Supreme Novices' Hurdle last March compounded that victory by winning the StanJames.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle a month later. So, for the home team at least, the contest for Hurricane Fly’s Champion Hurdling crown could well be between Sam Twiston-Davies, a potential future champion, and the current champion jockey, Tony McCoy. The young rider from Grange Hill Farm stables, who confessed that his hands were shaking before riding The New One to victory the last last time out, will need nerves of steel on the day if he is outwit the the 18-times jump jockey king. 

 

MONDAY, 23rd DECEMBER 2013 

 

HORSES ON THE WANE FOR WAYNE! 

The two horses of a famous footballer have scored only once after a total of 23 runs between them and the owner has decided to take them of the pitch. Manchester United's Wayne Rooney forked out £200,000 on racehorses. First there was PIPPY, (costing the Rooney household some £63,00), whose first contest was in May 2012 and raced seventeen times, producing one 1st, two 2nds and two 3rds and total earnings of £6, 501. Then came SWITCHAROONEY who has appeared on the track only six times since last December, with a best performance of 5th at Haydock in July . In addition it cost the Rooneys £40,000 a year to have the horses trained at Manor House Stables in Cheshire. Now one of the world's highest-paid athletes (37th. in the Forbes List) has decided to retire the disappointing duo, who even had their own Twitter pages. The last straw seems rto have been when the Manchester forward sold a third horse, TOMWAY, for a mere £2,000 in 2012. 

Trainer, Tom Dascombe, who also trains several horses owned by Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney's teammate, commented: “There’s nothing sinister in this. They’ve just not performed as well as everyone hoped.” 

It is understood that Wayne Rooney 'may go back into ownership at some stage', according to a spokesperson. 

 

BOXING MATCH 

The next stage in trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies' plan for THE NEW ONE, is the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton Park on Boxing Day. It certainly seemed that the son of KING'S THEATRE had plenty to spare when, with Sam Twiston-Davies aboard, he defeated Paul Nicholls' ZARKANDAR by six lengths at Cheltenham nine days ago. That victory was the 5-year-old five-year-old’s fourth at Prestbury Park and as a result he is now the clear favourite for the Champion Hurdle in March. After that triumph Nigel Twiston-Davies commented: “It was great – really good. It was a relief as he was expected to win. “It is all hype but he proved it today by quickening away like that. He is a most exciting animal – so lovely and straightforward. We are lucky we have him. We are looking at the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton which is only 12 days away. So we will see how he comes out of today’s race. He did not seem to have a hard race but he will tell us. Then it would be one more race or straight to the Champion Hurdle.” 

Someone who is also after this auspicious crown is undoubtedly trainer, Nicky Henderson who will saddle MY TENT OR YOURS. The winner of the William Hill Supreme Novices' Hurdle last March compounded that victory by winning the StanJames.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle a month later. So, for the home team at least, the contest for Hurricane Fly’s Champion Hurdling crown could well be between Sam Twiston-Davies, a potential future champion, and the current champion jockey, Tony McCoy. The young rider from Grange Hill Farm stables, who confessed that his hands were shaking before riding The New One to victory the last last time out, will need nerves of steel on the day if he is outwit the the 18-times jump jockey king. 

 

SUNDAY, 22nd DECEMBER 2013 

 

MOVE OVER, BOSS! 

It's just four months since Dan Skelton left the stables of to join the ranks of full-time trainers, setting up shop in a purpose-built stable in Warwickshire. Yesterday at Ascot in the Ladbroke Hurdle he claimed his 15th victory with WILLOW'S SAVIOUR who won the event by four lengths. Sufficient reason to rejice but the victory was made even more poignant by the fact that his mount beat his long-term mentor, Paul Nicholls' PETIT ZIG into second place. In the final race on a wet and windy day at the Berkshire track the trainer's brother, Harry, urged the 6-year-old son of SEPTIEME CIEL along the churned-up muddy course in a bid to make it three wins in a row, the last time being at Musselburgh at the beginning of last month and thus secure a place in this feature event worth £84,000 to the victor. 

Dan Skelton commented afterwards: "It hasn't really sunk in, I've experienced big days with Paul but it's completely different when you're doing it on your own. I watched the race with Paul and I turned to him and just turned to him and said, 'Sorry'. I owe that man so much, and without him there's no way I would be in this position. "I will probably put him away until the Betfair Hurdle and he'll get a few entries for the Festival, but the horse owes us nothing already.” 

 

A DOUGHTY WINNER 

The Listed Quebec Stakes at Lingfield park yesterday provided trainer, John Gosden. With yet another winner continuing his extraordinary all-weather form. This time it was 5-year-old DICK DOUGHTYWYLIE who did the honours by outrunning his stablemate, GATEWOOD, the 5/4 Favouriteate. Ridden by Robert Havlin the son of OASIS DREAM managed to squeeze past in the final furlong to bag the 10-furlong event by half-a-length. 

Rachel Hood, John Gosden's wife, the breeder and owner said: "It was a good run from Dick Doughtywylie, who stuck his head out and bravely fought off all challengers. The All-Weather Championships Final is very much the target for Dick Doughtywylie, who will be freshened up now. Gatewood is not quite back to his best after his time in Australia." 

SATURDAY, 21st DECEMBER 2013 

 

GOING THE DISTANCE 

The brother of KAYF ARAMIS returns to the fray this afternoon at Ascot in the last race of the day, the Ladbroke (Grade 3 Handicap Hurdle).KAYLIF ARAMIS, now recovered from his not-too-serious fall in the David Johnson Memorial Intermediate Handicap at Cheltenham last month, has nevertheless established a progressive record with 2 Firsts, 2 Seconds and 4 Thirds from his thirteen outings. The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained 6-year-old will be up against 19 other runners, some with undoubted talent, including Nicky Henderson's ROLLING STAR, Paul Nicholls' PITT ZIG and perhaps the one to watch out for, Willie Mullins' CITY SLICKER, ridden by champion jockey, Tony McCoy. The son of KAYF TARA will have at least two things in his favour – the talented Sam Twiston-Davies, his regular jockey and the ground that is officially Soft. What may prove his undoing, however, is the distance, as both his victories were over two-and-half miles. 

 

ANGLING FOR VICTORY 

Earlier in the day, AT FISHERS CROSS will be attempting to make amends for his disappointing run last time out when he came 4th in the bet365 Long Distance Hurdle (Grade 2) behind one of his rivals today, Nick Williams' REVE DE SIVOLA, who won this race last year by an incredible 14 lengths against the likes of Nicky Henderson's MASTER OF THE HALL. Today's Wessex Youth Trust Long Walk Hurdle (Grade 1) is only a small field of five runners, including TIME FOR RUPERT who hasn't raced since November 2012 due to a leg injury, so should give the son of OSCAR the chance to redeem himself, particularly as he is reunited with champion jockey, Tony McCoy which, quite naturally, makes him the odds-on Favourite.

 

FRIDAY, 20th DECEMBER 2013 

 

FUN FOR FIZZ FUND 

Ross-on-Wye trainer, Venetia Williams, confirmed her current top form with a win at Exeter yesterday, when CITIZENSHIP scored in the Exeter Racecourse Wishes You A Happy Christmas Handicap Hurdle. Ridden by regular jockey, Aidan Coleman, the 7-year-old outsider streaked home two and three-quarter lengths ahead of the 6/4 favourite, MIXOLOGIST. The son of BEAT HOLLOW, who usually runs in headgear, was only on his second outing in this country, having raced 45 times (5 Wins, 5 Seconds, 2 Thirds) in Ireland before being bought by Venetia Williams at the Doncaster May Sales for 22,000 guineas (£23,100 in real money!) 

The Aramstone handler commented: "He's a fully exposed handicap hurdler who is now running for The Fizz Fund which comprises of four local lady friends of which I am one. He used to wear blinkers, but there was nothing I could see to suggest he needed them."  

 

GREAT LEIGHS - GREAT EXPECTATIONS! 

There might soon be a Chelmsford City Racecourse. The former Great Leighs all-weather track has been taken over by a new company, a joint-venture consisting of Betfred, SIS and Bet Solutions International, otherwise known as Tote Media Limited. This new partnership has applied for a licence with the intention of holding fixtures in 2015. Great Leighs, the first new racecourse to start up in the United Kingdom since 1927, opened in 2008, but only survived a few months before being closed due to serious financial problems. There have been other rumours of a revival in past years but nothing came of them. Fortunately the Polytrack circuit has been kept in a decent condition. The new venture plans to build a new grandstand as well as leisure and betting facilities. 

Tote Media's MD, Phil Siers, commented: "We are delighted to be involved in this project, and look forward to working with our partners and the BHA to create, what we believe will be the best all-weather facility in Europe." 

It has been announced that Joe Scanlon, director of racing at Betfred, has been appointed chairman of the racecourse and he stated: "I'm delighted that a new joint venture company has acquired the assets of Great Leighs and I look forward to working with our partners. The track is ideally placed for Newmarket's training centre whilst the surrounding area has a total catchment in excess of three million people.”

 

THURSDAY, 19th DECEMBER 2013 

 

ONE – TWO – THREE AT NEWBUREE! 

Champion trainer, Nicky Henderson, notched up an easy treble at Newbury yesterday with the assistance of Barry Geraghty yesterday. The starter came in the first race of the day, the Blackmore Building Juvenile Hurdle when the 3-year-old gelding, DAWALAN, obliged with a 8-length victory on only his second start over hurdles. An hour later the Lambourn duo were back in the winner's enclosure again with 5-year-old JOSSESS HILL who followed up his Ascot win last month when he scored in the Tony Jones 60th Birthday Bash Maiden Hurdle, giving Barry Geraghty a fairly easy ride, passing the post three lengths ahead of Tony Balding's COMMUNICATOR. The treble came in the Coolmation Graduation Chase. The rider from County Meath had to work a little harder for his pay because 6-year-old HADRIAN'S APPROACH probaly need a confidence-boosting ride after his last appearance at Newbury in the Hennesy Gold Cup Chase in November when he parted company with his rider, Nico De Boinville. Interstingly Barry Geraghty won that big event on stablemate, TRIOLO D'ALENE. This time, however, his connections needn't have been concerned about his jumping capabilities because the son of HIGH CHAPARRAL was virtually foot-perfect and won by a length-and-a quarter. 

Not a bad day's work! 

 

PRIZE SURPRISE! 

£43 million will be the record amount of prize money available at top British horse racing venues next year, including Aintree, Cheltenham and Epsom. The Jockey Club, which runs 15 race courses in Britain stated yesterday it would putting up nearly half of that amount, mainly as a result of the successful growth in its business operations. Unfortunately the total of British bookmakers' contribution has decreased since 2009 due mainly to the fact that many of them have transferred their online sports betting to offshore locations and, therefore, escaped an industry levy. As has been reported often before, bookmakers and the racing industry have been bogged down in long discussions about how funding could be reformed to ensure that there are sufficient events attractive to the betting community but, at the same time, providing a decent return for those who work or invest in the sport. 

Simon Bazalgette, Jockey Club Chief Executive said: "Prize money is the lifeblood of British racing, providing a return for racehorse owners and supporting trainers, jockeys and stable staff. It is an important measure of the health of our sport.”

 

WEDNESDAY, 18th DECEMBER 2013 

 

DOWNS AND UPS 

Conditional jockey, Nico De Boinville, had just two rides at Fakenham yesterday both for trainer, Martin Bosley. First off was the last-but-one race of the day, the Mulled Wine Novices' Handicap Chase where he was aboard the 6-year-old joint-favourite, CAROBELLO, who looked as if he was going to have an easy win but then made a mistake at the fifth from home and unseated his young rider. Then in the last race, the Thoroughbred Breeders' Association Mares' Novices' Hurdle Nico De Boinville was riding the 100/1 outsider, MISS BISCOTTI who had been beaten by well over 70 lengths on her debut last month at Warwick when she was also a 100/1 shot. The 23-year-old jockey from Hampshire must have thought it was just not his day but, to everyone's surprise, the 5-year-old daughter of EMPEROR FOUNTAIN made all the running, got well away from the rest of the field in the home straight and stayed on to win by three lengths. 

With wisdom older than his years the young jockey commented: "That's racing all over isn't it.” 

 

A KNIGHT'S DAY 

LANCELOT DU LAC, trained by Dean Ivory's is scheduled to have his last race today at Lingfield before taking a break ahead of the All-Weather Championships Finals Day on Good Friday. The 4-year-old is contesting the Compare Bookmakers At bookmakers.co.uk Handicap, the race that was originally scheduled for December 11th but thad to be abandoned due to thick fog. The son of SHARMADAL won the Betdaq 1st UK Race Commission Free Handicap at Kempton three weeks ago and connnections are confident that he will establish his credentials for the Championship. 

Trainer, Dean Ivory commented: "In some ways the extra week between this race and his last will help, but it also means his winter break will be a week shorter. I would have knocked him off by now, but we want to get a third run into him so he will be eligible for the sprint on Good Friday.”

  

TUESDAY, 17th DECEMBER 2013 

 

GOOD THINGS COME IN THREES 

The six-race card at Fakenham could be the chance for Gloucestershire-born jockey, Tom Scudamore to add a hat-trick of wins to his total of 60 so far this season. The first opportunity presents itself in the first race of the day when he rides the David Pipe-trained COUNT DANILO in the SIS 'National Hunt' Maiden Hurdle. This 4-year-old son of ZAGREB, after making a not-too impressive start in a bumper at Cheltenham last month, is making his hurdles' debut in a field of just four. Half-an-hour later trainer, David Thompson, has booked him for a ride on LOGICAL APPROACH in the Racing At Fakenham New Year's Day Handicap Hurdle where the 6-year-old son of TIKKANEN, who won at Cartmel last year, will be seeking to beat POETIC POWER who won when the two met the last time out at Uttoxeter. For his third bite at the cherry, Tom Scudamore rides for David Thompson again in the Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance Handicap Chase. Here he will be aboard 11-year-old THE THIRSTY BRICKY who came second in a Chase Handicap at Hexham last week. 

 

BIG DAY FOR BUCK'S 

BIG BUCK'S, straight winner of his last 18 races, has been absent from the track for over 12 months now and yet, such is his reputation, that Ladbrokes have him as 3/1 Favourite for the World Hurdle at Cheltenham in March. They have obviously heard that the 10-year-old is on the mend after his tendon injury and that he is about to take the first step of a comeback when he goes to Exeter on Thursday for a pre-race gallop. Naturally his owners, the Stewart family. are keen to see their champion back on the track. 

Trainer, Paul Nicholls, obviously made the best of decisions after the 2008 Hennessy Gold Cup Chase when he put BIG BUCK'S back over hurdles after he unseated Sam Thomas in this event at Newbury. The son of CADOUDAL has not lost a race since. 

Andy Stewart summed the situation up as follows: “I hope to have three runners in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle. Apart from Big Buck’s, we have Celestial Halo, who might have won the last running of the race but for bungling the final flight, and also Salubrious [raced in partnership with the Johnson family]. 

 

MONDAY, 16th DECEMBER 2013 

 

ANOTHER TWISTON-DAVIES IN THE NEWS 

Trainer, Mick Channon, has appointed a new main jockey to his stable for 2014. The new incumbent is to be none other than Willy Twiston-Davies, son of trainer, Nigel, and brother of the highly successful jump jockey, Sam. This opportunity opened up for the talented rider when Martin Harley left towards the end of the last Flat season to take up the position of stable jockey for trainer Marco Botti in Newmarket. 

The Berkshire-based Mick Channon commented: "William Twiston Davies will step into Martin's role and we're delighted that he's agreed to ride for us next season. Like Martin when he joined us, William is a young jockey on the up and I'm looking forward to the season ahead with him riding. He's a good lad with a strong family background. He's also done time under Richard Hannon and all of that makes for a hard working, disciplined and conscientious character, able to work with a team. The fact that he's a bloody good jockey also has something to do with it.” 

Willy Twiston-Davies first rode over jumps and was the youngest jockey (aged just 16 at the time) to win the John Smith's Fox Hunters' Chase riding BABY RUN over the Grand National fences at Aintree in April 2011. His first love appears to be flat racing, however, and he has had many successes since he switched disciplines, most recently last Friday in Dubai where he won at Jebel Ali on ENERY, owned by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum. 

It seems to have been a good week for the Twiston-Davieses. 

 

RUBY TAKES A FENCE 

Harry Fry's ROCK ON RUBY has his first race over fences today at Plumpton. The eight-year-old achieved great success over hurdles when winning the Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy Grade 1 last year at Cheltenham, where HURRICANE FLY could only manage third. The son of OSCAR was also runner-up to the latter on the renewal of this feature race this year. The Dorset trainer, however, is not one to rest on past laurels, even though in today's race, the Winter Gala Novices' Chase, there are only two other runners, Mark Gillard's LAMBS CROSS and Zoe Davison's LINDSAY'S DREAM. He is, however, looking for a clear round and a confidence-building performance from Rock On Ruby. 

As Harry Fry said: It's not a case of what he's done before, that counts for nothing. We're starting from scratch and at the bottom of the ladder. We've got to work our way up and get the confidence and experience into him over the larger obstacles before we start aiming too high. We just hopefully want to get a clear round into him on which we can build on and make firm plans and take it from there."

 

SUNDAY, 15th DECEMBER 2013 

 

DOUBLE - DOUBLE ROSS AND THE NEW ONE 

The Stewart Family Thank You Gold Cup at Cheltenham was won by the Twiston-Davieses – jockey, Sam, and trainer, Nigel, thanks to a great, perhaps surprising, run by DOUBLE ROSS. The 7-year-old chestnut gelding has often in the past adopted a front-runner role but this time he was was ridden a little more reservedly, tracking the leaders EASTER METEOR and SEW ON TARGET who set a very strong early gallop. The son of DOUBLE ECLIPSE kept up a strong pace under the careful control of Sam Twiston-Davies and managed to keep focussed in spite of a couple of awkward jumps down the back straight and another more serious at the fourth fence from home. When he came to two out, his jockey had to switch him wide of the leaders and he then was able to surge five lengths ahead of the rest of the field. There were a couple of anxious moments when he idled as he came up the final hundred yards or so close to home. CANTLOW, with 'Choc' Thornton aboard, seemed to get second wind and alarmingly began to narrow the gap but DOUBLE ROSS had done enough and won by two lengths. 

The excitement, however, wasn't over for the Grange Hill Farm clan. Just over half-an-hour later THE NEW ONE was victorious in the StanJames.com International Hurdle, making it a a double on the day for trainer and jockey. Paul Nicholls' ZARKANDAR who won the race last year, was thought to have a good chance of repeating his success and, taking over the lead, he set sail for home quite a way out. THE NEW ONE wasn't very fluent over the second hurdle but got into second position just before three out and led as he approached the last. This he took quite badly which upset his momentum a little. Daryl Jacob was not slow to take advantage of this lapse and urged ZARKANDAR forward and it looked for a moment that he would gain the upper hand. Then Sam Twiston-Davies revealed his cool determination and THE NEW ONE produced an incredible turn of foot to win by an easy six lengths. 

Proud father Twiston-Davies commented: "It's different class, having the boy on board makes it extra special. Winning races with Carl (Llewellyn) who is my best mate was great, but that is an extra bit again. What I loved was when the other horse got to him he quickened away - that was Champion Hurdle-type acceleration." 

 

AND THE WINNER IS … WINNER 

Earlier on in the day there was great excitement, too, in the Ryman Stationery Novices' Chase when SAM WINNER, with Daryl Jacob aboard, got his revenge on LE BEC whom he met last month at Cheltenham and only managed a third. And Paul Nicholls' 6-year-old did it in style. Daryl Jacob took the son of OKAWANGO into an early lead and the duo produced some nifty jumping, compared with the non-fluency of the competition. When the 13/8 favourite, SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR, ran out of steam from the third-last fence, it was left to LE BEC to challenge SAM WINNER as they came around the home turn. There was quite a battle going on at this stage and for a brief moment it looked as if the results of their last encounter would be repeated. The eventual winner, however, took the last fence so well and responded immediately when asked for more. The winning distance was four lengths. 

Winning trainer, Paul Nicholls, commented: "This was the ideal track for him. He wasn't right last year, but he's back now and he's eliminated the silly mistakes. He'll have an entry for the RSA, but he might be a right one for the four-miler at the Festival as he's a dour stayer."

 

SATURDAY, 14th DECEMBER 2013 

 

NEW KID ON THE BLOCK 

Today's StanJames.com International Hurdle will be the acid test for Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained THE NEW ONE when he takes on the likes of ZARKANDAR, last year's winner. The 5-year-old son of KING'S THEATRE is among a bevy of top-class young hurdlers who threaten to replace the reigning champion, HURRICANE FLY at the Cheltenham Festival. The latter has 17 Grade One races and two Champion Hurdles to his name but, it has to be said, he's not getting any younger (he'll be 10 next month) and there's a gang of new kids on the block, OUR CONOR, MY TENT OR YOURS and JEZKI, for instance, whose one aim is to take his crown. Paul Nicholls' ZARKANDAR seems to be the one to beat and he only managed a fourth last March - some seven lengths behind HURRICANE FLY. 

THE NEW ONE came up against ZARKANDAR at Aintree in April and was defeated by half-a-length which means he still has quite a bit to find if he is to be the champion hurdler. But he has age on his side and with a bit more experience, such as this afternoon's challenge, he could realise his connections' ambitions. 

 

THE COLOUR OF MONEY 

So there it is. Champion jockey, Tony McCoy, has made his choice. He will ride the Philip Hobbs-trained COLOUR SQUADRON in today's Stewart Family Thank You Gold Cup at Cheltenham but he confessed he had quite a problem going for him rather than CANTLOW, the 8-year-old son of KAYF TARA – particularly as they are both owned by his boss, J P McManus. In fact there was a third choice, TAP NIGHT but he seems not to have come into the equation. What made up his mind, it appears, was the outcome of the Paddy Power Gold Cup in November when COLOUR SQUADRON lost to JOHNS SPIRIT by three-quarters of a length after being hampered at the second fence from home. 

The champion jockey commented: "He has Johns Spirit to beat. He went to the last travelling well and, albeit Colour Squadron definitely got hampered when Easter Meteor fell at the second-last, you would like him to win sooner rather than later. There wasn't much between him and Cantlow, to be honest. I just thought the Paddy Power form was pretty solid and I think his main danger is Johns Spirit." 

 

FRIDAY, 13th DECEMBER 2013

 

A CREATURE OF HOBBIT

The Chancellor of the University of Ulster's presence graced the Huntingdon racetrack yesterday to watch his horse win the Betfred Peterborough Chase (Grade 2). Dr. James Nesbitt, perhaps better known as Jimmy (or even Bofur!) by his fans, after his appearance in the latest Tolkien saga, The Hobbit, which had its world premiere in Hollywood 11 days ago. This time, however, the actor took centre stage as a part-owner of RIVERSIDE THEATRE who, at last returned to winning form in the Grade 2 contest. The 9-year-old son of KING'S THEATRE, who was favourite yesterday, had shown great promise when winning the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March 2012 but then failed to follow up on this success in the following four races, the last being at the end of April in the Bet Online With TheTote.com Punchestown Gold Cup (Grade 1) when he came a miserable sixth, some 32 lengths behind the winner, SIRE DES CHAMPS. This time success was probably more attributable to the tenacity and determination of jockey, Barry Geraghty, who wouldn't admit defeat and urged his mount into a three-quarter of a length's victory in a tight-run finish.

It would appear that RIVERSIDE THEATRE is not the easiest of horses to handle as winning trainer, Nicky Henderson, confessed afterwards: "We've done an awful lot of different things with him - his wind, his ulcers. He wears 'a duvet' in the parade ring. Maybe putting some cheekpieces on might make a difference at some stage, too."

 

PLANS ON TRACK

Only last week Newcastle announced its plans to replace the turf Flat course with an all-weather track, and now another racing venue is proposing to follow suit. It was revealed yesterday that Catterick intends to hold racing on an artificial surface. Plans, it seems, are not as advanced as they are at Newcastle. The North Yorkshire venue has been preparing for this outcome for almost two years. Catterick management would also like to replace the turf Flat course with an all-weather surface but retain jumps racing. The course would also be floodlit. Chief executive of International Racecourse Management, John Sanderson, stated: "We started out on this road about two years ago because we feel it is a good business opportunity and it probably ticks a few boxes for the industry in that it provides an economical all-weather option in the north of England. The racecourse is extremely close to the A1 and fairly accessible and pretty close to the Malton and Middleham training centres. As far as we are concerned it is do-able and viable. Our plan would be to replace the turf Flat course with a floodlit all-weather course and we would retain jumping." 

THURSDAY, 12th DECEMBER 2013 

 

FLIGHT OF FANCY 

AFRICAN GOLD is to give up chasing. The 5-year-old will go back to hurdling after his disappointing performance yesterday when he fell in the Quicksilverslots Play 500 Roulette Novices' Chase at Uttoxeter on Tuesday. The son of KING'S THEATRE was successful four races in a row as a novice over hurdles last season but failed to get the better of AT FISHERS CROSS at Cheltenham in the Albert Bartlett Novices' hurdle in March and then was well beaten fourth on his chasing debut at Cheltenham in November. The Dai Walters-owned gelding was doing well until he made a bad mistake three fences from home and crashed out the race. 

Dai Walters commented: "He seems all right this morning, but obviously the vet will be in later to check him out fully. We don't want to make too many plans until he's given a clean bill of health, but provided he's all right I think we'll go back over hurdles with him. He's still a young horse and maybe we should have given him a couple of easier races over fences first. We were quite ambitious sending him to Cheltenham first time. These things happen, we'll move on and he'll go back over hurdles now." 

 

FOUR ON DEMAND. 

Joseph O'Brien, who was crowned Champion Jockey for the second consecutive year just last month, continued his high-flying success by riding four winners from just six rides at Dundalk. He won the first race, the Christmas Party Packages At Dundalk Stadium Handicap on Joanna Morgan's favourite, ANTIQUUS and then made it a double in the next race on Paul Hickey's DEEP SPEED. Things didn't do so well for the Hickey/O'Brien partnership in the third race when 16/1 outsider, CREDIT THE GIVER could only manage a fifth. The Crowne Plaza Hotel Race & Stay Package Handicap, however, got the young champion back into the winner's enclosure on Frank Oakes' MOUNTAIN CORAL. Then Joseph O'Brien had to wait for the penultimate race of the day to produce his quartet of wins on HABESH in the Crowne Plaza Leading Jockey & Trainer Championship Handicap

 

WEDNESDAY, 11h DECEMBER 2013 

 

BY GEORGE. I THINK HE'S GOT IT! 

Mid-week is not usually a time for top-class, highly prized racing but that's what there is this evening at Kempton Park. It's the occasion of the running of the Betdaq - Sports Betting Exchange Handicap (London Middle Distance Series Final) 1over 1 mile 3 furlongs, worth £43, 575 to the winner. The rules for entry are quite simple: a horse either must have started or been eliminated from a qualifier and so it's highly likely that this race has been ear-marked for some time by the 14 runners scheduled to take part in the inaugural running of this. One trainer who has made no secret about his targeting this race is George Baker, who, although his results show a greater success over hurdles (38%), nevertheless has a fairly impressive strike-rate on the All Weather (15%). For this contest the Marlborough-based handler is represented by I'M FRAAM GOVAN who won on his very first outing at Worcester in a bumper at Worcester last December. In fact from his eight life-time runs the Alex Ferguson-owned 5-year-old has only once been outside the frame. He followed up his first victory by two more, both at Kempton, the last win being at the beginning of October. 

The one the son of FRAAM has to look out for is probably the Jamie Spencer-ridden CASTILIO DEL DIABLO. So the faint-hearted could go Dutch! 

 

SO, ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT ... 

Jockey, Sam Twiston-Davies, was clearly not a happy bunny when AFRICAN GOLD fell at the third fence from home. The son of trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies, looked a picture of disappointment and frustration as he vented his anger, by punching the Uttoxeter turf. A sad result because there seemed every hope for the son of KING'S THEATRE, who was the 1/2 favourite and was profiting from the advantage of a drop in grade. Indeed, for much of the race, the 5-year-old gelding seemed to be in charge but then, just as his rider began to make his move in order to attempt to secure success in this Quicksilverslots Play 500 Roulette Novices' Chase, AFRICAN GOLD faltered over the third-last fence, buckled on landing and crashed to the ground. 

Not a good day, too, for the Sam Twiston-Davies, who is riding fairly high with a 20% strike-rate this season. He came nowhere with his other two rides of the day- LODGICIAN (PU) and the David Evans-trained ECHOES OF JOY (9th). 

 

TUESDAY, 10th DECEMBER 2013 

 

ALL THAT GLITTERS COULD WELL BE …... 

The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained AFRICAN GOLD is running in the Quicksilverslots Play £500 Roulette Novices' Chase at Uttoxeter today. The 5-year-old son of KING'S THEATRE didn't impress at all last time out in November when he raced in the Roy Blandford 65 Years At Cheltenham Novices' Chase and could only make fourth, over 26 lengths adrift of the winner, LE BEC, trained by Emma Lavelle. It seems connections are quite pleased with his progress since then and so are inclined to forgive him his poor Cheltenham performance. 

His jockey for today, Sam Twiston-Davies was upbeat with his comments: "He's had a good run since that race. He's schooled well and I'm looking forward to it. At Cheltenham he got very tired and hopefully he's back on the right track." 

Connections certainly had more to shout about last season when their leading staying novice hurdler won four races on the trot (or even at the gallop!) at Wetherby, Newbury(2) and Doncaster and and followed those up with a valiant second to AT FISHERS CROSS, ridden by champion jockey, Tony McCoy, in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March. 

So all eyes will be on MRS DEMPSEY's son at 12.50! 

 

HURRICANE'S TIME … AND WILLIE'S ... AGAIN! 

It's that time of year for awards' ceremonies of all kinds, both human and equine. This time it was The Emerald Isle's turn. At Horse Racing Ireland’s annual awards ceremony last night HURRICANE FLY was crowned Horse of the Year. A world record for Grade 1 or Group 1 victories was established by this dual Champion Hurdle winner when he won the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown in November which was his 17th success at this high level. 

Trainer, Willie Mullins, was honoured with the National Hunt Award. Johnny Murtagh, who has only been saddling winners as a trainer for a year received the Flat Award. 

The Racecourse of the Year title went to Dundalk took and Barry Cash was deservedly awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award, having claimed victory at the Cheltenham Festival riding BIG SHU some nine years after winning the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on BRAVE INCA. Trainer, Jim Bolger, who had already been honoured at the 23rd annual Cartier Racing Awards held in London in November, also received a special award for his contribution to the industry.

 

Complete list of 2013 Horse Racing Ireland's award winners: 

 

Hurricane Fly: Racehorse of the Year

 

Willie Mullins: National Hunt Award

 

Johnny Murtagh: Flat Award

 

Barry Cash: Outstanding Achievement

 

Jamie Codd: Point -to-point

 

Jim Bolger: Contribution to the Industry

 

Dundalk: Racecourse of the Year 

 

MONDAY, 9th DECEMBER 2013 

 

A CASE FOR HANGING ON 

Trainer, Ben Case, scored the the biggest win of his 14-year career at Sandown on Saturday when DEEP TROUBLE won the Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts December Handicap Hurdle and the Banbury-based handler had nothing but praise for jockey, Leighton Aspell, who provided the dramatic win. The six-year-old son of SHANTOU looked as if he was living up to his name. After surging bravely through the field approaching the final flight, he suddenly swerved violently to the right and for a couple of agonising moments it looked as if Leighton Aspell might come off. The West Sussex jockey, however, who had already lost one iron kept his nerve and managed to kick the other one off before driving precariously for the post, beating URBAIN DE SIVOLA by a length with the the £28,475 first prize as a reward. 

The Edgcote trainer said that he booked Leighton Aspell as Daryl Jacob and Wayne Hutchinson were not available and he added: “I wanted someone who would be cool on the horse, and knew he would do the job.” 

The jockey's comments are worth noting: “I got my feet out (of the irons) and luckily I had enough energy to hang on. It gives me great pleasure because for a split second you have lost it and nine times out of ten you will land on your arse and be cursing, but today luckily he stayed underneath me, and with enough energy to hang on.” 

 

SO WILLIE DID DO IT AGAIN! 

Things never work out according to plan. That's especially true with horse racing. Yesterday at Punchestown, in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase, there were only three runners because last year's winner, FLEMENSTAR, was withdrawn. Nevertheless it promised to be an interesting contest between two stars from top trainer, Willie Mullins' yard – up-and-coming chaser ARVIKA LIGEONNIERE and SIR DES CHAMPS, last season's Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up - fighting it out with RUBI LIGHT who came third in this race last year. Then the next unexpected thing happened. SIR DES CHAMPS got no further than the third fence as he fell for the first time ever in his career. This meant that ARVIKA LIGEONNIERE had a relatively easy job seeing off any challenge from Barry Geraghty's mount. 

Willie Mullins wasn't there to celebrate the victory as he was in Hong Kong for SIMENON's attempt at the Vase, where he had to be content with a fifth. 

 

SUNDAY, 8th DECEMBER 2013 

 

WILLIE DO IT AGAIN? 

We have certainly been spoiled for racing over this weekend and it continues today at Punchestown with the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase worth £44,000 to the winner. The Tony Martin-trained eight-year-old, FLEMENSTAR, has unfortunately been withdrawn so will not be able to defend his crown. That leaves three runners, two of which are trained by the in-form Willie Mullins. It may come as something of a surprise to learn that the seven time Irish champion trainer has only won this race once before and that was twelve years ago with FLORIDA PEARL. Today he fields ARVIKA LIGEONNIERE (odds-on favourite) and SIR DES CHAMPS who will be matching their skills against the Robert Hennesy-trained RUBI LIGHT who won this race in 2011. 

The result must surely be with one of the handler from County Carlow' horses as he is currently dominating the Irish race scene this season with an incredible 45% strike-rate with his bumper runners – a record that no other trainer can seem to match. 

 

SUCCESSFUL PARTNERSHIP RESUMES 

Sam Twiston-Davies added to his current successes riding for Paul Nicholls, when he rode UNIONISTE to victory yesterday at Aintree in the Betfred 'Goals Galore' Chase. The trainer's son began this association only last month when he got a 'spare ride' on TIDAL BAY at Wetherby for the former champion trainer and went on to win. This time it wasn't a fluent ride, by any means, particulalry in the way the duo tackled the 8th, 11th, or 12th fence. They did, however, get into second position by the 15th but then the 5-year-old grey faltered at three from home. Somehow the son of DOM ALCO kept going and went into the lead as they approached the last, staying on well and winning by seven lengths ahead of WISHFULL (as printed!) THINKING. 

UNIONISTE is now a 33/1 chance with Sky Bet for the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup in March. Will Sam get the ride again? 

SATURDAY, 7th DECEMBER 2013 

 

BECHER DIDN'T KNOW THAT! 

It's the Betfred Becher Handicap Chase again this afternoon at Aintree. This feature event has been run twenty-one times since its inauguration in 1992, when its first-ever winner was the Sue Smith-trained KILDIMO. Since then the top winning trainer has been Nigel Twiston-Davies with five victories: INDIAN TONIC – 1993; YOUNG HUSTLER – 1995; EARTH SUMMIT – 1998. Then a long gap until 2010 when HELLO BUD scored in 2010 and again in 2012. The next highest winner is former champion trainer, Paul Nicholls, who has had three successes over that period: SILVER BIRCH – 2004; EUROTREK – 2006 and MR POINTMENT - 2007. 

This year Nigel Twiston-Davies is placing his hopes on one entry, BABY RUN, to be ridden by son, Sam. This John Smith's Fox Hunters' Chase winner is now 13 and hasn't run since April 2011, so he does seem to have a lot on his plate. But as Sam Twiston-Davies wrote so persuasively in his guest column in the Liverpool Echo the other day: “Hello Bud won it when he was 14 years old; so Baby Run can do it at 13!” Can't argue with that! 

Paul Nicholls runs JOIN TOGETHER who was runner-up by a neck in this race last year but hasn't won anything since the Ryman The Stationer Novices' Chase at Cheltenham two years ago this month. Statistically the other aspect not in his favour is that he is 8 years old and 8-year-olds have only won four times in the total 21 years' history of this race. On the the other 15 occasions victory has gone to horses 9-year-old and over. 

 

GET-TOGETHER ON WHETHER ALL-WEATHER 

Arena Racing Company (ARC), owners of the Newcastle racetrack, has announced that it is considering plans for a floodlit all-weather track at this North East venue. A planning application for the scheme is to be lodged by January 31, 2014 and, if it is successful, it is proposed to commence racing on the new surface in 2015. The plan is for the existing turf Flat track to be replaced by an all-weather surface, a feature of which would be the only floodlit straight mile in the world. There are no plans, at the moment, to modify the existing turf jumps track, although if the Flat race programme is run on the all-weather track then clearly this would make it possible to increase the number of jumps fixtures on the fixtures. Additional benefits from such an investment would include a wholesale upgrading of all the racing facilities and a possible new layout of the pre-parade and saddling facilities. The proposers of these new developments have started a consultation period with local residents, businesses and stakeholders in the area. A number of meetings will be held at the track to discuss and explain the proposals. 

The MD of ARC, Tony Kelly, made the following comments: "The development of an all-weather track in the north has long been an ambition of ours and this proposal would develop the best floodlit all-weather track in the world, given the superb wide galloping track and our ability to incorporate a floodlit straight mile. This track would fit superbly within the ARC all-weather championship and would give us the ability to possibly share finals day with Lingfield Park.”

FRIDAY, 6th DECEMBER 2013  

AND THE WINNING OWNER IS .. MA'AM 

Last night at London's InterContinental Hotel provided the scene for the excitement and glamour of the 32nd annual Horseracing Awards, this year sponsored by Weatherbys Hamilton. Who else more deserving on this occasion than Her Majesty The Queen who was named the 2013 Owner of the Year by the Racehorse Owners Association. The award particularly recognised Her Majesty's first success in the Royal Ascot Gold Cup but also took into account her dedicated commitment and contribution to the sport of horse racing for over 60 years. This esteemed award was collected on behalf of Her Majesty by John Warren, her racing manager and his daughter Susannah. 

Rachel Hood, the ROA's president said: "British racing has been incredibly fortunate to benefit from Her Majesty The Queen's lifelong support and the remarkable success of Estimate in the Ascot Gold Cup was a very special occasion for the entire sport. On behalf of all racehorse owners, the Racehorse Owners Association is honoured and delighted to present the 2013 Racehorse Owner of the Year to The Queen." 

 

Other highlights of the evening:

 

Outstanding Stayer: her Majesty's 4-year-old filly, Estimate. 

Horse of the Year and Outstanding Chaser: Sprinter Sacre, unbeaten over fences and a winner at each of the big three spring meetings, the Cheltenham Festival, the Grand National meeting at Aintree and the Punchestown Festival. 

Outstanding Middle Distance Horse and Outstanding Filly and Mare: Sheikh Joaan Al Thani's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Treve. 

Outstanding Miler: Moonlight Cloud, trained by Freddie Head. 

Outstanding Juvenile: Chriselliam, Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner. 

Outstanding Hurdler: Hurricane Fly, unbeaten in six races last season. 

The Outstanding Sprinter: Lethal Force. 

Outstanding Novice Chaser: Simonsig, unbeaten over fences last season. 

Outstanding Novice Hurdler: The New One, trained by Nigel Twiston Davies. 

The Special Achievement Award: Top Notch Tonto, runner-up in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot. 

 

FROM HACK RIDER TO WRITER! 

Sam Twiston-Davies has got another job: guest columnist for the Liverpool Echo. It's a year since the son of trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies, had one of his most memorable days when winning both the Becher Chase on HELLO BUD and the Grand Sefton Chase aboard LITTLE JOSH and today he evaluates his chances of achieving an Aintree double-double. He says that the Betfred Becher Chase is one of his favourite races of the year and on BABY RUN he could win it again tomorrow. Of a slight concern is the fact that the 13-year-old son of BABY TURK hasn't run since coming third in the bet365 Gold Cup Chase Handicap in April 2011 but the 21-year-old naunton-based jockey remains optimistic as apparently this feature race has been on the cards for quite a while. He also obviously has great confidence in his father who is an acknowledged master when it comes to getting horses fit to run first time out. Sam Twiston-Davies, who is riding high on a current 19% winning strike rate also offered the unassailable youthful logic: “Hello Bud won it when he was 14 years old; so Baby Run can do it at 13!”

 

The other horse, who could help Sam Twiston-Davies to his double in the the Betfred Grand Sefton Chase, is FRONTIER SPIRIT, also trained by his father. The jockey turned journalist admits that this son of NEW SPIRIT is a 'horse of a different colour' to LITTLE JOSH who gave him victory last year. This 9-year-old, owned by the Grange Hill Farm syndicate, Jump for Fun Racing, is admittedly a good jumper and has a chance but he has only had one run this season and that was at Wetherby in the bet365 Handicap Chase at the beginning of November, when he didn't make much of an impression, coming sixth in a field of eleven. 

 

THURSDAY, 5th DECEMBER 2013 

 

FOUR OUT OF FIVE 

Crowned "All Weather" champion in March 2013, Adam Kirby, gave another right royal performance yesterday at Lingfield. He produced four wins and a third from his five appearances, including both of the two top features of the day with prize money of £19,000. His first impressive win was in the Compare Bookmakers At bookmakers.co.uk Handicap on David Evans' sprinter FOREST EDGE who delivered his third win in a row on Polytrack, the other two at Kempton and Wolverhampton in October and November, respectively. 

The second sucess was in the very next race, the Coral App Download From The App Store Conditions Stakes, where Adam Kirby made all on the Mark Johnston-trained MARSHGATE LANE. There seemed to be no stopping him now. The next race, the Download The Ladbrokes App Handicap (Div 1), made it three in a row for the 25-year-old Newmarket rider when SHAUNAS SPIRIT was in good enough form to win by a length. But he was thwarted in the next race in his attempt to make it a clean sweep on another David Evans-trained gelding, BLACK DAVE, who only managed to come third. 

Things got back on a high, however, in the penultimate race of the day, the Coral Mobile 'Just Three Clicks To Bet' Handicap when Luca Cumani's MALLORY HEIGHTS showed he had what it takes to seize victory by three-quarters of a length. 

Not a bad day's work!

 

WHAT A BLOW! 

The ground is officially good to soft – no problems there. Maybe scattered showers late but generally conditions for racing at Market Rasen this afternoon seem quite good but nevertheless a precautionary inspection has been arranged for 11.30 a.m. And why? There is a serious threat of high winds. 

The clerk of the course, Jane Hedley, stated: “Conditions were perfectly raceable at 7am but the wind is due to pick up as the morning progresses. Officials are optimistic but in light of the severe forecast felt it prudent to call an inspection. We'll just have to judge it nearer the time. If it's just the odd gust surrounded by not so strong winds we may be fine, we'll just have to judge it.” 

The officials have certainly got the wind up! 

 

WEDNESDAY, 4th DECEMBER 2013 

 

FOLLOW THE DREAM 

Milton Bradley’s TRIPLE DREAM is a good example of a horse improving with age. Tomorrow at Wolverhampton he will be the oldest runner bar one in a field of ten but it looks as though he could strike gold in the Compare Bookmakers At bookmakers.co.uk Handicap. The 8-year-old won the Newbury Starlight Charity Handicap in July in style. He was given a decent break over the Summer, presumably in preparation for this winter campaign and he didn't disappoint as he went on to produce two creditable seconds on the polytracks of Wolverhampton and Lingfield. The handicapper has seen fit to reward him with an extra 4 lbs. for those efforts but the son of VISION OF NIGHT has proved already that he is capable of winning off that kind of mark. He was, after all, 2 lbs. heavier when he won at the Berkshire venue. In the hands of British flat racing Champion Apprentice 2008, David Probert, aboard this could be one to go for. 

 

IMPROVING WITH AGE 

Another refuter of ageism is SOMERSBY who will be tackling the BetVictor Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown on Saturday. The 9-year-old defied critics last month at Exeter when he won the BetVictor Haldon Gold Cup Chase (Grade 2 Handicap) by a head In a competitive field on his first run of the season. The 9-year-old son of SECOND EMPIRE switched trainers this year to Mick Channon after the retirement of Henrietta Knight and looks set to play an increasingly important part the West Ilsley trainer's jumps team. 

Three time Gold Cup winning trainer, Henrietta Knight, commented: "I think steeplechasers get better as they get older. Take Edredon Bleu - he was 12 when won the King George. I think there is plenty more ahead of Somersby. We just decided to miss Ascot to give him more time between his races. That is what he needs. He will have an extra two weeks since Exeter. He is not an easy horse to train because he is quite delicate and a bit neurotic. He does not take too many races but Mick says he is in very good form again so hopefully he will put up another good performance.” 

Words of wisdom indeed from a Grande Dame of racing.

 

TUESDAY, 3rd DECEMBER 2013 

 

THE JEWEL IN THE CROWN 

DANCING RAIN was an accomplished front-runner on the Flat, notching up five notable wins from 12 runs, including the British Champions Fillies' And Mares' Stakes at Ascot in 2011 and the Epsom and German Oaks when trained by William Haggas. But the daughter of DANEHILL DANCER's prowess on the track was somewhat overshadowed last night at the Newmarket Tattersalls December Mare Sale. This was because Sheikh Mohammed's bloodstock advisor, John Ferguson, paid 4 million guineas (£4,200,000 in real money!) for the 5-year-old mare. And for why: she is in foal to great FRANKEL. 

As John Ferguson explained: "This game is all about reducing the odds, and for us to get the greatest chance of producing a Classic winner, buying Dancing Rain reduces the odds. You can have lots of mares, but you need jewels - Sheikh Mohammed felt that she's a jewel." 

 

LUCK OF THE DRAW 

Yesterday the annual awards ceremony of the Horserace Writers and Photographers Association was held at the Dorchester Hotel in London. The top award of Racing Broadcaster of the Year went deseservedly to Nick Luck, the Channel 4 and Racing UK presenter. The busy 35-year-old was part of Racing UK's original Racing Channel team and was a presenter on its inaugural broadcast. He has hosted all major events for the channel including the Derby, Grand National and Cheltenham Festival. He is also part of the ESPN/ABC Breeders Cup team and a regular contributor to the Evening Standard, Sunday Telegraph and Horse & Hound magazine. Nick Luck had to fight off competition from John Hunt, Matt Chapman and Graham Cunningham. 

At the same event: 

Jon Lees ( Racing Post) - The Reporter of the Year 

Julian Herbert - Photograph of the Year. 

Alan Crowhurst - Photographer of the Year 

Tony McCoy - Jockey of the Year. 

Richard Hannon - the Trainers' award. 

Ed Dunlop - International Trainer of the Year (Success of Red Cadeaux and Joshua Tree.) 

Sheikh Joaan Al Thani - The Owner of the Year prize ( victories of Toronado, Olympic Glory and Treve.) 

Jack Berry - George Ennor Trophy for lifetime achievement. 

Derek Thompson - the President's Award. 

Chris McGrath - The Clive Graham Trophy for Racing Writer of the Year. 

 

MONDAY, 2nd DECEMBER 2013 

 

HOLLYWOOD STAR TURN 

John Gosden-trained SEEK AGAIN joined the Grade-Oners yesterday when he won the Hollywood Derby. This was surprising because the three-year-old colt only managed a disappointing fifth in the Betfred Cambridgeshire (Heritage Handicap) at Newbury in September, although he did get his act together in October when taking the Coral Mobile Three Clicks To Bet Stakes (Handicap) at York. This race, however, was a step-up in class and distance but the son of SPEIGHTSTOWN handled both admirably and with the able assistance of jockey, Corey Nakatani, put a one-and-a-half-lengths between him and his nearest rival, ADMIRAL KITTEN. 

The 43-year-old winning rider from Covina, California commented afterwards:"I was extremely confident. Any time you see the Juddmonte colors and a horse shipping from England, you know they're going to have a big turn of foot and it's just a matter (of) if they can handle the tighter turns. "He seemed to handle it. (Gosden) said he had trained him on the left handed tracks before shipping him here." 

Les Reynolds, John Gosden's assistant, added: "He's been a horse that's been slow to (find) himself. He just took a while to get going. I told Corey to just make sure he changed leads because he might be a little inexperienced against these guys. But he did it well and I'm very, very pleased.” 

 

WHO'S SUPER CHAMPION? 

It may be 'beginner's luck' but Irish jockey, Richard Hughes, has won the 2013 World Super Jockeys Series on his first time of taking part in this contest, which took place at Hanshin racecourse, near Osaka, Japan.  He made a not-too-promising start when finishing 13th in the first leg, the Golden Saddle Trophy, but the twice British champion jockey quickly made up for it by gaining 15 points on favourite AMERICAN WINNER in the Golden Bridle Trophy which re-positioned him to fourth at the end of the first day of the series. Outsider, WESTERN REBECCA, gave him a surprise victory in the Golden Boots and also augmented his score to 36. After that he notched up another 13 points by steering SHONAN MAJA past the post in third spot in the Golden Whip contest and thereby seized the crown by three points from runner-up, Patrick Smullen, who won the last leg of the series. 

 

SUNDAY, 1st DECEMBER 2013 

 

NICKY, NEWCASTLE AND NEWBURY. 

It seems that champion trainer, Nicky Henderson, put down his marker for the 2013/2014 season when defending his title yesterday. He has now won back-to-back renewals of the Hennessy Gold Cup Chase and sealed the day with a scintillating big-race double. TRIO D'ALENE produced his best on the day and won the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle by two-and-three-quarter lengths, under the excellent stewardship of Barry Geraghty. There are, however, mixed feelings whether the 6-year-old son of ESPALO has got what it takes to emulate BOBS WORTH by going on to win the Gold Cup. The Seven Barrows-based trainer would have savoured this victory all the more because he would have already heard that, just under an hour earlier at Newcastle, MY TENT OR YOURS had triumphed in the StanJames.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle. Ridden by champion jockey, Tony McCoy, the 6-year-old son of DESERT PRINCE revealed a great appetitite for the contest, raced keenly, made smooth headway after the 4th from home and went into the lead 2 out, from where, although making a terrible blunder at the final hurdle, he managed to hold onto the established lead. 

It seems it was a matter of luck that Barry Geraghty was in the saddle at all. Apparently the County Meath rider flipped a coin to decide which mount to take, TRIO D'ALENE or his, possibly better-fancied stablemate, HADRIAN'S APPROACH. In the event the toss came down in favour of the twice champion Irish jump jockey. Which is just as well as the other horse unseated Nico de Boinville at the 5th hurdle. 

 

COMMAND PERFORMANCE 

Horse-racing is not always 'the stuff that dreams are made of'. So it was yesterday at Newbury. Even the toughest critic must have wished that the 12-year-old IMPERIAL COMMANDER could fully reproduce the galloping prowess and jumping style that had earned him the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2010. And it certaily seemed as though the charges of ageism would be confounded as the son of FLEMSFIRTH went into the lead from the 5th until 10th fence but then the magic seemed to vanish. He weakened quickly on the way to the 17th and was immediately pulled up. So the dream was ended on the home turn as another legend bowed out of the sport of Kings. As a sign of respect, Paddy Brennan cantered him back past the stands where the crowd showed their appreciation. 

Paddy Brennan, who had ridden IMPERIAL COMMANDER a total of twelve times, producing 4 wins and two 2nds, commented afterwards: "We had a good start and he gave me a great ride for a long way. He was telling me going to the cross fence [five out] that time was up and I didn't dare squeeze him. He deserves his retirement and will get the best service. I have to thank him as a racehorse for what he has done for my career. He has been very special." 

Trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies, said: "He had a nice spin in front and nobody can take away his Gold Cup and other big races he has won for us." 

It all happened so quickly that it is no wonder that retirement plans have not yet been decided but it appears he will be going back to Ireland and, who knows, may do a KAUTO STAR and have a go at dressage.

 

SATURDAY, 30th NOVEMBER 2013 

 

THE YOUNG GREY MARE AINT WHAT SHE USED TO BE”

 

MICKIE'S success has presented Ludlow trainer, Henry Daly, with something of a dilemma. The 5-year-old daughter of KAYF TARA, won yesterday's Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (Series Qualifier). The grey mare, owned by The Ludlow Racing Partnership, delivered some good performances last season, including victory in the Joy Minton Memorial Mares' Novices' Hurdle at Ludlow but her last three runs have been far from satisfactory (PU, UR, 5th). So her victory yesterday came as a bit of a surprise to connections and trainer alike. It looked as though the outcome was going to be between the long-time leader, WESTERN WARHORSE and PATEESE or TWELVE ROSES who were preparing to take over. Then jockey, Jake Greenall, aboard the 9/1 shot MICKIE, slowly but surely overhauled them all on the long run-in and won by a length and a half. 

A bewildered-sounding trainer commented: “I don’t know what we do with her now. There’s the final, but I might send her chasing before that.” 

 

THE THOT PLICKENS! 

Something of a mystery at Newbury yesterday. About an hour after coming fourth on UPSILON BLEU in the Bet365 Handicap Chase, Timmy Murphy was seen climbing gingerly into the racecourse's own ambulance which then took him to hospital, apparently for x-rays on his shoulder. It didn't take long for rumours to circulate about a possible punch-up with a fellow jockey in the changing room. 

Paul Barton, stipendiary steward commented: "There is nothing we can do. Jockeys go to hospital all the time for a variety of reasons. Unless something comes to my attention than there's nothing for me to do." 

The injury was serious enough to cause Timmy Murphy to miss the ride on the second favourite, OUR FATHER, in the Hennessy Gold Cup today. He has been replaced by Conor O'Farrell. 

 

KEEP YOUR SHIRT ON! 

It seems racegoers at Newbury were unaware of the new dress code that has been brought in. Senior management has gone to great lengths to defend its implementation, even going onto Twitter to rebuff any criticism, after a barrage of comments over how the new dress code is being policed. Stephen Higgins, joint-managing director, however, described the outcry as "a storm in a tea cup" yesterday, explaining: "We've been launching this softly for three months now, via the website, and various other channels, so we're not springing this on people all of a sudden. From our point of view this is a storm in a tea cup and I'd much rather you guys were talking about the quality racing and excellent prize-money on offer during these three days." 

It turns out that an track official actually asked a racegoer to unzip his jacket to check whether he was wearing a shirt and a number of racegoers have commented how upset they were by the way in which they were stopped from entering the Premier Enclosure. 

 

 FRIDAY, 29th NOVEMBER 2013 

 

IS THERE A JOCKEY IN THE HOUSE? 

Drama at Kempton last night. Paul Cole's STORMBOUND narrowly did the business in the 175 Cash Bonus At Victor's Live Casino Handicap. The 4-year-old Galileo son was 16/1 in the morning but was knocked down to 13/2 by race start. Not a lot of drama there but he was not ridden by Raul Da Silva as listed. It seems the latter complained of feeling unwell in the paddock. It was mentioned that he'd actually fainted after losing 2lbs so that he could ride at eight stone in an earlier race. There was a speedy reaction from the officials and a replacement was hastily recruited in the weighing room. A willing substitute turned out to be Martin Lane who was in top form and urged his mount on to win by a head. 

The former champion apprentice in 2010 quipped afterwards: "I was quickest on my feet to get the ride." 

 

FOUR GO TO MUSSELBURGH 

Trainer, James Ewart, runs one of Scotland's most successful training yards and is currently flying high with 6 wins from 40 runs (15%). He seems determined to keep up the momentum by sending four runners to Musselburgh today. He starts the ball rolling in the third race, the Semichem Novices' Handicap Chase where his stable jockey, Brian Hughes, rides TEO VEO. The the 6-year-old grey gelding hasn't had much luck lately; he was pulled up at Kelso at the beginning of the month and he fell at this track two days prior to that. So it seems a case of 'fingers crossed' and hope for 'third time lucky'! 

The next race, the Cornhill Building Services Ltd Maiden Hurdle looks more positive. Here the Dumfriesshire handler has entered 6-year-old MANDARIN SUNSET who, again with Brian Hughes aboard, produced two seconds at Perth in May and there is every hope that the conditions will be more suitable for the son of PRESENTING to come good. 

'No rest for the wicked', as they say and just thirty-five minutes later the Ewart/Hughes double act appears again in the £12,000 Weatherbys Printing Services St Andrew's Day Handicap Chase when SLEEP IN FIRST steps into the stalls. The 7-year-old is back over fences again after a one-off crack at hurdles at Perth in June, following a win in the Visit Hadrian's Wall Handicap Chase at Hexham in April. 

The day's proceedings are rounded of when James Ewart saddles VARENNE DE VAUZELLE in the last race, the 32RedPoker.com Maiden Open NH Flat Race. It's the first time out for this 4-year-old son of ASSESSOR so it's a bit of a gamble.  

 

THURSDAY, 28th NOVEMBER 2013

 

NEVER TOO OLD FOR GOLD.

It seems that ante-post punters for the Hennesy Gold Cup at Newbury on Saturday could be accused of ageism. Well, that's what his trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies, thinks and he is adamant that IMPERIAL COMMANDER is not too old to win the esteemed prize. The Naunton-based handler, after finding out that the 12-year-old son of FLEMENSFIRTH's odds are currently 16/1 for this feature race made this observation: “It is pretty simple to see why our horse is such a big price. It is because he is a 12-year-old and people are shying away from him because of that. For tough, hardened chasers like our fellow, 12 is not a big age. Our Hello Bud ran seventh in the Grand National as a 14-year-old and then won the Becher Chase later in the year when he was only a few weeks away from his 15th birthday.”

For the record IMPERIAL COMMANDER has only had three runs in the last three years. He won the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park in 2010. He was pulled up in 2011 Gold Cup but then went on to come a bravely fought second in the Argento Chase at Cheltenham in January. His reputation was not unfortunately enhanced by being pulled up in the Grand National later in the year.

Paddy Brennan will take the reins this time because Sam Twiston-Davies will be riding stablemate, SAME DIFFERENCE, who is only seven years old!

 

AUSSIE RULES. OK!

The William Knight-trained AUSSIE REIGNS was given a controlled ride in the 500 Free Bets At Betdaq Wild Flower Stakes (Listed) by Newmarket-based jockey, Andrea Atzeni, who was happy to stay calmly near the rear of the field which was lead by FATTSOTA. By the 3-furlong pole it looked as if BANOFFEE would land this mile-and-a-halfer but then a serious challenge was laid down by the German raider, JEANIE JOHNSTON, coming up rapidly on her inside. The Sardinian-born jockey, however, timed his run to perfection and lunged his 3-year-old gelding between the leading runners near the furlong pole and went on to win by a length from the John Gosden-trained DICK DOUGHTYWYLIE.

The Angmering Park winning trainer commented afterwards: "I was really pleased with Aussie Reigns. He seems to have improved as he has stepped up in trip. It was a good performance tonight even though it was probably not the strongest of Listed races. He has won it quite convincingly. He needs to come through horses as that keeps him interested and Andrea (Atzeni) rides him very well.

 

WEDNESDAY, 27th NOVEMBER 2013 

 

FIT FOR THE FIGHTING FIFTH 

Inevitably at this time of the year Cheltenham is on everyone's mind so that it is easy to forget that there are other exciting events on the jumps calendar. There was the Betfair Chase last week at Haydock, for instance and on Saturday there is the StanJames.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle (Grade 1) at Newcastle. This two-mile contest could turn out to be one of the highlights of the season as it is generally considered to be a showcase for next year's Champion Hurdle. The race has certainly provided good indications of future Festival material. After all, COUNTRYWIDE FLAME and OVERTURN both won this Newcastle Grade 1 before going on to finish in the first three in the Champion Hurdle. This year's Fighting Fifth is certainly looking stronger than ever. The 12-strong field includes MY TENT OR YOURS, MELODIC RENDEZVOUS; to mention just a couple of contenders for the Cheltenham prize. 

Newcastle Racecourse's clerk of the course, James Armstrong commented: “We're absolutely delighted with the field we think we'll get. The New One has obviously come out, and I'm a bit surprised we haven't got any of the Irish horses coming over, but it's still an extremely strong line up. It's going to be one of the biggest fields we've had in the Fighting Fifth for quite a few years, and that's great.” 

 

IT'S TIME FOR RUPERT! 

KAYF ARAMIS fans will remember the races against the talented Paul Webber-trained TIME FOR RUPERT. The 9-year-old, however, has been off-track since early November last year when he surprisingly only managed fourth from six runners in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase Grade 2 at Wetherby. Unfortunately, after a medical check following that run, the son of FLEMENSFIRTH was found to be suffering from some kind of growth and had to have surgery. He is now reported to back and raring to go, which is excellent news. 

The Banbury-based trainer commented: "He's doing very well, he worked on grass for the first time this morning. At this moment he remains on course for the Long Walk, I just felt there were no suitable races over fences at the moment for him. I'd mentioned the National before but one or two of the owners still need a bit of persuading on that score as yet. But, if we were going in that direction his mark of 152 seems fair over fences so the Long Walk is sensible with that in mind. There's no point risking it going up."  

TUESDAY, 26th NOVEMBER 2013 

 

HARRY'S FAVOURITE RETREAT 

Harry Fry, who only got his trainer's licence in October 2012 was back again at Kempton Park with another victory, making his fourth from eight runs. This time it was the 4/7 favourite, HIGHLAND RETREAT, who did the honours in the OLBG Mares' Hurdle, thereby almost matching her trainer's current success with four wins from 9 starts. The 6-year-old mare had to overcome a mistake over the final flight and Noel Fehly did well to sit tight and concentrate on seeing off the challenge from David Pipe's WEATHER BABE which he did by a length. 

The high-flying trainer from Manor Farm, Seaborough, commented: "She has come a long way since being my first winner in an amateur riders' novice at Exeter last October. Apart from one mistake, she jumped great and that win puts us off going novice chasing for the time being. There's a Grade Two mares' race over three miles at Ascot in January that we could look at." 

 

CHANCE OF WIN GONE WEST 

The Nicky Henderson-trained WEST WIZARD's favouritism took a blow yesterday in the Openwork Foundation British Stallion Studs EBF "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle, when Mick Channon's SGT. RECKLESS beat him by five lengths. The 4-year-old son of KING'S THEATRE proved to be an impressive winner at Kempton in March running in the 32Red Casino Maiden Open NH Flat Race. Dashing the high hopes of his connections WEST WIZARD couldn't match the speed of the eventual winner when coming into the final bend. 

Nicky Hendrson commented: "Of course we are disappointed and so is Dai [Walters, owner] but Barry [Geraghty] said if he was ever going to get beaten it was today. Barry said he took a massive blow turning in and it may turn out he was beaten by a very reasonable horse on the day. 

The victory seemed a bit of a surprise for the connections of SGT. RECKLESS as he obviously has considerable talent but delivers inconsistently. His trainer had the following to say: "He made fools of us last year. We don't know what happened as we have always had a high opinion of him - just look at the way he was backed for the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham." 

 

MONDAY, 25th NOVEMBER 2013 

 

BANGING THE DRUM 

The OLBG Mares' Hurdle at Kempton today could be an interesting contest. There are just five runners in this Listed race over an extended three miles. Worthy of a mention is TWEEDLEDRUM, trained by Tom Symonds, whose stable is riding hgh at the moment. But he will be up against Nicky Henderson's MA FILLEULE, a Grade Two winner at Warwick last season and in-form Harry Fry with HIGHLAND RETREST, who won the Your Favourite Pool Bets At totepool.com Mares' Handicap Hurdle a couple of weeks ago at Wincanton. Tom Symonds' horse, on the other hand, notched up three wins last season, including the Movember Mares' Handicap Hurdle at Ascot and a Listed race at Doncaster in Domcaster in March. She did fail to shine, however, in the Pertemps qualifier at Cheltenham last month. 

Her Ross-on-Wye-based handler commented: "She was disappointing at Cheltenham but November is her time of year and she's starting to show me the signs. The ground is going to be a bit quick for her, but she does like Kempton." 

 

YES, HE BALLY WELL DID! 

The Willie Mullins-trained BALLYCASEY, ridden by Ruby Walsh, confidently handled his debut over fences in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase at Navan yesterday and fully warranted the faith his trainer had in him before the race. The 6-year-old grey, with four career wins from five outings to his credit, tracked the leaders patiently in 3rd, made a slight mistake at the 6th before surging into the lead just before the last from home. From there he stayed on well and went clear by eight lengths, possibly hinting at a step-up in trip next time. 

Speaking for his father, Patrick Mullins commented : ""He'll go for a novice race at Christmas and I'll try and twist dad's arm and get him to run him in the four-mile race (at the Cheltenham Festival)." 

 

SUNDAY, 24th NOVEMBER 2013 

 

A NOSE JOB 

GENTILDONNA, trained by Sei Ishizaka, has won the the 33rd running of the Japan Cup and duly took her place in Japanese racing history, ably aided and abetted by Ryan Moore who is riding in the country on a three-month Japan Racing Association contract. The 4-year-old filly was sent off the 11/10 Favourite but only just managed to win by a nose – ahead of DENIM AND RUBY, to become the first two-time winner of the £3.23m Grade 1 race. She won the race last year also by a nose. 

Ryan Moore kept the daughter of DEEP IMPACT handy throughout the race and urged her into the lead turning into the final bend when a gap appeared on the inside. It was a close-run thing, however, as the 3-year-old DENIM AND RUBY made a last-minute challenge. 

The winning jockey confessed: "It was too close for my liking. This race is right up there with the Dubai World Cup, Kentucky Derby and the Melbourne Cup. These are the sort of big races I always want to be riding in and I've always wanted to win this race. I needed a filly as tough and game as her to do it." 

 

5 MILLION – THAT'S CHIC! 

A winner of the Irish Oaks was bought for over £5 million at the Goffs November Sale on Friday. CHICQUITA, a 3-year-old daughter of MONJTEU, named by her previous owner, Paul Makin, after one of the great Australian champions of the 1950s, was not surprisingly the top attraction when she stepped into the sales ring as the final lot on Friday evening. Ross Doyle, the bloodstock agent who acquired the filly on behalf of a client was not, however, prepared to divulge the name of the new owner. 

He did, however, comment: "She is a very special filly and a beautiful looking filly by the late, great Montjeu. She clearly has huge residual value as a potential broodmare, but I think she will probably stay in training next year. That's the plan at the moment. She's a top-class filly with a lot of ability. Hopefully she still has a big future and hopefully, she'll be running in the top Group One races next season." 

 

SATURDAY, 23rd NOVEMBER 2013 

 

AND THE WINNER IS … ONE OR THE OTHER! 

Today’s Grade 2 Amlin 1965 Chase at Ascot is now down to two runners after last year’s winner, CAPTAIN CHRIS was withdrawn at the eleventh hour. So it's easy to pick the winner. It will either be Paul Nichols' AL FEROF or Nicky Henderson's FRENCH OPERA. One or the other will collect over £28,000 for winning or over £10,000 for being runner-up. This has obviously caused great disappointment among the officials at Ascot over the low turnouts for this important fixture as well or the other Grade 2 event - the Coral Hurdle – which has only attracted four runners and the victor's share here is over £50,000. 

Chris Stickels, Clerk of the course, commented: "The Amlin and Coral Hurdle are never going to have huge fields because of the type of races they ares. There are some pluses about the card but we're a little disappointed." 

 

THANKS A MILLION! 

The 32Red Conditions Stakes at Lingfield today could be a chance for Roger Varian's YAGHEER to show what he is made of. The 2-year-old son of LAWMAN acquitted himself well on his debut, finishing second in the Initiatec CCTV E.B.F. Maiden Stakes at Doncaster last October. There is quite a lot at stake here because if the Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum-owned colt does pull it off then he would qualify to run on the all-weather championships finals day. The opportunity arises because this race is the fifth in the series of 'win and you're in' events guaranteeing a place on the £1million raceday on April 18. 

Newmarket trainer, Roger Varian remarked: "He ran well at Doncaster on his first start. He was a little bit babyish but shaped well. He's got to improve off that to win on Saturday, but we just like the conditions of the race. It's an attractive proposition to win and then be eligible to have a crack at the three-year-old race on Good Friday.

 

FRIDAY, 22nd NOVEMBER 2013 

 

REIGNING CHAMPION HANDS OVER REINS! 

It's finally official. Richard Hannon, the current champion Flat trainer, intends to retire at the end of this year. His son, Richard Hannon junior, will take over the licence in January 2014. Richard Hannon snr. commented at his Herridge Racing Stables in Wiltshire: “The worst-kept secret in racing is out – I am standing down from New Year’s Day. It was always going to happen, but Richard jnr has served his apprenticeship and you cannot keep him waiting forever. We thought long and hard as to when to make the announcement, but I wanted to make sure all my owners knew first, especially the Queen. Now that all the yearlings are in for next season, it is the appropriate moment to let everyone know” 

Richard Hannon, has been champion trainer three times in the last four years. He has notched up numerous big victories, including three wins in the 2000 Guineas with MON FILS, DON'T FORGET ME and TIROL and scored in the 1000 Guineas last season with SKY LANTERN. The Wiltshire handler retires at the summit of his career with a record-breaking number of domestic winners (238) to his name and prize money of over £4.5million. 

 

A REAL HUMDINGER! 

The Betfair Chase at Haydock tomorrow looks like it's going to be a real humdinger with eight doughty disputers declared. Just about every top staying-chaser in the country will be competing, including BOBS WORTH. This 8-year-old, trained by Nicky Henderson, only had two outings last season but he picked up the Hennessy Gold Cup Chase at Newbury in December, acknowledged as the biggest prize in steeplechasing. He'll be running against his stablemate, LONG RUN, winner of the Totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2011 and the King George two years running. The son of CADOUDAL had also the honour of being second to last year's winner, Paul Nicholls' SILVINIACO CONTI, ridden this time by Noel Fehily as stable jockey, Daryl Jacob, is busy at Ascot. This means that Sam Twiston-Davies will once more be riding for the Somerset handler on TIDAL BAY, the second of the Manor Farm Stables' entries. Trainer, David Pipe's contribution to this exciting occasion will be the 7-year-old grey, DYNASTE, having swapped an entry in last week's Paddy Power Gold Cup in favour of this contest. Colin Tizzard's yard is ready to challenge with last season's Ryanair Chase champion, CUE CARD, who was given a preparatory early season work-out in the BetVictor Haldon Gold Cup Chase (Grade 2 Handicap at Exeter two weeks ago and came third. Completing the round-up for this prestigious event, worth over £100,000 to the winner, there is David Bridgwater's THE GIANT BOLSTER who finished a creditable second and fourth in the last two Gold Cups and last but not least, the only Irish runner in the race, the Gordon Elliott-trained, ROI DE MEE, who, earlier in the month at Down Royal, was victorious in the JNwine.com Champion Chase (Grade 1), running the legs off SIZING EUROPE, who finished second, thirteen lengths adrift. 

 

THURSDAY, 21st NOVEMBER 2013 

 

THREE CLEAR WINS FOR RICHARD 

What do KESHI PEARL, RIO DE SIVOLA and GARDE LA VICTOIRE all have in common? They were all steered to victory yesterday at Warwick by Richard Johnson who has been runner-up 14 times in the champion jockey competition. It was a rare occasion not to be up against the champion jockey, Tony McCoy, himself, but the latter was excused boots after failing to pass a medical, following his fall at Fakenham on Tuesday. And Richard Johnson took full advantage of the great man's enforced absence; even, ironically, taking over one of his bookings. That welcome spare ride came in the form of the Nick Williams-trained RIO DE SIVOLA in the Million In Mind/Highflyer 4YO Chase, where the 4-year-old gelding got off the mark over fences, winning by 8 lengths, after coming third in a couple of Juvenile Hurdles at Sandown and Ffos Las in December and February. 

Richard Johnson'S first win of the day was aboard the 5-year-old KESHI PEARL, trained by Henry Daly, making her debut over hurdles in the Thoroughbred Breeders' Association Mares' Novices' Hurdle. The daughter of KAYF TARA was asked to do the job from a long way out and duly obliged with a winning distance of 9 lengths. 

Richard Johnson scored his third victory on the appropriately named GARDE LA VICTOIRE in the I'm A Celeb Slot Only At 32Red.com "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle, this time by 11 lengths. 

 

YOU'RE A BRICK, MCCOY! 

Jack Berry House is the name of the Injured Jockeys' Fund complex which is soon to be built in Malton, North Yorkshire. Part of its foundations will consist of a brick donated by the 18-times champion jockey, Tony McCoy. In fact, prominent figures in the racing world and many wellwishers have funded some of the 50,000 inscribed bricks for the proposed £3.5m rehabilitation and respite centre. Retired trainer, Jack Berry has been the driving force behind the new venture and published his autobiography in August 2009 to launch the fund. One of the main features of the new centre will be a special wall, consisting of bricks that have been 'bought' for £50 by supporters, such as many past and present leading racing figures in the UK and Ireland, including Tony McCoy, Lester Piggott, Vincent O’Brien, Barry Hills and John Francome. Each brick will have the individual donor's name on it. The first brick is due to be laid this month and it is planned that the new Jack Berry House will be open for business next Autumn. Among its facilities will be a gym, hydrotherapy pool, treatment rooms and respite accommodation. The opening of this new centre also coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Injured Jockeys Fund, set up in 1964, after Yorkshire rider, Paddy Farrell, was paralysed in the Grand National. 

 

WEDNESDAY, 20th NOVEMBER 2013 

 

ALL THAT GLITTERS COULD BE GOLD” 

Last Saturday's performance by AFRICAN GOLD at Cheltenham didn't disappoint his trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies, it seems, although he would only go as far as to say he was 'satisfied'. His five-year-old progressed well over hurdles last season. After winning the stratfordcaravans.co.uk Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race on his first outing, the son of KING'S THEATRE came second on his debut run over hurdles in October 2012, following that with three wins in a row at Wetherby and Newbury (twice). With his talented regular jockey, Sam Twiston-Davies, aboard, he kicked off this year by scoring in the British Stallion Studs Supporting British Racing EBF "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle at Doncaster and then managed a frustrating second in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at the Festival in March, four-and-a-half lengths adrift of champion jockey, Tony Mc Coy, on AT FISHERS CROSS (no apostrophe!). It could be argued that he ran creditably when only managing fifth at Aintree in April the John Smith's Liverpool Hurdle. Quite naturally hopes were high among all connections that he could excel on his first venture over fences. But his debut in the Roy Blandford 65 Years At Cheltenham Novices' Chase at Prestbury Park was perhaps something of an ordeal by fire as fourth was the best he could do in a field of six, and what is more, he came in over twenty-six lengths behind the winner. 

An upbeat Nigel Twiston-Davies commented, however: “He's absolutely fine after the race. I thought he ran a perfectly good race first time out but he just didn't get up the hill. He jumped fine, I didn't notice a mistake, but he got a big whack at the third-last (off Bob Ford) and that wouldn't have helped him, either. I haven't decided where he'll run next." 

 

REET CHAMPION! 

At the 'Go Racing in Yorkshire' Annual Awards Lunch held at Doncaster racecourse yesterday, a panel of northern-based racing journalists pronounced AURORAS ENCORE the winner of this year's Grand National, Yorkshire Horse Of The Year. This coveted award is presented to the connections of the horse that the panel has judged to have made an outstanding contribution to the sport of racing in the County. 

The 11-year-old is trained by Sue and Harvey Smith (former British showjumping champion) at Craiglands Farm near Bingley Moor, West Yorkshire. His principal rider is Scottish National Hunt jockey from Galashiels, Ryan Mania and he is owned by Douglas Pryde, Jim Beaumont and David Van Der Hoeven. The son of SECOND EMPIRE is the first Yorkshire-trained Grand National winner since Merryman II in 1960. The latter became not only the first Scottish horse, trained by Captain Neville Crump in Middleham, to win this race but also the first horse to be captured winning the event on television. (An additional claim to fame was that he was brought to victory by 22-year-old jockey, Gerry Scott, who was strapped from neck to waist in bandages, following the breaking of his collarbone just twelve days prior to the race!) 

Obviously delighted to receive the esteemed award, trainer, Sue Smith commented: "Everyone has been so appreciative, it's been a special year and long may it continue. Auroras Encore doesn't like the very soft ground we're having at the moment but hopefully he'll be back around Christmas." 

 

TUESDAY, 19th NOVEMBER 2013 

 

A THREEFOLD MEMORY 

A first win under Rules is not one a jockey is ever likely to forget. But for one rider at Plumpton yesterday the win was made triply memorable. Mr. M. J. P. Kendrick (Max to his friends) was competing on WITHER YENOT in the Follow Us On Twitter At StarSports_Bet 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle and up against tough opposition both from horses and riders. The first memorable moment came when Noel Fehly, aboard the odds-on favourite CAROLE'S DESTRIER, unexpectedly fell at the second last. Moments later fate intervened again when the 18-year-old rookie gamely beat 18-times champion jockey, Tony McCoy, to the post by three-quarters of a length. 

And to cap it all, the 6-year-old son of TIKKANEN is owned by his mother Carolyn! 

Max Kendrick was the youngest winner of the day at the High Easter Point-to-Point in March 2012. He won the Men's Open title at Horseheath on another of his mother's horses, having obtained his jockey's licence just four months before. He is based at trainer Ben Case's yard in Edgcote, Northamptonshire. 

Ben's wife Sarah commented: "Max has ridden six point-to-point winners and we were delighted with his success even though he had luck on his side. We'll certainly be celebrating tonight when Ben and Max get back to the yard." 

 

THE LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT 

Saturday is Betfair Chase day at Haydock. One owner who has this contest firmly in his sights is Robert Waley-Cohen who believes LONG RUN is ready for the challenge. The winner of the 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup will take his chances in this tough Grade One contest even though he only managed to finish fifth in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on his first race of the season at the beginning of this month. 

The 8-year-old son of CADOUDAL, trained by Nicky Henderson, has had to play second fiddle to previous Betfair Chase winners SILVINIACO CONTI in 2012 and KAUTO STAR in 2011. 

Robert Waley-Cohen said: "He has a good track record and will benefit from having had a run, even though he only ran properly for two and a half miles. But it is still better than not having had a run. He schooled really well with Yogi Breisner in the indoor arena last Wednesday and he worked well on Saturday. The reports are good." 

 

MONDAY, 18th NOVEMBER 2013 

 

CASSIDY, THE SUNDANCE KID! 

It sure takes a lot to keep a good horse down. This 7-year-old gelding almost died after being electrocuted in the paddock at Newbury in February 2011. He revealed the same symptoms as the two who unfortunately did not survive, but to a lesser degree and mercifully recovered when he was led off the grass on to a rubberised walkway. Then in November of the same year he had a bad fall at Lingfield and was very close to being put down by the vet but again he recovered. Now the Nicky Henderson-trained KID CASSIDY showed once again that he is made of sterner stuff and got the better of hot-favourite SIRE DE GRUGY in the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham yesterday. The son of BENEFICIAL was a 4/1 shot on the off but had the added advantage of being ridden by 18-times champion jockey, Tony McCoy, who was content to 'hold his horses' and let Gary Moore launch the Favourite into a bid for victory, jumping into the lead at the last fence. But there was no stopping the come-back kid who went three and a quarter lengths clear at the line. 

As trainer, Nicky Henderson, commented rather understatedly: "It's nice to see him win a good race because he does deserve one. His life hasn't exactly been overkind to him in a lot ways.”

 

PLUMP FOR HARRY! 

There's a good day's racing at Plumpton today and one trainer who knows how to win is Harry Fry, who's scored 4 wins from 8 runs so far this season and 7 from 20 runs last. If the rookie trainer from Dorset sends just one horse there, then this must send out a signal. Coupled with the fact that he has booked the well-experienced, Cheltenham Festival winner, Mr. William Biddick, to ride his top-weight HENRYVILLE in the Sicame UK Amateur Riders' Handicap Hurdle then there must be something 'goin' down'. The 5-year-old son of GENEROUS is already a Course and Distance winner, having won the Football In Play At totepool.com Novices' Hurdle at this East Sussex track. His first handicap mark looks reasonable as he's only giving away a pound to his nearest rival. Taking into account that Manor Farm Cottage stables seems to be maintaining the excellent form established so far this season, then today it could be the day it all comes together. 

 

SUNDAY, 17th NOVEMBER 2013  

17 ON THE 17th 

Willie Mullins and his two-time Champion Hurdle winner stand on the threshhold of history today at Punchestown. Superhurdler, HURRICANE FLY, runs in the StanJames.com Morgiana Hurdle. An easy win is on the cards (Famous last words!) and a victory for this 9-year-old means he will be the sole 17-time Grade 1 winner over hurdles, surpassing the record he shares, as of now, for Grade 1 or Group 1 wins with KAUTO STAR and JOHN HENRY, an American champion on the Flat. To attain this accolade, the son of MONTJEU appears only to have to beat four rivals who are on paper below his class. Interestingly enough, three of these are his stablemates – MARITO, MIDNIGHT GAME and MIKAEL D'HAGUENET. The fifth challenger is 6-year-old AKATARA, trained by Michael J. Bowe for His Highness The Aga Khan's Stud. This quartet all seem to face an impossible task against HURRICANE FLY who has achieved seven wins from eight runs at Punchestown and all but one of his wins at this track were in Grade 1 events. He won the race last year but it is his first run since adding the Punchestown Champion Hurdle to his list of triumphs for the fourth time in April. 

Jockey, Ruby Walsh, commented: “Hurricane Fly is a wonderful horse and the prospect of him setting a world record is really exciting. His record at Punchestown is outstanding and it would be fitting if he sets the record there. He’s in very good form and I know Willie is very happy with him.” 

 

THAT'S THE SPIRIT, JOHN! 

It was Paddy Power Handicap Chase time again at Cheltenham which made it feel like Festival time already. The weather was fine and it was attended by a record crowd for the fourth year in a row. What is more, the final dramatic stages of this renowned race exempliofied what keeps the racegoers flocking to this event. Trainer, Jonjo O'Neill must have thought it was all over bar the shouting, when JOHNS SPIRIT (no apostrophe!) jumped into a clear lead at the last obstacle and headed off up the final hill. But Cheltenham's seen this many times before. The race is not over until the winning post. Jockey, Richie McLernon, surely felt as if the battery were draining beneath him with every stride as he urged the 6-year-old up the seemingly endless final 100 yards. With every stride jockey, Tom O'Brien, aboard COLOUR SQUADRON visibly narrowed the gap; the drama enhance by the increased volume of the crowd. JOHNS SPIRIT's (yes, apostrophe!) ability had brought him to the verge of victory. He now needed something more to get him over the line and that something had to be willpower and courage and the son of GOLD WELL, mercifully, found both and managed to hold on to win by three-quarters of a length. 

Richie McLernon is an up-and-coming jockey in Jonjo O'Neill's yard but, unfortunately, has champion jockey, AP McCoy, in the same yard who obviously has the pick of many of the horses owned by JP McManus, whose colours, on this occasion, were, ironically, worn by COLOUR SQUADRON, who came second. This was because Tony McCoy was riding TAP NIGHT, also owned by J P McManus, in the same race. 

If you've followed the story so far, that's why Richie McLernon got the chance to score with the biggest win of his career. 

Sorry. I'll read that again! 

 

SATURDAY, 16th NOVEMBER 2013 

 

DOWN BUT NOT OUT 

Well, the prayers of all ARAMIS fans were not answered for a little rain at Cheltenham yesterday. That would have suited KAYLIF ARAMIS much better, as it did his brother, KAYF. So the other son of the legendary KAYF TARA had to make the best of it. And he did! Sam Twiston-Davies position him strategically in mid-division, reserving his energies for a later attack. He was boldly chasing the leaders, THOMAS CRAPPER, WHISPER and TOP GAMBLE when approaching 3 hurdles out. He was making good ground and was running roundabout 6th and well in touch but then a mistake was made, how or why not clear, and he fell, jumping up promptly, however, as did Sam Twiston-Davies, so no lasting harm was done. An anxious few minutes for breeder and trainer. But obviously a great disappointment for the Grangers, the syndicate that now owns KAYLIF ARAMIS, or KARAT, as he used to be known by his 'family'. 

 

HE'S A TEASE! 

TAQUIN DE SEUIL or 'Teasing Theshold' seems to be the translation and he was certainly a bit of a tease in the Steel Plate And Sections Novices' Chase at Cheltenham yesterday. The 6-year-old son of VOIX DU NORD got the better of top-class hurdler OSCAR WHISKY, who was tackling fences for the first time. The pace was incredibly slow and the twice-winner of the Aintree Hurdle at this distance also had a bit of a fright at his first-ever fence in public when he was somewhat put off his stride by the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained THE COCKNEY MACKEM who, ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies, almost refused to jump just alongside. That meant suddenly the son of OSCAR was in the lead which wasn't quite jockey, Barry Geraghty's plan. He had no option but to forge ahead and that made him the target for the hit squad following on his heels, particularly the 'Tease'. The odds-on favourite had every assistance from his top jockey, who worked hard to get him over the fences. It was always a bit of an ordeal by fire, however, as last year's winner of the Betfred Mobile Sports Challow Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) had already accomplished a successful chase debut in the Stradey Park Novices' Chase at Ffos Las at the end of October. It was just a matter of champion jockey, Tony McCoy and his mount getting their act together and finally throwing down a serious challenge over the final two of fences and it was all over bar the shouting. Win number 4006 for the man from Moneyglass, County Antrim.

 

FRIDAY, 15th NOVEMBER 2013

 

CELEBRITY YOUNGER BROTHER

The Racing Post isn't particularly noted for its over-praising and congratulatory tone. Certainly, it seems, not in regard to many races run over his long career by champion, KAYF ARAMIS. This time, however, the journalists seem to have mellowed a little. Today is the day for KAYLIF ARAMIS to step into the limelight, so often occupied by his brother, KAYF. The 6-year-old is running in the David Johnson Memorial Intermediate Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham this afternoon.

In their RACING SPOTLIGHT the RP makes the following comment: “Made good progress early in 2013 over this sort of trip, winning twice; reappeared with good third in valuable handicap at Chepstow three weeks ago, disputing lead over the last two flights; a little to prove if it's good ground instead of softer, but he's the type to develop further.”

An more under TIMEFORM: Kaylif Aramis

Won 2½m handicaps at Ffos Las and Uttoxeter last term and continued upward curve when a highly-creditable third on Chepstow reappearance 3 weeks ago. Of interest, particularly if the rain arrives.”

Let's pray for a little rain and a good ride by Sam Twiston-Davies!

 

THAT'S THE SPIRIT, OSCAR!

Champion jumps trainer, Nicky Henderson, has decided to try OSCAR WHISKY over fences for the first time today on the opening day at Cheltenham. The son of OSCAR didn't acquit himself at all well on his last two outings. He was pulled up in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham in March and only managed fourth in the John Smith's Hurdle in April. But all was not doom and gloom because on the two previous occasions he won the Osborne House Relkeel Hurdle (Grade 2) at Cheltenham in December and the Coral Hurdle (Registered As The Ascot Hurdle) (Grade 2) at Ascot in November. So the Lambourn-based handler is giving him a crack at the Steel Plate and Sections Novices' Chase. The last two illustrious winners of this contest were DYNASTE and GRANDS CRUS who had both previously won the Grade 1 Feltham Novices' Chase. Another consideration is that OSCAR WHISKY is tackling chasing two years later in life than his chief rivals, but, after finding the two top hurdling challenges a bit beyond him, it seems he might as well have a go over fences.

Nicky Henderson confessed: "This is not the ideal place to start a novice at but he loves the place and he has been good at home. He jumped five fences this morning and he was great. Obviously he has to concentrate and do it on the track. He has some very good opposition, but he has to start somewhere and he might as well start somewhere he likes."

 

IS DIAMOND FOREVER?

The 2013/14 National Hunt season gets off with a definite bang today when Cheltenham stages Countryside Day, the first of its three-day Open events. A number of hopefuls will be in action and all connections will no doubt be hoping that this week's efforts will lead to an appearance at the Festival in March. In that respect, a centre of interest could be the Glenfarclas Cross-Country Chase and the horse in question – DIAMOND HARRY. Whatever happened to the son of SIR HARRY LEWIS might be the question of many a punter's stress-bitten lips. Back in 2010 the then 7-year-old won the Hennessy Gold Cup Chase (handicap) (grade 3) beating Nicky Henderson's BURTON PORT by 1¼ lengths with the great DENMAN trailing 15 lengths behind in third place. What looked like a promising start for connections crumbled to nothing as the now 9-year-old has not only not won a race since that great victory by but has failed to complete the course on his last four outings, falling in one and being pulled up in the other three. So what has changed? Maybe another question on many a punter's stress-bitten lips! According to trainer, Nick Williams, OSCAR WHISKY ran creditably in France during the Summer, including his first cross-country at Lyon and did very well up against Cheltenham cross-country stalwarts such as BALTHAZAR KING and UNCLE JUNIOR (won it last year) - both competing today.

The trainer from Great Nympton near Exmoor commented: “He’s had a series of issues since winning the Hennessy, but I think they’re all behind him now and he’s back on form. I’m very happy with him and because he gets all the allowances for not winning, he’s well in on a handicap basis.”  

 

THURSDAY, 14th NOVEMBER 2013

 

PUTTING THE CARTIER BEFORE THE HORSE

Sheikh Joaan Al Thani'S filly, TREVE, unbeaten in five starts and five-length winner of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, was declared Cartier Horse of the Year at the 23rd annual Cartier Racing Awards in London last night. The 3-year-old, trained by Christiane 'Criquette' Head-Maarek, beat competition from SKY LANTERN, MOONLIGHT CLOUD, NOVELLIST and even AL KAZEEM. The daughter of MOTIVATOR was also awarded the Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly award.

 

MOONLIGHT CLOUD was compensated, however, by being awarded the Cartier Older Horse award. The five-year-old mare has remained unbeaten this year.

 

Aidan O'Brien's MAGICIAN, who was victorious in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and the Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita earlier this month, won the Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt award.

 

The Roger varian-trained KINGSTON HILL, became the leading Cartier Two-Year-Old Colt.

 

The prize for Cartier Two-Year-Old Filly was presented to CHRISELLIAM, winner of the

Shadwell Fillies' Mile at Newmarket and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in Santa Anita. Willie Carson part-owns this filly.

 

LETHAL FORCE won the Cartier Sprinter award, after Group One triumphs in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Darley July Cup at Newmarket.

 

ESTIMATE, owned by Her Majesty The Queen, who won the Ascot Gold Cup, was pronounced leading Cartier Stayer.

 

Irish trainer, Jim Bolger, won the coveted Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award of Merit for 2013. The County Kilkenny handler started back in the 1970s and achieved incomparable success as a trainer, owner and breeder.

 

PISTOL PACKING LADY!

PISTOL BASC won the Newcastle Flooring Handicap Chase at Sedgefield yesterday, making his trainer, Rebecca Menzies, the youngest ever female trainer in Britain to saddle a winner. The 24-year-old 'Becky' was formerly an assistant to Ferdy Murphy in Middleham but then established her own Foulrice Farm Racing Stables at Brandsby earlier this season when her mentor moved to France. Her stables are the original location where Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning trainer Peter Beaumont use to operate and he still lives on the site. The 9-year-old was surprisingly a co-favourite despite the fact that he was pulled up on his last outing in the Flying Hire Handicap Chase in August. He was then trained by Ferdy Murphyand ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies. This time he had conditional jockey, Tony Kelly, aboard who managed to always keep him handy and produced a five-length win, the son of MAILLE PISTOL' s first victory since October 2010 at Wetherby.

 

TUESDAY, 12th NOVEMBER 2013 

 

THE SKY'S THE LIMIT. 

It has just been announced that a five-year agreement has been reached that will see Sky Bet sponsor The Supreme Novices' Hurdle, which is traditionally the opening race of the Cheltenham Festival. The Leeds-based company will also sponsor two Grade Two novices' hurdles: the Sky Bet Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham on Sunday 17th November and the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Trial Hurdle at Haydock Park on Saturday, 18th January. 

The Head of Sponsorship at Cheltenham Racecourse, Peter McNeile, commented: "I am really pleased that Sky Bet will be sponsoring the Supreme Novices' Hurdle for the next five years. This is the company's first major sponsorship at Cheltenham and to position it with such a prominent race in the Supreme Novices' is great. I am already, like I'm sure the team at Sky Bet are as well, looking forward to the traditional roar from the crowd at the start of the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' to signify the start of The Festival." 

Michael Shinners, Horse Racing PR Manager at Sky Bet, added: "Sky Bet is delighted to be sponsoring the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle.” 

 

TRYING TIMES! 

West Yorkshire trainer, Sue Smith, only the third woman trainer to win the Grand National when this year AURORAS ENCORE, ridden by Ryan Mania, triumphed by nine lengths, has been fined £3,000 by the stewards at Southwell. It seems The Bingley Moor handler has been censured for the way she conducted the race when EMRAL SILK, a bay gelding whom she also owns, was making his first start over hurdles in the 32Red.com 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle yesterday. In addition, jockey Jonathan England, has been suspended for 18 days and the five-year-old son of REVOGUE has been banned from racing for 40 days. 

The stewards decision was that EMRAL SILK's performance breached the non-trier rules. The stipendiary steward, Robert Sidebottom, stated afterwards:"They have been found in breach of schooling and conditioning in public. We felt that the jockey didn't make all reasonable substantial effort to achieve the best possible placing." 

The two leading journals reported the race thus: 

Sporting Life: “In touch, outpaced 6th, struggling when went left next, soon eased, tailed off.” 

Racing Post: “Jumped left and not fluent, took keen hold, tracked leaders, dropped back 6th, reminder and eased after next.” 

A difficult one to call. 

 

MONDAY, 11th NOVEMBER 2013 

 

A LOCAL LEGEND HOPS TO IT 

The Armed Forces meeting at Market Rasen yesterday provided the local community with ample reason to celebrate. LEGENDARY HOP, trained by Grantham-based Chris Bealby, and ridden by Tom Messenger, scored in the 1stsecuritysolutions Handicap Chase, one of the day's highlights. The 7-year-old son of MIDNIGHT LEGEND was bred by Brian Duke, a Market Rasen builder, who had worked at the racetrack in the 1960's and constructed some stables just up the road on the A46. He is also a great racing enthusiast and sponsors many races, promoting the company that bears his name. 

A delighted Mr. Duke, who is part owner with the trainer, Chris Bealby, and Paul Umpleby, another local enthusiast, commented: "Its a big day, my first win here as an owner, I could see he was going well all the way round. The horse has had 364 days off a course since winning at Southwell. 

 

ALL THE WAY, SHARAREH! 

Christmas seems to come earlier every year and racetracks are not slow to promote the Festive Season. Today Kempton Park presents the Book Christmas Festival Tickets Now Median Auction Maiden Stake. (There's also Christmas Parties At Carlisle Racecourse Novices' Hurdle at you-know-where!) Milanese trainer, Luca Cumani, who has worked at Newmarket since 1976, seems to have booked his ticket early for a win by entering SHARAREH. The 3-year-old bay filly is only on her fifth outing but has produced two notable seconds in that time. The daughter of SIR PERCY was a spirited runner-up to OKAVANGO in the Betdaq 1st UK Race Commission Free Maiden Stakes last time out at this very track. She may possibly be excused a disastrous run at Chester the time before that when she came last-but-one in an 11-strong field. It was, after all, discovered that she was lame when she returned to the stables. Anyway, it looks like the Italian handler has decided to give her one more chance in a maiden. As it happens, this particular contest doesn't appear to be bursting with talent, unless, that is, the resourceful William Twiston-Davies, son of trainer, Nigel, can pull something out of the bag on the 10/1 shot, RESOURCEFUL MISS.  

 

SUNDAY, 10th NOVEMBER 2013 

 

RICHARD THE SECOND 

Richard Hughes has done it again. He has retained his Champion jockey title at Doncaster yesterday, after winning it for the first time a year ago. Also he has become the first jockey since Kieren Fallon in 2003 to get 200 winners in a season, comfortably ahead his nearest rival, Ryan Moore. If anything, this time the achievement was perhaps even more memorable than the last for Richard Hughes, because he only bagged his first Classic victory when he rode SKY LANTERN in the 1000 Guineas for his boss and father-in-law, Richard Hannon, last May. Then he was lucky to pick up the spare ride on the Ralph Beckett-trained TALENT in the Investec Oaks just a few weeks later which he won impressively on the 3-year-old daughter of NEW APPROACH. 

Another highlight of his career came last weekend when he won the Breeders' Cup for the first time at Santa Anita, riding the Charlie Hills-trained and Willie Carson part-owned CHRISELLIAM. 

Richard Hughes said after receiving receiving his trophy: "It's a fabulous day and this is why you do it. I wanted to show last year wasn't a fluke. I went hard early in the year and got my quickest 50 and 100. I thought if I could ride 200 winners, that would nearly clinch it and I did. I've been on some wonderful horses and I'm under no illusions I wouldn't be champion jockey without the Richard Hannon stable behind me. My ambition from day one has been to win a Derby. I've haven't had enough rides in it to win it yet. 

 

CONDUCT BECOMING 

The end to the Flat season was marked by an impressive 5-length victory by CONDUCT in the November Handicap. The six-year-old grey hadn't scored since winning the Heaton-ellis Trust Handicap at Newbury in September 2010. Seb Sanders gave the son of SELKIRK a determined ride, making clear headway around two furlongs from home and well in the lead past the furlong pole. It was a comfortable win ahead of RIO'S ROSANNA who seemed to fade in the final stages. 

The winning jockey, who shared the flat racing championship with Jamie Spencer in 2007, commented afterwards: “I had a shocking draw and I was caught out for the first half mile. Believe it or not, I won his maiden on him when he was with Sir Michael Stoute and I said then that he was the best maiden I had ever ridden.” 

 

SATURDAY, 9th NOVEMBER 2013 

 

WILD ABOUT HARRY 

Paul Nicholls' former assistant trainer, Harry Fry, who only got his licence towards the end of last year will come up against his former boss this afternoon in the totepool Enter The Ten To Follow Elite Hurdle (Grade 2 Limited Handicap). The Seaborough-based rookie already has an impressive record in the short time he has been training: Chase – 11 wins from 28 runs (39%); Hurdles – 13 from 50 (26%) and NHF – 3 from 19 (16%). He only has two runners today HIGHLAND RETREAT in the Your Favourite Pool Bets At totepool.com Mares' Handicap Hurdle and KARINGA DANCER in the afore-mentioned contest with Paul Nicholls. This race is of particular interest because the Somerset handler won this event last year with ZARKANDAR (in fact he bagged second spot as well with PROSPECT WELLS!) but it looks possible that the 7-year-old son of KARINGA BAY could deny the Ditcheat trainer the prize this time around, after his stunning 8-length victory in the Betfred Goals Galore Handicap Hurdle at Aintree just two weeks ago. He has the additional bonus of partnering, Noel Fehly, the current runner-up in the leading jockeys' table. 

 

A DING DONG BATTLE 

The traditional farewell to the Flat turf season takes place at Doncaster this afternoon and what better place for a certain Northern Ireland jockey to be the toast of the town. No not him! Her! On this occasion it's not AP but SB - a young woman rider who is slowly making her way in the racing world but probably unknown to most racegoers. Samantha Bell, Sammy to her friends, gets an opportunity to make her mark once more when she rides HI THERE in the Betfred November Handicap, at Doncaster this afternoon. 

The 22-year-old jockey, who hails from County Antrim, only joined Richard Fahey at Musley Bank in January this year where she has done remarkably well, with a dozen winners so far this season, including HI THERE at Newbury last time out. This mile-and-a-half trip is little further than the four-year-old son of DARK ANGEL has attempted before but he is seems to be progressive and maturing with each race so he could take the extra two furlongs in his stride.   

 

FRIDAY, 8th NOVEMBER 2013 

 

RIDING FOR THE FUN OF IT? 

It seems there is no other racing news today. Quite naturally just about every sports journalist has rushed to make a contribution to yesterday's historic event when champion jump jockey, Tony McCoy, achieved an incredible 4000 career wins on MOUNTAIN TUNE at Towcester yesterday in the Weatherbys Novices' Hurdle. 

So much has been written about the great rider from Moneyglass, Northern Ireland, that it prompts the question as to what has not been written? A quick bit of online research points out that Tony McCoy: 

  • started working with horses at the age of 13, after leaving school at 15. A sudden increase in weight made him decide to switch from Flat to Jump racing.

  • won the 1994-95 Champion Conditional Jockey award when he was 21 after he had ridden 74 winners. 

  • Only won the Grand National in 2010, after 15 attempts, riding DON'T PUSH IT. It is estimated that bookmakers made a loss of around £50,000,000 as a result of this win. 

  • got an an MBE in 2003 and an OBE in 2010. 

  • spends about two hours a day sweating in a bath or sauna in the constant battle to keep his racing weight down, even as low as 10st 3lb. 

  • has won 16 Lesters - the jockeys’ awards, racing’s equivalent to the Oscars. These awards are named in honour of Lester Piggott, the eleven-time British flat racing Champion Jockey who won thirty British Classic Races from 1954 to 1992. The awards were inaugurated in 1990, and they recognise the achievements of jockeys from both flat and jump racing during the previous year.

  • He has been Champion Jockey for 18 seasons and is the most successful jump jockey in history. He’s currently in leading position in the championship to win a 19th.

  • Today he has a relatively quiet day – one ride at Southwell for his favourite combination of owner and trainer – Jonjo O'Neill and J P McManus. He will appear in the 32Red.com Standard Open NH Flat Race on 4-year-old FORTHEFUNOFIT – a name not easily associated with champion jockey, Tony McCoy who clearly takes his racing very seriously. 

A GEM OF A RACE 

One piece of news did get past the McCoy mayhem. Ruby Walsh made the trip to Thurles yesterday for just one ride. He rode NOBLE PRINCE in the John Meagher Memorial Chase (Listed) and won by 3¼ lengths. The Paul Nolan-trained son of MONTJEU has been off form for quite some time. In fact, he hasn't won a race since October 2011 at Naas. The jockey from the appropriately named Kill, in County Kildare, however, stamped his authority on the occasion and brought the 9-year-old back into the winners' enclosure once more. By the third out it looked as though REALT DUBH, with Barry Geraghty aboard had the race in the bag but Grand national winner, Ruby Walsh showed real class by producing NOBLE PRINCE with perfect timing and overhauling the favourite after the final fence.   

 

THURSDAY, 7th NOVEMBER 2013

 

NEWS ON FOUR

Another four-timer at Kempton last night! This time it was the turn of Brazilian-born jockey, Silvestre De Sousa, who won the first four races on the card. First he steered the Charlie Appleby-trained MARIA BELLA, the odds on favourite, to a 2¾ length victory in the Betdaq - The Sports Betting Exchange Maiden Fillies' Stakes (Div 1). Then he won by 5 lengths, riding Godolphin's NATURAL CHOICE, trained by Saaed bin Suroor, in the Betdaq - The Sports Betting Exchange Maiden Fillies' Stakes (Div 2). The third triumph for the boy from São Paulo was the 500 Free Bets At Betdaq Handicap (London Middle Distance Series Qualifier), this time for Ian Williams on STEVIE THUNDER. The thirty-three year-old jockey crowned his day and that of trainer Charlie Appleby (giving him a double for the day) when he scored on 2-year-old PRETEND, also Godolphin-owned, in the British Stallion Studs E.B.F. Maiden Stakes and this time with a resounding 7-length victory.

 

KEEPING TRACK OF THE RECORD

At least all the publicity surrounding champion jockey, Tony McCoy's quest for 4000 wins is good for the racetracks where he appears. Today a record crowd is expected at Towcester racecourse where the jockey from Moneyglass, Northern Ireland, has two rides booked. He only needs one win today to make history, after clocking up his 3,999th victory at Chepstow yesterday on Jonjo O'Neill's MINELLA FOR STEAK.

His first ride at Towcester will be at 14.10 on another Jonjo O'Neill-trained horse, CHURCH FIELD in the Agetur UK Handicap Hurdle. The 5-year-old gelding, owned by JP McManus, has won four consecutive races this summer but didn't score on his last two outings at Newton Abbot and Cheltenham. An hour later the same owner and trainer make another appearance when Tony McCoy saddles up 4-year-old MOUNTAIN TUNES, an Irish point-to-point winner in March.

Obviously officials at Towcester are getting quite excited about the possibility of Tony McCoy's making his record win at their track.

Robert Bellamy, Clerk of the course, commented: “Everyone was delighted to see him (McCoy) have that winner at Chepstow and hopefully, we’ll have a nice crowd here tomorrow.

It would obviously be fantastic for Towcester if he could get the 4,000th winner here. It would be a great feather in our cap and would give us great publicity as well, of course.” 

 

WEDNESDAY, 6th NOVEMBER 2013 

 

NOT A MERRY DANCE! 

Ryan Moore's ride on DANDINO in the Melbourne Cup has aroused the disappointment of Darren Dance, syndicate manager, and as a consequence he will not retain the ride of the 6-year-old in next month's Hong Kong Vase. The DANSILI son, bred by the Elite Racing Club and trained by Marco Botti, got off to a good start, spent a while limgering in midfield until eventually he worked his way into 5th place when coming into the final furlong. He stayed on but never looked like being in a position to offer any serious challenge and ended up 5th some three-and-a-half lengths adrift of the winner, FIORENTE. It seems that Darren Dance did think DANDINO could have won the contest but had been denied a place because of the riding tactics. 

He said after the race: "It was a disappointing ride. My summary is that the horse ran enormous. To come from second last on the corner to run fifth was outstanding, but at the 1,000 metre mark he had the chance to get on the back of Fiorente. That's what cost us running second or third. I don't think we were going to beat Fiorente, he was just too good." 

 

FOUR-TIMER FOR A “YOUNGTIMER” 

Forget the champion jockey's roadshow! Newmarket-based jockey, Adam Kirby, had one of the best days of his career when he rode, for the first time, four winners at Kempton Park last night. His fantastic day kicked off in the second race of the evening when the Luca Cumani-trained KINDU in the Book Your Christmas Party On 01932 753518 Maiden Stakes, a 16/1 outsider. He missed out on the next race which was won by Kieren Fallon on DIAMOND MINE, also trained by Luca Cumani. But he was back in action in the Day Delegate Rates From 39 Handicap aboard Dean Ivory's SHAUNAS SPIRIT (no apostrophe!) at a mere 8/1. The lucky three was produced two races later when he rode Clive Cox's APOLLO D'NEGRO, in the Book Now For The Christmas Festival Handicap and steered the 10/1 5-year-old to the narrowest of victories – a nose. The 25-year-old's day was made complete when he also landed the last race on the card, the Book Now For Jump Racing On 25.11.13 Handicap. This time, however, he was on the 6/4 favourite, 4-year-old JAY BEE BLUE, handled by Oxfordshire-based Sean Curran and won by 2¾ lengths. 

Truly a day to remember!  

 

TUESDAY, 5th NOVEMBER 2013

 

SHEILA TAKE A BOW”.

FIORENTE, has won the Melbourne Cup for the Australian trainer, commonly known as Gai Waterhouse. Gabriel Marie Waterhouse established herself as a model and actor, before coming to England and even appeared in the Doctor Who story, The Invasion of Time. She then returned to Australia where she served an apprenticeship under her father for fifteen years before getting her own trainer's licence.

This win at Melbourne makes her the first female Australian trainer to win the race. RUSCELLO, another British entry, trained by Ed Walker, set off at a searing gallop and was still leading six furlongs from home but, inevitably the challengers were queueing up to take him on, including Ed Dunlop's RED CADEAUX, who had to overcome a high draw and was poised on the outside of the field turning for home. The 5-year-old son of MONSUN was tracking him closely and the two became involved in a frantic duel. Then Jockey, Damien Oliver, on FIORENTE, launched his attack on the outside. Gerald Mosse got an immediate response from RED CADEAUX but it just wasn't enough and had to settle for runner-up – again..

Champion jockey, Richard Hughes, aboard Richard Hannon's SIMENON, had to be content with fourth place, although he didn't seem too disappointed.

 

WEIGHT FOR IT!

The BetVictor Haldon Gold Cup Chase at Exeter this afternoon could be CUE CARD's chance to repeat his last year's victory. The 7-year-old gelding, trained by Colin Tizzard, gave a superb performance in this Grade Two limited handicap 12 months ago, winning the event by 26 lengths. The son of KING'S THEATRE then went on to shine in the Betfair Ascot Chase (Grade 1) with a 6-length victory, followed by a 9-length winning rout in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham in March. Last time out in April, he found the John Smith's Melling Chase (Grade 1) more of a challenge and ceded defeat by 4½ lengths, albeit to a worthy champion, the Nicky Henderson-trained SPRINTER SACRE. Today's contest is only 6-horse affair, after Nigel Twiston-Davies' MAD MOOSE was withdrawn, and it may be that CUE CARD's greatest challenge will be weight, giving over a stone to the rest of the field

 

MONDAY, 4 th NOVEMBER 2013 

 

IN THE LONG RUN HE'LL BE OK. 

LONG RUN's performance at Wetherby in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase (Grade 2), as reported in yesterday's RACING NEWS, was a great disappointment for all connections and they seem determined to find out why. The son of CADOUDAL, who was victorious in the 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup and the King George VI Chase came fifth, the lowest position in 27 career starts and, worse than that, he was a good 41 lengths behind the winner HARRY TOPPER. It turns out that a post-race examination revealed that he had problems with his throat and is due to have a trachea wash today. 

Lambourn trainer, Nicky Henderson, commented: "He's 100% today. After the race yesterday we had him scoped and he had a significant amount of mucus and a bit of blood in there as well which is significant. It's a bit like a human being. You go to bed one night feeling great and then wake up in the morning feeling pretty awful. You can only test so much. It's a pity because he'd never run a bad race in his life, so we know that wasn't him. We've just got to get him back to absolutely top form. He didn't get home at all yesterday.” 

 

3995 … 3996 … AND COUNTING 

OSCAR FORTUNE and RED LION ROCK provided champion jockey, Tony McCoy, with two more winners on his way to a record 4000 career wins. He now only has four to go. As he only has three rides scheduled for today at Kempton, it looks like he'll have to wait at least until tomorrow before this tantalising target is touched. The Northern Irish rider, retained by the Irish millionaire and powerful racehorse owner, J. P. McManus, has been the champion jockey for the last 18 seasons. The Jonjo O'Neill-trained OSCAR FORTUNE gave him his first win of the day in the Mr & Mrs Handley Ruby Wedding Novice Hurdle. The 5/4 favourite surged into to the front at two from home and won by a length and three-quarters. The champion had to wait until the last race of the day, a bumper, the Ratten Row 'Junior' Standard Open NH Flat Race, when RED LION ROCK produced a second success of the day. 

Unfortunately, the famous son of Moneyglass, County Antrim, failed to make the grade with BERNARDELLI (2nd), HOLYWELL (3rd), TAP NIGHT (2nd) and BESCOTT SPRINGS (5th) otherwise he'd be celebrating already!  

 

SUNDAY, 3rd NOVEMBER 2013 

 

SANTA COMES EARLY! 

The Santa Anita 2013 Breeders' Cup was the scene for two more European successes last night. This time it was Sir Michael Stoute's DANK and Aidan O'Brien's MAGICIAN in the spotlight, both ridden by Ryan Moore, giving him a double for the day. 

First of all, DANK, the 4-year-old daughter of DANSILI, was, not surprisingly the 6/4 favourite for the race - the Breeders' Cup Filly And Mare Turf – because, no doubt, of her earlier impressive win in the Beverley D Stakes at Arlington on her first trip to the States earlier this year. Ryan Moore got her quickly into her stride and then was content to hold second place on the inside behind a good regular pace set by EMOLLIENT. The dynamic duo then made their move at the end of the home turn, seized the lead and held onto it, winning by half-a-length.

Then the 3-times champion jockey put on a top-rate perfomance when he won the Breeders' Cup Turf (Grade 1) on MAGICIAN, who, although scoring in the Irish 2,000 Guineas earlier in the year, has been oof the track, since finishing a disappointing last in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in June. The son of GALILEO, increasing his usual trip by four furlongs was sent off at a surprising 13/1, due, no doubt, partly to his long absence from the track but also, possible, due to the presence of John Gosden's, THE FUGUE, who became the favourite for the contest. It was a rip-roaring pace from the off but Nowegian-born William Buick, aboard another DANSILI filly, clearly judged the moment was right to angle towards the lead approaching the end of the back stretch. Ryan Moore was relaxed and waited for his moment which came when William Buick tried to assert dominance on the run for home. THE FUGUE valiantly held on to her lead well into the final furlong but sit seemed she had given her all and could not hold off Ryan Moore's perfectly-timed challenge, which produced a half-a- length victory. 

Aidan O'brien's biggest disappointment of the day has to be, however, the close-run result in the last race of the day, the Breeders' Cup Classic (Grade 1) when DECLARATION OF WAR failed to win, after a three-way photo-finish with MUCHO MACHO MAN and WILL TAKE CHARGE. Halfway down the final stretch, victory seemed to within grasp but son of the trainer, Joseph O'Brien, was just not able to urge the 4-year-old son of WAR FRONT past last year's runner-up, MUCHO MACHO MAN, ridden by Gary Stevens, who only came out from a seven-year retirement earlier in the year. The official result was a nose and a head! 

 

HARRY'S THE TOPPER! 

Wetherby's bet365 Charlie Hall Chase (Grade 2) yesterday was won by the Kim Bailey-trained HARRY TOPPER, who managed to hold off the competition with a determined effort in the final stages and get the better of WAYWARD PRINCE by a neck. Paul Nicholls' UNIONISTE, for whom connections had great hopes and ridden for the first time by Sam Twiston-Davies, seemed to have a chance of scoring but wasn't very fluent over the last and had nothing left when it was needed and finished four lengths down. Not that the eventual winner had an error-free ride. The 6-year-old son of SIR HARRY LEWIS made some unnecessary errors early on and was rather slow over the jumps thereafter, probably because jockey, Jason Maguire, was attempting to settle him down. Champion jockey, Tony McCoy, chasing his legendary 4000 goal, was bowling along in front at a cracking rate but this wasn't to be his race, as he was gradually overhauled by the rest of the field towards the end of the back straight on the final circuit and had to be content with fourth. A three-way contest then developed between MASTER OF THE HALL, UNIONISTE and WAYWARD PRINCE until the first of this trio fell. By this time HARRY TOPPER managed to charge down the outside and join the leading pair at the last-but-one and the rest is history.

The diappoint of the day was LONG RUN's much heralded comeback. He tracked the leaders with some authority but made a mistake at the 11th, wasn't very fluent at the 4th from home, made another mistake and weakened at 3 out, when he also jumped badly to the left. Not a good day for the 8-year-old son of CADOUDAL who started the 11/10 favourite and finished fifth and last of the seven-runner field. (CAPE TRIBULATION pulled up and MASTER OF THE HALL fell).

 

SATURDAY, 2nd NOVEMBER 2013 

 

THREE TRAINERS, TWO JOCKEYS – ONE GREAT BRITISH DAY! 

Three British-trained horses struck gold on the first day of the 30th Breeders’ Cup, although two of them were ridden to victory by an American jockey. First off the mark was the Jo Hughes-trained LONDON BRIDGE, ridden by with 17-times Breeders' Cup winner, Mike Smith, in the $500,000 Breeders' Cup Marathon (Grade 2) (Dirt). The 3-year-old son of ARCH, who was bought some time before the the race by Australian Waratah Thoroughbreds Pty Ltd who plan to run him in next year’s Melbourne Cup, demonstrated that he was the only proven stayer in the race when, from a circuit out, he gradually picked off his rivals one by one as they visibly reached the limits of their stamina by the final straight. 

Jockey Mike Smith commented: “The change in his shoes made a big difference but even with that he was never really confident on it. I was having to push and then sit so as not to dishearten him. He outlasted them and if it had been on grass it would have been a much better victory.” 

Then in the very next race it was the turn of Charlie Appleby, Godolphin’s recently-appointed trainer and a newcomer to the Breeders’ Cup, who triumphed with his very first runner. Again it was thanks to champion American jockey, Mike Smith, achieving a double for the day, who gave the 2-year-old Darley-bred OUTSTRIP an impressive ride in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (Grade 1). The contestants set off at a furious gallop and it looked as though the race was going to develop into a classic Breeders’ Cup duel. The son of EXCEED AND EXCEL seemed to be trapped on the rail for some time but Mike Smith managed to pull him out as they came round the bend and, the moment a gap appeared, he was off like the clappers. He had a good five lengths to recoup but he made it fairly easily in the end and won by half a length, ahead of nearest challenger, Aidan O'Brien's GIOVANNI BOLDINI. 

They say all good things come in threes and last night was no exception. The third British raider to present his credentials was the 2-year-old daughter of IFFRAAJ, mentioned in yesterday's RACING NEWS, co-owned by 5-times champion jockey, Willie Carson, who failed to win this race 23 years ago, Emily Asprey and Chris Wright. In fact her name is a combination of their names. She gave perhaps the most decisive performance of the day. She cruised so smoothly into the straight that champion jockey, Richard Hughes, was able to help the Charlie Hills-trained filly to reveal her devastating turn of foot to win the coveted prize in a record time for the Breeders’ Cup. 

 

THE ULTIMATE WINNER 

Shocks all round at Wetherby yesterday when the Brian Ellison-trained ULTIMATE, who was sent off at 25/1, won the bet365 Handicap Chase, after making all the running under the expert stewardship of Danny Cook. It seems the extra confidence resulting from a five-length victory in the Win Big With The totejackpot Handicap two weeks ago may well have inspired the son of ANABAA to produce some excellent jumping. He kept well ahead of the rest of the field, an advantage he maintained to the end, seeing off a late challenge by HUMBIE, who was adrift by a length and a half at the post. 

Trainer Brian Ellison commented: "He only won a fortnight ago, so we knew he was coming here in good form. He's only a little Flat horse really, but he's all heart. He went a good gallop today and jumped well and when they do that they take a bit of pegging back, as he showed. I won't rush him back as he likes to be fresh and I might even think about stepping him up to the three miles, as he wasn't stopping at the line."  

FRIDAY, 1st NOVEMBER 2013 

 

NINE TO GO! 

The Grade 2 WKD Hurdle at Down Royal today not only has champion jockey, Tony McCoy, chasing the magical 4000 career wins but also it will be his first time aboard the JP McManus-owned JEZKI, the novice hurdler who won three Grade 1 races last year and was unlucky to get beaten into third place in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham in March by the Nicky Henderson-trained MY TENT OR YOURS, ridden by you-know-who (m?) 

It will also be a ride down Memory Lane for the the 18-times champion - who needs just nine more winners to reach his goal – as will be returning to his local track for the first time since 2008 when he won the Anglo Irish Bank Hurdle (Grade 3) on the Noel Meade-trained JERED. Interesting how similar the names are! 

Trainer Jessica Harrington commented: "All has gone to plan and we're looking forward to getting him started. We know everyone has got to beat Hurricane Fly [in the Champion Hurdle] and we haven't seen him yet, but The New One looked very impressive the other day too. There is a long way to go until Cheltenham, though. No horse has done anything wrong yet and you wouldn't expect them to have with it being so early in the season." 

Tony McCoy will be hoping for better luck today after three disappointing rides at Stratford yesterday. 

 

WILLIE BE REDEEMED? 

Another jockey, now ex-, who has made a trip down Memory Lane is Willie Carson. The 71-year-old will be seeking some kind of redemption tonight in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (Grade 1). 23 years ago he went through agony when was denied what would have been his only victory at one of the world's most famous events when riding DAYJUR. 

As Willie Carson understated; “It was very disappointing at the time. The fastest horse - one of the fastest sprinters that's ever been - got collared because of a shadow. He didn't get beat by another horse. He got beat by a shadow." 

Of course the 5-times champion jockey will not be riding this time. Last year he teamed up with Chris Wright, the music millionaire, and bought a yearling filly for 40,000 guineas. They decide to call her CHRISELLIAM, a combination of their names. The young IFFRAAJ filly won the Shadwell Fillies Mile (Group 1) at Newbury last time out. 

Willie Carson commented further: "She finally did on the track what she did at home," said Carson. It's a bit of an unknown going around Santa Anita for any European. We think we've got a filly that can do that with her turn of foot." 

 

THURSDAY, 31st OCTOBER 2013 

 

A NATURAL PHENOMENON? 

After days of racing interrupted and plagued by bad weather a top-quality line-up of trainers, jockeys and horses can be relished this afternoon at Lingfield in the Listed 32Red.com/Choose EBF Nominated River Eden Fillies' Stakes, worth £22, 684 to the winner. Last year's victor, or should one say 'victress', TEMPUS FUGIT, is back to do it again but the 4-year-old daughter of HIGH CHAPARRAL might just find that she is appropriately named and that it's now the turn of a younger generation, albeit the 3-year-olds, who have established quite a record in this contest, as she, herself, proved last year. 

One of these 3-year-olds is PHAENOMENA, trained by Lady Cecil, who didn't start racing until May this year and took four attempts to break her maiden which she did at Newbury in August in the Interactive Maiden Fillies' Stakes. She managed only a third at Chester at the end of August but last time out in the Prestige Vehicles E.B.F. Fillies' Handicap at Newbury the Galileo filly started to reveal her breeding. Seemingly ininvolved at the back of the 10-strong field, ridden by Martin Harley, she suddenly powered effortlessly to the front in the final furlong and even beat the Sir Michael Stoute-trained ASTONISHING by a length. 

Could be an interesting race. 

 

A JOCKEY'S DILEMMA? 

Top trainer, Paul Nicholls is dispatching his horses all over the kingdom this weekend in search of financial rewards. KAUTO STONE will be trying his luck in JNwine.com Champion Steeplechase (Grade 1) in the Down Royal Fesival of Racing. Jockey, Harry Derham is booked to ride THERE'S NO PANIC in the United House Gold Cup at Ascot. The Somerset handler must have had a slight panic, though, as one of his jockeys, Daryl Jacob, had key-hole surgery for an injured shoulder recently and will be out of action for some time yet. So the 7-times British jump racing Champion Trainer had to look around for a jockey for one of his two entries at Wetherby, TIDAL BAY and UNIONISTE. His choice turns out to be the talented Sam Twiston-Davies, fresh from a double on his Dad's HOLLOW BLUE SKY and BIG CASINO at Carlisle yesterday. 

The son of Champion trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies commented: "Paul rang me at the start of the week to mention what the plan was going to be and I'm going down to school them both tomorrow. Hopefully we get on well and we can have a good weekend, it's a massive weekend for me. I'm very grateful to the owners and Chris Broad (agent) as well for getting me on. I've watched Unioniste plenty, usually because I've been finishing behind him - he looks a smashing horse. And I remember watching Tidal Bay when I was a kid, I always had a soft spot for him." 

It would be interesting to have Dad's thoughts on the matter as he has MASTER OF THE SEA racing against TIDAL BAY and BILLIE MAGERN up against UNIONISTE. Presumably, all things being equal, Sam would have ridden these two at Wetherby.  

 

WEDNESDAY, 30th OCTOBER 2013 

 

GOLD CUP FOR THE OLDIES! 

The entries for The £175,000 Hennessy Gold Cup takes place on Saturday, November 30, and details of the entries have been released. Two of particular note are Paul Nicholls' TIDAL BAY and IMPERIAL COMMANDER, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, who could make history as the first 12-year-olds to win this great race. Paul Nicholls, who has already won this prize three times as a trainer is making a strong challenge by entering no fewer than seven hopefuls: the aforementioned TIDAL BAY, UNIONISTE, ROLLING ACES, ROCKY CREEK, MON PARRAIN POUNGACH and AITEEN THIRTYTHREE. 

Venetia Williams won the Hennessy with TEETON MILL in 1998 and she has entered her progressive 7-year-old, KATENKO. All connections at Aramstone will be keeping their fingers crossed that she can work the magic again.

 Nicky Henderson, in the winner's enclosure for the second time in last year's renewal when BOBS WORTH did the honours, is possibly entering ROBERTO GOLDBACK, TRIO D'ALENE and HADRIAN'S APPROACH. 

Stephen Higgins, Managing Director at The Racecourse Newbury, possibly sensing the added importance of the occasion, commented: "The crowd would love to see Tidal Bay and Imperial Commander take their place in the line-up and it would be just fascinating to see how they fare against the younger brigade like Lord Windermere, Katenko and Rocky Creek." 

 

BOOKIES' REVENGE 

David Pipe's DYNASTE figures among the nine runners confirmed for the bet365 Hurdle at Wetherby on Saturday. The 7-year-old son of OSCAR demonstrated considerable ability as a staying hurdler two seasons ago and was outstanding as a novice chaser last year, being successful in four of his five races. TIDAL BAY, last year's winner, is due to defend his title, after beng away from the track due to injury, since his impressive victory in the Leopardstown Lexus Chase last December. 

Donald McCain announced the possible appearance of the Scotch Piper Syndicate's ACROSS THE BAY who was last seen not covering himself with glory in the John Smith's Grand National.

 AT FISHERS CROSS, however, seems to be the one the punters have latched onto. The J.P McManus 6-year-old, trained by Rebecca Curtis, caught the eye after decisive wins in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) at Cheltenham in March and the John Smith's Sefton Novices' Hurdle Grade 1 at Aintree three weeks later. 

Spokesman for Bet365, sponsors of the race, Pat Cooney, said: "The betting public have really latched on to At Fishers Cross. He was our worst result at the last Cheltenham Festival, and we expect him to be a well backed favourite again on Saturday.” 

 

 TUESDAY, 29th OCTOBER 2013 

 

'OPPIT ANDY! 

Andy Jackson, employed by trainer, Tom Dascombe, who has been looking after Michael Owen's BROWN PANTHER in preparation for Melbourne Cup, has been declared persona non grata and asked to leave Australia. His crime? Breach of quarantine regulations. 

Colin Gorman, assistant to the Cheshire-based handler, confirmed that the head lad was implicated, although Leigh Jordon, General Manager of Racing Operations for Racing Victoria, was unwilling to name names. 

He just commented: "As you can understand security around the centre is tight but for some reason the groom jumped some fences to get in and out. It was a totally inappropriate thing to do but it is a testimony to our set-up that we managed to catch him and get him showered. It's a secure area and not everyone has to shower each time they go in, I go down every morning for instance, but there are designated areas for entry and exit and people must enter and exit in a certain way and that obviously hasn't been followed in this case. We discussed it with the government and the only solution was that he should not be allowed back into quarantine, that was the logical conclusion.” 

Apparently when discovered by security guards, Andy Jackson then hopped back over the security fence and headed for a car parked in the road close by, where he was stopped. He was then forced to shower and surrender his clothes to the officials. 

 

HE'S THE DON 

DON COSSACK won the W.B. Gavin & Co. EBF Beginners Chase by an impressive 20 lengths yesterday at Galway. The 6-year-old son of SHOLOKHOV was making his debut over fences on his 9th outing after scoring once from four runs over hurdles and three wins in NHF flat races (bumpers). This easy victory could mean he is staking an early claim for the RSA Chase at next year's Cheltenham Festival. The Gordon Elliot-trained gelding clearly disappointed his owners, the Gigginstown House Stud, as a novice hurdler but his future now seems to have turned a corner. It wasn't until two out, though, that DON COSSACK's star quality was revealed when, with Andrew Lynch aboard, he powered home for the decisive victory. 

The winning jockey commented afterwards: "The (low-lying) sun down the back didn't help but he was clever and should improve a lot for that. He was only in second gear there."

 

MONDAY, 28th OCTOBER 2013

 

LEGS ELEVEN!

Tony McCoy got another jump closer to the magical figure of 4000 winners, far more than any other National Hunt jockey past or present. He has produced over 2,000 more winners than the now retired 3-times champion jockey, Richard Dunwoody who only managed 1,699 winners during his career.

The 18-times champion jockey is just 11 off this score after securing a double at Aintree yesterday. Remarkably fresh after achieving a treble on Saturday, the Northern Irish equine wizard pulled his first win out of the hat on the Jonjo O'Neill-trained EASTLAKE in the Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance Handicap Chase which he won fairly comfortably by 3¼ lengths. The relative ease of that success, however, contrasted vividly in the last race when Tony McCoy had to work really hard on DEADLY STING in the matalan.co.uk Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race when a fierce battle developed with Sam Twiston-Davies, almost half his age and possible future contender for the crown, who was riding BALLY BRAES, owned and trained by his father, Nigel. The duel resulted in a steward's enquiry after there appeared to be a bumping in the final stages and the verdict gave the champion jockey his double of the day – by a head!

 

AIDAN AND ABETTING.

The impressive win by CARRIGANOG yesterday at Wexford in the I.N.H Stallion Owners EBF Novice Hurdle could mean that Aidan O'Brien, has a new exciting jumper again. The 4-year-old chestnut gelding was a first winner over jumps for the champion Irish trainer since 2001 and the invincible ISTABRAQ when he won the Laganore Maiden Hurdle by 5 lengths at Clonmel at the beginning of October.

Aidan O'Brien said before the race: "Carriganog was quite green in his two bumpers and ran out at Fairyhouse first time. We decided to school him over hurdles and sent him up to Robbie Power. He did the job, so he rides him here. It should help educate the horse a bit more."

And the son of SHANTOU proved that success was by no means a fluke as he romped home by 16 lengths yesterday. Jockey, Robbie Power gave him a good ride, taking all the jumps with casual precision.

Owner, J. P. McManus' racing manager, Frank Berry, commented: "He did it grand. He handled the ground and you couldn't ask for any more. He will probably go for another novice in a few weeks' time, but we will see what Aidan wants to do. He looks a big chaser in the making. He made those hurdles look small."

 

SUNDAY, 27th OCTOBER 2013

 

GOOD THINGS COME IN THREES 

KAYLIF ARAMIS, full brother to KAYF, ran a good race at Chepstow, his first of the season. Ridden by Dave Crosse, he was held up in mid-division for a while and then made good headway and chased the leaders as they approached the 4th hurdle out. Then he moved up into 2nd and looked as if the race was his for the taking. He made a mistake over the 2nd but soon surged into second position out but the earlier error seems to have cost him a little momentum and he couldn't hold his position and finished up 3rd. 

That means Dave Crosse maintained his record of coming 3rd on each of the ARAMIS clan! 

 

FRIDAY – GOOD FOR ALL-WEATHER 

Last night at Wolverhampton the All-weather Championship was launched and seems to have been supported by a few jockeys riding at the inaugural meeting. This championship, worth £2 million will run until 18th April when it will culminate in a new £1 million All-Weather Champions Day at Lingfield on Good Friday which has traditionally been a blank day on the racing calendar. Arena Racing Company(ARC) has been criticised quite a bit for injecting huge prize-money into a one-off finale instead of spreading the funds more evenly over the whole racing year. One jockey who has come out in favour is Jimmy Quinn who commented: "Trainers have brought better-class horses here tonight and winning one of these class 2 races is like winning five average races. The more prize-money the merrier." 

Jockey, Luke Morris, also riding there last night had this to say: “Fair play to ARC, they have stuck behind the all-weather and hopefully all the trainers and owners will support it," he said. 

The championship meetings will be held at three tracks owned by ARC: Lingfield, Wolverhampton and Southwell and the Jockey Club-owned Kempton Park will also participate. 

 

STORM ALERT 

The forecast of severe storms on Monday has put racecourses in action on that day on high alert. Leicester, Redcar and Bangor are taking no chances and have announced precautionary inspections. The fixtures at Leicester and Redcar will have to pass a 7.30am precautionary inspections while the jumps card at Bangor will undergo a similar inspection an hour earlier. 

Jimmy Stevenson, clerk of the course at Leicester clerk anounced: "It's very much precautionary at this stage. The storm is due to start at 10pm this evening and continue through to the early hours. We are really none the wiser until we see what it brings." 

It is feared that Redcar could get up to ¾ of an inch of rain in the next 24 hours. Amy Fair. General Manager said: "Sometimes we get the rain that is forecast, sometimes we don't. It very much depends on what we get overnight. It's a precautionary, not a full inspection." 

Bangor could get an inch of rain overnight and Clerk of the course, Andrew Morris commented: "Everyone is aware there is a nasty storm coming across. The track is perfectly fit for racing, but it is the forecast rainfall totals, rather than the high winds, which we are worried about. If we get what has been forecast, it should make it quite an interesting morning."  

SATURDAY, 26th OCTOBER 2013 

 

TRIPLE CROSSE! 

Dave Crosse will be riding a third member of the ARAMIS clan at Chepstow today. He was aboard champion, KAYF ARAMIS, at Wetherby last February in the totepool Mobile Text Tote To 89660 Handicap Hurdle and finished third. And what do you know! Two hours later he partnered ZAYFIRE ARAMIS, whose dam is KAYLIFA ARAMIS, sister of KAYF, in the wetherbyracing.co.uk Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race and also came 3rd. Now it's the turn of the champion's full brother, KAYLIF ARAMIS who is entered in the totequickpick Silver Trophy Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) at Chepstow. The 6-year-old already has two 1sts, two 2nds and three 3rds to his credit from only eleven starts. As all the ARAMIS horses, he is in the hands of top trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies, so this could be another big day for him. It doesn't have to be a 3rd!!

 

SOMEWHAT OF VALUE 

Looking for the proverbial 'value bet,? Well this could be today at Doncaster in the Group One Racing Post Trophy, the last big contest of the 2013 Flat-race season. Where did the year go!!! The horse to check up on is Mark Johnston's 2-year-old colt, SOMEWHAT, a horse who has come on every time he has run. His form is second-to-none after trouncing Saeed Bin Suroor's BE READY by 4½ lengths in the Denford Stud Stakes at newbury in August and then going on to be narrowly beaten by Paul Cole's BERKSHIRE in the Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes at the end of September. What is really in the son of DYNAFORMER's favour, though, is the ground which should suit him well. Up to now his best results have been when conditions are no slower than good. The race will not be easy, however, as his rivals are all lightly raced so it remains to be seen whether his undoubted courage and experience are enough for him to triumph. 

 

FRIDAY, 25th OCTOBER 2013 

 

FIVE KNOCKS THEM FOR SIX! 

Champion, Tony McCoy, was at his best again yesterday at Carlisle when he clocked up five wins from seven rides and his 123/1 quintet probably cost the bookies something in the region of £1 million. The 39-year-old jockey, born appropriately in Moneyglass, Ireland, was, no doubt, disappointed as his attempt to make it a career-best of six wins was thwarted in the last race of the day when the favourite, DUBAI SUNSET, only managed tenth out of fourteen runners. Another landmark that seems assured for him is becoming the first jockey to reach 4,000 wins in Britain and Ireland. Yesterday's result meant that Tony McCoy sailed past 100 vicories for the season and reached the grand total of 3,984. Bookmakers are already taking bets on the racecourse where this historic occasion will take place and Ascot is the 4/1 favourite. 

Tony McCoy commented afterwards: "I've had five winners seven or eight times before. I remember one day at Ascot I rode five and the only one I didn't ride was the winner of the Ladbroke Hurdle. I've a good team behind me and I'm lucky to be riding good horses for some nice people." 

 

THE VANISHING TRICK 

Last night BERT TRICK was due to have his first run for trainer, Frank Sheridan, after a 796-day absence from the track. The 4-year-old son of DYLAN THOMAS who has had only three previous unsuccessful rides in Ireland and had been sent off at odds of 66-1, 20-1 and 66-1, respectively, was prevented from running in the 32RedBet.com Handicap at Wolverhampton after his odds plunged from 33-1 to 5-1 off-course. It appears on-course stewards were alerted to this situation by the British Horseracing Authority and, 40 minutes before the scheduled time of the race, they offered trainer, Frank Sheridan, the opportunity to withdraw the gelding, warning him that the horse would be under investigation by the BHA and consequently he took their advice and withdrew his entry. 

The stipendiary steward on duty last night was Simon Cowley, who made the following statement: “Before the race we interviewed Mr Sheridan and explained to him that his horse was the subject of a BHA investigation. We invited him to withdraw the horse, which he did.”   

THURSDAY, 24th OCTOBER 2013 

 

TEENAGE KICKS 

It looks like Jason Hart could well be the next winner of the Apprentice Jockeys’ Championship. This contest is based on the winners of all Flat and All Weather races between 22nd March to the last turf race meeting at Doncaster 9th November. Currently the teenage jockey is five wins clear of his nearest rival, Thomas Brown, in the race for the title. An ambitious boy, Jason Hart left Hawick High School, on the Scottish borders, at 15 and acquired some important experience on the pony racing circuit before going to work with Mark Johnston. The Middleham-based trainer generously helped his protégé into the racing school at Newmarket and also gave him his first ride at Southwell in February 2011 on ELUSIVE FAME where he pulled off a second place, losing by just a neck. The boy from Hawick was upset that he didn't win but his ambition was clearly not dampened. In 2012 Jason Hart joined trainer, Declan Carroll in Sledmere near Malton. More recently he has ridden for a string of high-profile trainers, including Eric Alston and Tim Walford. Local trainers such as Keith Dalgliesh, Ali Whillans and Scobie Jardine have also employed the services of this talented youngster whose winning strike-rate now stands at 13% (64 wins from 480 rides). 

 

A PREGNANT PAUSE 

It has been announced that Australian 'supermare', BLACK CAVIAR, is expecting her first foal. Generally considered to be one of the best race horses in the world before her retirement, she is now in foal to the champion sire, EXCEED AND EXCEL. Rick Jamieson, her breeder, made this exciting announcement yesterday whilst unveiling a statue of the unbeaten sprinter in Nagambie, rural Victoria. The 7-year-old daughter of BEL ESPRIT was retired in April just after winning her second TJ Smith Stakes at Randwick in April. She earned almost $8m from 25 wins and, although only racing three times last season, was crowned Australian horse of the year for 2012-13. 

 

WEDNESDAY, 23rd OCTOBER 2013 

 

GO ON, MY SON! 

Owned and trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies and ridden by son, Sam, RED RIVERMAN battled bravely to win the totepool Mobile Best Mate Novices' Limited Handicap Chase at Exeter yesterday. It didn't look as if it would end that way, though, because Paul Nicholls' FUNNY STAR was clear approaching the final fence but the 5-year-old son of TOT OU TARD was far from fluent at the final obstacle and found out 'sooner rather than later' that the race wasn't going to be his. All praise to Sam Twiston-Davies who went for it with every fibre and he was lucky that his Dad's 5-year-old responded positively and, though two lengths down as they approached the last, the Naunton duo left it a length to the good. The contest was by no means over as they now had to see off the late challenge from THE ITALIAN YOB and just managed to hold on to win by three-quarters of a length. 

Delighte owner and trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies, commented afterwards: "He jumped very well for one with not much experience and Sam gave him a great ride. Sam was very positive on him all the way up the straight and it made the difference. He'll keep mixing hurdling and chasing now as he's not the easiest to win with because he's quite high up the handicap. It's nice when they win in your own colours, especially when it's decent prize money." 

 

A DOUBLE CENTURY 

Kempton Park was the scene yesterday for champion jockey, Richard Hughes, to score his 200th winner of the season. This was achieved on the 2-year-old daughter of EXCEED AND EXCEL who lived up to her dam's name by surging ahead in the final strides of the rewards4racing.com Maiden Fillies' Stakes to win by a length and a quarter. 

When Richard Hughes won the championship last March he announced that he had set himself a target of riding 200 winners this coming season and whad'ya know! 

He said: “I’m delighted to get 200. I set out to get that total at the start of the year. Without Richard Hannon I’d been getting 40 winners and he drives everyone forward.” 

The proud son of traine,r Dessie Hughes, is the first jockey since Kieren Fallon in 2003 to reach a double century in a season.

 

TUESDAY, 22nd OCTOBER 2013 

 

AND A GOOD YOB, TOO! 

Jockey Noel Fehily is on a roll this season with a 29% strike-rate (23 wins from 79 runs) and he could well increase that today at Exeter in the totepool Mobile Best Mate Novices' Limited Handicap Chase. He is set to ride the Nick Williams-trained THE ITALIAN YOB who, though he has only scored once out of seven races, has demonstrated some bumper and hurdling form. From his performances so far it could be that he is a chaser in the making and this will be the day to prove it. The last time he was partnered by Noel Fehily in a NH Flat race at Chepstow March 2012, the 5-year-old son of MILAN finished a creditable fourth to MELODIC RENDEZVOUS who went on to be a Grade 1 winner and he subsequently got off the mark last December at this course on heavy ground in the British Stallion Studs Supporting British Racing E.B.F. 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle (Qualifier) (Div 1). 

So here's to a win for the owners, The Macaroni Beach Society! 

 

THE ANSWER IS BLOWING IN THE WIND 

The reason for ROCK ON RUBY's disappointing performance at Kempton on Sunday could well be that he has problem with his breathing and therefore requires a wind operation. At least those are the thoughts of his trainer Harry Fry. The eight-year-old son of OSCAR, it seems, has had wind problems in his early years and these symptoms may have re-appeared. 

The Dorset-based handler commented: "Essentially he's fine, but we have got one or two niggly things to sort out, namely his wind, so all plans are on hold at the moment. He has had wind operations in the past and we're going to check it out again this week. It's possible he could have his palate cauterized. We were disappointed not to give The New One more of a race. He was very impressive on the day and we'll have to go back to the drawing board. It was a disappointing run and we can't blame it all on the wind issue. He will improve for the run. We'll investigate this weekend and make plans from there."

 

MONDAY, 21st OCTOBER 2013

 

THE DUEL THAT NEVER WAS

Yesterday's stunning performance by THE NEW ONE at Kempton earned a decisive “exceptional” from his trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies, not one known to praise unnecessarily. It wasn't surprising that the 5-year-old son of KING'S THEATRE, impressive winner of the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March and gallant second to ZARKANDER in the John Smith's Aintree Hurdle in April was the 1-2 favourite of the particpating quartet. On paper it seemed he would be facing a formidable challenge from ROCK ON RUBY, the 2012 Champion Hurdle winner and runner-up to HURRICANE FLY in the race last year, but, in the event, he completely outshone Harry Fry’s champion.

Noel Fehily had steered his 8-year-old son of OSCAR into the lead by three out and was still ahead as they straightened up for home but then THE NEW ONE, with Sam Twiston-Davies aboard, accelerated so fast that ROCK ON RUBY, a performer at the top of his game, was left, as is standing, powerless to do anything about it. The NEW ONE went superbly well over the the final two flights, even seeming to skip over the last. Triumphant Sam Twiston-Davies had the pleasure of patting his horse down the neck as the dynamic duo sailed to a 10-length victory.

Trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies, commented: “That’s what we were hoping for. We were worried about the fact that he’d not had much hurdling experience in his life, but that was great and he jumped so well. We’ll look at the Bula Hurdle (International Hurdle) at Cheltenham and then possibly come back here for the Christmas Hurdle. He does seem exceptional.”

 

ALL CISTERNS NO GO!

The final fixture of the year at Bath yesterday had to be abandoned after the fourth race in rather embarrassing circumstances. The weighing room became flooded with waste from the toilet drains. Champion jockey, Richard Hughes, was so disgusted that he vented his spleen by tweeting a picture of the flooded floor with comments: "These are the conditions Bath racecourse ask us to work in. We apologise to everyone who lost out in Bath today but enough is enough, Arc."

Kate Hills, spokesperson for ARC (Arena Racing Company), who own and run the Bath racecourse said: “The problem was caused by torrential rain causing localised flooding … Drains were unable to cope with the continuous heavy rain. Jockeys were offered alternative facilities but after discussion with the stewards it was decided that racing had to be abandoned. We will be looking into this and we are doing everything we can to ensure this situation does not reoccur next season."

 

MOUNTAIN VIEW MYSTERY

Every week Aramisracing receives a report giving a statistical analysis of the visitors to the website. For some time now there has been a puzzling trend that seems to defy explanation.There were this week (and every week!), for instance, covering the period October 7 to October 13, 574 uniquely identified visits from the United States. More intriguingly, the report states that 333 of these US visitors are clicking on from Mountain View. Now the 2010 census lists that this location had a population of 74, 066 inhabitants. If that is the case, nearly 5% of them click on every week to check what is going on in the world of the Aramis horses. That's very good news for Aramisracing but a quick search through Google indicates no race tracks or stud farms in the area that would explain this great interest in equine affairs.

If you're in Mountain View, let's hear from you.

Give us a TWEET!

 

SUNDAY, 20th OCTOBER 2013

 

SECONDS ARE OUT

As mentioned the other day, Kempton Park stages the duel of the season today in the innocuously named William Hill - Download The App Hurdle, which, perhaps in recognition of the importance of the occasion, has been upgraded to Listed status for the first time. In the left corner, at OR 165, is the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained, THE NEW ONE and in the right, at OR 170, is ROCK ON RUBY, trained by rookie, Harry Fry. The former gave a good account of himself in last year's Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham before finishing the season with an impressive run in the John Smith's Aintree Hurdle in April when he came second to Paul Nicholls' ZARKANDER. The latter last time out also produced a not-so-impressive second to HURRICAN FLY in the Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1)

Gloucestershire trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies, whose son Sam will be aboard today commented: "It's all been fine with him. It's the right time to start him off and he should be fit enough. He'll improve for the run, but he's ready to go. I'll leave tactics up to Sam. He's pretty straightforward and can come off a fast pace or he's got a hell of a turn of foot."

The Dorset-based handler, Harry Fry, however, is keen to get last year's Champion Hurdle runner-up ROCK ON RUBY back in action.

As he said: "He's slightly older and wiser and is more workmanlike at home, only doing as much as he needs to, hence why we're keen to get him out early. He's definitely going to improve for the run but is enthusiastic and schooled brilliantly on Wednesday, so we're looking forward to running him."

 

FARHH GOES NO FURTHER

Better news for Godolphin at Ascot yesterday when FARHH won the Qipco Champion Stakes, albeit only by a neck, a race to end his racing career. The race couldn't have panned out better for his finale, with Sylvestre de Sousa settling his mount well behind HUNTER'S LIGHT, his pacemaker and stablemate with Mickael barzalona aboard and was content to wait until the quarter-of-a mile post before heading for home. The favourite, CIRRUS DES AIGLES, ridden by Christophe Soumillon, tried to catch him but couldn't produce enough speed, perhaps due to the soft ground. There's no denying that it was an impressive ride by the jockey from São Paulo but the real credit MUST BE due to trainer, Saeed bin Suroor for giving the five-year-old his most significant win after four lacklustre seasons.

FARHH now retires to Dalham Hall Stud near Newmarket, after just 11 races, with six 1sts, four 2nds and one 3rd.

 

MOUNTAIN VIEW MYSTERY

Every week Aramisracing receives a report giving a statistical analysis of the visitors to the website. For some time now there has been a puzzling trend that seems to defy explanation.There were this week (and every week!), for instance, covering the period October 7 to October 13, 574 uniquely identified visits from the United States. More intriguingly, the report states that 333 of these US visitors are clicking on from Mountain View. Now the 2010 census lists that this location had a population of 74, 066 inhabitants. If that is the case, nearly 5% of them click on every week to check what is going on in the world of the Aramis horses. That's very good news for Aramisracing but a quick search through Google indicates no race tracks or stud farms in the area that would explain this great interest in equine affairs.

If you're in Mountain View, let's hear from you.

Give us a TWEET!

 

SATURDAY, 19TH  OCTOBER 2013 

 

KAYF ARAMIS OFF TO PASTURES NEW 

This weekend not only marks the beginning of Cheltenham's season but also a significant occasion for one of this world-famous venue's popular champions. After 85 starts, (41 on the flat, 43 over hurdles and 1 all-weather), totalling 7 wins (4 on the flat and 3 over jumps), 16 seconds, 7 thirds and 8 fourths, with earnings of £153,670, KAYF ARAMIS bows out of the competitive racing world. He was born on 27th April, 2002, appropriately in the Chinese Year of the Horse and his illustrious Sire is Kayf Tara, the champion two-miler stayer, winner of the Ascot Gold Cup (twice) the Irish St. Leger (twice), the Yorkshire Cup and the Goodwood Cup. 

 

Kayf Aramis's racing career began on 12th June 2004 at Sandown in the Palletline plc Maiden Stakes and ended on 6th May 2013 at Ffos Las in the Parker Plant Eisteddfod Handicap Hurdle. In those nine years he raced at 26 tracks from Aintree to Ascot, Wetherby to Warwick. His memorable successes, however, were at Cheltenham, where he appeared on 17 occasions and won the Pertemps Final (Handicap Hurdle) in 2009 and on the flat at York (9 outings) where he won the Sportsman Racing Stakes (Handicap) in 2006, the Robert Pratt Memorial Stakes (Handicap) in 2007 and theripleycollection.com Stakes (Handicap) in 2009, having failed to make it a hat-trick in 2008. Equally impressive was his 2nd in The Rendlesham Hurdle Grade 2 in February 2010, followed by a similar success in The West Yorkshire Hurdle Race Grade 2 at Wetherby in October of the same year. 

 

A total of 25 jockeys have had the pleasure of riding the 'diminutive' Kayf Aramis, as some racing commentators good-naturedly called him; 14 of them only once each. Paddy Brennan had the most rides with 14, 13 over hurdles and one on the flat in a special race at Goodwood for National Hunt jockeys, producing three 2nds, two 3rds and two 4ths. Sam Twiston-Davies also rode 13 times over jumps and notched up two 2nds and one 3rd. On the flat, Paul Quinn (8 rides, two 1sts and one 2nd), who rode him for the year 2005–2006, produced Kayf Aramis's first-ever win at Bath and his first win (of the eventual three) at York.

  

To Aidan Coleman, however, who was aboard for a total of seven rides (two 1sts, two 2nds and one 4th), from November 2008 to April 2009, goes the honour of helping the son of Kayf Tara to his first win over hurdles at Chepstow in February 2009 and the crowning glory of being victorious in the Cheltenham Pertemps Final (Handicap Hurdle),exactly one month later. Kayf Aramis's other wins were with Marc Halford (11 rides, 2006-2008 - one 1st, four 2nds, one 3rd and three 4ths.) and Sam Thomas (4 rides 2008-2009, one 1st, one 2nd and one 3rd).

  

One of the outstanding races on