RACING NEWS from ARAMIS RACING

 

 

WEDNESDAY 14th JANUARY 2015

 

MOTHER'S RUIN FOR THE CLUB

A three-year deal has been announced between the Jockey Club and Greenall's, a brand of gin, which until the late 1990s was the name of a brewing company but is now owned by Quintessential Brands. The three-year deal begins immediately and gives the company the pouring rights at the fifteen racecourses run by the Jockey Club, such as Cheltenham, Aintree and Epsom. One of the most well known brands of gin manufactured by Greenall's gin is The Original London Dry Gin and this has now become the official gin of the Jockey Club, which organises 340 racing events per year.

 

As a result od this deal Quintessential Brands are due to spend about £3 million in carrying out their sponsorship over the next three years.

Simon Bazalgette, Group Chief Executive of The Jockey Club stated: We are a sport with scale and a desire to work with like-minded partners like Quintessential Brands and its Greenall’s Gin to achieve mutual success and growth. In this regard we look forward to unveiling further official partners to join Greenall’s Gin in other important rights categories in due course.”

 

RECORD TO STAND?

A racing record will be challenged at Lingfield today. Already something of an all-weather legend, the Don Cantillon-trained LA ESTRELLA, is aiming to match the record of another sand-running star, STAND GUARD who has 26 victories to his name. The twelve-year-old has the reputation of a come-back kid in a racing career permeated with injuries. In fact the

son of THEATRICAL had just returned from 11 months' recuperation when he went on to win the Coral Connect Selling Stakes at Wolverhampton with Graham Lee aboard. The bay gelding claimed the equivalent race last year, also with the same jockey. Surprisingly, that was the only success from four attempts at Lingfield, the other 24 wins coming from other all-weather tracks.

 

ZIP GOES A MILLION!

Yesterday's ATR Sculthorpe Maiden Hurdle at Fakenham gave the John Ferguson-trained ZIP TOP, with Tony McCoy in the saddle, the opportunity to improve on his first run over jumps at Kempton last month and triumph by three-and-a-quarter lengths. The six-year-old son of SMART STRIKE used to be trained by Jim Bolger and the Godolphin team before moving into John Ferguson's yard. The champion jockey only had one ride for the day and he was clearly determined to make the most of it, keeping up with the leader and going into the lead three hurdles from home. The duo proved better at jumping than James Fanshawe on SCHWAIMAN and the victory was decisive.

The successful bloodstock agent turned trainer commented: "I was very pleased with that. It was a good performance and Fakenham wasn't necessarily the ideal track for him. I would think his most likely next start would be something like Doncaster for another novice in February."

 

TUESDAY 13th JANUARY 2015

 

SOME NEWS IS GOOD NEWS

One Cotswold-based trainer will be delighted to be in the news for pleasant reasons for a change after crossing swords with the British Horseracing Authority last week when making public his forthright views about the conduct of the stewards at Ludlow. David Bridgwater had the pleasure yesterday of seeing his BRAVO RIQUET win the TV Focus At timeform.com Handicap Chase at Plumpton. The former top jockey for Martin Pipe who has been training now for thirteen years since being forced to give up his successful riding career due to injury, has now made it two in a row for this nine-year-old son of LAVERON and is now on target to notching up his highest ever total of winners for this season, which currently stands at 20 with 20 seconds and 19 thirds from 133 starts.

A possible champion trainer in the making from Gloucestershire commented about the race: "I don't like asking them to carry that much weight, usually, but he's done it well in the end. He jumped better and he stays forever. I knew when the extra rain fell that it would suit him."

 

WATCH HIM LIKE A HAWK

Tomorrow at Kempton Park Godolphin-owned HAWKESBURY will be seeking to add the £19,000 32RedSport.com Conditions Stakes to his list of credits. The victor of this six-furlong sprint will be guaranteed a run, on Good Friday, April 3, in the £150,000 Unibet Three-Year-Old Sprint at Lingfield Park as part of the recently inaugurated All-Weather Championships Finals Day, The three-year-old son of SHAMARDAL has scored once from his four runs, notably a run-away seven-length victory in the Betdaq 0% On World Cup Correct Scores Novice Stakes at Doncaster last June and even produced some impressive results in defeat, namely second to LIMATO on his debut in a six-furlong maiden at Kempton Park and runner-up at Doncaster to the eventual Group One Dewhurst Stakes victor, BELARDO at Newbury in August.

 

Trainer Charlie Appleby commented: "Hawkesbury has been gelded since his last run. He has been a tricky customer and has been disappointing since he won by seven lengths at Doncaster. He has been showing us plenty of natural speed so we have dropped him back to six furlongs again and, hopefully, it will take the keenness off him. He ran over six furlongs at Kempton first time out and bumped into a smart horse in Limato. He expended too much energy early on at Newmarket last time out but the winner that day might be a nice horse. Getting him gelded has helped Hawkesbury and I hope that the drop back to six furlongs will get him back into a better style of racing. It's a small field but, if they want to go steady, we will go forward and, if they go quick, we will drop in. He's in good nick and I am confident that he will take a bit of pegging back."

 

IS NOTHING SACRE!

It looks like SPRINTER SACRE, the highest-rated chaser in training, heads the list of half-a-dozen confirmed runners to take part in the Sodexo Clarence House Chase at Ascot on Saturday. The nine-year-old hasn't appeared on the track since he had to be pulled up at Kempton Park in December a year ago with a suspected a fibrillating heart. Despite all the excitement surrounding the possibility of running, trainer Nicky Henderson has thrown another imponderable into the hat - unsuitably heavy ground – which is currently the weather forecast for Ascot. It has been revealed, however, that if the 2013 Queen Mother Champion Chase misses the Berkshire track feature, then there is a Plan B: he could run in Newbury's Game Spirit Chase at Newbury on February 7.

Top jockey, Barry Geraghty, rode the son of NETWORK on the gallops at Newbury recently and was fairly upbeat: “He’s in good form, Nico de Boinville schooled him on Friday morning. I wasn’t there, but the reports were good. He looked well and he showed there he seems to be reasonably well in himself.”

 

MONDAY 12th JANUARY 2015

 

A FIRST FOR CHELMSFORD

Chelmsford City racetrack, formerly Great Leighs, was back in business yesterday. Only a selected 800 invited guests witnessed the 'rising from the ashes' as this was only a preview before the official opening on February 1st. This Essex venue was shut down five years ago and ensuing attempts to revive it failed until Betfred owner, Fred Done, applied his business acumen to the project. Chelmsford City is planning to offer 58 races this year. The first race on the first day of its new life wasn't without its own particular drama. The Charlie Appleby-trained TRYSTER, the 2/1 favourite, took a while to get going and after switching right he made good headway chasing the leaders two furlongs from the finish. Then, suddenly, without warning, the four-year-old son of SHAMARDAL swerved violently to the left and it looked as though he had given the race to Gary Moore's GAELIC SILVER but somehow he managed to hold on and win by a short head. There was even the inevitable stewards' enquiry into the effect of his unexpected 'jinking' but he even survived that.

 

The winning jockey, Adam Kirby gave his impressions of the new track: "I thought it was a little bit deep to be honest. Sound surface, but just a little on the slow side, I don't remember it being like that. But no, perfect."

 

A TEST FOR OLDIES

It seems that owner, John Hales may have to draw on a little patience before attempting to score a second triumph at the Grand National. His last hero, NEPTUNE COLLONGES, did the honours in 2012 and he now has UNIONISTE lining up to be his stable star. The two horses have a lot in common: for instance they are both greys, sired by DOM ALCO; they are both tough stayers and are both trained by Paul Nicholls. Where they significantly differ, however, is in age. Three years ago Daryl Jacob rode an eleven-year-old to victory by a nose, the shortest winning distance in Grand National history. UNIONISTE is only seven and one area of racing where advancing years have their compensations is in the Aintree spectacular. It seems to have been proved over the years that age and maturity enhance greater staying powers, vital in this world-famous four-mile-three-furlong endurance test, probably more important than jumping skills now that some of the more difficult obstacles have been made easier. Proof for definite age advantage can be found in the recent winning results: the last three winners were eleven years old; the previous nine champions included four 10- and four 9-year-olds. The evidence seems to point to the fact that nowadays seven-year-olds do not win the Grand National. You have to go back to war-time Britain in 1940, when BOGSKAR took the honours. Before that it was GOLDEN MILLER in 1934. Indeed, in the 175-year history of the Grand national there have only been 24 seven-year-old winners.

 

So, despite the fact that UNIONISTE is considered by many to be a very strong candidate for the Merseyside Marathon, particularly after his impressive ten-length victory in the 32Red Casino Handicap Chase at Sandown Park at the beginning of the month, John Hales feels he has to admit: He’s only seven, so the National might be a year too soon for this season. It depends what the handicapper gives him.”

 

SPONSORSHIP ON A PLATE

It has just been announced that the feature Cheltenham Festival race, formerly known as the Byrne Group Plate will now be sponsored by Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable with its subsequent re-naming. The Brown Advisory part of the deal is an independent investment firm. Merriebelle Stable is a combination of the U.S. thoroughbred interests of long time business partners John Moores and Charles Noell.

The Brown Advisory Head of International Business, Logie Fitzwilliams stated: "We are very excited to be sponsoring the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate at such a prestigious and enjoyable meeting as the Festival."

 

SUNDAY 11th JANUARY 2015

 

THE FESTIVAL OR FRANCE?

21-year-old jockey, Lizzie Kelly, won the Lanzarote Hurdle by 16 lengths on TEA FOR TWO at Kempton yesterday and, thereby, joined the not very long list of female riders who have notched up victories in important National Hunt races. It was quite cold at the Sunbury on Thames track and the question on everyone's 'chapped lips' (to quote Groundhog Day!) was whether she would be aiming even higher by partnering the six-year-old at the Cheltenham Festival in March. The answer to that seems to depend very much on trainer Jane Williams (also Lizzie Kelly's mother) who appears not to be enamoured of Prestbury Park where she has never had any success. The Great Nympton-based trainer seems to prefer to set her sights on racing in France in the Spring where winnings are potentially much more desirable and where soft ground ban be relied upon.

 

As Jane Williams commented: “This was the plan. There is no plan after this. I would prefer to duck out of the Cheltenham Festival. It’s not my racecourse, really, I think it’s very fast. In something like the World Hurdle, you haven’t got to cope with the hustle and bustle of a huge field. I’ve got lots of options and I’m quite an academic person, so I just go round and think about all the options and I wouldn’t like to make a call at the moment. The Cheltenham Festival is not the be all and end all. We’re perfectly happy to go off to France or go elsewhere because a lot of people have broken their horses by getting a bit too overexcited and running them at the Festival.”

 

The winning trainer has until the middle of this week to to decide to enter TEA FOR TWO for the Festival’s World Hurdle, the acme of achievement for staying hurdlers and, although

the son of KAYF TARA is still a fairly inexperienced novice, this possiblility has not yet been rejected so at least Lizzie Kelly's growing host of fans has a couple of days to dream of their heroine's lining up for one of national Hunt racing's enviable prizes, a prospect the jockey in question described as “absolutely amazing”. She is, however, on record as saying that her only ride ride at the Festival was a giddy experience that made her “feel quite sick”.

 

THE WHIPPING BOY

One jockey who is clearly not pleased with the British Horseracing Authority’s announcement that it is investigating Aidan Coleman’s use of the whip during his win at the Welsh Grand National on December 27 (See Saturday's Whip Up A Controversy for the full story ) is Ruby Walsh who goes so far as to question the the current rulings on whip use. The Kildare-born rider maintains that all the jockeys on the day raced correctly throughout the Chepstow fixture.

He commented: “I watched that race closely and felt the whip was used properly by the jockeys on all of the first three home. The issue, of course, is not the jockeys, but rather the BHA and their whip rules. The BHA thought they would be world leaders when it came to the regulation of the whip. But, and this is very important, not one leading racing nation has followed their lead.”

 

BARRY'S BEST

Jim Best is certainly a Barry Geraghty fan if he wasn't one before. That's because the County Meath rider provided the Lewes-based trainer with a winner on OFFICER DRIVEL in the first race of the day, the William Hill - In The App Store Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton Park yesterday. As the race progressed, it didn't look as though that would be the outcome. Oliver Sherwood's WHAT A SCORCHER seized the initiative two hurdles from the finish and went for home but the eventual winner wasn't done yet and fought back valiantly and came strongly up alongside by the last obstacle, which they jumped together. The four-year-old son of CAPTAIN RIO finally dominated and went on to win by three-quarters of a length.

 

Jim Best commented: "He's been very keen in his races. As you'd expect, Barry settled him brilliantly today as well and did a great job."

 

SATURDAY 10th JANUARY 2015

 

WHIP UP CONTROVERSY

A feature race that was all done and dusted two weeks ago today is suddenly the subject of heated discussion. The Coral Welsh Grand National winning jockey, Aidan Coleman, is now reported to be facing an inquiry into his use of the whip when he claimed the prestigious prize on the Venetia Williams-trained EMPEROR'S CHOICE at Chepstow on December 27th, even though no objections were voiced by the stewards at the time. The Professional Jockeys Association (PJA) has disclosed, however, that Aidan Coleman has received notification from the British Horseracing Authority that his winning ride will now be investigated on January 16th before racing takes place at the Welsh track.

 

The PJA's Chief Executive, Paul Struthers stated: "We are shocked by this decision. We have asked the BHA for a formal explanation as to why this is happening and expect, in the interests of fairness, that the full team of stewards that were on duty at Chepstow on Coral Welsh Grand National Day are present next Friday."

 

Robin Mounsey, BHA's Media Manager, commented: "We can confirm that the intention is to hold an inquiry at Chepstow on Friday, January 16 into Aidan Coleman's use of the whip in the Welsh Grand National. No inquiry was held on the day because the priority in the aftermath of the race was to deal with the false start and an inquiry was held into that incident. Upon initial review of the race, no offence was identified, however, a subsequent review showed there to be a case to be answer and Aidan Coleman has been notified of the intention to inquire into the matter on Friday. As with other sports there is the capacity for inquiries to be held retrospectively into offences which are not dealt with by the officials on the day. If BHA identifies a potential breach of the rules it has an obligation to hold an inquiry into it."

 

BE FAIR TO THE FAIRER SEX

An accusation is on the table that trainers give preference to male jockeys when making bookings for their top horses. Charlotte Jenner, a rising apprentice jockey on the Flat, has made a plea to all owners and trainers to enable more women to become fully qualified. One report by BBC South Today reveals that in the UK there are only five qualified female jockeys compared to 165 men. In fact, high profile amateur female jockeys, such as Katie Walsh, who came third in the Grand National in 2012 is are few and far between.

 

The Lambourn-based Charlotte Jenner commented: "Other owners and trainers don't think women are as strong as men, but we can prove to be as strong and more aggressive. Becoming fully qualified is a validation of a rider's skills and means they are no longer claiming a weight allowance and are more likely to be chosen to ride at big meetings. It is not the same as becoming a professional, which applies to any rider who is licensed to ride.”

 

The British Horseracing Authority, however, does not agree that there is inequality in the sport and maintains that it is constantly on the alert to make sure that female jockeys have a fair crack of the whip (but remember: only seven times on the Flat and eight over jumps!!)

 

Rupert Arnold, Chief Executive of the National Trainers Federation does, however, admit: "When it comes to choosing at any particular moment who's going to ride a particular horse, if trainers are looking for the best available, their tendency is to start with the male riders who dominate the jockeys' Championship tables."

GOOD EVANS!

The BHA in the news again! Its quaintly named Integrity Department was somewhat concerned by the late withdrawal of the David Evans-trained TANGO SKY from the first of Friday evening's events at Wolverhampton, the six-furlong Unibet Offer Daily Jockey/Trainer Specials Handicap and insisted on interviewing the Gwent-based trainer. The problem seems to have been that the six-year-old son of NAMID was the market favourite and then was unexpectedly withdrawn at 9.39am on the day of the race with a vet's certificate produced in evidence. Suspicious minds couldn't help but be aroused by the fact that, before the withdrawal, David Evans' other runner, BLACK DAVE had his odds shortened from 7/2 to 7/4 and then surprisingly came fourth, even though he was the 6/4 favourite.

 

Then mysteriously the Wolverhampton stewards decided to refer their interview findings to the BHA in London for further investigation. The plot thickens!

FRIDAY 9th JANUARY 2015

 

A LATE STARTER

A real treat is in store for visitors to Doncaster racecourse today. A fascinating contest awaits them in the second race of the day, the Betdaq 0% Multiples For First Month Novices' Chase, when the Philip Hobbs-trained CHELTENIAN, winner of the 2011 Cheltenham Bumper, pits his skills against Nicky Henderson's JOSSES HILL, who was a creditable runner-up in last season's Supreme Novices' Hurdle. The nine-year-old CHELTENIAN has been plagued with injury since his Cheltenham success and consequently has only won one of his seven starts over hurdles. He also might be considered a bit of a late starter over fences but his jockey, Richard Johnson has been delighted with his schooling in preparation for his new venture.

 

Richard Johnson commented: "He's obviously a Champion Bumper winner and, unfortunately, had to have the year off after that. I schooled him on Saturday and he felt really well and Doncaster should be the ideal place for him to start. He showed he was up to a decent level over hurdles and I'm hoping something wasn't quite 100 per cent last spring and he should be a top-class novice chaser this season. He'll start at two miles. He's not slow, but I'm sure he'll want further as the season goes on."

 

His major opponent, seven-year-old JOSSES HILL, on the other hand, has already made his chasing debut at Ascot in the Mitie Novices' Chase just before Christmas. His trainer, Nicky Henderson added: "It's lovely ground, and that is the main reason why we are going. It's a good race, though, so it looks like everyone is in the same boat. Because of his splint problem he wasn't as fit as some of the others last time out so I expect him to come on a good deal for that run at Ascot. I'm looking forward to it. We've always felt he'd be a nice chaser."

 

OFF COURSE - AGAIN

Another Nicky Henderson favourite is SIMONSIG, whom we haven't seen on the track since he won the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham in 2013. It now looks as though he will not race again until the latter part of this year as he has not been included in any any of the big races in the Cheltenham’s Festival in March. The nine-year-old son of FAIR MIX is noticeably absent from both the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Ryanair Chase.

 

The Lambourn-based trainer rather mixed his sporting metaphors when commenting: “We’ve pulled stumps for now. I didn’t bother entering him and I can’t see there’s any reason rushing him back. We do still have the likes of Captain Conan and Finian’s Rainbow to return so hopefully we will be represented in one way or another. I’m sure the Game Spirit [Chase at Newbury on 7 February] will figure for one of them but Finian’s probably needs further than two miles nowadays.”

 

SPEAKING HIS MIND

As a result of making rather disparaging comments in a national newspaper with reference to

amateur jockey, Jake Launchbury's 21-day ban at Ludlow on Wednesday, trainer David Bridgwater could be in hot water with the BHA. (See Thursday's report 'AN EXPENSIVE MISTAKE' for full details). The Stow-on-the-Wold trainer is clearly upset by the length of the suspension it only covers any days when the amateur rider is due to race and so could entail a lengthy absence from the track. He was quoted in an interview in the Guardian as referring to the stewards as "the same idiots there that were there when I was riding 20 years ago. I think they must still have been p****d from lunch."

 

Robin Mounsey, the BHA's media Manager, stated: "The comments attributed to David Bridgwater in today's Guardian are wholly unacceptable. No sporting regulatory body would tolerate its officials being described in such an unjustified and derogatory manner. BHA will be taking appropriate action on this matter."

 

David Bridgwater countered: "They can rap me on the knuckles and I'll apologise if they want, but my only concern is that Jake is a 16-year-old boy, and as an amateur he might not now ride again for three months."

 

THURSDAY 8th JANUARY 2015

 

AN EXPENSIVE MISTAKE

The Annual Members Racing Excellence 'Hands And Heels' Handicap Chase at Ludlow yesterday didn't turn out well for two amateur jockeys. Jake Launchbury received a 21-day ban and Page Fuller got 10 days. The David Bridgwater-trained BALLY SANDS, seemed to have the race in the bag, in the capable hands of Jake Launchbury, enjoying his fourth ride under Rules. Then it looked like he mistook the final fence for the water jump, which is missed out on the final circuit and was about to bypass it when he suddenly seems to have realised his mistake. He then corrected his path very late and, in doing so, nearly knocked over David Flood's PETIT ECUYER, with Page Fuller aboard. This unfortunate incident inevitably caused him to lose momentum and Conor Smith, riding Martin Keighley's ALWAYS BOLD, was quick to take advantage of the opportunity to thrust forward to win by a short head with KINGS APOLLO in second place. BALLY SANDS ended up in third place, four lengths adrift. The inevitable stewards' enquiry ensued and both riders were judged to be "negligent, in that by initially attempting to bypass the final fence, they had failed to take all reasonable and permissible measures throughout the race to obtain their best possible placing".

 

David Bridgwater commented afterwards: "Jake hasn't taken the wrong course, ultimately. The lad is only 16 and looked like he was going to ride his first winner, so he's a bit upset. I'm a bit upset, not because I've missed out on a winner, but because Jake and the young girl have been given very long bans and in their world they might not ride again for three months. She was the innocent victim, if anything. This was his Gold Cup, it's been the plan for a long time, but that is secondary to me. He didn't take the wrong course and I just feel very sorry for him. He feels bad enough as it is and the ban is just another kick in the nether regions. They've done him for negligence, and in that respect I would have to agree. He walked the course with an official beforehand, but maybe I should have walked it with him."

 

BACK ON COURSE

Trainer Jonjo O'Neill hasn't been near the winner's enclosure since November 19th at Warwick with MONT ROYALE so his dream of securing his first trainers' title this season is in tatters. Yesterday may prove to be the start of a reversal in his fortunes, however, as he struck lucky in the last race at Ludlow with ROSE REVIVED. Back in the last quarter of last year the training world had been abuzz with talk about the Temple Guiting-based trainer possibly challenging Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson for the trainers' championship but it wasn't to be as his operation has been out of form all through the winter. They have sent out 61 horses over the past fifty days without one victory.

 

ROSE REVIVED was ridden to success in the Annual Membership Mares' Standard Open NH Flat Race by the trainer's long-term associate and friend, champion jockey, Tony McCoy, who brought about the win despite the four-year-old filly's obvious inexperience.

 

At one stage the odds were as short as 7/2 that Jonjo O'Neill would achieve his burning ambition. This much-desired success may well have stopped the rot and the Jackdaws Castle yard may now look forward with strengthened optimism to this season's campaigns at Cheltenham and Aintree.

 

A VETERAN COMEBACK

It seems that the Mark Bradstock-trained CARRUTHERS will go for the Betfred Classic Chase at Warwick on Saturday, a feature race in which he was runner-up to SHOTGUN PADDY a year ago. Unfortunately this twelve-year-old hasn't produced much worth talking about since that impressive performance. The son of KAYF TARA won won a Grade Two novice hurdle there back in 2008 so the track won't be a problem just as long as the ground is not too sticky.

 

Mark Bradstock commented: "I'm probably edging towards Warwick. He's in brilliant form at home, full of himself still. He's run well in the race in the past and his good jumping is a bonus. I'm hoping it rains and the ground becomes sloppy rather than holding as that is the one thing he doesn't like. When it's like glue, he just loses interest a bit."

 

WEDNESDAY 7th JANUARY 2015

 

ANOTHER FILLIP FOR HOBBS

The Philip Hobbs-trained RETURN SPRING seems to be on every punter's watch list for next Saturday's Betfred Classic Chase at Warwick. The eight-year-old produced a creditable third in the Bathwick Tyres Novices' Chase, his debut over fences at Exeter in November and then coming back two weeks later to break his duck in the Bathwick Tyres Taunton Novices' Chase.

 

The Minehead-based trainer has hinted that the son of VINNIE ROE could well be the improver in a race where the other horses have been far more active on the track. The going yesterday at Warwick was listed as soft with a few unpredictable days of weather in the run up to the Saturday contest. Such a prognosis is not likely to worry RETURN SPRING, however, as he has produced good results on heavy, soft and good ground.

 

Andrew Griffiths, speaking for Betfred, the sponsors of the race, commented: "Punters have sprung into action to back the favourite. The money suggests he is absolutely bouncing ahead of this weekend's engagement."

 

DUELLING DUO IN DUBLIN

The BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown in the last week in January looks like being the scene for another contest between JP McManus's JEZKI and the Willie Mullins-trained HURRICANE FLY. The latter got the better of the deal last time on 29 December in the Ryanair Hurdle when he beat the seven-year-old son of MILAN by half-a-length, thus bringing the tally between the dynamic duo to four wins to two in favour of HURRICANE FLY, who continued his unbeaten record at Leopardstown. Trainer, Jessica Harrington wasn't too dispirited, however, as her stable star and Champion Hurdler, JEZKI, didn't make it an easy win.

 

Willie Mullins commented: “Everything is good. He’s come out of the race at Christmas well and we’re happy with him. He got closer to Hurricane Fly than he ever has before at Leopardstown, so we’ll take him on again at the end of the month. We’re happy with where we are and we’ll take things as they come.”

 

THEY'RE NOT OFF!

Richard Wayman, the Chief Executive of the Racehorse Owners Association, it seems, backs the British Horseracing Authority's decision to permit a, so-called, at-risk race at Southwell tomorrow to proceed as planned. Despite not supporting the BHA's three-month trial, the ROA agreed that it was a good idea to let the the 32Red Handicap take place, even though, as only four runners have been declared, it was at risk under the short-notice removal trial. The reason for not cancelling this particular fixture, apparently, is because there were not many alternatives in the immediate future for the horses concerned.

 

Richard Wayman commented: "It was always a feature of the trial that when you got to the declaration stage of a race that was potentially at risk, the BHA racing department would look at the programme for the horses involved to assess whether there was alternative place to run in the next few days. In the event there were alternative races, the race would be cancelled. And if there weren't, then the race would go ahead any way, even though it didn't hit the target. What you don't want is horses standing in their boxes. You might as well let the race go ahead, so I think it's sensible.”

 

The BHA added: "BHA decided not to remove the race on account of there being insufficient alternative options. In reviewing this case, BHA spoke to the trainers concerned and took account of the forthcoming options available to those horses. The short notice removal trial continues until 31st March."

 

TUESDAY 6th JANUARY 2015

 

A ROYAL SHOT DOWN UNDER

Her Majesty's BOLD SNIPER has arrived at Gai (Gabriel) Waterhouse's Racing Stables in Sydney so, it seems, the royal colours are set to be seen on Australian racetracks again this year. It has not yet been announced which races the 5-year-old son of NEW APPROACH, the second of the Queen's horses to be trained Down Under, is targeted for but he will certainly attract a lot of interest wherever he goes. Last season the Kensington NSW-based trainer had a strong runner-up with CARLTON HOUSE in the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes followed by a third

in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, also a Group 1, after which the 2011 Derby third was retired to stud. The Sir Michael Stoute-trained BOLD SNIPER produced three wins in 2013 and was placed in four of his five outings last season, including coming second in the Wolferton Handicap at Royal Ascot in June last year.

 

John Warren, the Queen's racing manager, over there to attend the Magic Millions Yearling Sales commented: "He will be the second horse to be trained for the Queen by Gai Waterhouse and he arrived today. He has settled in well and hopefully will give the Queen some fun and do well here at his level.”

 

HAD A GOOD TRIP

So punters would have been well rewarded for taking seriously the fact that Somerset-based Philip Hobbs was making an 800-mile round trip to Musselburgh, a track he rarely visits, with one horse, ROYAL PLAYER (Yesterday's report “ HOBB'S CHOICE) to run in the feature race, the William Hill Kilmany Cup. The 6-year-old won the Tanners Wines Handicap Chase at Ludlow in the middle of December, for which victory he received a 9 pound penalty so jockey, Richard Johnson, clearly didn't want to push the 10/11 favourite too hard at the beginning of the race. He needn't have worried, however, as the son of KING'S THEATRE didn't seem troubled by the higher weight, jumping impressively well and easily scoring by three and three-quarter lengths.

 

The winning jockey commented: "He's always been very enthusiastic and that was why we ended up making the running with him as he was keen to get on with it. In hindsight, he didn't really learn how to race properly as he was too keen at Ffos Las first time out, but we dropped him in last time and with only six runners we could do that again. If anything, he's very brave and has loads of scope - you have to hold him back to help him finish his race. He'll get a fairly hefty rise after this so he'll go up in grade again.

 

It was a lucky day for a trio of jockeys at the East Lothian racecourse. Richard Johnson, Jason Maguire and Paul Moloney shared a car the long up North and they all made their appearance in the winner's enclosure.

 

NEW COURSE ON TRACK

Monday marked the day when the new racetrack, Chelmsford City, a re-incarnation of Great Leighs, officially got its licence after passing its final inspection in preparation for its first day of racing on Sunday. One of the course officials had let it be known that delays in building works caused by inclement weather had now been overcome but the plan is to restrict ticket sales for its first three fixtures this month in order to test the new racing venue's ability to handle the crowds.

 

Joe Scanlon, Chairman of Chelmsford City, commented: “It’s looking good, the grandstand’s complete. We’ve got a bit of work to do on the ticket office and a couple of other areas. But the British Horseracing Authority were here this morning for a final inspection and they tell me that a licence will be issued later today, so that’s a major hurdle over. Everything here is new, new staff, new kitchens, so it will take us a bit of time to get everything right. Sunday’s fixture will be invitation only, restricted to 500 or 600 people. We could have sold several thousand and my apologies that we have had to disappoint so many potential customers but we first want to test that everything works. The grand opening is probably now going to be on Sunday 1 February. “

 

MONDAY 5th JANUARY 2015

 

A RECORD THREE IN A ROW

A top trainer was honoured by the Turf Club on Saturday night. To be the first trainer to win the Derby three years in succession is no mean feat and this record-breaking achievement has been recognised. Champion trainer, Aidan O’Brien was present at the annual Moyglare dinner at the K Club to receive the honour. Last year saw AUSTRALIA take this esteemed prize by two-and-a-half lengths; RULER OF THE WORLD did the honours in 2013 preceded by CAMELOT the year before, putting five lengths between him and any rivals. All in all, Aidan O'Brien has won this world-famous contest no fewer than five times.

 

Neville O’Byrne, the Turf Club’s Senior Steward commented: “Aidan O’Brien is no stranger to breaking records. He has already trained multiple Group 1 winners and in 2014 he trained his 11th winner of the Irish Derby since 1997. It is not for the creation of that record that Aidan is receiving his presentation, but for another record he set in 2014 in relation to the Derby. The Derby was run for the first time in 1780. Since then it has been run on 235 occasions. However, in 2014 Aidan achieved something that no trainer has ever achieved before in the history of the race when he became the first person to train three consecutive winners of the race — an incredible achievement.”

 

NAAS WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT!

Naas racetrack seems to acquired a reputation for not being exactly the 'punters' pal' – well any heavy losers might tend to believe that, wouldn't they? Yesterday certainly added further credence to this long-held belief when the County Kildare course staged its first Grade One jumps race, the Lawlor’s Hotel Novice Hurdle. The surprise winner of the day was was the 33/1 outsider, MCKINLEY, trained by the incomparable Willie Mullins, who was registering his seventh victory in the 13 top-class races run so far this season in Ireland. The trouble was that the market and the record books all indicated that the County Carlow-based trainer's other entry, the 4/5 favourite, TELL US MORE, was supposed to win and indeed made all in the attempt but his stable mate proved he had more in the final yards of the race. Indications earlier had even hinted that MCKINLEY, with Paul Townend aboard, was, in fact, Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud's third hopeful as there was also the Ruby Walsh-ridden KILLER CROW in the act who ultimately proved to be a disappointment.

 

Willie Mullins commented about his surprise winner: “This fellow is improving all the time, but I didn’t think he had improved that much. Paul gave him a great ride. The improvement I’ve seen in his homework is vindicated. Tell Us More jumped fantastic and raced great. He probably had to do all the donkey work and that probably just told. He beat off Free Expression, the one that we thought would jump and stay as well as anything. It’s possible McKinley’s Flat-race experience might have paid off. Tell Us More had three races where he didn’t have to fight or battle and inexperience might have beaten him.”

 

HOBB'S CHOICE

All eyes on Musselburgh today. Philip Hobbs is sending his ROYAL PLAYER on the 800-mile round trip to compete in the £12,000 William Hill Kilmany Cup Handicap Chase. It is also interesting to note that this is only the third time in five years that the Minehead-based trainer has saddled a horse at the East Lothian track. The six-year-old son of KING'S THEATRE, ridden by Richard Johnson will be up against five rivals in this three-mile contest. Potential punters might read a lot into the fact that Philip Hobbs is sending just one horse all the way to Scotland but it seems the explanation is not so conspiratorial: "He's not qualified to run in a class 1 or a class 2 chase and this was about the only class 3 around. He should be competitive and I'm hoping it's worth the trip. We haven't had that many runners at Musselburgh and I think our only winner at the track has been What's Up Boys. He won a novice chase there in December 2000, the year before he won the Hennessy."

SUNDAY 4th JANUARY 2015

 

JUST WILD ABOUT HARRY!

The established training stables were given another reminder that there is a relatively new kid on the block who is aiming for the top. Just 26 years old and only starting training in October 2012, Harry Fry has saddled 81 winners in 280 races in just over two years ( as well as 40 Seconds, 34 Thirds and 24 Fourths). Now he has made his indelible mark on the New Year by scoring with five of his first six runners. This includes yesterday's dazzling double at Wincanton. First off the mark was FLETCHER'S FLYER in the Bathwick Tyres Bridgwater Novices' Hurdle in which Nick Scholfield gave him an impressive ride to win by eight lengths. Then three races later BLUE BUTTONS, with Gary Derwen aboard claiming a valuable seven pounds, won convincingly in the Bathwick Tyres Poole Handicap Hurdle.

 

The Beaminster-based winning trainer wasn't at Wincanton. He had opted to go to Sandown as he had a runner in the prestigious Grade 1 32Red Tolworth Hurdle (See below) The former pupil assistant to the champion jumps trainer Paul Nicholls was asked at that location to comment on his tremendous beginning to the New Year and he said modestly: “You dream about this. It’s hard work by all the team at home and it’s fantastic the horses are running so well. Long may it continue.”

 

Nick Scholfield commented on his win on FLETCHER'S FLYER: “He handled the ground and they went a good gallop in the conditions. Most of the other lads came in and said ‘what a gallop’ but it felt pretty easy on him.”

 

A SERGE OF POWER

Unbeaten in three starts over hurdles, Nicky Henderson's L'AMI SERGE was the indisputable victor of the 32Red Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown yesterday, beating the only serious rival left on his feet, the Harry Fry-trained JOLLY'S CRACKED IT by 14 lengths. The five-year-old son of KING'S THEATRE didn't seem in too much of a hurry to get the job done in the early stages of this Grade One contest but he was well in the clear two hurdles out and there was no stopping him from there on. Dan Skelton's SHELFORD, to whom credit must be given for making it a more challenging contest than it might have been with so few runners, played his usual strong front-running role until he made a mistake at the third obstacle which caused him to lose some momentum. He was subsequently headed two hurdles out and sadly fell at the last when running in third position. That left Harry Fry's six-year-old the job of trying to make an impression on the leader by throwing down the gauntlet two out but he was soon hopelessly outpaced by L'AMI SERGE who just accelerated away even in the

prevailing punishing conditions.

 

The winning trainer, Nicky Henderson commented: "I don't like getting over-enthusiastic, but there was nothing not to like about that. I know there were only four runners, which nobody likes, but I thought there were three serious ones in the race. Once they turned in, it became obvious that Barry was full of it. The amazing thing is that he's good enough to do what he's doing over two miles and over hurdles because he looks like a chaser. We'll go straight to Cheltenham for the Sky Bet Supreme. It's only a fortnight since he won at Ascot and I just think he'd had eight runs over hurdles in France last year and they've educated him for us!

 

Winning jockey, Barry Geraghty added: "You'd have to be impressed. His two previous wins were good, but he's stepped up here. It was bit hard work on the ground through the race, but I think that's just a reflection of his age, he's only just turning five and to win the way he did was very good.”

As mentioned earlier, Harry Fry opted to go to Sandown Park not Wincanton where he notched up double so he was on hand to comment directly on JOLLY'S CRACKED IT's result: “He’s going to go to Haydock for a Grade Two novice hurdle in the second week of February.”

 

ON THE LEVEL, DAD. I'M LEAVING YOU!

Flat racing is not something that naturally rolls off the tongue when talking about champion jump trainer, Paul Nicholls. In fact he has raced only nine horses in that discipline over the last five seasons compared with saddling over 2600 on National Hunt tracks. Now, it seems there are about to be some changes in the Nicholls family household: daughter, Megan, is planning to further her flat racing career by becoming an apprentice with Hungerford-based trainer, Clive Cox. The 17-year-old scored five wins from 28 races as an amateur and this has obviously encouraged her to make the decision to abandon the area of the sport championed by her father. It was originally thought that Megan Nicholls would opt for a job with Newmarket trainer Michael Bell but the Clive Cox yard is much nearer home so that seems to have clinched it.

 

Paul Nicholls commented: "Meg has sorted it all out herself, she wants to ride on the Flat and good luck to her. Michael was very kind to her but Meg didn't know anybody in Newmarket, whereas Clive is expanding and she can stay with Georgia's parents in Kingston Lisle which is handy."

 

Nicholls jnr. added: "I absolutely love Flat racing. I was very lucky in the summer, I had some really nice winners and really enjoyed it, and I decided that while my weight is good - I am under 8st - I should use it to my advantage and give it a go. I am really looking forward to the challenge and it will mean my dad will be watching more Flat racing and hopefully getting more Flat horses."

SATURDAY 3rd JANUARY 2015

 

A FRIEND INDEED

After weeks of anticipation the Grade One Tolworth Hurdle runs at Sandown today but, there are now only four contestants, as Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins has surprisingly withdrawn all of his original entries. Bearing in mind the BHA's recent declared intention to remove such small fields from any fixture in future, such a trend for such an auspicious occasion is disappointing to say the least. This is highlighted even more by the fact that one of the runners, the Nicky Henderson-trained L'AMI SERGE has already acquired the distinction of being considered the best British novice hurdler. Then there is Harry Fry's rising star, JOLLY'S CRACKED IT, who is tipped for the top after three unbeaten runs over hurdles. These two will have an exciting re-encounter in March when they are entered for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. As for today's race, the only thing, apart from the ground, that will possibly ensure that it becomes a bit more of challenging contest is the inclusion of Dan Skelton's SHELFORD who is a doughty front-runner. Otherwise, on paper, anyhow, it looks like a foregone conclusion. L'AMI SERGE has much the better form and pedigree (son of KING'S THEATRE) whereas there is no disputing that we'll see a lot more from the Seaborough-based trainer's son of ASTARABAD.

 

Harry Fry's is understandably excited about the prospects of his six-year-old: “This has been the plan since his last win at Ascot,” he said yesterday. “And he’ll love the rain that’s forecast.”

 

THAT'S ABOUT THE SIZE OF IT

The British Horseracing Authority plans plans to cut down field sizes for a number of key races at the Cheltenham Festival this year. Now the maximum field size will be 22 (down from 24) for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle; the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle ;the JCB Triumph Hurdle and the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle. One of the more competitive contests of the Festival week, the Coral Cup, will have its maximum number of runners reduced from 28 to 26 runners; similarly for the Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle. Other important changes include increasing the prize-money by £25,000 to £300,000 for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle and the Ryanair Chase. In addition the 3lb allowance for riders riding for their own stable and the 7lb allowance for jockeys who have not yet scored a winner will no longer apply in the Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.

 

Stuart Middleton, the BHA racing operations manager, explained: “Removing the additional 3lb allowance removes any temptation to gamble on inexperience for what is the highest profile conditional jockeys event of the year, unless trainers are comfortable that it is the right booking for the horse. We do not have an issue with trainers using their own riders and understand the desire to keep successful partnerships intact, but other trainers who might prefer to book the best available rider should not be discouraged from doing so, as was previously the case with these allowances.”

 

RACING AGAINST THE LAW

After a number of false starts, horse racing finally got under way in Freemount but there was a problem; it was illegal as it was after pub closing time. When the police drove by the County Cork-based Haggart Bar at 3.20 in the morning, it is reported that they heard "a lot of noise," and inside they discovered quite a few people with "fresh drinks on the table." Benje Sheehy, the owner, explained to the police that they were holding a fundraising party but, due to various problems, it had started late.

Charlie O'Connor, the solicitor representing the pub owner, explained to Judge Brian Sheridan that it was planned that cameras would be deployed which would project "racing cartoon horses," but because of various operational difficulties, starters orders were not declared until after closing time. He also added that only the fundraising committee were in the pub at the time the police went in.

 

With an appropriate sense of humour, the judge decided against a riding ban but issued a modest a fine of €200!

 

FRIDAY 2nd JANUARY 2015

 

IN A CLASS OF HIS OWN

The Michael Scudamore-trained ZAYFIRE ARAMIS runs today at Ffos Las in the Radio Carmarthenshire And Scarlet FM Maiden Hurdle. The six-year-old joins seven other runners who will hope to reveal their jumping skills in their debut race over hurdles. Three of them have in fact produced wins and good placings in their qualifying, so-called, bumpers. The son of ZAFEEN has yet to produce a victory and today's conditions, officially listed as heavy, may not be ideal for 'breaking his duck'. An interesting aspect of this contest is that one of the rivals is FORYOURINFORMATION, ridden by champion jockey, Tony McCoy. This bay gelding is a son of the twice Ascot Gold Cup and twice Irish St. Leger hero, KAYF TARA, whose progeny have been winning quite a few races over the Festive Season.

 

The intriguing fact about this race is that ZAYF ARAMIS's Dam, KAYLIFA ARAMIS, was also sired by the Overbury Stud legend. Now, the experts say that the sire and dam play equally significant parts in a pedigree but that each plays a different role in determining how a racehorse will eventually perform. It seems the male parts of a pedigree (primarily the sire, and secondly, the damsire, or broodmare sire) determine the distance and surface where the runner will be most effective; the female parts of a pedigree (dam and her female family) determine the racing class. Whether the horse has the right stuff to become a champion or whether he is more likely to be a common horse is chiefly—more than 80 percent—the result of the quality of the female line. The key to racing class runs through the dam and her female family and can be traced back generation after generation. Generally, though, when analysing the pedigree of potential winner in a maiden race, we are told that the influence of the sire and the damsire is of prime importance. This is because, when analysing such a race, the first thing to look at is the distance and surface and how the sire/damsire of a runner fits that condition. Undoubtedly the dam and her family will ultimately influence the class of a horse as he progresses up the racing charts but, in the early stages, class is not so important.

 

So, the above information indicates that we need to examine the sire, ZAFEEN, who was a sprinter, best over 6 to 8 furlongs, whose three career wins were on Good to Firm. On the face of it not a favourable prognosis for a maiden hurdle over two-and-a-half miles. It may be too early for the Dam's class to have any influence on what is only ZAYFIRE ARAMIS's fourth outing. Of course, there is also the X-factor, the extra something that nature tosses into the horse's make-up that has produced unexpected legends in the past.

 

We shall find out around 3.30pm.

 

STEADY AS A ROCK

Class is certainly something ROCK ON RUBY seems to have in abundance. Yesterday at Cheltenham the ten-year-old revisited the scene of his triumphant 2012 Champion Hurdle victory and showed his six rivals, some almost half his age, how to win a two-and-a-half-mile contest with not too much difficulty. Travelling smoothly throughout the son of OSCAR proved more than a match for Nicky Henderson's VANITEUX, even with Barry Geraghty aboard and won by two-and-a-half lengths. COLE HARDEN - who had helped the eventual victor cut out a fairly modest pace in the early stages came third.

 

The winning jockey, Noel Fehily commented: "I've said before how much this horse means to me and he seems to be getting better. Cole Harden didn't go as fast as normal and Rock On Ruby is getting easier to ride as he gets older. The ground is very tacky and there's a strong headwind, so I didn't want to do all the donkey work. He was in front plenty long enough but he just seems to be getting better. I think he won quite cosy, Harry had been telling me what good form he was in since his last run."

 

The delighted trainer, Harry Fry added: "The reception he just got says it all! He's turned 10 yet is still showing the young horses how it's done. He's got such a good record here it would almost be a sin not to come in March and the one race for him is the World Hurdle which means stepping him up in trip, but he'll get the entry. We wont know if he stays until we try. The ground today was much tackier than last time. There's nothing wrong with this race, Annie Power won it last year and the good thing is my horse shows all of his best form at Cheltenham."

 

IT'S IN THE BLOOD

Looks like another AQPS French import (See yesterday 'A Sanguine Approach') has done it again. The Gordon Elliott-trained ROI DU MEE went back to Tramore racecourse and bagged the At The Races Chase exactly two years after the last time. (He came second in 2014.) In fact, the final yards were disputed by last year's winner, MARITO, who was on his comeback from injury and was the favourite but the heavy rain made it more of a test than expected. The ten-year-old son of LAVIRCO was kept handy by jockey Kevin Sexton and always seemed in control. The duo made all, lost some ground just before 2 fences out, jumped slowly over last,but pulled away on the run-in.

 

Gordon Elliott's brother, Joey, commented: "He loves being out in front and he loves that soft ground. He is limited as to what he can go for, but Gordon will decide. He might go for another Listed chase somewhere. He is paying his way and he enjoyed getting his own way in front."

 

THURSDAY 1st JANUARY 2015

 

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*** STOP PRESS ***

ZAYFIRE ARAMIS, in training with Michael Scudamore, is entered to race in the Glyn Abbey Maiden Hurdle at Ffos Las next Friday, 2nd January. At the moment the going is Soft, Heavy in places which should suit him fine. This is also something of a sentimental journey, as fans of ARAMIS horses will recall. Retired Cheltenham Champion, KAYF ARAMIS, ran his last-ever race there in May 2013. (Expressed in human relationship terms, KAYF ARAMIS is ZAYFIRE ARAMIS's uncle as the latter's Dam is KAYLIFA, full sister to the retired champion.)

 

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LIGHTWEIGHT WINNER

Quite a Punchestown palaver yesterday when the Henry de Bromhead-trained SADLER'S RISK won the Free Festival Upgrade Ticket Offer Hurdle by a head and then was disqualified and placed last. The reason for this action, it was explained later, was that jockey Andrew Lynch failed to carry the correct weight. It seems the error occurred when the Irish rider weighed out before the race. Ion Hamilton, Turf Club Clerk of the Scales, recorded the weight 4 pounds lighter than actual and the mistake went unnoticed. He told the stewards' inquiry that he could not explain how the mistake had happened. Andrew Lynch himself explained that his valet had prepared his saddle and so he had no reason to believe that everything wasn't in order. He did recall, however, not informing the clerk of the scales the weight he was supposed to carry which is required by the rules.

 

Peter Matthews, Stewards secretary, commented: "The horse was weighed out at the wrong weight and therefore obviously weighed in at the wrong weight so we had no option to disqualify him. We've referred the whole matter to the Turf Club for further investigation."

 

The winning/losing trainer, Henry de Bromhead, added: "It's hugely disappointing. The clerk of the scales' job is to weigh the riders out correctly and I took it as given that he had it correct and between the valet and the clerk of the scales you would have to assume they would get it right. Andrew was happy that the weight was correct too, we wouldn't have gone ahead otherwise! Hopefully it's something that won't happen again."

 

NO CONTEST

The Horsemen's Group and the BHA are at loggerheads over the recently introduced small field abandonment trial. Jockeys, on the whole, support this initiative but trainers are critical of the strategy which, they claim, is trying to deal with a problem caused by the structure of media rights payments.

 

Thursday's 32Red Fillies' Handicap at Southwell was abandoned by the BHA on Wednesday because there were only four entries for a race. The trainers of these four horses were naturally all against the decision, which was aimed at dealing with the problem of small fields crisis, calling it "a disgrace", "outrageous" and "a farce". The Racehorse Owners Association declared that the all-weather short-notice race removal three-month trial was "one initiative we strongly oppose".

 

Not so the Professional Jockeys Association. Paul Struthers, Chief executivecommented: "It is probably putting a sticking plaster over the fundamental problem, which is there are too many races and not enough horses. However, we would be absolutely supportive of the move and always were during the consultative process, although we were probably slightly out on a limb within the Horsemen's Group on that. I can understand why the four sets of owners and trainers involved in the Southwell race are not happy, but within seven days of the race there should be other opportunities for the horses concerned. From a jockeys' perspective field sizes have a massive impact because they mean rides are harder to come by and jockeys more often go racing for just one ride, which is largely uneconomical."

 

A SANGUINE APPROACH

Traditionally buyers have looked to Ireland when wishing to increase their bloodstock but in recent years more and more are turning to France and particularly their AQPS ("Autre Que Pur-Sang"), or loosely translated "Other than thoroughbred. A few Grade One winners are already very familiar such as SPRINTER SACRE, SIRE DE GRUGY and SIR DES CHAMPS. In fact three of the last six Grand National winners were "Autre Que Pur-Sang"- – MON MOME, NEPTUNE COLLONGES and PINEAU DE RE; a record made even more impressive when you take into account that only 11 out of the total of 240 Grand National runners were then AQPS. There are five runners today at Cheltenham: AS DE MEE, SAINT ARE; TENOR NIVERNAIS; VANITEUX and BARNEBY.

 

In addition Willie Mullins has his five-year-old AVANT TOUT running at Tramore today. The County Carlow trainer has, in fact, become a major recruiter of AQPS.

 

TAUNTON TAUNTED!

Someone else not happy with a racecourse. This time not an owner (See yesterday's “A NOT SO GRAND NATIONAL!”) but a champion trainer. Paul Nicholls let rip against Taunton for, what he described as, a "farcical situation" when the hurdles on the back straight were bypassed because of the hazards created by the low sun but the fences in the chases were unaffected. A total of three hurdle races took place with the aforementioned flights omitted but the fences next to the hurdles were jumped in subsequent races. What is more, the third hurdle race tool place when it was getting quite dark at around 4.00 pm.

 

The Somerset-based trainer, whose TARA POINT won the Listed totepool Betting On All UK Racing Mares' Novices' Hurdle (yet another KAYF TARA victory! – see Monday's ' YES SIRE, HE'S A WINNER!) commented: "This is a farcical situation. I'm all for safety coming first as far as jockeys and horses are concerned, but if the chase course is safe to jump all the fences, how come the hurdles course is unsafe? This sort of thing doesn't happen in Ireland, they must be laughing at us."

 

Jason Loosemore, Clerk of the Course explained, however: "The jockeys made a representation to the starter before the two hurdle races that they thought the sun was too low but, clearly, none of the jockeys made a similar representation to the starter before the chase, which is why the fences were all jumped.

 

That leaves a slight mystery as to why these same hurdles were also omitted in the last race, the totepool Racing's Biggest Supporter Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle final which was run at dusk. There was the inevitable stewards' enquiry and, no doubt, a report will be sent to the BHA, who must have been hoping that the last day's of 2014 racing could pass uneventfully without any more embarrassing situations.

 

SHOTGUN WENT OFF TOO SOON

The sooner SHOTGUN PADDY's performance in Saturday's Welsh Grand National is forgotten the better. The ante-post favourite blundered at the second fence and things didn't improve after that and jockey Leighton Aspell pulled him up. It looks like there are now plans to salvage the reputation of the Emma Lavelle-trained seven-year-old by aiming for back-to-back victories in the Betfred Classic Chases at Warwick.

 

The following update has appeared on the Axom (XXXVI) syndicate's website, the owners of the BRIAN BORU gelding: "Shotgun Paddy did not have the best of luck in the Welsh National, when getting shuffled back through the field after a messy start and making a very bad mistake at the second fence. He was never really travelling after this and was sensibly pulled up by Leighton Aspell. It was just one of those days for Shotgun Paddy and he will now head to Warwick on January 10 to defend his Classic Chase title."

 

WORTH ANOTHER CHANCE

Connections have offered one reason for BOBS WORTH's poor performance when defending his crown in the Lexus Chase three days ago at Leopardstown: simply the tough conditions he had to deal with. The 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner was naturally the hot favourite to repeat his last-year winning performance but unexpectedly he was one of the first horses to weaken under pressure. The Nicky Henderson-trained son of BOB BACK laboured on in the straight and finished up eighth from nine runners.

Malcolm Kimmins, a member of The Not Afraid Partnership syndicate, was clearly anxious not to make too much of the disappointment: "The ground was horrendous and he just couldn't deal with it. There was no point destroying him on that sort of ground. He looked very well before the race and Barry (Geraghty) was very pleased with the way he felt. He just didn't like the ground. When he actually got on the better ground in the straight, it made a big difference and he wasn't beaten that far. It was a disappointing trip for his supporters, but he lives to fight another day."

 

TUESDAY 30th DECEMBER 2014

 

A NOT SO GRAND NATIONAL!

Apparently there were scenes verging on the farcical at Chepstow's Welsh Grand National fixture last Saturday and one particular owner was not pleased and says he will be giving that track a wide berth in future. Arnie Kaplan, a highly successful owner with his horses trained by such training luminaries as Jenny Pitman, Philip Hobbs and David Pipe over a period of some 30 years clearly was clearly not pleased with the arrangements when he was there. Firstly he had a long difficult trip from his home in Solihull only to witness his David Pipe-trained AMIGO come a disappointing eighth in the big race but a better performance by his 8-year-old BYGONES SOVEREIGN who stayed on well for fourth placein the 3-mile Coral Proud Supporters Of British Horse Racing Handicap Hurdle.

 

Arnie Kaplan commented: “It was a shocker. It was an enormous crowd and they didn’t seem able to cope. As far as owners are concerned, the queue from midday took 40 minutes; you were better off walking down to the turnstile and paying. There was one guy with a runner in the first who never made it in to see the race, which is awful. There were two lovely chaps on the owners’ and trainers’ stand but they had just one list and only one person could do the job. It was an absolute farce, I’m surprised there wasn’t a riot. You couldn’t put your hanky to your mouth to sneeze. There were queues to get drinks, food you never saw at all, and only one table on the end for tea and coffee covered in dirty mugs and serviettes. When you looked around the whole course there were queues for everything. There’s no question they need to cap the capacity and have more facilities available.”

 

Phil Bell, Chepstow’s Executive Director, replied to these criticisms: “The crowd approaching 11,000 was much bigger than previous years and we’re pleased to have attracted more people to racing and the Welsh National. We thought we had sufficient stewards and traffic management in place but we did have one or two operational issues that we will work on going forward. We welcome constructive feedback from any customer. I don’t think most owners had to wait that length of time, but having had this feedback we will see what can be done. We’ve had no other comments about it being too busy and the feedback has been that it was the best Welsh National atmosphere for a long time.”

 

THE NICK OF TIME

The first and last races on the Newbury card went to the top trainer-jockey combination of Nicky Henderson and Barry Geraght. First off the mark in the Betfred 'Fun And Friendly' Juvenile Hurdle was the three-year-old TOP NOTCH who left the Harry Fry-trained MICK JAZZ trailing four-and-a-half length in his slipstream at the post.

 

As Nicky Henderson commented: “He’s tough. At the moment I have four who could go for the race if it was run tomorrow. Along with this one, there is Hargam, Peace And Co and Bivouac, all lovely horses.”

 

The last race of the day, the Betfred Supports Jack Berry House Introductory Hurdle presented the three-times champion trainer with his double. The six-year-old CLEAN SHEET, after taking keen hold early on, was held up in fifth position until he angled his way into fourth place soon after the third hurdle from home. The son of OSCAR was close on the heels of the leader, the Tom George-trained SEVEN NATION ARMY, with Paddy Brennan aboard, when he made a mistake 2 out but still managed to recover under pressure on the run-in and caught his rival at the post by a short head.

 

NOT SMALL FRY

Trainer Harry Fry has had his eye on the 32Red Tolworth Hurdle for his JOLLY'S CRACKED IT ever since the second of two wins at Ascot last month. Yesterday the Dorset-based trainer confirmed his ambition by making his five-year-old son of ASTARABAD one of the fourteen entries for the weekend highlight which will be his first crack at Grade 1 glory.

 

Harry Fry commented confidently: "I'm looking forward to running him and I think he deserves to step up in class. He made a bad mistake at the second last last time and was still able to recover and win the race. Saturday will tell us a lot more but one thing is for sure, the softer the ground the better as he copes with cut really well."

 

Andrew Cooper, Clerk of the Course added: "We are very pleased to see some fantastic entries across the whole card for 32Red day. The feature race, the Grade 1 32Red Tolworth Hurdle, has some high quality entries and we look forward to another exciting renewal of the race. No problems are anticipated with the meeting going ahead, with a return to milder conditions from Thursday."

 

YES SIRE, HE'S A WINNER!

The twice Ascot Gold Cup and twice Irish St. Leger hero continues to dominate the headlines fourteen years after retirement. The legendary KAYF TARA, now standing at Overbury Stud at a fee of £3,000 in 2015, has sired a few stars in this period, including our own special Pertemps Hurdle Champion, KAYF ARAMIS. The now 20-year-old son of SADLERS WELLS, although himself a champion on the flat, has been crowned Champion British National Hunt sire three times in four years. The results of his labours were evident again this weekend at Leopardstown when his son, LIEUTENANT COLONEL won the Grade 1 Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle. This five-year-old, handled by Sandra Hughes and owned by Gigginstown House Stud, proved he had what it takes when winning the Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse last time out.

 

KAYF TARA's current run of success began on Friday, when more of his offspring notched up an across-the-card treble with TEA FOR TWO, who won the totepool Wishing Racegoers A Merry Christmas EBF 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle at Towcester; BEDALE LANE who scored in the Jane Wills Equine Portraiture Standard Open NH Flat Race and NO PLANNING winner of the William Hill - Bet And Watch Handicap Hurdle. As mentioned here yesterday SPECIAL TIARA produced an exemplary round of jumping to win the Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton on Saturday. Later on the same day a daughter, WHISTLE DIXIE, won her debut race under rules, the Greenmount Equine Hospital Mares Flat Race at Limerick. To round off a triumphant festive season the Henry de Bromhead-trained four-year-old KAYF TARA son, IDENTITY THIEF, landed his winning debut in the At The Races Maiden Hurdle at Leopardstown. KAYF TARA's previous triumphs include CARRUTHERS who won the Hennessy Gold Cup and PLANET OF SOUND winner of the Punchestown Gold Cup.

 

HEAD TO HEAD

The four-day Christmas Festival draws to a close at Leopardstown today with perhaps the most exciting of contests, the Grade 1 Ryanair Hurdle in which there are seven runners but all eyes are on just two of them. In my left-hand corner the Jessica Harrington-trained JEZKI with champion jockey, Tony McCoy aboard and on my right Willie Mullins' HURRICANE FLY, ridden by Ruby Walsh. These two have battled it out five times before with the score three to two in the latter's favour who will be chasing a fourth victory in this race and his 21st Grade One triumph.

 

Willie Mullins commented: “No matter what Hurricane Fly is doing, it is going to be tough to repeat what he has done for the last few years.

 

Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus added: “We’re looking forward to taking The Fly on again. He will be very hard to beat on his favourite going and favourite course but Jezki’s in good form and it should be an exciting race.”

 

ROAD TO VICTORY

Another thrilling contest at Leopardstown was the Lexus Chase where the Noel Meade-trained ROAD TO RICHES lived up to his name and bagged the honours, despite initial worries about the ground conditions. Jockey Bryan Cooper had to earn his keep from some way out aboard the eventual winner but luckily found himself handy just when Willie Mullins' ON HIS OWN and Paul Nicholls' SAM WINNER were slugging it out for supremacy. The seven-year-old son of GAMUT showed a lot of guts taking these two on at that critical time and was rewarded by making it to the line with a length-and-a-half to spare.

 

A WINNING IMPERIAL SELECTION

A short head clinched it for a 9/1 shot in the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow yesterday and that was even after he blundered in the home straight. The Venetia Williams-trained EMPEROR'S CHOICE confounded all the tipsters to give jockey Aidan Coleman the ride of his life. Last year's winner, MONBEG DUDE, trained by Michael Scudamore was held up in rear for quite some time but looked outpaced before he had reached five out. He rallied into fourth position three from home but had nothing left for a challenge. The eventual winner, however, although seeming to have lost it by two out, found a little extra and kept on for the photo finish.

 

An excited Aidan Coleman commented: "I have never had a feeling like that when the photograph was called my way. It is such a prestigious race and to win it for Venetia and the team is great."

 

Trainer Venetia Williams, who won the race once before with JOCKS CROSS in 2000, added: "I thought the fact he was in front meant the ground wasn't testing enough. I thought there would be too many in with a chance turning for home and they would have too much speed for him but when stamina really came into play, he came back at them."

 

TIARA HEADS THE FIELD

The Henry De Bromhead-trained SPECIAL TIARA showed his four rivals how to do it from the front in the williamhill.com Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton Park yesterday. Barry Geraghty didn't hang about and urged the seven-year-old into the lead from the off and this lead was compounded by a few dazzling dives over the fences. The son of KAYF TARA did seem to lose his grip a little after that and made a mistake three from home which tempted Alan King's BALDER SUCCESS to move up for a challenge. SPECIAL TIARA, however, proved he had more to offer when under pressure and went off to win by two and a quarter lengths.

 

The winning trainer missed this triumph, as he was at Leopardstown, celebrating another winner, SIZING JOHN in the Grade 1 Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle but conveyed the following thoughts: "Everything went right at Kempton and Barry Geraghty gave Special Tiara an amazing ride. We thought we were in trouble with the ground having turned a bit soft there, but he was super."

 

The winning jockey added: "That was the way Henry told me to ride him, I've seen plenty of this horse over the years and Henry said that is the way - to let him go, let him rip and use his jumping. He said to give him a little breather down the back and go again in the straight. He was very long at the ditch but popped the next and was in his element all the way round. It's very rare that you get a horse with that amount of guts. To do it like that was just fantastic. He was really up for it, Henry had him spot on."

 

FOUR QUID A SCOOP!

One anonymous Betfair punter was certainly cock-a-hoop at the unexpected victory of EMPEROR'S CHOICE in the Welsh Grand National because he or she landed the totescoop6 bonus fund. It appears that the three winners of last weekend's win fund all plumped for different horses in the bonus race. David Pipe's AMIGO and the Philip Hobbs-trained WOODFORD COUNTY were the unlucky selections of the other two but the mystery punter, who picked the winner, added an extra £204,240 to the £103,316 that he or she had amassed last Saturday, which means the total winnings topped an eye-watering £307,556 for just a £4 investment.

 

Andrew Griffiths, spokesman for Totepool commented: "Emperor's Choice delivered a huge win for our £4 punter who can certainly afford plenty of new clothes in time for the New Year celebrations."

I think there's a literate joke there somewhere!

 

SATURDAY 27th DECEMBER 2014

 

STRAIGHT EIGHT

Eight wins in a row for the Willie Mullins-trained FAUGHEEN after claiming fairly easily yesterday's Williamhill.com Christmas Hurdle at Kempton Park. Things were already going well for Ruby Walsh and his partner by the home turn when victory was virtually handed on a plate as the strongest rival, Paul Nicholls' IRVING, weakened and was pulled up before the second out. That left the field clear for the six-year-old son of GERMANY to romp home by eight lengths. Initially, however, it wasn't all cut and dried, as most of his previous victories had been over longer trips and this one seemed a little short at two miles but it proved not to be a problem.

 

Trainer Willie Mullins commented: ‘I was very impressed and I think I still have plenty left in the locker for him to improve. The only thing was Ruby let him fiddle the last but he was only being safe.’

 

Owner Rich Ricci was clearly delighted with the success of his horse and couldn't hold back his thoughts: “We are lucky to have him. He is something else. I can taste running in it (the Champion Hurdle) now. Before we were wondering if we had one good enough.’

 

BY GEORGE. HE DID IT AGAIN!

The King George VI Chase at Kempton also offered racegoers and particularly trainer, Paul Nicholls, a day to remember, as the latter celebrated his ninth victory in this Boxing Day bonanza, courtesy the incomparable SILVINIACO CONTI, who put on a display of scintillating steeplechasing that knocked the spots off the his nine rivals. The eight-year-old son of DOM ALCO was a former stable mate of the legendary KAUTO STAR, a five-time winner of this prestigious race, who was appropriately honoured with the unveiling of a statue in his honour before the race.

 

Noel Fehily steered his mount professionally as they drew four-and-a-half lengths clear of David pipe's DYNASTE to make the second win in a row. It wasn't necessarily a foregone conclusion as CHAMPAGNE FEVER (came fourth), CUE CARD (fifth) and even JOHNS SPIRIT all looked as though they could give it a go but SILVINIACO CONTI showed them a clean pair of heels from about two out.

 

This victory meant that the twice Betfair Chase hero joined an illustrious list of horses who have won the King George’s Chase back-to-back, including PENDIL, CAPTAIN CHRISTY, SILVER BUCK, THE FELLOW, KICKING KING and WAYWARD LAD.

 

Paul Nicholls' protégé went on to come fourth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup after last year's success and it's obvious that the Somerset-based trainer is keen to set that record straight and appears confident that that particular goal is achievable now that his trainee has recovered from the bout of chronic gastric ulcers that was hampering his progress

 

Paul Nicholls commented: “I think this was a career-best effort. I think he is a better horse than he was a year ago. He is a bit stronger. The Cheltenham Gold Cup is now our No 1 target with him. I know why he didn’t perform last year — a few little things that we have put right. We found out he was suffering from gastric ulcers and the cheek-pieces have helped him concentrate a bit more. If we can get him therein this form we have a big chance.I’ll have to go for 10 and make it a round number. I am astounded — it is incredible. It shows we have a good team at home. We are good with these staying chasers.”

 

DUDE, I WAN'T THAT!

The Michael Scudamore-trained MONBEG DUDE is back at Chepstow this afternoon in an attempt to claim the Welsh Grand National for the second time. The nine-year-old son of WITNESS BOX is part-owned by former English rugby player for Bath and Gloucester Mike Tindall and former fellow players, Nick Robinson and James Simpson-Daniel who would clearly relish taking the prize again.

 

Nick Robinson commented: “His run at Newbury to finish fourth behind Many Clouds (in the Hennessy) was brilliant. It’s one of the best runs we have had from him. We are delighted with the way he has come out of it. We weren’t sure how much it would take out of him, but we have no complaints. He’s obviously carrying more weight than when he won in the past, but if he runs his own race we will be there or thereabouts. He’s as fit as he could be and just loves it around Chepstow. He was second there earlier this season and three-and-a-half miles in soft ground looks to be bang on for him. We are excited with how much he loves it at Chepstow and he must be worth an each-way shot – that’s what I’ll be telling my friends.”

 

FRIDAY 26th DECEMBER 2014

 

TO BOLDLY GO

RUBY WALSH will be riding into unknown territory in Kempton's King George VI Chase today. The problem is that his mount, CHAMPAGNE FEVER, is not a KAUTO STAR, the five-time champion of this event. The Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old hasn't raced this distance before so it's unknown territory. Nevertheless, despite tackling a three-mile chase for the first time, the son of STOWAWAY is tipped second favourite to win after last year's winner, Paul Nicholls' SILVINIACO CONTI. There is clearly every reason for CHAMPAGNE FEVER's high rating among punters; he won the Champion Bumper in 2012 and then the Supreme Novices' the following year and finished a respectable second in the Racing Post Arkle in March this year. These contests were admittedly all two miles plus but the fact remains he lacks experiences over longer distances and the Kempton contest will be a challenge.

 

As Ruby Walsh commented: "It's a guessing game whether he will get the trip. Nobody knows. But we've always thought he would stay the distance. He is a good jumper and has shown that he has plenty of pace. It's a strong renewal and everyone will be going there believing they've got a chance."

 

And the distance isn't the only consideration. As is to be expected for such a big occasion, there is a star-studded line-up. Apart from the afore-mentioned four of the other eight runners have won at Grade 1 level. There's the Colin Tizzard-trained CUE CARD, winner of last year's Betfair Chase and also runner-up in this race, although he didn't exactly cover himself with glory last time out at Haydock when he ended up 12 lengths down the line from the winner, SILVINIACO CONTI. Also there's another Paul Nicholls challenger, AL FEROF, who came third last year and possible produced a career-best performance at Ascot when he won the Grade 2 Amlin 1965 Chase at Ascot.

 

Last year's joint favourite, DYNASTE, is another one who didn't shine at Haydock and will be wearing cheek pieces for the first time to see whether he can improve. The rest of the field consists of Phillips Hobbs' MENORAH and his stablemate WISHFULL(!) THINKING; DOUBLE ROSS, JOHNS SPIRIT and WONDERFUL CHARM.

 

SPRINTER ON TRIAL

The Cheltenham 2013 Champion Chase winner, SPRINTER SACRE, is going to have a work out at Newbury before next week's racing. The 8-year-old son of NETWORK has been off the track since last December when he had to be pulled up in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton, due to an irregular heartbeat, which seems to have been righted. Up to that point he he had scored 10 times in a row. His trainer, Nicky Henderson, decided not to run him for the 2014 season because, as he put it, he was “not showing the same brilliance as he did last season”. Then after the summer break, SPRINTER SACRE was scheduled to compete in the Tingle Creek at the beginning of December —the scene of his triumph in 2012 — but it was decided that he was not ready for that. Now, it seems, a gallop at Newbury might just answer a few questions about fitness to compete. The plan is for SPRINTER SACRE to work before fans at the Berkshire track's Christmas meeting under the steerage of his regular jockey Barry Geraghty. The gelding will be in the parade ring at 11.30am and will go on a circuit of the course at 11.45am, jumping fences in the home straight.

 

BETTER BETTING CORPORATION

If you want to make money betting on the horses, maybe listening to BBC Radio 4 would immediately spring to mind as a source of gambling information. Well sceptics might be confounded by the news that, by heeding the racing tips provided by one of the BBC's sports presenters, you could even do better than investing in stocks and shares. An analysis of the racing tips offered on the Today programme this year has revealed that some of the presenters should not be ignored. Garry Richardson, for instance, read out 181 of the total 596 tips given throughout 2014 and twenty-five percent of them were winners. If you had bet just one £1 to win on each of those tips you would would have won the princely sum of … erm … of £2.37. Not a vast fortune but that's over double the investment! Another presenter, Rob Bonnet, however, was not one to follow. He read out 250 or so tips but only only 56 of those won. ( 22%)

 

Simon Jack, the Today programme’s business journalist admitted that betting on the presenters’ tips was not overall a great financial investment but: “If we just take your tips alone, you outperform, Garry, the stock market, you outperform that traditional safe haven of gold, and you came on level pegging with premium bonds or the average savings account.”

 

MONDAY 22nd DECEMBER 2014

 

OK CORAL?

It's the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow this Saturday and there's one trainer that has had this event in his sights for quite some time. Evan Williams has high hopes for ONE IN MILAN who performed excellently in last year's renewal of this race, coming a good fourth behind Richard Lee's MOUNTAINOUS and the Paul Nicholls-trained HAWKES POINT and TIDAL BAY. The Vale of Glamorgan-based trainer has targeted this marathon challenge ever since his nine-year-old went down at Becher's Brook on the second time around in the Grand National at Aintree last April. In preparation for Saturday's show piece ONE IN A MILAN ran in the three-mile CMB Engineering Handicap Hurdle, also at Chepstow on 5th November, where he battled for second place against Paul Henderson's GARDE FOU and lost out by a mere nose.

 

Evan Williams commented: "The weights will go up, we've yet to decide who will ride him. We might claim off him. We'll see closer to the day. This has been his target since the Grand National."

 

MAGNIFICENT SEVEN?

As mentioned yesterday the Willie Mullins-trained FAUGHEEN will line up in a probable field of seven in the williamhill.com Christmas Hurdle at Kempton Park on Boxing Day. With seven straight wins to-date, the six-year-old son of GERMANY proved he's up to the mark by

winning the Coral Hurdle last month at Ascot by three-and-three-quarter lengths. This should be an intriguing race as Paul Nicholls will be saddling IRVING, victor of the Fighting Fifth Hurdle and, not to be outdone, Nicky Henderson plans to run SIGN OF A VICTORY who performed so well when scoring in the William Hill Handicap Hurdle at Ascot at the beginning of last month. A fourth strong contender in this small field is the John Ferguson-trained PURPLE BAY , the Wincanton Elite Hurdle star.

 

WE CAN WORK IT OUT”

If all goes well on tomorrow's final work-out, connections will be rooting to run CARLINGFORD LOUGH in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown on December 28th. The eight-year-old son of KING'S THEATRE, trained by John Kiely, won the Growise Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown last but has since then has been laid low with problems that made it impossible for him to take his place in the JNWine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal. Hence the importance of tomorrow's final preparations.

 

Frank Berry, owner J P McManus' racing manager said: "It's all good so far. He'll be doing his last bit on Tuesday morning. If all goes well he'll go there (Lexus). He's been ticking over, he'll work on Tuesday and we'll see how he is."

 

SUNDAY 21st DECEMBER 2014

DREAM REVENGE

Nick Williams' REVE DE SIVOLA did it again for a third time in a row; he won the The Long Walk Hurdle beating the odds-on favourite, ZARKANDAR, to the post by a head after a thrilling last-minute rally. The victory was no doubt doubly relished by jockey Daryl Jacob: (a) because he only got the ride as Richard Johnson was suspended for taking the wrong course at Exeter on 5th December and (b) because he beat the Paul Nicholls-trained ZARKANDAR, ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies who replaced him, rather unexpectedly, in his senior rider slot at the Ditcheat yard.

 

The winner was generous to others, however, saying said the victory was “as much for Dickie as it is for me” and adding: “This horse’ll die for you, trying. This horse has got one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever ridden. It’s never over until you’ve crossed the line. Ascot brings out the best in him.”

Daryl Jacob will be next seen riding CUE CARD in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day when he will have the opportunity to deny victory to another Paul Nicholls-trained horse, AL FEROF.

 

EXPENSIVE VICTORY

Another happy trainer yesterday was Gordon Elliott whose BAYAN won the £150,000 Ladbroke for the second time in the last three renewals of this prestigious event. The five-year-old son of DANEHILL DANCER was only reckoned a 14/1 chance and seemed hard-pushed when running in third place when turning into the final straight. Jockey Davy Condon, however, managed to draw on his mount's reserves and held on valiantly jumping into the lead at the final hurdle to hold off John Ferguson's PINE CREEK by a neck.

 

The victory was an emotional one for the 30-year-old winning jockey as it was only his third appearance on the track since suffering career-threatening injuries (three fractured vertebrae in the middle of his back) in a terrible fall at Cork in August.

 

Davy Condon commented: "It is unbelievable. I didn't think I was going to make it back but I had good people around me and Gordon was so loyal to me. He was idling a bit in front but he starts well and has real stamina. He is tough and he responded."

 

The victory didn't come cheap for Davy Condon, however. He was fined £3,150 for breaking the whip rules and received a 15-day suspension.

 

TEMPTATION, TEMPTATION, TEMPTATION!

As mentioned in this column on 11th December, Willie Mullins' stars, VAUTOUR, CHAMPAGNE FEVER and FAUGHEEN are going their different ways on Boxing Day. The first will be running in the Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown, the other two will be off to Kempton Park to compete in the William Hill King George VI Chase and the Christmas Hurdle, respectively. Top jockey, Ruby Walsh, confesses that it wasn't an easy decision to forsake VAUTOUR, the Supreme Novice Hurdle champion, whom he has ridden to victory on his last four outings but ultimately, it seems, the temptation of even greater spoils at the Sunbury-on-Thames venue was too great.

 

The County Kildare jockey commented: "It will literally break my heart to leave Vautour behind at Leopardstown. He is absolutely bombing right now. Champagne Fever is the right type of horse for the King George, he jumps great and has pace. But I am under no illusions about the task that faces him and believe Silviniaco Conti will prove a tough nut to crack. Faugheen has come on plenty for his initial outing of the campaign and, obviously, now that The New One is going to swerve Kempton that will make his task all the easier."

SATURDAY 20th DECEMBER 2014

A FRIEND INDEED!

On the face of it, yesterday's Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices' Hurdle at Ascot should have been a win/win situation. There were only three runners so £17K for the winner, £6K for the runner-up and £3K for third. But fate has a nasty way of upsetting many a plan of mice and man. The Paul Nicholls-trained EMERGING TALENT fell two out, just when he had every chance of scooping the prize, leaving the other two to battle it out: L'AMI SERGE, trained by Nicky Henderson and Willie Mullins' KILLULTAGH VIC, who, though covering himself with glory last time out at Clonmel in the I.N.H. Stallion Owners European Breeders Fund Maiden Hurdle, was really no match for the four-year-old son of KING'S THEATRE with the likes of Barry Geraghty aboard, who was able to produce such an electrifying 7-length victory. The winning horse had only recently come over from France where he had raced only at Auteuil, coming in the frame five times but never a winner. That changed last month when he was victorious in the bet365 Intermediate Hurdle at Newbury also with Barry Geraghty.

 

The winning trainer commented: "I'm not sure we learned anything new about him there with the other one falling. He's not short of race experience, he ran a lot of times in France, so we have no worries on that score, and I would think we'll have a run around Cheltenham next, to give him experience of the track ahead of March. He's no slouch, so I wouldn't be thinking about running him over further than two miles for the time being."

 

OLIVER WANTS MORE!

Oliver Sherwood's PUFFIN BILLY is certainly belying his name as confidence rides high among his connections for his performance in today's David Johnson Shawbrook Bank Graduation Chase at Ascot. The six-year-old has attracted even more support since he nearly died last Christmas from a severe bout of colic, owing his life to his caring trainer who has patiently nursed his exciting protégé back to full health. This brave son of HEROIN ISLAND returned to action in October for chasing debut at Exeter and came in third, topping that a month later with a brilliant bold front-running 8-length victory at Ascot in the Sodexo Beginners' Chase. That explains why Oliver Sherwood is so looking forward to saddling PUFFIN BILLY on his re-appearance at the Berkshire track today.

 

The Hungerford-based trainer commented: "I've been really happy with him since his win, he bounced out of the race in great form. It gave him loads of confidence and he's back strutting about the place once more. It was the obvious thing to go back to Ascot as he seemed to enjoy himself so much."

 

AN ACTIVE BET

Today's Ladbroke Handicap Hurdle at Ascot certainly seems one for the Harry Fry-trained ACTIVIAL. Though his price has come in considerably over the week, ( he's now 11/2) this capable four-year-old grey, lightly raced, has a lenient handicap in his favour, claiming almost 20 pounds from the top-weight, GARDE LA VICTOIRE. Yet another import from France the son of LORD DU SUD is certainly in fine form, easily stamping his authority on the betbright.com Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton Park in February. His defeat the next time out at the Grand National meeting maybe should not be held against him on account of faster ground but the going today at Ascot looks just right for him. Though not such a high value bet that he was earlier in the week, ACTIVIAL could be worth a bet for Christmas in what appears to be any horse's race.

FRIDAY 19th DECEMBER 2014

CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER!

The British Horseracing Authority has fined Sedgefield Racecourse £5,000 because a race was declared void as a result of the wrong flag being used. (See full story, “THE STEWARDS HAVE A VOID FOR IT – BAN!” 26th November). To most spectators there was nothing untoward in the running of the three-mile-three-furlong handicap chase when DEBT TO SOCIETY beat the favourite. Then to everyone's surprise there was a stewards' inquiry and the contest was later declared void. It turned out that the wrong coloured flag had been waved to signal the runners that a particular fence was to be bypassed because of the hazard presented by the low sun. The official incorrectly raised a yellow flag, meaning a void race instead of a black-and-white chequered flag which indicated that an obstacle was to be avoided. When the runners came around for a second time, however, the correct flag was used. So the BHA has decided that the Sedgefield official was in the wrong but the jockeys got a 10-day ban each anyway for ignoring an incorrect flag which they probably couldn't see due to the bright sun in their eyes. (That's why the obstacle was being bypassed!)

So the race was wrongly declared void but the jockeys were punished for continuing to race for the wrong reasons.

 

NEW COURSE ON TRACK

The reincarnation of the former Great Leighs racecourse, now known as Chelmsford City (sounds more like a football team!), made further preparations for a return to the British racing scene when it staged a further trial on its Polytrack surface. The all-weather track is to present 58 fixtures next year, starting on January 11. Trainers from the Newmarket area sent some of their horses to work out there, for the first time since last May.

 

Andy Waitt , Clerk of the Course announced: "We've got seven horses here who have had a trot round and gallop. We've got Jimmy Quinn and Hayley Turner riding and trainers Chris Dwyer, Julia Feilden and Robert Eddery. The horses went out just so we could get some feedback of how it's riding, which I'd call standard. It's the first time we've had horses on it since May. We had quite a few on before then - Mukhadram and Red Cadeaux came for a gallop - but since then we've had to do the construction of the grandstand and that's taken priority. We had to put a bridge across the course that stopped the galloping unfortunately. That's why we've done this trial to give the jockeys a feel for it and let us know what it's like."

 

A HUNTING WE WILL GO!”

A writer for the Horse and Hound and well-known rider has let it be known that Gold Cup winner, DENMAN, is settling down well in his new career. It seems the 14-year-old son of PRESENTING has really got the hang of his new sport and is a popular sight on the hunting field, leaping over hedges and ditches.

 

Charlotte Alexander said: “He is now beginning to settle and although he does get claustrophobia in a crowd — and can then rear and leap into the air — he is becoming much more relaxed. He loves jumping, and in particular hedges which he flies over, and the feeling he gives me is second to none. I find it humbling how many people come up to me out hunting and ask if it really is Denman. They are utterly delighted to see him and particularly if he gives them a good lead over a hedge. He has a huge amount of fans.”

 

THURSDAY 18th DECEMBER 2014

WILLIE MULLIN' IT OVER

Hard to believe. Willie Mullins saddled his first Cheltenham Festival winner twenty years ago in March. Then in the winner's enclosure paraded his 25/1 chance TOURIST ATTRACTION after bagging the first race of the Festival, the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and the County Carlow king has been coming back for more ever since. It would be another twelve years before EBAZIYAN matched that last performance. It's only in the last two years, however, that Willie Mullins has has asserted his dominance of the Supreme Hurdle. Rich and Susannah Ricci's unmistakeable pale pink and green silks were borne victoriously by Ruby Walsh on CHAMPAGNE FEVER in 2013 and latterly on VAUTOUR. It's not exactly a surprise, then, that DOUVAN is currently the 6/1 favourite for this prestigious event in 2015. Interestingly Willie Mullins is putting a bit of a damper on the ante-post bettors who are splashing out devil-may-care sums on his latest star in the racing firmament.

 

The Bagenalstown-based trainer explained: “I would’ve said Douvan has similar qualities to Mikael D’Haguenet and Fiveforthree, so he could be one for the Neptune. We will see. Tell Us More is possibly a Neptune horse or maybe an Albert Bartlett horse. A lot will depend on what they do over Christmas and just after. We’ll enter them in every race and nearer the day we’ll sort them out.”

 

Willie Mullins. Of course, has a lot of talented horses. To prove it, he has entered nine of them in the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle at Ascot on Friday. As he commented: “I thought I’d throw them in and see what was right on the day. We’ll assess them and then take them out, we’ve only two novice hurdles over Christmas and New Year in Ireland which is extraordinary. At the moment I’m looking at sending Killultagh Vic over to Ascot. Killer Crow and Sempre Medici are also possibles for the race but I think Killultagh Vic will be the one. “Douvan will be out either at Christmas or after that.”

 

Sure sign it's Christmas. Some 50 work riders, most of them dressed in Santa outfits, make their way around the circle gallop at the Closutton yard. The one horse that stands out is, without doubt, the favourite for the Supreme Hurdle, DOUVAN, with Ruby Walsh aboard, conspicuously not dressed up for the Festive season.

 

So whatever Willie Mullins says, the four-year-old son of WALK IN THE SUN is bound to go on attracting large ante-post bets.

 

THE IRONY OF IT ALL

The would-be retiring jockey was back in the winner’s enclosure yesterday. Jamie Spencer steered the Ralph Beckett-trained MASTER OF IRONY, his only ride for the day, to victory at Lingfield Park in the 32Red/Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden Stakes. The 34-year-old from County Tipperary announced on Sunday that he had changed his mind about hanging up his saddle. (See RACING NEWS Monday, 15th December for full details). He certainly showed that a lack of the love for race-riding was not behind any of his plans to retire, when partnering the two-year-old son of MAKFI, he was content to let THE OLYMPUS MAN, ironically also bearing the identical colours of Qatar Racing, make all the running. Then in the final straight Jamie Spencer took his obviously inexperienced mount wide to make a challenge and went into the lead in the final hundred yards to win comfortably by a length and a quarter.

 

The winning jockey commented: “He was very babyish – he was exactly what Ralph said he’d be. I think there’ll be big improvement.”

 

GETTING THE WIND UP

The wife of leading trainer Aidan O'Brien is clearly not happy about the threat that wind turbines could pose to the bloodstock industry in Ireland.

 

Annemarie O'Brien stated: "The scale of the threat to heartland Irish industries, such as bloodstock, tourism and agriculture and to all electricity bill payers from yet more costly, subsidised wind farms, and pylon blight from excessive wind farm development in Ireland, is only just revealing itself. The natural instinct of a horse, when faced with what it perceives as danger, is flight. They run first, ask questions later. We have selectively bred them for 300 years to heighten this flight reaction, making the thoroughbred racehorse the ultimate racing athlete with the ability to reach speeds of up to 44mph. Putting wind farms and pylon lines beside bloodstock farms will render that land unfit for purpose. This will have a huge financial impact on the industry, which directly employs more than 14,000 people, as well as a supply chain of ancillary goods and services, including farmers, feed merchants, vets, farriers and more underpinning vital rural jobs. It is not too late for a change in direction. The Government would do well to listen to the voices of energy and economic experts who are all warning that adding more wind farms is all risk and precious little benefit to anyone apart from wind farm developers."

WEDNESDAY 17th DECEMBER 2014

WHIP CRACK AWAY. WHIP CRACK AWAY. WHIP CRACK AWAY!

Avid readers of this column will recall the strange incident eleven days ago when Davy Russell, having dropped his whip when the Charles Byrnes-trained LEAVE AT DAWN made a bad mistake at the first flight in the Powerstown Handicap Hurdle, was clearly caught on camera, asking for, and taking Philip Enright's. As a consequence, both jockeys were found in breach of Rule 272, which concerns bringing racing into disrepute and received five-day suspensions. It seems the Turf club has now been touched by the Christmas spirit and has reduced the ban from five to two days and the jockeys in question will now be free to ride at the big Christmas festivals.

 

After yesterday's hearing, Cliff Noone, the Turf Club press officer announced: "The panel agreed with the Clonmel stewards that both riders were guilty of breaking Rule 272, in that their actions were prejudicial to the proper conduct of racing. The panel is keen to send out a message that these things should not happen. However, both have clean records and the panel has decided their bans should be reduced from five to two days. They will now be suspended on December 20 and 21."

 

Davy Russell will be particularly pleased about this decision because he is booked to ride the Cheltenham Gold Cup hero, LORD WINDERMERE in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown on December 28.

 

A JUMPER FOR CHRISTMAS

There was a special Christmas treat for visitors to the London International Horse Show at Olympia last night. Legendary KAUTO STAR, who who made a speciality of delighting racegoers over the Christmas period with his five wins in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park, was back in the spotlight, taking part in a dressage demonstration. The 14-year-old son of VILLAGE STAR, with two Cheltenham Gold Cups to his credit, retired from racing two years ago and since then has been in the hands of Laura Collett, a professional event rider. More than 7,500 people were present to watch KAUTO STAR and others in a demonstration of the versatility of former racehorses.

 

Yogi Breisner, the famous jumping expert and performance manager of the British equestrian team, referring to the all-time chasing great dressage champion VALEGRO commented: “We are privileged to be here with two special horses," and, who triumphed in the class he was competing in on Tuesday night.”

 

KAUTO STAR, owned by Clive Smith, will also be back at his beloved Kempton - not to race - but to go on parade.

 

RETIRING WAYS

There must be something in the air. Another top jockey is using the 'R' word. Previously it was Jamie Spencer who was, and is not now, retiring. Now Ruby Walsh is talking about the retirement he is not about to take! The County Kildare jockey opined that retiring from racing would be a difficult decision but then went on to say that this decision it is still some way in the future. The 35-year-old has ridden over 2,000 winners including 41 at the Cheltenham Festival.

 

Ruby (Rupert) Walsh explained: “I won’t be doing a Jamie Spencer! I won’t be announcing my retirement – or lack of – anytime soon. When that day comes it will be a difficult decision but I don’t see it happening for quite a while.”

 

TUESDAY 16th DECEMBER 2014

MAKE NO BONES ABOUT IT!

An equine skeleton has been unearthed under the original location of Charles II’s stables in Newmarket. There is strong speculation that it might be the remains of DR. SYNTAX, a legendary stallion with the unusual name taken from the title of the Thomas Rowlandson's Doctor Syntax trilogy (1809 – 1821). DR. SYNTAX (1811 – 28 August 1838) was a British Thoroughbred and sire who was trained in Yorkshire and raced exclusively in the North of England. He won thirty-six races in ten seasons from 1814 to 1823, winning the Preston Gold Cup on a record seven consecutive occasions, five Lancaster Gold Cups and five Richmond Gold Cups. The horse remains are currently being examined forensically and, as has become customary when checking the age and the health of any horse for sale, DR. SYNTAX's teeth are the focus of this scientific attention. One can't help thinking that this skeleton should not be treated like the recently discovered remains of Richard III, and the noble stallion should be let him lie in peace. In any case if you would like to see what DR. SYNTAX looked like, the wonderful portrait by John Frederick Herring is far superior to any skeleton.

 

http://www.john-frederick-herring.org/'Dr-Syntax',-a-dark-bay-racehorse-in-a-loose-box.html

 

A WALK-OVER?

The JLT Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot offers another disappointing spectacle for a feature Saturday event as there are only five horses listed at the five-day forfeit stage. Seven of the original twelve runners have now pulled out of this Grade One race, claimed four times by the J P McManus-owned BARACOUDA (2000, 2001, 2003, 2004) and three times by the Paul Nicholls-trained BIG BUCK'S. One of the remaining entries is the nine-year-old REVE DE SIVOLA, saddled by Nick Williams to win the last two year's renewal of this auspicious Ascot contest. The son of ASSESSOR's recent two races in France, however, have not been anything to write home about so that is why the Barnstaple-based trainer will probably be taking his chances on AUBUSSON, who notched up a neat victory in the Fixed Brush Hurdle at Haydock a couple of weeks ago. Among the remaining three probably the Paul Nicholls-trained ZARKANDAR, the five-length winner of the Grade 1 Grand Prix d'Automne at Auteil at the beginning of last month, who replaces SILSOL, the nifty Newbury winner of the bet365 Handicap Hurdle, is one who cannot be ignored.

 

Trainer David Pipe commented about his entry: "We have Dell' Arca in the race and while he has performed creditably over fences this term, a return to timber over this longer trip could be on the card. Despite winning the Greatwood Hurdle over the minimum trip he has always looked as worth trying over further and while he has it to do on official figures, this looks a decent opportunity to give him a go."

 

IT'S A LONG WAY TO GO!

It's some 304 miles and a six-hour drive from Minehead to Catterick so not a journey to be take on a whim. So if trainer Philip Hobbs, not known to make unnecessary trips, decides to go there with just one runner then the chances of his entrant have to be given serious attention. The solitary occupant of the horse box today is the 139-rated hurdler, IF IN DOUBT, owned by J P McManu. The six-year-old son of HERON ISLAND has scored twice from six outings over hurdles but has yet to win over fences after two races where he unseated his rider at Exeter and came second at Wetherby a couple of weeks ago. In today's event, the Pin Point Technical And Engineering Beginners' Chase, another disappointingly low-entry contest 4 runners), he is the hot favourite (4/11) and probably only has one major threat coming from the Donald McCain-trained ASKAMORE DARSI, whose only hope success will come if jockey Jason Maguire throws all caution to the wind and tries take the race from the front.

 

MONDAY 15th DECEMBER 2014

RIDE ON, JAMES!

Former British and Irish champion jockey has changed his mind and won't retire after all. Jamie Spencer stunned the racing world when he announced that was giving up racing in the New Year to take up a managerial position with Sheik Fahad’s Qatar Racing organisation. The 34-year-old, with 1,987 winners on the Flat in Britain and Ireland to his credit, now apparently feels he'd like to stick around a bit longer in the hot seat and intends to be a freelance, riding for the likes of Charlie Hills, Kevin Ryan and Michael Bell with whom he is well connected.

 

The County Tipperary-born jockey commented yesterday: “I have thought long and hard about it – and I’m just too much in love with racing to give it up. A lot of people find riding a difficult job but I just love it and I have realised just how much I would have missed it. I am only 34 and feel that I have plenty more in the tank and I am looking forward to carrying on. Of course, being a freelance means that it will be something of a gamble but it’s a huge opportunity for me and I will be throwing everything into it. I am also looking forward to being free and available for the first time in six seasons and developing new associations.”

 

Jamie Spencer was champion jockey in Britain in 2005 and 2007, sharing the latter title with Seb Sanders. He was Qatar Racing's first jockey last year and rode JUST THE JUDGE to a Classic victory in the Irish 1,000 Guineas. He then went on to win the Albany Stakes riding KIYOSHI, also for Qatar Racing, and it was shortly after that that he said he intended to move into that organisation's management structure.

 

Qatar Racing’s bloodstock manager, David Redvers added: “Jamie is a good friend and we wish him success. Should opportunities arise when our retained jockeys, Andrea Atzeni and Oisin Murphy, are not available, then we would be delighted to use Jamie.”

 

NOT WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED

So last year's Grand national winner won't become a Pertemps champion just yet; he was pulled up in the qualifier at Carlisle yesterday. The Dr Richard Newland-trained PINEAU DE RE was expected to produce a better performance than last time out in a race in which he was runner-up in 2013. Early on the 11-year-old seemed to be going well enough at the rear, benefiting from the 5lb claim afforded by jockey, Christopher Ward but then things seemed to unravel when he had covered about a third of the distance.

 

The trainer commented: "I was a bit disappointed with him today. He travelled well for two miles and, for whatever reason, he weakened very quickly. He seemed fine after the race, but he got very tired. The ground probably wasn't ideal and there wasn't much pace in the race, but overall I am disappointed. We've been going softly, softly with him and we'll keep chipping away. I would imagine we'll run somewhere in January, probably in another Pertemps qualifier as obviously he's not qualified for the final after today.”

 

ON SONG IN HONG KONG

A European horse has finally scored in the Longines Hong Kong International Races at Sha Tin after drawing a complete blank last year. Bred by Juddmonte farms Ltd. but trained in France by André Fabre for Prince Khalid Abdullah, FLINTSHIRE, who was this year's runner-up in the Coronation Cup, Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and Breeders’ Cup Turf finally turned his luck around and, with a powerful late run, clinched the Hong Kong Vase.

Unfortunately the slow pace seems to have posed problems for the two runners from Britain, RED CADEAUX, third-time runner-up in the Melbourne Cup and SNOW SKY, third in the St Leger. They came in sixth and seventh respectively.

 

This was Prince Khalid Abdullah’s first win in this prestigious Hong Kong event, although coming close on a number of occasions. FLINTSHIRE, with the highest rating of any runner in the four international races, will remain active and a busy racing schedule around the world is in store for him. SNOW SKY, the Prince's other runner, was described as “a bit disappointing” by both his trainer, Sir Michael Stoute and jockey Ryan Moore but he will also remain in training and will race again internationally.

 

SUNDAY 14th DECEMBER 2014

SIMPLE SIMONSIG – MORE REST?

A gallop in the near future could decide the fate of an eight-year-old grey who hasn't been seen since winning the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase at Cheltenham in March 2013. Nicky Henderson was planning to run SIMONSIG in the the William Hill King George VI Chase on Boxing Day but he is now having second thoughts. It seems the Lambourn-based trainer is concerned that he may be asking the son of FAIR MIX to do too much too soon after recovering from yet another, admittedly, minor health problem.

 

The three-time National Hunt racing champion trainer commented: "He didn't gallop with Sprinter (Sacre, on Friday), he was just lame for a couple of days last week. He'll gallop this week and we'll see how that goes. He's up against it for the King George. I can't believe, having been off a year, asking him to race over three miles in a King George would be what he wants. Obviously there's the Desert Orchid over two miles, but if we are wanting him to go further this year, running him over two miles might just buzz him up. I'm still wondering what his trip is but dropping him back to two miles may see him a bit keen after his time off."

 

DO ME A FABRE!

The as yet unnamed yearling brother of FRANKEL is a 66/1 shot listed among the 475 entries announced this week for the Investec Derby and, what is more, he is to be trained in France by Andre Fabre, who saddled POUR MOI to victory in the 2011 renewal of this prestigious event.

Teddy Grimthorpe, owner-breeder Khalid Abdullah's racing manager stated: "He's in Ireland at the moment and will be trained by Andre Fabre. He hasn't been named yet, but is chestnut and looks up to scratch."

 

The Khalid Abdullah/ Andre Fabre partnership has produced a few noteworthy world-wide successes, such as ZAFONIC in the 2,000 Guineas in 1993 and RAIL LINK in the 2006 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in 2006.

 

The French trainer is undoubtedly looking forward to the opportunity of putting this son of GALILEO through his paces, acknowledging that there will be a lot to do to emulate his legendary sibling, FRANKEL who was trained for the same owner by the late by Sir Henry Cecil, notching up 14 wins from 14 starts and was voted the best horse in the world in 2011 and 2012.

 

STEADY AS A ROCK

A good day at Cheltenham for Harry Fry's ROCK ON RUBY, who seemed to have lost his winning ways on the last three outings. The nine-year-old, with Noel Fehily aboard, won the Grade Two Osborne House Relkeel Hurdle by two-and-three-quarter lengths. The Seaborough-based trainer's son of OSCAR found himself in the lead from three out when BROTHER BRIAN, who had made all the running thus far, began to show the strain. Nicky Henderson's VOLNAY DE THAIX made valiant attempts to take him on but ROCK ON RUBY had more than enough to gain this prize.

Harry Fry commented: "He's just a great horse. He's been very good to me - I love him to bits. He's just so tough and travelled great and jumped great. It's great to see him back in the winner's enclosure at Cheltenham. While he's obviously not a slow horse, this is more his trip nowadays. I won't make a commitment yet over the World Hurdle. There's a race over a similar distance as this back here on New Year's Day and we'll come back for that first. The conditions of the race suited him perfectly today, so it's good that he won.”

SATURDAY 13th DECEMBER 2014

TRAINING OVER THE TOP

KINGS PALACE romped home to victory by seven lengths yesterday in the Ryman Stationery Cheltenham Business Club Novices' Chase on the first day of Cheltenham's International meeting. The six-year-old was returning to Prestbury Park following up his winning chase debut, prior to which his trainer, David Pipe had cautiously announced that perhaps he had overdone the training a bit. Whether anything changed in the training regime between those two contests is not known but jockey, Tom Scudamore, had no difficulty asserting the son of KING'S THEATRE's dominance over his old rival, SAUSALITO SUNRISE, who even had weight in his favour on this occasion.

 

As the winning Somerset-based trainer explained: “I might have over-trained him first time out. I feel I did too much with him before that race. We have gone easier on him this time and it appears to have done no harm! For such a good jumper it is hard to believe he has fallen twice over hurdles. But he is a horse that excites me.”

 

NO PLACE FOR BETTING

14 of the 21 jumps races today have not enough runners to legitimately offer punters the traditional each-way bet, even after being opened up again to give trainers a chance to reconsider their bookings. So each-way betting down to three places will only be available in seven of the contests and six of them only have the minimum eight declarations and so bets will be affected if one horse is pulled out.

 

David Williams, spokesman for Ladbrokes, gave a gloomy statement: "The reasons for the small field sizes are complex but the impact will be painfully straightforward: recreational punters for whom Saturdays are the biggest day of the week will look elsewhere for their betting entertainment. The Cheltenham card brims with quality but there's a clear lack of competitive stuff and only one handicap on terrestrial TV. At a time of the year when there is no shortage of alternative options for customers to enjoy, racing will suffer."

 

JUMPING FOR JOY

The lovely sight of an attractive lady jumping up and down excitedly in the paddock definitely indicated that something momentous had just happened. And sure enough that was the case. For the lady who was so over-the-moon was Belinda Keighley and her trainer husband, Martin, had just pulled off a 152/1 double on the first day of the International Meeting at Cheltenham. 10-year-old BENBANE HEAD and 11-year-old ANY CURRENCY were the cause of the joyous celebration. The success was even more appreciated by the Keighleys because both of these runners had had disappointing runs recently.

 

Martin Keighley commented: “The horses have been quiet for a fortnight and (stable star) Champion Court ran horrendously at Aintree last weekend. The horses have scoped fine and their blood is right but without any coughs and dirty noses you don’t have anything to treat”.

 

The funny thing is that the Moreton-in-the-Marsh trainer attributes the first leg of his double, indirectly to another jockey. That's because BENBANE HEAD would not have been running at Cheltenham yesterday but for the fact that Richard Johnson took the wrong course at Exeter seven days ago and was disqualified and got a 12-day into the bargain. This veteran son of GIANT'S CAUSEWAY was also Martin Keighley's first-ever success at his local track in 2009.

THURSDAY 11th DECEMBER 2014

 

TWO PLACES AT ONCE

Top Irish trainer, Willie Mullins will try to be in two places at once on Boxing Day. Two of his equine stars, CHAMPAGNE FEVER and FAUGHEEN are due to make an appearance at Kempton Park while VAUTOUR will be in action at Leopardstown. This puts top jockey, Ruby Walsh, on the spot as well. Should he go or should he stay? Things are made a little bit easie, though, due to the fact that Rich and Susannah Ricci own all three horses, so Kill-born rider will have a little longer to decide.

 

As the County Kildare jockey explained: "It looks like Faugheen will be on the bus to Kempton for the Christmas Hurdle on December 26 to join Champagne Fever's King George VI Chase assaul. But Vautour has also been pencilled in for the Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown on the same day. A lot can happen between now and then, but it's a dilemma. Clearly, I can't be in two places at once so we're going to have to make a call closer the time. "I don't think the drop back to two miles will bother Faugheen. He's improved fitness-wise for his win at Ascot but this will be another big step up in class for him.”

 

SAME AGAIN, PLEASE

Trainer Dan Skelton is hoping for the same Christmas present this year as last. In the 2013 Festive Season he saddled WILLOW'S SAVIOUR in The Ladbroke at Ascot and won. The Alcester-based trainer is now wishing for a similar result with SHELFORD a week on Saturday. The five-year-old GALILEO son scored in the the Silver Trophy Handicap Hurdle at Chepstow last October and it no secret that he has been destined for this Berkshire battle since that victory.

Dan Skelton commented: "This has always been the plan. I want it to rain as much as possible. It would be great to win the race again. Let's hope lightning strikes twice."

 

EVEN STEPHEN'S

More on Champion Hurdle favourite FAUGHEEN. It is perhaps significant that Willie Mullins is sending his six-year-old back across the Irish Sea to compete in the Christmas Hurdle on the Feast of St Stephen's Day. This son of GERMANY won brilliantly at Cheltenham and Punchestown last Spring and went on to bag the Coral Hurdle at Ascot in November, making it six wins in a row at this track. This success has served to make him a favourite for the Champion Hurdle in March. Before then, however, he'll have a big challenge to retain his unbeaten record, as he'll be up against the 'new champion on the block,' THE NEW ONE and Paul Nicholls's star, IRVING.

 

Willie Mullins commented at the HRI Awards at Leopardstown,(mentioned here on Tuesday): "The horse that's on everyone's lips I suppose is Faugheen, what he did in England (Ascot), the size of him going over there, hopefully there's improvement in him. JP (McManus, owner of Jezki) was telling me I should go to the Christmas Hurdle (at Kempton) and I think I'll take his advice."

 

"It was a great result at Newcastle. He was unlucky at Wincanton when he fell at the last and he needed that run that day. He will improve and will improve again. He has loads of speed and the best is best to come."

 

WEDNESDAY 10th DECEMBER 2014

NORTH STAR ON THE WANE

Skipton-born William Haggas, one of Britain’s top trainers on the Flat, though no stranger to jump racing, thinks National Hunt racing in Yorkshire and the North won't survive unless more is done to protect and promote it. These doom-laden words were embodied in a well-received speech he gave last night at the 244th Gimcrack Dinner held York Racecourse. The event not only celebrates GIMCRACK, the famous 1760's racehorse who won 27 of his 30 races spanning a career of 11 years, but also provides an opportunity for all those concerned in the sport to debate its future. The Yorkshire trainer's links with Northern success in jump racing was clearly established through his late mother, Christine Feather, owner of SILVER BUCK, winner of the 1982 Cheltenham Gold Cup and trained by the now retired Michael Dickinson who dominated the trainers’ ranks in England for three successive years in the 80s.

In fact, this was the time when Northern jump trainers monopolised National Hunt racing. SILVER BUCK even went on to win two King George VI Chases. But then Northern operations became overshadowed by the establishment of powerful new yards in Lambourn and the South West with the resources to spend large sums of money on even mediocre horses. This emerging dominance is clearly highlighted by the fact that no Northern-trained horse has won the Gold Cup since 1983 when the Peter Beaumont’s JODAMI scored. The closest in recent years was in 2003 when the Ferdy Murphy-trained TRUCKERS TAVERN came a distant e second to BEST MATE.

 

The son-in-law of the legendary Lester Piggott went on to say: “The frightening decline in National Hunt racing in the North spells trouble. With the threat of Newcastle, one of the very best and fairest turf tracks in England, turning into all weather and Wetherby threatening to graduate to flat racing, albeit slowly, there is a real fear that jumping could suffer beyond repair. With all due respect to Lucinda Russell, Brian Ellison, Sue Smith and Nicky Richards and a few others, the power is in the South via Messrs Nicholls, Henderson, Hobbs, King – even Donald McCain is hardly North. When I was young, the Winter/Walwyn teams struggled to contend with WA Stephenson, the Dickinsons and Gordon Richards. What has gone wrong? In the hope that these things are cyclical, let’s hope that former glories return to jump racing in the North. But we must be conscious to protect, and then restore, it as best we can.”

 

The outspoken trainer in the spotlight also referred to the impoverished state of National Hunt racing compared with the money being poured into it by a new generation of owners from the Middle East which, in his opinion, is bound to have more and more influence on where racing takes place.

 

He added: “2014 saw the most extraordinary yearling sales in my lifetime. Most sales companies enjoyed record turnover/averages in 2013 but these were all smashed this year. When you think that well over 50 per cent of yearlings born are in private hands and never see a sales ring, what is going on is frightening... we must continue to encourage investment in our industry here. The French have the perfect business model of which we are all very envious. But they do not have what we have – the passion, integrity, diversity, pride, variety and attendances, which in itself creates atmosphere. It is this whole package which attracts investment. Book One at Newmarket saw four billionaire operations vying for the same bloodstock – these people have passion to burn and we should be grateful that they want to be here.”

 

WELSH DUDE

So far, at yesterday's possible withdrawal stage, most of the top rivals for the Coral Welsh Grand National at Chepstow are still in the line-up following Tuesday’s scratch stage. If all goes well, it looks like this destination is on the cards for Michael Scudamore, with his last year Coral Welsh National Handicap Chase champion, MONBEG DUDE.

 

As the Ross-on-Wye trainer commented: “We were delighted with his run in the Hennessy Gold Cup – finishing fourth on testing ground and on a trip sharp enough for him. He’s come out of the race in great form and now we will start to build him back up to his best for December 27.”

 

HARRY TOPPER, trained by Kim Bailey looks to be a a strong contender as well as last year’s winner, MOUNTAINOUS and the aforementioned MONBEG DUDE from the 42 runners left in for the big race on December 27. Champion trainer, Paul Nicholls, still seems intent on saddling three hopefuls, UNIONISTE, HAWLES POINT and BENVOLIO.

 

ADDING VALUE TO RACING

From April next year, the BHA has announced an increase in the minimum values for a number of race types – particularly some of those at the bottom end of the scale. For example, the minimum value for Class 6 Flat two-year-old and three-year-old plus races will rise from £3,000 from £3,500. The Horsemen's Group has described these increases as "modest" and and want them to be looked at urgently again next year. It's been two years since the minimum values have been increased as they were not altered in 2014, as the BHA was busy introducing the new levy funding model and was concentrating on signing prize-money agreements with 55 of the 59 racecourses.

 

Increases have also been implemented at the top end of racing. Flat juvenile Group 1 races, Flat heritage handicaps and Grade 1 hurdles will all see minimum values augmenting by £5,000 to £150,000, £100,000 and £75,000 respectively. In addition Grade 1 hurdles will be subject to an additional pre-agreed £5,000 increase on January 1 2016.

 

Ruth Quinn, BHA's Director of Racing, commented yesterday: "It was agreed at the outset that for 2015 the focus should be on increasing minimum values at the lower end of the sport. We acknowledge that the cost of getting a horse to the races is increasing all the time and it is essential that we do what we can to assist those who are not always competing for the top prizes."

 

TUESDAY 9th DECEMBER 2014

 

WINNING POWER

At the Horse Racing Ireland’s Awards ceremony SOLE POWER was nominated Horse of the Year, outdoing the Aidan O'Brien-trained twice-Derby winner AUSTRALIA, J P McManus's champion hurdler, JEZKI, LORD WINDERMERE, the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner and even his stable mate, SLADE POWER. This prestigious award was accepted on behalf of owner, Mrs. Sabena Power, by her two sons, Willie and Paddy, as well as trainer, Eddie Lynam soon to be off to Sha Tin racetrack, where the recipient of this award is competing in the International Sprint.

 

Eddie Lynam collected the Flat award for his training of both SOLE POWER and SLADE POWER as well as ANTHEM ALEXANDER and AGNES STEWART. Before he left for Hong Kong, the Dunshaughlin-based trainer commented about SOLE POWER: “The horse lost a bit more weight flying out there than I would like but trainers are good at making excuses. He was second in the race last year and has never won at the distance, but 10-1 makes him an each-way bet. He has a chance.”

 

With all his successes in recent months, it came as no surprise that Willie Mullins got the National Hunt prize. When asked whether he had any unfulfilled ambitions in horse racing, he replied: “I think I’ve been second four times in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and that is one I would like to win.”

 

So to sum up:

 

THE WINNERS

 

Horse of the Year: Sole Power

 

National Hunt award: Willie Mullins

 

Flat award: Eddie Lynam

 

Contribution to Industry: Mick O’Toole

 

Outstanding Achievement: Tom Hogan

 

Point-to-point award: Jamie Codd

 

Racecourse of the Year: Leopardstown

 

KING OF KONG

Talking of Sha Tin, Ryan Moore is off there, too, in continuation of his whirlwind trip to the Far East where he will compete in the international jockeys’ challenge on Wednesday. This follows closely on his taking of Japan by storm when notching up four wins at Chukyo last Sunday, just twenty-four hours after scoring a treble on his first visit to the track. Ryan Moore can't get too far away from his rival for the British Flat jockeys’ championship, Richard Hughes, with Kerrin McEvoy, Christophe Soumillon and Joao Moreira also intent on having a run for their money. Hong Kong's champion jockey, Zac Purton, feels his allocation of rides is not in his favour so he is not so optimistic about his chance: “At first look it's going to be difficult with the rides I have but you never know in these challenges.”

 

AWARD WINNING

The retiring Jamie Spenser could leave the sport on a high as he has been nominated in the Flat jockey special recognition category for the annual Lester awards, to be held in Birmingham on December 22. This event, sponsored by the Stobart company, includes Noel Fehily, Richard Johnson, Tony McCoy and Tom O'Brien, all challenging for the jump jockey of the year category. Then there will be Joe Fanning, Richard Hughes, Adam Kirby and Ryan Moore hoping to win the the support of their fellow riders for the award of Flat jockey of the year. Seven of the categories are voted for by members of the Professional Jockeys Association. The Flat ride of the year, however, in which Connor Beasley's ride on SPINATRIX, Paul Hanagan's steering of SPIRIT OF LAW, Shane Kelly's performance on DISCUSSIONTOFOLLOW and the aforementioned Ryan Moore's on AKTABANTAY will all be voted for by readers of the Racing Post. The Jumps ride of the year will be voted for by viewers of sponsors At The Races.

 

CEO of the PJA Paul Struthers commented: "The Stobart Lesters is always a highlight of the year and this year's Lesters will be a historically unique event with two years being celebrated on one night for the first time. It is also the first time for many years that all of the awards will be sponsored."

 

MONDAY 8th DECEMBER 2014

A GORDON FOR ME!”

The John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase, held yesterday at you can guess where, saw Gordon Elliott's DON COSSACK make it four on the trot (figuratively speaking!). The seven-year-old, who won the Bar One Racing Drinmore Novice Chase, a Grade 1 fixture, in December 2013, was going along comfortably in third under Brian O'Connell's steering when, similarly to the fate of the horse written about in the next piece, he suddenly found himself in the lead when BAILEY GREEN and RAITHLIN fell together at the same fence, also causing BOSTON BOB a bit of bother. That left the 13/8 favourite as a target to be sniped at by BOSTON BOB and TEXAS JACK but the son of SHOKHOLOV seemed unphased by anything and just found more than the attacking duo could muster and put four and a half lengths between him and the rest, even defiantly accelerating again as the winning post arrived.

 

Trainer Gordon Elliott commented: "That's great. He deserves that in fairness to him. He's always gotten plenty of stick and people have said he's been disappointing, but he's a dual Grade One winner now. I'll have to talk to Michael and Eddie (O'Leary), but if I had my way he wouldn't run until Cheltenham and go straight for the Ryanair. I have to discuss it with the owners as they have a lot of horses. He won't go to the King George. He's a year older now which makes a difference, but he was never a bad horse last year and things didn't work out for him. He might have had a bit much last year and we'll try and train him differently.”

 

MAKING THE GRADES

Willie Mullins was at full throttle with VROUM VROUM MAG who won the Kerry Group Mares Novice Chase at Cork yesterday, making it three out of three for the Graded fixtures on the day. The five-year-old French mare was only on her second outing since leaving her home country, the first being a win at Wexford in the Kerlogue Mares Beginners Chase on the 18th November. The talented daughter of VOIX DU NORD was keen from the start and soon found herself in the lead after tom Mullins' ELSIE blundered at the sixth-from-home fence. The odds-on favourite was well handled by jockey Paul Townend and made a fairly leisurely approach to the line with the only rival in touch, the Garret Ahern-trained OUR KATIE, five lengths adrift. Anything else was at least 28 lengths further back.

 

The winning jockey commented: "She is doing everything we ask of her. She jumped well apart from a bit of a mistake at the second-last but nothing serious. She won with plenty in hand. She stays as well, although the drop back to two miles and a furlong was no problem."

 

BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD

It's back to Novices for the Tom George-trained GOD'S OWN after Saturday's disappointing display in the 888Sport Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown when he came seventh, having made a mistake at the very first jump. Although the 6-year-old has already won a Grade One contest (at the Punchestown Festival back in May) this success in Ireland took place after the end of the 2013-14 British season, so technically this son of OSCAR retains his novice status and his trainer intends to benefit from this loophole.

 

The Stroud-based trainer commented: "He's fine this morning, he just made an uncharacteristic blunder at the first and was then on the back foot. Paddy (Brennan) said he was never really happy with him on the ground. He just couldn't jump out of it and it was just too soft. We could have just about got away with it against lesser company, but not at that level. The horse is A1 this morning and we'll see where we go now, but we will be going back to novice company for the rest of the year. We gave it our best shot and it didn't work out but that's the beauty of this horse, we now have the option of going somewhere for a confidence booster. Where we go next will very much be dictated by the ground. We might go to Kempton at Christmas if the ground was right."

 

SUNDAY 7th DECEMBER 2014

BULLETS ON TARGET

He may not seem to be in the same class as MASTER MINDED and KAUTO STAR, previous victors of the Tingle creek Chase, but DODGING BULLETS gave a creditable performance yesterday at Sandown to provide Paul Nicholls with his ninth win in this Sandown spectacular. Clearly this renewal of the Grade One event couldn't be rated as highly as previous occasions due to injury-forced absence of top-class input from the likes of SPRINTER SACRE and SIRE DE GRUGY. The contest was perhaps made even less challenging when the Nicky Henderson-trained OSCAR WHISKY went down before even reaching half way. The eventual winner then only had to deal with Mick Channon's 10-year-old, SOMERSBY, and even though the latter had the 19-times champion aboard, it was too difficult to show him a clean pair of heels from before the last and put the race to bed by two-and-a-half lengths.

 

A WALEY OF A TIME

A veteran's day at Aintree yesterday. 13-year-old OSCAR TIME, trained by Waley-Cohen Snr and ridden by Waley-Cohen jnr, won the Betfred Becher Handicap Chase, a contest in which he was fourth last year and second in 2011. The race didn't look as though it would answer the son of OSCAR's prayers when the David pipe trained-OUR FATHER surged to the front four fences from the beginning and went clear. But the things took a dramatic turn after the last jump, after Conor O'Farrell's mount seemed to run out of energy, giving the talented amateur jockey, Sam Waley-Cohen the chance to re-assert himself and take up the lead again. There was a bit of a challenge from the Harry Fry-trained MENDIP EXPRESS just after the final obstacle but it was nothing that OSCAR TIME couldn't handle and he won by three-quarters of a length.

 

The winning trainer, Robert Waley-Cohen, commented afterwards: “We bought him to run in the National and the first year he was second for us when brilliantly trained by Martin Lynch and then he was fourth but picked up an injury, so we took him home and nursed him back to health. He won a point-to-point and a couple of hunter chases and even though he was 13 he showed that he still had it. This was the target, he's better here than anywhere. He doesn't get the National trip and he will be 14 in a few weeks so he won't run."

 

The winning jockey added: "I didn't want to let Our Father get too far ahead, but I just took my time. I thought he'd gone for home early enough anyway and if I'd chased him Oscar Time would not have lasted. The run-in felt very long as Oscar Time doesn't do much in front and I could hear the other horse coming, but to be fair my horse has pulled out enough. He is a great horse and part of the family at home. It is a very special day. You've got to have the right horse for the Grand National course and anyone could have ridden Oscar Time today, as he's such a good ride over these fences. It has been a great course for me and it suits me in lots of ways. Most racecourses the jockeys ride them week in, week out and I come out once in a blue moon and I have to learn the course. But we have all ridden this course roughly the same amount, so it is a bit more balanced up."

 

THE LUCK OF OLD NICK

It was Nicky Henderson's day – again – at Sandown Park this time. He had three winners including first and second in the very first race, Club Wembley 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle – a race he has called his own for the last six years. It was quite a dilemma for punters, however, as the Irish Champion Jump jockey and the 19-times British champion were riding the two horses in question. Ultimately it was the Barry Geraghty-ridden, 14/1 shot, CARACCI APACHE who won the day and not the 3/1 CLEAN SHEET with Tony McCoy aboard. The Henderson ???? did have something of a ding-dong in the final hundred yards, and, for a while, it seemed like another son of OSCAR would hold his own against the HIGH CHAPARRAL kid but the latter proved he had more when they galloped up the hill and held off his rival by a length-and-a quarter.

 

The Lambourn-based winning trainer commented: "I know we keep winning this race, but that wasn't very predictable. They are two babies and have a long way to go yet. It's a nice start to their lives. It's annoying to be first and second as I could have split them up and they would have won two races. I think with both of them it will be small steps. They are nice horses and in it for the long term."

 

Nicky Henderson made up his three-timer on the day with CUP FINAL, who won the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle Series Qualifier in the hands of Tony McCoy and the 3/1 favourite, SNAKE EYES also ridden by the Champion jockey.

 

SATURDAY 6th DECEMBER 2014

ANOTHER JOCKEY GOT IT WRONG!

Richard Johnson will miss the the entire Christmas period's racing, including the William Hill King George VI chase at Kempton on Boxing Day. Why? He didn't jump when he should have in the four-mile Devon Marathon Chase yesterday and was presented with a 12-day ban by the Exeter stewards. The Hereford-born jockey was riding the Martin Keighley-trained BENBANE HEAD who had to be pulled up when the error was realised at the seventh fence. Richard Johnson, enjoying a few of big-race wins lately recently, who had just notched his season's hundred winners commented: "I made a mistake - that's it. I apologise to Martin Keighley and Louise Jones , who own and train the horse, and to all the people who backed him. I am very annoyed with myself."

 

A stewards' followed to establish whether or not BENBANE HEAD and richard Johnson had indeed taken the correct course at the water jump the second time round. This obstacle had been omitted on the first circuit becausem apparently, the water jump cannot be the first fence in a 4-mile chase.

 

The unfortunate rider presented his account of what happened and the stewards watched recordings of the race. As a result, they found him in breach of Rule (B)59.3.2.3 and guilty of taking the wrong course, because he had forgotten that the fence should be jumped and proceeded to bypass it. As it happened, the low sun caused all the fences in the back straight to be by-passed for this long-distance chase and 12 fences were jumped of the normal 21 fences

 

OVER THE MOON

West Yorkhire trainer, Sue Smith, is back at Aintree, hopeful that her MR MOONSHINE can improve on last year's third in the Betfred Becher Chase. The ten-year-year-old son of DOUBLE ECLIPSE was pulled up last year when the trainer's other entry, AURORAS ENCORE, went on to win. It is, however, the genral view that MR MOONSHINE is probably not up to the tough conditions of the Grand over almost four-and-a-half miles. As last year's jockey,Ryan Mania, has announced his surprise retirement from racin, the talented conditional jockey, Daragh Bourke will take on the challenge and will need every ounce of his five-pound weight allowance.

 

Trainer, Sue Smith commented: “He handles the track and jumps very well there,” Smith told The Yorkshire Post. We have Daragh on board so we can take five pounds off the horse. Hopefully, that will help a little bit. He finished third last year and hopefully he will see the trip out. He’s had a run – he was fifth in the Old Roan to Wishfull Thinking – and should come on for that.”

 

THE RULE OF TOM

Just before 4.30pm on April 14, 2007, - Tom O'Brien remembers this precise moment as the time when he fell in love with the world-famous Grand National fences. That was when a fast-finishing MCKELVEY came very close to winning the world’s greatest steeplechase. This initial failure only served to make the disappointed jockey even more determined to be victorious at Aintree. Quietly and with steely intent the nephew of Ireland’s champion Flat trainer, Aidan O’Brien, who has demonstrated his skills at the Merseyside track with three wins in four years. In 2011 and 2012 he was aboard ALWAYS WAINING when winning the Topham Chase and the next year rode CHANCE DU ROY to victory the Betfred Becher Chase. The Wexford-born jockey is aiming for a fourth win today when he gets back on CHANCE DU ROY in the three-and-a-quarter mile Becher test which has a full field of 25 runners, which includes the Sue Smith-trained MR MOONSHINE who was third last year.

 

And today a record crowd of some 42,000 racegoers will be at Aintree because, unusually, free tickets have been issued to local inhabitants in a special initiative to strengthen the racecourse's relationship with the people of Liverpool. After the Grand National itself this should make for the largest Saturday attendance at a jump fixture in this country.

 

Tom O’Brien, hardly able wait for the session to begin commented: “I sat on Chance Du Roy on Thursday and he felt very well. He won the Becher last year and on his first run of the season and it is the same this time around. I have a great relationship with him and Philip’s horses are in great form. It looks a competitive race this year, but he loves the place, which counts for a lot. There are plenty of positives, but he has gone up a little bit in the weights and that would be my only worry.”

 

FRIDAY 5th DECEMBER 2014

HAVING A WHIP ROUND

Another bizarre racing incident to savour. Two jockeys have received a five-day ban each for sharing a whip. It happened yesterday at Clonmel in the Powerstown Handicap Hurdle. Davy Russell lost his whip after a cumbersome blunder at the first flight when aboard the odds/on favourite LEAVE THE DAWN. When the field turned back into the home straight he is seen on camera asking his rival, Phillip Enright, astride the 33/1 shot, BACKINYOURBOX, for his whip and the request was duly granted.

 

Now older readers might recall a similar incident when legendary jockey, Lester Piggott dropped his whip in the early stages of a race at Deauville in 1979. He was riding hard in third place and was closing in on the leader inside the final furlong. As he went by the horse that was racing in the second slot, he reached out and took the jockey's whip, but, even after that, he only managed to come in second. The stewards questioned Lester Piggott about the incident after the race and got the comment that the other jockey obviously “didn’t need it”. Not surprisingly the Deauville stewards were not too impressed by his tactics and demoted his mount into third position behind the jockey whose whip he had taken.

 

The Wincanton wardens also took a dim view of the antics of Davy Russell and Phillip Enright. They were both declared in breach of rule 272, which concerns bringing racing into disrepute and they got the aforementioned ban, which unfortunately rules them both out of the first three days of the Christmas festivals. To add insult to injury, Phillip Enright was ordered to forfeit his riding fee. He was obviously having difficulty taking all this in when he commented: "I'm digesting the situation. It wasn't premeditated and I'll just have to think about it because it has come as a bit of a shock. If you go and do someone coming to the second last the rights and wrongs are pretty clear. I don't really know about the rights and wrongs of this situation."

 

WILD ABOUT HARRY

The Harry Fry-trained BITOFAPUZZLE was certainly no enigma yesterday at Wincanton when she scored on her hurdle debut in the New Racing UK anywhere Available Now Mares' Maiden Hurdle. The six-year-old daughter of TAMURE made it four victories in a row after winning all her three National Hunt Flat Races. The bookies were clearly not taking any chances as she was sent off long odds-on at 2/13 but that didn't mean the bay mare had an easy time of it, having work very hard to keep her 100 per cent record. KILRONAN HIGH gave her a run for her money and Noel Fehily had to pull all the stops out to beat off this rival but eventually got there with one-and-a-half lengths to spare.

 

An obviously happy winning trainer commented: "I was very pleased with that. She was a good bumper performer. but you've got to go and jump and that was the first step. She won a point-to-point in her early days, but that was good. She did it nicely and hopefully now she will go up in grade for a two-and-a-half-mile Listed mares' novice at Haydock."

 

The Dorset-based handler didn't have time to rest on his laurels, however, because the very next race, the Hague Print "National Hunt" Novices' Handicap Hurdle presented the dynamic duo with a double, courtesy POLAMCO in another hard-fought contest. The five-year-old son of OLD VIC seemed to have everything done and dusted but then had to find a little extra to fight off MUCKLE BAY but got there in the end by a length-and-a-quarter.

 

About this victory Harry Fry said: "He's a real stayer in the making. Obviously it was his handicap debut after he'd run promisingly in two novices to date this season. It was great to get his head in front over hurdles for the first time."

 

PADDY TRUSTS IN GOD

It's been quite a while since Paddy Brennan enjoyed the flavour of Big race victory. That was on IMPERIAL COMMANDER four years ago when he won the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The County Galway jockey thinks, however, that is about to change in tomorrow's Grade One 888sport Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown, when he will be aboard Tom George's GOD'S OWN.

 

Paddy Brennan commented: “God’s Own was far from ready when we beat Balder Succes at Exeter. He's clearly improved from that run. I couldn't be happier with him. It looks a winnable race and he's really grown up this season. It's well known that he has shown a preference for a right-handed track. But I believe he can overcome that as he feels a different horse this season.”

 

THURSDAY 4th DECEMBER 2014

WHERE THERE'S A WILL THERE'S A WAY”

Saturday's Betfred Becher Chase at Aintree gives amateur jockey, William Biddick, an opportunity to ride the Harry Fry-trained MENDIP EXPRESS. The Truro-born rider partnered the eight-year-old in point-to-point, riding him four times last season and only had one defeat when he was up against heavy ground. The 27-year-old jockey didn't get to ride him in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr, where Noel Fehily replaced him. He was back in the saddle, however, in the Business Partners' Day Novices' Hurdle at Warwick last month when he rode the son of KING'S THEATRE to a 14-length victory. As Noel Fehily is booked to ride Harry Fry's VUKOVAR in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown, it gives William Biddick another chance to pit his skills against the professionals.

 

Trainer Harry Fry commented: "Will Biddick will ride Mendip Express. He struck up a really good rapport with the horse, originally in his pointing days and early on last season. With Noel going to Sandown for Vukovar it just made sense to have Will on. I'm really looking forward to seeing how he gets on over the National fences."

 

TOO MANY COOKS, … NOT SO BAD!”

A Catterick double gave jockey Danny Cook the opportunity to cement the new partnership he has started with trainer, Sue Smith, for whom this latest victory made it three in a row for the West Yorkshire stables. The County Clare-born rider seems to be the first one to benefit as a result of Ryan Mania’s unexpected decision to retire from racing, a year-and-a-half after riding the Sue Smith-trained AURORAS ENCORE to victory in the Grand National.

 

Danny Cook's win on OORAYVIC yesterday was perhaps made lightly less stressful when Irish raider HARANGUE fell at the final fence. His double came up with a win by GRATE FELLA in the IJF John Oaksey Beginners’ Chase which was in no small way helped by the failure of four of the more fancied runners o complete the course.

 

The winning jockey commented: “That’s three from three for Sue and Harvey Smith so long may it continue. It certainly couldn’t have started any better for me. Their horses are always fit and have been schooled well and I’m a positive jockey, I like to think, so the best way is to keep it simple; so far it has been working. Grate Fella has a lot of scope and will make a nice chaser. He’ll get further and has a nice future. As for Oorayvic I reckon I had the faller covered, I was just coming at him again and jumped the last really well. Long may it continue like this.”

 

DOING THE KNOWLEDGE – THE RACING WAY

It seems that in the region of 80 per cent of the estimated six million annual racegoers claim to have ‘little or no knowledge of the sport’ and the Jockey Club is planning to do something about it. It is funding a £100,000 scheme aimed at 'educating' these four million odd fans. The project is called ‘Racing Explained’ and begins this Saturday, when more than 40,000 spectators are expected to be at Aintree and Sandown. On this day Aintree is offering a free day at the races for many first-time visitors. As part of the programme, the Jockey Club has has had made seven short ‘explainer films’ which have been produced by the same company that helped introduce the public to unfamiliar sports during the London Olympics in 2012. These films will be screened at Jockey Club tracks and will deal with basic information, such as how to read a race card and how to place a bet. The scheme also offers a racegoer's guide on an App and dedicated website.

 

Simon Bazalgette, CEO of the Jockey Club commented: ‘It is about more engagement with the sport along with having a great day at the races. There is a theme which keeps coming back to us which is ‘’I would enjoy the day more if I understood some of the basics.’’ Once people get engagement with a sort they get passionate about. British racing must do more to help and inspire newcomers. Ultimately, if more people enjoyed racing as a sport it would mean bigger attendances and broadcast audiences, greater betting, sponsorship interest and increased horse ownership numbers. We are not doing this as a charitable venture’

 

WEDNESDAY 3rd DECEMBER 2014

THE DOCTOR'S PRESCRIPTION FOR SUCCESS

Last year's Grand National winner is to prepare to defend his crown by jumping over hurdles. The Dr Richard Newland-trained PINEAU DE RE will not tackle fences again until next April at Aintree. The 11-year-old was the surprise 25/1 victor of the world’s most famous steeplechase and it comes as no surprise that all efforts are being concentrated on his re-appearance at the Merseyside venue. The son of MARESCA SORRENTO will probably have an outing to Carlisle a week on Sunday and his trainer is also toying with the idea of a return to the Cheltenham Festival in March for another attempt at the Pertemps Final. (won by KAYF ARAMIS five years ago).

 

Dr. Newland commented: “We will know a bit more when he runs at Carlisle. In hindsight, he got very tired at Cheltenham and I was very glad that Daryl (Jacob) did not knock him about.

We try and win every race we can. I was a bit surprised to be called before the stewards (after the Cheltenham race). They were doing their job and it was certainly not a question of the horse not trying – we were trying. He had 11st 12lb in very testing ground and in hindsight the run probably came a couple of weeks too soon. Hopefully, he will put up a better show next time.”

 

'The big question on everyone's chapped lips' is who will be riding PINEAU DE RE on this challenging occasion. Leighton Aspell did the honours last time. Richard Johnson, Brian Hughes, Jason Maguire, Daryl Jacob and Sam Twiston-Davies have all been aboard with the latter having the most rides (5) since the bay gelding swapped Philip Fenton's stables in Ireland for those of Dr. Newland in Worcestershire last year.

 

The trainer, himself, added: “We have no idea who will be riding him in the Grand National — Leighton came in as a spare last year and did a fantastic job. We are a small yard and the top jockeys tend to have a lot of strong allegiances. I don’t know if Leighton will be available but we will definitely consider him. Let’s get nearer the time and see who is available.”

 

IF WISHES WERE HORSES …...”

Even without SPRINTER SACRE and SIRE DE GRUGY, trainer Evan Williams acknowledges that the Tingle Creek Chase at sandown on Saturday is still going to be a tough challenge. The vale of Glamorgan-based trainer will be saddling WILLIAM'S WISHES alongside the other 17 possible contenders. The 9-year-old son of OSCAR is a 33/1 outsider with a number of bookies. Nevertheless he put up a good show last time out when he came a not too distant fourth behind THE NEW ONE at Haydock.

 

Evan Williams commented: "He goes for the Tingle Creek. He came out of his last run well and I thought he ran very soundly on his first run back over hurdles last time. Everyone says the Tingle Creek isn't as hot as it could've been, but you try to win a Grade 1 - it's very hard. These races are the pinnacle of the sport and very difficult to have a runner in, let alone win."

 

The main interest at the moment in the market for this prestigious contest is VUKOVAR whose odds have been cut to between 12 and 14/1 from 25/1 yesterday morning.

 

Andrew Griffiths spokesman for Betfred commented: "Vukovar is the big springer in the Tingle Creek betting, into 14-1 from 25s. He's always been highly thought of and the money suggests he will be cherry-ripe for Saturday."

 

WE'RE IN THE MONEY!

Royal Ascot will hold its eighth Group One race, the Commonwealth Cup, for three-year-old colts, geldings and fillies with prize money of £375,000 on its Friday card, replacing the Buckingham Palace Stakes. Total prize money at Royal Ascot next year will be increased from £5,310,000 to £5,585,000 .

 

Ascot's CEO, Charles Barnett, said: "We are very excited about the Commonwealth Cup, which has already been talked of in positive terms by the connections of this year's leading two-year-old filly, Tiggy Wiggy, and American-trained Hootenanny, who won the Windsor Castle Stakes at this year's meeting and was subsequently successful at the recent Breeders' Cup. Longer term, we are looking to attract interest from connections of horses that have run in championship two-year-old races in Australia like the Blue Diamond and the Golden Slipper, as they are counted as three-year-olds in the northern hemisphere at Royal Ascot. We think the Commonwealth Cup has significant potential. It is pleasing to be able to stage the first £5.5 million Royal Meeting in 2015 and we are also today unveiling the first Economic Impact report on our business, compiled by Deloitte.”

 

TUESDAY 2nd DECEMBER 2014

ABSENCE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER”

That's how the saying goes. Certainly the enforced absence of SPRINTER SACRE and SIRE DE FRUGY, the prestigious contest's previous two winners, has attracted a huge entry of 18 runners for Saturday's 888sport Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown. Quick to take advantage of the change in circumstances for this Group One special is County Carlow trainer, Willie Mullins, who has enter three strong hopefuls, BALLEYCASEY, FELIX YOUNGER and TWINLIGHT. Not to be outdone, it looks like his brother Tom could run ALDERWOOD, his dual Cheltenham Festival winner.

 

Eight-time winner of this race, Paul Nicholls, will saddle DODGING BULLETS and HINTERLAND, last season's Henry VIII Novices’ Chase victor over the course and distance. The three scorers in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter, BALDER SUCCES, GOD'S OWN and OSCAR HILL will be challenging for supremacy again. It is interesting to note that Paul Nicholls' HINTERLAND was pulled up in that contest. Another possible is MAD MOOSE, who lived up to his name last year, refusing to race properly, has had his ban from racing lifted.

 

GOD'S OWN, mentioned earlier, trained by Tom George is still a novice and also has an entry in the Racing Post Henry VIII Novices’ Chase on the same fixture but, as he has proved in previous contests, he is more than up to taking on more experienced horses. At least his jockey, Paddy Brennan has every confidence in him.

 

His comments were: “I’m really looking forward to Saturday. God’s Own is a horse we hold in high regard and everything seems to be right for him. We are just hoping for a dry week. The better the ground, the better his chance. Good to soft, soft would be perfect. I really like this horse. He’s tough, he’s brave and I’m really hoping he can step up to Grade One level. He’s been taken along slowly. There’s never a fluke when you win a Grade Two Haldon Gold Cup. He’s proved he’s above average and he’s a horse that can go further, I think.”

 

FOUR FRANKEL FOALS FLOP

It was the final day of the Tattersalls auction and 779 lots fetched an average of £40,000 each.

Not a good day for the legendary FRANKEL, though. A quartet of his offspring failed to attract buyers. One of them was subsequently withdrawn and the other three didn't make their. It was reported that one of them was later bought outside the auction for £150,000.

 

Other sires fared better. The top two lots were both fillies, put on auction by the Irish National Stud. The filly of INVINCIBLE SPIRIT was bought for more than £170,000 by John Ferguson, Sheikh Mohammed’s bloodstock adviser. Anthony Stroud, another highly successful bloodstock agent, paid more than £156,000 for a colt of SEA THE STARS.

 

Edmond Mahony, Tattersalls' Chairman stated: “Sustained demand at all levels of the market has been the feature of the sale with a huge number of pinhookers (people buying a horse with the specific intention of re-selling it for a profit) and many of the world’s leading owners all contributing to the impressive returns. Comparative figures make interesting reading and it seems amazing to note that turnover as recently as the 2010 Tattersalls December Foal Sale was a little over 17 million guineas (one guinea equals £1.05) with 105 foals sold for 50,000 guineas or more. Never before have so many foals sold for 50,000 guineas or more at the December Foal Sale.”

 

SHOULD'A TOLD'EM!

Mullins in the news again. Not Willie this time but jockey, Danny. He received a three-day ban after a Turf Club referral hearing on Monday. The panel pronounced the Kill-born rider was guilty of breaching Rule 213 for not reporting anything to the stewards that may have affected BASHFUL BEAUTY's performance at Fairyhouse on October 11th. This race was nothing extraordinary but got into the headlines because trainer Norman Lee was very critical of the way Danny Mullins ran the race.

 

The Dublin-based trainer stated : “Mullins had failed to ride his charge with determination and in doing so had failed to obtain the best possible placing."

 

In the inquiry, Danny Mullins explained that the gelding felt dead in running. But that seemingly innocent remark didn't go down well. It was subsequently decided that Mullins should have reported this to the acting stewards immediately after the race. In addition to this three-day ban, Danny Mullins was ordered to pay €500 towards the cost of the hearing.

 

The jockey said later: "I'm happy I was cleared of any serious wrongdoing and haven't really thought about any possible appeal."

 

MONDAY 1st DECEMBER 2014

WHOSE DAUGHTER IS A WINNER?

Barely a fortnight after the sad death of the renowned trainer, Dessie Hughes, his daughter, Sandra, notched up an emotional first Grade One victory when LIEUTENANT COLONEL won the Bar One Racing Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse yesterday. This was her second success under licence in 24 hours and this one was thanks to providence and the riding talents of jockey Bryan Cooper. Luck or bad luck, depending which horse you support, the race prospects changed dramatically when the 11/8 favourite ZAIDPOUR, trained by Willie Mullins, fell at the fifth hurdle, unfortunately bringing down John Patrick Shanahan's KING OF THE PICTS. The Colin Bowe-trained LITTLE KING ROBIN tried to take advantage of this 'gift horse' and went off into the lead but he wasn't allowed to get too far away by the remaining two runners in the contest, JETSON and the eventual winner. By the final flight these two were neck and neck but the five-year-old son of KAYF TARA produced a nifty turn of foot and left the nine-year-old OSCAR son trailing by four lengths at the line.

 

Sandra Hughes received a very warm welcome from all around, Hughes and commented: “It was always Dad’s plan to stay over hurdles with him this year. He was beaten first time over fences so we decided to give him an extra year over hurdles. He’s in at Christmas so we’ll have to have a look at that.”

 

Owner, Ryanair boss, Michael O’Leary added: “He’s only five and when he didn’t win his beginners’ chase first time out we thought we’d put him over hurdles and see what he could do. “I think we’ll keep him to hurdles now for the rest of the year and hopefully the novice chases won’t be quite as tough next year.”

 

FIFTH AWARD

An innovative way of promoting racing has won a national award for the fifth year in a row. Goodwood has been recognised as the winner by The Racecourse Association (RCA) in the All About The Horse category at their 2014 showcase and awards at Haydock Park. The Sussex track's new ‘Sunday School’ fixture which takes place in June, when race-goers, especially young ones, are invited into the racecourse early to give them an opportunity to see behind the scenes and meet up with many of the people responsible for the success of the day's racing. These special awards recognise excellence and innovation at British racetracks. The judges were particularly impressed by the Goodwood feature, offering fun for both children and adults, whilst, at the same time providing an insight into what goes on behind the scenes. The special way the event informed racegoers about the various roles in racing as well as the care with which the equine celebritied are welcomed, received a special mention from the judges.

 

Goodwood has won afew of these RCA awards in recent years, and was, in fact, the overall champion in 2012.
 The evening’s award ceremony came after a day of seminars and brain-storming, with visiting speakers from organisations such as Great British Racing, Liverpool FC, Everton FC, Coral and Center Parcs.

 

Adam Waterworth, MD of Goodwood racecourse said: “This is the fifth year we have won a showcase award and we are thrilled to get another one to add to the collection. Sunday School was new for us in 2014 and we’re so pleased it was a success and that others have seen it that way. We are looking forward to growing the fixture, which will take place on Sunday, June 7, 2015.”

 

JONJO'S LOST HIS MOJO

Last year's Ladbrokes World Hurdle champion hero was a surprising 18 lengths adrift of the winner in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury, shattering his unbeaten record in the sixth race of his career. The Temple Guiting-based trainer Jonjo O'Neill, was visibly disappointed with the performance of MERRY KING and commented: "I've just got to get him right again. We're going to get him checked out and see how he goes. He ran reasonably well for a long way and it was his first run. His wind was bothering him a little bit and hence the reason putting a tongue strap on him in the heavy ground, trying to help him. I didn't think he ran that bad - obviously we're disappointed to lose his unbeaten tag, that was a bit of a sickener, but we'll get him checked out and see where we go. We'll try to get him back to go to Cheltenham (for the World Hurdle). That's the plan if we get him right.

"We're not going to give up after one defeat. He's the best in the class if we can do that so now I've just got to get him right."

 

SUNDAY 30th NOVEMBER 2014

WRONG AGAIN!

It's Saturday, it must be BHA blunderday! The latest goof was at Towcester when (deep breath!) the Haygain Hay Steamers Clean Healthy Forage Mares' National Hunt Novice Hurdle

was incorrectly listed on many racing pages, including the official BHA website, as a contest run over two miles, when it was actually over two miles five furlongs which is the correct distance. Connections of the eventual long odds-on winner, the Fergal O'Brien-trained JENNYS SURPRISE (no apostrophe!) drew attention to this error, after they became aware that the press reported the race as being over two miles. Presumably officials of the British Horseracing Authority will attempt to conceal their renewed red countenances as they launch another inquiry into the latest embarrassment on the sport's biggest day of the week.

 

Robin Mounsey, in the hot seat as the BHA spokesman announced: "There has been an issue with the data feed but until further investigation on Monday we don't know what has caused it."

 

The data feed mentioned is handled by Weatherbys, the company officially responsible for horse racing's administration. This gaffe comes soon after the case of THE YOUNG MASTER competing in and ‘winning’ a big Saturday chase three weeks ago at Wincanton, also attributed to Weatherbys’ system failure. That was preceded by the BHA's having to issue a humbling apology, after it became known that some race distances at the Yorkshire track, Wetherby, including the Charlie Hall Chase, the feature race of its season, had been run over the wrong distance for five years.

 

HIS CUP DID NOT 'RUNNETH' OVER!

The successful international jockey and the five-year-old daughter of DEEP IMPACT were out to repeat the success of last year's Japan Cup but it wasn't to be. That honour went to another international superstar rider, Christophe Soumillon, aboard the Katsuhiko Sumii-trained EPIPHANEIA. Ryan Moore, whose season has been marked with a plethora of prominent prizes, had to be content with fourth place on GENTILDONNA, owned by Sunday Racing Co Ltd. The Brighton-born jockey had his mount very handy in the early stages of the race but when push came to shove, there was nothing to match the impressive performance of the winner, a Grade 1 heroine who passed the post four lengths ahead of any rivals. This four-year-old daughter of SYMBOLI KRIS S was also second in the 2013 Japanese Derby and went on to score in the Japanese St Leger about this time last year but yesterday's illustrious prize had eluded her thus far.

 

BRING IN THE CLOUDS

The Hungerford-based trainer had to wait 24 years to repeat the success he had in this prestigious contest with ARCTIC CALL. So Oliver Sherwood was intent on savouring every second of the occasion to enjoy the moment of MANY CLOUDS' victory. It was fitting that the first one on hand to congratulate the understandably emotional trainer was Jamie Osborne, the winning jockey who answered the call back then, who has now turned his hand to training.

 

Oliver Sherwood commented tearfully: “I don't care a monkeys (Ed: shortened cockney rhyming slang for 'monkey's tit' meaning '****'!!) if he does not run again this season. I'm just going to enjoy it. I don't want to talk about Cheltenham Gold Cups. He's had a hard race out there.”

The victory was also a time for celebration for the winning jockey, Leighton Aspell, who decided to stop race riding but made a dramatic comeback last year, winning the Grand National on PINEAU DE RE.

 

The Dublin-born 38-year-old added: "We all put a lot of work in and it is good to get the opportunity to ride these big winners. It has been a wonderful year. I was sitting on him for a long time and was conscious not to get to the front too soon as it was a new trip."

 

Leighton Aspell was abruptly brought down to earth again later when he was fined £1,800 and received a seven-day ban for excessive use of whip. As, however, his share of the winnings was around £8,000, after paying his agent and the guy who saddles the horses and takes care of his boots and riding gear in the jockeys room, he probably still had a smile on his face on his way to the bank!

 

FRIDAY 28th NOVEMBER 2014

HE FELL FOR IT!

Short-favourite backers were probably already calculating their returns for the Killinan Beginners Chase at Thurles when the unexpected happened. UN DE SCEAUX, on his debut chase, fell at the third from home. The six-year-old had pretty well given his fifteen opponents the slip and was powering away in the lead when, all of a sudden, all seemed not well when he seemed to stagger on landing and said goodbye to his jockey, Ruby Walsh. The son of DENHAM RED, trained by Willie Mullins, had six successive wins over hurdles behind him and was clearly a cut above his rivals before the catastrophe happened. As a result the race was handed to the Jessica Harrington-trained 8/1 shot, FIFTYONE, ridden by Robbie Power, a good five-and-a-half lengths ahead of the runner-up, the 66/1 outsider SMOKEY JOE JOE.

 

Willie Mullins commented afterwards about the fate of UN DE SCEAUX: "He came out of it well and is grand apart from one little cut which any horse can get. I was very happy with him prior to the fall and it was just one of those things and it was a novicey mistake. I just hope he won't make a habit of it."

 

SACRE BLEU! NO TINGLE

Nicky Henderson’s superstar, SPRINTER SACRE, will not, after all, return to the track in the 888sport Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown a week on Saturday. The eight-year-old son of NETWORK hasn't been seen since Barry Geraghty pulled him up in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton last Christmas. He was subsequently diagnosed with a heart problem, which they say has since been put right.

 

Nicky Henderson commented: “With everything that is going on and the ground as much as anything, he’s not quite really there, so he won’t go Tingle Creeking. He will be strutting away at home and he’s fine, but he’s not quite ready. We went to Newmarket (to see Celia Marr, equine specialist) and came back with a clean bill of health from there and we are working away, but we are not quite ready.”

 

SPRINTER SACRE claimed the Tingle Creek Chase two years ago, in the same year as he won the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase Cheltenham, adding a 19-length victory to his credits the following March in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

 

The Seven Barrows trainer added: “It leaves you kind of empty for the time being, but I would rather buy the time. He did two canters this morning and will do two tomorrow and we might decide to do a bit more with him on Saturday. “He’s not quite ready and he’s got to be 100 per cent when he goes to a racecourse and where do you do? Kempton (Desert Orchid Chase) was one of the places I wanted to avoid going to, after what happened to him last year.

The one good thing was he had a four-day full MOT at Newmarket and everything is tickety-boo.”

 

KING OF THE DAY

The three-day Hennessy Festival at Newbury got a really good send-off yesterday, when trainer Alan King notched up a a treble with three different jockeys – Noel Fehily on CARRAIG MOR, Denis O’Regan riding NED STARK and the 19-times champion jockey, Tony McCoy aboard YANWORTH

 

As a result the bookies cut CARRAIG MOR'S odds for the the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival from 25/1 to 14/1 although the Swindon-based trainer was quick to comment: "I'm not sure he will be ready for the RSA this year. He's a big horse and is a long way from the finished article. He was better than he was at Exeter on his chasing debut earlier this month."

King, who runs Smad Place and Midnight Prayer in tomorrow’s Hennessy Gold Cup, added his second winner when Ned Stark (5-2 favourite) produced a precise round of jumping to take the bet365 Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase. This was only his fourth run under Rules and he will have learned a lot today. I was not worried about the ground or the trip – he’s a three-miler in the making. He'll still strengthen, he is still tall and narrow but he's very progressive. He's also intelligent – he he came to the last, saw a stride and just popped it."

 

THURSDAY 27th NOVEMBER 2014

ONE GOOD TURNER DESERVES ...

Britain’s top woman Flat jockey, Hayley Turner, has decided to take a few tips from the top. She is going to be coached by the former World No 1 show jumping star, Ben Maher, who was also an Olympic team gold medallist at London 2012, in order to prepare herself for the forthcoming Markel Champions Challenge. In this contest Flat jockeys compete with Jump jockeys in a show jumping competition which takes place on December 19th at Olympia's London International Horse Show. Hayley Turner will form part of a team, consisting of Richard Hughes, Jim Crowley and Adam Kirby who will be riding against a Jump team, comprising AP McCoy, John Francome, Sam Thomas and Sam Twiston-Davies.

Clearly the Nottinghamshir-born thirty-one-year-old is hoping that advice from Ben maher will give her something of an edge.

She commented: “I have done show jumping, although not for a while, but it is a bit like riding a bike — you never forget. My big flaw was not really looking where I was going. You have to count strides and find the right line but I think I mastered it in the end. I learned a lot from Ben and my confidence is up, which is the main thing.”

 

Stansted-based ben Maher added: “Before we started, Hayley was quite nervous but she is more confident now. In show jumping, you have to keep your horse more under control. There are different buttons to press compared with racing. It is all about rhythm from start to finish.”

 

BACK IN THE SADDLE

Three weeks off is a long time for the 19-times champion who was hoping to notch up 300 wins in a season. A P McCoy was back in the saddle and winning again yesterday with a solitary ride at Fontwell Park. As an appropriate warm-up for the coming Hennessy weekend, he was aboard the Neil Mulholland-trained SOUTHFIELD ROYALE in the Free Tips At raceclear.co.uk Novices' Hurdle. His lay-off seems not to have diminished his skill at getting his mount into a handy position for an eventual strike, although it didn't all go to plan. The four-year-old son of PRESENTING made an expensive error at the final flight which cost the duo momentum.

 

Tony McCoy commented afterwards: “I’m very lucky I’ve had a lot of good people looking after me,” he said after success number 153 of the season. You can’t afford to miss any days and it’s impossible to ride 300 winners now. You’ve got to accept the fact. You’ve just got to ride as many as you can and hopefully some good ones along the way. The staff at Oaksey House have helped me get better and it’s nice to be back.”

 

The Moneyglass master has already indicated that the Jonjo O'Neill-trained MERRY KING is his ride in Saturday’s Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury, which is, surprisingly, one of the few major contests that he has not won.

 

THANKS A MILLION!

It has been announced by the British Horseracing Authority has that it has decided what to do with the additional voluntary contribution made by bookmakers. An £5 million boost in overall prize-money is planned. William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral and Betfred have contributed £4.5 million of that with the other £500,000 coming from from the Levis an additional sum on top of their statutory payments. The money from this new scheme will be put into racing prizes from December 1st and is intended to cover a 13-month period.

 

Paul Bittar, BHAs' Chief Executive commented: “It is essential for the long-term prosperity of the sport that the racing product which we deliver is attractive to both domestic and international customers. It is for this reason that we recently announced a series of race-planning initiatives to tackle the issue of small-field races, and why it was agreed from the outset between racing and betting that this was the correct use for the AVC (Additional Voluntary Contribution) Fund. We are thankful to the four firms for their commitment in this regard. Racing and betting are symbiotic industries, and at the heart of this agreement was the philosophy that we are better off aligning our efforts to make the racing product more compelling and competitive, year round. We hope that this targeted investment ensures the contribution to this scheme by the four bookmakers generates returns to the racing and betting industry which outweigh the level of investment.”

 

WEDNESDAY 26th NOVEMBER 2014

 

THE STEWARDS HAVE A VOID FOR IT – BAN!

The three-miles-three-furlong Compare Bookies Odds At bookies.com Handicap Chase seemed a routine sort of a race with the result being that the Richard Ford-trained DEBT TO SOCIETY beat the favourite, APACHE PILOT by a neck. Then the drama began. A stewards’ inquiry was called and the contest was declared void with all the riders receiving a 10-day ban. The incident seems to have been caused by the waving of the wrong coloured flag before the jockeys bypassed a fence that was being omitted because of the low sun. The official raised a yellow flag which signals a void race instead of a black-and-white chequered flag on the first circuit. When, however, the runners passed the same fence the second time around the correct flag was raised.

 

The 'winning' trainer was clearly very frustrated when he commented: “It is quite a bizarre set of circumstances, but surely it didn’t affect the result. The stewards are guided by the rules. As I understand it the fence was bypassed because of low sun and a chequered flag should have been raised. The flagman actually waved a yellow flag – which means stop the race – by mistake but because of the low sun the jockeys couldn’t really tell which flag he was waving anyway. He waved the correct flag on the second circuit but they all carried on and the result was in no way affected. I’m disappointed for his owner because it is the not the fault of the jockeys. As I understand it all the jockeys are getting 10-day bans, too. It seems very harsh. The double whammy would be if he goes up in the handicap.”

As a consequence generally all bets were refunded by bookies but Paddy Power, William Hill and Totesport decided to pay out on DEBT TO SOCIETY as a winner and they voided all losing bets on the race. All the jockeys were interviewed by the stewards as well as by Sophie Barton, the Clerk of the Course. APACHE PILOT's rider, Michael McAlister, deputised for the other riders and he told the stewards that they all knew the third fence was going to be bypassed. He also commented that visibility was very poor and, although they heard the whistle being blown they did not check the colour of the flag. As a consequence all the riders were declared to be in breach of Rule (B)48.1 and guilty of failing to pull up once the ’stop race’ flag had been deployed.

 

CAN'T WEIGHT. MUST GO!

The 2013 Grand National-winning jockey has announced that he is to retire at the tender age of 25. Ryan Mania who shot into the limelight two years ago when he won the Aintree spectacular riding the Sue Smith-trained AURORAS ENCORE the 66/1 outsider. His last win was on the Sandy Thomson-trained SELDOM INN in the ITPS Novices' Hurdle at Newcastle in November, but since then he has been unfortunate to have five races where he had to pull up his mount. Clearly a major factor affecting this shock decision is his ongoing battle with his weight.

The Galashiels-born jockey commented: “I’ve been thinking about this since the summer and I always thought that it was going to be my last season. Of course I am sad that I am stopping, but it has been at the back of my mind for some time. I thought I’d be able to carry on until Christmas, but my mind is made up. People don’t always see the sacrifices jockeys have to make if they’re to make the weight, and also the travelling and the time away from your family.”

 

SEALS OF APPROVAL

Six-year-old UN DE SCEAUX is to have his first race over fences in a beginners' chase at Thurles tomorrow. The Willie Mullins-trained son of DENHAM RED, a possible major contender for the Cheltenham Festival, hasn't lost a race in nine outings so naturally there is a certain amount of excitement and possible apprehension surrounding his debut over fixed obstacles. His prowess over hurdles is undisputed and he is a 4/1 bet for the Racing Post Arkle, where VAUTOUR, his stablemate, is the outright favourite. Naturally his champion trainer, riding high with winners at the moment, incuding last Sunday's chasing debut by VAUTOUR who romped home by eight lengths, will be hoping for a similar success for UN DE SCEAUX.

 

TUESDAY 25th NOVEMBER 2014

A SCORE TO SETTLE

The Willie Mullins-trained BE MY ROYAL was first passed the post in the 2002 in the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury but he didn't win the race, because he was subsequently disqualified after testing positive for a banned substance which was attributed to feed. So the County Carlow champion trainer, who added another eight wins to his tally over the weekend, has something of a score to settle and plans to do it with DJAKADAM. The five-year-old son of SAINTS DES SAINTS is the 4/1 favourite and was considered very unlucky not to win JLT Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last season after falling four fences from home when it looked like he had the race in the bag.

 

The Closutton trainer commented: “All is going to plan with him and he's in good order, with both his work and is schooling going very welll.

 

Owner, retired barclays banker, Rich Ricci added: “He was the one that got away. History is against him though as no five-year-old has ever won the race but then again not many have run in the race. He may never again be so well handicapped so we have to take our chance. I was disappointed when Annie Power was beaten at the Festival but so was I when Djakadam tipped up. He was going so well.”

 

HAYDOCK HEYDAY

Last weekend's first National Jockey Day at Haydock was, it seems, a resounding success, raising £10,000 for the Injured Jockeys Fund. Apart from the Merseyside track, this new feature was supported by Betfair who generously donated £1 for every use of the #NationalJockeyDay hashtag on social media and racing fans. The aim of the day was to raise awareness and recognise the how dangerous race riding can be.

 

Naomi Totten, Betfair's spokesperson commented: "To be able to give £10,000 to the Injured Jockeys Fund after the first ever National Jockey day is fantastic. We hope the day will grow and become a recognised annual celebration of jockeys and the sport of horseracing. We would like to personally thank the racing community and fans, and also all our partners for their support in making National Jockey Day happen."

 

XMAS MARKS THE SPOT

The Haydock initiative seems to have spawned others. Plumpton is to stage an Injured Jockeys Fund Raceday on Monday December 1, offering racegoers the chance to buy gifts, calendars and cards in support of one of racing’s most prominent charities. Two weeks later there will be the inevitable Christmas festivities, including mulled wine and mince pies and Christmas lunch in the Paddock and Marquee restaurants. These festivities will be accompanied buy a stimulating seven-race card. Next Monday's fixture will also feature the second race in Plumpton’s Cheltenham bonus race series for the 2014/2015 season, the Autumn Gala Novices’ Steeple Chase.

 

Plumpton Racecourse CEO, Michael Moloney, commented: “2014 has marked a special year for the Injured Jockeys Fund - their 50th anniversary. Charity representatives will be on hand throughout the afternoon of December 1 raising awareness and collecting much-needed funds. Our exhilarating Cheltenham bonus race series provides any winning horse from one of five nominated novice Chases at Plumpton this season the opportunity to scoop a valuable £60,000. The scheme was incredibly successful last year and helped us to attract genuine Festival contenders, providing our racegoers with a great opportunity to see future stars in action.”

 

MONDAY 24th NOVEMBER 2014

A VOTE FOR VAUTOUR

The Willie Mullins-trained VAUTOUR won his debut over fences yesterday at Navan in the Irish Stallion Farms E.B.F. Beginners Chase. With Ruby Walsh in the saddle, the five-year-old showed the rest of the 16-strong field a clean pair of heels, winning the contest by eight lengths. Winner of the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) at Cheltenham in March, the son of ROBIN DES CHAMPS was sent off the 2/11 odds-on favourite and there was never a doubt about the outcome. After that performance the bookies are clearly not taking any chances and have cut the odds of the bay gelding from 6/1 from 5/1 for the Racing Post Arkle and to 3-1 favourite from 7/2f for the JLT Novices' Chase by Paddy Power. Coral made him 7-2 favourite for the Arkle.

 

The winning jockey commented afterwards: I thought he jumped super. I thought he was amazing at the third last, he was clever and has loads of scope. I was full of confidence [coming into the race] and he was brilliant. What he did last year was spectacular, but we always knew he would make a chaser. He's a brilliant horse and I would say trip is of little consequence," he said.

 

PRESENTS FOR CADEAUX

Racing Victoria officials have paid tribute to the three-time Melbourne Cup runner-up, RED CADEAUX, just before he departs Australia to run his second Group 1 of his 47-race career in Hong Kong next month. The eight-year-old son of CADEAUX GENEREUX is the subject of adulation all over the world, thanks to his performance in Australia's greatest race. The Aussies have taken to him so much to heart that they have even had a barn named after him at the Werribee International Horse Centre where he always stays to prepare for the great event, after arriving Down Under from trainer Ed Dunlop's Newmarket yard.

 

The esteemed presentation - to "one of the great warriors of international racing" as Greg Carpenter, Racing Victoria's executive general manager, put it, happened prior to RED CADEAUX's departure to compete in the Longines Hong Kong Vase, which he claimed two years ago.

 

Robin Trevor-Jones, Dunlop's travelling head lad, stated: "I'm glad we've run so well over here and we've looked after the Australian people as well as they have looked after us, which is very well. With a bit of luck, and we don't use him too much in England over the following year, there's still a few miles left in his legs and he could be back for next year's Melbourne Cup. He was second in an Arc and second in a Breeders’ Cup – he's got to get to Hong Kong but he's proved he can travel. He's the horse to beat and will start favourite."

 

KEEPING ALL AT BAY

Where to aim for next when your seven-year-old gelding wins a race by 19 lengths? That's what happened on Saturday at Ascot when the the Ben Case-trained CROCO BAY won the Country Living Handicap Chase, his first win since February at Doncaster when he scored another runaway 10-length victory in the Betdaq Free Premier League Game Saturdays Novices' Chase. Well it seems his Banbury-based trainer has got his eye on the Topham Chase at Aintree in the Spring. Before that CROCO BAY will first take it easy for a while to have time to recharge his batteries.

 

Ben Case commented: "I didn't think he'd go on the ground, is the honest answer, but he's a fantastic jumping horse and deserved to win a nice prize. He'll have a holiday now as he's been on the go since we bought him in May. It (the Topham) is a possibility. It's a bit further, but he stayed up the hill well at Cheltenham.”

 

SUNDAY 23rd NOVEMBER 2014

BETFAIR AND SQUARE

The Paul Nicholls-trained SILVINIACO CONTI was back in business again yesterday, winning the Betfair Chase at Haydock, beating Philip Hobbs' MENORAH by two lengths, giving the champion trainer his sixth win in this prestigious event. The King George VI chase victor was partnered by his regular jockey, Noel Fehily. The disappointment of the day was the performance of last year's winner, CUE CARD, who faded early on in the race.

 

The winning son of DOM ALCO, who claimed this contest two years ago was clearly back in form after a puzzling performance in last season's Cheltenham Gold Cup, when he ended up in fourth place after losing his way for some reason on the run-in when it looked like the rrace was his for the taking.

 

Paul Nicholls had this to say: "A few things didn't go to plan last season and I don't know what happened to him at the last in the Gold Cup. But when I saw he had his ears pricked today I knew they wouldn't get past him. We went for headgear with See More Business (1999 Gold Cup winner) and left it on him and we put cheek pieces on him (Silviniaco Conti) so I think we'll leave them on."

 

RUBY DOESN'T WELSH ON THE DEAL

AL FEROF and FAUGHEEN made it a double for Ruby Walsh at Ascot yesterday. The first of his winning mounts, the 9-year-old son of DOM ALCO, hasn't been seen since March, but lacked none of his self-assurance by claiming the Amlin 1965 Chase for the second year running. The difference this time around was that, whereas last year AL FEROF was only up against one rival, Nicky Henderson's FRENCH OPERA, in a two-horse contest, this time around he was facing a couple of strong challengers. The Nicky Henderson-trained RAJDHANI EXPRESS and Paul Nicholls' BURY PARADE gave him more of a run for his money. The former, particularly, put on a show of spectacular jumps but these were eventually not enough to daunt the Ruby Walsh grey who soon surged into ascendancy by the last fence from home. Only Mick Channon's SOMERSBY held on, despite making a grave error at the second obstacle but he had no hope against the eventual winner who was seven lengths clear when he past the post.

 

Half-an-hour later Ruby Walsh was at it again in the Coral Hurdle in the Willie Mullins-trained FAUGHEEN who was going for his seventh win in a row. The Kill-born jockey seemed content to take his time as he took the Cheltenham Festival-winning six-year-old into the lead early on. There was only one horse that managed to make any kind of challenge between the last two hurdles and that was Nicky Henderson's BLUE FASHION but his hopes were short-lived when the 6-year-old son of GERMANY leapt magnificently over the last to confirm victory by a cool three and three-quarters lengths.

 

WILLIE, WON'T HE!

Willie Mullins was also in top form at Gowran Park yesterday when BALLEYCASEY stopped at nothing to claim the Race That Stops A County 'Thyestes Jan 22nd 2015' Chase. This was minutes after the resounding Ruby ride at Ascot mentioned above. This time it was Paul Townend's turn to bring glory to the unstoppable team at Closutton yard. The County Cork jockey took his odds-on favourite into the lead and the 7-year-old grey proved too much for his main rival in the market, MOSCOW MANNON, trained by Waterford-based Henri de Bromhead. The son of PRESENTING produced a magnificent jump over the last fence and left his nearest challenger, FOLLOWMEUPTOCARLOW, trailing behind by five-and-a-half lengths.

 

The trainer commented on BALLYCASEY's performance: "That's a trip (two and a half miles) he enjoys and he jumped great. We'll probably look for a Grade Two or Three around that trip rather than go for a Grade One at this stage. It may appear that was easy, but he had a hard enough race on that ground (heavy)."

 

The Muine Bheag-based trainer had already saddled the impressive TELL US MORE in the www.gowranpark.ie Maiden Hurdle a who was sent off as a 1/5 favourite and he didn't disappoint, winning by 11 lengths with Bryan Cooper aboard.

 

As the trainer astutely said afterwards: "He got things his own way a bit but he's probably good enough to do that anyway. He's a natural jumper and he'll have no trouble going up in trip. I'd say he'll improve a fair bit off that as I thought beforehand he looked a bit big. That all bodes well for the future. We'll find something for him around Christmas and he looks top drawer."

And the hits kept on coming. French import, also favourite, DOUVAN, gave the County Carlow chief another victory in the Santa Train At Gowran Park Novice Hurdle, this time with a winning distance of 12 lengths.

 

SATURDAY 22nd NOVEMBER 2014

COMING IN ON CUE

Today is Betfair Chase day at Haydock. It should be an exciting contest as trainer Colin Tizzard sends out CUE CARD, this time ridden not by his son, Joe, but by Daryl Jacob, to retain the crown. The eight-year-old was a dual Cheltenham Festival winner two years ago and added last year’s Ryanair Chase to his list of triumphs. Even so most racegoers would probably agree that his performance at this track last year goes down as a career best. An injury to the pelvis kept him off the track in the latter part of last season but clearly the Sherborne-based trainer expects great things today of the son of KING'S THEATRE.

 

As the man, himself commented: “Cue Card has come out of the Haldon Gold Cup very well and the run has improved him both mentally and physically. He was coming back from a near 11-month lay-off at Exeter and was trying to give masses of weight to really exciting two-milers. All my horses have been improving for a run this season and I know he has as well. He is a lot tighter and going from Exeter to Haydock worked a treat last year, so hopefully it will be the same this time around.”

 

RE-TRAINING AN EX

Ex-racehorses are back in the news again. Two horse charities, World Horse Welfare and Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) have teamed up to launch a pilot scheme to retrain “vulnerable” ex-racehorses in preparation for settling them at the Hall Farm rescue and re-homing centre in Norfolk. If the new scheme is successful, World Horse Welfare’s four centres will adopt it. Funding for this scheme will be provided by RoR.

 

Roly (Roland) Owers, Chief Executive of World Horse Welfare announced: “Racehorses are generally extremely well cared for, but after they leave racing they can be as susceptible as any other horse to the vagaries of the market or uncertain futures if they cannot find good homes. The charity is adept at helping vulnerable horses make the transition to new environments, so it was natural to want to apply this expertise to help former racehorses. We can provide them with the retraining they need, and find them new homes – but as World Horse Welfare will retain ownership of the horses (as we do with all of our horses), they will have a safe and secure future with us.”

 

RoR’s CEO, Di Arbuthnot added: “At RoR we have always sought to ensure there is a safety net in place to catch any vulnerable or unwanted horses in time to help find them a safe and secure home. RoR already provides funding to Moorcroft, HEROS, the Thoroughbred Rehabilitation Centre and Greatwood. What RoR was lacking was an even geographical spread of locations equipped and resourced to deal with a former racehorses and we hope this pilot scheme will in time open the door for RoR to work with all of World Horse Welfare’s Rescue and Rehoming Centres.

 

DJ HAS TWO HITS

Daryl Jacob lost his job as stable jockey to champion trainer Paul Nicholls but that doesn't seem to have affected his determination to be a winner. In a fitting warm-up for today's Betfair Chase when he rides last year's champion, CUE CARD, he notched up a double at Haydock yesterday. He has recently retained by owners, Jean and Bob Bishop, to ride their Colin Tizzard-trained horses, after the trainer's son, Joe, announced his retirement from race riding. The Donegal-born jockey struck early at the Newton-le-Willows track by, ironically, opening his account on the Emma Lavelle-trained CLOSING CEREMONY in the first race of the day, the Brown Shipley Wealth Well Managed Handicap Hurdle. The five-year-old FLEMENSFIRTH son showed a lot of his sire's courage when he managed to beat off the challenge from the 4/1 favourite, Jonjo O'Neill-trained MILAN BOUND in a breathtaking battle in the last hundred yards.

 

The winning jockey commented afterwards: “He was very game as he had to try really hard there,” said Jacob. I got a spare ride on him in a novices’ hurdle at Chepstow last year and really liked him so it was nice to get back on him and win a valuable prize.”

 

Daryl Jacob is not one to rest on his laurels so he was back in the second race on a Tizzard trainee in the Oak Loans And Mortgage Graduation Chase in which he rode THIRD INTENTION to a 17-length victory.

 

The Milborne Port-based winning trainer said afterwards: “I don’t think the other three can have run their race, otherwise if they have the handicapper is going to crucify us for that. I like the graduation chases, they are perfect for a horse like him. We brought him back to two miles, we’ve tried him at three and two and a half so maybe I’ve been running him over the wrong trip for a while. That was only his second win over fences so he can run in another of these.”

 

FRIDAY 21st NOVEMBER 2014

CREAM FOR THE DEVON DUO

Once again David Pipe and Tom Scudamore showed how it's done by coming up with the old one-two at Chepstow yesterday. As mentioned here on Wednesday the fixture was a special seven-race affair in aid of the RAF Benevolent Fund. The Blackdown Hills-based duo didn't waste any time putting down their marker. Tom Scudamore steered TAJ BADALANDABAD to a decisive four-length victory in the first race of the day, the RAF Benevolent Fund Novices' Hurdle. They followed up in the third race, the AMSS Handicap Chase when SMILES FOR MILES topped that winning distance by half-a-length. Although their first success of the day never gave connections or punters any cause for alarm, it wasn't as straightforward for the second. The six-year-old certainly looked like an easy winner after he had got the better of the challenge of GUNNA BE A DEVIL. Then just as we thought it safe to come out of the water, the six-year-old son of OSCAR goofed at the fourth from home which must have had everyone on the edge of their seats. The saviour of the day was, however, Tom Scudamore who somehow managed to stay on and kept his mount well ahead of the rest of the field to produce a comfortable four-and-a-half length victory.

 

Those two wins made for a total of twenty-two successes from the last 86 entries at the Monmouthshire track over the last four years for the Pond House pair.

 

David Pipe commented: “We've been on a brilliant run as a yard in the last couple of weeks, It's great to have another couple of winners here today. We've got a good record here – it's about sending the horses to the right places and if we have a soft ground horse we send them to Chepstow.”

 

A FRANKEL FORTUNE

Goffs November Foal Sale yesterday produced an Irish record for a foal at public auction and the highest-priced foal to come under the hammer in Europe since 2002. A daughter of FRANKEL was bought by agent Dermot Farrington for €1.8 million( almost £1.5 million in real money!) which set the record. This was an historic sale producing a dramatic climax to months of waiting for the first batch of foals of the GALLILEO son to go up for auction. A half-sister to the unbeaten Beresford Stakes hero, OL' MAN RIVER, this filly, destined for the Al-Eile Stud, was expected to attract the most attention and she did not disappoint.

 

By comparison the previous record in 2011 for a foal in Ireland, set by a SEA THE STARS colt, looks fairly paltry as he only fetched a mere €850,000 (£700K). In fact the very first bid for this filly was higher than that! When the auctioneer asked for an opening offer of €2m (£1.6 million), everyone was astounded to hear German bloodstock agent, Philip Stauffenberg, coming up with an offer of €1.5m (£1.2 million). There was a short period when it began to look as though that was it but Dermot Farrington then came back with the above record bid and, with that, he won the daughter of FINSCEAL BEO, Jim Bolger's amazing dual 1,000 Guineas winner.

 

The winning bloodstock agent commented: "We're very happy to get her. She's been bought for an undisclosed client and I can't say any more than that, although she will stay in Ireland for the time being. She's a standout filly and ones like her just don't come to auction too often."

 

OUT LIKE A LIGHT

The Coolmore's National Hunt stallion roster for 2015 has another member: the Aidan O'Brien-trained LEADING LIGHT, winner of the St Leger and Ascot Gold Cup, has been retired. The four-year-old son of MONTJEU was last seen at Ascot on Champions Day in the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup where he performed untypically badly, coming seventh, after which it was discovered that he had suffered a serious injury in a clash with the winner, FORGOTTEN RULES.

 

There was a period when clearly the Ballydoyle king was still hoping there was more to come on the track for his champion with eight wins from twelve runs but, unfortunately, it wasn't to be. He now has other duties to perform.

 

THURSDAY 20th NOVEMBER 2014

COOL HAND CARLUKE

The flat season finished this month with great rejoicing at Belstane Racing Stables. Keith Dalgleish, based in Carluke, Lanarkshire, has broken the all-time winners record for a Scottish-based trainer for a second year in a row. The Hawick-born trainer notched up an incredible 70 winners between November 2013 and November 2014.

 

Keith Dalgleish has been based at Belstane Racing Stables in Carluke since taking out a dual-purpose training licence in February 2011. As a jockey, the thirty-one-year-old enjoyed Group 1 success early on in his career, notching up nearly 300 winners. But then, at 21, he made the agonising decision to retire. Six-foot tall, he constantly battled with the scales and eventually the strict regime was too much for him. Fortunately he was able to transfer his enthusiasm, talent and determination to his new role. In his very first season as a trainer, Keith Dalgleish made his mark in 2012 flat by securing an impressive 52 winners, a record not held by a Scottish flat trainer for 55 years. He is now in his fourth season and has totalled over 150 winners to-date. Highlights worthy of mention include: STONEFIELD FLYER, 2nd place at Royal Ascot in 2011; SANTEFISIO representing the yard in February for the prestigious Dubai World Cup and coming 4th in the Buckingham Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in June and in September his CIRCUITOUS won the Class 2 Ayr Bronze Cup.

 

Commenting on his achievement Keith Dalgleish said: “When we got 60 winners the previous year I thought that would be hard to beat. We had a steady summer of winners and things have continued to pick up. The highlight of the year for me came when I had four winners at the same meeting in Hamilton in June. That was a personal best for me.”

 

A WIN/WIN(CANTON) SITUATION

Wincanton Racecourse yesterday appointed Jo Hepburn, a director since 2013, as its new chairman, replacing Guy Henderson, who is due to become Chief Executive at Ascot. She is on record as having a passion for racing. She also runs a family farming and equestrian operation from home. Her previous positions include working for the National Trainers’ Federation and in bloodstock shipping. With her sister, Helen Connors, she was a keen point-to-point rider. Her father, in fact, Bill Foulkes, was champion amateur jump jockey in 1972 and, in 1962, won the the Foxhunters’ steeplechase at Aintree on DOMINION. Keeping it in the family, Jo Hepburn’s son, Jamie, has ended his first point-to-point with two wins.

 

Jo Hepburn commented: “I am thrilled and honoured to have been asked to be Guy’s successor at Wincanton.

 

JOCKEYING FOR MORE MONEY

It seems the average jockey earns £30k a year but it has been decided that they are neglected sportmen and a national day has been launched to support them. Currently Flat jockeys earn fees of £118.29 a ride and have an average of 220 rides a year. Jump jockeys earn a little bit more; they get £161.51 a ride, with on average 160 rides a year.

 

Betfair has set up a National Jockey Day with the intention of raising the profile of the thousands of jockeys across the country. The event aims to support the talent and efforts of jockeys, as well as raise money for one of the industry’s most important support networks – The Injured Jockeys Fund. The first of these days will be launched at Haydock Park Racecourse on November 22 during the Betfair Chase Festival.

 

A FAIRY TALE ENDING

With the announcement of a €25,000 increase in prize-money and the extension of the sponsorship by Boylesport until the year o 2016 the Irish Grand National is set to become the most valuable jumps race in Ireland for the 2014-15 National Hunt season. The next €275,000 steeplechase will be run at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday, 6th April 2015.

 

Fairyhouse's General Manager, Peter Roe, commented: “The extension of our partnership with Boylesports will continue to drive the popularity of the Easter Festival, which has grown so much in recent years. We are proud to host what is now the most valuable jumps race in Ireland. Fairyhouse is the home to so many historic races and legendary winners and we very much look forward to hosting the 2015 Boylesports Irish Grand National.”

 

The Chief Executive of Boylesports, John Boyle, added: “We are delighted to extend our Irish Grand National sponsorship at Fairyhouse for the next two years and to be associated with Ireland’s most valuable jumps race. “With the sponsorship extension of the Boylesports Irish Grand National and the Irish Greyhound Derby, Boylesports are privileged to be associated with the two most prestigious and valuable events in the Irish sporting calendar.”

 

WEDNESDAY 19th NOVEMBER 2014

HIGH FLYERS

Chepstow is presenting a special seven-race fixture tomorrow in aid of the RAF Benevolent Fund. As of now, there is a total of 128 runners but this number could go down as the conditions are listed as heavy, soft in places and the Monmouthshire track can be tough at the best of times. There will still, however, be plenty of equine excellence to excite racegoers.

 

Philip Hobbs, following up his impressive success at Cheltenham’s Paddy Power meeting last weekend, is not wasting any time and saddles a runner in the very first race, his five-year-old HE'S A BULLY who finished a not-to-be-sniffed-at fifth at Worcester last month on his first run of the season. He will undoubtedly catch the eye of punters as the Minehead Master is in flying form at the moment.

 

The Vale of Glamorgan-based trainer, Evan Williams, will be taking his chances with HUGHESIE in the same race, which is a sad reminder of the death this week of Irish trainer, Dessie Hughes.

 

JAMES THE THIRD

The undoubted star at Doncaster yesterday was James Reveley, who bagged a hat-trick of winners at 50/1, 9/1 and 9/1. The big odds success came on Tim Easterby's TWO B'S in the Betdaq 50% Commission Refund Juvenile Hurdle which he secured by one-and-three-quarter lengths. This contest was a clear case of the apprentice showing the master what to do, because also competing were the Dan Skelton-trained favourite BOSS DES MOTTES and ANNALULU, trained by Paul Nicholls. Neither of these, however, was any match for the three-year-old son of BOLLIN ERIC.

The Saltburn-based jockey then had to wait two races for perhaps his most striking performance of the day aboard the 9/1 shot, 10-year-old ROBBIE, trained by his father, Keith, who produced an excellent round of jumping (the horse not the father!) to win the Betdaq No Premium Charge Handicap Chase by two-and-three-quarter lengths.

 

The winning trainer commented: “I’m really proud of him – he’s done very well. If the handicapper doesn’t go too mad we’ll come back for a race here at the two-day meeting before Christmas. “James has had another great day and I’m just pleased to have him.”

 

James Revely's treble, also a 9/1 chance, came in the form of Mrs Dianne Sayer's BORUMA in the Cash Out On The Betdaq App Handicap Hurdle.

 

AINT THAT A SHANE!

The winner winner of the Champion Bumper at Punchestown and runner-up in the equivalent at Cheltenham, takes up serious National Hunt racing today when he makes his debut over hurdles. The Willie Mullins-trained SHANEHILL runs in the Fairyhouse Membership 2015 Maiden Hurdle with Ruby Walsh aboard. The five-year-old's Prestbury Park defeat, where he was the favourite also ridden by Ruby Walsh, was his only failure in four bumpers. His main rival at Fairyhouse will be WRATH OF TITANS, with Sandra Hughes standing in for her father, the recently deceased Dessie Hughes.

 

TUESDAY 18th NOVEMBER 2014

 

KNIGHT'S DAY

A lady trainer, who saddled the winners of the Peterborough Chase eight times between the years 1998 and 2007, is to be honoured at Huntingdon Racecourse. The race probably also sets a course record for the longest of names, the Betfred Henrietta Knight Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race, and will switch to Sunday for its second renewal.

 

Henrietta Knight established this Peterborough Chase record with just four horses: EDREDON BLEU did the honours for four consecutive years from 1998; then it was the turn of three-times Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, BEST MATE, in 2002. There was a small hiatus of three years when IMPEK entered the winner's enclosure in 2005. In 2006 and 2007 RACING DEMON made up the octet. After a highly successful 23-year training career at her stables in West Lockinge near Wantage in Oxfordshire, the former Biology and History teacher retired from training in 2012.

 

General Manager of Huntingdon Racecourse, Nadia Gollings commented: “Henrietta Knight holds a special place in the history of Huntingdon Racecourse. She is much admired and loved by our spectators and she will receive a tremendously warm welcome on Sunday 7th December. “We are delighted that Henrietta will be with us on the day to present the trophies, in conjunction with our sponsor Betfred, for the Mares’ Bumper.”

 

Henrietta Knight said: “It is a great honour to have a race run in my name at what was one of my very lucky racecourses where we enjoyed great success in the Peterborough Chase. I have always liked going there and I am very grateful to the racecourse. I am very much looking forward to the day.”

 

A WAKE UP CALL

A jockey, found asleep behind the wheel of his BMW, was, according to a police breath test, more than twice over the limit, 84 microgrammes of alcohohol in 100 millilitres of breath against the legal limit of 35mg. In his defence, Tom Queally, who rode FRANKEL for all his fourteen starts, claims he was sleepwalking while drink driving. He lost his case, however, was fined £1,350, with a victim surcharge of £120, ordered he pay £3,500 in prosecution costs and banned from driving for 22 months.

 

Nick Freeman, Tom Queally's lawyer maintained the 30-year-old jockey was "morally totally innocent" but that his client had to admit the charge of drink driving because the law had not caught up with medical science in recognising sleepwalking as a legal defence for drink driving. He went on further to say that, on the night of the incident, his client had enjoyed an evening out in Hale, Cheshire with his friend Nicholas Whittle and his "last recollection" was reading Horse and Hounds on a bed at Whittle's house around 2am. He added that there was a history of sleepwalking in Tom Queally's family - and the defendant had sleepwalked from the age of five.

 

A consultant psychiatrist, Dr Irshad Ebrahim, was even called to give evidence on behalf of the defence and he said he told the court that he had examined the defendant twice it was possible that Queally was unaware of his actions because he was sleepwalking.

 

Judge Bridget Knight was having none of this, however, saying that previous legal authorities had ruled sleepwalking was not a defence for drink driving.

 

I'M NOT A CELEBRITY, DON'T PUT ME IN THERE!

BBC Radio 5 live is planning a 'Ryan Moore Special' in celebration of the 31-year-old's riding skills that are attracting praise and recognition all over the world. In fact, there is even a growing general consensus that the three-time champion Flat Jockey of Britain could well be considered as one of the best riders anywhere on the globe. For the past few years Ryan Moore has never shied away from competing (and winning) at international venues across Europe, in Dubai, the USA, Canada, Hong Kong and Japan. He clinched his world-wide appeal even more this year when he won over the racegoers Down Under, who are notorious for 'loving to hate' foreign jockeys, no matter how good they are. To rub it in, the Brighton-born jockey not only won the Cox Plate, their premier Grade One race, on ADELAIDE, but went on to 'steal' Australia's greatest prize, the Melbourne Cup, the race that 'stops a nation', riding the German-trained PROTECTIONIST. With that, the Aussie public had no option but to capitulate and warm to him.

 

Ryan Moore, everyone agrees, is a hard-working, single-minded person, calm under pressure and a brilliant tactician who seems to be able get horses to do what he wants but, in public, he is no Frankie Dettori; not for him such publicity stunts as leaping from the saddle or grinning broadly with lots to say to reporters. As a result his rapport with the media seems, at best, to be on the cool side and, at worst, hostile. You might even start to think that, deep inside, he quite enjoys the somewhat severe image he has created for himself.

 

The proposed 5 Live programme will inevitably feature his brother Jamie, and his father, trainer of the champion two-mile chaser SIRE DE GRUGY who commented: "Ryan could have everyone in the world hating him, and he still wouldn't care less, and that's why I think he's does so well because nothing fazes him. He doesn't care what people think of him as you guys [in the media] probably well know. And he doesn't understand why people need to think he's doing anything special. He doesn't want to be a celebrity."

 

MONDAY 17th NOVEMBER 2014

NIGHT WORK, IF YOU CAN GET IT!

Today's Plumpton fixture sees the Caroline Keevil-trained MIDNIGHT LIRA back in action again in the Hepworth Brewery Handicap Chase. It may only be a small field of five runners but the contest may not be as straightforward as it looks on paper. The seven-year-old has certainly produced excellent performances over fences, with a strike record of 33%, with perhaps her last two starts at Exeter hailing as the best of her career so far. All right, the April victory was a little bit lucky as the confirmed leader, GORES ISLAND, fell at the second from home but, to her credit, the daughter of MIDNIGHT LEGEND survived the the potential risk of being brought down as well and battled on gamely to secure her third win over fences. The successful trainer from Motcombe in Dorset obviously decided that a lengthy break was in order for her charge and so it was some five months later that MIDNIGHT LIRA reappeared at Exeter in October in the Genting Casino Torquay Handicap Chase, where she was up against Victor Dartnall's in-form JEWELLERY who proved just a little bit too much to handle but she was only half-a-length behind at the post. Partnered by her regular jockey over fences, James Best, it looks like the Brian Derrick-owned chestnut mare is well worth a closer look in the 2.30 event.

 

SIXTH SENSE

The trainer Philip Hobbs and jockey Richard Johnson partnership triumphed again. With two wins on the final day of the three-day Cheltenham Open meeting, this made for a six-win success for the Minehead-based duo who had already made their mark on the first day with a treble in the form of BOLD HENRY, CHAMPAGNE WEST and BALTHAZAR KING. Saturday saw another winner with GOLDEN DOYEN in the JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial. The icing on the cake was provided yesterday by DUNRAVEN STORM in the Racing Post Arkle Trophy Trial Novices' Chase and GARDE LA VICTORIE in the StanJames.com Greatwood Hurdle.

 

The winning Somerset-based trainer had already affirmed that his GARDE LA VICTOIRE was not in the same league as other of his champion hurdler, such as ROOSTER BOOSTER but, probably thanks to the temptation of big prize money, he now figures at the top of the championship standings.

 

Philip Hobbs commented: “Richard came back and just said: ‘This isn’t a dream, is it?’ It’s unbelievable. I can’t remember having six winners at any meeting, so we’ll enjoy it while it lasts. Realistically, it’s the whole team at home. Without the staff at home, nothing happens. We probably haven’t got the ammunition of some of those going for the trainers’ title, but winning these big prizes certainly helps.”

 

Richard Johnson added: “It’s amazing. To come there thinking you might have one winner is great and anything more than that is a bonus.”

 

ALL CISTERNS GO!

Without a doubt eyes will be on one particular runner at Leicester today because on his third attempt over fences he is looking for a first, having secured a second and a third on his two previous starts. The horse is the Robin Dickin-trained THOMAS CRAPPER who will be the undoubted attraction in the John O'Gaunt Beginners' Chase.

 

There are certainly no complaints about the seven-year-old's performance over hurdles last season; he won two worthwhile handicap races at Cheltenham in November and December and even secured a second in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Hurdle at the Festival in March. His two ventures over larger obstacles were very encouraging when he came third only about three lengths behind third behind a powerful COURT MINSTREL at Prestbury Park in October last month and only a length adrift of the Paul Nicholls-traimned VIBRATO VALTAT at Warwick last time out.

 

On the face of it, today's contest doesn't seem to present too much of a problem for the son of TAMURE and connections will be justifiably disappointed if their horse doesn't win.

 

SUNDAY 16th NOVEMBER 2014

A KING'S RANSOM

The Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle certainly wasn't a blueprint for success for this leading novice in March when he fell. This time around, however, in yesterday's Cheltenham Club Novices' Chase the David Pipe-trained KING'S PALACE gave a perfect master class on how to win a debut over fences. With Tom Scudamore aboard, the six-year-old son of KING'S THEATRE seemed content to go into the lead after a mile into the race, despite the fact that he was for the first time up against bigger obstacles, but, in his favour, he was profiting from being 5 pounds lighter than each one of his four rival. The first to go was Martin Keighley's CREEPY who fell at the fifteenth. That really left only the Philip Hobbs-trained SAUSALITO SUNRISE to make any kind of challenge but he was no match for David Pipe's mount and ceded the race by four lengths.

 

The winning trainer commented: "That was brilliant, he jumped well, it got better as he went on. He always looked visually like he was going to win. He was spectacular sometimes over hurdles and sometimes they don't go on over fences, but he saves a bit for the end. The breathing op has done no harm, but he's more relaxed at home now, he's grown up. He was a bit too relaxed early on, but I told Scu not to worry if he was. He handled the ground and I think he's versatile. I would have thought we'd be working backwards from Cheltenham in March and the RSA Chase."

 

ONCE, TWICE, THREE TIMES A WINNER

It's easy. You stake eight quid and you win nearly £350K. Well, not everyone can be as lucky as one punter yesterday with a triple celebration after ending up the only winner of the Scoop6. His pot of gold consisted of a prize of £249,618 from the win fund in addition to collecting £100,000 because he placed the bet via totesport.com. As if that wasn't enough the latest Scoop6 winner netted a further £22,000 from placing his selections in multiple bets.

 

Mark Pearson, Totepool's spokesman commented: "A massive congratulations to the totesport.com customer who has an extra £100,000 and has landed just under £350,000 for only an £8 stake. This is what the Scoop6 is all about and wish them all the best going for the bonus next weekend which is £51,492. What a fantastic Saturday for this punter and I hope they have plenty of family fun after landing this life-changing amount.”

 

THAT'S THE TICKET!

It has been confirmed by Gloucestershire Police that a ticket printing machine and hundreds of tickets for Cheltenham's Open meeting were stolen from the Prestbury Park venue on Wednesday, two days before the first day of racing. As far as can be ascertained the robbery happened in the early hours of the evening. What has not yet been established is whether the stolen machine could print fake tickets.

 

A Gloucestershire Police spokesman stated: "Offenders have gained entry to an insecure office and stolen a ticket printing machine and several hundred tickets for a horse racing event. It took place between 5.30pm and 9.30pm on Wednesday, November 12 at Evesham Road in Prestbury."

 

SATURDAY 15th NOVEMBER 2014

A FEAST FOR BALTHAZAR

Trainer Philip Hobbs and jockey Richard Johnson had a good day on the first day of the Open Meeting at Cheltenham, notching up a treble with BOLD HENRY in the Paddy Power Handicap Chase, CHAMPAGNE WEST in the Steel Plate And Sections Novices' Chase and BALTHAZAR KING in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase. Without diminishing in any way the triumphs of the first two, it's probably the performance of the last of the three that stands out, as it marked the eighth victory at Prestbury park for the Grand National runner-up. This ten-year-old knows this track so well that he could probably negotiate his way round the tricky twists and turns of the Cheltenham course with a blindfold on. The jockey probably wouldn't like to agree with this but it seemed that all that was needed was for Richard Johnson to stay on during a couple of hairy leaps and steer. This length-and-a-half win now brings the son of KING'S THEATRE one step nearer to the record number of ten firsts at Cheltenham, established in 1951 by SILVER FRAME.

 

The winning Minehead-based trainer commented: “He’s not far from the record but I suppose he’ll only be running here once a year now. “

 

THE SUN AINT GONNA SHINE ANYMORE”

Strange. It's usually 'rain stops play' in this country but yesterday at Cheltenham it was the sun's turn. The jockeys competing in the 2.25 Steel Plate And Sections Novices' Chase made a special request for the fences in the home straight and two on each circuit to be omitted, as they were worried about jumping into the low sun. This not only caused a delay to the start of the race but also meant that there was about a half-a-mile run-in which rather spoilt the end of was expected to be an exciting contest.

 

Simon Claisse, Cheltenham’s Head of Racing, obviously wasn't expected this as he had been more concerned about the effects of any rain the day before and, ironically, this latest turn of events left him hoping for some cloud cover (by no means likely, according to the forecasters) when this afternoon’s centrepiece, the Paddy Power Gold Cup, the highlight of the three-day Open Meetin,g gets the off at 2.30.

 

He commented: “We have never omitted fences as early as this because of the sun – a study identified the time to avoid in the winter as between 2.40 and 2.55, which is why we don’t schedule chases then. I thought it looked OK from where I was standing, but once the jockeys asked us, we had no choice. We have looked at the options and we can’t change Saturday’s race times at this late stage, so if the jockeys makes the same request in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, we will have no option but to omit the fences again.”

 

Philip Hobbs, mentioned earlier, was trainer of the first and second in this contest and clearly had no problem with this decision: “If the jockeys said they couldn’t see, they couldn’t see. Health and safety must come first.”

 

AND THE HITS KEEP ON COMING!

As an epilogue to the above, it has been announced that the BHA and officials at Cheltenham will not be changing the start time of the Paddy Power Gold Cup even though it is feared that it could be disrupted by low sunlight. Yesterday only 10 of the 16 fences were jumped in yesterday's novices’ chase.

Robin Mounsey, BHA's Media Manager, said he thought the chances of a problem with this race was ‘low risk’, as he put it. One can't help thinking that this esteemed organisation is anxious to avoid another embarrassing incident. As reported here in RACING NEWS, it was been revealed that, a fortnight ago, the prestigious Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby was run over the wrong distance, 78 yards short in fact. Then last week the Badger Beer Chase at Wincanton was ‘won’ by Neil Mulhollan's THE YOUNG MASTER who was subsequently disqualified because he had not completed the prerequisite three runs over fences before competing in a Listed race.

I thought only good things come in threes!

FRIDAY 14th NOVEMBER 2014

GO THE DISTANCE.”

After BHA Racecourse Inspectorate's visit to Wetherby Racecourse last Monday it was revealed that the West Yorkshire track has been running races over the incorrect distances for at least the last five years and this even includes the prestigious Charlie Hall Chase that is supposed to be run over three miles and one furlong but was found to be a distance of 3 miles 88 yards, This means that it is 78 yards short of the minimum requirement of 3 miles 166 yards if this jumps race is to be officially classified as “3 miles and about one furlong”. The start has now been moved 84 yards further back so that it qualifies for its official distance description. Whilst checking the correct distance of this important race, in fact, it was discovered that four of the active starts were in the wrong place.

 

Jamie Stier, who is BHA's Director of Raceday Operations and Regulation announced: “It is unacceptable that the hurdle and chase courses at Wetherby have for some time been operating over incorrect distances in some instances. Accuracy of information is crucial to both punters and licensed persons and it is for this reason that back in October BHA made it a requirement for the effect of any running rail movements on race distances to be published alongside going reports. The result here is that races run over four of the 12 available distances at Wetherby over a five-year period have been incorrect. This is unacceptable. In the case of Wetherby we do not think it is appropriate that any further action should be taken against the racecourse”

 

Wetherby Chief Executive, Jonjo Sanderson added: “We are grateful to the BHA for their help in identify the discrepancies between the official distances programmed at the bet365 Charlie Hall meeting, and at previous race meetings, and the actual distances that were achieved during the two-day meeting. It will be remembered that at the race meeting on Wednesday November 25, 2009, emergency track modifications were implemented prior to racing, at the request of the Professional Jockeys Association northern safety officer, due to issues with false/waterlogging ground in front of the Millennium Stand. These emergency modifications were implemented in collaboration between ourselves, the BHA Racecourse Inspectorate and the jockeys’ northern safety officer, which resulted in the separate hurdle and steeplechase bends at the eastern end of the racecourse (the ‘away’ bend) being reversed so that the horses were no longer required to cross over in front of the winning post, but instead, at the entrance into the back straight. At the time the emergency modifications were implemented, it was not considered that the reversal of the two bends would impact on the official race distances and as such none of our starts were thought to be remeasured.”

 

A TRIPLE WHAMMY

The BHA just can't seem to keep out of the news. As mentioned here on Tuesday this auspicious body had to hold a special meeting yesterday to decide on what was to be done in the case of the Neil Mulholland-trained YOUNG MASTER who won the Badger Ales Chase at Wincanton last Saturday only to be officially disqualified because the five-year-old hadn't had the prerequisite three runs over fences before running in a Listed race.

 

The BHA pointed out: “Rule (C) 37 in the Rules of Racing states unequivocally that in an instance of a horse which is not qualified for a race being declared, the buck stops with the trainer. Although Weatherbys have an IT system which is designed to alert trainers that a horse is not qualified, it is considered only a service and did not work.”

 

The result of the BHA deliberation, however, amounts to a triple whammy for Limpley Stoke-based trainer: first he was denied the £34,170 prize money; second he was fined £250 and three, as a result of this cracking seven-length win, the son of ECHO OF LIGHT has received a 14lb penalty from the handicapper. The latter is probably the hardest to accept for a trainer.

 

Neil Mulholland actually wrote to the British Horseracing Authority in which he accepted that his horse should be disqualified but adding that he was disappointed that Weatherbys were not represented at the hearing. As he put it; “I wasn’t the only one at fault. There were something like 1,500 non-qualified entries made last year but Weatherbys changed their system in September. It failed and I’ve had to pay the price. Their head man rang my owner to apologise and they are reimbursing his entry fee and raceday costs but they are as at fault as me. I haven’t decided where the horse goes next – I just wanted to get today out of the way first.”

Ruth Quinn, BHA'S Director of Race Planning commented: “Any other course of action [other than disqualification] would have been contrary to the Rules and patently unfair to the connections of the other runners in the race. Not only is this a service (Weatherby's software) designed to assist trainers but it is also part of our collective responsibility to connections of horses and punters to ensure that incidents such as this do not occur. The outcome of Saturday’s race is simply not satisfactory for the betting public. We are satisfied with the explanation provided by Weatherbys and that the error has now been fixed. It is important such an incident does not occur again.”

 

ANOTHER WEATHER BE IN THE NEWS!

As the rain currently lashes down over North London, Cheltenham race officials have optimistically put out a statement that overnight rain has eased the going for all three tracks but dry conditions are expected to be good for the first day of today's Open meeting. So it looks like the chase and hurdle tracks will be soft, good to soft in places while the cross-country course is now good, good to soft in places.

 

Simon Claisse, Clerk of the Course stated: "We could get a little bit more rain in the next hour or two, but it is petering out. I would expect the going to stay much the same."

With three weather websites forecasting sun over Cheltenham in the afternoon, there seems a strong case for his optimism.

 

THURSDAY 13th NOVEMBER 2014

YES SIRE, I DON'T MEAN MAYBE

Trainers have a tougher time than is realised keeping their top class horses in the game. That came very much to light with all the problems SPRINTER SACRE had last season. Then up came SIRE DE GRUGY who dominated just about every two-mile chase there was. Now we hear that he will not be running at Cheltenham on Sunday. All seemed to be going well for the Gary Moore-trained eight-year-old on Wednesday morning, when he had a good work-out on the gallops but then later he was found to be lame. The trainer clearly feared that it was a tibial stress fracture but is hoping against hope that it is no more than a pulled muscle.

 

The East Sussex-based trainer commented: “We will give him a bone scan next week,” said Moore. “If you do it too soon you don’t get a proper result because of swelling. We’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed. A stress fracture is simple enough to get over, but it is time. The trouble with him is that he is such a tricky horse. His lad is the only person who can pick his hind feet out because he’s so touchy about his back end. Even the blacksmith has trouble getting his hind plates on.”

Usually with this kind of injury horses need to stay in their box for at least a week to rest. If all is well after the week then it's a pound to a penny that the injury was muscular. However, if the horse is still lame after this period then it is more than likely a fracture. A stress fracture in either the tibia or pelvis usually needs an additional six weeks of rest in the box. That means even the most optimistic forecast would not see SIRE DE GRUGY racing until after Christmas.

 

SIRE DE GRUGY, a present to his owner, Steve Preston, for his 50th birthday, provided one of the fairytale fables last year when he won the Tingle Creek, Desert Orchid, Clarence House, Champion and Celebration Chases.

Fingers crossed it will not be too long before we see the eight-year-old son of MY RISK back on the track.

 

SHE CAN HANDEL IT!

The four-times Group 1 winning mare, THE FUGUE, owned by Lord Andrew and Lady Madeleine Lloyd-Webber, has a date with the Darley champion, DUBAWI next year. The five-year-old daughter of DANSILI, who beat the twice Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner, TREVE and also Classic winner MAGICIAN in the Prince of Wales's Stakes, was retired to Watership Down Stud in July after an injury cut her career short.

 

Simon Marsh, the stud's General Manager announced: "We are very pleased to be sending The Fugue to Dubawi. He is a tremendous stallion, who has an outstanding record both on the racetrack and in the sales ring, and we feel he will suit The Fugue. We have been delighted with how she has ‘let down' since returning to the stud. On the racecourse she had a terrific turn of foot, a high cruising speed and a wonderful temperament. If these attributes are transferred to her offspring she is sure to make a great broodmare."

Last year's Nassau Stakes, Yorkshire Oaks and Irish Champion stakes, even defeated triple Group 1 winner AL KAZEEM, ironicaly a son of Dubawi, into the bargain. Altogether THE FUGUE has been victorious in six of her 17 starts, gaining places in a further seven races and amassing almost £2 million in prize money.

Lady Madeleine Lloyd-Webber paid tribute to her horse: "The Fugue gave us an enormous amount of pleasure during her racing career and we are excited that she is now joining our broodmare band at Watership Down Stud."

 

HORSING AROUND

The fact that there is horse racing goes on practically all over the world seems to be taken for granted. Very little thought is probably given to the logistics of transporting the horses to a specific venue. If one thinks about it, an enormous amount of preparation must go into making sure that racehorses enjoy the highest standard of care throughout their trips abroad. There are many things to be considered, including, amongst others, ensuring that the racehorses are fed and watered during the trip, handling quarantine regulations in different countries, and, most important, making sure that all the necessary paper work done before the journey. Racing overseas clearly must be planned months ahead to make sure that all goes smoothly and, of paramount importance, that the horse’s journey is made as comfortable as possible.

 

When travelling anywhere else in the world with horses, a variety of tests have to be carried out and have to be cleared prior to flying. These can be carried out at home and the horse will not enter quarantine until it arrives in the foreign country. One thing that may not be well known is that racehorses stay in quarantine overseas for the length of their stay and in America, for example, they are kept in isolation for at least 72 hours.

 

The normal means of transport is nowadays by air and racehorses will normally travel in custom-built aircraft, which have been adapted specially for the conveyancing of horses. The major rule is that no-one is allowed to be in the hold with the horses during take off. In general, it is accepted that, as racehorses are accustomed to travelling in a horsebox, then they will not be particularly upset by having to board an aircraft.

 

One of the key necessities during any flight is to keep the horses hydrated. During any trip water is offered to the horses every couple of hours or so. A vet will always be on board along with an assistant to keep an eye on the horses and if any animal shows signs of becoming dehydrated, intravenous fluids will be given but this is rare.

 

When they land, the horses are taken immediately into to quarantine or special stables for international runners in other countries. After the horses have had a good walk they will go into their new stables and their temperatures will be taken. A high temperature may be the first indication of possible travel sickness. Temperatures are then taken twice a day for a further two weeks. The journey to Australia, for instance, can take 36 hours, so clearly no immediate pressure is put on the horse on its first day's exercise. They are given plenty of time to acclimatise.

 

In general trainers will hope to have their horses in tip-top condition before the journey with a view to their only needing an easy work-out in the immediate build-up to a race. On the days preceding the race they are usually just kept in trim with steady canters. Then the trainers and grooms have to plan for the journey home which is just as important, or more so, than the trip there.

It's all in a day's work!

 

WEDNESDAY 12th NOVEMBER 2014

THE NIGHT'S KING

Last night in the Dorchester Hotel, in the presence of over 300 guests, the Cartier Horse of the Year was finally named at a long-awaited ceremony. And the winner was ….. the John Gosden-trained three-year-old, KINGMAN who dazzled in this season's British Flat season with four Group 1 victories, the Irish 2,000 Guineas, St James's Palace Stakes, Sussex Stakes and Prix Jacques le Marois. The son of INVINCIBLE SPIRIT was also named leading three-year-old colt, beating Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe victor, TREVE, who won the honour last year and also Aidan O'Brien's AUSTRALIA winner of the English and Irish Derby.

 

Honours for the Newmarket trainer didn't stop there. His three-year-old TAGHROODA bagged the three-year-old filly crown whose owner, Hamdan Al Maktoum, was awarded the Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award of Merit.

 

Other trainers got into the picture, including Richard Hannon whose TIGGY WIGGY was named leading two-tear-old filly and Aidan O'Brien whose colt, GLENEAGLES got the male equivalent.

So the full list of Cartier winners for 2014 looks like this:

 

KINGMAN Horse of the Year

NOBLE MISSION Older horse

LEADING LIGHT Stayer

SOLE POWER Sprinter

KINGMAN Three-year-old colt

TAGHROODA Three-year-old filly

TIGGY WIGGY Two-year-old filly

GLENEAGLES Two-year-old colt

 

A HUNTING DON

Huntingdon gave jockey Barry Geraghty a good day yesterday. First he won the Omni Security Mobile Patrol Services Novices' Hurdle by four lengths on the John Ferguson-trained EL NAMOOSE; followed that with a victory in the next race, the Omni Security Services Michaelmas Hurdle (Handicap) on Nicky Henderson's VOLNAY DE THAIX, this time by three-and-a-quarter lengths; then his treble came up in the last race of the day, the Omni Security Sidney Helper Memorial 'Junior' Standard Open NH Flat Race on AVENUE OF HONOUR which gave trainer, John Ferguson his double.

 

Of EL NAMOOSE's performance John Ferguson commented: "That was a nice start. I was delighted he made a mistake at the second-last as he's never made a mistake at home. He needs to learn. There's a National Hunt novice at Cheltenham on December 12. We'll see how he is when we get him home, but that might be a possibility. On the basis he continues to do nothing wrong, championship races have to be considered. He's got a lot of speed."

 

Nicky Henderson's five-year-old son of SECRET SINGER produced a superlative run, despite being the top weight. The Seven Barrows trainer stated: "If he (the handicapper) only put him up 6lb, I wouldn't (run at Haydock). If he's going to get a thrashing we'd obviously have to think about it. I think we've always hoped he was nice and he looked that way. We've treated him as a baby, really, and kept him out of Cheltenham and things like that. He was fifth in the novice at Aintree. It was a very nice race and it was great for Judy Wilson (owner). It's local to her and it was great she could come and see him run. We've said we're going to stay over hurdles and I think we'll still have to do that, but we're really going to be in the lap of the handicapper."

 

I'LL DRINK TO THAT!

As of now there are ten entries for the Listed Shloer Chase at Cheltenham this Sunday and among them is Champion Chase winner, SIRE DE GRUGY, trained by Gary Moore. Not the happiest of returns because the eight-year-old son of MY RISK lost out in this event last year. There again, he did then produce stunning successes in the Tingle Creek, Desert Orchid, Clarence House, Champion and Celebration Chases. He will be up against the Tom George-trained MODULE who came third in the Champion Chase and Paul Nicholls' duo DODGING BULLETS and REBEL REBELLION.

 

TUESDAY 11th NOVEMBER 2014

COMPUTER ERROR – WOULDN'T YA KNOW!

As mentioned here on Sunday, a horse that shouldn't have been allowed to run won the Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton. The BHA announced yesterday that this error was due to a computer systems failure. They now have the unenviable task of deciding whether Neil Mulholland's THE YOUNG MASTER, who won the contest by seven lengths, will be allowed to keep the race.

 

The reason for the son of ECHO OF LIGHT's ineligibility is clear. The five-year-old had run over fences only twice before and the rule is that it has to be three before taking part in a Listed Race. The software programme used by Weatherbys should normally detect the deficient record and stop the horse from being entered. As it was THE YOUNG MASTER got into the race without any problem and the error was not drawn attention to by an official until after the winner's enclosure ceremony.

 

Robin Mounsey, the BHA’s spokesman made the following statement: “Further assessment of the systems is being undertaken and, if necessary, system changes will be made to ensure this does not happen again.”

 

He also added that over 850,000 horses had raced over the last ten years without any such problem ever arising and the only one case that had any similarity happened 26 years ago when PRINCE OF DANCE was disqualified after winning a Listed two-year-old race at Newbury.

 

The BHA hearing will probably also consider whether trainer Neil Mulholland shares any of the blame because the racing rules do state that a trainer must not enter a horse in a race for which he is not eligible. But that may not cut much ice as generally it is accepted that most trainers have come to rely on Weatherbys’ software for checking whether their horse is eligible.

 

The irony is that the Limpley Stoke-based trainer could not only lose out by having his horse disqualified but also because the official handicapper could use the seven-length result of that race to raise THE YOUNG MASTER's rating by an extra 10 to 14 lbs, making it more difficult to win a similar race in the future. A Win/Lose situation!

 

A RACE TO WATCH

Longines, the purveyor of luxury watches, is going into partnership with the Japan Racing Association, with particular reference to the Japan Cup. The Swiss-based company will also quite naturally feature as the official timekeeper and official watch of the event. Longines has long been associated with flat racing, with other partnerships such as the Singapore Gold Cup, the Dubai World Cup and Queen Elizabeth Stakes to their credit. The jewel in the crown is that Longines is also the official partner and the official watch of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA). The newly styled Longines Japan Cup will be a 2400m international Group One turf contest for three-year-olds and older.

 

A FAIRYTALE FAIRYHOUSE

The Bar One Racing Hatton's Grace Hurdle to be run at Fairyhouse on November 30 has attracted a stellar entry. County Carlow-based trainer, Willie Mullins, will be fielding an enviable quartet: the twice champion HURRICANE FLY, FAUGHEEN and as though they weren't daunting enough, he has added ANNIE POWER and ZAIDPOUR for good measure. Not to be outdone, Jonjo O'Neill will probably saddle his still unbeaten MORE OF THAT who beat ANNIE POWER at Cheltenham which could make for an exciting contest. Grand national winning trainer, Gordon Elliott will be placing his trust in his Triumph Hurdle winner, TIGER ROLL up against County Meath-based Noel Meade's MONKSLAND who hasn't run since winning last December's Christmas Hurdle.

 

Peter Roe, Fairyhouse Manager commented: "We are thrilled with the quality of the entries for what is now firmly established as the best jumps fixture in the first half of the season. We are thrilled to have the last two winners of the Champion Hurdle and the 2014 World Hurdle winner among the entries for the Bar One Racing Hatton's Grace Hurdle, while the two novice races have also attracted stellar entries."

MONDAY 10th NOVEMBER 2014

TWO FOR ONE

William Buick and James Doyle are to become Godolphin's joint No 1 jockeys next year. The former will ride as Charlie Appleby's first jockey and the latter will be Saeed bin Suroor's first choice. William Buick will surrender his long-standing role as John Gosden's stable jockey and James Doyle will join Godolphin when at the end of his contract as the retained rider for Khalid Abdullah, for whom he notably notched up two superb victories on KINGMAN and NOBLE MISSION. The new deal will involve the two riders' interlinking with each yard and covering for each other when it's possible. An interesting feature will be that horses that have previously been saddled by John Gosden in the colours of Princess Haya of Jordan will now bear the royal blue of Godolphin.

 

It has also been indicated that both jockeys will ride Godolphin horses stabled in Ireland, France, America, Australia and Japan as and when. The Dubai Carnival in 2015 will see the first of these new contractual arrangements for to Godolphin coming into effect.

 

Not everything is hunky dory, however, because, although Mickael Barzalona retains his position riding for Godolphin in France, Silvestre de Sousa, who kicked off the season with a big win for Saeed bin Suroor in the Dubai World Cup on AFRICAN STORY is left out of the picture.

 

RIDING INTO THE SUNSET

Next month's fixture at Hong Kong could mark the last appearance of a British and Irish champion jockey. County Tipperary-born Jamie Spencer caused something of a stir recently when he announced that he was giving up race riding at the end of this season and planned to accept an advisory position with Qatar Racing in 2015. The 2007 joint-champion jockey didn't finish the British Flat season exactly in a blaze of glory but he did get a place in each of his two rides at Doncaster. It looks like he plans to be in the saddle a little while longer before he finally calls it a day.

 

David Harrison, Jamie Spencer’s agent commented: “I haven’t spoken to him in detail about it, but I think he’s going to ride in Hong Kong and I think that might be where he’ll finish (his riding career). He’ll probably take a ride here and there before then to keep himself fit and I think he’s planning to go to Barbados for a jockeys’ challenge out there.”

 

PANEL BEATING

This Thursday it's time again for the Cheltenham Racecourse preview evening, generally considered to be the most important meeting in the first half of the jump season. A panel of experts will include top jockey Richard Johnson, trainer Charlie Longsdon, Grand National-winning Irish trainer, Gordon Elliot, Channel 4 Racing's Gina Harding and At The Races presenter Martin Kelly. The event is free to all Cheltenham, Warwick, Wincanton and Exeter racecourse members but there is a £10 charge for non-members.

 

The next day, of course is the Cheltenham Open Meeting, where some of the best horses from Britain and Ireland will be in action seeking to win some of the total prize money of £743,000 for their owners and connections. The feature race on the Saturday, the £160,000 Paddy Power Gold Cup is expected to boost attendance to over 70,000.

SUNDAY 9th NOVEMBER 2014

WHEN IS A WINNER NOT A WINNER?

A 7-length winner in the Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton yesterday may not have won after all. It seems that an administrative cock-up will deny victory to the Neil Mulholland-trained THE YOUNG MASTER, after stewards suddenly realised that he was not qualified to run but only after he had passed the winning post.

 

The temporary winning trainer had about half an hour to enjoy his success in one of his biggest races yet. He was having a celebratory tipple with the horse’s owners when he heard that the stewards next door were having doubts about the four-year-old son of ECHO OF LIGHT'S eligibility.

 

The matter has now been referred to the British Horseracing Authority, who plan to review the situation tomorrow. In anticipation of their decision it seems racing rule 42.5.1 leaves no room for doubt. A novice may run in a class one handicap chase only if it has run at least three times in a steeplechase. The records show that THE YOUNG MASTER has only run in two so it's on the cards that the race will be awarded to the runner-up, Emma Lavelle's COURT BY SURPRISE who will no doubt be what her horse's name suggests.

 

Neil Mulholland didn't look a happy bunny, that's for sure, when he left the track just one-and-a-half hours after being in the winner’s enclosure. Of course, a trainer should be up-to-date with race regulations but surely the onus is on the racing officials. First of all Weatherbys, who have all the records on computer and it is their job to make sure that every horse is eligible to be entered into a race. It goes without saying that the job of an efficient regulator is not to sort out mistakes after they have happened but to ensure that they don't happen in the first place.

 

FLIPPING HECK!

Despite years of scientific research into weight control, today's jockeys still suffer from serious problems of poor nutrition and potentially damaging weight-loss techniques. This was one of the important claims made at the Conference for Education and Training being held in Abu Dhabi. It appears that more and more young jockeys are subjecting themselves to self-induced vomiting, or flipping, as they call it, in their constant battle with their increasing weight.

 

Liverpool John Moores University presented some of its findings at the conference with the assistance of Flat jockey Franny Norton, who, it was revealed, was one of the beneficiaries of a diet developed as a result of the university research.

 

The Liverpool-born jockey: stated: "I've never seen as many kids flipping. I am seeing a lot more of it now. We're way behind the times."

 

Dr Graeme Close from John Moores added: "Flipping is rife and these kids are bulimic and that is the word that should be used. It is forced vomiting to make the weight, so education is the key. Apprentices take their lead from senior jockeys and for every Norton there are others still flipping and eating poorly.”

 

Franny Norton confirmed that his weight had remained steady at 8 stone this season for the first time in a 27-year career of riding more than 1,000 winners. His diet was designed by the John Moores team and has proved to be so successful that there may now be discussions with Britain's two racing schools with a view to stepping up their own work in nutrition advice.

The team from John Moores University has received financial help to the tune of £60,000 from Sheikh Mansoor but such help has not been so forthcoming in Britain, as admitted by racecourse doctor, Philip Pritchard who commented: "We need to take the blinkers off as studies have shown 75 per cent of jockeys have some form of mental health issue. The racing industry, including the BHA needs to look at this. I have been absolutely shocked and appalled for some time at jockeys' preparation. In fact I have told them, 'You are unfit, fat, and fragile."

 

GLOBE TROTTERS

In future it will be possible for apprentice jockeys to work and ride around the world after thirteen international racing schools formed a new federation. Some of its members, the British Racing School, Northern Racing College and Ireland's Race are keen to form a network so that young people can profit from professional development opportunities provided buy an exchange system. The new international federation which now replaces the European Association of Racing will have its headquarters in Abu Dhabi. Lara Sawaya, current chairman of apprentice jockeys and racing in the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities, becomes the chairman of the new organisation.

He commented: "There will be an exchange programme, and it is very important to raise awareness of the needs of young riders.”

 

SATURDAY 8th NOVEMBER 2014

THE LAST DAY AND THAT'S FINAL!

Today marks the last day of the 2014 Flat racing season and it aint going to be easy. There has been a lot of rain overnight on the Town Moor track and the weather could worsen even before racing starts this afternoon. Yet, strangely enough, although Roderick Duncan, Doncaster's Clerk of the Course is forecasting testing conditions for the final day, officially there appear to be no concerns about the meeting going ahead. Well, they would say that, wouldn't they!

 

As Roderick Duncan commented: "We've had just over 10 millimetres of rain and the going is now soft. There is a chance of further rain, possibly another four or five millimetres, which will be enough to move the going further. I wouldn't be surprised if we had heavy patches come racing tomorrow."

 

A CAPITAL FESTIVAL!

This year's HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival has chosen for its slogan: “One world, six continents, Abu Dhabi the capital”. This unique event will be attended by more than 800 jockeys and delegates from no fewer than 56 countries. The festival is not just for the professionals, either. There will be races for amateur jockeys, too, including HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship (IFAHR) which is new series for lady riders. The ultimate contests of this prestigious festival will take place at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club tomorrw.

 

A highlight of the week hosted by HH Sheikh Mansoor took place on Tuesday when guests were welcomed with a banquet fit for kings at the Emirates International Endurance Village, preceded by a fashion show displaying the finest of Abu Dhabi's vogues. A big surprise for British visitors, who might be missing Guy Fawkes displays back home, was the amazing fireworks display which illuminated the sky.

 

On the first day of the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Conference for Education and Training a multitude of experts from the racing industry were present, including such luminaries as Chris McCarron, with 7141 winner to his credit, our own broadcaster Derek Thompson, Richard Perham of the British Racing School and Tony Smurthwaite from the Racing Post who all got involved in discussions ranging from jockey training to how to deal with business pressures and and media attention. One subject emerged as a most important aspect, that of placing greater emphasis on recognising new talent and making mentorship available early on in a budding rider's career, recognising the profession of jockey as having a career-long learning curve, requiring constant attention. There was also discussion of the need for an academy-style racing school in Britain, similar to that of Racing Victoria where emphasis could be placed on helping young riders to be articulate in interviews.

A very enjoyable and educational week.

 

THIS HOW THE LADIES RIDE

Dawn Goodfellow, Chief Executive of the Northern Racing College for the past five years, thinks that, in Britain, there is a strong bias towards male jockeys, a situation not helped by what she describes as trainer prejudice.

 

She commented: "Very few female riders make it successfully and there's still a real bias towards boys. The number of girl jockeys is still minuscule compared to men. We try to promote women as much as possible but, for instance, among jockey coaches there's not a single female, and that's a weakness."

 

Dawn Goodfellow made these comments to an international audience in Abu Dhabi during a conference session on education and training of jockeys at the Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nayhan Arab racing festival, mentioned above.

 

Joining in the debate was Remi Bellocq, executive director at Kentucky's Bluegrass Community & Technical College who stated: "When someone watches the Kentucky Derby and wants to become a jockey they go on social media and type in, 'How do I become a jockey?' We need to be the first name that pops up. That's a key point for all of us."

 

It seems Great Britain is not alone in how it promotes females in the racing profession. In Germany it is reported that 90 per cent of apprentice jockeys are girls, in the USA 80-90 per cent, yet the percentage of women jockeys in Turkey is zero.

 

Christopher Watson, director of the Jockey School of Turkey added: "We hope this will change. We've had girl apprentices before but don't have any at the moment - it's a male-dominated industry."

 

FRIDAY 7th NOVEMBER 2014

TEABAGS GOLDIE'S CUPPA

Jim Goldie is aiming for this afternoon's Bert Logan Your Go To Bookmaker Handicap Hurdle at Musselburgh. The £16,000 winning prize could be his if jockey, James Reveley, can outdo his seven rivals aboard WYSE HILL TEABAGS. The nine-year-old son of THEATRICAL CHARMER has only had four runs this year, but he won the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (Series Qualifier) by a convincing two lengths at this track in February.

 

The Renfrewshire-based trainer commented: “We’re thinking along the lines of giving him a couple of runs over hurdles and then going back novice chasing – he could be quite promising over fences. His next race is likely to be at Haydock next month in a handicap over the brush hurdles.”

 

MOOSE IS LOOSE

The British Horseracing Authority has finally relented and lifted the suspension from one of the most unwilling-to-race horses in the business. 10-year-old MAD MOOSE has made quite a habit of refusing to run, getting the dreaded RR against his name four times in the last two years. Stewards finally had enough when the son of PRESENTING played up again in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown last December and was pulled up after frantic attempts by his jockey to get him to participate. The matter was subsequently referred to the BHA who immediately banned him from entering any further contests. With the lifting of the ban, however, this recalcitrant racer could be back on the track as early as next weekend at Cheltenham. Connections may decide to run him in the Shloer Chase where he could come up against SIRE DE GRUGY, winner of the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

 

However MAD MOOSE returns to racing, however, with the sword of Damocles hanging above his head. His connections have been told in no uncertain words: "If the horse refuses or causes issues at the start in any race in the next six months it will be referred immediately to BHA."

 

CREDIT CARD

The lure of the £200,000 Betfair Chase at Haydock on 22 November has proved to be irresistible for trainer, Colin Tizzard. He has decided to give CUE CARD a chance to retain his crown, despite the fact that the eight-year-old son of KING'S THEATRE' only managing to come fourth on his reappearance at Exeter on Tuesday in the Grade Two Vix Technology Haldon Gold Cup Chase. Ironically he was defeated in the same race last year before going on to victory. The the three-mile Grade One contest will produce an intriguing clash the 2012 winner of this event, the Paul Nicholls-trained SILVINIACO CONTI, who was five lengths adrift in last year's race.

 

Jockey Daryl Jacob, confident that CUE CARD had come out of the Tuesday run in good shape, added: "I was very, very happy with him. At the end of the day it was prep-run, we were giving good horses a lot of weight, and I thought he ran an absolute blinder."

 

THURSDAY 6th NOVEMBER 2014

ASCOT'S COVER BLOWN

The success of this year's Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot was diminished somewhat by the effects of the bad weather so the racing officials are considering special measures in an attempt to deal with the situation. An inflatable plastic cover, paid for by Qipco, is to be laid over a furlong of the track in April and trials will be carried out to test its effectiveness. The proposal has already gained enthusiastic support from trainers, including Kevin Ryan. He is particularly in favour because his QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes winner, THE GREY GATSBY was unable to compete on Champions Day because the ground was so heavy.

 

The North Yorkshire-based trainer commented: “I think it’s a great idea. It’s a great occasion and meeting and it would be nice to have all the good horses there. This year we would have loved to have run The Grey Gatsby but the ground had gone against us.”

 

KNIGHT HAS HER DAY

Henrietta Knight, retired trainer probably best remembered for her association with the late champion, BEST MATE, has agreed to be a judge at the retrained racehorse challenge at Cheltenham later this month. Since retiring from National Hunt training Henrietta Knight has become a successful breeder in Connemara and has become involved as a showing judge.

 

The triple Gold Cup winning trainer commented from her West Lockinge Farm stables: “Thoroughbred horses are invariably a joy to ride and train. Over the years they have won medals, in many different disciplines at Olympic Games. Nowadays, it is great to see so much interest in the retrained racehorse series. Classes at all the major shows continue to well-filled and many riders are finding ex-racehorses a pleasure to produce. The jumping classes are proving extremely popular and are a credit to the RoR. It is wonderful to know that there are more outlets for racehorses when they come out of full training. It provides a great boost to the industry and demonstrates to racehorse owners that there is another life for their horses after racing.”

The RoR (retraining of racehorses) Meriel Tufnell challenge is already in its third year and has become very popular. The original heats of the competition will take place on Sunday 16 November before going on to race at Cheltenham. The course will include cross-country fences as well as additional obstacles such as a gate to open and shut. An added novelty is that riders will have to take a glass of port from a tray. There will be points awarded for style as well as good times.

ROR's Chief Executive, Di Arbuthnot commented: “This is really what the RoR is all about — life after racing, and this is a fantastic day, which everyone enjoys taking part in as well as watching.”

Ian Renton, MD of the Jockey Club Racecourses, added: “We are delighted the challenge is returning to Cheltenham. It is great to see some of the retired racehorses competing in their new skills at the home of jump racing”.

 

NO REST FOR RUST

The British Horseracing Authority has just appointed a new chief executive. Nick Rust, currently retail director for Ladbrokes, is to take over from Paul Bittar, who announced his departure after three years in office. The future CEO has owned horses for over eight years and has four horses in training with Micky Hammond in Middleham. He is expected to take over his new appointment in the first quarter of 2015.

Nick Rust made the following statement: “Given my lifelong passion for British racing, I am thrilled and honoured to be taking up the role of chief executive at BHA. Racing is a huge sport, and critical to many areas of the economy. It has many exciting opportunities ahead and I know that the racing industry can grasp these. I look forward to working with the new board, and the wider team, as well as our many stakeholders, to build on what has already been achieved across racing and by Paul and his team.”

 

BHA's Chairman, Steve Harman added: “We are delighted to have appointed Nick. The quality of candidates was amongst the highest I have ever seen for any CEO position, with a range of senior leaders from the UK business, consumer and leisure industries. Nick impressed us all the way through the process. He has been an avid racing fan since childhood, has an impressive track record in his business life, and a great understanding of the opportunities for the sport.”

WEDNESDAY 5th NOVEMBER 2014

A CLASS ACT TO FOLLOW

Modestly Ryan Moore says that all he had to do for his victory in the Melbourne Cup aboard PROTECTIONIST was to point the horse in the right direction. Modesty aside it is clear that the Brighton-born jockey is currently one of the best there is in the riding world. Debates could go on indefinitely as to whether he tops Frankie Dettori feat of seven winners at Ascot or whether he even matches Lester Piggott's nine Derby winners. One thing is for sure. Ryan Moore is currently riding high in Britain, Ireland, France, America, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan or Dubai. Wherever he goes he gets winners.

 

Recently he has been successful as far afield as Australia where they might not have formerly accepted his undeniable prowess. He was the first British-born jockey to win the coveted Melbourne Cup. But before that he even claimed the Cox Plate, the next biggest contest after the Melbourne prize which he achieved riding ADELAIDE in one of the most exciting rides of the year. Much to the horror of the locals he had to come very wide to get by the rest of the field, a tactic not resting easy with most Australians. Having committed himself to that plan, he knew he had to succeed or face the wrath of the Australian press.

 

As it panned out Ryan Moore decided to stick with the rear runners in the front group, which was running about five lengths ahead of the second group. Uncannily Ryan Moore seems to have made an art of keeping things simple and uncomplicated. Additionally he has the knack of being in the right place at the right time. He has a certain affinity with his mounts and is quite happy for them to establish their own rhythm. This was well illustrated by the way he gave PROTECTIONIST his head when other riders might have been anxious to urge him on to gain a better position earlier in the race. What appears to be his major asset is his ability to take up any position – front, back or mid-field whilst always seeming confident that he is doing the right thing.

 

Listing his triumphs, you have the latest Melbourne Cup, added to his two Derby wins, alongside a King George victory, an Arc number one, five Breeders’ Cups, a Japan Cup, a Hong Kong Cup, an Irish Champion Stakes, two Canadian Internationals and Cox Plate.

There's bound to be Moore to come!

 

THE FRENCH HAVE A WORD FOR IT

Another 'failed' champion heads to stud. This time it is the Nicolas Bertran de Balanda-trained GEMIX who was runner-up to the Paul Nicholls-trained ZARKANDAR in last Saturday's Grand Prix d'Automne at Auteuil. No names no pack drill but it transpired after the race that the six-year-old son of CARLOTAMIX was suffering from tendonitis.

 

Trainer Nicolas Bertran de Balanda commented: “Vous pouvez vraiment dire qu'il est un jour triste parce qu'il est la fin d'une belle histoire qui a eu une bonne fin. Le cheval termine après une très bonne performance. Il a une très légère blessure et nous ne prendrions jamais un risque avec lui. Bien qu'aucun accord n'a encore été conclu sur l'endroit où se tiendra GEMIX, il est sans doute le plus important cavalier français de race à la retraite au haras depuis Nickname. Il est bien que le cheval peut désormais envisager une seconde vie et il est approprié après la grande carrière qu'il a obtenu sur la piste."

 

Couldn't have put it better myself!

 

TOPPING UP THE TANK

The supercharged trainer/owner combination of Dessie Hughes and Barry Connell, after various disappointments, is gearing up for successes with a new horse. They have taken on board a new potential champion, THE TULLOW TANK, a strapping six-year-old who is officially rated 153 over hurdles. There is a difference in the ratings of only 5lb to the next one up rated but that would only benefit a smaller, more compact individual not the powerful frame of the six-year-old son of OSCAR. The thing in his favour, however, is his apparent inexhaustible stamina which he demonstrated all of last season. That should help him when he goes for the fences for the first time. The one drawback with THE TULLOW TANK is that that a couple of occasions when running last year he did have an inclination to dive at a couple of the flights. There is no doubt that his trainer will have him well schooled for his debut over fences so the prospects look good.

TUESDAY 4th NOVEMBER 2014

NOT TAKEN AS RED!

So the 14-hour flight from California to Australia paid off for Brighton-born Ryan Moore who claimed the Melbourne Cup in the early hours of this morning (our time), riding the Andreas Wohler-trained PROTECTIONIST. It didn't seem as though it would pan out like that, though, because the four-year-old son of MONSUN started badly by missing the break. Ryan Moore kept his cool, however, and seemed quite happy to bide his time towards the rear, allowing Roger Varian's MY AMBIVALENT to make the running. There were interesting developments as the field approached the home turn, when the Ed Dunlop-trained RED CADEAUX, still trying to win this coveted contest, started to make progress two furlongs out and it really began to look as though victory could be within his grasp. Ryan Moore and PROTECTIONIST, however, had other ideas. They produced a powerful charge for the line at about a furlong out and finished four lengths to the good. British hopes of victory were dashed once more.

 

Ryan Moore summed it up thus: "He's won very easily, like a very good horse. I was struggling for a position early on, but I had so much horse under me. I'm very pleased for him (Wohler), his record is very good. I've got to thank Michelle (Moore's wife) at home because I've been away a lot. You need to win these races for it to be worthwhile. It's very special."

 

The Gutersloh-based trainer added; "Ryan couldn't have the position that he'd liked to have had, but he was so patient. When they came round the last bend he just needed to have the right gap and he found it. He (Protectionist) quickened so well and Ryan is a superstar. He stays and has a nice turn of foot. We just needed a smooth run and the jockey was absolutely great. "We have had great success all around the world, but this is the biggest of all. This is a moment we won't forget."

 

A defeated but not dismayed Dunlop likened RED CADEAUX's running four times in the Melbourne Cup without winning to the old English saying “ always the bridesmaid but never the bride.”. A good way of summing up the result except, of course, the runner-up is a chestnut gelding!

 

NORTH FACE

Lucinda Russell, took time out yesterday from her busy schedule at her Arlary House stables at Milnathort to host a day with the aim of promoting jumps racing in Scotland. The Kinross-based trainer has just established a new Scottish record of 66 wins in the National Hunt season of 2013-14. The person leading this campaign was, however, her partner, Peter Scudamore, who appealed for more support, particularly from the British racing authorities for Scottish trainers and Northern racing in general.

 

The eight-times champion jockey, known generally as 'Scu' commented: “I believe the training talent is here in Scotland, it’s the investment we need to keep upping the standard – it’s important that we keep stepping up the quality. We showed with (Cheltenham Festival winner) Brindisi Breeze that we can compete with the best. We need a race programme, however, that we understand and we can work, and that is suitable to our needs. I haven’t met half of these people who are running racing down south – they never come up here. I see them at the Scottish National, but you just feel so alienated. The enthusiasm and the passion is here, but unless they look after it, and respect it, it’s not as healthy as it could be. Northern jumps racing has its problems but we have to be careful that we don’t get a chip on our shoulder and say we are the poor relations. We’re not, but it’s my responsibility and the responsibility of every trainer in the North to show that we can be as good as anyone.”

 

THE HEAT'S ON

There were only four runners in yesterday's Weatherbys Private Banking Graduation Chase at Kempton Park. The first one to take any decisive action was Martin Keighly's ANNACOTTY who took the lead at a fair pace. Things proved too much for Nicky Henderson's BEAR'S AFFAIR who was pulled up by Barry Geraghty as they approached the tenth fence. The six-year-old son of BENEFICIAL continued in the lead despite erratically veering to the left a couple of times. Drama developed as the 9/4 joint-favourite FOX APPEAL and the Colin Tizzard-trained THEATRE GUIDE started making threatening advances just before the home turn, with the former landing in front after a magnificent jump over the third-last fence. The latter was not about to give up, however, and responded with such a strong come-back that the battling duo landed almost as one after taking the final fence. They remained locked together, stride for stride, right to the post. The photo-finish was unable to separate the two so the result was declared a dead-heat.

 

Joint-winning trainer, Colin Tizzard stated: "Last year he (Theatre Guide) was all over the place, but he jumped and travelled beautifully today. The next step will be the Hennessy, and he will probably have about 10lb more than last year (when third). He has been working with Cue Card and that is why he is fit."

 

Andover-based trainer Emma Lavelle added: "That is the best he (Fox Appeal) has ever jumped for Richie (McLernon) and he jumped his way there. He doesn't do much when he gets there. I could step him up in trip and I have got a few options now, so it's back to the drawing board”.

 

MONDAY 3rd NOVEMBER 2014

CADEAUX'S PRESENT

It's that time of the year again and the 'race that stops a nation', the Melbourne Cup, is due to be run in Australia, in the early hours of tomorrow, our time. One trainer who'll be hoping it's fourth time lucky is Ed Dunlop. His eight-year-old RED CADEAUX came second in 2011, a disappointing eighth in 2012 and was runner-up by three-quarters of a length last year. The son of CADEAUX GENEREUX certainly looks in tip-top form this year and no-one would deny him this prestigious prize which looks like being claimed one of the eleven foreign-trained contestants. The probable favourite will be ADMIRE RAKTI, the top-weight from Japan.

 

Trainer Ed Dunlop, puts RED CADEAUX's good performances down to the fact that, when he is over there, his nine-year-old is spoilt and receives special treatment from assistant Robin Trevor-Jones and the one who rides him out, Steve Nicholson.

 

As the Newmarket-based trainer commented: “Whether we trail in at the back, just to be able to bring a horse from Europe to run in four Melbourne Cups, I doubt it will happen again. Of course it might do, but would be a long time before it does. We’re part of it, and we’ve got a shot. He doesn’t win very often but he runs very well in Australia.”

 

Such is the camaraderie among the Newmarket trainers that there is no doubt that both Roger Varian and Marco Botti will be cheering on RED CADEAUX, in the event that their own runners, AMBIVALENT and SEISMOS, respectively, don't do so well. Roger Varian even admits: “We would all like to have a horse like Red Cadeaux.”

 

The interesting fact about the Melbourne Cup is that a British-trained horse has never won it. A British-born jockey might very well claim the prize, though, on the German raider, PROTECTIONIST. At least Ryan Moore must think he has a chance because he's making the 14-hour flight there, immediately after racing in Saturday night’s Breeders’ Cup in California, to take the ride in Flemington.

 

FLIGHT SERGEANT

RECKLESS is going to keep a low profile for a while. No, not Mark in Thursday's Rochester and Strood by-election! (He wouldn't, would he!) No, SGT RECKLESS, trained by Mick Channon. The latter has decided that he wants his seven-year-old to gain a little more experience over fences before stepping him up in class. The son of IMPERIAL DANCER has done reasonably well over hurdles at the Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown Festivals and made a successful debut over fences when he beat GENTLEMAN JON by three and a half lengths at Uttoxeter.

 

The West Ilsley-based trainer stated afterwards "He's done it very nicely and Brian (Hughes) coaxed him through the race without any fuss and he's done the job with real authority. I don't think it's any secret how highly we rate him. He's a ridiculously talented horse on the gallops at home and can go with anything we've got here from six furlongs to two miles. We've just got to make sure we make the right moves with him and do our best to maximise his potential. The ground for instance is a concern - he's all speed and flat bred - so we wouldn't want to encounter that surface too often. Brian was of the opinion that another 'little' race might be for the best just to polish up his act and we'll do that if we can find such an opportunity. All I'd stress is that we won't disappoint him, or ourselves.”

BUCKS THE TREND

Former hurdling hero, BIG BUCK'S is back in the news but for different reasons. The 11-year-old son of CADOUDAL is launching a new career this Autumn – hunting and his new owner and rider, Lucy Tucker, says that the highly successful ex-racehorse has taken to his new life very well. BIG BUCK'S trained by Paul Nicholls, won the World Hurdle at Cheltenham a record four times and, more amazingly, notched up 18 races in a row. He was retired last March.

 

Lucy Tucker commented: “He’s awesome and very easy. We took him out for the first time at the end of August but we wanted to keep it very much under the radar. We saw how much attention Denman got going out hunting so we didn’t want to overwhelm him. He was great and we hope to take him out a couple more times this season, just to see the hounds and learn what it’s all about. He’s very sweet and an incredibly nice person. He’s been very chilled out and hacks out perfectly. The other day were were cantering and I had little girl moment — ‘I’m on Big Buck’s!’. I’m looking forward to going out hunting again.”

 

SUNDAY 2nd NOVEMBER 2014

TOAST GOT BURNED AT THE END

It seemed all over bar the shouting at Santa Anita in the last race of the day, the prestigious Breeders' Cup Classic. Jamie Spencer seemed to be doing all the right things. From the beginning of the contest he urged the Jamie Osborne-trained TOAST OF NEW YORK to the front end of the field where he was determined to stay. In fact, after about half-a-mile or so, the fourteen runners were so strung out that Jamie Spencer was even prompted to look over his shoulder see where the rest of them were. On the turn for home only one rival remained between him and victory: BAYERN, trained by Bob Baffert with Martin Gracia aboard. The task at hand for the three-year-old son of THEWAYYOUARE was clear as he relentlessly bore down upon BAYERN almost simultaneously with the challenge mounted on the outside by dual Classic winner, CALIFORNIA CHROME. Jamie Spencer was working nineteen to the dozen and the gap got narrower and narrower as they approached the winning post. The 61,000 racegoers enjoyed the battle that was unfurling before their eyes and acknowledged it with loud cheers. But it was not to be. Owner, Michael Buckley had to see his pride and joy come second by the narrowest of margins, a nose, the only consolation being that the result had netted over £500K and had opened up a chance for the TOAST OF NEW YORK to have crack at the $10m Dubai World Cup in March; not bad for the juvenile who could only manage fifth on his debut in British Stallion Studs E.B.F. Maiden Stakes at Leicester in August last year.

 

As if this close result was not agonising enough, the knife was twisted a little more in the wound, when a stewards' enquiry was held to discuss with the winning jockey the reason for the dive to the left as BAYERN left the stalls, cutting across other runners. Jamie Osborne was left to circle the track whilst these deliberations went on, only to hear that the stewards decided to let the result stand.

 

Owner Michael Buckley said: "I'm pretty tearful. It was amazing. I spoke to [Racing Post reporter] Jon Lees earlier in the week and I said I would burst into tears for the two Jamies if he won. It would have been amazing to win but you've got to understand, Osborne's got a small stable and he travels this horse around the world and he's done fantastic. The horse is a great horse but to keep producing the horse to do this, he's got to have a pretty good idea of what he's doing."

 

The final comment came from Jamie Osborne, who seemed not to know whether to laugh or cry: "I've been involved in the sport a long time and whether you're riding them or training them second is a shit place to be. I am very proud of the whole team and the horse, absolutely thrilled that he's run such a great race, but to be so close is hard. I was sad for Jamie [Spencer] as well - he's about to pack up and the fairytale nearly happened. Wouldn't that have been a wonderful way for him to end? It's the worst place to be in this game is to be second. I have to be very proud of him. He's run his heart out hasn't he?"

 

DANKS FOR THE MEMORY

As Friday's headline put it: “DANK'S BACK”. Unfortunately, however, not for long. Sir Michael Stoute's five-year-old looked to have everything going for her before the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (Grade 1) at (where else?) Santa Anita yesterday. But it wasn't to be for the daughter of DANSILI who was there to defend her title. She only managed fourth behind the winner, STEPHANIE'S KITTEN and runner-up, the Charlie Hills-trained JUST THE JUDGE.

Connections didn't waste any time afterwards, announcing that DANK had run the last race of a 15-start career that had produced five wins.

Trainer, Sir Michael Stoute commented afterwards: "Ryan said he was further back than ideally he would have liked, but she didn't that that kick and she has had problems."

 

AUTUMN PRIZE SURPRISE

The excitement wasn't all in Arcadia, California. There were a few delights at Paris, France, too. One of them was that the Paul Nicholls-trained ZARKANDAR won the Grand Prix d'Automne at Auteuil beating the local dual Champion hurdler, GEMIX, who was on course for a hat-trick at his favourite Parisian Hippodrome. The seven-year-old son of AZAMOUR earned his stripes after making a tremendous leap over the last and pulling five lengths clear urged by jockey, Vincent Cheminaud.

 

Paul Nicholls commented: "He won really well today, and will probably go to the Long Walk now. After that we'll go for the World Hurdle and French Champion Hurdle. I took him for a piece of work with Lac Fontana at Chepstow last weekend and he absolutely murdered him. At the time I felt Lac Fontana must have disappointed but looking at that today, maybe he didn't."

 

The other ' DREAM HORSE' horse mentioned yesterday, the Nick Williams-trained REVE DE SIVOLA unfortunately had a bit of a nightmare of a run, dropping away at three from home, to finish seven out of the eleven runners.

 

SATURDAY 1st NOVEMBER 2014

WAR HORSE

It's a hundred years since the beginning of the conflict to end all conflicts but it seems that the fight continues. This time US-bred THE GREAT WAR is going into battle for Europe in today's Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile (Grade 1) (Dirt) with strong racing experience but none of it on, what the Americans call 'dirt'. The Aidan O'Brien-trained colt has eight races behind him which will give him an advantage over his rivals in his attempt to emulate the the Ballydoyle king's last success in this contest with JOHANNESBURG way back in 2001. The son of WAR FRONT, who was bought for a price tag of $1 million has scored three times from his eight outings but, it has to be said, none of these higher than Listed level, and, as mentioned earlier none on dirt.

 

Aidan O'Brien commented: "The Great War is a fast horse who wants a fast pace and fast ground. It's a bit of a gamble running him on dirt first time but he's in good shape."

 

After the sudden withdrawal of the favourite, AMERICAN PHARAOH, Aidan O'Brien's trainee will be up against stiff opposition in the form of a couple of entries from Kentucky-based trainer, Todd Pletcher, DAREDEVIL and CARPE DIEM, both of them unbeaten and seeking a hat-trick.

 

Todd Pletcher's reaction: "Their records are almost identical. They're two two-year-olds who were held in high regard from the beginning. They've both accomplished everything we've asked them to do so far. Both of them are two for two, with Grade 1 wins. They're both favourites for the Breeders' Cup, so you can't do more than that."

 

THE BIG FRIENDLY GIANT

Popularity doesn't win horse races but if it did, there is no doubt that David Bridgwater's THE GIANT BOLSTER would run away with today's bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby.

The name alone conjures up the name of Bolster, the legendary giant. (but even bigger as he is twice giant!) So, for all these reasons, this well-liked horse, one of seven top-class contenders, in the £100,000 first race of the season at the Yorkshire track, continues to give racegoers a good day out at the best of National Hunt racing, mainly due to his consistency. This nine-year-old son of BLACK SAM BELLAMY has appeared an incredible five successive times at the Cheltenham Festival and has even been placed in the last three Gold Cups.

 

The Stow-on-the-Wold-based trainer commented: “It is very easy for a small yard to abuse a good horse because they’re desperate for a win. We’re not like that. There’s a lot that don’t go back to Cheltenham year after year. That’s the aim for this fella, a fourth Gold Cup. That’s the plan, but it’s a long way off. What makes a good horse? Who knows? If we knew that, the job would be a lot easier.”

 

David Bridgwater has no illusions. He doesn't expect him to win today, as that honour will probably fall to the Paul Nicholls-trained SILVINIACO CONTI. He does expect, however, that THE GIANT BOLSTER, who has notched up the best part of £350,000 prize money from 30 runs, to give the favourite a good run for his money and maybe collect a little for his connections, while he is at it.

 

A DREAM OF A HORSE

A George Nympton-based trainer is confident that his nine-year-old can win today's Grand Prix d´Automne at Auteil again even against a field younger horses. In fact, Nick Williams even thinks that REVE DE SIVOLA will perform even better than 12 months ago when he defends his title defence against the likes of not only the Paul Nicholls-trained ZARKANDAR and the twice French Champion hurdler, GEMIX, who is seeking a hat-trick at his favourite Parisian Hippodrome.

 

Nick Williams' confidence is not surprising considering how the son of ASSESSOR looked out of his depth in the Wessex Youth Trust Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot at the end of December but then went on to produce an unbelievable run to pass six rivals on the run-in and win by ten lengths.

 

As the Barnstaple trainer stated: “He’s done very well since the Prix Camarthen. I was really pleased with that run and I think he is in better order than he was going into this race last year. Auteuil may not provide quite its usual punishing test after a recent dry spell. It was heavy last year and that was a big advantage to us.”

 

FRIDAY 31st OCTOBER 2014

DANK'S BACK

She may have been off the track for 136 days since injuring herself in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in June but trainer Sir Michael Stoute believes DANK is up to retaining the title she won so confidently last year in the Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita Park. The five-year-old DANSILI daughter is notably the only European defending champion at the Breeders’ Cup tomorrow.

 

The Barbadian British trainer made the following comments: “Dank has been here and done it Thursday. She had an injury after Royal Ascot. We have been happy with this preparation. It’s gone well. We would have liked to have raced her a little bit more now that she is five but circumstances dictated. It will be her final race. I think we have her in very good shape. She ran a big race in Dubai. She didn’t get the run of the race in the Duty Free so she showed she has all of her ability there still.”

 

Sir Michael Stoute is no newcomer to this annual event, having saddled 34 Breeders' Cup starters over the years, notching up in all six victories, four of them at Santa Anita: DANK last year; CONDUIT in 2008 and 2009 and ISLINGTON in 2003. He's having a double crack at a title this year by also entering TELESCOPE in the Turf.

 

He added: “With Telescope we decided after York to leave the Arc and any other races alone and point him here. Flintshire will be very tough, he ran a great race in the Arc, but I think we will be too. He is fresh and well for this race. I don’t see why he won’t like the ground and track. It was pretty fast when he won the Hardwicke. I wouldn’t mind a nice drop of rain before the race but I think he will be okay. This fellow is consistent, he never lets us down.”

 

ONE OUT, ONE IN

One talented rider moves on and another moves in. Having lost his daughter, Megan, to Flat racing, albeit perhaps temporarily, Paul Nicholls has gained a potential future champion in Sean Bowen who, no sooner had he arrived at the yard, celebrated his first winner for the top jumps trainer. The 17-year-old jockey, son of leading Welsh trainer Peter Bowen, rode VESPERAL DREAM to a resounding victory at Wincanton on Sunday in the Montague Inn Novices' Hurdle. This was Sean Bowen's 12th winner of the season and the 13th of his riding career, (obviously a lucky occasion!). VESPERAL DREAM was only his third ride for the new boss. He clocked up a second on SOUND INVESTMENT at Newton Abbot in the Quadpot Four Places In Four Races Handicap Hurdle on 10th October and a third on Vibrato Valtat in the giftofracing.co.uk Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham two weeks ago.

 

The Ditcheat-based tyrainer commented: “Sean is a good rider who is learning steadily and did a sound job today. He’s been brought up correctly and is a nice lad.”

 

Paul Nicholls' 17-year-old daughter Megan won the ladies’ national novice point-to-point riding title in 2014 but announced: “I am going to ride as an apprentice on the Flat – potentially with Michael Bell at Newmarket – starting in the New Year though not on the all-weather. If I enjoy riding out there next week, I will be going there. I really enjoy riding on the Flat and it will sharpen up my riding, be good experience and enable me to make use of my light weight advantage.”

 

A BRITISH BREEDERS' CUP?

At the official launch of the 2014-15 All-Weather Championships yesterday ARC expressed the fervent hope that the new measures being incorporated will make the something like a British version of the Breeders' Cup.

 

ARC's MD, Tony Kelly, commented: "The UK has never had anything to rival the Breeders' Cup and it really is our ambition to put the all-weather championships up there with those events run on the world stages on surfaces other than turf. We are looking forward to achieving that and we've already achieved more than we thought we would in year one, which is exciting."

 

The good news is that the total prize-money for next year's finals will be increased from £1 million to £1.1m. This has been made possible by the introduction of a new £150,000 three-year-old sprint to take the place of the apprentice handicap that started off the fixture this year. Many alterations to the qualification terms for the finals are under consideration, obviously designed with a view to increasing the number of foreign entrants. It has also been reported that ARC has had talks with the Emirates Racing Authority about the possibility of staging a qualifier at Meydan next winter.

 

Tony Kelly added: "We were slightly concerned about the support we would get last winter but in the end it was absolutely fantastic, with the 59 races upgraded through the winter well and truly supported, some fantastic results, some great horses and an amazing Finals Day. But while we had quite a few international runners, there were not as many as we wanted and none of them were able to qualify for Finals Day. Hopefully that might change this year."

 

THURSDAY 30th OCTOBER 2014

SANTA ANITA'S LOST SOME OF THE MAGIC

One much-anticipated spectacle will now be denied visitors to Santa Anita Park on Saturday. Sadly it is reported that the Aidan O'Brien-trained MAGICIAN, winner of last year's Breeders’ Cup Turf last year, will be unable to defend his title. The four-year-old, who beat John Gosden’s THE FUGUE by a half a length in the last strides of an exhilarating contest, has been ruled out the race because he has been found to be acutely lame on his off-fore leg. In fact this son of GALILEO has not been seen on the track since producing a second in the Chicago Arlington Million in August. Connections were hopeful, however, that he would put on one more powerful performance before being retired to Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Kentucky.

Richard Henry, spokesman for Coolmore announced: “He is lame, he was examined by Dr Vince Baker and John Halley and won’t run.”

Aidan O'Brien is reported as saying: “It’s very disappointing. We were looking forward to him, really, we thought he was coming back to where he was for the Breeders’ Cup here last year. Just when he came out for his trot, he was acutely lame. This is the race we were looking at all year with him. Obviously we hadn’t got him back to where he was last year, this year yet. But everything through the year had been to come here. We were just dialling him gently, gently, until this was the one we were starting to push him for. It’s just a big pity.”

 

STOP STALLING!

Trainer Eddie Lynam and Racing Victoria stewards are at loggerheads. If the problem isn't resolved soon then the European odds-on favourite will not be running in the next week's Darley Classic at Flemington. The complication has arisen around the question as to whether SLADE POWER will be allowed to load last. Unfortunately, the Diamond Jubilee and July Cup-winning son of DUTCH ART has a proven history of playing up in the stalls and, as a result, is always taken in last, wearing a hood. The trouble is that the local practice is to load the horses by stall number. Australian stewards are quite a strong-minded bunch and are not inclined to make any exceptions.

 

Senior steward, Rob Montgomery, and Eddie Lynam had a meeting yesterday when the County Meath-based trainer provided evidence of his horse' history of claustrophobic behaviour and gave a good case as to why SLADE POWER should be permitted to load late as he could pose a threat to himself and the other runners.

 

Eddie Lynam commented: "We pointed out that the horse and jockeys' welfare were critical in this and that we weren't looking to go in late to gain an advantage. This horse has won me a lot of races, is going to stand for Darley next year, so his welfare and more importantly, the welfare of Wayne Lordan - whom I think the world of and is a fantastic jockey - are at stake and I don't want to do anything that puts that at risk. I thought the horse's welfare and jockey's welfare might have made some difference, but unfortunately it hadn't. We thought there'd be some give and take, that there'd be some goodwill, but there was absolutely none."

 

Barring some sort of miracle, however, it now looks very unlikely that the Power family and connections will have the pleasure of seeing their colours paraded in the Flemington ring next week. Apparently there have been precedents for changing the order of stall loading. For example, a couple of years back, when the Peter Moody-trained champion, BLACK CAVIAR was racing against HERE DE ANGELS, notoriously known to be difficult in the stalls, the latter was moved from gate five to six, leaving an empty space between the two runners. The stewards, however, do not accept that as a comparable argument, in their statement: "The whole thing about that is no horse was disadvantaged or advantaged by that. Holding horses out and putting them in late is an advantage to that horse and a disadvantage to the others."

 

GOING THREE BETTER!

It has been announced that bookmaker, bet365, has decided to extend its sponsorship of the two day bet365 Meeting at Sandown Park Racecourse for another three years. This event is run every year at the end of April and features the Grade One bet365 Celebration Chase and Grade Three bet365 Gold Cup Steeple Chase. This year also witnessed a highly popular and successful innovation, an entirely new format presenting bet365 Flat on the Friday and bet365 Jump Finale on the Saturday.

 

The Jockey Club's London Regional Director, Rupert Trevelyan stated: “We are delighted to announce that we will be working with bet365 for a further three years on a fantastic meeting that both launches Sandown Park’s Flat season, and celebrates the official end of the Jump season. bet365 has shown a real commitment to this meeting for many years – first sponsoring it in 2008. This new agreement will take their involvement to ten years by the running of the 2017 meeting, and Sandown Park is immensely grateful for their support.”

 

In reply bet365's Steve Ibberson said: “It has been a real pleasure working with Sandown Park, helping to evolve the bet365 Meeting into one of racing’s signature events. The time and effort from all those involved in driving the improvements have been considerable and it now stands as a true celebration of racing marking the official end of the Jump season. We look forward to working with Sandown Park for a further three years and propelling the bet365 Meeting to even greater heights.”

 

WEDNESDAY 29th OCTOBER 2014

FEAR'D BY THEIR BREED AND FAMOUS BY THEIR BIRTH”

The Breeders’ Cup, a thirteen-race event (four on Friday and nine on Saturday) with a total prize money of more than $26m (£16.1m), takes place this weekend. It will be hosted for a record eighth time by by Santa Anita. The Jerry Hollendorfer-trained SHARED BELIEF, is the early 9/5 favourite to win Saturday's $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. The three-year-old son of CANDY RIDE has certainly made his mark recently, winning seven in a row in as many months. It could have been eight but he had to miss a crack at the Triple Crown because of problems with his foot.

On hearing that his trainee was drawn to come out of gate 9, his trainer commented: “Very good, that’s a pretty good spot. It is going to be a great race with a lot of great horses in there and we are just happy to be a part of it.”

 

SHARED BELIEF will be ridden by veteran jockey, Mike Smith, and will be coming to the fray fresh from his triumphs in the Pacific Classic and Awesome Again Stakes. A strong challenge is expected to come, however, from the popular chestnut colt, CALIFORNIA CHROME who was all the rage earlier this year when he won the the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, which are the first two legs of the ultimate goal, the Triple Crown. Unfortunately the prize proved to be illusive as he only managed a disappointing fourth in the in the Belmont Stakes in June. The son of LUCKY PULPIT has eight victories to his credit from 14 career starts and will come out of stall 13 in the big race.

His regular jockey, Victor Espinoza's reaction was: “For once, I get an outside post. We’ll see how he runs with the outside post.

The Christophe Clement-trained TONALIST, who denied CALIFIRNIA CHROME his mention in history, is the third favourite in the Breeders’ Cup Classic

 

HARDEN FAST.

Racegoers at Wetherby on Saturday could be in for a treat. COLE HARDEN, trained by Warren Greatrex, will make his first appearance of the season in the bet365 Hurdle worth £37,000. Last time out, at Aintree's Grand National Festival, he showed his mettle in the Grade One extended three mile Sefton Novices' Hurdle when he came second to Nicky Henderson's BEAT THAT in an eighteen-strong field. Before that he acquitted himself very well at the Cheltenham Festival when finishing a creditable seventh to the powerful Willie Mullins-trained FAUGHEEN in the Grade One Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle.

 

His Hungerford-based trainer commented: "All being well, Cole Harden will start off in the bet365 Hurdle. He has strengthened up over the summer and his homework seems to have improved a little bit but it will have had to. I took him to Newbury at the weekend for an away day and he went well there. It was a little bit of a surprise that he reached the heights that he did last year, but he has got a seriously good attitude and a terrific will to win. He goes out there with his heart on his sleeve and kept getting better and better. He is only a five-year-old, so hopefully he can continue that progression. Saturday will tell us more off a rating of 150 and, if he is competitive, we will keep looking at those good staying hurdles."

 

WHAT AM I BID?

At the conclusion of business yesterday at Tattersall's second session of this year's Autumn Horses in Training Sale, nineteen horses had sold for more than 100,000gns, eleven more than on Monday. Triple Group winner for the retired Richard Hannon snr, PRODUCER, hit the heights when he was bought by Kildare bloodstock agent, Bobby O'Ryan for 250,000gns. The five-year-old son of DUTCH ART hasn't dome much since winning the International Topkapi Trophy at Veliefendi racetrack, Istanbul in September last year but he has had some decnt placings in his last six or seven races this season in Group and Listed company.

 

As the buyer commented: "He's been bought for a client of Dermot Weld's. He'll have an international campaign next year. He vetted well and for a Group-performing miler, he probably represented good value."

 

Three-year-old SNOWMANE, the decisive five-length winner of the Christmas Party Nights At Dundalk Stadium Handicap at the beginning of the month, fetched a tidy 210,000gns and it seems this three-year old GALILEO son will be aimed at the Winter Derby and All-Weather Championships next year.

 

Bloodstock agent Matt Coleman stated: "He's been bought for Peter Swann, who is an owner with James Given. He wanted a horse for the all-weather and this horse fits the bill. I was hugely impressed with the turn of foot he displayed at Dundalk on his last start. If all goes to plan and he progresses he could race abroad at some stage. I didn't expect to pay that for him, but trade is so strong. Compared to a Galileo yearling and considering he already has a rating of 98, he probably rates as good value."

The sale continues today if you have any spare cash!

TUESDAY 28th OCTOBER 2014

'ANDS OFF OUR SILVERWARE, COBBER!

The first of the two important races that culminate in the $6.2m Melbourne Cup, the richest and most famous race Down Under were not won by indigenous contestants. Last week Japanese-trained ADMIRE RAKTI won the Caulfield Cup and, at the weekend, Aidan O'Brien got his hands on the A$3 million Cox Plate. These two results have upset local trainers concerned about “foreign raiders” winning all the top Australian prizes.

 

The Caulfield Cup champion is now the hot 4/1 favourite to win the tough two-mile Melbourne Cup run at Flemington on 4th November even though the six-year-old son of HEART'S CRY will be top weight at 129 pounds. It's on record that, in the past 40 years, no horse has ever won carrying more than 128 pounds. But then, if the Tomoyuki Umeda-trained stallion doesn't make it, the second 5/1 favourite is the German-trained PROTECTIONIST who could carry off the spoils.

 

If neither of those two make it, there are possibly nine other international runners lined up to make up the final 24-strong field - a foreign record for the race inaugurated in 1861, including twice runner-up RED CADEAUX. That only leaves about half the places for local Australian- or New Zealand-trained horses. It could well be that all three of Australia’s most prestigious Spring racing trophies will be won by foreigners and this has given rise to a demand for some sort of protectionist measure.

 

David Hayes, whose JEUNE won the Melbourne Cup winner in 1994, strongly believes that the number of “foreign raiders” allowed to run in the Melbourne Cup should be controlled.

 

As the local trainer commented: “It’s worked very successfully in Hong Kong. And this could also be implemented here for the Melbourne Cup. I’m not talking silly figures, what I’m saying is that people like (handicapper) Greg Carpenter and the club could work out the balance so it’s just right between internationals and locals.

 

The last times local entrants won the Melbourne Cups were 2013 (FIORENTE) and 2012 ( GREEN MOON). Three of the previous six contests, however, were claimed by two French runners: DUNADEN in 2011 and AMERICAN in 2010 and before that a Japanese runner DELTA BLUES in 2006. In fact, up to last Saturday no other foreign-trained 
horse had ever won the Cox Plate, considered as one of the toughest for international runners to win,

 

RUBY WAXING STRONG

The winner of the 2012 Champion Hurdle, ROCK ON RUBY, could be marking a return to racing next month at Ascot. The son of OSCAR did have three outings over fences last season with a surprisingly disappointing last in the Arkle Challenge Trophy. The nine-year-old redeemed himself after that, though, when back hurdling; he almost beat THE NEW ONE in the Grade 1 Aintree Hurdle. Trainer Harry Fry is toying with the idea of running ROCK ON RUBY in the has the Coral Hurdle at Ascot on November 22, although a final decision will depend on the state of the ground.

 

The Dorset-based trainer remarked: "He went chasing last season and won twice but his jumping couldn't cut it in the Arkle. It was satisfying to see him run The New One to a head at Aintree the following month back over hurdles and he will stick to hurdling now. He could go for the Ascot Hurdle, but the ground is the key to him as he doesn't want it soft. I hope to get him back to the Cheltenham Festival but I wouldn't know for what race as he may well have a crack at longer trips. He is thriving."

 

GOTCHA COVERED – AT A PRICE!

Next year cover fees for the 50 Group or Graded winner, DUBAWI, Godolphin's top sire, will be up 25% from £100,00 to £125,000 ( a mere £75,000 in 2013!). This increase will place him next to FRANKEL as the joint most expensive stallion in Britain. The former even retained the same six-figure sum for his first two seasons. No increase for 2015 fee has yet been announced this GALILEO son, the favourite of the late Sir Henry Cecil.

 

The son of DUBAI MILLENIUM reached a landmark in his siring career this season, including his 15th at the highest level, when NIGHT OF THUNDER won the 2,000 Guineas - DUBAWI' progeny are proving to be much sought after at auctions, including the third and fourth most expensive lots at the recent Tattersalls October Book 1 Yearling Sale.

MONDAY 27th OCTOBER 2014

NO FORCE OF GRAVITY

A yearling colt that was bought for 3.6 million guineas ( £3.7m) lost his first race. Michael Magnier (son of Coolmore boss, John) handed over this record sum for SIR ISAAC NEWTON at last year's Tattersalls October Yearling Sale. The GALILEO son, bred by Newsells Park Stud, is a brother to Oaks runner-up Secret Gesture. Neither the illustrious pedigree nor top training from Aidan O'Brien could guarantee a win, however, at Leopardstown yesterday when the two-year-old lost by half-a-length in thetote.com E.B.F. (C & G) Maiden. All seemed to be going according to plan when SIR ISAAC NEWTON, with Seamie Heffernan aboard, moved into second spot three furlongs from home and seemed to have every chance of success but ultimately he was no match for the winner, ZAWRAQ, son of SHAMARDAL, trained by Dermot Weld.

 

FOR PETE'S SAKE!

Yesterday's Maxilead Metals Handicap Chase at Aintree brought PARSNIP PETE back into the winner’s enclosure. Tom George’s son of PASTERNAK had his last great success at the same track when he won the Red Rum Handicap Chase in April. The eight-year-old clearly loves the Liverpool course and proved it by giving Paddy Brennan this victory. He ran a good race, travelling smoothly, tracking the leaders and. when asked to. He moved smoothly into the lead two from home. That might well have been a little too soon for his jockey but he didn't disappoint connections by claiming the prize by two and quarter lengths.

 

The Stroud-based winning trainer clearly enjoyed his win, commenting: “He likes it here and likes good ground. Everything was right for him. He’s still improving at the moment and has plenty of pace. He was difficult as a young horse but we got the hang of him, worked him out and all’s going well now. We’ll probably have to step him up in grade. He was probably in front far too long, but Paddy had no option.”

 

LIKE FATHER (NOT) LIKE DAUGHTER

For the first time in eight years there will be no females among the top 50 winning jockeys on the flat at the end of December. One rider who seems intent on doing some to change this is, surprisingly, Megan Nicholls, who has decided to desert her champion father's profession, and intends to become an apprentice on the Flat. She has been deeply involved in her father’s stables for many years but has been toying with the idea of moving to Flat-loving Newmarket, where she might work for trainer, Michael Bell. At least she hopes to be able to ride out for the latter some time this winter and then she may discuss the possibility of racing.

 

The 17-year-old daughter of Paul Nicholls is not new to Flat racing, however, as she has been riding as an amateur this year, securing five wins from 28 rides. She hasn't abandoned jump racing yet, though. She appeared at Exeter as recently as last week and her father still thinks National Hunt riding could be what she will do in the long-term.

 

As Megan Nicholls, herself, put it: “My weight is very good at the moment, so I thought I might as well use it to my advantage. I love riding on the Flat, had a really good summer, so hopefully we’ll give it a really good crack.”

 

The Ditcheat-based trainer added: “I’ve known she’s been keen on the Flat because she’s done well. She knows she’s got a lot of improvement to come. She wants to do the Flat and I think that she’s got to get it out of her system. There’s no point in us pushing her. And she is eight stone; she’s plenty light enough to be riding jumpers at the moment. She wants to ride apprentice for a year and see how it goes.”

SUNDAY 26th OCTOBER 2014

NEW JOCKEY AT THE 'ELM

Andrea Atzeni rode a blinder on ELM PARK yesterday in the latest renewal of the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster. The Italian rider who partnered last year's winner, KINGSTON HILL, was determined to remain totally in control of the race and kept Andrew Balding’s son of PHOENIX REACH impressively out in front in this last British Group One of the season. By the two-furlong pole there was still no change, although Aidan O'Brien's 13/8 favourite, ALOFT, started to make menacing progress from the rear and seemed well positioned in second place but couldn't make any impression on the eventual winner who easily lengthened his stride to win in style by two and three-quarter lengths.

 

Andrea Atzeni, officially due to take on the role of number one jockey to Sheikh Fahad’s Qatar Racing operation next season, commented: “He’s very straightforward. He travelled nicely and I kept it simple, really. It was like riding a piece of work. He’s a beautiful mover and he’s got a great attitude. He can only get better with age. It meant a lot, taking a new job – it’s just amazing. I’ve won a Group Three race (in the colours) and now a Group One, before the job even starts!”

 

Trainer Andrew Balding couldn't be there to witness the triumph as he was in Moonee Valley, Australia to saddle his three-year-old hopeful to win the $3 million Cox Plate, SIDE GLANCE. Unfortunately he should have gone to Doncaster as his seven-year-old came 4th. It was a close-run affair, though. A mere short neck separated the winner, Aidan O'Brien's ADELAIDE, from the runner-up, FAWKNER; a further short-head to the third horse, SILENT ACHIEVER, and a neck to Andrew Balding's 20/1 shot.

 

The winning trainer's father, Ian, standing in for his son at Doncaster commented: “He looks pretty good, doesn’t he? I’m just so thrilled. We’ve had five generations of this family. It’s lovely. To have bred him is much more special. He’s got the right temperament this horse, which is so important. Mill Reef had it, of course, in spades. He had a wonderful temperament. This fella certainly has it as well. Andrew does this job better than I do, so I won’t be telling him how to go about next year.”

 

Sheikh Fahad who recently acquired a large share in the colt with the Kingsclere Racing Club, added: “I was just on the phone to Andrew (in Australia) and he is unbelievably thrilled. It’s a great day. I haven’t seen a horse go through the ground like that in my relatively new time in racing, he just glides through it. His mental calmness as a two-year-old is a great asset. I think logically that (the Derby) is the target. But it will be a long year next year, we’ll sit down with Ian and Andrew and the team and make a plan going forward.”

 

RUNNING LATER

In an attempt to boost the diminishing Channel 4 viewing figures Britain’s most important Flat race could be run half-an-hour later. The powers-that-be at Epsom seem to be toying with the idea of running next year's Investec Derby at 4.30pm but they insist that any change will depend on Royal approval as the Queen's presence is considered essential for this auspicious event. If there is a later start to the Derby, this would also affect the rest of the fixture with the first race starting at 2pm instead of the usual June. There was also talk that an evening running of the Derby was being considered.

 

A PICTURE OF SUCCESS

At yesterday's Irish Stallion Farms EBF (C&G) Maiden at Leopardstown the full brother of another famous GALILEO son romped home to a six-and-a-half length victory. The Aidan O'Brien-trained GIOVANNI CANALETTO displayed an impressive turn of foot to match that of his sibling, RULER OF THE WORLD and, thereby, he too put down his marker for next year's Derby.

 

Jockey Seamie Heffernan seemed content to stay in midfield for the early part of the race but then, around halfway, his mount lost position and dropped back to 7th halfway. He seemed to be struggling three furlongs from home but then, switching right as he entered the straight, he moved up to 4th two furlongs out and then took off into the lead with a furlong to go and left the rest of the field trailing in his wake.

 

The winning jockey commented strangely: "He's completely asleep. When he got a bit of light he woke up, as if to say 'what do you want me to do?'. I gave him a crack and he went right away. He's doing it so easy at home. We like him."

 

SATURDAY 25th OCTOBER 2014

JOCKEYS TAKEN FOR A RIDE

In the past couple of weeks a number of jockeys have been losing money; not by missing a ride. Their bank accounts have been raided by an imposter. As much as £20,000 is said to have been taken from the bank accounts of Joe Fanning, Paul Hanagan, Rab Havlin and Andrew Tinkler. Each fraudulent activity involved Barclays' staff handing over cash to somebody purporting to be the jockey in question.

 

This seems to be the continuation of a conning campaign that started earlier on this year. The likes of Andrew Thornton, Tony Hamilton, Liam Treadwell, Dougie Costello, Jim Crowley and Nick Scholfield, who bank with either NatWest or Lloyds Bank, were targeted and are thought to have lost over £50,000 between them.

 

As is the standard procedure of most banks, the money is expected to be refunded. As, however, there has been no co-ordinated investigation by the police because banks have their own fraud teams to deal with such matter, Paul Struthers, the Chief Executive of the Professional Jockeys Association, has stated that jockeys should be vigilant at all times and regularly check any withdrawals from their accounts.

 

Newmarket-based Jockey, Rab Havlin commented: "I had £2,600 taken on Wednesday but I was lucky because I get a text message if anything goes in or comes out over £1,500. I got a £1,750 debit alert on Thursday morning alert so I rang the bank and they said there had been a cash withdrawal in Leamington Spa, and they also took £850 out of my other account which I didn't know about. I was nowhere near Leamington Spa on Wednesday and it's fortunate I got the alert or they could have gone back in every day and kept taking more. Barclays have said the money will be refunded, but it hasn't been so far."

 

A DIFFERENT WORLD

From next season last year's Derby and Group 2 Prix Foy Longchamp winner, RULER OF THE WORLD, will have a smaller kingdom over which to reign, the Coolmore Stud in Clonmel, County Tipperary. The Aidan O'Brien-trained four-year-old has failed to do himself justice recently, only notching up one victory in September. After this notable win at Longchamp, the son of GALILEO came ninth the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe a position matched by his Champion Stakes result at Ascot last weekend. In what seems like either bad timing or a shrewd move, Sheikh Joaan Al Thani's powerful Al Shaqab Racing operation bought a half-share in RULER OF THE WORLD when he returned to the fray this year.

 

John Halley, the Ballydoyle veterinary surgeon announced: "Ruler Of The World has a recurrence of the muscle injury in his hind quarters that he suffered earlier in the summer and although it's not critical, we have been advised that he be retired to stud."

 

Aidan O'Brien added: "He did very well to win the Derby less than two months after making his debut and he showed himself to be equally effective over a mile and a quarter in last year's Champion Stakes."

 

BACK TO SCHOOL

As mentioned last week Bangor racecourse held a special schooling session, an innovation strongly supported by, amongst others, leading trainers, Donald McCain and David Pipe and jockeys including Liam Treadwell and Paddy Brennan. More than 60 horses also participated in six sessions over two miles on the inner course, three over hurdles and three on the Flat. The special day had originally been planned for Tuesday, but was put back because of the strong winds caused by the tail-end of Hurricane Gonzalo.

 

Andrew Morris, Clerk of the Course, commented: "We had 10 horses in every session and were delighted. We had horses from Donald McCain, Brian Ellison, David Pipe, Tom George and Fergal O'Brien, for example. Jockey wise, the ones we had included Paddy Brennan, Dougie Costello, Danny Cook and Liam Treadwell. It has been really well received and we've been delighted with the feedback so far from people who've been and the way everyone has responded to it and the number of horses we had. To have 60 horses was a fantastic number for the first time we've done something like this.”

 

FRIDAY 24th OCTOBER 2014

MARK MY WORDS

Another big race on the cards for tomorrow: Racing Post Trophy glory at Doncaster. Sir Mark Prescott has made his reputation from successes with older horses. Certainly he doesn't get many Group One-winning juveniles but that is not to say that, given the right material, he cannot train them for glory at the highest level. He demonstrated that when he saddled HOORAY to win four years ago in the Cheveley Park Stakes.

 

Another winning opportunity could possibly be on the cards with the appearance of CELESTIAL PATH who burst onto the racing scene by winning his first two career contests, the Batleys Cash And Carry Median Auction Maiden Stakes at York at the end of July and the Betfred Fun And Friendly Stakes at Haydock on 6th September. In the former the son of FOOTSTEPSINTHESAND won by an impressive one-and-a-quarter-lengths and in the latter he handled the step-up in trip to one mile with ease and left his nearest rival four lengths adrift.

 

Of course, the Racing Post Trophy for this colt's only third appearance is taking on quite a challenge but the Old Harrovian handler trainer is not one to take unnecessary risks so it would be appear to be not such a bad idea to take the CELESTIAL PATH to the bookies.

 

SARDINIAN SUCCESS

Andrea Atzeni, will be praying that tomorrow is his lucky day. A year ago he partnered KINGSTON HILL to victory in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster. Tomorrow is the renewal of this prestigious contest and the Sardinian-born jockey will be astride the Andrew Balding-trained ELM PARK who is the ante-post favourite. It was last year's string of successes, in fact, that gave Andrea Atzeni the golden opportunity to become the retained jockey for Qatar Racing when Jamie Spencer retired.

 

The son of PHOENIX REACH came third in his racecourse debut at Sandown at the end of July. He then followed that up with a hat-trick of wins: the Don Deadman Memorial European Breeders' Fund Maiden Stakes by two-and-a-half lengths at Newbury in the middle of August;

the Salisbury EBF Stallions Stonehenge Stakes two weeks later by three lengths and the Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes by one length at Newmarket last month.

 

TALL IN THE SADDLE

It has just been announced that Lt-Col Richard (Dick) Bromley Gardner, awarded an MC at the Battle of the Cauldron in Libya in June 1942, has just died at the age of 93. That achievement is remarkable enough but it is what he did when he was older that impresses just as much. When he retired from the Army in 1968, he worked for the Jockey Club as a Steward’s Secretary, subsequently buying Kingscote Park in the Cotswolds and setting up a small stud farm. He converted the tennis court into a manège for the schooling of his horses. Rumour has it that the roof was in such a poor condition that, perhaps reminiscent of his military days, he used to let off smoke bombs to ward off the death watch beetle.

 

At about the same time Lt-Col Dick Bromley Gardner started breeding horses for National Hunt racing and he eventually became deputy director of the Badminton Three Day Event. He retired from the Jockey Club twenty-odd years ago and went back to his first love of breeding horses for flat racing.

 

He took part in and won his last point-to-point when he was 64 years old but didn't give up riding. Remarkably, when he was 83, on one of his last days’ hunting at the Duke of Beaufort’s, he jumped one of the biggest fences in the country.

We salute a great equestrian!

 

THURSDAY 23rd OCTOBER 2014

ET IN ARCADIA EGO

The Santa Anita Breeders' Cup World Championships is back again next week. The Californian track in Arcadia has hosted Thoroughbred racing’s most prestigious international year-end event six times already, most recently last year. The fixture, to be held on October 31 and November 1, consists of 14 races with purses and awards totalling $27 million.

 

A strong British presence will be hoping to claim some of the glory and the cash. Heading the party is the Richard Hannon-trained twice Group 1 winner, TORONADO, who is a hot tip for the Breeders' Cup Mile. Not to be outdone Sir Michael Stoute will be represented by two hopeful contenders, TELESCOPE and DANK who won the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf last year.

 

A recent addition to the training community, Hugo Palmer, has high hopes for his two-year-old colt, AKTABANTAY in the Juvenile Turf. The son of OASIS DREAM won the European Wealth Solario Stakes at Sandown at the end of August and the Newmarket-based trainer is clearly excited by his prospects: "It's hugely exciting to have a horse good enough to take to the Breeders' Cup," said the trainer. "I have only been training for three and a half years and you could say that it is the culmination of a dream, though of course my aspirations and ambitions go some way beyond my first good horse, which is what Aktabantay is.”

 

Berkshire trainer Charlie Hills obviously intends not to return empty-handed, if he can help it. He will be saddling an equine quartet: last year's Juvenile Fillies' Turf heroine, CHRISELLIAM; the talented three-year-old KIYOSHI ( running in the Breeders' Mile); the Group 3 Autumn Stakes winner COMMEMORATIVE (entered in the Juvenile Turf) and JUST THE JUDGE, winner of last year's Irish 1,000 Guineas, who will have a crack at the Filly & Mare Turf.

 

One horse mentioned the other day, who was dramatically withdrawn from his race in Canada after ditching his rider, Michael Owen's BROWN PANTHER, will have a chance to make amends in the Breeders' Cup Turf.

 

The most important race of the meeting, the Breeders' Cup Classic, will unfortunately only have one British contender, the Jamie Osborne-trained TOAST OF NEW YORK, who, a 16/1 shot, is not likely to become the “Toast Of Santa Anita”!

 

A FOALS' PARADISE

The International Federation of Horseracing Authorities has reported that the birth rate of foals in Britain and Ireland increased slightly last year, although, worldwide, the figure dropped 7% to 92,006. The annual report reveals that, in 2013, 4,420 foals were born in Britain compared to 4,366 in 2012 (+1.2%). In Ireland the numbers rose by 3% from 7,546 to 7,757.

 

The document also indicates that Ireland continues to be the fourth-largest producer of thoroughbreds after larger countries such as America, Australia and Argentina. Even so, it has been calculated that births for the world's largest producer, the US, decreased by about 2% from 21,725 to 21,275. Altogether, 20 out of the 70 countries contained in the report show an increase in foal offspring, including four South American countries - Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. Even births in Saudi Arabia showed an increase of nearly 17% from 1,262 in 2012 to 1,473 in 2013.

 

STAYING AHEAD OF THE WEATHER

The all-weather track at Lingfield Park is to stage a new Three-Year-Old Sprint fixture as part of the second all-weather championships season starting on October 30. This new fixture will be added to the existing divisions of Three-Year-Old, Sprint, Mile, Marathon, Fillies & Mares, and Middle Distance.

 

Jim Allen, director of Racing for Arena Racing Company (ARC) commented: “The creation of the new Three-Year-Old Sprint category arose out of consultation with horsemen and the British Horseracing Authority. We hope its inclusion will further support the sprint programme in Great Britain and give horses more opportunities to race throughout the winter months.”

 

The five five all-weather courses in Britain: Lingfield, Southwell and Wolverhampton, owned by ARC, plus Kempton Park and the newly-formed Chelmsford City – will all participate in the championships. These venues will have a new all-weather ambassador, George Baker, who was one of the leading jockeys, notching up 57 winners, in the the first all-weather championships last year.

 

WEDNESDAY 22nd OCTOBER 2014

CHAMPION BY DEFAULT

The current Champion jockey on the Flat doesn't have to win any more races this season, which doesn't end until November 8, because his nearest rival doesn't plan to ride again in the UK this year. 41-year-old Richard Hughes, contest leader by five wins (160 – 155) gains his third crown because Ryan Moore is off to Australia at the weekend to ride ADELAIDE for Aidan O'Brien in the Cox Plate.

 

Ironically, Richard Hughes began his campaign for the crown a month behind his rivals because he had a nasty fall in Dubai and only went into the lead in the last couple of weeks. Ryan Moore also had his ups and downs and missed another two opportunities at Lingfield on Tuesday. Maybe that helped him to decide to concentrate on his forthcoming international commitments in America, Australia and Japan.

 

The now three-times champion commented: “I wouldn't say I've been battling with Ryan, but it still feels sweet after the doctor told me I could be out for months when I was injured in Dubai. Because of that, I started a month behind everyone else and I didn't think I'd be able to catch Ryan. Winning this obviously means more to me than Ryan but it still feels sweet, especially winning it for a third time. There have been so many good days this year but if I had to pick one out I'd say Toronado coming back and winning first time out at Royal Ascot was very sweet.'

 

ANOTHER RACE GONE WEST

The Henry Daly-trained GO WEST YOUNG MAN seemed to have yesterday's Avalon Surfacing Handicap Hurdle in the bag. He was making good headway before 2 hurdles from home and was clearly in the lead when approaching the last obstacle. Then the unexpected happened. The six-year-old suddenly made almost a 90-degree turn and came to a virtual standstill, handing the spoils to the 25/1 chance to THUNDERING HOME.

 

Even the Exchanges were all abuzz, matching over £23,000 at 1.01 as the son of WESTERNER surged three lengths clear of the rest of the field. Then, when his jockey, Jake Greenall, urged his mount to head for home, that's when the gelding had other ideas.

 

The disappointed rider commented: "He would have won easily, but he's a tricky customer and has his quirks. He has done this sort of thing before. He decided he wanted to head for home and there was nothing I could do about it."

 

GO WEST YOUNG MAN did manage to just about to keep going and ended up sixth. His quirky behaviour means he hasn't won a race yet from eight starts.

 

LESS IS MORE

The British Horseracing Authority's publishing of the racing fixtures for 2015 and its plan to increase the number of runners in a race has go it into hot water, facing the accusation of endangering the racing industry's financial stability. Arena Racing Company (ARC), Britain’s largest racecourse company, owning 15 tracks and representing 40 per cent of the total fixture list, has calculated that the planss will cost the industry £4million per year. The BHA decided to remove 70 all-weather races and 100 steeplechases on the 2015 racing calendar because of a declining horse population, thereby hoping to increase the competitiveness of the remaining races, which, in turn, will make them more attractive to punters, increase the amount of betting and, thus, increase the potential income through the levy.

 

ARC is clearly not happy because it has been allocated 30 fewer fixtures next year due to the re-opening of the Chelmsford City course, and will be very much affected as they operate three of the current four all-weather tracks. BHA faces criticism, therefore, for ‘shrinking the size of British racing’ and risking levy, commercial and media rights income.

 

Susannah Gill, representing ARC commented: “The BHA have not been able to quantify what this will cost and where that money will be replaced. They are taking a very negative approach when they could be adopting more positive race-planning initiatives.’

 

For the BHA Robin Mounsey replied: “It is exactly with the long-term economic prosperity of the sport in ind that we have implemented these proposals. The objective is to ensure British Racing remains an attractive product to customers both domestically and internationally, and the growth in races set against a decline in horse population is an unarguable trend. The role of the BHA is to make decisions in the best interests of the sport as a whole. We are comfortable that any short-term costs will be more than covered by the long-term gains for the industry.’

 

TUESDAY 21st OCTOBER 2014

RISING STAR

With just one Round to go in the 2014 Go Racing In Yorkshire Apprentice Series, Megan Carberry has notched up 59 points and has effectively won the contest. The Dublin-born rider, who works for Malton trainer, Brian Ellison, has won twice in this special series for young riders, staged on the Flat courses in Yorkshire. Megan Carberry is the only rider to win two races in the competition: on MEMORY CLOTH in the Harriet De-Vere Powell Apprentice Handicap at Doncaster on 29 March followed by victory in the Go Racing In Yorkshire Future Stars Apprentice Handicap at Pontefract at the end of April.

 

The series will come to a conclusion at Doncaster on Saturday, November 8, which also marks the official last day of the British Flat season on turf. The prize for the winning apprentice is a sponsorship from Go Racing In Yorkshire with a cash value of £1,500. In addition White Rose Saddlery of Malton will provide £500s' worth of equipment. The second cousin to Paul Carberry will also be able to participate in the 2015 Go Racing in Yorkshire promotions. This is a vital facility as it will help to maintain her profile at what is generally considered to be a critical time in most most young jockeys' careers. For those who would like to follow the progress of this talented young rider, she will be writing a blog on the Go Racing in Yorkshire website.

 

Megan Carberry commented: “It’s great to win this series, as it’s something I’ve focussed on from the beginning of the season. I got off to a flying start and have managed to stay at the top of the table. I’d like to thank all of the owners and trainer who have supported and encouraged me, in particular Brian Ellison and I’m looking forward to riding in the last race at Doncaster next month and helping promote racing in Yorkshire in 2015”

 

John Sexton, who is Chairman of Go Racing In Yorkshire added: “Many congratulations to Megan on winning the Go Racing In Yorkshire Future Stars series. It is terrific to see a young jockey making their way in the sport and there’s no doubt in my mind that Megan will be a star for years to come. The Future Stars series was introduced last year as a way of promoting young riding talent. The races have been carefully selected to challenge their skills over a variety of distances and on each of the individual, superb Flat racecourses that Yorkshire has to offer. Megan is a very worthy winner”.

 

GONE WITH THE WIND!

Today was supposed to be the first-ever schooling race day in Britain, due to be staged at Bangor but Hurricane Gonzalo seems to have put the kibosh on that innovation. The plan was for up to 67 horses to take part in six sessions. However with the wet and windy conditions, it has been decided to re-schedule the event for this Friday. The day will present three hurdles and three bumper schooling races, each over a distance of two miles. The horses will work in groups of ten or or so, in sessions arranged at half-an-hour intervals. The general public is welcome to be present. Weather permitting, of course!

 

Andrew Morris, Clerk of the Course explained: "The winds this morning locally are stronger than we had anticipated and expected. The whole point of the day is for horses to gain experience for the benefit of owners, trainers and connections and there would be no benefit asking them to travel horses in the windy conditions we are experiencing this morning."

 

LESS RACING, LESS PROFIT

British Horseracing (BHA) has just published its fixture list for 2015, much to the chagrin of the directors of the Jockey Club who fear that profits will be reduced by as much as £1m because its racetracks will be hosting 24 fewer races. The BHA explained that there are not enough horses to sustain the current number of races and so it has decided to cut out "small-field, uncompetitive races". The Jockey Club announced that it will have 340 fixtures next year compared to 364 in 2014, a 7% cut-back.

 

The Jockey Club, racing's largest commercial UK organisation - owns a total of 15 courses including the highly successful Aintree, Cheltenham and Epsom Downs. The organisation has a Royal Charter and pours all its profits back into racing.

 

Altogether the BHA has approved a total of 1,471 fixtures for 2015 and clarified its aims as follows: "The principal focus for the fixture list was to address the issue of the growing number of uncompetitive, small-field races which are both unattractive for the punter and damaging to British Racing's international reputation. Put simply, the current horse population is not able to satisfactorily sustain the number of races we have staged in recent years. As such, while the fixture List is similar in size to 2014, and this is a position supported by all stakeholder groups, steps have been taken to address imbalances to ensure that more fixtures and races are staged at periods in the season when the supply of horses is better placed to meet the demands of the list."

 

MONDAY 20th OCTOBER 2014

TWEET ARE THE USES OF ADVERSITY

Sir Michael Stoute's HILLSTAR ran an impressive race to win the first Group One victory of his career, the Pattison Canadian International at Woodbine, Toronto. Three-times champion jockey, Ryan Moore, as usual demonstrated his superb equestrian skills, keeping his mount in the perfect position throughout the contest, going three wide on the home turn and surging clear.

 

It did look as though it might be a close-run affair as the American raider BIG BLUE KITTEN closed menacingly inside the final three hundred yards but the five-year-old son of DANEHILL DANCER was more than a match and asserted his authority by three-quarters of a length.

 

The winning rider commented: “He jumped the gates good and landed in a nice position. He was very relaxed, very comfortable all the way around. With Brown Panther out of the way, he was pretty clear on figures. He had a big class edge on the whole field, and it was just a matter of being in the right spot and keeping it straightforward. I moved a bit too early, but he was the best horse. He idled and changed leads 100 yards out.”

 

Not much joy for one British hopeful, though. The former England footballer, Michael Owen, who made the special trip to Canada, withdrew BROWN PANTHER, winner of last month's Irish St Leger, from the race, after he unseated jockey Richard Kingscote and bolted during the preliminaries.

Michael Owen tweeted: "Long way to come for nothing! Thank goodness horse and jockey are both OK”.

 

DAN, DAN, THE RACING MAN

Trainer Dan Skelton continued his winning streak by scoring his ninth victory at Kempton yesterday. BLUE HERON was the decisive four-length winner in the listed William Hill - On Your Mobile Novices' Hurdle. The six-year-old son of HERON ISLAND with the trainer's brother, Harry, aboard, outpaced the 9/4 Favourite, PARLOUR GAMES. The Warwickshire-based trainer, who only took up training last year, is now on a 28% strike-rate for October. He certainly seems to have struck lucky with the talented BLUE HERON owned by the Horwood Harriers Partnership.

 

Dan Skelton's assistant, Josh Guerriero, commented: "We are thinking of the Greatwood (The StanJames.com Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham), if he can sneak into it as his novice status is finished now. He is a good mover and he likes this good ground."

 

Jockey, Harry Skelton added: "On November 1 he runs out of his novice status so we were keen to run him in a good race. He stays this trip well and he's very tough. I think Dan will try to run him in a good handicap now . He's a talented horse and we always thought quite a bit of him."

 

LIGHT'S OUT

The sad news is that Aidan O'Brien's LEADING LIGHT, last year's winner of the St Leger and the Gold Cup in June, will probably never race again. The four-year-old suffered career-threatening leg injuries when competing in the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot on Saturday. It seems that the MONTJEU son was seriously hampered in an incident between him and the eventual winner, FORGOTTEN RULES and John Gosden's MARZOCCO

 

The Ballydoyle trainer made the following statement: "He has suspensory injuries to both front legs and you would have to say that his racing career is in serious jeopardy. He has probably run his last race. The incident that happened was unfortunate and in this case it was most unfortunate that our horse came out of it all with two bad injuries."

 

After a stewards' inquiry into the incident the winning jockey, Pat Smullen, was given a three-day ban for careless riding.

As well as the two prestigious races mentioned above LEADING LIGHT also added the 2013 Queen's Vase to his glittering list of triumphs.

SUNDAY 19th OCTOBER 2014

SIBLING SUCCESS IN STAKES

The Lady Cecil-trained NOBLE MISSION proved that he was every bit as good, or even better than his illustrious brother, FRANKEL, when he won yesterday's QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot. Right from the off the five-year-old son of GALILEO, adopting a new front-running role, looked cool, calm and collected, with Roger Charlton's ALKAZEEM in hot pursuit in his slipstream. Another potential rival, CIRRUS DES AIGLES, was out wide coming from stall nine and never really looked as though it was going to be his day. As they turned for home, the championship was clearly to be fought out between the two leaders. NOBLE MISSION was giving it everything he had and AL KAZEEM was doing his best to match it. The dynamic duo even went neck and neck inside the last furlong, with the six-year-old son of DUBAWI even ahead by a nose. The spoils, however, deservedly went to Lady Cecil's champion, no doubt earning him a host of new followers to emulate the popularity of his illustrious brother. His victory certainly reduced his trainer to tears, particularly as it meant Lady Cecil, in her first season, was able to match the success that her late husband, Sir Henry Cecil, had achieved when FRANKEL hit the headlines two years previously.

 

With words that had clearly resonance among many at the race, Lady Cecil commented:"I did an interview before the race and said it would be a fairytale if he won and that's what it feels like to me. We hardly dared to dream this could happen. We knew he was in great shape but this was a tough race."

 

A RIGHT ROYAL RETIREMENT

For the organisers of Champions' Day at Ascot the dream scenario must be for the Queen to win in the first race of the day. There seemed every chance that their dreams would come true on this occasion in the Long Distance Cup. Sadly, somehow, ESTIMATE didn't go well in the early stages and seemed to have nothing to offer as the pace hotted up. The five-year-old daughter of MONSUN tailed off dramatically and finished last, with jockey, Ryan Moore clearly deciding not to push her. Some of the jockeys are on record as saying that the heavy ground was the worst they had ever come up against Ascot, it was probaboly no surprise that the Queen's mare was unable to deal with such conditions, which she didn't like in the race a year earlier when the ground was also soft.

 

John Warren, the royal racing manager commented: “It’s like a ploughed field out there and Ryan said from the moment she jumped off he was never happy. He tried to lay up but she was never comfortable in the race so it is off to stud. Michael thought last year there might have been some other circumstances (why she didn’t run well) as she wasn’t quite right. He had a big notions that (offspring of sire) Monsun tend to go in it but it takes a specialist. You have to look on the good things rather than today. She gave the Queen the biggest thrill she has probably ever had.’

The contest went by a length and three-quarters to the Dermot Weld-trained FORGOTTEN RULES

 

PICK AND SIX

The failure of the royal mare wasn't the only heartbreak of the day at Ascot. One player in Saturday's Sporting Life Pick 6 game got the first five winners on Ascot's Champions Day card. He only had one to go to claim the spoils. It certainly seemed as though it was in his grasp as his last punt was on the 8/1 joint favourite CHATEZ in the final race of the day, the royally named, Balmoral Handicap. But there was disappointment here, too, as the winner turned out to be BRONZE ANGEL.

In fact, only six contestants had made it through to the final the first three races on the day and even that number was reduced to three after CHARM SPIRIT scored in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. NOBLE MISSION claimed two more of these when he was the Champion Stakes victor, so the £3000 was denied the one remaining player.

The Pick 6 jackpot now up to £4,000 for next week so if you fancy a flutter, the opportunity is there.

 

SATURDAY 18th OCTOBER 2014

ANOTHER STRING TO HIS BOW

Cheltenham was back on the cards yesterday for the start of the new racing season. On only his second ride over fences the Evan Williams-trained COURT MINSTREL proved he is one to watch when winning fairly easily the squareintheair.com Novices' Chase. The Vale of Glamorgan trainer has never made any secret of the fact that the seven-year-old with eight victories from seventeen 17 outings is one of his favourites; and who can blame him? At the back end of last season the son of COURT CAVE showed good form by winning the Maxilead Metals Handicap Hurdle at the Grand National at Aintree meeting and finishing runner-up a week later in the QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr. The COURT MINSTREL continued his upward progress by striking gold in his chasing debut at Newton Abbot at the end of September.

It was clear that the jockey, Paul Moloney, keen on keeping his mount on the bridle for as long as he could before allowing him to surge forward after the last fence and go on to win two and three-quarter lengths.

Evam Williams was clearly delighted with the result: "I'm thrilled. I was absolutely delighted with the way he jumped because sending him chasing was always my concern. There's never been a doubt about his ability, but the worry was that he was a little hurdler. I'm loathe to say it, really, but he has taken to chasing like a duck to water and it is nice to be surprised like that. You won't see him in the winter - he wants to be nowhere near that deep ground - so we'll just keep our options open."

 

RETIRING WAYS

Curious about what happens to some race horses when they retire from the track? Well, if you go along to Ascot today you will have the opportunity to observe former racing stars who have successfully embarked on a second career. The QIPCO British Champions Day will also feature retrained racehorses demonstrating their new-found skills. There will be eight ex-racehorses to be seen, including PURPLE MOON, an 11-year-old gelding, formerly trained by Luca Cumani. This GALILEO son had 23 outings times on the flat and won over £1.1m in prize money. In 2012 he was retrained by Sara Cumani, the trainer's wife, and has had quite a few successes. s with Sara Cumani since he started his retraining in 2012. This year he was the Fenland show champion at and wen to win Hickstead's Retraining of Racehorses (RoR).

 

There you will also see JACK THE GIANT, whom a syndicate of six Newmarket ladies bought, nicknaming him “The Jack Pots” and retraining him for the showing ring. Success came at last week’s Horse of the Year Show in Birmingham where he came fourth in the RoR/SEIB Championship.

 

Not to be outdone, the Queen's former racehorse, QUADRILLE, will be showing off his dressage skills. The seven-year-old son of DANEHILL DANCER retire in 2012 and joined Louise Robson’s team “Thoroughbred Dressage” and claimed a couple of successes at advanced medium this year. Grand National winner, COMPLY OR DIE, will also be on show with a demonstration of his dressage skills. Yvonne Goss will be there with HAXTON,winner of last year’s RoR Racing to Hunting Challenge at Cheltenham and, in fact, the pair will be defending their title this coming November.

Eventing will also be represented by 16-year-old veteran, SPECIAL CONSTABLE, who is now being ridden by Elaine Tragett and VALEMOUNT with whom Dan Jocelyn competes at advanced level. Last but not least is four-year-old HILDA OGDEN, formerly trained by Davis Nicholls, whom Henry Brett has retrained for polo (the horse not the trainer!) and won her section in this year’s RoR racing to polo challenge.

 

RISING SON

The Japanese got their revenge for defeat in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe yesterday when the Tomoyuki Umeda-trained ADMIRE RAKTI took the Crown Golden Ale Caulfield Cup with a final surge. Craig Newitt did his best on British raider, SEISMOS, trained by Marco Botti, working hard to gain a position on the rails as SEA MOON seemed to be going it alone. But he was clearly making heavy work of it and even SEISMOS seemed to have no more giving the four-year-old daughter of EKRAAR, trained by Donna Logan, the chance to bid for glory. It all seemed cut and dried but that was ignoring the efforts of Zac Purton was priming ADMIRE RAKTI for a challenge down the middle of the track. There was still half a furlong to go and it still seemed anyone's race but ultimately the six-year-old son of HEARTS CRY showed them who was boss.

 

Tomoyuki Umeda commented: "彼は58(キロ)のハンディキャップを持って、私は分からなかったので、彼は日本で大きなレースで多くを行っていないが、私は彼がオーストラリアで、それが好きだと思う。"

Which loosely translated means: “He has a handicap of 58 (kilograms) and he has not done much in the big races in Japan so I wasn't sure, but I think he likes it in Australia.”

 

FRIDAY 17th OCTOBER 2014

WHETHER T'IS NOBLE(R) IN THE MIND...”

This Lady Cecil-trained five-year-old brother of FRANKEL could win tomorrow's QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot says his jockey. Well, he would, wouldn't he? In one respect, though, James Doyle has made a fair assessment of the situation: the soft ground conditions in this mile-and-a-quarter Group One contest are just what NOBLE MISSION relishes.

 

The Cambridge-born rider opined: “Although I don’t ride Noble Mission in any of his work I know that Martyn Peake who rides him out has been very happy with him. He was taken down to Kempton last week and he did a solid piece of work which everyone was happy with and he seems in great order. I think a mile and a quarter is ideal for him as a mile and a half just stretches him.

 

This son of GALILEO is obviously not favoured by the number thirteen as his performances in that year were a series of near misses (or should that be near-hits?). 2014, however has proved to be a different kettle of fish. He won the Gordon Richards Stakes by nine lengths at Sandown at the end of April, followed by a two-and-a-quarter length victory over Sir Michael Stoute' TELESCOPE in the Huxley Stakes two weeks later. And the hits just kept coming. The Khalid Abdullah-owned horse then claimed the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh at the end of May, outrunning Aidan O'brien's seemingly invincible MAGICIAN.

 

James Doyle added: It is probably a combination of a lot of things that have helped him and Lady Jane and the team at Warren Place have done a tremendous job with him. He seems a different horse for making the running and committing him sooner in his races.”

 

TESTING. TESTING!

The conditions at today's Dubai Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket could well be quite testing but jockey Paul Hanagan doesn't think that will stop ESTIDHKAAR claiming the £255K prize money.

Aiming for his fourth win in a row, the son of DARK ANGEL became Richard Hannon's hot favourite after his superb demolishing of the high-class AKTABANTAY in the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket in July. For that victory he had to carry an extra two pounds when lining up in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster last month but that didn't stop him from stealing the prize from Aidan O'Brien's WAR ENVOY. That's why the twice champion jockey on the flat made the following comments: "This is a very good horse. I sat on him (on Sunday) at Richard Hannon's and I couldn't have been more happy with him. I don't think he'll mind the ground if it does come up soft. He's very straightforward, he's a lengthener and galloper with a very good attitude.

Trainer Richard Hannon added: "Paul came down to ride him and he was delighted with the way the colt was moving. He won the Champagne in the mud at Doncaster, so we won't be making any excuses if we get beat, but he goes there is top form and we are very hopeful."

 

MUD, MUD GLORIOUS MUD!

First the going for British Champions Day at Ascot was described on Wednesday as Soft, Heavy in places but then there was a quarter-of-an-inch of overnight rain so inevitably the conditions got worse and on Thursday the track had to be re-assessed. Then more rain was forecast for tonight into Saturday and possibly during the day. Despite that, the officials are optimistic and adamant that the fixture is under no threat from the weather. There is some saying about giving information to the marines! Seems appropriate in this situation!

THURSDAY 16th OCTOBER 2014

FIRST PASTA POST

The Gordon Elliott-trained TAGLIETELLE stirred it up a bit yesterday at Punchestown, when he won the Follow Us On Twitter And Facebook Rated Hurdle which may just have earned him a trip to Cheltenham. Although the five-year-old son of TAGULA was clinching his third successive victory over hurdles after successes at Cartmel and Perth, it seemed he might have taken on a bit more than he could handle when up against a clutch of higher-rated opponents. A win certainly looked on the cards for trainer John McConnell's ORGILGO BAY who was the 8/11 on favourite but, after adopting his customary run from the front and going well clear after the fourth hurdle, the four-year-old LAWMAN son was headed when approaching the last obstacle and dropped to 3rd inside the final furlong. By contrast Paul Carberry was doing good work on TAGLIETELLE from some way out and easily pulled clear after the final flight to win by five and a half lengths.

 

The County Meath-based winning trainer had this to say: "I thought his last run at Perth was his best. He was only beaten half a length by Thomas Edison at the Curragh but lost his way a bit after that. He could be a horse to go for the Greatwood Hurdle with a set of blinkers on him. He looked beaten four out today and the blinkers might help him to travel better."

 

RECORD BREAKER!

The 19-times champion jockey missed a race yesterday which he could have won by simply getting on the horse. Tony McCoy passed his 150 wins for the season by winning the Read racinguk.com/columnists Handicap Hurdle on the Jonjo O'Neil-trained GOODWOOD MIRAGE but, due to a recurrence of pain from the injury sustained last week, he then had to give up a ride on PRESENCE FELT in the Wetherby Racecourse And Conference Centre Novices' Limited Handicap Chase which turned out to be a walkover, as there were three non-runners. It was amateur jockey, Harry Bannister's lucky day, as he got to ride (and win!) for Jonjo O'Neill. To rub more salt into the champion jockey's wounds, the County Cork-born trainer was a four-time winner at the end of the day.

 

AP McCoy is bidding this season for an unprecedented 300 winners and is thus half-way there but troubled by the current injury which is causing him to miss valuable rides.

 

Jonjo O'Neill, based in the quaintly named stables, Jackdaws Castle in Temple Guiting, Cheltenham, commented: "AP says he's very sore. The fall last week would have kept normal jockeys off for a couple of weeks but he's not normal, is he?”

 

I guess 'normal' doesn't come into it when you consider that Tony McCoy, for the sake of his sport, has suffered the following (some more than once!): broken cheekbones; chipped teeth; broken collarbones; broken shoulder blades; punctured lungs; broken middle vertebrae; broken lower vertebrae; broken arm; broken ribs; broken wrist; broken thumb; broken leg; broken ankle.

 

BREAK A LEG!

Another brave jockey got back into the winner’s enclosure after six months' absence. Bryan Cooper celebrated victory on Michael O’Leary’s LORD SCOUNDREL in the opening irishinjuredjockeys.com Maiden Hurdle in Punchestown yesterday. The County Kerry-born rider broke his leg when CLARCAM went down in the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle at last March's Cheltenham Festival and has been struggling through a long period of recovery since. He seems to have lost none of his skills in the enforced lay-off, though. He masterly took the 13/8 favourite five-year-old son of PRESENTING into the lead on the way in, and although his mount was a bit leaden taking the final flight and was headed briefly on the run-in, he had sufficient resources to come back and triumph by half- a-length.

 

The winning jockey said afterwards: “He’s a grand horse and won a little snug in the finish. It’s great to be back in the winner’s enclosure and great to get the first winner back for the boss.”

 

Michael O’Leary commented drily: “ It’s nice to give Bryan his first winner back — he broke his leg off one of ours in Cheltenham.”

 

WEDNESDAY 15th OCTOBER 2014

COMEBACK GIRL

They just won't give up! On 31st July Sir Michael Stoute announced that ESTIMATE, reportedly one of the best horses ever owned by the Queen, could have run her last race after coming last in the Artemis Goodwood Cup. Now, as of yesterday, he is all of a sudden saying that the Monarch's mare could have a second attempt at the Group 2 Qipco British Champions' Long Distance Cup at Ascot on Saturday. Despite the fact that the daughter of MONSUN only managed seventh place in this contest last year when she was even the 2-1 favourite, the Barbadian-born trainer still wants his protégée to have another another crack at the this race.

 

ESTIMATE came second when trying to achieve a back-to-back win in the Gold Cups in June, where she was subsequently disqualified for testing positive for the banned substance, morphine. Last time out she strutted her stuff when adding the Group 2 Doncaster Cup to her list of trophies about which her trainer appropriately added: "These Monsun's usually handle soft ground so we'll give it a shot."

 

Sir Michael Stoute commented: "Estimate disappointed at Ascot last year in similar ground but she was on the way back from injury that day, so may have had an excuse."

 

ON A ROLL

Saturday's Masterson Holdings Hurdle at Cheltenham will see the welcome return of Triumph Hurdle champion, TIGER ROLL, who was a winner on his hurdling debut at Market Rasen on his one and only outing for trainer, Nigel Hawke, after which the four-year-old son of AUTHORISED got off to a good start for his new trainer, Gordon Elliott, by coming second in the February Grade One Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown. Then he went even better by securing the JCB Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March. Things did not go so well the next time at Punchestown when he ran the first disappointing race of his career, coming seventh out of twelve runners in the AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle in May.

 

Trainer Gordon Elliott commented: "I think Tiger Roll will run as long as the ground is not too soft, but Clarcam won't take part.”

 

GROUNDS FOR WITHDRAWAL

FREE EAGLE's participation in the Qipco Champion Stakes on British Champions Day at Ascot will depend on what his trainer, Dermot Weld, thinks of the condition of the track. Apparently the ground is officially described as heavy after receiving an inch-and-a-half of rain in 48 hours. Despite that the course officials are on record as saying that they do not anticipate any problems with staging the meeting.

 

The Rosewell House-based trainer commented: "We will have to see what the weather does over the next few days. Hopefully, it will dry out. There is no point in walking the course before Saturday morning. A decision will be made then."

 

HERE GO THE JUDGE!

The winner of last year's Irish 1,000 Guineas, JUST THE JUDGE is due to be auctioned off at the November 24 Tattersalls December Breeding-Stock Sale. The four-year-old LAWMAN daughter, who bears the colours of both Qatar Racing and the Sangster family, is set to become the first British or Irish Guineas-winning filly still in training to be put up for sale since the Mme 'Criquette' Head-Maarek's RAVINELLA, who went for 1,400,000gns at the December sale in 1988.

JUSTTHE JUDGE, trained by Charlie Hills, was unbeaten in three starts when a two-year-old and was eventually triumphant in the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes in October 2012. When she returned to the track as a three-year-old, she almost beat SKY LANTERN in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket before asserting her authority in the subsequent Irish equivalent at the Curragh in May 2013. Since those victories, the now four-year-old has notched up three impressive thirds in most distinguished company.

 

Edmond Mahony, Tattersalls chairman stated: "Just The Judge is an outstanding race filly with a top class pedigree and is still performing at the very highest level. She is a very enticing prospect both to race on and also as a breeding prospect to grace the very best broodmare bands in the world."

 

David Redvers, Qatar racing manager added: "Just The Judge will always have a special place in our hearts as the first Classic winner to carry the Qatar Racing colours. Her win in last year's Irish 1,000 Guineas was a wonderful day for us and our co-owners the Sangster family. We strongly believe that she will continue to perform at the highest level and of course she will always be a magnificent addition to any breeding operation."

TUESDAY 14th OCTOBER 2014

LESS AT STAKE(S)

At the six-day stage there are officially twelve runners in next Saturday's QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot but in the last few hours it has been announced that Kevin Ryan has withdrawn THE GREY GATSBY due to the inclement weather forecast. With the earlier pulling out of AUSTRALIA the championship seems to be up for grabs. At the top of the market now are FREE EAGLE and CIRRUS DES AIGLES. The former, trained by Dermot Weld, put on a good show last month at Leopardstown, when winning the Group Three KPMG Enterprise Stakes.

 

The Curragh-based trainer commented: "Free Eagle is very well, in really good form. I am not concerned about the quality of my horse, I am convinced that he is up to this class."

 

The Corine Barande Barbe-trained CIRRUS DES AIGLES, on the other hand, won this race three years ago and was runner-up in the following two years and so cannot be ruled out of the equation.

 

Aidan O'Brien, with the retirement of the great AUSTRALIA, is left with last year's Derby winner, RULER OF THE WORLD, and two other GALILEO colts, KINGSBARNS AND KINGFISHER

 

Trainer, Lady Cecil has entered FRANKEL's full-brother NOBLE MISSION and the rest of the entries include Roger Charlton's AL KAZEEM, Richard Hannon's PETHER'S MOON, SHEIKHZAYEDROAD, looking for a fourth win in a row, Roger Varian's AYRAD and the John Gosden-trained WESTERN HYMN

Should be an interesting race!

 

DO WIDZENIA, KIRSTY!

One of the country's most popular female jockeys has been forced to retire as a result of a freak accident last year. The twenty-something Kirsty Milczarek received serious injury to her neck when coming out of the starting stalls at Brighton. The rider, born in the UK of Polish origin, was planning to return to racing after a long post-operation recuperation period but these hopes were recently dashed when she was told that there are great risks of becoming paralysised if she suffers another fall.

 

Kirsty Milczarek who had her best season in 2008 when she rode rode 71 winners in 2008, made the following announcement: ‘I received the news on Friday which I had never really considered. I was told I would never be able to race-ride again. Being a jockey is all I've known for the last 10 years, so to be told your career has ended was shocking. It was almost a year ago that I damaged my neck after hitting my head in a freak accident coming out of the stalls in a race at Brighton. I had major seven-and-a-half-hour surgery to replace three discs in my spinal cord and I knew it would be a long road back. I guess deep down there was always a possibility that I would never be able to race-ride again, but I always pushed those thoughts to the back of my mind. It's all a bit raw at the moment to know what happens next but I'd like to stay in racing.’

 

ALL CHANGE!

The John Gosden-trained Oaks, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes winner, TAGHROODA has been put into retirement by her owner, Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum after a disappointing run in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, when she came third. MUKHADRAM, who won the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown in July was also on the list of the Sheikh's retirees. The five-year-old son of SHAMARDAL was an impressive third in the King George behind TAGHROODA and is obviously admired very much by the Sheikh's racing manager, Angus Gold who calls him "an absolute star".

 

MONDAY 13th OCTOBER 2014

TREBLE CHECK

Yesterday was the second Sunday in October; the place the Czech Republic, so the famous cross-country steeplechase, Velká Pardubická, was staged, as it has been since 1874. The length of the race is 6.9 km, with 31 obstacles. It usually takes 9–10 minutes to complete. One horse that knows the race well is ORPHEE DES BLINS, who has now won it for the third year in a row. Though runners can be as young as six, the 12-year-old mare proved once again that there is no substitute for experience in such a contest. The daughter of LUTE ANTIQUE was partnered, as on the previous two runs, by Czech rider Jan Faltejsek, who just about made all the running over the four-and-a-quarter-mile course. Trainer, Charlie Mann, sent over his nine-year-old LAMBRO who, unfortunately, was seriously hampered early on in the race and then, when he seemed to be making positive progress, he faltered at the water jump and that was the end of his challenge, thereby also denying his trainer a second victory in this event, the last time in 1995 with ITS A SNIP.

With half a mile left to run there were still a few horses with a chance but ORPHEE DES BLINS settled things by going clear as he approached the last obstacle, with only six-year-old AL JAZ posing a serious threat in the final hundred yards but failing by three-quarters of a length.

 

A WIN FOR MUM AND DAD

It was Ireland's turn yesterday to stage their version of the Cesarewitch at the Curragh and it was the youngest of riders who made the headlines. 16-year-old Donnacha O’Brien, who only scored his first win last month, finished first out of a field of twenty-one runners, including his brother, Joseph, who came in third. The son of trainer Aidan, despite his inexperience, put on a fine display of riding aboard EL SALVADOR, trained by his father but owned by his mother. As the five-year-old GALILEO son was the top-weight in the contest, Donnacha O’Brien's 7lb claim was a vital contribution to the victory. The Ballydoyle duo were seriously challenged by the Dermot Weld-trained HIDDEN UNIVERSE in the final furlong but the 25/1 shot, EL SALVADOR, handled the pressure well and made it to the line with a length to spare.

 

Aidan O’Brien commented afterwards: “I’m delighted and it’s great for Donnacha. It’s a hard race to win. He’s a tall fellow and is doing his leaving certificate this year. It was a nice, patient ride as the start was a bit messy and he was a long way back.

 

CUP CHALLENGE

The current chairman of Cheltenham Racecourse, Robert Waley-Cohen, is donating a special trophy for the first ever flat race between students from Oxford and Cambridge which will have its debut at Newmarket next week. The silver gilt cup has historic links to the sporting rivalry between these two universities. It was originally awarded in 1939 to the winner of a point-to-point contest between riders from Cambridge and Oxford. The victor on that occasion was a student at New College, Oxford who became Lord Bearsted and, by another quirk of fate, was also Mr Waley-Cohen’s father-in-law. Mr Waley-Cohen and his wife, Felicity, heard about the planned Newmarket varsity event and immediately decided to loan the trophy on the condition that the race will be called the 'Bearsted Perpetual Challenge Trophy'. Five student riders from Cambridge and five from Oxford have been training hard for the past month for the race that will be run on Dubai Future Champions’ Day on this Friday.

 

SUNDAY 12th OCTOBER 2014

NOT NUMBER TWO FOR THOMAS!

Next week's one-day feature meeting at Cheltenham will be flushed with excitement for the connections of one particular seven-year-old. THOMAS CRAPPER, trained by Robin Dickin is going back to his favourite track for his chasing debut. The son of TAMURE had two victories at Prestbury Park in November and returned in March to compete in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle, in which he finished a creditable second. This time he'll take on eleven talented rivals in Friday's squareintheair.com Novices' chase worth £12.5K to the winner. The big question is whether THOMAS CRAPPER has what it takes to overcome, for instance, the likes of Evan Williams' COURT MINSTREL who already has his chasing debut victory behind him, namely the South West Racing Club Novices' Chase at Newton Abbot last month.

 

The Warwickshire-based trainer commented: "Thomas Crapper has done fabulously over the summer and the time has come to go over fences with him. He was actually ready to go chasing last year and we thought that the icing on the cake would be to give him a run over hurdles first. It was a shame that we came up against Don Poli at the festival but there's only one thing you can say about coming second - it is better than finishing third. We have always regarded him as a chaser - he is a big, fine horse and a very good jumper."

 

BACK FOR MORE

The temptation to make it three wins in a row, seems too great. Straight after last week's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe Al Shaqab Racing announced that their star filly, TREVE, would be retired to the paddocks. Then yesterday, out of the blue, Harry Herbert, the owner's racing adviser, revealed that the four-year-old daughter of MOTIVATOR would, after all, remain in training next season with 'Criquette' Head-Maarek and that a third victory in the famous Longchamp contest was the goal.

 

Harry Herbert commented: "It is very exciting and a decision very much taken by Sheikh Joaan with Criquette. She will now attempt to bring off the treble. Seeing how well she was after the race, the Sheikh went back to talk to his family and with Criquette. She knows this filly like the back of her hand and if there was a chance for Treve to prove she was one of the greatest mares of all time by winning three Arcs then why not let her do so. She will miss a year of breeding, whatever happens. If there is any hint of it not going well or if she is any way not right, she will stop immediately. She loves her racing and training, is in very good shape, and carries a massive fan base. I think it is a phenomenal thing, an unusual situation, and very sporting."

 

TREVE scored a sensational five-length victory in the 2013 ARC but things didn't go so well after that. She had thee defeats one after the other but somehow managed to overcome these failures and bounced back brilliantly to beat 19 rivals seven days ago, becoming the first horse in 36 years to win the Arc twice in a row.

 

EASY DOES IT!

It's 175 years since the first running of what we know as the Cesarewitch, named in honour of Tsesarevich Alexander (later Tsar Alexander II), after he donated £300 to the Jockey Club, worth about £223,000 then. Yesterday's 10/1 winner at Newmarket has a name that seems to give an idea of good value – BIG EASY, trained by Philip Hobbs and ridden in a perfectly-timed run by Tom Queally. The seven-year-old son of RANSOM O' WAR keenly tracked the leaders and was ridden to hold a good place over 3 furlongs from the finish. Staying on strongly, he switched left when coming into the final furlong and ran on boldly to beat Marco Botti's DE RIGEUR by three-quarters of a length.

 

Owner Terry Warner was clearly overjoyed that he was back in the winner's enclosure again, his DETROIT CITY having won the race back in 2006.

 

SATURDAY 11th OCTOBER 2014

OUT OF THE RUNNING

An injury to the hoof has put paid to the racing career of dual derby winner, AUSTRALIA. This comes just at the time when the three-year-old GALILEO colt was preparing for next week's Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot.

 

Coolmore's UK representative, Kevin Buckley, announced: "Unfortunately Australia developed a problem in his right-hind hoof during the week and following consultation between the resident farrier in Ballydoyle, our vet and the respective owners a decision was made to retire him to Coolmore. We were all looking forward to Ascot but, as you can appreciate, any type of setback like that jeopardises the training regime and hence we had to make the decision he would not be ready for Champions Day."

 

Ironically this forced retirement means that AUSTRALIA will not go out on a high because, on his last outing, THE GREY GATSBY unexpectedly denied him victory by a neck in last month's Irish Champion Stakes.

 

THE MANE ATTRACTION

A chunk of history is about to disappear in North London. Thousands of visitors to the famous markets at Camden Lock will have been amazed when seeing the life-sized bronze horses standing there in the grounds. The site was originally the home of the Pickford horse stables and horse hospital. This was back in the days when horses pulled the barges along the Regent’s Canal. It was in the Nineties that these sculptures were commissioned by the then owners to commemorate the origins of the market.

 

This extraordinary collection will form part of the Summers Place Auctions house and garden sale to be held on on 21 October in the Walled Garden in Billingshurst, West Sussex. Of the 18 items for sale are two monumental horse’s heads which are expected to fetch in the region of £15,000 to £25,000 each and a six-foot high bronze stallion with an estimated value of £5,000 and £8,000. My personal favourites are the bronze groups which have statues of blacksmiths and grooms working with the horses.

 

STATUE RYAN?

The race for the 2014 top jockey at York is hotting up. Ryan Moore has now moved into the lead after securing a double on the Knavesmire yesterday. He scored on the William Haggas-trained HOMAGE in the feature race, the This Isn't The 'Stan James Champion Hurdle' Handicap and later on OLD TIME BOY, from the stables of Philip McBride. This put the Brighton-born rider on a total of nine wins for the campaign. Unfortunately, as fate would have it, the GREY GATSBY partner in the memorable win in York’s Dante Stakes, is riding at Newmarket today so will miss out on the action at York.

 

The conclusion to this contest is by no means cut-and-dried as Ryan Moore is only one ahead of the St Leger-winning jockey Andrea Atzeni, who, by another quirk of fate, is also at Newmarket. Neither of them can afford to relax, however, because they could both be outdone by Daniel Tudhope, who has four opportunities to build on his current tally of seven winners. He'll be riding York's leading trainer, David O'Meara's FATTSODA, WATCHABLE, and OPEN EAGLE, as well as KASHMIRI SUNSET for Herefordshire trainer, Ed de Giles. ,

 

Whoever becomes York's leading jockey will be honoured with a new, perpetual trophy which was cast in bronze, by renowned sculptor, the late John Skeaping. The statue represents a walking horse with a jockey and will bear the name of the winner.

 

THURSDAY 9th OCTOBER 2014

 

THANKS A MILLION!

Cash to the tune of more than £1 million was clinking around Tattersall's Newmarket auction ring. The Maktoum family bid that amount for three yearling colts which are likely to be running in Godolphin’s colours in a few years' time. Jimmy George, Tattersalls’ MD, can only recall one other occasion when three yearlings had been sold for a seven-figure sum on the same day. In fact, the top price of 1.7m guineas paid for a son of SHAMARDAL was the highest auction price anywhere in the world this year.

 

He commented further: “We’ve had a lot of interest from America, Hong Kong, South Africa and Japan. I think [the high prices reached] reflect the diversity of the participants at the top level and the quality of British and Irish bloodstock at the moment, which is arguably as good as it has ever been. People from throughout the world are coming here, confident of finding thoroughbreds of the highest quality.”

 

John Ferguson, Sheikh Mohammed's bloodstock adviser, who made the successful bids for all three top lots, stated: “I think the standard of yearlings this year is higher than I can remember for many years, at the sales and also the homebreds. Horses are like wine, some years are better than others. We’ve had a good, warm summer here and in Ireland and the yearlings look a remarkably strong bunch.”

 

It was John Ferguson, bidding for Sheikh Mohammed, the ruler of Dubai, and also his son, Sheikh Hamdan. who acquired the most expensive purchase of the day, a son of Shamardal out of the mare Cassandra Go. There were a few exciting moments as this particular colt induced a rare bidding war between the Maktoum family and the Irish stud Coolmore, which John Magnier subsequently lost.

 

KEEPING HIS EYE ON THE BALL

It's the Woodbine Pattison Canadian International in ten days' time and that's the goal for former England footballer, Michael Owen who aims to run his Irish St. Leger winner, BROWN PANTHER, who had been expected to compete in the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot on October 18, the day before the Canadian contest.

 

The former striker commented : “I’m going to have to rejig my diary to see him and it could be tight with the connections. I think I land around midday and then my flight back is at 8pm, but I’d never forgive myself if he won and I wasn’t there to see it. The Long Distance Cup looks an excellent, high-class race, and, while we don’t want to shirk challenges, we’ve spoken to quite a few experts, who tell us Woodbine’s galloping track will suit Brown Panther and it could be a slightly easier opportunity. We have his stallion career to think about and if we can win a Group One race over a mile and a half, then it will only enhance his value at stud.”

 

GOOD AS GOLD

The Racehorse Owners Association (ROA), which represents Britain's racehorse owners, has just awarded Nottingham Racecourse the highest accolade - the Gold Standard. This racecourse was already active in 1773 when it was one of the earliest racecourses to be granted a Royal Plate race by the monarch. It was run in 4 mile heats by 6-year-olds carrying 12 stone. The course moved to its present site in Colwick Park in 1892.

 

Nottingham racecourse now joins other elite tracks such as Newmarket, Epsom Downs and Ascot who who have all gained this honour. The ROA Gold Standard award will be presented on November 5 at the final fixture of the season at Colwick Park.

 

ROA's Chief Executive, Richard Wayman commented: "There is a general consensus in the feedback we receive from members that Nottingham now provides one of the best race-day experiences for owners outside the bigger tracks."

WEDNESDAY 8th OCTOBER 2014

JUST HORSING AROUND

Savage attack at the Werribee, Victoria. Japanese visitor, ADMIRE RAKTI, topweight for the Melbourne Cup, was attacked by stablemate, ADMIRE INAZUMA but seems to have narrowly avoided any serious injury. The latter dumped his rider, Hiroyuki Komi, and repeatedly tried to bite and kick the six-year-old son of HEART'S CRY as the two paraded around the Werribee quarantine station. Rider Kiyoshi Shikato, who was still aboard ADMIRE RAKTI attempted to control his mount but was eventually thrown off when the horse reared. Once free of his rider, ADMIRE RAKTI just stood quietly there as his stablemate continued to attack him.

 

The Japanese team soon regained control of the situation. Both horses were soon recaptured and returned to their stalls. Fortunately, neither horse suffered any major injuries.

 

TAKE COVER

TREVE, first back-to-back winner of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, since ALLEGED in 1978,

who was retired to the paddocks on Sunday immediately after the prestigious race, is to be matched with another superstar, DUBAWI. The son of Dubai Millennium, a prominent figure among Europe's major league of stallions has sired 16 top-level winners, including such stars as AL KAZEEM, MAKFI, POET'S VOICE and NIGHT OF THUNDER, the victor of this season's 2,000 Guineas. The godolphin 12-year-old has been much in demand with the cream of recent European broodmares and this year did the honours with the likes of BEAUTY PARLOUR, DAR RE MI, GOLDEN LILAC, and GREAT HEAVENS, to name but a few.

 

The legendary Mme. Christiane 'Criquette' Head-Maarek originally trained TREVE for her owner/breeder family to run in for the Prix de Diane which she won four lengths. Sheikh Joaan Al Thani couldn't resist buying the daughter of MOTIVATOR after that success, who then went on to win the Prix Vermeille and historically her first Arc victory by five lengths, making her the joint-world champion of 2013 with BLACK CAVIAR.

 

SISTER SALE

The Tattersalls October Yearling Sale produced one of the biggest attractions of the day, a sister to the Aidan O'Brien-trained ZOFFANY. The Book One catalogue, listing what are anticipated to be the most expensive horses on offer, covers the three days of the event at Newmarket and it is expected that many millions will change hands.

 

ZOFFANY, sired by DANSILI out of TYRANNY triumphed in the the 2010 Phoenix Stakes and even gave the famous FRANKEL a run for his money in the St James's Palace Stakes in 2011. The sister was put on offer by by Croom House Stud and was sold for 700,000 guineas to American bloodstock agents Alex Solis and Jason Litt.

 

Jason Litt commented: "Plans are to be decided. She is a good-looking filly, and Zoffany is going so well. Dansili has also done well in Europe and in the US."

 

“ … NO SIRE, DON'T MEAN MAYBE”

It seems that owner/breeder, John Deer is in no particular hurry to race again his champion, AL KAZEEM who put on a good show in last Sunday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp. Roger Charlton's six-year-old DUBAWI son WON three Group One prizes LAST YEAR and was retired to the ROYAL STUDS at the end of that season. Unfortunately he doesn't seem to have what it takes to make a good sire so he's back in training again.

John Deer commented: "We're not making excuses, though. Treve is an unbelievable filly and was a great winner and our horse still ran a good race. I really don't know what we're going to do now. I'm going to put a bit of thought into it and I'll take guidance from a few people, including Roger, of course. He won't run in the Champion Stakes and I think if we do decide to bring him back next year, he'll be sticking to a mile and a half."

TUESDAY 7th OCTOBER 2014

THE EAGLE HAS NOT LANDED

Recently trainer Corine Barande-Barbe commented on CIRRUS DES AIGLES' rivals in next week's QIPCO Champion Stakes: “When Australia was born he was already a Group One winner." Never a truer word as the eight-year-old seems to have done it all before. He won this Group One contest at Ascot in 2011. As a result of the strict French rules on interference (mentioned yesterday), after winning the Prix Dollar on Saturday he was disqualified for bumping his rival near the finish and placed fifth which really upset his trainer. Her one great regret appears to be that her champion cannot compete in France's greatest race, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, because he is a gelding.

As she explained: "He had beaten Treve in the Ganay and he beat (runner-up) Flintshire in the Coronation Cup. I don't think he would have won yesterday but he could have been second or third. We hope to go to the Champion Stakes then enter in Hong Kong and Dubai. We'll see. One day, the story of the outstanding performer of his small rustic stable will come to an end. As soon as he wants to be retired he will show it, and we will do it straight away."

 

THE FINAL CURTAIN

It seems that the next step for John Gosden's TAGHROODA will be a run on Champions Day at Ascot, after her valiant, but failed, effort in Sunday's Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp. Although she got a bad draw, Paul Hanagan managed to keep her going in the straight and the duo made it to third behind the unassailable TREVE. It has already been announced that owner, Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum has already included her in his group of broodmares for the next breeding season. The option now is whether to allow the three-year-old daughter of SEA THE STARS one last appearance in the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes a week on Saturday.

 

Angus Gold, the owner’s racing manager, stated: “I think everyone was thrilled with her.

She ran a fantastic race. I haven’t had time to properly watch the race again, but my personal opinion was that if she’d been drawn a bit kinder, she might have been second, but that is just details. I thought it was a very good Arc. The winner got a dream run up the rail, while the rest of the field were pushed wide. I am just delighted Taghrooda showed herself at the very highest level again after what happened at York.”

 

SAYONARA TILL NEXT YEAR

It seems that the connections of the Japanese trio who competed in the Arc are not too disappointed with the outcome. They were, of course, desperate for a win at long last but hopes were dashed once again. The best result came from HARP STAR who managed a sixth. Two behind was JUST A WAY followed by GOLD SHIP in 14th slot, seven lengths behind the winner.

Naosuke Sugai, trainer of both Just a Way and Gold Ship, commented: “World-class racing is no push-over and neither is the Arc. It was a tough race and I knew it wouldn't be easy to win. I must apologize to all those who stood behind us and cheered us on. The most important thing, however, is that all went well and without mishap for both man and horse. And I would like to express my appreciation to all those who helped us. Without their willingness to take on the challenge there can be no victory and I would like to take on this challenge again sometime. I'll think about our future plans after we return to Japan and see how things are.”

MONDAY 6th OCTOBER 2014

TERRIFIC TREVE!

Well she did it! Just about everybody had written her off except, of course, her remarkable trainer. The Christiane 'Criquette' Head-Maarek-trained TREVE, having failed in three subsequent starts since last October's memorable moment, today became only the seventh two-time winner in the event's 94-year history and the first since ALLEGED won it in 1978. The four-year-old beat her rival, the Andre Fabre-trained FLINTSHIRE by two lengths which, although not the five achieved last year, was, once more, a demonstration of the filly's commanding style, aided and abetted by her regular jockey, Thierry Jarnet. It was just what the whole of Paris and France wanted to see.

 

The pressure on trainer Christiane Head-Maarek under normal circumstances must be great enough but, after the daughter of MOTIVATOR's defeat by CIRRUS DES AIGLES in the Prix Ganay in April and again by BALTIC BARONESS in the Prix Vermeille at the beginning of September, the knives would certainly have been out for Chantilly 'Criquette'. So it looks like Sheikh Joaan's Al Shaqab Racing's valuable asset, although only four years old, is headed for a leisurely retirement with her reputation intact.

 

THE SKY HAS A LIMIT

Another Group One-winning filly is in the news after a disappointing performance. The Richard Hannon-trained SKY LANTERN has gone into retirement after coming sixth in the Kingdom Of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday. The daughter of RED CLUBS triumphed in the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh when only a two-year-old and then went on to score in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot and then won the race she was unable to reclaim on Saturday, the Sun Chariot Stakes. Since those halcyon days, however, for whatever reason, SKY LANTERN has never been at her best.

 

Trainer Richard Hannon commented: "She gave us some fantastic moments, she was a four-times Group One winner and has to be the best filly we have had on the place, and while it was a struggle to get her back this year, she leaves us with some wonderful memories. She will now be with the best people at the Keswicks' stud."

 

AND THE FIRST SHALL BE …..

It's an interesting fact that horses are disqualified from their winning slots much more often in the rest of the world than they are in the United Kingdom. There were a couple of examples at Longchamp over the weeked. CIRRUS DES AIGLES came in first in the Prix Dollar but was subsequently demoted to fifth. Then the Aidan O'Brien-trained GLENEAGLES came in first in the Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, but was relegated to third place after being penalised for hindering Mme.'Criquette' Head-Maarek's FULL MAST and Andre fabre's TERRITORIES.

There seems to be the general opinion here that if a horse passing the post first must be the best horse in the race and that, somehow, the jockey was at fault. If a horse, for some reason, is unable to keep a straight line then any jockey on horses coming up alongside or following, will have to take evasive action rather than get bumped. So in France and Ireland, for instance, it is the accepted rule that every runner should keep to a straight line and any horse that offends that rule should not benefit. As with car drivers, all jockeys must owe a duty of care to their fellow riders. But in the UK, a jockey does not have to take evasive action and the offending horse keeps the race and only the jockey receives a ban. This is an anomaly that punters need to be aware of when gambling on foreign markets.

SUNDAY 5th OCTOBER 2014

HAVING THE YEN TO WIN

I wasn't going to write about it again. After all, the event has dominated the news all week. Anyone would think there was no other horse racing taking place any where else. But when two unlikely bedfellows, such as Sporting Life and The Guardian, are the only ones rooting for a certain runner in this certain race, then the item cannot be ignored. So once again, today's big race is the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (the 95th renewal) at Longchamp outside Paris, worth nearly £2.5 to the victor.

 

Which horse takes the fancy of these two pillars of the press? Sporting Life's headline is “Harp can call the tune in Arc” (get the musical pun!) and The Guardian matches it with “Harp Star set to give Japan a first Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe success”

 

The three-year-old daughter of DEEP IMPACT has a number of things going for her. She is a filly and four of the last six winners have been females (ZARKAVA, DANEDREAM, SOLEMIA and TREVE). She was only narrowly beaten in the Japanese Oaks, probably due to the fact that she lost a shoe and she arrives on the scene after her impressive victory in a Group Two at Saint-Cloud in June. In addition she has powerful finishing speed which should give her the edge on the Longchamp track.

The Japanese probably deserve more than most to have a winner, having been bitterly disappointed twice before in 2013 and 2012 when ORFEVRE was within a hair's breadth of seizing the crown. 5000 or more Japanese supporters are expected to cheer on their champion, who is one of a trio sent over, including JUST A WAY and GOLD SHIP.

 

A FONTWELL FORCE FOR GOOD

Not even the rain could dampen the spirits of the crowds who filed through the gates of the second and final day of the Fontwell Park’s Forces’ Festival. They were there to enjoy an afternoon of seven thrilling jump races as well as a barrage of entertainment provided round about the track, a lot of it centred on the military. As a result it is pleasing to report that thousands of pounds was raised for armed forces charities over the two days.

 

Perhaps one of the most enjoyable outcomes of the day was when local trainer Lydia Richards saddled a winner, 33/1 outsider, AALY in the Costain-MWH JV Commemorating Royal Sussex Regiment Handicap Hurdle, with Marc Goldstein aboard, in the saddle, the only big-priced winner on a day.

 

19-times chanpion jockey, Tony McCoy, also managed to get a clean run when he rode Jonjo O’Neill’s 11/4 favourite, THE NEPHEW, in the MTS Cleaning Services Supporting Royal Navy Handicap Chase.

 

A successful partnership of trainer, Chris Gordon, and jockey, Tom Cannon, produced a second win in the two days with victory in the Clancy Docwra Supporting Royal Air Force Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.

 

CUTTING THEM DOWN TO SIZE

You can't keep an old timer down, as the saying goes, and yesterday veteran SIZING EUROPE proved it. The 12-year-old son of PISTOLET BLEU showed he still had some fire when he snatched victory in the closing strides of the PWC Champion Chase at Gowran, making it his fourth success win. It wasn't a foregone conclusion, however, because the winner of the Galway Plate, ROAD TO RICHES, steered by Paul Carberry, looked to have the race in the bag when heading for home six fences from the winning post. But that was when the stamina of the Henry de Bromhead-trained gelding came into play as he slowly closed the gap Then just behind the last fence, teenager Johnny Burke, aboard for the first time urged his mount for a big jump, got it and mugged the evens favourite close to the line, winning by a head.

 

The winning trainer commented: "It was just incredible. It's like he's taking the Mickey, leaving it until the very end. Four years on the trot now back here. He winged the last, but I still didn't think he'd get up. It's great that it's happened. We just felt he wasn't ready to retire. Fair play to Alan and Ann (Potts, owners). It was brilliant of them to go with us. "I'd say the Clonmel Oil Chase is possible. I'll speak to Alan and Ann and we'll see. We said we'd just take one race at a time. I'd say if we were to go for anything we'd consider that. He seemed to love going round there a couple of years ago."

 

The winning jockey added: "That was unbelievable. I thought four out Paul (Carberry) had slipped us a bit. I coaxed him up the straight and he didn't miss a beat. He winged the last three and battled from the back of the last. He's a wonderful horse."

 

SATURDAY 4th OCTOBER 2014

IT'S A LONG WAY TO ...

Tipperary. That's where Ruby Walsh is headed tomorrow after four months' absence from action. At the Cheltenham Festival in March, he was competing in the Triumph Hurdle when suffered a terrible fall from ABBYSSIAL at the second hurdle, breaking his right arm and dislocating his shoulder. He made a much faster-than-expected return, however, at the Punchestown Festival in late April. It was a spectacular recovery as it turned out. He became the Festival's top rider, notching up six winners. The County Kildare jockey was not oblivious to the fact that there was a distinct possibility that he could dislocate his shoulder again and realised that an operation was on the cards to fully mend the ligaments. This is what happened and he had to wear a sling for six weeks, followed by weeks of rehabilitation.

 

Therefore, wisely, he won't be overdoing it tomorrow. He has just one ride booked on the Willie Mullins-trained INDEVAN in the Grade 3 Like A Butterfly Novice Chase.

Ruby Walsh commented yesterday: “I have been riding out for the last three weeks and am now ready to start back. I am very much looking forward to it, I can’t wait. I would say this is the first time in my career, I have actually given an injury sufficient time to heal. For a little while now it really was only a matter of when I was going to come back . I wish there had been a lot more rain over the last few weeks and Willie Mullins’ horses were more forward. I would, obviously, love if there was an army of horses waiting for me, but am still absolutely delighted all of the same.”

 

BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME”

It's a couple of years since Oliver Williams retired from race riding and concentrated on the next stage of his career of becoming a trainer, for which he hopes to qualify in a few more weeks. The Nettleton Top-born ex-jockey is one of the lucky ones, with a chance of fulfilling a childhood dream he conceived when, as a schoolboy, he used to watch the races at nearby Market Rasen. He has recently gained planning permission to build a dozen stables to launch a horse race training business. The plan is to construct an American-style barn, housing 12 stables, connected directly to a tack room and office, covering some 400 square yards, fully screened by neighbouring trees. The West Lindsey District Council seems to like the idea and has backed the plan, agreeing hat the development fits in well with the Nettleton Top countryside and, in addition, has a potential to create a number of jobs.

 

The proposed barn will be built on his parent’s farm near to the future trainer's home from where he will be able to supervise the business. The neighbouring fields, owned by the Williams family, will be used for grazing and exercising the horses. The business will be formally registered with the British Horse Racing Association.

 

Oliver Williams commented: “We will not be breeding horses, just training them, both for the flat and the jumps. We are dedicated. We have good experience of the industry. Hopefully we will get a good set of owners behind us.”

 

OVERSHADOWED BUT NOT OVERLOOKED

It must be annoying when an important national event is overshadowed by a much bigger prestigious international affair. That's what usually happens on this so-called Arc week-end. Today sees the running of Redcar's most valuable race of the year – the Totepool Two-year-old Trophy with a total prize money of £206,700 (£117K to the winner.) Fortunately, all is not lost. The race is covered by Channel Four at 15.05. It's an interesting fact that Yorkshire trainers have dominated this race for the last ten years or so. Last year it was Malton-based Tim Easterby's turn with VENTURA MIST

 

Today the stables could be turned, however. Three Southern trainers are making the trip up North to try to carry off the prize. There's: Henry Candy from Wantage who will be saddling his LIMATO, endeavouring to make it four wins in a row; West Sussex-based Gary Moore with BRONZE MAQUETTE and David Brown, making less of a journey from Newark in Nottinghamshire, who is apparently so keen to claim the race that he has booked Colin Keane, a rising Irish star, to partner MIND OF MADNESS.

The trio are all rated in the 100s, classier than the rest of the field, so the controlling factor will no doubt be the weight, which is well in LIMATO's advantage.

 

FRIDAY 3rd OCTOBER 2014

PAUL NICHOLLS HAS RETIRED ...

his champion hurdler, CELESTIAL HALO. (Bet you read that headline twice!) Daryl Jacob is one particular jockey who perhaps knows the ten-year-old GALILEO son better than most. He was the Ditcheat-based trainer's stable jockey and during that time he formed a strong bond with the gelding over some two-and-a-half years and of the gelding's ten wins over hurdles he was aboard for five of them.

 

The Wincanton-based jockey paid the following tribute: “Celestial Halo was a brilliant horse for me. I rode him ten times, won five races and was second in a World Hurdle. For me the trip to Auteuil in May last year was something special when we won a Grade Two – a fantastic win.”

 

CELESTIAL HALO began his racing career in Lambourn with Barry Hills and made the racing headlines when 'breaking his duck' by winning the 2007 St James Security Maiden Stakes by 13 lengths. He was subsequently pulled out of that year's Epsom Derby after a less than impressive performance in the Chester Vase when he came third out of four runners, some five lengths behind the winner. Then later that year it seems to have dawned on trainer and connections that their protégé was probably better at longer distances when, although he finished seventh in the St Leger, he was only three lengths adrift of John Gosden's LOCARNO. After that he claimed his first success over hurdles, winning the Happy Birthday Laura From Bathwick Tyres Juvenile Novices' Hurdle by 14 lengths.

The rest, as they say is 'history'!

 

A WIN-WIN TRACK

Wetherby, the track that has been home to National Hunt racing since 1891 is to have an additional three Flat fixtures in 2015. The news has been warmly welcomed by the top trainer and jockey who were part of the trial that was arranged in the Summer. The West Yorkshire track has got the go-ahead to run its first Flat meeting on Sunday, April 26, replacing an existing jumps fixture that had been scheduled for the previous week. For some time now jockeys and trainers have been expressing their concern as to whether Wetherby will survive as a jumps venue but owners of the track have issued assurances that national Hunt racing will remain its core activity.

 

Malton-based trainer, Brian Ellison, who sent some of his horses to take part in the trial commented: "To have three more Flat meetings at Wetherby is great news and I will certainly be having runners there."

 

Patrick (PJ) McDonald was the jockey who tried out the track on several gallops over distances up to a mile and three-quarters and he is also Northern Riders' safety officer was equally delighted with the decision: "The track was brilliant, you could have racing there tomorrow, no problem. To have another course in the north with Flat racing is a win-win for everyone."

 

THE RISING PHOENIX

The newly 'risen from the ashes' Chelmsford City racecourse has been allotted 56 fixtures for 2015. The track was forced to shut down in 2009 after going into administration. The race course, however, was given permission to resume racing at the beginning of this year.

Managing Director, Phil Siers stated: "There will be a full programme and we hope that will go from strength to strength. We're scheduled to start racing around the middle of January. We'll probably have a couple of meetings in January to give us a small start into the racing season, but we've been guaranteed 56 fixtures next year."

It has also been announced that the British Horseracing Authority will release a full programme for the year by the end of this month.

 

THERE IS NOTHING LIKE A DAME”!

Sunday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe has an additional competitor. The Aidan O'Brien-trained TAPESTRY has joined the list of hopefuls for the Longchamp contest. It was also announced that Ryan Moore will ride the three-year-old filly daughter of GALILEO. Now we know where the extra ride came from when Frankie Dettori was still retained to ride RULER OF THE WORLD!

 

TAPESTRY was a last-minute entry at a cost of 120,000 euros (£95,000) after she beat the Arc favourite, TAGHROODA, in the Yorkshire Oaks at the end of August. Perhaps the high cost of entry has to be considered against the prize money of 5 million Euros (nearly £2.4m.) making it the most richly rewarded turf race in the world.

 

If you're thinking of having a bet, it is worth noting that four of the last six winning horses have been females (ZARKAVA, DANEDREAM, SOLEMIA and TREVE). Also the weight allowance is in the three-year-old fillies' favour. They get 8st 8lb against the 8st 11lb carried by the colts). The older ladies carry a weight of 9st 2lb, whereas the males take on an extra 3lbs.

 

The home crowd will be definitely be rooting for a trio of French runners: last year's indomitable heroine, TREVE, the Prix Niel winner, ECTOT and others undoubtedly believe there is a 'certain future' for the unbeaten AVENIR CERTAIN.

 

Spare a thought, too for the 5,000 or more Japanese racing fans who are expected to invade the Paris track to support their three contenders: HARP STAR, GOLD SHIP and JUST A WAY. They will be hoping that so-called 'Japanese jinx' will finally be exploded and a Nippon newcomer will be the first Arc winner trained in the Land of the Rising Sun.

THURSDAY 2nd OCTOBER 2014

THE BEST LAID PLANS OF …...”

A jockey went to Newcastle yesterday as a gesture of gratitude to his former boss. PAUL HANAGAN, lined up on the Malcolm Jefferson-trained ENCHANTED GARDEN in the Henry Colbeck Fish & Chips Handicap. The twice champion jockey on the flat spent his first year in racing with the Norton-based trainer, before joining Richard Fahey where his subsequent rise to fame all happened. When he was working for Malcolm Jefferson, Paul Hanagan was an unknown 7lb claimer and it was here that he got his first chance to make the first of his many successful appearances on the racecourse.

 

Paul Hanagan made no secret of the fact that he dearly wanted to succeed for his first boss. This outcome seemed well within the bounds of possibility as ENCHANTED GARDEN is no mean hurdler, with wins at Market Rasen in May and July and a second on the flat at Musselburgh. The son of SULUMANI didn't, however, performso well subsequently at Beverley in the middle of August when, sent off a 2/1 favourite, he only managed to finish sixth from eight runners. Malcolm Jefferson, to give him his due, gave his mount a month-and-half to recover from that experience and clearly hoped that would bring him back into winning ways.

But as Robert Burns put it: “ The best-laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley” and it didn't happen that way. The six-year-old gelding was already outpaced by the time the two-furlong pole was reached and came in a disappointing tenth out of fourteen. Not the result Paul Hanagan had hoped for and certainly not a positive preparation for the biggest ride of his career, when he partners the favourite, the John Gosden-trained TAGHROODA in Sunday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

 

RIDING IN TRIUMPH

So after all the speculation the jockey from Milan will ride for the Ballydoyle king. Three-times winner of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Frankie Dettori, will be aboard RULER OF THE WORLD on Sunday, marking his 26th appearance in the world-famous Longchamp contest. A contributory factor to his selection must be that he rode the 2013 Epsom Derby winner to victory in last month's Prix Foy at the same track. Frankie Dettori lost the ride on TREVE, last year's Arc heroine 2013, to Thierry Jarnet, the filly's original rider, who took over at the specific request of trainer Criquette Head-Maarek. The French jockey rode the four-year-old daughter of MOTIVATOR to victory in the 2013 Arc, after Frankie Dettori had to withdraw due to injury. The Aidan O'Brien-trained RULER OF THE WORLD, winner of last year's ChesterVase, is jointly owned by Sheikh Joaan Al Thani's Al Shaqab Racing operation and the Coolmore stables based in Ireland.

 

THE HORSE BEFORE THE CARTIER!

Talking of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe – again! The annual Cartier Racing Awards have come to an important phase, as they take in all the exciting racing activity across Europe, beginning with the prestigious Longchamp race. These awards were established in 1991 to honour the champions of European horse racing and the winners will be announced on November 11th.

Often compared to the Oscars, these awards are established through a systematic combination of points earned by horses in Pattern races throughout this year, amounting to 40% of the total score, which then, at the close of the season, is combined with the professional verdict of a panel of racing journalists – a further 30% - added to votes by Racing Post and The Daily Telegraph readers plus viewers of Channel 4 Racing, making it up to 100%.

As well as the eight equine awards, the Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award of Merit will given to the person or persons who, in the opinion of the 17-strong Cartier Jury, has/have achieved the most for European racing and/or breeding, which can be during their lifetime or over the previous 12 months.

 

Inevitably the super star miler, KINGMAN (208) is at the moment at the heads the vote for Cartier Horse Of Year and Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt. Unfortunately his recent shock retirement with a throat infection has now cast doubt over the eventual result.

 

Trailing in second position is twice Derby winner, AUSTRALIA, (164) but this could dramatically change if the GALILEO colt scores a victory on QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on October 18, when he will be entered for either the 10-furlong Group One QIPCO Champion Stakes or the mile Group One Queen Elizabeth II Stakes Sponsored By QIPCO.

 

Further down the list comes the Kevin Ryan-trained THE GREY GATSBY (124) who notably beat Australia in the Group One QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown last month and is also lining up at Ascot Champions Day. Also on 124 is Corine Barande-Barbe's CIRRUS DES AIGLES, winner of the Cartier Older Horse Award in 2011 who returns to the track this Saturday in the Group Two Qatar Prix Dollar at Longchamp.

 

Inevitably the Group One Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe this week-end will be important in deciding the recipient of the Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly award, with both dual Group One winner Taghrooda (112) and unbeaten dual Classic heroine Avenir Certain (80) in line for success, although KINGSTON HILL (56) and ECTOT (24) might just upset these aspirations.

 

Harry Herbert, Cartier's Racing Consultant, commented: "We have been treated to some outstanding racing over the summer and the upcoming meetings at Longchamp, Ascot and Newmarket look set to provide a fitting crescendo to a magnificent European season. With many of the leading contenders set to run over the next few weeks before attention turns to the Breeders' Cup in America, there are plenty of opportunities for horses to enhance their chances of a Cartier Racing Award."

WEDNESDAY 1st OCTOBER 2014

FREE RIDER?

Sunday's Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe is proving to be 'swings and roundabouts' for would-be riders. William Buick, although stable jockey to trainer John Gosden, will not, however, be aboard the favourite TAGHROODA, because Paul Hanagan is retained to ride her by the owner, Sheikh Hamdan al-Maktoum. So the Norwegian-born jockey, with both British and Danish citizenship, has been booked to ride the German raider, Jean-Pierre Carvalho-trained IVANHOWE instead.

 

One fascinating possibility from this arrangement is that there is a strong chance that William Buick could deny his boss the esteemed prize on the four-year-old son of SOLDIER HOLLOW, who beat, by three lengths, the German Derby winner, SEA THE MOON at the beginning of September in the Grosser Preis von Baden.

 

German-based French trainer Jean-Pierre Carvalho commented yesterday: “I’m very happy to get William Buick. He’s a very good jockey. He’s very strong. I know William and I know his father, [Walter, a former multiple champion jockey in Scandinavia] who rode in Germany before. It was a very good decision. We had four or five jockeys in mind for the Arc and we had the choice of William Buick or Ryan Moore. But Ryan Moore, I think, may be riding for Aidan O’Brien.”

 

Now this is where the thlot pickens!

Aidan O'Brien only has two possible runners among the 20 remaining entries for the Arc as of yesterday's latest declaration stage – RULER OF THE WORLD and CHICQUITA. The trainer's son, Joseph, will obviously partner one of these. So, if Ryan Moore does get to ride for the Ballydoyle king, that could leave one leading jockey out in the cold. No names, no pack drill!

 

ALLEY OOP!

Just couldn't resist this story. It's not strictly horse racing but a close cousin, show jumping. You might have seen a picture on Facebook of a six-year-old girl child tackling a jump. The entry picked up 40,000 likes in just one day. It turns out that it is the photo of jockey, Paddy Aspell's daughter, Lilly which appeared in the Horse and Hound.

 

Donna Aspell, Lilly’s mother, commented: “I just thought I’d send it in. I didn’t expect it to be posted, not least to go down a storm. It’s every little girl’s dream to be in H&H and Lilly is thrilled. It’s her dream to represent Team GB one day.”

 

The Aspell family live in the Newmarket area and it is reported that Lilly has been riding since she was very small. Apparently she went hunting with her father when she was only four years old. Despite the fact that both her father and uncle are jockeys (Uncle Leighton won this year’s Grand National on PINEAU DE RE), little Lilly seems determined to become an eventer, at the moment.

 

If you're not one of the 2.3 million people who have already seen this, you can catch it here:

 

https://www.facebook.com/horseandhound/photos/a.93084860527.97269.9588500527/10152540620665528/?type=1

 

HARK! HARK! THE ARC IS NEAR!

As mentioned earlier, 20 horses are due to run in Sunday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at the first forfeit stage on Monday. There's a second later in the week. So at the latest count, the possible runners include: the ante-post favourite TAGHROODA; Al Shaqab Racing's three-year-old ECTOT; last year's winner, TREVE; the trio from Japan: GOLD SHIP, JUST A WAY and HARP STAR; Aidan O'Brien' RULER OF THE WORLD and CHICQUITA; Roger Varian's KINGSTON HILL; Roger Charlton's AL KAZEEM (though he is also entered for Saturday's Cumberland Lodge; Andre Fabre's FLINTSHIRE; Gestüt Schlenderhahn's IVANHOWE; Galileo colt SPIRITJIM; Jean-Pierre Gauvin-trained SIJAN'S SAGAS; Prix de Saint-James victor, MONTVIRON; runner-up in the Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris, PRINCE GIBRALTAR; FREE PORT LUX who won the Prix du Prince d'Orange last time out; His Highness Aga Khan's DOLNIYA and SHAMKALA.

TUESDAY 30th SEPTEMBER 2014

SINGING FROM THE SAME SONG SHEET

The Evan Williams-trained Scottish Champion hurdler got off to a flying start yesterday at Newton Abbot when he won the South West Racing Club Novices' Chase in grand style. Under the excellent stewardship of Paul Moloney, COURT MINSTREL showed he has what it takes to negotiate fences. Considering it was the seven-year-old son of COURT CAVE's first crack at a chase, it was a surprising, virtually perfect, performance as he pursued the Paul Nicholls-trained KELTUS in the early stages of the contest. As time went on, however, COURT MINSTREL seemed to get better and better and when Paul Moloney gently eased his mount alongside the Sam Twiston-Davies-ridden KELTUS it certainly looked as though the victory was going to be no problem at all but a mistake at the last fence meant that the Ballydoyle-born rider had a bigger task on his hands than expected but his mount responded instantly to his urging, winning the race by two and a quarter lengths, even though he was 11lbs heavier than the eventual runner-up.

 

The winning trainer commented: "We are very happy with that performance as he has found an inch or so on the course which he had not been doing at home. We had schooled him on a synthetic surface and he had been anything but flashy but we will stick to fences now and he could go to Cheltenham on October 18 for a two mile novice chase."

 

MAKING A STAND

After his sparkling 11-length victory in the Deutsches Derby, the Markus Klug-trained SEA THE MOON was an obvious favourite for Sunday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. Unfortunately fate works in mysterious ways. On his next outing, in the Grosser Preis Von Baden, he was headed by the eventual winner, IVANHOWE, in the last furlong and seemed to have nothing left with which to respond. Afterwards it was discovered that he had sustained an injury during the contest and was subsequently retired. So it has been decided that the Gestut Gorlsdorf's colt will continue his days, standing at Lanwades Stud near Newmarket, one of the very few stallion studs in England, where thoroughbred racehorses have been bred for more than 300 years.

 

Lanwades owner, Swedish-born Kirsten Rausing, member of the Jockey Club and a former director of the National Stud, made the following statement: He made such a huge impression on everybody when winning the German Derby, and we feel that he will be a very popular sire indeed. He is a beautiful colt and so closely resembles the magnificent Sea The Stars, who has made such an extraordinary impact at stud this year. As he is out of a Monsun full sister to Samum, he represents a fantastic outcross option for many European breeders."

 

A LOGICAL OUTCOME

There's no mystery about DEFY LOGIC's current situation: he'll be out of racing for the rest of the season due to an injury to the tendon. The Paul Nolan's Grade One-winning chaser won the Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown at the end of last year, when he beat Charles Byrnes' TRIFOLIUM by three and a half lengths but then went on to finish a well-beaten fifth to the same rival in the Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase a month later. It turned out afterwards that the JP McManus-owned seven-year-old had burst a blood vessel during the race and so his racing season was halted prematurely.

 

Trainer Paul Nolan commented: "He has a suspensory problem and we've just had to pull the rug on his season. He's gone back to Martinstown (McManus' stud) and with this sort of thing it is normally a season. He was perfect, he had come back from Martinstown after the summer looking beautiful, he looked a picture, but unfortunately about a week ago he had a slight swelling at the back of his knee and when we had it scanned it showed a little problem. We were really looking forward to the season with him, he had a couple of different options and we were just starting to make a plan, but that's the way it goes."

MONDAY 29th SEPTEMBER 2014

EUROPEAN RAIDERS

About 30 hours' travelling, with stops in Amsterdam, Sharjah (UAE) and Singapore – that's what 19 horses, part of the first group of European raiders, had to negotiate to be part of Australia's Spring Carnival meetings. This British contingent includes 9 horses: including globe-trotting gelding, RED CADEAUX; this year's Ebor star, the Johnny Murtagh-tyrained MUTUAL REGARD and Roger Varian's five-year-old filly, AMBIVALENT who are all reported to be settling in at the Weribee International Quarantine Centre.

 

Leigh Jordon, international recruitment officer for Racing Victoria stated: "The IRT [International Racehorse Transport] team were very happy with the way all 19 horses travelled and to my eye they've stepped off the plane in really nice order. The horses will be given some time to settle in to their new surroundings at Werribee and I'm looking forward to seeing them hit the track during the week. There's a great mix of talent that has arrived today and I definitely think we've seen horses that can fight out the finish of the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup. We've been reacquainted with some old favourites and we're most pleased to have Red Cadeaux lining up for his fourth straight Spring Racing Carnival, a record for an internationally-trained horse. Likewise, we're excited to welcome back Dandino and Side Glance, who both performed so well last year, and highly-rated new talent like Ambivalent, Mutual Regard and Protectionist."

 

RIVER DROWNS OPPOSITION

A decisive win in the Juddmonte Beresford Stakes at the Curragh yesterday certainly accentuated OL' MAN RIVER's Classic claims. The MONTJEU colt established his credentials last month by winning his debut appearance in the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund. He coped with this challenge, the Juddmonte Beresford Stakes (Group 2) with ease, making his bid for glory down the centre of the track. As expected, Dermot Weld's TOMBELAINE took up the running from his stable-mate, BATTLE OF MARATHON, but had nothing left in the final furlong and was relegated to last-but-one. Odd-on favourite, OL' MAN RIVER, cruised effortlessly into the lead under the expert stewardship of the trainer's son, Joseph O'Brien, and had nothing to worry about as he beat challenger, CLONARD STREET, into a two-and-three-quarter length defeat. This victory marked a treble on the card for father and son, and it was 14th time the Ballydoyle king has won this particular event, matching the record of his predecessor Vincent O'Brien (no relation).

 

The winning jockey commented: "I probably got to the front a bit soon, but he was always going very easy. We went a nice, even gallop and it's lovely quick ground. He relaxed well and I didn't have a moment's worry."

 

BIRTHDAY CARD

Champion jump jockey should have a good day at Newton Abbot today. Tony McCoy will be aboard Nicky Henderson's SON DU BERLAIS in the first race of the day, the Happy Birthday Tomorrow Mum “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle. The four-year-old son of MUKTATHIR was in winning style at Auteuil in March when it was soft going, so chances are that he will could get his first win in the UK, even if the ground is a little faster. His major threat will probably come from another runner from France, VAL D'ARC, who notched up a win in a chase at Craon last September but hasn't shown any great form at Haydock and Worcester since that time.

Should be an interesting race.

SUNDAY 28th SEPTEMBER 2014

FAST AND FURIOUS

The fastest two-year-old in Europe” is quite a claim but that's what they are saying about the Richard Hannon-trained TIGGY WIGGY. The KODIAC filly's front-running performance in the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket yesterday has raised the possibility of her running in next week's Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp where she will be up against older rivals.

 

Richard Hughes quickly established his mounts superiority in the six-furlong sprint from the word 'go', gaining an unchallenged lead. When the current champion jockey on the Flat chose the moment to kick for home, TIGGY WIGGY willingly responded and stayed on strongly to beat her main rival, ANTHEM ALEXANDER by three-quarters of a length.

 

Many trainers view the Cheveley Park as a trial for the following year's 1,000 Guineas, but Richard Hannon, quite rightly has misgivings about the ability of TIGGY WIGGY to maintain her speed capacity over an additional quarter of a mile.

 

As he explained: “I think she’ll be stronger over five. She’s a two-year-old and we’ll worry about next year, next year. She’s in great form, so why not keep going? I’ll have a look at her when she gets home but I know what she’ll be like, she’ll be her usual self and she’ll just do her thing.”

 

If TIGGY WIGGY does run in the Prix de l’Abbaye she will have to carry 8st 4lb and, although Richard Hughes has not ridden below 8st 6lb this year, it is not expected that a couple of additional pounds will slow her down. season, but a pound or two of overweight is unlikely to blunt her speed.

 

Richard Hughes added: “I wouldn’t like to be putting anyone else on her that doesn’t know her. She’s professional, and she grinds it out. She’s the fastest two-year-old I’ve ridden, without a doubt. You don’t feel you’re going that quick, no matter what part of the race, but she covers a lot of ground.”

 

JAPANESE JINX!

Horse racing is one of Japan's great passions. The Japanese Racing Association (JRA) spends thousands of pounds each year bringing famous European horses and trainers over to race in Japan. The traffic is not just one-way. A small number of Japanese champions try their luck in overseas contests. One particular dream is to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe which, for one reason and another, seems to have become an elusive obsession. In recent years, in 2012 for example, they came close to achieving their dream. Christophe Soumillon was aboard the Yasutoshi Ikee-trained ORFEVRE who, under normal circumstances, you'd expect to stand a good chance of claiming the prestigious prize. But these weren't normal circumstances. The four-year-old son of STAY GOLD was up against a top-notch filly trained by the incomparable Mme. 'Criquette' Head-Maarek and couldn't stay the pace and lost out by five lengths. There were thousands of disappointed Japanese in Paris on that day who had made the journey specially to watch their champion at Longchamp. Undaunted there will no doubt be thousands more arriving next week to watch a trio of hopefuls: HARP STAR, GOLD SHIP and JUST A WAY.

 

ROOKIE'S REPEATED REWARD

A 19-year-old apprentice jockey did it again yesterday at Newmarket. After striking gold on 20/1 shot MUTUAL REGARD at York on 23rd August, Louis Steward, benefiting from his 5lb claim, stole the show on BRONZE ANGEL in the Betfred Cambridgeshire, making it 50 wins in his short career. The Michael Bell apprentice received well-earned praise from trainer, Marcus Tregoning, for the way he kept his cool right until the end, establishing a two-and-a-quarter-length advantage over the eventual dead-heating duo, NICEOFYOUTOTELLME and VELOX

 

Rising star, Louis Steward commented afterwards: "That was my 50th winner, I am now a 3lb claimer, so that's a nice way of doing it. He loves a big field, and this is when he comes best on this quick ground. I tried to produce him as late as I could and it worked. The Ebor was spectacular and just to do it again at the end of the year is amazing. It's such a privilege to ride him, and a great training performance from Mr Tregoning."

 

The winning trainer added: "It was a great training performance by the team who came with me to Whitsbury. It has started extremely well so far but it just needs a couple of good horses to make it really go. He's a consistent performer and all credit to his owner, Lady Tennant, to stick with him, because we missed last year really, when he jarred a joint and it took him a long while to get over it. It would have been lovely if he could have followed Prince De Galles, who won two in a row (1969, 1970). Martin Dwyer would have ridden him but we felt the claim was important and this guy is riding full of confidence.

 

SATURDAY 27th SEPTEMBER 2014

FIGHTING FIT FILLIES

A Champion jockey-elect will be at Newmarket today seeking to add another Group One victory to his already impressive year. Irish jockey, Pat Smullen is targeting today's Connolly's Red Mills Cheveley Park Stakes (Fillies' Group 1) aboard the Eddie Lynam-trained ANTHEM ALEXANDER. The 15.10 contest promises yet another thrilling confrontation with TIGGY WIGGY, trained by Richard Hannon and ridden by another Richard - Hughes. Today's event will be the third clash between the two-year-old fillies, with the score standing a one win apiece, after the KODIAC daughter avenged her previous Queen Mary Stakes defeat by winning easily the Pinsent Masons Lowther Stakes at York last month, with ANTHEM ALEXANDER trailing back in third. The two juveniles seemed destined to race against each other, as they are both entered in next Sunday’s Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp.

 

Today's long-awaited fixture is recognised as a traditionally British contest for two-year-old fillies. ANTHEM ALEXANDER starts the day with the Lowther two-length defeat hovering over her but the strong thing in her favour is that she will be ridden by a jockey on the top of his form with an eye on the Irish championship

 

NO LONGER HERE FOR THE BEER!

Three racegoers allegedly involved in the incident, when a beer can was thrown at Tony McCoy last week at Worcester, have been banned by owners, Arena Racing Company (ARC). The local trio who are, apparently, regulars at the Grand Stand Road track, have been identified by the police and are set to be banned from this track and all other tracks owned and managed by ARC.

 

Jenny Cheshire, Worcester's General Manager, commented: "The three were identified by police today. One of them was already known to us. We take incidents like this extremely seriously and such behaviour will not be tolerated. Accordingly, they will be banned from Worcester and all our other racecourses. This was a one-off incident. It is very rare for us to have trouble here. I think drink was to blame, but of course that's certainly no excuse for such behaviour."

 

The 19-times champion jockey added that he preferred to forget the incident and had no desire to proceed any further with a criminal complaint to the police. As a precaution, three police officers were present at yesterday's session in addition to the usual racecourse security team. It is proposed that they will also be there for the Worcester's three remaining fixtures this year.

 

INBRED SUCCESS

Yesterday's Group 2 Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket was won by LUCIDA and, into the bargain, marked the 35th Group/Graded winner for her sire, SHAMARDAL. The latter has had a good year so far, with wins by such Group One winners as MUKHADRAM, DAN EXCEL and BALTIC BARONESS. The Godolphin-owned son of GIANT'S CAUSEWAY was the standing sire at Darley's Kildangan Stud in County Kildare for a fee of €50,000 in 2014.

 

The Jim Bolger-trained LUCIDA started her career in good style by winning her maiden at Naas at the beginning of August, followed by a couple of good seconds at the Curragh. The Newmarket victory marked her first success under rules in the UK. The interesting thing about LUCIDA is that she is the first foal out of LURA, a daughter of a close relation of SHAMARDAL, making her an inbred filly.

 

A CUSTOM COUP

The Group 2 Shadwell Joel Stakes was won in convincing fashion at Newmarket yesterday when CUSTOM CUT made it five wins in a row. (Previous wins at Windsor, Pontefract, Leopardstown and York). The David O'Meara-trained five-year-old, despite making a smart break from the stalls and making all the running, for a while wasn't looking like a winner, content, as he seemed to be, to bowl along at quite a slow pace. In fact, at at two furlongs out it looked as though Roger Charlton's CAPTAIN CAT would assume leadership. Daniel Tudhope, however, had the situation well in hand and succeeded in tapping hidden resources in the five-year-old son of NOTNOWCATO, who responded well under pressure and pulled away from the rest of the field in the last furlong.

 

The winning jockey commented: "I think this track suited him. He got into a nice, relaxed rhythm. He's very versatile ground-wise and he's going the right way."

(It's good he goes the right way round each track!)

 

FRIDAY 26th SEPTEMBER 2014

NOT A PURRFECT RESULT FOR HER MAJESTY!

Well the news is out. The Queen's mare, ESTIMATE, has been denied her second spot in last June's Gold Cup at Royal Ascot as there was a positive test for morphine. John Warren, the Royal racing manager thanked the BHA for its ‘thorough and fair investigation’. Ironically, in light of the recent Scottish referendum on independence, the horse who replaces the Royal runner is MISSUNITED!

 

Yesterday's decision came as no surprise as Dodson & Horrell, the company which supplied the feed, had already admitted that he positive tests for morphine in all seven horses were the result of poppy seed contamination. Subsequently trainers Barry and Gay Kelleway, both having losers as a result of this decision, have announced that they will seek compensation for their owners from Dodson & Horrell, who have put the matter into the hands of their insurers.

 

Sir Michael Stoute, who, apart from her Majesty's mare, had another disqualification, RUSSIAN REALM, at Ascot, was the only trainer to attend the London hearing. He commented afterwards: “We knew that as the rules stand Estimate would get disqualified but I did not get fined so I can go and buy lunch for a few friends. No apportion of blame was attached. Dodson and Horrell admitted that their product was contaminated. When asked what were his feelings when he discovered that the Queen's horse was incriminated, he answered tersely: “It spoiled my day – put it that way.”

 

Jamie Stier, Director of Raceday Operations and Regulation for the BHA, announced: “The Rules are clear on the matter of disqualification. Once a horse has been found to have had a prohibited substance in its system on raceday then disqualification of the horse must be the result. The administration of the substance was accidental and no fault of those connected to the horse but, while it is unfortunate for those involved, no other approach would be acceptable when the cornerstone of our policy is ensuring a level playing field for all participants.”

 

ESTIMATE, the 2013 old Cup winner, has run three times since this incident adding the Doncaster Cup to her list of successes. It is mooted, however, that she will probably retire after one more run, which could be on Champions Day at Ascot next month.

 

THE WHIPPING BOY

The British Horseracing Authority's disciplinary panel has used its totting up procedure to issue a 21-day ban to a Latin American jockey. The panel found Silvestre de Sousa guilty of using his whip above the permitted level riding Karl Burke's TOOCOOLFORSCHOOL to victory by seven lengths in the Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury last week. This incident was ultimately referred to the BHA after an inquiry at Newbury as it was the Brazilian jockey' fifth offence involving the misuse of the whip, which potentially incurs suspension of between two to six days, in the last six months. Seven days of the ban have been deferred.

The sad consequence of all this is that Silvestre de Sousa will now miss QIPCO British Champions Day on October 18.

 

FAREWELL TO A GREAT TRAINER

Sad news for the British racing world. Gerald Barnard Balding known as 'Toby', one of the few National Hunt trainers to have added his name to the elite list of winners of the pinnacle prizes of the Grand National, Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle winners died two days after his 78th birthday. The United States-born trainer was, amongst other things, the driving force in the career of the future champion jockey, Tony McCoy, who was apprenticed to him when he moved to England.

 

The Kimpton Stables' boss began training at an incredibly young age, taking out a licence in 1956 when he was only 19. His first success was with Bower Chalk. His racing career terminated 48 years later when he retired at the end of the 2004 Flat season, having notched up over 2000 winners.

 

Toby Balding, an honorary member of the Jockey Club, received an OBE in 2011 for services to racing. His first Grand National winner was Highland Wedding, a horse which he bought from his vet Peter Calver in 1969.

 

The Andover-based trainer had Champion Hurdle winners, Beech Road in 1989 and Morley Street who came up trumps in the 1991 Champion Hurdle. Toby Balding went back to the place of his birth and claimed victory in two Breeders' Cup Chases.

 

Last night, 19-times champion AP McCoy summed it up, (where else but on on Twitter!): "Tonight I cried when I heard the news my old boss & friend Toby Balding had died, we had great times together. He was my Ultimate Mentor RIP.”

 

 

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY 24th SEPTEMBER 2014

 

THREE'S COMPANY

Lisa Harrison is off to the Palace today hoping to crown her fantastic year. Not Buckingham but Scone, the location for the coronation of the King & Queen of Scots and for the Stone of Destiny. Perth Racecourse, where there has been racing since 1615, shares the site with this historical location. The Cumbrian trainer has had a run of successes here, producing five winners since May and is looking to add to her wins with her three runners this afternoon. The Aldoth-based trainer kicks off her day in the Morris Leslie Group Handicap Chase in which she she seems determined to have a good crack at, as she has entered both SOLWAY BAY and SOLWAY DORNAL in a small field of five.

 

Lisa Harrison commented: “Solway Bay was course and distance winner earlier this month and hopefully he will cope with the 8lb rise. Solway Dornal has won twice over fences at Perth this year and his last win came in between two runs in long distance hurdles at Sedgefield - like most of our horses he just seems to click at Perth."

 

The final bid for glory will be in the last race of the day, the Stay In Scone Palace For Perth Races Handicap Hurdle, when she will saddle veteran, SOLWAY SAM, about whom she added: "He's eleven and not getting any younger but he loves it at Perth too. He's won twice over this trip this season and he also gave our conditional Ryan Day his first winner under Rules back in July. Ryan has just one left to lose his 10lb claim and all his wins have come at Perth."

 

TAKING THE MICKAEL IS SERIOUS

On his first ride in the UK since returning home to France in June, Mickael Barzalona, has been booked by trainer, Ismail Mohammed, to ride EDUCATE in Saturday's Betfred Cambridgeshire at Newmarket. The five-year-old son of ECHO OF LIGHT won this race last year when Johnny Murtagh brought him home by a short head, giving the ex-Dubai trainer his biggest success so far since setting up house in Newmarket. After a series of races on home territory, his horses have finished fourth in each of his three starts this season and take on top weight in this £160,000 handicap.

 

Assistant trainer, Niall Collum, made this comment: "We were looking around for a jockey, we had one or two in mind, and we wanted to get something sorted out before they were all snapped up. The owner suggested we go for Mickael, who is a very good jockey. We'd just be a bit worried about drying ground for the horse, so a drop of rain wouldn't go amiss."

 

YORKIE TOPS

Sky Bet trophies are presented each year to the leading trainer and jockey with the highest number of winners on racecourses in Yorkshire during the 2014 Flat season. Malton-based trainer, Richard Fahey and North Yorkshire-based jockey, Paul Mulrennan, are currently in the lead, in their respective categories, for these prestigious awards. The contest period finishes at Doncaster on Saturday, November 8.

 

Richard Fahey is seeking a fifth-year win after notching up an impressive score of 62 winners on the White Rose County's racetracks. His nearest rival is Nawton-based David O’Meara, way behind on a total of 20 winners. The Musley Bank Stables' boss produced a winning number of 65 last year and he could be close to beating his own record of 70 victories in 2009.

 

The jockey award will probably be a much closer call. Paul Mulrennan has ridden 47 winners in Yorkshire and is hoping to win the title for the first time. Close on his heels, though, is the last-two seasons' champion rider, Danny Tudhope, who's on 41 wins at the moment.

 

Sky Bet will be sponsoring the Go Racing In Yorkshire annual awards lunch in December when the respective winners will claim their rewards.

 

ONLY THE BRAVE

Next week a former jockey aims to ride a circuit of Exeter Racecourse. On the face of it, not headline-grabbing news. But the rider is Sarah Gaisford who will going back for the first time to the track where she fell in 2007 and sustained horrific injuries, breaking her back when a horse galloped over her after she fell from FESTIVAL FLYER in the Betfair Amateur Riders' Handicap Hurdle. As a result she lost the use of her legs. The Devon-born rider will ride the full two-mile circuit next Thursday alongside such racing legends as John Francome and Richard Pitman, accompanied by leading Exeter jockey Nick Scholfield.

 

Sarah Gaisford's remarkable recovery has been assisted by support from the Injured Jockeys' Fund and now clearly she wants to show her gratitude by raising £20,000.

 

TUESDAY 23rd SEPTEMBER 2014

HAIL TO THE KING!

Certainly the most exciting horse I’ve ever trained” was the statement made by John Gosden yesterday when it was announced that KINGMAN was going to retire. The three-year-old son of INVINCIBLE SPIRIT, who only had one defeat in his eight career starts and that was in the Qipco 2000 Guineas Stakes at Newmarket in May this year, has been laid low with a throat infection which means he will not be ready for October's Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, which was originally planned to be his swan song.

 

Trainer John Gosden commented: “It’s just unfortunate but he’s got this infection. He’s had to be on antibiotics and he’s still on them now. I need to be able to train the horse and at the moment I can’t. I’ve had to tell the owner, I’m not going to get him to that race. I’ve run out of time but at least he goes out at the top. It wouldn’t have been very clever, rushing him into a race like that half-cocked. He was the most fabulous horse to be around. He had a great mind on him, a great body, very strong and he could go through the gears so quickly.”

 

It is now planned that KINGMAN will be retired to Banstead Manor Farm in Newmarket, owned by Khalid Abdullah. There has been no hint of what will be charged for his services but it won't be cheap when it is taken into account that FRANKEL is one of the other stallions doing his stuff on the premises.

 

John Gosden recorded as one of his his fondest memory: “The St James’s Palace Stakes [at Royal Ascot] was beyond exciting but one of the strangest races I ever saw was the Sussex [at Glorious Goodwood]. To catch those horses who’ve nicked a couple of lengths on you after a steady gallop was amazing. And then, to know that your horse is approaching one of the sharpest pull-ups in the country at top speed, well …”

 

KINGMAN finished on a high in his career as he notched up four Group Ones on the trot (or even faster!), the last of these being the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville in August. The only horse to ever beat him was the 40-1 shot NIGHT OF THUNDER in the aforementioned 2,000 Guineas in May, when even the eventual illustrious Derby winner, AUSTRALIA could only manage third place.

 

John Gosden added: “The Guineas was not ideal, with the field splitting into two groups and the jockeys all getting anxious and making their moves too soon. It was just one of those races but it’s history now and he won those other races in stunning fashion this year.”

 

THE FILM IS IN THE CAN

Apparently West Mercia Police are now handling the case where a beer can (empty, it is reported) was allegedly thrown at 19-times champion jockey, Tony McCoy. It is reported that film recording of the incident has now been passed to the Boys in Blue. As mentioned on Saturday, AP McCoy, having already ridden four winners on the day, was returning on the beaten favourite SAINT HELENA, who surprisingly finished second by ten lengths in the final race, when it is reported that an petulant punter started cursing and swearing at the rider from Moneyglass and even allegedly let fly an empty beer can in the direction of the object of his abuse. The stewards did not restrain the offender at the time because he did not trespass onto the track but they did eventually escort him off the racecourse.

 

Kate Hills, who is owner Arena Racing Company's Director of public relations and communications commented: "The racecourse have footage of the incident on a DVD. This is being passed on to the police force in an attempt to try to identify the race-goer. The police have the facility to blow the footage up so that will hopefully make identification easier."

 

YOU'RE THE TOPS...”

This year in December Hongkong will host an awards ceremony for the most successful jockey in 100 of the top races from around the world. Backed by the world's most prodigious producer of timepieces, Longines, the scoring for the World's Best Jockey Award is to be based on performances in the 100 top-rated Group 1 and Grade 1 races for the year, as ranked by the World's Best Racehorse Rankings Committee. The period of scoring will include races run from December 1, 2013 to November 30 this year. Jockeys in these selected contests will score 12 points for a win, six for second and four for third.

 

Louis Romanet, Chairman of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, announced: "It is entirely appropriate that the accomplishments of the world's best jockeys are recognised internationally. Jockeys are incredible athletes and their amazing feats of skill and daring bring millions of fans to the sport around the world. The World's Best Jockey award is a proud joint initiative of the IFHA and Longines, and we are very thankful to the Hong Kong Jockey Club for hosting the award ceremony."

 

The last two British races incorporated in this prestigious competition will be the Qipco Champion Stakes and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on British Champions Day at Ascot.

MONDAY 22nd SEPTEMBER 2014

DARYL'S TAKING HIS CUE

It has just been announced that Wincanton-based Daryl Jacob will take over the top slot at Colin Tizzard's yard after the trainer's son, Joe, decided to retire from race riding to become assistant trainer and farm manager of the 600-head of cattle at Venn Farm. Daryl Jacob, who has been freelancing since losing his job to Sam Twiston-Davies at the Paul Nicholls' yard, will have the pleasure of riding the Ryan Air Chase winner, CUE CARD as well as other horses owned by Bob and Jean Bishop.

The 31-year-old Donegal rider has already been a regular visitor to the Milborne Port stables in order to get to know the talented chaser before a definite race is booked.

Daryl Jacob commented: “I have sat on Cue Card and ridden him out at a walk. He felt great and moved really well – he’s one of the reasons I am so looking forward to the months ahead.”

 

THE TRAINER TO FOLLOW?

Some trainers seem to possess the knack of placing their horses in the right race and one who has a better claim to that gift than most is William Haggas. Punters could do worse than follow the hints provided by this Newmarket trainer. This time he has decided to run ROYAL MEZYAN at Kempton Park today in the £25 Free Bet At BetVictor.com Handicap. It would not be too harsh a comment to make that Sheikh Juma Dalmook Al Maktoum's three-year-old son of ROYAL APPLAUSE must have been something of a disappointment to his owner this season, particularly as he raised everyone's expectation so high last year. He finished in sixth place in the 2013 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot and then went on to break his duck in the Cakemark EBF Maiden Stakes at York in July. He turned up at York almost a year later in the Betbright Charity Sprint and and put on quite a good show only five lengths adrift of SEE THE SUN. His two recent visits to the Knavesmire in August and two weeks ago, however, were certainly nothing to write home about. Various excuses were offered as to the unsuitability of the ground or the draw but punters have heard them all before. So why should ROYAL MEZYAN be given another chance? Possibly because this is a far less competitive contest than his recent races but especially because William Haggas has decided to send him there.

 

DON'T CRY ME A RIVER

Aidan O'Brien's OL' MAN RIVER who won the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund at the Curragh on his debut last month is being considered for the Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday. The two-year-old son of MONTJEU cost his owners,

Mrs John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, €2,850,000 at Goffs and, as mentioned above, proved to be no disappoint on his first outing. It will be interesting to see how he does on Thursday at Newmarket when he runs in the Somerville Tattersall Stakes against what could be some stiff opposition.

Aidan O'Brien commented: "Ol' Man River is a possible for the Royal Lodge - we'll know more tomorrow."

 

SUNDAY 21st SEPTEMBER 2014

O'MEARA THE MERRIER

Well. It seems the Irish may have learnt something from Scotland's Robert the Bruce and his fabled encounter with the spider. Certainly Irish trainer, David O'Meara, adopted the philosophy of 'if at first you don't succeed, try, try again.' The Yorkshire-based trainer saddled LOUIS THE PIOUS last year in the William Hill Ayr Gold cup and the six-year-old gelding was an impressive runner-up. So it was decided to have another go and the son of HOLY ROMAN EMPEROR didn't disappoint this time after a favourable draw. Afterwards winning jockey, James Doyle, who notched up an amazing 769/1 treble on the day, commented that his role had been mainly “a steering job” as as his mount broke well from stall 19 and assumed the lead over a furlong out, finishing nearly three lengths clear of 33-1 shot MINALISA. It was only the Cambridge-born jockey's second visit to Ayr which nearly didn't happen because the pilot of his private plane from Newmarket put in a tardy appearance.

 

The winning trainer commented: “He was drawn well again this year and he is a good horse. We put the visor on him because Fran Berry rode him the last day at Ascot and thought it might just help him a little bit, and he was right. He’s a horse with a lot of ability. Sometimes he can run an indifferent kind of race but on his day he’s very good, as we saw at Royal Ascot.

These big-field handicaps bring the best out of him.”

 

A LAP TOO SOON

Eager for victory a jockey finished the race a circuit too soon. It happened last night at Wolverhampton in the Try A totetrifecta Today Handicap with apprentice rider, Danielle Mooney, aboard the Tim Etherington-trained 100-1 chance, PEPPERELLO. Up to that stage of the race the partnership had done very well, off sharpish in the lead, quickening clear of the rest of the field but then the rider thought she had reached the winning post when in reality there was still a circuit to go. After that all was lost as the three-year-old son of LUCKY STORY failed to live up to his Sire's name and weakened over 4 furlongs from home and then tailed off.

The unfortunate jockey commented: "It was an honest mistake. I realised when I passed the post."

After holding an inquiry the stewards told Miss Mooney that she was a very naughty girl and not to do it again. I should coco! She received a 12-day ban.

 

AIN'T NO CALIFORNIA

Showtime in Philadelphia featuring the back-to-back stars of the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks, respectively. Both of the horse were sent off odds-on favourites. One of them won, and one of them didn't. The disappointment of the day was Kentucky Derby winner, CALIFORNIA CHROME, mentioned on Wednesday, who could only manage a miserable sixth behind BAYERN in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby. The three-year-old son of LUCKY PULPIT started well, breaking swiftly from gate one but his jockey, Victor Espinoza, decided unexpectedly to to rein him back to let BAYERN seize the advantage. The rival pacemaker then seemed to concentrate on containing the favourite and giving the eventual winner the opportunity to cruise clear.

 

Winning trainer, Bob Baffert commented afterwards: "When California Chrome was pinned in there, I knew it was going be tough for California Chrome. He was the target; we weren't the target. When Bayern runs like that, nobody's going to beat him. Like in the Haskell."

It was clear that CALIFORNIA CHROME's rider wasn't too hapy with the outcome: "The other riders, they worried about me, they didn't worry about the one in the front, and I knew I was in trouble in the first turn. They were like blocking in front of me, and it was hard to catch the other horse. Sometimes the other ones don't ride to win, they ride to beat horses. But I really didn't abuse him today. I just let him run his race. I didn't want to override him. He had a long time off. This race, it set it up for the next one."

SATURDAY 20th SEPTEMBER 2014

CAN YOU BEAT THAT!

The 19-time champion jockey had an unexpected reception yesterday after finishing his race. Tony McCoy came second on the favourite SAINT HELENA in the last event of the day at Worcester. When he was making his way back, after pulling up following the two-mile novice handicap hurdle, an irate race-goer suddenly leapt up onto one of the benches by the grandstand rail near the winning post and started to curse and swear at Tony McCoy who gestured back as the petulant punter even tried to climb over the rail. It is reported that a beer can was thrown at the rider.

 

The man from Moneyglass, County Antrim, had enjoyed a successful evening so far, notching up four victories: EL NAMOOSE and MY DIRECTION, trained by John Ferguson; MARJU'S QUEST for David Dennis and the Jonjo O'Neill-trained PETROVIC. It looks like the aggressive gambler was anticipating another win in the final feature, the Westlands Hyundai Ix35 - Inspiration Engineered Novices' Handicap Hurdle in which the Jim Best-trained SAINT HELENA was the 7/4 favourite. Things didn't somehow go according to plan. The six-year-old daughter of HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE raced well on the outside of the field, making good headway before the fourth hurdle and even went into the lead when two from home. She was headed before last, however, and thereafter had nothing to match the eventual winner, ASHCOTT BOY, losing by ten lengths.

 

The Worcester track officials finally had to intervene in the bothersome brouhaha and the irascible race-goer was marched away and Tony McCoy received a rousing round of applause. Later stewards announced that there was to be no inquiry as the man-in-question had not trespassed on the track and that the incident would be dealt with by the local racecourse officials.

 

ON THE CHAMPIONSHIP TRAIL

Another champion, this time on the Flat, scored three times yesterday which may yet prove decisive in his race for the jockeys' title. Richard Hughes is now a crucial four wins behind Ryan Moore in his bid to retain his championship crown. Even before jumping into the saddle yesterday, the Dublin-born rider was the long odds-on favourite for the championship, even though he still trailed Ryan Moore by seven winners. After Richard Hughes took three of the first five races on the card, a number of the layers who were still offering odds-on bets just shut up shop and seemed to be accepting a fait accompli.

 

The opening race was shrouded by a gloomy grey mist but the haze lifted as the afternoon progressed. Overnight rain and more during the morning meant the official going was changed from good-to-firm (watered) to good-to-soft for the start of the first contest. Richard Hughes put his name on that with 8-1 shot, DESERT FORCE and made it a double an hour later with Godolphin's CODE OF HONOR. He missed out on the next race but made up for it in the fifth with an easy win on Richard Hannon's two-year-old, MARSH HAWK.

 

After completing the treble Richard Hughes said: “I thought I had good rides today but it’s an ordinary book tomorrow so I needed to make hay while I can. The gap was down to four during the week, then it went back to seven, now it’s four again. It will do that, just as long as it doesn’t get back up over 10, I’ll have to keep on top of it.”

 

Rival Ryan Moore has stated that, despite the championship pressure, he will still continue with his commitments to ride in Australia's Spring Carnival and the Breeders’ Cup in America which means he may be away for nigh on three weeks as the season draws to a close.

 

Richard Hughes, though, knows that, as long as he is behind, he cannot afford to take it easy, particularly as he was out of action for several weeks after a bad fall in Dubai in March. If nothing further untoward happens, however, it is generally agreed that he's the man to wear the crown for the third year.

 

A GOOD FAIRY TO THE RESCUE

Following yesterday's report that Jason Maguire was getting back into the saddle after a six months' absence due to his serious injury at Stratford, it's good to reveal that it was a triumphant return for the thirty-four-old rider.

 

The County Meath jockey was, however, taking it easy for his first day back on the track and so only took a booking for one ride: Kim Bailey's BONNE FEE in the first race of the day at Newton Abbott, the Royal British Legion Mares' Novices' Hurdle. The seven-year-old daughter of KARINGA BAY obligingly lived up to her name and was a 'good fairy' to her rider, travelling well throughout the race, pulling clear before the final turn and clinching the deal by nine lengths. The winning jockey even had time for a leisurely look round after the last to see where his rivals were but there weren't any near enough to worry about.

 

FRIDAY 19th SEPTEMBER 2014

RACING WINS THE DAY

Britain's racing industry has breathed a sigh of relief after Scotland rejected independence by a margin of 55 % to 45 %. Quite a few Scottish people involved in horse racing were more than a little concerned as to what would happen to the industry North of the Border if a Yes vote were to carry the day. There was even serious concern that racecourses would even have to stop functioning due to a shortage of funds.

 

Harriet Graham, a trainer and clerk of the course at Musselburgh and Perth racecourses, expressed her feelings on Twitter with one word "Phew!" Her monosyllabic memo found ready resonance around training territory.

 

Newmarket trainer Hugo Palmer, born and brought up in Scotland, commented: "Being Scottish born and raised, I'm incredibly proud and relieved to wake up to the news that I'm still British."

 

Bruce Jeffrey, who acts as agent for the Scottish-born Grand National-winning jockey, Ryan Mania, also resorted to a tweet: "Looking like 28 from the 32 regions have voted for better together. That surely tells the story."

 

Bookies had forecast an easy 'No' win in the run up to the referendum and last night you could only get odds of 1/6-on for a no-campaign victory. That didn't stop one brave bettor from having a wager and walking away with £1,093,333.33. Mind you, he or she had to have the nerve to risk £900,000 with William Hill!

It is interesting that in Ayr, Hamilton Park, Kelso, Musselburgh and Perth, the five regions where Scotland has racecourses, a No vote was returned.

 

BACK IN THE SADDLE

Successful jump jockey, Jason Maguire, is back in business again after a six-month absence from the track. The 2011 Grand National winner and stable jockey to Donald McCain in Cheshire, was seriously hurt at Stratford when a horse kicked him in the stomach and he missed the Cheltenham Festival. Jason Maguire was in second place behind Tony McCoy in the jump jockeys’ championship at the time of his injury.

 

The County Meath rider is not rushing things, however, so he is booked for only one ride at Newton Abbot today; that will be on the Donald McCain-trained MR SATCO in the Channon And Co Chartered Accountants Novices' Chase, which has curiously only attracted three runners.

 

Jason Maguire commented: "I'm obviously thrilled to be back. It's a novice chase but once you're back, there's no point picking and choosing. It's been a long time watching on the sidelines and I'm really looking forward to it. When you are out that length of time it makes you appreciate what you have, riding for a powerful stable. I was aiming to be back at the end of the month, but I got passed (by the doctor) earlier this week, so that was grand. I can't wait."

 

HALO AND GOODBYE!

Which horse won the 2008 JCB Triumph Hurdle, and the 2009 and 2011 totescoop6 Elite Hurdle and the bet365 Long Distance Hurdle in 2013? How quickly we forget! ( I looked it up on Racing Post!) It was the Paul Nicholls-trained CELESTIAL HALO, winner, in fact, of no fewer than six Grade 2 hurdles and amassing over £650,000 in prize-money over a career that started in 2006 on the Flat when he came seventh in the St Leger.

 

Andy Stewart, owner, commented: "He has been a great servant and gave me my first ever Cheltenham Festival winner in 2008 when he won the Triumph Hurdle. It was a special day. He then looked like he was going to win the Champion Hurdle the following year, only to be narrowly beaten by Punjabi. He has been around the block and raced as a two-year-old on the Flat, and I said to Paul that if there were any signs that he did not want to do it any more, then we should retire him. So we have drawn stumps.”

 

Sadly the now 10-year-old son of GALILEO didn't end his career exactly on a high note in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham in March but no-one would hold that against him. Happy retirement!

THURSDAY 18th SEPTEMBER 2014

 

KATIE WINS WITH RESERVE

A talented County Kildare lady jockey and a last-minute reserve horse took the big prize in Listowel yesterday. The 11th hour withdrawal of Dessie Hughes' mount gave a chance to the James Nash-trained YOUR BUSY who didn't need any second asking, particularly as he was in the capable hands of Katie Walsh, third in the 2012 Grand National, the highest placing for a rider on the distaff side of racing. That means that for the second year on the trot a reserve has won the Kerry National Handicap Chase. WHITE STAR LINE did it last year for trainer, Dessie Hughes. The 11-year-old son of ANSHAN was sent off the 25/1 shot but that didn't deter Ruby's sister from producing a dynamic ride and trumping PASS THE HAT by half a length after a forceful and determined ride.

 

Katie Walsh, the first female jockey to win the Kerry National, commented: "It's just unbelievable. I was headed for a stride or two turning in but he winged the second-last and winged the last. He was pulling out for me the whole time. He loves it in front. He completely missed the first and it was some performance after that to do what he did in a competitive race like the Kerry National. He was just really on-song today."

 

The winning trainer added: "Katie got a brilliant tune out of him. I didn't think he was quite fit enough at Killarney but it proved to be a good prep run. Thank God he got into the race as he was flying at home. Even though he's 11 he doesn't have that much mileage on the clock. He's still very keen and enjoys it. He probably got an easy lead and was able to stay in his comfort zone. We'll go home and see if we can get into the Munster National but that will depend on the horse. I'd love to go back to Liverpool for a crack at the big one."

 

A YES FOR A SCOTTISH RUNNER?

After the referendum the biggest focus of interest in Scotland must be the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup Festival which is being held from Thursday until Saturday at the Ayr Racecourse and is, without doubt, the biggest and richest Flat race meeting of the year North of the Border. There will be more than £600,000 in prize-money for the taking by racing's top horses, trainers and jockeys. The highlightof the occasion is the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup on Saturday. Currently there are 27 runners due to go to the line-up for this race worth £160,000 which was won last year by HIGHLAND COLORI, ridden by rising star, Oisin Murphy. The six-year-old son of LE VIE DEI COLORI is trying his luck again this year but the quick going will not be relished by this acknowledged 'mud lover'. His Scottish born owner Evan Sutherland is well aware of that and has entered two other hopefuls, HIGHLAND ACCLAIM and OUT DO. Fate may be against all of them, however, as no Scottish-trained horse has ever won this race since ROMAN WARRIOR in 1975.

 

INSIDE INFO?

The British Horseracing Association (BHA) has filed corruption charges against National Hunt jockey, Richie McGrath, who is potentially facing a ban of up to 10 years. after being hit with corruption charges by the BHA. The 38-year-old from County Tipperary whose greatest triumph was in the 2003 Scottish Grand National, riding RYALUX, is accused of passing on privileged inside information, used subsequently for betting purposes. Worse than that it is alleged that this information was passed on with the knowledge that Richie McGrath would not ride his mounts to the best of their ability to ensure either they did not win or were placed.

It has been revealed that investigations by the BHA involve 57 races in the period from October 2009 until March 2012. Former trainer, Kate Walton, Richie McGrath’s mother-in-law, is also on the receiving end of corruption charges as well as five other licensed owners facing charges of placing Lay Bets on the Kate Walton-trained RUMBLE OF THUNDER who is one of the horses under scrutiny in six of the races. It is also alleged that a central player in this conspiracy is Mark Aspey, described in one document as a ‘professional gambler who makes his living betting in-running on Betfair.’ He is also a horse owner, boasting successes at Ascot and Cheltenham with his Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained ACKERTAC.

 

The legal team representing Richie McGrath issued the following statement: “Richie is shocked and bitterly disappointed to be facing charges, but vigorously maintains his innocence and intends to fight to clear his name, however financially straining that may be. A fair hearing demands a level playing field, but these cases are rarely played out on such a surface.’

 

The latter comment refers to the often great imbalance in resources between those prosecuting and those who have to fund their own defence, which can so often with mean their livelihood is at stake. As a consequence, Richie McGrath has stood down from the Professional Jockeys' Association Board, awaiting the seven-day hearing that has been scheduled to start on November 11.

 

WEDNESDAY 17th SEPTEMBER 2014

IRISH EYES ARE SMILING

Johnny Weatherby, Chairman of both Weatherbys and Ascot racecourse, has announced new measures which he hopes will be instrumental in persuading more Irish-trained horses to ASCOT'S jumps meetings this season. One of the plans is to award a £10,000 bonus to any horse who finishes in the first four in today's Kerry National at Listowel and then goes on to win either the £100,000 United House Gold Cup on 1st November or the £100,000 Mappin & Webb Silver Cup on 20th December.

 

He commented at a special dinner in Adare: "We are always looking to strengthen the competitiveness of our jumps programme at Ascot, and I hope we can attract more runners from Ireland in the season ahead. We have reviewed all our races and increased total prize money in some cases and offered field size bonuses in others. In the case of the Grade One Long Walk Hurdle and the Grade One Clarence House Chase, we have applied both. Additionally, I'm pleased to announce as we look forward to tomorrow's Guinness Kerry National that the first four home will also be eligible for a £10,000 bonus should any of them win either the £100,000 Mappin & Webb Silver Cup or the £100,000 United House Gold Cup in November."

 

Other measures include increasing the Ascot prize pot by 10%, from £1,667,000 to £1,839,000 for the coming season. That means the sum total of prize money will increase to £2,012,000 including an additional £173,000 available through field size bonuses. Other top races receiving a prize boost will be the JLT Long Walk Hurdle, now worth £100,000 and the Sodexo Clarence House Chase, now standing £125,000.

 

CALIFORNIA, HERE I COME!”

CALIFORNIA CHROME, absent from the track since failing in his attempt to win Triple Crown glory in the Belmont Stakes last June is in top form, or so his trainer Art Sherman maintains. The progressive three-year-old is running in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx racecourse in Philadelphia coming weekend. He will be up against the likes of BAYERN, winner of the Haskell Invitational and West Virginia Derby winner, TAPITURE. Probably, however, all attention will be focussed on the son of LUCKY PULPIT who suffered a nasty gash on his right-front leg in his last contest.

 

Art Sherman, at 77,the oldest trainer to win the Kentucky Derby after CALIFORNIA CHROME won it in May, commented: "He was having a great time. He unwound, got his foot healed up - that was my main concern, to make sure he'd be 100 per cent. His last two or three works have been awesome. He's picking his head up now. I think he's reaching his peak. Victor [Espinoza, jockey] was all gung-ho after his last workout. We're all in good shape, ready for Saturday. We didn't draw the best post position, but we'll see how the race unfolds.”

"I just hope he has a clean trip, and if he gets outrun, he gets outrun," Sherman is quoted on The Courier Journal website. "But I look for him to run a big race. I like what I've seen."

 

LUCK BE A LADY TODAY!

JP McManus will be looking to Barry Geraghty to produce his first success in Kerry National at Listowel. The County Meath jockey has already this season produced sterling results for the popular Irish millionaire (JEZKI in the Champion Hurdle and SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR in the Irish National, and, if all goes well, could add JACKSONSLADY to that illustrious list in today’s Guinness Kerry National. The legendary owner is not taking any chances, however. He has no fewer than five entries in this prestigious event, with the first-time blinkered TOM HORN in reserve, after champion jockey, Tony McCoy opted to ride the topweight ALDERWOOD. The latter is a double-Cheltenham Festival hero and former Grade 1 winning hurdler, so undoubtedly regarded as the class act in the competition but the ten-year-old son of ALDERBROOK enters unknown territory today as it will be his first start over three miles.

On her side the nine-year-old JACKSONSLADY is rated a few pounds lower than she was last year. Also in her favour this time around will be the fast ground that will give her stamina a bonus over the three-miles and with Barry Geraghty aboard that'll be a big plus.

 

Barry Geraghty has won the Kerry National three times already:- on MONTY'S PASS in 2002 and ALFA BEAT in 2010 and 2011. Also he has got to know today's mount very well in recent seasons, including coming third in last year’s Galway Plate.

 

As trainer Philip Dempsey commented: “The ground should stay good and we’ve got Barry so we’re hopeful. She didn’t perform in the race last year. We put that down to the ground. She likes good ground and the weather’s lovely.”

 

TUESDAY 16th SEPTEMBER 2014

GREAT SCOTT, IT'S IVANHOWE!

A Jean-Pierre Carvalho-trained four-year-old is suddenly the hot tip for Europe's premier middle-distance race. IVANHOWE moved centre stage as a result of unexpectedly trouncing the favourite, SEA THE MOON, in last Sunday's Grosser Preis von Baden. The latter will now miss the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on October 5 and jockeys are said now to be queueing up for a chance to ride the German son of SOLDIER HOLLOW in this prestigious race. Czech-born Filip Minarik was aboard for the impressive victory at Baden-Baden, but connections report that no fewer than three top jockeys have already expressed an interest to be in the saddle at Longchamp.

 

Gebhard Apelt, who is manager for the owners, Gestut Schlenderhan, commented: "We have had some offers from three international jockeys to ride him. But the last decision will be with all the big trainers and big owners who have contracts with the jockeys and who have possible runners in the race. At the moment, all is calm and relaxed and we would very much like to take him to the Arc. So far, everything looks good and we hope it stays good for the next two weeks. The horse looks very well and has been working very well so we would go to France with lots of excitement."

 

NICHOLLS' TWEET

It has been revealed that trainer Paul Nicholls has pulled ZARKANDAR out of next month's Cesarewitch, an anglicised version of Tsesarevich, the title of the heir to the throne in Imperial Russia. The event was named in honour of Tsesarevich Alexander (later Tsar Alexander II), after he donated £300 to the Jockey Club in 1839.

 

The seven-year-old AZAMOUR son was considered to be a leading contender for next month's Betfred Cesarewitch at Newmarket but now, disappointingly, the Grade One-winning hurdler will miss this two-mile-two-furlong handicap.

Paul Nicholls tweeted: "This morning I've scratched Zarkandar from the Cesarewitch, he won't be ready in time. Will head for Wetherby instead."

 

SWERVING THE ARC

After AUSTRALIA's shock defeat in last Saturday's Irish Champion Stakes Aidan O'Brien is said to be considering the Qipco Champion Stakes or the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot for his GALILEO colt, who lost by a neck to THE GREAT GATSBY.

 

Immediately after the race the Ballydoyle king announced: “I’d imagine Australia’s next race will be at Ascot over ten furlongs or a mile. I’m not ruling him out of anything but I’d say the Arc is unlikely. “Everything that could go wrong on Saturday went wrong. Australia had a nice position but when the pace steadied in the middle of the race he found himself on the outside of Al Kazeem and couldn’t get inside him or past him. He was trapped wide. Was I shocked? I couldn’t believe it had happened until 4am today.”

 

Jockey son, Joseph, added: “Australia ran a good race but things probably couldn’t have gone much worse for me, or gone better for the winner. I’d probably do things slightly differently if I had it back again, but we live and learn. It won’t happen again.”

 

After it was revealed that jockey, Joseph O'Brien, had weighed in 1lb heavy at 9st 1lb, Peter Matthews, the Turf Club senior stipendiary steward, explained that jockeys are permitted to weigh in up to 1.5lb overweight and are called before stewards only if the overweight exceeds that.

 

ONE HAS DONE ONE'S BEST

Last year's Gold Cup winner will miss the Melbourne Cup in November. It now looks like the Queen's horse ESTIMATE will have her final outing in France or England, in the Prix du Cadran at Longchamp on 5 October or Ascot's Long Distance Cup a couple of weeks later. It is then anticipated that the five-year-old daughter of MONSUN, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, will be retired from racing and take up a breeding career. The possibility of the Melbourne Cup was discussed as a result of the mare's impressive win in the Doncaster Cup last Friday.

 

ESTIMATE came a close second to LEADING LIGHT in the Royal Ascot Gold Cupthus denied a renewal of her crown. Then, as will be recalled, she was named among a group of horses that returned a positive test for morphine, which was subsequently blamed on contaminated feed. As a result the British Horseracing Authority will probably disqualify her from that race.

 

It may not be a bad decision on Sir Michael Stoute's part as no British-trained horse has ever won the Melbourne Cup – which, for obvious reasons is nicknamed the "race that stops a nation" in Australia and will have its 154th renewal at Flemington Racecourse on 4 November.

MONDAY 15th SEPTEMBER 2014

IT'S JUST NOT CRIQUETTE!

Mme Christiane 'Criquette' Head-Maarek may well have been pondering her filly's fickle fate over her coffee this morning. This is because TREVE, reunited with her regular jockey, Thierry Jarnet, only managed fourth place yesterday in the Qatar Prix Vermeille Stakes at Longchamp and, thereby, put bookies into a slight turmoil as to what is going to happen to the daughter of MOTIVATOR in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe for which she had been up to now the firm favourite. The four-year-old seemed to be going well at the back of the field in conditions that were on the quick side and looked to have every chance of victory. As expected, the John Gosden-trained POMOLOGY, steered by William Buick, was out front temporarily dominating the scene. TREVE appeared to be making good headway until about the furlong-and-a-half stage but then seemed to fade when not making any visible impact on the leader. Meanwhile BALTIC BARONESS, trained by Andre Fabre, edged gradually along the rail and and pipped POMOLOGY at the post by a short head, after a vigorous set-to in the final furlong.

As a result TREVE'S chances of repeating her last year's Arc got slightly longer odds whilst TAGHROODA, JUST A WAY, AVENIR CERTAIN and ECTOT were all rated with winning ways.

 

Mme Head-Maarek commented: “The filly had a few problems and it might be that she is not the same filly as she was last year. She made a good effort, she gave weight away and finished not too far back and you have to remember that after the race in England (Prince of Wales’s Stakes) she was literally stopped for a whole month (with a muscle problem), she was being walked. Personally I would like to see her in the Arc and I will do everything I can so she can be at the start of the Arc. I am hoping the ground will be a little bit softer. The decision shouldn’t be made hastily, you have to see her again after the race.

 

Sheikh Joaan Al Thani, the boss of Al Shaqab Racing, confirmed that the plan was still to run TREVE in the Arc: “Treve has proved that she is a great filly, she has nothing to prove. She is still staying in the Arc, nothing is going to change. She is a great filly, she won her Arc so I don’t think there is a point in being disappointed.”

 

MICHAEL A WINNER

Former England striker, Michael Owen, scored for the first time yesterday. No, not football!On this occasion the footballer-turned-racehorse owner's goal was in the form of a first Group One level success when his BROWN PANTHER delivered an emphatic victory in the Irish St Leger at The Curragh.

 

The win was undoubtedly attributable to the superb equestrian skills of jockey, Richard Kingscote who judged the race so well, surprisingly aided and abetted by the fact that most of the field, consisting of some of Europe’s top riders, seemed content to just sit back through the first 12 of the 14-furlong race and watch Aidan O'Brien's EYE OF THE STORM, acting as pacemaker for the Ballydoyle king's real contender, LEADING LIGHT, gallop 10 lengths clear, leaving BROWN PANTHER as the only one to chase after them. As happens often in such situations when a couple of horses seem to have gone too early, it was probably assumed that the two leaders would eventually come back to the pack. The rest of the field, however, had not taken into account the proven stamina of the six-year-old son of SHIROCCO with a good Group Two win under his saddle (the 2013 Artemis Goodwood Cup ). By the time the race had progressed to four furlongs from home, it must have dawned on the remaining eight that there had been an error of judgement but, by this time, BROWN PANTHER was too far ahead and none of them could do anything to change the inevitable outcome.

 

Trainer, Tom Dascombe, commented: “The first thing to say is he (Richard Kingscote) gave him a brilliant ride. It’s just worked out today. We have been having a real lean time. We didn’t manage to have a winner last week and I was close to pulling him out, but there aren’t too many Irish St Legers so you have to run. The horse never lets us down. He won’t go to Australia [for the Melbourne Cup]. He’ll go for the Champions race at Ascot [the Long Distance Cup] if he’s all right in the morning.”

This victory took British stables' score to three of the five Group One races on the first day of Irish Champions weekend.

 

SUNDAY 14th SEPTEMBER 2014

TAKING THE STRINE

Well, Ryan Moore's flying visit to Dublin paid off yesterday. Against all odds he steered THE GREY GATSBY to a nail-biting victory over 30/100 favourite AUSTRALIA in the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown. A couple of hours earlier he had left Doncaster empty-handed after racing in the St. Leger but that's another story. The next piece!

 

Meanwhile, back to the memorable performance at Leopardstown, the dramatic conclusion went counter to expectations as the French Derby winner seemed to be struggling some four lengths behind Aidan O'Brien's GALILEO colt. Clearly, however, the three-time champion jockey doesn't know the meaning of the word 'surrender' and battled on to the end. It was starting to look like a re-run of the Juddmonte International with AUSTRALIA, ridden by regular jockey, Joseph O'Brien, opening up an unassailable lead. But that's where the similarity ended. The leader, on this occasion, seemed unable to consolidate his advantage with the usual authority, affording his closest rival the opportunity to fight back, which was gratefully seized. There was a frantic dash for the post with the two jockeys neck and neck – and that was the winning distance – a neck.

 

The winning jockey said afterwards: "My horse is improving and he was impressive in France and very good in the Juddmonte. I thought Australia would be hard to beat but that mine would come on for York. They went a good gallop but my horse tries really hard. He travels well and you just have to give him a target to aim at and he'll chase it. They both ran a good race to pull clear like that. Hopefully mine can improve a bit more."

 

Trainer Kevin Ryan added: “I'm immensely proud of the horse and it was a great ride. Now the horse will get the credit he deserves because he hasn't had it yet. He saved a lot of ground on the inside and was passing horses without doing a lot. When I saw him picking up I thought he'd go close. He won't go for the Arc. He might go to Ascot for the Champion Stakes if he runs again but he stays in training next year when he'll start off in the Duty Free in Dubai."

 

A CLASSIC FOR ROGER

As expected, KINGSTON HILL, second in the Derby, was the emphatic winner of the Ladbrokes St Leger by a length-and-a-quarter. It was, in fact, a double victory as it gave trainer, Roger Varian, his first Classic success and, not one to rest on his laurels, he is already making plans for the Prix De L'Arc De Triomphe in three week's time, for which the son of MASTERCRAFTSMAN has become a 10/1 shot.

 

Days before this prestigious contest nothing looked clear-cut, as Roger Varian made no secret of the fact that he was worried about the possibility of quickening ground and threatened to pull his three-year-old out of the race, as happened on two previous occasions. But all was OK on the day. KINGSTON HILL handled the 'fastish' surface with not too much apparent difficulty when he produced a sweeping run right from the back of the field when over three furlongs out.

 

The winning trainer, only in his fourth season training, commented: 'He looked a Classic horse at the start of the year and he has won Classic. I still think the ground is quicker than ideal for him but he has handled it. When he gets his conditions he will be an even better horse. He has not had a busy summer. Hopefully he has not finished yet this year. You would have to consider a crack at the Arc.'

 

As hinted at above, the much vaunted KINGS FETE, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, was a bit of a disappointment. He managed to make some headway over two furlongs out but eventually weakened inside the final furlong and came ninth. So Ryan Moore was denied a double on the day but 'tomorrow is another day', as they say, and, as this is 'tomorrow', he must already be flying to Paris for his five rides at Longchamp, including the Richard Hannon-trained NIGHT OF THUNDER in the Qatar Prix du Moulin.

 

NOT A SUPERMOON THEN!

After the build-up of anticipation for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, following SEA THE MOON's resounding 11-length victory in the Deutches Derby, it has just been announced that the three-year-old son of SEA THE STARS has been laid off for the rest of the season due to the recurrence of an injury.

 

Trained by Markus Klug, SEA THE MOON subsequently performed disappointingly when soundly beaten by IVANHOWE in the Group One Grosser Preis Von Baden. Consequently Niko Lafrentz stated on behalf of the owners, Gestut Gorlsdorf, SEA THE MOON would have to be treated for an injury and would not race again this season but he hoped he would return for more racing before retiring to stud.

 

SATURDAY 13th SEPTEMBER 2014

FEAT FOR A QUEEN

The royal colours were once again paraded in the winner's enclosure. The 2013 Gold Cup winner, ESTIMATE, owned by the Queen, was back in top form again when she won the Socialites Electric Cigarettes Doncaster Cup. The daughter of MONSUN was the 11/8 favourite in yesterday's contest at Doncaster. Under the expert stewardship of Ryan Moore the five-year-old mare was kept in a handy position for most of the race and always seemed ready to seize the prize. Connections might be forgiven for feeling the briefest of concerns when she came under pressure in the final furlong and unexpectedly had her tongue hanging out. Maybe, however, it was just the Queen's Vase heroine's gesture to her naysayers because the more the race progressed the better she looked and she seemed to have plenty in hand at the finish.

 

The Queen’s racing advisor, John Warren commented: “Ryan said he had a good bit of petrol in the tank. He said her last two runs have brought her back to where she was, which is obviously great. She is such a game filly. The Queen would be so proud, she would have got a real buzz out of it.”

 

The winning jockey added: “She was never going to get beaten today. She travelled sweetly and I didn’t have anything to really bring me long enough. When she’s in front she just waits a bit, but when she feels them coming she battles away. I hadn’t really asked her a serious question and there was plenty in the tank.”

 

Trainer, Sir Michael Stoute was clearly overjoyed: “It was great seeing her win as she ran such a blinder in the Gold Cup. Goodwood just didn’t suit her, it was just too firm for her there. She’s a lively filly that has a lot of energy and gets bored every now and again. She can be a little bit narky. Her resolution can never be questioned, but she is a character, and they [the staff] do a great job with her. I think we have to consider it [Melbourne Cup], but I won’t make the final decision. I’m not paying! You’d wonder a bit about the ground at Flemington as she does like a little bit of forgiveness in it. We’ll think about it and discuss it with the Queen and John Warren.”

 

LYNAM UP EDDIE!

Dunshaughlin trainer, Eddie Lynam, it seems, wasn't content with his major victories so far in the top British sprint events this year, courtesy of SOLE POWER and SLADE POWER, he had to go and do it again in the John Smith’s Extra Smooth May Hill Stakes at Doncaster yesterday and on this occasion with his AGNES STEWART who romped home by one-and-a-quarter lengths. The LAWMAN grey filly lost out last time to Jessica Harrington-trained JACK NAYLOR in the Grade 3 Jockey Club Of Turkey Silver Flash Stakes at Leopardstown but this time she seemed to enjoy the increased distance to a mile and comfortably kept Mark Johnston's MURAAQABA and Richard Hannon's SHAGAH at bay.

 

The winning trainer said afterwards: “Last week we got a huge offer for her and I got a bit nervous, but we decided to keep her, thankfully. She will have one more run this season, we could supplement her for the Group One at Newmarket (Fillies’ Mile) because the dopey trainer put Anthem Alexander down on the entry form instead of her by mistake. There’s also the option of running in France (Prix Marcel Boussac), but I think we might go to Newmarket.”

 

AIDAN AND A BETTING

Today Aidan O’Brien is aiming to claim the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes for the eighth time at Leopardstown and to do that his dual Derby winner, AUSTRALIA has to show even more improvement. The drop back in distance for the Juddmonte International Stakes at York doesn't appear to have been a problem for the three-year-old GALILEO son because he came home two lengths ahead of Kevin Ryan's THE GREY GATSBY.

 

The Ballydoyle king confessed that his chestnut colt was only just about on form when he returned to racing on the Knavesmire in August: “We were delighted he ran in York and got through it and look forward to Leopardstown with him. He was only ready to go racing that day. He’d had a good break and done very well. He was only ready for a good racecourse gallop. That was the state he was at and obviously we were a bit worried going into a big race like that, but he came out of it well and we were delighted with the performance on the day. We’ll take one race at a time. Leopardstown is the next target. I suppose we’ll discuss his next race after that. That’s what we’ve always done with every race so far.”

 

The trainer's son, Joseph, was more philosophical: “You have to beat the best to be the best and the more the better horses turn up the better. It’s such a competitive race and very exciting. I might never get to ride another one like him again.”

FRIDAY 12th SEPTEMBER 2014

MY LIFE, MY LIFE!

Uttoxeter Racecourse will be hosting a special event on Friday September 26. The BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2010 will be sharing the memories of his record-breaking career. In case you were wondering who that could be, it's 19 times champion jockey Tony McCoy. The rider from Moneyglass, County Antrim, has had a phenomenal career and that was recognised outside the world of horse racing when he received that prestigious 2010 award, the first jockey in history to win it.

 

Anthony Peter McCoy notched up his very first success in 1992 when he was just 17 and claimed his 4,000th winner last November when he was 39. He was originally apprenticed to the now retired trainer Toby Balding, Clare's uncle, and even during his first season riding in Britain, he won the conditional jump jockeys' title with a record 74 winners. Champion jockey for every year since turning professional, Tony McCoy got his first champion jockey title three years after his very first win in 1995/6 and, currently holds 19 consecutive champion jockey titles and is well on course for a 20th. The previous record of seven consecutive titles was set by Peter Scudamore.

 

Tony McCoy has claimed almost every significant contest going. Possibly his most memorable victories are the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, King George VI Chase and the 2010 Grand National, the one race that had eluded him over the years.

It seems Uttoxeter could be the place to be on the last Friday in September. The evening includes a three course meal, followed by Question and Answers with the Champion Jockey and all for fifty quid.

 

FIT FOR A QUEEN

Her Majesty The Queen's ESTIMATE could set things alight in the Socialites Electric Cigarettes Doncaster Cup today. Perhaps remembered most for her Gold Cup triumph at Royal Ascot, the five-year-old daughter of MONSUN had to be content with second place in the Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance Lonsdale Cup at York three weeks ago. It is to be hoped that ESTIMATE's disastrous performance in the Artemis Goodwood Cup at the end of July has received a royal pardon due to the fact that she was possibly in season and the undulating Goodwood track just wasn't to her liking. The two-and-a-quarter mile trip including the long home straight should this time be factors in her favour. She will, it's true, be up against TIMES UP who will be aiming for a third consecutive Doncaster Cup and trainer, Ed Dunlop is confident that the eight-year-old son of OLDEN TIMES and also a past winner of the November Handicap on this course, is in top form to take on this challenge. Another threat to the royal contender is possibly ANGEL GABRIAL, runner-up in the Chester Cup, before making the Northumberland Plate his own.

 

JAMIE'S SAYONARA?

Jamie Spencer was successful in bringing out KIYOSHI's undoubtable talents with a brilliant win in the Japan Racing Association Sceptre Stakes at Doncaster yesterday. The Charlie Hills-trained three-year-old put on a memorable display at last year's Royal Ascot Albany Stakes and followed that up with impressive results in the Moyglare Stud Stakes and the Cheveley Park Stakes so much so that connections could be forgiven for anticipating a winter of content and Classic glory. That wasn't to be, however, as the daughter of DUBAWI was laid low with illness and didn't get back onto the track until June's Coronation Stakes where she didn't exactly cover herself with glory (came 10th from 11!). A glimmer of new-found potential after coming an impressive second behind EURO CHARLINE, however, meant she headed for the Yorkshire track, fitted with cheek pieces for the first time, as an 11/1 shot in her latest Group Three assignment. The soon-to-retire Jamie Spencer, was content to shadow the pacesetters until the final straight and then his mount produced such powerful acceleration that she won the day, a length and a quarter ahead of BRAGGING, the 15/8 favourite.

 

Trainer, Charlie Hills, had nothing but praise for the winning jockey: “Jamie gave her an absolute peach of a ride and I will definitely miss him. He has been great for me. He rode my first Classic winner (Just The Judge, 2013 Irish 1,000 Guineas) and has been a big supporter.”

THURSDAY 11th SEPTEMBER 2014

RYAN TAKES TO THE AIR

Kevin Ryan-trained THE GREY GATSBY, ridden to a surprise victory in the Betfred Dante Stakes at York in May and confirming his superiority a month later in the Chantilly Prix du Jockey Club, will be partnered again by Ryan Moore in the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday. The three-times champion jockey would have been aboard the three-year-old son of MASTERCRAFTSMAN in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York the following month but he had a prior commitment to ride Sir Michael Stoute's TELESCOPE so he had to cede the ride to current Champion jockey, Richard Hughes. In the event both Champs had to surrender to the might of the English and Irish Derby winner, AUSTRALIA.

 

Trainer, Kevin Ryan confirmed: “Ryan Moore rides, he flies from Doncaster after the Leger.”

 

That's 250 miles. The Ladbroke's St Leger runs at 15.50 so will be all over just after 16.00. That means the busy Brighton boy will have just over two hours to be in the line-up for the Leopardstown contest at 18.50.

 

No peace for the wicked, however, because it has also been announced that Ryan Moore has been booked to ride NIGHT OF THUNDER in the Qatar Prix du Moulin at Longchamp on Sunday. That means that the thirty-two-year-old brother of Hayley, Jamie and Joshua, will not have too much time for a lie-in and a leisurely Dublin breakfast. Paris is 655 miles away, so an earlyish morning flight is called for.

 

Clearly trainer Richard Hannon was pleased that jet-setting Ryan Moore was available, particularly as his stable jockey, Richard Hughes, has decided to ride TORONADO in the Group One at Longchamp.

He commented: “We are delighted to have snapped up Ryan Moore for Night of Thunder in the Moulin, with Hughesie naturally staying with Toronado. We call Night of Thunder the ‘Kingslayer’ in the yard — he beat Kingman fair and square in the Guineas — and he has benefited from his break.”

 

TIGGY WINKLES A WIN

Still with Richard Hannon. His 'Queen of Speed', TIGGY WIGGY, seems to be on target for the Group 1 Connolly's Red Mills Cheveley Park Stakes, at Newmarket on 27th of this month. After showing her 23 rivals a clean pair of heels in the Weatherbys Super Sprint in July, the two-year-old daughter of KODIAC was being considered for a contest against older sprinters in a race such as the Nunthorpe but, wisely, connections opted for the Group 2 Lowther Stakes where she was up against competitors of her own age and sex and led them all home, winning from the front.

 

The Herridge and Everleigh Racing Stables trainer explained: "Tiggy Wiggy definitely goes to Newmarket. We will consider the Prix de l'Abbaye after the Cheveley Park but we want to take on her own generation and sex in a Group 1 first rather than take on the colts and the older horses. She is in very good form, is fresh and well and has put on a bit of weight since York. What sets her apart is that she is such a good-moving filly - when other horses strides are shortening she is lengthening."

 

UP DALE AND UPHILL

The Clipper Logistics Leger Legends Classified Stakes run at Doncaster is a charity event, first staged in 2010, from which all the money raised is given to the Injured Jockeys Fund's Jack Berry House and the Northern Racing College. Its latest renewal was yesterday and the outcome was most welcome as jockey, Dale Gibson, a leading figure in organising the charity since its inception, won on the Les Eyre-trained BOB. The retired professional rider confessed to feeling "a bit emotional" after his name was added to the illustrious roll of honour which includes such greats as Charlie Swan, Mick Kinane and Julie Kron.

 

The current Industry Liaison Officer at the Professional Jockeys’ Association had never disguised his ambition to win the race but had to admit that it took all his efforts to succeed. The four-year-old son of ASSERTIVE was sent off an 8/1 shot and it took him a while to get into the swing of things but, when he finally did get going, he had no trouble overhauling the Tom Easterby-trained JANAAB in the final furlong.

 

The winning jockey said afterwards: "That was fantastic. It's great if you can have a winner after you've retired in any situation and I'm a bit emotional really as I've put quite a lot into it, along with a lot of other people. It's been a really good team effort and it meant a lot. It's great that we've managed to raise another £100,000 for the Northern Racing College and Jack Berry House this afternoon. I got involved in the race shortly after I retired about five years ago but was never actually planning to get back on a horse again. It's obviously nice to win but the most important thing is the fundraising that we've managed to achieve for a couple of really important causes.”

 

The East Yorkshire-based winning trainer, who is now back in Britain after training in Spain commented: "I only decided he was running in the race about a week ago. He's a very hard horse to keep right and we only got about two pieces of work into him. Luckily, we managed it and it all came together. He's been a grand horse for us out in Spain and he's owned by Victor Chandler.”

WEDNESDAY 10th SEPTEMBER 2014

IT NEVER RAINS BUT IT POURS!

First he loses the ride on TREVE in the Prix de l'Arc de triomphe and then success in a minor Group contest aboard AL NAAMAH, the only ride of the day, was denied him. No wonder Frankie Dettori was looking a bit dejected yesterday. To rub salt into the wound, the GALILEO filly cost a record £5.2m at auction last year and after winning the Chantilly Prix de Pontpoint on her debut in June, there was every expectation that she would fully justify the huge amount handed over. It is well-known that her owner, Sheikh Joaan, member of Qatar’s royal family, never has to check his bank balance before spending such mouth-watering sums so that wasn't perhaps such an issue. For Frankie Dettori, though, this was the one race of the day where he had a chance to build up a feel-good factor before Wednesday's St Leger meeting at Doncaster. His mount in the D'aumale Group 3 Stakes was sent off at 6/5 favourite and had the added advantage of having a personal pacemaker so had no excuse not to get at least into the frame. That's not how things panned out, however. The André Fabre-trained two-year-old struggled to make any progress from the top of the straight and came home a sorry six lengths behind the winner. To make the disappointment worse, the victor was SHAHAH who was supposed to be the pacemaker!

 

Jockeys learn from experience to take the good days with the bad but there was no getting away from the fact that this has not been a good week for Frankie Dettori. As a tough professional he managed to accept his defeat philosophically. The usual jokey manner that we expect from the man from Milan was conspicuous by its absence and he was certainly in no mood to answer any questions about losing his Arc ride. When pushed he responded with: “I said it all yesterday, there’s nothing more to say.” And yesterday all he came up with was: “I have nothing to say on the matter but I am very disappointed and that’s it.”

 

The only light on the horizon which could save Frankie Dettori's face and even give a modicum of revenge. The news came out that Sheikh Joaan has bought 50% of ECTOT, a high-class classy French colt, winner of his last five races who is to be given a chance on Sunday in a trial for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Gregory Benoist, the retained jockey, is due to keep the next two ECTOT races but, after that, Frankie Dettori takes over. It is also no secret that Gregory Benoist will prefer to ride AVENIR CERTAIN in the Arc. That means that if ECTOT does make it into Europe’s most prestigious Flat race, there is the strong likelihood that Frankie Dettori will be take the ride. This would give him the chance to turn the tables on TREVE and her trainer.

 

OVER THE MOON

Markus Klug's German Derby winner lost his unbeaten record in the Grosser Preis von Baden on Sunday and now connections are keeping their fingers crossed that Christophe Soumillon will be available to take the ride in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. The Belgian-born jockey rode SEA THE MOON to victory in the German Derby but couldn't take the ride in Baden Baden on Sunday because he was retained to ride in France for the Aga Khan. As the Arc trials take place at Longchamp this weekend, it would give Christophe Soumillon a better idea about whether he can be considered for the ride. Niko Lafrentz, whose family run the Gestut Gorlsdorf commented: "We have a clear understanding with Christophe and the Aga Khan that a decision will be made next Tuesday after they have seen the Prix Vermeille. I am sure that if we needed to advertise for a jockey my phone would not stop ringing, we will be looking for an international one."

It seems that connections are not too upset by the fact that their odds-on favourite was beaten last weekend and are confident that the three-year-old son of SEA THE STARS will be much better equipped to take on the Arc in October.

 

Niko Lafrentz added: "It was a good prep but obviously it could have gone a little better. On the day, Ivanhowe was the best horse but we know we can improve a lot on that. He came out of the race very well and while he (Cristian Demuro, jockey) could have asked for more, we didn't want him to have a very hard race as that wouldn't have helped the team in the long term. We now have three and a half weeks to get him ready for the Arc and we hope it will be a little calmer than before Baden-Baden. We had TV crews and journalists nearly every day in the lead-up to it. If we could choose, we would like the ground on the soft side of good - we wouldn't like it fast. We should be fine in October, though, I think. In Germany most of our big races come at the end of a season and you never find perfect ground. We had been a little worried about running him at Hamburg in the Derby because the ground was very worn."

 

IT'S NOT ALL UPHILL

KINGSTON HILL, Roger Varian's Derby runner-up, is all set, it seems, for for Saturday’s Ladbrokes St. Leger. The Kremlin House Stables' trainer is confident that the MASTERCRAFTSMAN colt will be comfortable with the fourteen-and-a-half furlongs up against fifteen rivals in the £650,000 feature event. The winner of last year's Racing Post Trophy delighted connections by coming an impressive second to AUSTRALIA in the Investec Derby, after a disappointing performance in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas.

 

Roger Varian commented: “Kingston Hill is in good form. We are very happy with him and planning to run him in the Ladbrokes St Leger on Saturday. I was glad to see there was a drop of rain at Doncaster on Saturday as it had looked to be a very dry forecast. We will have to see how it plays out but at this time of the year with longer nights and dew in the morning it should help the ground retain some moisture. Andrea Atzeni will ride. He has ridden him on all his starts bar the Eclipse. He sat on Kingston Hill a few days ago and was really pleased with his condition so it’s all systems go. We are pretty confident Kingston Hill will get the trip.

TUESDAY 9th SEPTEMBER 2014

HELL HATH NO FURY LIKE A …......”

Mme Christiane “Criquette” Head-Maarek has spoken. Thierry Jarnet will be booked to ride in the Prix Vermeille on Sunday. That means that Frankie Dettori is out. That will also inevitably mean that the four-times French Champion Flat racing Jockey will ride in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in October.

 

As the Chantilly-based trainer commented: “Frankie is not going to ride her in the Vermeille as I have decided Thierry Jarnet will ride. It was my decision, nobody else’s. Thierry did very well on the filly last year and there is nothing more to say.”

 

Frankie Dettori broke his ankle and so was unable to ride TREVE in last year's Arc and the victory on that occasion went to Thierry Jarnet. Unfortunately, on top of that, the man from Milan has failed to increase his reputation with French connections this year. He was aboard TREVE when she went back into action at Longchamp in April and came second to CIRRUS DES AIGLES. It was no secret that Frankie Dettori's forceful tactics were not entirely to the liking of Mme. Head-Maarek. The three-times Champion jockey seems to have got it wrong in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Ascot in June when he left it a bit late for a challenge and TREVE came in third. A statement was quickly issued about pulled muscles being to blame for the defeat but the trainer is never one for hiding her feelings and her displeasure was very apparent after the race.

 

The Italian rider was given another career survival opportunity by Sheikh Joaan Al Thani on behalf of Al Shaqab Racing when he lost his position with Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin stable after admitting to taking cocaine. But that hasn't created too many opportunities.

 

Sadly, all this means that the flamboyant rider has lost the popularity he once enjoyed in this country. Top Newmarket trainers no longer seemed inclined to book him. It's probably good that Frankie Dettori has secured a role as a regular contributor for the Channel 4 racing team as, at 43, maybe his days in the saddle are numbered.

 

THE PICK OF THE RIDES

Ryan Moore appears to be favourite among the connections of quite a few runners in the Ladbrokes St Leger at Doncaster on Saturday. Trainer, Sir Michael Stoute, has entered two hopefuls, SNOW SKY and KINGS FETE, and it is expected that the three-times Champion jockey will ride the latter, as the owner, Khlalid ibn Abdullah's retained rider, James Doyle, has opted for the former.

 

There is another riding vacancy. Champion Irish jockey, Joseph O'Brien, will be on call for his Dad, Aidan, during the Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown so there's an empty saddle on GRANDDUKEOFTUSCANY. Meanwhile John Gosden will be presenting a show of force with three of his best, FOREVER NOW, ROMSDAL and MARZOCCO so another oportunity there for the Brighton-born rider.

 

One ride is virtually assured, though. Ryan Moore has been offered the partnership of either ALEX MY BOY, as Mark Johnston's retained rider, Joe Fanning, has probably opted for the Middleham-based trainer's other contender, HARTNELL.

 

Sir Michael Stoute clocked up his only victory in this prestigious contest back in 2008 with CONDUIT and his SNOW SKY is currently trading at 5/1. KINGS FETE, on the other hand, looked a difficult ride when he managed to get into the frame in the Absolute Aesthetics March Stakes at Goodwood last time out. So the Barbadian British trainer probably isn't holding his breath.

 

Khalid ibn Abdullah's racing manager, Teddy Grimthorpe, confirmed that both of these horses would run and added: "Kings Fete worked his way on to the scene on Saturday morning and Michael and the Prince were keen for him to take his chance. James Doyle will have the choice, I would imagine he'll go for Snow Sky, it's entirely up to him. I hope an up-and-coming jockey, Ryan Moore, will ride the other."

 

IF 'YES' NOT 'NO', THE RACING COULD GO!

One aspect of 'yes' vote in next week's referendum on Scottish independence that has not been in the news is horse racing. Until now that is. Peter Scudamore considers that an independent Scotland would be "catastrophic" for racing north of the border. The former champion jockey now works as assistant trainer for his partner, Lucinda Russell, in Kinross, just north of Edinburgh. Lucinda Russell has notched up many successes in Scotland and in England.

 

The jockey with eight titles and 1,677 winners( more than any other rider over sticks) to his name, stated: "It's catastrophic for Scottish racing. I employ 30-odd people and I have had to warn them that I can't see how our business structure can carry on if there is a yes; I can't see where the funding would come from. There are far bigger issues in Scotland, but all I can concentrate on is racing. There are 100-odd fixtures in Scotland and 70 or 80 of those could be absorbed into English racing. We receive a subsidy of a levy of £1million from the British Horseracing Authority. If I was running the BHA I would be delighted, as there would be £1m more prize money. "I would not wish to (relocate). On a passionate basis, Scottish racing is fantastically run, adds unique colour to the British calendar and is loved by British people. There are fantastic races, and the fact that they are in Scotland makes them.”

 

Peter Scudamore is not the only one to worry about the consequences of a 'yes' vote. When it comes to heritage, not many Scottish institutions can match Perth Racecourse, which can trace its pedigree back exactly four centuries this year and Sam Morshead has been its General Manager for 25 years and he has expressed his concern: "It's a bit of a nightmare for us. There are too many unknowns. A straight Levy swap (should Scotland adopt a similar Levy mechanism to the UK's) would mean a £4.2m shortfall according to our figures, and that's not taking into account media rights. If we had our own fixture list, we would lose criteria slots - they would go to English courses - and bookmakers would not need our midweek fixtures. Would English bookmakers want the Scottish product? If not, media rights would be impacted and there would be a huge decrease in funding, less prize-money, less runners, and our business model simply wouldn't work. It's a huge worry. On top of that, English trainers get a VAT concession. Would Scottish trainers? If they didn't, then Scottish trainers would have to charge more. There could be a mass exodus of owners across the border.

 

MONDAY 8th SEPTEMBER 2014

ONE OF THE MOON'S PHASES

The Longines Grosser Preis von Baden which was held yesterday at ...er .. Baden Baden, has upset many people's thinking about a possible winner of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. This is because SEA THE MOON, trained by Markus Klug, was beaten to the post by Gestut Schlenderhan's IVANHOWE and thus an unbeaten record came to an end.

The son of SEA THE STARS had entered this Group One contest, plagued by a host of questions regarding an injury scare that seems to have caused the three-year-old colt to miss a lot of work-outs. There was never any announcement about what the problems were but on the day it was obvious that something was amiss as SEA THE MOON was convincingly beaten. Then after the defeat both trainer and connections were quick to blame the defeat on these unmentioned difficulties.

 

As the race panned out, Cristian Demuro decided to get full value from his draw near the rail and made all the running. Head bent low, SEA THE MOON raised the tempo as they turned into the home straight and it began to look like all was done and dusted. But that was not taking into account the progress of IVANHOWE, with Czech rider Filip Minarik aboard, who started to throw down a challenge half-way down the straight and although Cristian Demuro coaxed his mount to lengthen his stride, the four-year-old son of SOLDIER HOLLOW somehow kept finding more.

 

The jockey, Cristian Demuro, standing in for Christophe Soumillion, seems convinced that SEA THE MOON can be excused this lapse and will regain his connection's confidence if he is given the chance of a rematch against IVANHOWE at Longchamp. He tried to be positive in his comments: "He was not ready, he was not 100% and he needed the race today. I made the pace and it was the plan to go to the front. I went slow. I tried to go outside, and he needs this race I think. I was ok and he was enjoying himself at the front, but when the winner came to beat me he flew. He was not like in the Derby but I think after this race he's ready for the Arc. I think he'll come back like the Derby.”

 

Despite this setback, it seems Markus Klug still plans to saddle his protégé in the Arc, taking place in exactly one month's time. He obviously thinks the colt will recover the kind of form that enable him to carry off the German Derby by eleven lengths. He, too, is putting a positive slant on the outcome and even seems to have recognise it as inevitable, as he said: "I was pretty sure that he was not 100%, so it was not a bad performance. The race was as we expected, and we will run in the Arc. He didn't lose anything in defeat. It was the plan to go to the front so he could gallop freely. He's going to have a bit of a light week now and then we will up the work for the Arc. You could see in the middle of the straight that he wasn't going to win. I did warn before the race that he wasn't 100% fit."

 

WELL DONE, BROTHER!

Another O'Brien starts to make his mark. This time it's Donnacha O'Brien, younger brother of Ireland's champion, Joseph, and son of trainer, Aidan, who notched up his the first victory at Dundalk when QUARTZ narrowly won the day in the Dundalk Stadium Apprentice Maiden.

The win is even more impressive when it is realised that this is only the 17th ride of the sixteen-year-old's career. For this special occasion he was on his father's odds-on favourite, the half-brother to KINGSBARNS.

A proud Dad stated: "I'm delighted he's got his first winner. It's great to get it. He's only 16, and had a fall at Wexford on only his third ride and he was very lucky thank God. But it didn't affect him at all. He's a big fella and with the 10lb claim he will be able to claim off 9st5lb."

 

A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH

It looks like Middleham Park Racing's winner of the Betfred Sprint Cup on Saturday, G FORCE, could be off on his first for his first overseas trip, which will probably include Hong Kong. The three-year-old son of TAMAYUZ has got to the top sooner than expected after blocking GORDON LORD BYRON from keepin his crown and this has obviously encouraged connections to think big and a sprint at Ascot could be on the cards on Champions' Day.

Nick Bradley, speaking for Middleham Park Racing: “I think we’ll miss the Abbaye and stick to six (furlongs) for now. There is a race at Ascot coming up. It’s a Group Two, but I’ve been told we don’t get any penalties for that race. Then there is a race at Sha Tin on December 14. Adrian Beaumont (International Racing Bureau) was on the phone last night and thinks we’ll get an invite for that race, so it would be nice to go over there.”

 

SUNDAY 7th SEPTEMBER 2014

 

NOT POET'S DAY

GORDON LORD BYRON failed by three-quarters of a length in his brave attempt to secure a back-to-back win in the the Betfred Sprint Cup yesterday at Haydock Park, whereby he would have become only the second dual-winner in the history of the event after BE FRIENDLY in 1966 and 1967. No-one seems to have held a brief for the David O'Meara-trained and Danny Tudhope-ridden G FORCE who lived up to his name and powered past Tom Hogan's six-year-old son of BYRON in the final yards of this contest. Qatar Racing, the original owners of winning three-year-old, must be regretting that they sold him for 25,000 guineas last October to Middleham Park racing whose connections were given a day to remember.

 

The winning jockey commented: “It's unbelievable. I had every faith in this horse - I knew he had everything. He is only a three-year-old and he showed some class. He has a massive heart and a great turn of foot. He is a class horse and today he got the breaks.”

 

To which David O'Meara added: “I’m still shaking. It’s great for everybody at home and it is super for Danny, who has given him a great ride. We have always said this horse was very good. He hasn't got the rub of the green a couple of times this year but we had every faith that he would be able to go and do this one day. We thought we might have to wait until next year but we are delighted he has managed to do it today. The Abbaye is left for him but it looks like he might be better over six furlongs than five.”

 

Nick Bradley made the following statement on behalf of the Middleham Park owners: “He ran such a good race on debut for Richard Hannon and I don't know why they sold him. On the day we bought him there was only me there in the sales ring. There was one bid and I bought him. I didn't think we would end up here but I am chuffed to bits that we did. We have been a little bit unlucky on a couple of runs and I shouldn't have run him at Goodwood then he didn't get a run at York. We probably got the trip wrong, we thought he was a five-furlong horse.”

 

RIGHT" SAID FRED!

So Betfred, owners of Totepool who run the Scoop6, got it right. They forecast that there would not be a winner this week. It would be interesting to know how many took the 11/8 odds against a winner and 4/7 on that the increased prize will be up for grabs again next week!

 

It soon became apparent that it wasn't going to be a good punters' day when the 10/1 shot, KICKBOXER, trained by Mick Channon, trashed 95 per cent of tickets in the first race of the day. By the fifth leg of the gamble only one ticket remained, in the hands, it was revealed, of a humble £2 Betfred betting shop customer. Unfortunately his (or her) selection, HIDDEN GOLD, trained by Saeed bin Suroor was no match for the easy winner, Roger Varian's BATTERSEA with Graham Lee aboard and finished ninth.

 

This means the prize money now stands at £2,052,751 and will rolls over to next week together with the £879,570 bonus.

Andrew Griffiths, Totepool's spokesman said: “After Kickboxer’s victory, it was hardly a shock when Battersea turned off the lights on Saturday's Scoop6. We now have £3m rolling over and punters could be playing for a whopping £4m next weekend.”

 

A THIRSK FOR VICTORY

Yesterday was the cause for much celebration by Ian Williams, when CRUISE TOTHELIMIT, won the Barkers of Northallerton Handicap at Thirsk. The reason was that this victory marked a a full set of wins at British racecourses. The Midlands-based trainer confessed that achieving this had been something of a "personal holy grail".

 

He commented: "Since Alarico won at Lingfield on January 28, 1997, I have managed to secure at least one winner at all the currently operational racecourses in England, Wales and Scotland, and also managed to saddle winners at the now-defunct Folkestone and Hereford. This has been, until today, with one exception, Thirsk. The small town in North Yorkshire with a population of less than 5,000, is the one racecourse that had failed to provide me a winner and it's not as if I've not tried! Since Prairie Law ran down the field in September 2004, I have sent many runners on the long road to Thirsk without success. But today, the wonderfully consistent Cruise Tothelimit completed the full set - a winner at every UK racecourse!"

SATURDAY 6th SEPTEMBER 2014

 

A GORDON FOR ME!

September 8th 2012 was the scene of the Tom Hogan-trained GORDON LORD BYRON's first crack at a Group 1 race, the Betfred Sprint Cup and he acquitted himself satisfactorily, coming second by only three-quarters of a length behind James Fanshawe's SOCIETY ROCK. Since that auspicious beginning the six-year-old son of BYRON has notched up three Group 1 victories, including the 2013 renewal of today's Haydock happening. The bay gelding hasn't restricted his activities to these shores, either. He has campaigned successfully in Ireland, Britain, France, Australia and even in Hong Kong and the UAE. Connections will be hoping that their mount will today become only the second back-to-back winner of the Betfred Sprint Cup in forty-eight years. The last horse to achieve this accolade was BE FRIENDLY in 1966 and 1967.

 

With ten wins and over one million in prize money to his credit, Tom Hogan's protégé seems to be able to cope with varying degrees of ease in the ground but the the expected quicker conditions are not expected to give him any trouble.

 

The County Tipperary trainer commented: "Gordon Lord Byron goes on most types of ground. He's won on good, run very well on good to firm, and remember he was beaten only three-quarters of a length in the Haydock Sprint Cup two years ago when it was firm. I'm convinced the only ground he doesn't enjoy is heavy, although he has won on it. I was delighted with his prep run at the Curragh last month when he lost out narrowly. We've been very happy with him since and I think he's in the same sort of form going there as he was when he won the race a year ago."

 

Wayne Lordan, one of the thirteen jockeys to have ridden GORDON LORD BYRON in his busy career, has been aboard on six previous occasions and he will be the one connections will be wanting to greet in the winner's enclosure.

 

THANKS A MILLION!

The Scoop6 competition hasn't been won for ten weeks and its prize money now stands at over £3 million. So today one of the participants could land up a millionaire. The excitement will be intensified as all of the six races that comprise the bet, from Haydock, Kempton and Ascot, will be shown live on Channel 4. As usual, anyone who has the winning ticket today will go on to have a chance of winning a share of a bonus pool of £735,533, if they succeed in selecting a single winner in a race next Saturday.

 

Tricky decisions to be made. Five of the six races are handicaps; four of these have 16 runners or more. The final selection will hinge on success in the BetFred Sprint Cup, consisting of eighteen declared runners, headed by the Edward Lynam-trained SOLE POWER, who at odds of 3/1 is the shortest-priced favourite for any of the Scoop6 races.

 

The current prize money makes it possible for a single punter to win a seven-figure sum from the Scoop6. The highest amount was last May when eight tickets shared £1.3 million, after a twelve-week roll-over. On that occasion three of the eight winners went on to share a bonus pool of £5.5 million the following next week.

 

Totepool’s spokesman, Andrew Griffiths, commented: “We expect the combined pools will hit £3.5m when the first leg goes off. The dream scenario is to have one or two winners, which would make them instant millionaires.”

 

It's interesting that the owners of Totepool, BetFred, don't think there will be a winner this week and that Scoop6 will roll over for at least another week. In fact they are putting their money where their mouth is and offering 11/8 against a winner and 4/7 on that the prize will still be up for grabs next week.

The Scoop6 races to watch: 1.55 Ascot, 2.05 Haydock, 2.55 Kempton, 3.15 Haydock, 3.30 Ascot, 3.50 Haydock.

GOOD LUCK!

 

LET THERE BE RAIN”

Dermot Weld is apparently praying for rain as he gets his horses ready for next Saturday's Irish Champions' Weekend. The Curragh-based trainer has made no secret of the fact that most of his runners will do better with a drop of rain. Included in his group of leading contenders of the four he will be saddling in the Group One Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger on the second day are Moyglare Stud Farm's FORGOTTEN RULES and the five-year-old SINGSPIEL son, PALE MIMOSA, winner of last month's Lonsdale Cup at York.

 

The Rosewell House boss commented : "Forgotten Rules and Pale Mimosa are in great form but they both need a cut in the ground. The same can be said of Carla Bianca who holds an engagement in the Blandford Stakes on the same afternoon. The weather seems set fair for the coming days so we will wait and see for the moment and make a final decision about all our horses later next week."

 

FRIDAY 5th SEPTEMBER 2014

DOING THE BEST THING

As mentioned yesterday, this story is destined to run and run. Just twenty-four hours after trainer Jim Best sparked off controversy with his well-backed winner at Southwell, it turns out that the BHA is still mulling over a similar case involving Jim Best-trained PLANETOID in June 2013, although it now seems unlikely that there will be a disciplinary hearing in that regard.

Tessa Smyth, BHA' media and communications executive, stated: “The win of Planetoid and the accompanying jockey change on the day was the subject of a comprehensive investigation which has concluded. While the investigation will not result in a disciplinary enquiry, possible follow-up measures regarding the failure of the jockey to take up the riding engagement are being considered.”

 

The jockey concerned in that incident was Mattie Batchelor, with thus far no successes on Jim Best's horses after seventy rides over four seasons. He was declared to ride PLANETOID on 5 June last year but for some reason didn't get to Newton Abbot in time for the race, the reason given “car trouble”. On that occasion, Tony McCoy took the ride at the last moment and steered the well-backed, previously out-of-form, GALILEO colt to an easy victory. Recognise the similarity? The result was mirrored on Wednesday when Jim Best’s SAINT HELENA, also a heavily backed winner with previous poor form, won the the 32Red Casino Handicap Hurdle at Southwell. And who was the jockey to take the ride at the last minute? Tony McCoy, who had been originally booked to ride another Jim Best runner in the race, INTO THE WIND, who was withdrawn on the morning of the contest.

 

The winning trainer commented yesterday: “Myself and Tom [Best’s brother], we train the horses, we’re not into the betting or following the betting. On some of its old Flat form, it had every chance. All our horses are running well just now. I don’t know about the BHA but I couldn’t see what all the fuss was about,”

 

In response to the question about his horses running and winning handicaps on their first attempts all Jim Best would say: “Whether it’s coincidence, horses do find it easier to win handicaps.”

 

ANOTHER RACECOURSE REP

It must be that time of the year! Yet another ambassador has been appointed. After Sam Twiston-Davies and Katie Davis, it is the turn of twenty-nine-year-old Jamie Moore who has been made ambassador for London Racecourses for the National Hunt Season, 2014/15. The Brighton-born jockey had a successful 2013/14 season, winning six Grade races, three of which were on London Racecourses. It has also been announced that he will be riding equine superstar, SIRE DE GRUGY again in the coming season. The latter partnership held sway in all the two mile chases, including the Grade Two Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton Park, the Grade One Tingle Creek Chase and the first running of the Grade One Celebration Chase at Sandown Park.

 

Jamie Moore commented: “It is a pleasure to be working with Sandown Park and Kempton Park Racecourses as their ambassador for the coming season. They are two tracks that I enjoy riding at and I have been lucky enough to have had some great successes at both, so I feel honoured to have been asked to take on this role. I am really looking forward to the Jumps season getting underway, especially on board Sire De Grugy. The Tingle Creek is definitely part of the plan for him and following his operation, he seems really well.”

The London Regional Director for Jockey Club Racecourses, Rupert Trevelyan, added: “We are very pleased to have Jamie as our Jumps ambassador for London Racecourses. His partnership with Sire De Grugy was one of the highlights for the region in 2013/14 and it is great to have such a recognised and respected member of the weighing room working with us closely. We look forward to what should be a fantastic Jumps season.”

 

LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP

Since 1868, Laytown, County Meath, has hosted itsannual racing fixture, a unique event held on the beach. Originally it was run at the same time as the Boyne Regatta, with the rowing taking place at high tide and the racing when the tide had gone out.

 

Visitors this time, however, were treated to a spectacular piece of unexpected jumping. Jockey, Johnny King, was endeavouring to mount ARBITRAGEUR, prior to moving down to the start of the race, the Barry Matthews Appreciation Society (Q.R.) Handicap when suddenly the five-year-old son of ELUSIVE CITY threw his head back and leapt into the air. Johnny King managed to hold on to the horse's neck, whilst the groom visibly cowered underneath in fear. Despite what might have been considered a dangerous reaction on the part of the jockey, he did, miraculously, escape unhurt and went on to take part in the race but only managed seventh.

Those without a weak heart can check it out here:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2744139/It-s-not-jump-race-Terrifying-moment-horse-rears-jockey-tries-mount-Britain-s-beach-meet.html?ITO=1490&ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490

 

THURSDAY 4th SEPTEMBER 2014

 

TREBLE, TREBLE, TOIL AND (POSSIBLY) TREBLE

Trainer, Richard Hannon is going for a treble at Salisbury this afternoon, especially as the Country Gentlemen's Association Dick Poole Fillies' Stakes has now been upgraded to a Group 3. This race was won by Lady Cecil-trained JOYEUSE last year and Ed McMahon's WINNING EXPRESS in 2012 so the six-furlong race is not to be sniffed at and Richard Hannon obviously takes it seriously as he has entered three for the contest: MARSH HAWK who is the Favourite, DANGEROUS MOONLITE and EBF Fillies'Stakes winner, VESNINA.

 

And straight from the Marlborough-based trainer's mouth: "Marsh Hawk surprised us somewhat when winning so well at Newmarket first time out. We knew she wasn't short of speed but she blitzed them with her early pace, so dropping back a furlong certainly won't be a negative. Dangerous Moonlite didn't enjoy the soft ground at Newbury last time and will be much happier on this faster surface, while Vesnina won her maiden well enough at Newbury to warrant a tilt at some black type here."

 

THREE OUT OF FOUR

What do PIPING DREAM, MAJESTIC MANNER and WHALEWEIGH STATION have in common? They provided, Richard Hughes with an incredible 125/1 treble at Lingfield yesterday. The twice Champion Flat jockey is still behind Ryan Moore in the title contest but he worked hard and shrewdly in a strong defence of his crown. He had certainly done due preparation on how to handle the straight turf course and it paid off, as he decided to bring each of his winners down the stands rail.

 

First off in the 188Bet Nursery Handicap, the Dublin-born rider revealed how determined he was on Richard Hannon's PIPING DREAM, moving to the rail as soon as possible to overcome the downside of a wide draw. The gamble paid off as the two-year-old daughter of APPROVE made all but was hard driven when strongly challenged by JUBILEE SPIRIT over one furlong out, managing to hold off the challenge by a head at the post.

 

It worked the first time so why not again! In the very next race, the British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Fillies’ Stakes. William Haggas-trained MAJESTIC MANNER (drawn 11), got over to the rail, made all, challenged over 1 furlong out by her main rival, AJAADAT, but drew well clear inside the final furlong to win by one-and-a-quarter lengths.

 

Three out of three came just half-an-hour later in the British Assessment Bureau Median Auction Maiden Stakes but not as the other two races panned out. WHALEWEIGH STATION, trained by John Jenkins, held onto his lead until about halfway until challenged by QUAINTRELLE, ridden by Andrea Atzeni but managed to gain supremacy over 2 furlongs until Richard Hughes drove him well clear inside the final furlong to win by an impressive nine lengths.

As a result of this successful day's work Paddy Power cut Richard Hughes's odds to 4/5 favourite from evens to become champion for a third time.

 

But the aspiring third-time champion didn't have everything his own way all the time. It could have been four but 'Youth', as they say, 'is no respecter of persons' and so it was that twenty-four-year-old jockey, Amy Scott, aboard Eve Johnson Houghton-trained SPARKLING ICE, made most of the running and led the forty-one-year-old Richard Hughes's CONQUESTADIM home by two lengths in the 188Bet Claiming Stakes.

 

WINING MYSTERY

Another jockey, aspiring this time to his twentieth jump jockeys’ championship did not have such an easy ride of it yesterday, so to speak. The British Horseracing Association (BHA) has decided to investigate why Tony McCoy changed rides to the well-backed winner at Southwell yesterday. The controversy was fuelled when the Moneyglass Marvel brought off a not insignificant gamble on the Jim Best-trained SAINT HELENA in the 32Red Casino Handicap Hurdle, having switched at short notice from stable-mate, INTO THE WIND.

 

Suspicion, it appears was aroused by the fact that the six-year-old daughter of HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE, making handicap debut over jumps, had been far from 'saintly' in seven previous starts, (PU three times, one 8th, one 9th and two 11ths!) and was originally due to have Rhys Flint on board, who hasn't been seen on the track since March. The mount Tony McCoy was booked to ride, INTO THE WIND, actually began the day as the market leader for this race. SAINT HELENA started off at 6/1 but throughout the morning the situation changed and she soon topped the betting. Then the seven-year-old son of PICCOLO was pulled out because of the fast ground and the champion jockey took over the ride.

 

So it was that SAINT HELENA eventually became the 11/10 Favourite but connections did not have an easy time of it. Tony McCoy never seemed comfortable with his mount and was still cajoling and niggling when there were still three furlongs to go. Then eventually the daughter of HOLY ROMAN EMPEROR got the message and went ahead after jumping the last hurdle and won by a length.

 

This sudden change in SAINT HELENA's performance automatically set off an inquiry by the local stewards. Trainer Jim Best explained to the officials that his mare “had been a very buzzy type in the past, settled better [in this race] and had benefited from a break of 125 days since her last run”, adding “the mare was suited by the firmer ground on this occasion”.

 

This explanation was then forwarded promptly to the British Horseracing Authority to allow the regulators to have a look at Saint Helena’s previous races. Not wasn't the only issue, however. The BHA also announced that as well as Saint Helena’s improvement in form, the integrity department would find out about all the circumstances surrounding the race, and, in particular, the sudden change of jockey.

 

Tessa Smyth stated on behalf of the BHA’s media and communications department: “Before racing, the stewards at Southwell interviewed Jim Best about the withdrawal of Into The Wind and the subsequent change of jockey for Best’s other runner, Saint Helena, on whom Tony McCoy replaced Rhys Flint. Their reason for talking to Jim Best was the support in the betting market for Saint Helena. This had been brought to the attention of the stewards earlier in the day by the BHA integrity unit. All matters related to the withdrawal of Into the Wind, notable betting patterns and the jockey change on Saint Helena will be taken into account once our integrity and regulatory teams receive the stewards’ report.”

 

So the thlot pickens! Watch this space!

 

WEDNESDAY 3rd SEPTEMBER 2014

NEW LADY AMBASSADOR

Ladies' Day at next year's Grand National Festival at Aintree will have a new ambassador - Katie Walsh. The Kildare-born jockey will join Sam Twiston-Davies who has already been confirmed in a similar role for the three-day meeting in April. Katie Walsh will be a central figure in the advertising campaign run Grand National Ladies Day, providing her support on the social media, writing a blog for the Aintree website generally helping to promote Ladies Day at the world-famous event. Ruby Walsh's sister is the Grand National's most successful lady jockey in history. She finished third on SEABASS in the 2012 renewal, going two better than Carrie Ford who made fifth on FOREST GUNNER in 2005.

 

Commenting on her new role: “It’s a privilege for me to become a Ladies Day ambassador of The 2015 Crabbie’s Grand National Festival. The Grand National is the greatest steeplechase in the world and has always been close to my heart, especially with the great run of Seabass in 2012. Grand National Ladies Day is a great day with high-class fashion as well as top-quality Grade 1 racing, so I’m keen to do what I can to help and I look forward to working with the team and riding at Aintree in April.”

 

Aintree and North West regional Director for Jockey Club Racecourse, John Baker, commented: “We are extremely pleased to be working with Katie for The 2015 Crabbie’s Grand National Ladies Day. Katie is a respected, successful female jockey with a family who have a long and respected history in our sport, and she will be a great ambassador for next year’s Ladies Day. We are excited about our collaboration with one of the best female jockeys in the World and we look forward to a successful relationship. We have a fantastic team at Aintree who are always looking to enhance and elevate The Crabbie’s Grand National, and Ladies Day is no different, with a number of exciting additions to announce in the coming months.”

 

NICHOLLS' NEPHEW'S NERVES

Paul Nicholls' conditional jockey, Harry Derham, considered a rising star in the jump jockey world, has decided to call it a day. The Bristol-born rider, also Paul Nicholls' nephew, reached this surprise decision, it seems, as a result of losing confidence after a bad fall last season.

 

The nineteen-year-old commented: "This has been a terribly difficult decision for me to make as becoming a professional jockey is all I've ever wanted to do, but it's something I've been thinking about for the last couple of months. It stems back to a fall I had on Fox Run at Chepstow last October, when the horse lost his life and I was out for a fortnight. The whole thing affected me quite badly. It made me stop and ask whether this is something I really wanted to do. My confidence was affected and race riding isn't a job you can do unless your confidence is intact. It's hard to describe my emotions right now, but my mind is made up and I have decided to stop. My mum and dad have been a huge support and Paul has been incredible, saying he would never make me do something I didn't want to do. I'd like to thank all the owners and trainers who put me up. And in particular, my good friend Daryl Jacob and Ruby [Walsh] have been a huge support to me through my career."

 

Since the early age of eleven, Harry Derham has worked at Paul Nicholls' Manor Farm Stables. He made quite a name for himself on the pony racing circuit, notching up around 20 winners. After he got his amateur licence he went on to ride seven winners in point-to-point races and, thereafter, added to his successes with Paul Nicholls who was not slow to capitalise on the young jockey's weight claim. Harry Derham was only seventeen-years old when he triumphed in 2011 on BRAMPOUR in a handicap hurdle at Ascot. Barely two weeks later he was on the seven-year-old son of DAYLAMI again riding him to victory in the Cheltenham Greatwood Hurdle. He concluded his 2011-12 season with the sum total of nineteen winners and followed those up with big wins including his only success at the Cheltenham, victory on SALUBRIOUS in the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle.

 

The popular jockey rode 50 winners under rules but his biggest win over fences must undoubtedly be his performance on UNIONISTE in the Paul Stewart Gold Cup at Cheltenham in December 2012.

Uncle Paul added: "I advised Harry not to rush into a decision but I can't say it surprised me and I respect his wishes. Harry grew up with us here and riding for the yard was all he wanted to do. I gave him his chances because he earned them. There'll always be a job for him here. He's a brilliant schooling jockey."

 

HORSE'S HIGHEST HONOUR

An equine hero will be awarded an honorary PDSA Dickin Medal on behalf of the millions of animals that served with the armed forces in WW1. The Dickin Medal recognises the outstanding acts of bravery and is recognised as the highest award any animal can receive in military conflict. WARRIOR, whom they nicknamed 'the horse the Germans could not kill' will be the the first-ever recipient of this World War I medal, which marks an honouring all the animals that served during that conflict in what is the centenary year of the start of 'the war to end all wars'. .

 

WARRIOR will receive this posthumous honour today at a special ceremony at the Imperial War Museum Tuesday. Author and broadcaster Brough Scott, grandson of Warrior's owner and rider, General Jack Seely will accept the award. The equine hero reached the front line in 1914 and was on active duty with General Seely throughout the whole of World War I, enduring machine gun attacks and direct involvement in the action of the first day of the Battle of the Somme. He got buried under rubble, stuck in the mud at Passchendaele, trapped under the burning beams of his stables but lived to neigh the tale back home on the Isle of Wight.

 

Film Director, Steven Spielberg, maker of the Oscar-nominated film, War Horse, had nothing but praise: "Warrior is an extraordinary example of the resilience, strength, and profound contribution that horses made to the Great War. Recognising him with an Honorary PDSA Dickin Medal is a fitting and poignant tribute not only to this remarkable animal, but to all animals that served."

 

Brough Scott said afterwards: "It is with great pride and gratitude that I accept this Honorary PDSA Dickin Medal on behalf of Warrior and all the remarkable animals in World War I. Warrior's story - which I grew up hearing at my mothers' knee - was lost in time to the wider world. But now he rides again 100 years later, thanks to PDSA. My family and I are more than honoured that Warrior has been given this award on behalf of all animals that also served; we are truly humbled. I only wish Jack Seely were here today to witness Warrior receiving the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross."

 

TUESDAY 2nd SEPTEMBER 2014

AT HOME FOR THE PRESENT

Top Newmarket trainer, Ed Dunlop, has decided that home is best at the moment for RED CADEAUX and so he will race again in the UK before going for another shot at the Emirates Melbourne Cup in November. The son of CADEAUX GENEREUX has competed in some of the toughest races around the globe but after a creditable performance in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury last month, he is to be given another run on home soil. RED CADEAUX has twice come within a whisker of claiming the Melbourne Cup. He lost by a nose three years ago and three-quarters of a length in 2013. Clearly winning this super prize Down Under is very much still on the cards for all connections.

 

As Ed Dunlop commented: “It really was make or break last month when he ran in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury, but he showed so much of the old spirit when not beaten far in fourth. He has been in good order at home since and he goes to Kempton for the September Stakes [on Saturday]. After Kempton we have to decide whether to prep him for the first batch to go into quarantine for another crack at the Melbourne Cup.”

 

Ed Dunlop's star is on the rise after producing eight winners last month in the wake of a tough first-half of the season. He has certainly ear-marked races for another of his champion stayers TIMES UP, who will most likely go for a third win in a row in the Doncaster Cup a week on Friday.

The La Grange Stables trainer added: “This season he had a couple of poor runs at Newmarket and Longchamp but the team were generally under the weather. However, his run in the Lonsdale Cup at York was much more like it when third to Pale Mimosa. I hope he gets a stronger pace in the Doncaster Cup next week and after that the Prix du Cadran is a possibility.”

 

'NOW'S THE TIME TO SAY GOODBYE!'

Trainer, Donald McCain, has finally bitten the bullet and decided to retire PEDDLERS CROSS, runner-up in the 2011 Champion Hurdle. The son of OSCAR claimed the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle on St. Patrick's Day 2010 and the son of the legendary Ginger McCain had to admit that he may never have another horse as good to train. The nine-year-old certainly gave his all when giving HURRICANE FLY the run-around after being victorious in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle that season.

 

Donald McCain commented: "After a lot of thought we have decided to retire Peddlers Cross, the best horse I may ever train. Thank you Peddlers Cross"

 

Jockey, Jason Maguire, even went as far as to say that he felt "blessed" to have been associated with a horse as good as PEDDLERS CROSS: "I'm sad to see him retired but on the other hand it's pleasing to know that's he's fit and healthy. Tim and Donald have taken a very sensible decision. They could have raced on with him but there's no point in making him run when you know he's not quite as good as he was. For us, he's been a fantastic horse to be involved with. He was one of Tim's first horses, he won a Fighting Fifth, the Neptune at Cheltenham and was second in the Champion Hurdle. He's done so much for us and it's been a blessing to have been associated with him.”

 

The Tim Leslie-owned gelding won 10 of his 16 career starts, earning just short of £300,000 in win and place prize-money.

 

MONDAY 1st SEPTEMBER 2014

 

'HE'LL JUST KEEP ROLLING ALONG'

Aidan O’Brien-trained O'L MAN RIVER carried off a victory on his debut at the Curragh yesterday and as a result you can now get 20/1 on him with Coral for next year's 2,000 Guineas and the Investec Derby. Not a bad start for the son of 1999 Arc winner MONTJEU, for whom his owners shelled out 2.85million euros. O'L MAN RIVER, running in the one-mile Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden under the capable hands of the trainer's son, Joseph, beat Kevin Prendergast's AARED by three-quarters of a length. The juvenile's early success clearly attracted a lot of attention in the betting markets who were obviously impressed by how smoothly he travelled throughout the contest and now expect him to go onto more testing challenges. The Ballydoyle king, whilst admitting he's considering a whole series of Group One entries for his courageous colt, is playing it close to his chest, clearly in no hurry to see his protege back in action.

 

He commented afterwards: “It looked a good solid race and he travelled very strongly. He had to get tired going that gallop first time, but he cruised into the lead. We’ll take our time with him and won’t be in any panic. We’d rather go gentle and see what’s going to happen. The good thing about him is he’s a strong traveller and seems to have plenty of pace. Looking at today he wouldn’t mind going back to seven furlongs.’

 

JUMP VERSUS FLAT

The Markel Champions Challenge, in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund (IJF) is this year's official charity at the London International Horse Show at Olympia from 16-22 December. The latest news is that jump jockeys will compete with their Flat counterparts in a special class. The contest will involve jockeys battling it out, with a show jumper on each team in a series of challenges ranging from jumps to Pony Club-style games. There are two jockeys acting as Markel ambassadors, Gold Cup winner, Sam Thomas, and Classic winner William Buick who will also be taking part on the day.

 

Director of Olympia, Simon Brooks-Ward, commented: “We are very pleased to be supporting the Injured Jockeys Fund this year. It is a charity that does tremendous work for riders — not just in horse racing but across all equestrian sports. The Markel Champions Challenge for the IJF will see professional jockeys demonstrating their equine skills in an event which promises to be great fun. It will be a great spectacle which is sure to entertain the Olympia audience, as well as hopefully raising lots of money for a very worthy cause.”

 

The Injured Jockeys Fund was established in 1964 and since that time it has provided over £17 million to 1,000 jockeys who, in some cases, have had to give up riding because of their injuries. The charity’s has already built one rehab centre — Oaksey House in Lambourn — and a second one, Jack Berry House in Yorkshire, is on course to be opened next Spring.

 

SACRILEGE UP NORTH!

The plan to tear up Newcastle's Flat turf track and replace it with an artificial surface is causing hackles to rise. Trainer, John Gosden, even describes Arena racing Company's (ARC) plan as ‘sacrilege’ and urges trainers to unite in opposition. In fact by yesterday afternoon, the online petition, launched by the National Trainers’ Federation on Thursday, had attracted nearly 400 names, urging ARC to abandon its intention to replace the Flat turf track at Newcastle with the revolutionary new all-weather surface, Tapeta.

 

The list of protesters includes such racing luminaries as Sir Michael Stoute, Luca Cumani and John Gosden, shoulder to shoulder with leading northern trainers such as Donald McCain, Mark Johnston and Tom Dascombe.

 

Highclere Thoroughbred Racing supremo, John Gosden has taken this issue very much to heart and has expressed his objections very forcefully:

There is a fundamental requirement for an all-weather track in the north of England but Newcastle is emphatically not the solution. Racing on a one-mile straight as betting-shop fodder under lights will create uninspiring one-dimensional boat races. British racing requires upgrading and the destruction of one of the best turf courses in the UK is sacrilege.”

 

The online petition contains a general consensus among racing professionals that Newcastle’s racecourse is considered to be one of the safest, fairest and best-maintained in the country. Therefore in the eyes of its critics, the plan to remove it senselessly and replace it with another all-weather track, even if it does mark a first for the North of England, has no merit whatsoever. Objections may be too late, however, It looks like the application will go through perhaps today without any difficulty when the British Horseracing Authority holds its board meeting in London to authorise next year’s racing fixtures. The proposed all-weather track for Newcastle is expected to be top of the agenda. ARC has already negotiated planning permission for the scheme and is now just awaiting the approval of its fixtures.

 

It is difficult to predict what BHA's reaction to the opposition will be and whether it will affect their decision. There have so far never been any signs that the BHA has any real authority to influence the way top racecourses run their operations and, even if it had, whether it would be likely to exercise it. There is no doubt that ARC's plans to replace the turf track with Tapeta make good business sense. After all it will be getting the best of both worlds: it will still be able to stage the Northumberland Plate, its most successful event, on turf by using the jumps course and Ladies’ Day, held in July, which attracted over in 22,000 visitors last year, could also be held on grass.

 

The strong feeling of many objectors to this plan are that it is based on the narrowest of business aspirations and is not in the wider interests of racing as a whole. They just hope that, on this occasion, the BHA will take the necessary action to preserve a top Northern track from falling prey to over- commercialisation.

 

SUNDAY 31st AUGUST 2014

WEIGH TO GO!

On his forty-ninth win of the season, a potential future Irish champion jockey was disqualified from his half-a-century because he forgot to weigh in. Trim-born Colin Keane picked up a ten-day ban yesterday at Wexford after bringing his 13/2 shot, UNREQUITED, home in the Children's Day At Bettyville Handicap. This will also mean he'll miss Irish Champions Weekend which kicks off on 13th September with the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes.

After the race a stewards' inquiry was inevitably called to investigate the weighing-in procedure and the three-year-old son of AUTHORIZED, who hasn't yet had a winner from his five career starts, was disqualified. The runner-up, COOLFIGHTER, was awarded the race and Colin Keane was given the mandatory suspension, against which there is no possibility of an appeal. The jockey refused any kind of comment but was visibly very upset at receiving the ban at this particular time of his career. Having notched up forty-nine winners in a season so far and recently been appointed stable jockey for County Meath-based Ger Lyons, Colin Keane was the talk of the town and even tipped to be the clear winner of the Irish apprentices' jockeys' title.

The trainer's brother, Shane was anxious to defend the young jockey: "If that's the worst thing that ever happens him he won't be too bad. Obviously we feel sorry for the owner. Colin is very upset about it, but we are behind him 100 per cent."

 

TRAINER TAKES THE BISCUIT

Hugo Palmer-trained AKTABANTAY, won the Group Three Solario Stakes at Sandown yesterday by a short head which is tempting the rising star in the training world, only in his fourth season, to seriously consider taking the son of OASIS DREAM to Santa Anita at the end of October to have a go at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.

As the member of the famous biscuit company, celebrating his first Group level victory, explained: ‘It is something we will discuss over the next few weeks. He is also in the Dewhurst Stakes. He is lovely horse for next year. We would get quick ground and a fast pace in the Breeders’ Cup — they go flat to the boards — and he will be suited by that. He is a very exciting horse.”

AKTABANTAY, has a Turkish owner, Ibrahim Araci, whose previous Solario Stakes winner, the Ed Dunlop-trained NATIVE KHAN, went on to finish third to FRANKEL in the 2,000 Guineas. So all eyes are on his current protégé.

 

ALL OF A TINGLE

After being pulled up in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton last Christmas and afterwards suspected of a having a heart problem, the Nicky Henderson-trained SPRINTER SACRE appears to be on the mend. The two-mile chaser, it is reported, is being aimed at the Tingle Creek at Sandown on December 6. The eight-year-old son of NETWORK triumphed in this contest in 2012, before going on to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in the following March.

The Lambourn-based trainer commented: "He's been back in five weeks and cantering for two. He looks exceptionally well and so far it's been great. You have no option I don't think, but to go straight to the Tingle Creek. There's nowhere else to go. He would go for the Shloer at Cheltenham if he was ready. I just think we'll see how things are going. There isn't much for him other than the Tingle Creek and the Victor Chandler (before Cheltenham). I don't think there's any need for heart monitors or anything like that. We'll know with the first bit of work he does."

 

SATURDAY 30th AUGUST 2014

WHAT A DAY FOR A DAYDREAM!

It's Newmarket Open day again on Sunday September 21. One of the big attractions is bound to be the John Gosden-trained KINGMAN, a four-time Group One victor, who is on course to be crowned the 2014 Europe’s champion miler. The three-year-old son of INVINCIBLE SPIRIT has had seven triumphs from eight career wins, including the Irish 2,000 Guineas, the St James’s Palace and the Qipco Sussex Stakes and, last time out, the Prix Jacques Le Marois at Deauville; his only forgiveable lapse being a second in the Qipco 2,000 Guineas. This champion will certainly be one to look out for as he joins all the other other horse working out at 9am on Newmarket’s historic Warren Hill training grounds.

 

The Betfair-sponsored event, which raises money for four racing charities, will also feature John Gosden's demonstration at the world-famous Tattersalls sales ring as to what he looks for when he sets out to try to purchase a potential champion. Thirty of the Newmarket stables will open their gates from 9.30 to 12.30, including, a first for this event, the late Sir Henry Cecil's Warren Place Stable, now run by Lady Cecil, where the great FRANKEL was trained.

Another Open Day must-see will be at the Stanley House Stud where visitors will be able to meet OUIJA BOARD, dam of AUSTRALIA, this year’s Investec Derby winner. There will also be exciting happenings on the renowned Rowley Mile racecourse.

 

Among the personalities who will welcome the public will be winning trainer Luca Cumani, in his Bedford House Stables, who commented: “We are thrilled to be involved in an event that, not only allows the public and racing enthusiasts to get an insight into all that is involved in a racing yard, but also supports four fantastic and worthy charities. We are looking forward to opening the Bedford House Stables gates and meeting everyone on the day.”

 

THAT'S THE SPIRIT!

It has been announced that the family-owned malt whisky producer, Glenfarclas, has renewed its association with Cross Country racing at Cheltenham for another three years. Currently the company's involvement includes The Open and International meetings and the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase which takes place at The Festival. The additional good news is that the total prize fund will be increased by twenty percent in 2015, a grand sum of £60,000.

 

The Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeplechases are something unique in this country. No other racecourse has the combination of banks, ditches and rails spread out over such a twisting track. 1995 saw the introduction Cheltenham's Cross Country racing which came about when Sunday racing was first approved. This feature did not become part of the Festival, though, until 2005. MCGREGOR THE THIRD won the first-ever race in the colours of Grand National winning owner, Fiona Whitaker. The striking chestnut gelding, trained by the late Gordon Richards went on to appear on the promotional posters for the race, claiming the race the following year and again on New Year’s Day 1998.

 

Tony Martin-trained LINDEN LOTTO soon took over the winning mantle, notching up three victories and marking the beginning of the Irish domination of this particular event. It was County Kilkenny trainer, Enda Bolger, however, long considered the master of the Punchestown cross country, who began to assert his superiority in this particular racing discipline, noticeably with the J P McManus-owned SPOT THEDIFFERENCE, who soon became the racegoers' darling, winning the famous event no less than seven times. The same owner/trainer partnership produced the victorious GARDE CHAMPETRE, a six-time winner and, thereby, are attributed with the raising of Cross Country racing to the level of popularity it enjoys now.

 

John Grant, Chairman of Glenfarclas, commented: “We are delighted to renew our contract to sponsor the three Cross Country races at Cheltenham. We have been sponsoring these races now for six years and the results have been very gratifying. Hopefully, by the end of the nine years, we will have finally persuaded people to refer to ‘The Glenfarclas’ as they do with other longstanding race sponsorships."

 

GOING FLAT OUT

After two years of negotiation with the British Horseracing Authority and others, including English Heritage, officials at Catterick are now ready to submit a formal planning application for permission to run all-weather Flat races in 2017. It is still proposed to continue its National Hunt racing, as that circuit is separate apart from a couple of areas, similar to what happens at Kempton Park. The North Yorkshire track is hoping to augment the number of Flat races by at least 30 so that the total season's fixtures would include fifty Flat races on the all-weather and ten over jumps on turf.

 

John Sanderson, Chief Executive of International Racecourse Management, which runs Catterick, made the following statement: "We started working on this two years ago. We spent quite a lot of time on the design of the track, which will replace the turf track if it happens, with the assistance of the BHA and the racecourse department. We've had to involve English Heritage as there are a lot of Roman remains at Catterick. We are now formulating our formal planning submission to the local authority. Jumping will continue at Catterick. They are two separate tracks, they do intertwine twice but that isn't an issue and that's all been approved by the BHA.”

 

FRIDAY 29th AUGUST 2014

WHETHER THE ALL-WEATHER CAN GET IT TOGETHER

An on-line petition has been launched in an attempt to stop an all-weather track being created. The National Trainers’ Federation is against Newcastle's plan to replace the turf course and has intensified its opposition to force, owners, Arena Racing Company, to think again before going ahead. All the trainers who wish to retain the turf track at Newcastle would have no objection to an all-weather facility at Catterick, situated nearer to the principal Yorkshire training centres. The problem is that Newcastle has already got permission to build an all-weather track with floodlights and will be able to go ahead provided that provision is made for an agreed number of fixtures in 2015. This appears to be the only hold-up preventing the announcing of next year’s fixture list.

 

The other sticking point is that Newcastle’s floodlights would only be positioned on the straight mile. That means that any evening fixtures would breach the British Horseracing Authority’s rule that there should be two races over a mile or more with an average of at least two-and-a-half miles altogether. The fact that Newcastle has already been granted an exemption on this point has caused great opposition in the Horsemen’s Group, the body that represents breeders, owners, trainers, jockeys and stable staff.

 

Chief Executive of NTF (The National Training Federation), Rupert Arnold, stated: “We want to make sure, before the diggers start their work, that everyone is given a chance to express their opposition, not just the trainers. At our regional meetings a lot of people have asked if anything can be done and this will give those people a chance to have their voices heard. The decision has been made with the assumption that there was no alternative venue for an all-weather venue in the north in the foreseeable future. We are sensitive to the needs of our northern members who want an all-weather in the north, but they’ve all said if there was alternative to Newcastle they would support that instead.”

 

Susannah Gill, Director of external affairs at ARC, said: “We are aware of the NTF’s petition. The BHA conducted a survey and commissioned Deloitte to do a detailed report on the need for an all-weather in the north. Since that time we have received the necessary permissions to proceed with the £10million investment in Newcastle. Work will commence once we reach a satisfactory outcome on the BHA’s fixture allocation process.”

 

OPERATION NOT SO STABLE

Godolphin's Highfields Stable in Newmarket have been closed down, involving a small number of job losses. This latest action is not thought to be the signal for any significant reduction in the number of horses being trained by the Maktoum family's private thoroughbred horse racing stable. Nevertheless it has bound to have sent a certain frisson through the Flat racing’s headquarters, where Godolphin founder, Sheikh Mohammed, has set up a racing and breeding empire.

 

Hugh Anderson, Godolphin’s Managing Director commented yesterday: “Godolphin today moved the horses out of one of our smaller yards in Newmarket, Highfields. Those horses have been distributed around other Godolphin or Darley training yards in the town and, as a result, a number of staff have also been redeployed within the company here or in Dubai.

With fewer horses to train, there has unfortunately been a need to let a relatively small number of yard staff go.”

No comment was made about how many staff lost their job at Highfields, which is one of the organisations smaller yards in Newmarket. This Grade II Listed stable probably handles up to fifty horses at any one time. By contrast the two top training yards in the area, Godolphin Stables and Moulton Paddocks, run by Saeed Bin Suroor and Charlie Appleby, each deal with at least three times that amount.

An interesting fact is that despite the huge amounts of money it invests in horse racing, Godolphin has yet to record a top-level victory in Europe this season. The only successful horse has been the eight-year-old CAVALRYMAN who scored in two Group 2 contests last month; the Artemis Goodwood Cup and the Princess of Wales's Stakes at Newmarket

 

MADE A BIG FFOS

Lambourn trainer, William Muir and jockey, Martin Dwyer, made it a double at Ffos Las yesterday. First of the mark, in the Walters UK Handicap, was IMPROVIZED, an 8/1 chance, who, although she took some time to get going, eventually got her act together and won the contest by two lengths.

 

The Hungerford-based trainer admitted afterwards: "To be honest, we've been getting her wrong all year. She won first time out over seven furlongs last year and was still very weak and we thought she would want stepping up in trip this season. She's been running from a mile and a quarter to a mile and a half and just hasn't been getting home, so she's come back to a mile today and Martin said that's her trip. He said we shouldn't sell her on the cheap as she's still a weak filly and she could easily go and win two or three more for us, so we'll see where we go from here."

 

The double for the Newmarket duo came in the very next race when juvenile, RESTORER, put down a firm career marker. The son of MASTERCRAFTSMAN was the 8/1 shot for the PT Civil Engineering Maiden Stakes. Once again things took a while to warm up. Then Roger Charlton's BOLD, with James Doyle aboard, threw down the gauntlet which RESTORER to which RESTORER responded with impressive acceleration, considering that the ground had been considerably softened by recent rain, and went clear in the final furlong to win by three lengths.

 

As William Muir said: "Martin rode him work on Friday of last week and got off him and said, 'You've got a proper one here'. I told him I was going to run him over a mile at Ffos Las and he told me I was crazy as he had so many gears he should be running over six furlongs.

"I knew he was bred to get the mile and he's obviously just a very good horse. Martin said he was the first two-year-old who has really carried him into the race for a long time. He's real deal and really could be anything. We haven't got any plans for him at this stage. We'll just wait and see what the handicapper does and go from there."

 

It could even have been a treble for the Muir-Dwyer partnership in the later Walters Land Rogerstone Handicap. Certainely four-year-old BIG BAZ seemed to have every chance one furlong out. He surged ahead inside the final stretch but was eventually overhauled by the 20/1 outsider, MERRY ME, trained by Andrew Balding.

 

THURSDAY 28th AUGUST 2014

THE FEELING'S MUTUAL!

Hero of the Betfred Ebor, MUTUAL REGARD, is being considered for a Group Three race at Kempton next week. This is all part of Johnny Murtagh's bold plan to run his five-year-old son of HERNANDO in the Melbourne Cup in November. This is only the Navan-born jockey's

second season as a trainer and he rode off with one of European racing's most lucrative prizes at York. That victory has now whetted his appetite for even greater challenges. To achieve this latest ambition, however, he is well aware that his Andrew Tinkler-owned gelding needs another victory to raise his rating high enough to gain a definite a place in the two-mile contest worth some $6.2 million. So he has done his paperwork and earmarked a stint at The Sunbury-on-Thames all-weather track, whilst considering a crack at the Caulfield Cup in October, also run at the Melbourne racecourse. An interesting fact about the Knavesmire triumph was that Johnny Murtagh booked the services of five-pound claimer Louis Steward as advised by MUTUAL REGARD's owner Andrew Tinkler, but this time the County Meath trainer might well use a local rider for the famous Flemington fixture.

 

Johnny Murtagh commented:"We may run him one more time at Kempton, and all being well he can head to the first quarantine in time for the Caulfield Cup, but the main plan would be the big day in Melbourne. Hopefully, I don't have to give him another run, but if I do it will probably be at Kempton as that's where we'll get the fast ground. Fast ground and two miles around Melbourne, I think it will suit him really well. It's a long way down to Melbourne, but there's only one Melbourne Cup. It's a huge prize and if you have a horse that has a realistic chance, I think you have to take it."

 

ONE MORE MAKES FIVE

John Gosden understandably wants to win the oldest Classic, the Ladbrokes St Leger for a fifth time. On record he already has to his credit: SHANTOU in 1996, LUCARNO in 2007, ARCTIC COSMOS in 2010 and MASKED MARVEL in 2011. With that goal in mind, the Clarehaven Stables trainer plans to saddle three challengers at Doncaster in just over two weeks' time. His hopefuls are his three-year-old ROMSDAL, who came third in this year's Derby; last week's winner of the Absolute Aesthetics March Stakes at Goodwood and, last but not least, MARZOCCO who made fourth in the Neptune Investment Management Great Voltigeur Stakes on August 23.

 

As John Gosden put it: "We've got three horses in the race who all belong in it. "Romsdal ran a great race in the Derby and ran very well at Chester. He didn't run a good race in the King George. He got done on that looser ground and spun his wheels. Hughesie (Richard Hughes) wasn't happy with him so he left him alone. He's a legitimate horse for the race and we've always had the Derby, the King George and then the Leger as his plan. Forever Now won very well the other day in the March Stakes, which is a proper trial for the Leger. He stays well, the one-mile-six and 132 yards will not bother him one bit and he's got a grand attitude. He's an immature horse, but he's an improving horse and he belongs in the race. Marzocco was staying on again in the Voltigeur. He's a very idle horse, very laid-back and he doesn't seem to wake up until the race is virtually over. The plan for the moment is those three horses will run. They all have legitimate claims."

 

RIDING LIKE A PRO

The amateur jockey who won last year's Midlands Grand National is off to Hamilton for the first time today as a professional. East-Lothian rider, Mikey Ennis, will have two rides. First off, he'll be aboard the Alan Bailey-trainer COINCIDENTLY in the £10,000 Taggarts Jaguar Lanarkshire Scottish Trophy. In this feature race, he'll be pitching his skills against ten other rivals, including top pros, Kieren Fallon, Joe Fanning and Graham Lee but his mount is the current favourite. In the very next race he be riding TRIPLE EIGHT, also a favourite, trained by Philip Kirby. So, with any luck he'll come away with at least one success.

 

Mikey Ennis commented: "I went as a kid to Hamilton when my dad was a starter and I've ridden there two or three times as an amateur. It's a great track to ride and I'm very excited about going back. How Coincidently runs depends on how she has come out of her win at Epsom on Monday. You don't know how much she took out of himself but I'd say she has to have a good shout."

 

WEDNESDAY 27th AUGUST 2014

LIFE IN THE OLD BOY YET

The North of Galway racetrack, Ballinrobe, witnessed a veteran showing his younger rivals how to win a race. Twelve-year-old FOSTERS CROSS proved again that there's still plenty of ability in the old boy yet when he won the feature race of the evening, the Donal Downes Water Towers Chase. The son of DR MASSINI was up against a doughty odds/on favourite, SPECIAL TIARA, trained by Henry de Bromhead. The latter seemed to have no difficulty being sixteen pounds heavier in the handicaps and clearly aimed to have it all done and dusted by by making all the running and putting eight lengths between him and his nearest rival. FOSTERS CROSS, however, with Davy Russell aboard, slowly reeled him by two out and asserted himself to go on to beat also the favourite’s stable-companion ENJOY RESPONSIBILITY two and a half lengths. Ultimately perhaps the seven-year-old son of KAYF TARA did feel the effects of the extra weight as he finished eleven lengths adrift of the winner.

In the absence of trainer, Tom Mullins, it was left to the winning jockey to comment: “Credit must go to Tom. He’s always been a good horse and was good again today, for his age. The leader jumped a bit left early on and my fellow followed him. Other than that, he was spot-on and won well.”

 

POETS' DAY

There is a definite air of optimism around the Tom Hogan yard that GORDON LORD BYRON will be back fighting fit at Haydock next week to defend his Betfred Sprint Cup crown. The six-year-old won the Merseyside Group One last September in great style, adding to the top-level victories accumulated so far in his successful career. Last June was a disappointment in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot but subsequently it was discovered that he was suffering from a back problem. After a two month break, however, he was close on producing his old form when he was only beaten by a nose in last Saturday's Renaissance Stakes at the Curragh.

 

Trainer, Tom Hogan commented: "He's come out of the weekend in great shape and we're hoping he'll improve for the run and come forward a good bit ahead of the race on Saturday week. If he'd have got the split he'd have won without coming off the bridle on Saturday, so it was a good run and there was no slouching about. A minute and 10 (seconds) at the Curragh is a pretty sharp time. Hopefully there isn't too much more rain. He's pretty adaptable ground-wise, but he doesn't want it too deep. I think he'll go to Haydock in as good a form as last year, if not a bit better, so we're looking forward to it."

 

ALL ON TRACK

It has been announced the newly founded Chelmsford City racecourse has become an official member of the Racecourse Association. The RCA, representing all but one of the 59 racing venues in Britain and has formally welcomed the track, previously known as Great Leighs, to the organisation as detailed preparations are made to get ready for the first meetings next year.

 

Stephen Atkin, RCA's Chief Executive said: "We are delighted to see racing back at Chelmsford City Racecourse and to welcome them as the newest member of the RCA. We are looking forward to working with the racecourse on a wide range of issues and helping them in the run-up to their first fixtures.'

Chelmsford's General Manager, Phil Siers added: "Now that we are about to start racing, it is essential that Chelmsford City Racecourse is able to benefit from the comprehensive help the RCA can provide. We are delighted to be a new member and look forward to CCR working with our colleagues there."

 

ACCORDING TO TREV(E)

The champion of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe is a likely to race in the Prix Vermeille at Longchamp in three weeks' time. Her French trainer has expressed great confidence in her filly after her workout a couple of days ago. TREVE, daughter of MOTIVATOR, extended her unbeaten record to five after a blistering performance in last Autumn's Arc but has certainly been off form this season. First of all she was beaten by compatriot CIRRUS DES AIGLES when she returned to the track in April in the Prix Ganay. She didn't do any better the next time out at Royal Ascot when she only managed third in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot but it was discovered afterwards to have pulled muscles.

 

Trainer Mme. Christiane Head-Maarek has has clearly had a job on her hands getting her star fit again and obviously hopes that all will be back to normal soon.

As she stated: "Treve worked this morning with three lead horses over 2000 metres (mile and a quarter) and I was very happy with her. The ground was a bit soft after all the rain, so that helped her," said the trainer. She seems fine, she's happy in herself and it looks like all the problems are gone, so we keep our fingers crossed. She is en route to either the Prix Vermeille or the Prix Foy (both September 14), but I think the Vermeille is more likely."

 

TUESDAY 26th AUGUST 2014

STEWARDS HAVE THE LAST VOID

The totepool Supporting The Sport You Love Handicap at Epsom yesterday ran its full five-furlong course. The George Baker-trained HUMIDOR, with James Doyle aboard, passed the post first and netted his owners £25,000. Not quite how it worked out, however. The contest, on completion, was then declared a false start and was made void by the stewards who subsequently interviewed James Doyle and fellow riders Ryan Moore, Sam James, Paul Hanagan, David Probert, Kieran O’Neill, Daniel Muscutt and Martin Lane. Their conclusion was that Kieran O’Neill’s mount TAURUS TWINS jumped the start, broke open his gate and set off ahead of the others. Added to this, none of the riders seemed to see the flag man on the track and so continued the race. It was subsequently revealed that the advance flag operator “initially took several steps to his right” before waving the recall flag. This was confirmed by the jockeys who stated that this official was out of their line of sight because he had moved to his right, particularly as visibility conditions were hindered by the weather. The stewards, therefore, decided that none of the riders would be subject to any further actions and forwarded a full report to the British Horseracing Authority. Generously a few bookmakers announced they would pay out on the 'winner', HUMIDOR, and even refunded all losing bets.

 

Trainer, George Baker, was at Chepstow at the time, notching up a winner with YUL FINEGOLD, but was informed about what had happened at Epsom by his stable team.

He commented: “I am delighted with the horse, but obviously very disappointed with the result. It would have been the first time Humidor had won in almost three years, it was a massive day for that horse and his owners. I’m the most laid-back guy in the world and I don’t want to be seen to be jumping up and down, but my team have worked incredibly hard with the horse at home to try and win a race with him and there is nil recourse for compensation. The one bright side, if there is one, is that the horse thinks he’s won his first race for the first time in three years, so hopefully it will do his confidence good. We’ll take it as far as we can, I suspect that won’t be very far, but I’ll talk to the BHA in the morning.”

 

A ROLLING STONE GATHERS NO MOSS

A brave front-running effort was mounted by the Richard Fahey-trained IZZTHATRIGHT, resulting in a win in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Ripon Champion Two Yrs. Old Trophy at Ripon yesterday. The MOSS VALE colt was on his seventh career start after scoring at Catterick ten days ago in the Be Premiere Hair Nursery, employing similar front-running tactics. The 9-2 favourite with three 1sts, two 2nds and two 4ths under his belt has more than paid his way this season for his connections. Ridden by Tony Hamilton, IZZTHATRIGHT gave any challenge short shrift and secured victory by half a length. The win meant back-to-back successes in the race for Richard Fahey and Tony Hamilton, after their triumph with SUPPLICANT last year.

 

The winning jockey said: "He had enough toe to get to the rail and he picked up well. He got put up 1lb for his last win, which is a big hike, but he's done nothing but improve since we got him. He's very tough and he has a lot of early toe to get you where you want to be. I always thought I had some horse underneath me, so if they'd come to me I think he would have gone again."

 

KING AFTER THE CROWN AGAIN

So Grand National runner-up, BALTHAZAR KING, is off to the Hippodrome de Craon in France next month in attempt repeat last year's success in the Listed Grand Cross Country de Craon Crystal Cup.

 

Trainer Philip Hobbs, speaking at his annual owners' day at his Minehead, Somerset yard commented: "He's very well in himself and will be going back to France in a few weeks, where they have dubbed him ‘the best cross-country horse in the world', which might be a bit over the top. He fell in another valuable cross-country event in France in May when still going very well six out. He soon got over that and has been working very well ahead of this next assignment. On the domestic front he'll likely wait for the cross-country race at Cheltenham's Open meeting and further ahead another tilt at the Grand National after his fine second to Pineau De Re is likely to be the plan."

 

MONDAY 25th AUGUST 2014

DEAUVILLE DOUBLE FOR DETTORI

The Norman town of Deauville was raided by the Brits yesterday. First John Quinn-trained THE WOW SIGNAL stole the show in the Prix Darley Morny Stakes with Frankie Dettori aboard. Then half-an-hour later the man from Milan did it again on James Fanshawe's RIBBONS in the Prix Darley Jean Romanet Stakes.

 

In the first contest the son of STARSPANGLEDBANNER, the thirteen-length winner of the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, had to beat the Wesley Ward-trained victor of the Windsor Castle Stakes, HOOTENANNY, in order to make three career wins in a row. THE WOW SIGNAL was sent off 9/4 joint-favourite alongside ERVEDYA, trained by Jean-Claude Rouget. Frankie Dettori kept his mount handy until the pace increased significantly and then a bit of extra work was required. He had no concerns, however, as the Al Shaqab Racing-owned colt responded immediately and produced a remarkable finish to win by half-a-length. This triumph initiated John Quinn into the elite group of trainers who have produced Group One winners on the Flat and over the sticks.

 

The winning trainer commented: “We’re delighted. It’s a great day. These are the days you dream of. He’s crying out for seven furlongs and I would say it will either be the 
Dewhurst or the Prix Jean-Luc 
Lagardere for him next.”

 

A surprising result was produced by Frankie Dettori's second win of the day, James Fanshawe's RIBBONS, who was the impressive victor in the Darley Prix Jean Romanet. For this one, the three-times champion jockey seemed to have a more relaxed ride on the Elite racing Club-owned four-year-old filly who was sent off a 11/1 shot. Rounding the home town the daughter of MANDURO only had a couple of threats to deal with and, switching wide of the field in the home straight, she swiftly covered a lot of territory to win by two lengths.

 

A SWITCHED-ON WINNER

Last year's Ladbrokes St Leger winner and Gold Cup hero, LEADING LIGHT, trained by Aidan O'Brien, was top weight in yesterday's Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger Trial Stakes at the Curragh but that didn't stop him adding this race to his list of triumphs. With the trainer's son, Joseph aboard, the four-year-old son of MONTJEU made it eight wins from ten starts and seemed never to be under threat after he surged to the front at about a furlong from home.

 

The Master of Ballydoyle commented afterwards: "I'm delighted with that. He's had a good break since Ascot. We let him down well after that and it's nice to get him started back. He came here two weeks ago for a canter to wake him up a bit. He should come on nicely from that as he's giving a good blow. The (Irish) Leger falls lovely in the second half of the season for him. I don't know where he'll go after that but the main thing is the lads would like him back for Ascot next year. He ran in the Arc last year, but was back a long way. They'll decide where he goes."

 

IN DEFEAT: DEFIANCE

Nobody likes losing and at least Paul Hanagan is honest when he admits that TAGHROODA's narrow defeat at York on Thursday was 'a bitter pill to swallow'. The twice champion jockey on the Flat clearly was banking on another impressive performance by the John Gosden-trained Oaks and King George prima donna in front of the thousands of exspectant racegoers. But it wasn't to be. The SEA OF STARS filly ended up half-a-length behind Aidan O'Brien's TAPESTRY, leaving the Warrington-born jockey suspended in anti-climax astride the hot favourite of the day. Jockeys are made of sterner stuff, however, and he did recover fairly quickly to go on to score twice later in the day.

 

Paul Hanagan commented after these successes: "I needed that really. Taghrooda losing was hard to take. She had a big build up, all my family and friends had gone expecting her to win. We had no excuses, we were just beaten by a high-class filly. Usually, when she quickens she quickens and gallops away, but I don't want it to sound like I'm making excuses for her - the winner is very good."

 

SUNDAY 24th AUGUST 2014

JOHNNY COMES MARCHING HOME AGAIN!

The secret of success? Easy peasy! Buy a used horse at an equine clearance auction; put an unknown teenage apprentice in the saddle; run him in Europe’s richest handicap and go home with £265, 000.

Not everyone would or could do that but former top jockey turned trainer, Johnny Murtagh, possesses both the nerve and the know-how and did just that. Ten months ago the County Meath handler bought MUTUAL REGARD, formerly trained by Sir Mark Prescott, for 60,000 guineas (£63,000 in real money!)

 

After winning the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship European Breeders Fund for the new trainer at the Curragh at the end of June, followed by a creditable third in the Challenge Stakes at Leopardstown last month, it was decided to test the son of HERNANDO's mettle on the Knavesmire. As he would be running off his highest-ever rating, however, Johnny Murtagh thought seriously about saddling his mount in a level-weights contest on the previous day. But even trainers are human and the Betfred Ebor prize fund of £265,000 was too much of a temptation, so trusting in his great faith in his fledgling's ability, the man from Navan switched entries and the rest is history.

 

The surprise element was the fact that MUTUAL REGARD was ridden by teenage apprentice, Louis Steward. The latter was not only riding in the historic handicap for the first time but it was the first time he had sat on the Ebor winner. Later Johnny Murtagh admitted that the decision to book the 18-year-old novice was not his but that of the owner Andrew Tinkler.

 

The winning trainer stated afterwards: “I nearly ran the horse in the Lonsdale Stakes as he had so much weight in this one but we went for it and it’s worked a treat. I never won it as a jockey and it’s great to get it on the board as a trainer. Our own apprentice is currently suspended and we needed someone to claim the 5lb off the horse. Andrew is a man who’s hot on his stats and he said that Louis was the man to ride. I didn’t actually know who he was, but he’s done a great job.”

 

Sir Mark Prescott, who won this prestigious event twenty years with HASTEN TO ADD was magnanimous in defeat. (His horse PALLASATOR could only manage fourth!)

He commented: “He won five races, but he’s a gelding, so he had to go and Johnny has, as I would have expected, done a super job with him. But I’d rather it was me that had won it.”

 

GIMME GIMCRACK!

The Charlie Hills-trained MUHAARER, won the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Gimcrack Stakes yesterday at York, giving his owner Sheikh Hamdan a day to remember at the races. The latter's famous blue and white silks have appeared in the winner's enclosure quite a few times in this season's two-year-old contests. It was a close-run thing, though, as the two-year-old son of OASIS DREAM battled it out to the finish with Mark Johnston's progressive JUNGLE CAT and technological help was required to decide the outcome which was a win by a nose.

As the Berkshire-based Charlie Hills said: "He has always shown plenty and it is nice when it falls into place though. It never really worked last time and Paul has given him a lovely ride today. He is growing up and is in plenty of the top class races for the rest of the year. The Middle Park will be his primary target."

MIND ON THE JOB

After all the publicity about retiring, it was good to see that Jamie Spencer was able to concentrate on his current business, winning races. He produced a cliff-hanger conclusion to York's Julia Graves Roses Stakes when he rode the David Brown-trained MIND OF MADNESS to the narrowest of victories.

 

The AZAMOUR juvenile got off to a good start in his racing career by winning the Horsesource Seabuckthorn Conditions Stakes at Newmarket in April, coming second in the EBF Stallions / 4 Head Novice Stakes at Yarmouth in June, and second in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot the following week. Having disappointed his connections on his next outing at Newmarket the two-year-old colt had amends to make and he didn't let anyone down this time.

 

David Redvers, who is owner Qatar boss Sheikh Fahad al Thani's racing manager summed it up as follows: "That meant a lot. It's been a long week and we've had a few seconds. This boy has been on the go a long time, so it's a great training performance. We might look at the Flying Childers now."

 

SATURDAY 23rd AUGUST 2014

O SOLE MIO. O SOLE POWER!

The outcome of yesterday's Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes was decided in the last six strides. SOLE POWER, for the second time in five years, on this occasion with champion jockey Richard Hughes aboard, won this celebrated contest by just half a length ahead of William Muir's STEPPER POINT.

 

The cold hard facts of that paragraph, however, give no indication of the dramatic way this five-furlong contest panned out in the final stages and does no justice to the manner in which the winner powered his way into the record books.

 

Victory, however, didn't seem on the cards for the Eddie Lynam-trained son of KILLACHY as he was blocked in by a wall of horses as they approached the winning post. Then, as if by some miracle, a narrow gap appeared between Paul Mulrennan-ridden MOVIESTA and HOT STREAK, with the soon-to-retire Jamie Spencer aboard. Richard Hughes, never one to look a you-know-who in the you-know-what, seized his chance and asked his mount to go for it and the rest, as they say, is history. It was a case of déja vu. The same happened at Royal Ascot in June when the same dynamic duo denied victory to the same runner-up in the King’s Stand Stakes.

The record books will now confirm that SOLE POWER, the shock 100-1 winner of the 2010 Nunthorpe, is one of Flat racing’s all-time great sprinters, following in hoof steps of the legendary BORDERLESCOTT. The previous dual winner of this prestigious Group One contest. SOLE POWER is owned by David and Sabena Power, heads of the Paddy Power betting dynasy, who were advised by trainer, Eddie Lynam, to buy the as yet unproven horse at the Doncaster Sales in 2008 for a bargain price of £32,000. What a return on their money! Hos career earnings up to date are over £1.5 million. Yesterday’s victory means that Lynam/ Power partnership has won all four British Group One sprints so far this season.

 

The County Meath-based trainer commented afterwards: “Two weeks ago, Sole Power had American ringworm; we had to get him right for it and we had only 10 days to train him. He’s a super horse, a horse of a lifetime, it’s just the way he does it. I think those are the rides Richard likes. He enjoys it more than we do but he was excellent on him – full credit to him, he’s a top-class jockey and it was a first-class ride. I always felt he was going to get there.”

 

MOVE OVER JAMIE!

Following yesterday's story about Jamie Spencer's retirement, we have now heard from Qatar Racing that Andrea Atzeni will become the principal rider from January. Oisin Murphy, this season’s leading apprentice jockey, will also join him as number two, taking over from Harry Bentley, whose contract runs out at the end of this season.

 

David Redvers, the operation’s racing manager, issued the following statement: “Andrea and Oisin have impressed us greatly this season and we are delighted to agree terms with them to take effect from the start of 2015. Harry will continue to ride for us when the opportunities allow. We wish him continued luck and success.”

 

Italian-born Andrea Atzeni was reported as saying: “In particular, I would like to thank Roger Varian and his wife Hanako for their support. I credit Roger with putting put me on the map, through horses such as Kingston Hill. I am very grateful to Sheikh Mohammed Obaid and Luca Cumani, who have both been terrific.”

 

FLOWER POWER

The Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance Lonsdale Cup at York yesterday was not a royal prerogative. It was won by Dermot Weld-trained, PALE MIMOSA, on only her third outing of the season. The five-year-old daughter of SINGSPIEL hit the front just over a furlong out and stayed on strongly, managing to rebuff the late challenge from Ryan Moore, riding the Queen’s bay mare, ESTIMATE, who didn't give up the fight but didn't seem to have enough to get the better of the eventual winner.

 

Pat Smullen commented: “She’s a very good mare when everything is right for her, she’s just a bit fragile and the boss has done a great job of minding her and keeping her right. I was glad we had a drop of rain last night as it just took the real firmness out of the ground, that was our concern but when conditions are right she is good. She travelled beautifully and at halfway I was very confident, they just give you that feel when everything is going right. She’s not just a dour stayer, she has a turn of foot as well. She doesn’t need it very soft, just a bit of kindness in it.”

 

The winning trainer added: : ``I was delighted with her, she's a very progressive mare. She won well at Leopardstown and was here two years ago in the Galtres. They were two very brave fillies fighting it out, her heart was in the right place under a tactical ride. The race was run to suit her and Pat had her in the right position throughout. The plan was to sit handy and not many others ride a better type of race than Pat. We had no worries about the ground today and it looked a very good renewal.”

 

FRIDAY 22ND AUGUST 2014

LADY'S DOWNFALL ON LADIES' DAY

John Gosden-trained TAGHROODA, unbeaten in her four previous career starts, disappointed yesterday at York. The three-year-old daughter of SEA THE STARS was pipped at the post in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks by Aidan O'Brien's TAPESTRY, with Ryan Moore aboard.

 

After TAGHROODA's superb performances in the Investec Oaks and the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes, connections could perhaps be forgiven in thinking that this latest Group One challenge would be just a matter of course and serve as a preparation for the real goal, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Everything certainly looked that way as they approached the long home straight, with Paul Hanagan poised to throw down the gauntlet. The suddenly things changed as onto the scene galloped the three-year-old GALILEO colt who soon overhauled the leader, who seemed to have nothing extra with which to meet the challenge and went down by half a length.

 

It's true that the ground conditions had been changed by the overnight rain to good from good-to-firm but this victory was achieved by a rival who, according to his trainer, needs quick conditions. So no real excuses. TAPESTRY had finished second last time out at the Curragh to her stablemate, BRACELET, in the Irish Oaks when everyone really expected a win so this race was a kind of compensation

 

As the Ballydoyle king said afterwards: “It didn’t go right in the 1000 Guineas but there was a glimmer in the Coronation Stakes (sixth). She’s come forward with every run and the last day in the (Irish) Oaks she stumbled coming out of the stalls and the saddle went out on her rump. It was hard to believe she went the whole race with the saddle where it was and still just got beaten.”

FAST TRACK 100

The nineteen-times champion jockey's been at it again! This time he has bettered his own record for the fastest 100 winners in a jumps season. Tony McCoy rode ARABIC HISTORY, making his début in a bumper, to victory in the last race of the day at Newton Abbot yesterday, the IRL Independent Racecourses Ltd Intermediate Open NH Flat Race. The result might have been different, as the four-year-old TEOFILO colt appeared to be struggling half-way through the race but aboard was the never-say-die Maestro from Moneyglass who kept his mount on the attack and surged on to defeat the favourite, Evan Williams-trained, UPSANDDOWNS, by 11 lengths.

 

Forty-year-old Tony McCoy arrived at the meeting just two winners short of his previous record, established on 4 September 2002, also at Newton Abbot. He secured his ninety-ninth success quite easily on Jim Best's CRANNAGHMORE BOY. He had to wait until the end of the evening to celebrate, however, as he came second in the next race on CHALK IT DOWN, and third in the last-but-one contest on ACCESSALLAREAS.

 

The evening took a decidedly watery turn, however, as immediately after his triumph, Tony McCoy had a bucket of cold water thrown over him, having been nominated for the Ice Bucket Challenge by his friend and old rival Ruby Walsh. Sportingly he said he enjoyed the experience after a hard evening’s work and joked that it was “the first nice thing Ruby’s done for me”.

 

GIVING UP RIDING

It has just been announced that thirty-four-year-old Jamie Spencer will be retiring from racing at the end of the season. It seems like yesterday (it's actually sixteen years!) since the young jockey from County Tipperary made his mark on the the Flat racing scene when he won the Airlie Coolmore Irish 1,000 Guineas on TARASCON. Sheikh Fahad's racing is going great guns at the moment so it does seem a funny time to retire and hand over future Classic and Group One horses to his replacement. However, he maintains he's "ready for a change" and taking up a management position with Qatar Racing seems to attract him. There is no doubt that the Qatar business will benefit from Jamie Spencer's articulate and intelligent approach to racing.

Any bets he might return to racing?

 

THURSDAY 21st AUGUST 2014

NO PLACE LIKE HOME

After an easy victory yesterday in the Juddmonte International Stakes it's now looks like Aidan O'Brien-trained AUSTRALIA will now stay at home for his next race, the Irish Champion Stakes rather than head off to France for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. The ballydoyle trainer is quoted as saying he wakes up at four o’clock every morning with “my heart thumping” when he thinks how good his three-year-old colt really is and the way the son of GALILEO cruised to a two-length victory helps you to see what he means. Aidan O'Brien has had innumerable top-class Flat horses over his twenty-year career but he has always maintained that AUSTRALIA is the best of the lot. Despite not being at his of his peak form he was able to see off some of the best in the business. That includes the locally trained THE GREY GATSBY, Dante Stakes and Prix du Jockey Club winner, who, try as he might in the last furlong, was unable to make any impression on the eventual victor and even the latter's trainer, Kevin Ryan, acknowledged a “fantastic” winner.

 

Aidan O'Brien commented: “He is everything. He has won top races over a mile and a half, but he has the speed for shorter trips. And the thing about today was that, after his summer break, he was 15 to 20 kilos overweight and only really ready for a racecourse gallop. That’s where he was at. But we reasoned that this prestigious race and big prize-money was much more enticing than a racecourse gallop. And if he had been beaten today it would have been my fault, not his.”

 

British Horseracing Authority’s Head of Handicapping, Phil Smith, assessed AUSTRALIA's latest performance as worth a handicap rating in the mid-120s, but even that is still more than a fourteen pounds behind the legendary FRANKEL when he won the 2012 International Stake.

 

NOT THIS TIME

Roger Varian decided the ground was too fast for KINGSTON HILL so he pulled the Derby runner-up out of the Neptune Investment Management Great Voltigeur Stakes at yesterday's York's Ebor meeting. The three-year-old son of MASTERCRAFTSMAN will now save his energy for the Ladbrokes St Leger.

The Newmarket-based trainer commented: "It was a very difficult decision but we have got to think long term, we have got to think if we want to have a crack at the St Leger in three and a half weeks' time. The ground is quick and it is drying out. I walked the course before racing, I watched two races and I spoke to the jockeys - there is no jar but it is quick. We might get away with it but, if in doubt, we have chosen to sit it out. He has got a future, he has got big targets in the autumn and he is likely to stay in training. He is a hell of a good horse. I think we would have to go straight there if we go for the Leger but we can get him ready on the day. It is agonising that it has come to this with such a late call but you have to go with your gut feeling, usually in this game your gut feeling is right. "

 

IT'S A MATTER OF SEX.

Today John Gosden's TAGHROODA, heroine of such contests as the Investec Oaks and the King George shouldn'T have too much of a problem when she runs in today's Darley Yorkshire Oaks, particularly as she will only be up against her own sex for a change. Racing is, of course, unpredictable but somehow it seems a strong bet that the three-year-old daughter of SEA THE STARS will carry her regular jockey, Paul Hannagan, to his fourth Group One victory of the season. After all the Warrington-born rider is practically at home on the Knavesmire. It is interesting to note that TAGHROODA could win even if she is not on top form because her rivals will have a big challenge on their hands. A possible threat could come from Aidan O'Brien's TAPESTRY who is slowly progressing and came second in the Irish Oaks.

WEDNESDAY 20th AUGUST 2014

REET CHAMPION!

Well, it's 'ere! The Ebor Festival at York. The stage is set for the test of quality and stamina of the current batch of three-year-old middle distance runners, including AUSTRALIA and KINGSTON HILL who came first and second, respectively in the Epsom Derby. This race, it's worth noting, the two colts had very much to themselves in the final stages of the contest but this may well not be the case this time around. AUSTRALIA will probably handle the drop back in trip back to a mile-and-a-quarter in the Juddmonte International. He demonstrated his adaptability when coming a close third in the 2000 Guineas over a mile at Newmarket in May so it might come as a bit of a shock if he is beaten.

The usual unpredictability of the weather has given connections a certain amount of concern. The other imponderable is that, after earlier statements to the contrary, the trainer's son, Joseph O'Brien will now be aboard after all. This is interesting as 8st. 12lbs. is well below his best fighting weight.

 

Anyhow, it seems that if the GALILEO colt has any weaknesses then they will be sussed out by MUKHADRAM, who is probably running his best distance and proved it last season by becoming a course and distance winner. What is more, the five-year-old son of SHARDAL is in great form. He won the Coral Eclipse at the beginning of July and that was after coming a brave second to AFRICAN STORY in the Dubai World Cup at Meydan.

The result will probably come from those two but with the presence of THE GREY GATSBY, AROD and TELESCOPE anything could happen and probably will.

 

GRAND WIN BY THE DUKE?

Still with the Ebor Festival, the race before, the Neptune Investment Management Great Voltigeur Stakes, is certainly one where Aidan O'Brien must be hoping for a strong performance by his three-year-old GRANDDUKEOFTUSCANY to facilitate entry into next month's Ladbrokes St Leger. This is the GALILEO colts first run in the UK. His début at the Curragh in June is best forgotten. He only managed to come sixth. All was forgiven two weeks later in Tipperary when he scored his first victory, by an incredible nineteen lengths.

 

The Ballydoyle King commented: "Granddukeoftuscany had a nice run at the Curragh first time. He obviously improved and then he won his maiden very easily. He is a horse that got a mile and a half well the last time, so you would think and hope that he would probably get further in time."

 

WATCH IT! AT A PRICE.

Like to go and watch your favourite horse at work on the gallops? One race track is reviewing the custom of 'work-watching', as they call it. This traditional practice has been going on at Newmarket for well nigh four-hundred years. The Jockey Club, however, is threatening to restrict access to 'work-watchers' on the gallops due to insurance fears. The problem is that the general public, strictly speaking, only have free access to the heath after 1pm and they need permission to be there before that time. The Jockey Club's plan is to only allow those people employed by a particular trainer onto the gallops in the morning. Alternatively, they will have to be part of an organised trip and it is proposed that there will be an entry charge.

 

Nick Patton who is the training grounds manager commented: “There is no public access to the heath before 1pm and, by rights, the work watchers shouldn’t be out here as they aren’t insured. In future, visitors in the mornings will have to be part of an organised trip unless they are the guest of a particular trainer. The organised parties will have to pay a charge but the fee has yet to be determined.”

 

TUESDAY 19th AUGUST 2014

 

SAM CAN WHAT GENGHIS KHAN

Late Summer is sometimes called the 'silly season', defined as a period when the mass media often focus on trivial or frivolous matters for lack of major news stories or when there is a surge of frivolous, outlandish, or illogical activity or behaviour. When the headlines appear: 'Winner of the Mongol Derby' many readers will undoubtedly assume that this topic is just part of the seasonal silliness. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. The sixth renewal of this extraordinary event, initiated in 2009, has just finished. The Mongol Derby is the longest and toughest horse race in the world. The 1000-kilometre course purports to represent a recreation of the postal system instigated by the legendary Genghis Khan in 1224. It was the world's first long-distance postal system, based on a network of horse stations. The Mongol Derby, as is the original course upon which it is based, consists of 25 horse stations and rest-stops through the Mongolian Steppe. The competitors change horses every 40 kilometres and rough it living with herders or pitch their own tents. In 2010, the Mongol Derby achieved the Guinness World Record title of longest multi-horse race.

 

Every year about thirty professional, semi-professional and enthusiastic amateur riders compete against each other for the Derby crown. Riders must obviously possess both good equestrian and survival skills, but also great determination and more than a little luck, if they are to stand a chance of finishing, let alone winning.

 

Winners of the five previous contests:

 

2013 - Lara Prior-Palmer (England)

2012 - Donal Fahy (Ireland)

2011 - Craig Egberink (South Africa)

2010 - Justin Nelzin (U.S.A.)

2009 - Shiravsamboo Galbadrakh (Mongolia) and Charles van Wyk (South Africa

 

This year's emphatic winner has just been announced: Sam Jones of Australia. Before you jump to conclusions, this is a female contestant, only the second in the event's history! She, a forty-year-old mining operator, was the fastest rider on the course, although unable to shake off her rivals until the final stages of the race. In fact she rode much of time uncertain how far behind her nearest competitors were but had to balance this lack of information with the knowledge that if she pushed her horse too hard, the same would happen to her as befell Devan Horne in 2013 and Barry Armitage in 2012. They were both first to cross the line but were disqualified as a result of the strict veterinary penalties imposed after checking the horse's condition.

 

SECOND-CLASS BUT COULD BE FIRST

Royal Mail may have just announced that it will now only collect once a day but Mick Channon clearly believes that FIRST CLASS MAIL, in his first handicap race, can finally deliver the goods. The West Isley-based trainer puts quite a positive gloss on the two-year-old's three runs to date, when he produced two fifths and a sixth, describing them as 'solid, introductory runs'. The son of WINKER WATSON is running in the Bulmers Cider Nursery at Leicester today against twelve rivals, including one with a win to his name and two others who finished in the frame.

 

The chestnut colt, wearing the blue and green colours of the Daily Mail and MailOnline, will also have a visor for the first time. FIRST CLASS MAIL, it seems, wasn't particularly enamoured of the downhill section at Newmarket nor the Brighton gradients so connections are hoping that he will be happier on the more conventional Leicester track.

 

Mick Channon commented: ‘I would have like to have raced over seven furlongs but I think the visor will sharpen him up – he’s been tried in one at home – and that is why I am happy to stick at six furlongs for the moment. He worked well on Friday and I couldn’t have been happier with him. Charlie (Bishop) rides him – he knows him well, having ridden him a couple of times. I expect him to run a decent race.”

FIRST CLASS MAIL will have the company of a group of Daily Mail readers who have been chosen to be owners for the day.

 

TAPETA TEST

Last night's second meeting at Wolverhampton, using the newly installed Tapeta track, has produced mixed reactions.

Jockey Martin Dwyer commented: "It's riding well - it's a little bit slow but I guess it will tighten up and ride a little bit quicker."

Whereas Connor Beasley, having ridden on Tapeta for the first time, added: "It's riding like good ground and is a much better surface than the previous one."

Wolverhampton-born Racheal Kneller, who won the first race of the day on Mark Usher's ARLECCHINO, .20 seconds slower than the first 5-furlong race the previous week, stated: "It's riding quite quick and there's no kickback, which is great."

 

Fergus Cameron, Clerk of the course reported: "It appears one of the rolls on one of the gallop masters wasn't turning round at the same speed and caused a build-up of material so we ensured we reinstated the track as it should have been. We'll investigate the machine and make sure there isn't anything untoward to make sure we're sorted for Thursday."

 

MONDAY 18th AUGUST 2014

NEW KING IN FRANCE

The Grade One Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville yesterday was won by a contestant of royal Irish-American descent. The John Gosden-trained KINGMAN, with cool tactician James Doyle aboard, demonstrated yet again his devastating turn of foot on what was demonstrably unsuitable testing ground. In comparison to his last victory in the Qipco Sussex Stakes at Goodwood last month this was even more impressive as the pace set early on by the five runners was annoyingly slow. Owner, Prince Khalid Abdullah's retained rider didn't allow Frankie Dettori’s tactics on OLYMPIC GLORY deter him from his intention to put his mount in a position to show what he was made of and sprint clear in the last furlong to win by an imposing two lengths ahead of the French favourite ANODIN, trained by Freddie Head.

 

The winning jockey commented afterwards: “It’s a shame they went so slowly early on because then it turned into a dash to the line. I wasn’t sure that he would be able to go and do his usual thing on the ground, but he was just the same Kingman when I asked him to pick up as he’s always been.”

 

There was torrential rain on the track prior to the event and KINGMAN's participation was touch-and-go until just before the race. The final decision to run was made by Prince Khalid Abdullah.

 

As John Gosden said: “It was a 50-50 to run in my mind, and a very sporting gesture by the Prince. I’m very proud because the Jacques le Marois is the most prestigious mile race in France. I didn’t think he was entirely in love with the ground – it was different to anything else he had faced – but he’s got a wonderful temperament and showed he can cope with anything. It was a muddling pace, and James kept wondering when they were going to quicken it up. You had to be impressed with the way he went and won his race – the good thing was that he completely switched off. The plan is now the QEII at Ascot on October 18 which has always been his end-of-year objective.”

 

JOLLY GOOD FELLOWES

EPSOM HILL is a progressive handicapper, trained by Newmarket-based Charlie Fellowes, who has performing well for his connections. He won the Punter Southall Transaction Services Handicap at Newbury (the first at this track for his trainer) last time out by three lengths, only bettered at the beginning of August with a victory of ten lengths in the Jayne And Joe Parker's Birthday Celebration Handicap. No wonder his training is wondering whether he should keep his Swedish-bred colt running while he's on a winning streak.