Monday, 11 February 2019

Don't Push It

Don't Push It
Don’t Push It was a bay gelding, owned by John Patrick “J.P.” McManus and trained by Jonjo O’Neill at Jackdaws Castle in Gloucestershire, who won eight of his 28 races under National Hunt Rules and over £750,000 in total prize money. However, the son of top-class jumps sire Old Vic etched his name into the annals of racing history when, on April 10, 2010, he put in a faultless round of jumping to win the Grand National under A.P. McCoy.

Don’t Push It was backed into 10/1 joint favourite, from 20/1, on the day of the race, but McManus – nicknamed the ‘Sundance Kid’ because of his betting exploits – said, “I noticed his odds had come in before the race but I didn’t back him, I was just happy to see him deliver the goods.”

In a race run at an end-to-end gallop, Don’t Push It made headway from mid-division to track the leaders heading out into the country for the second time and, by the time the bold-jumping Black Apalachi took over from the long-time leader Conna Castle at Becher’s Brook on the second circuit, only a handful of horses were left with a realistic chance of winning. Two of them, Big Fella Thanks and Hello Bud, weakened from the second last fence, at which Don’t Push It took second place. He took the lead at the last and stayed on well from the famous “Elbow” to beat Black Apalachi by 5 lengths, with State Of Play, who snatched third place from Big Fella Thanks close home, a further 20 lengths away.

In so doing, he became the first Grand National winner for A.P. McCoy after fifteen attempts. The perennial champion jockey – who retired in April, 2015, with a record 4,358 winners and was knighted in the New Year's Honours in 2016 – said afterwards, “The National is the people’s race and to have won it at last is really special.”

Jonjo O’Neill, who was also winning the race for the first time, later reflected on the occasion, saying, “I think we’ll always remember the magical day he won the Grand National as it was one of the greatest afternoons in the life of myself, J.P. and A.P. as we had all been trying to win the race for so many years.”

Friday, 1 February 2019

Jamie Spencer

Jamie Spencer
Jamie Spencer is an experienced flat racing jockey, who is still currently plying his trade on the UK flat racing circuit. Born in the Spring of 1980 in Tipperary, he was to date won 4 major classic races with two in his home country of Ireland and two in the UK. Spencer has something of trademark for riding his horses sensibly until the critical moment and then kicking for home, using the sprint to great effect.

Racing has long since been in Jamie Spencer’s blood, as his father was a successful National Hunt trainer by the name of George Spencer, who most notably trained the 1963 Champion Hurdle winner, Winning Fair. Despite the family connection to the sport, the young Jamie Spencer was not involved until late in his childhood years.

When he did start however, he made up for lost time quickly, claiming the first of his classic triumphs on Tarascon in the Irish 1,000 Guineas in 1997. When he did so, he made history, as the youngest jockey ever to win a classic race, before going on to become Ireland’s champion apprentice the next year, riding to 46 victories.

Aidan O’Brien

Spencer’s talents hadn’t gone unnoticed and it led to a short stint as stable jockey at Ballydoyle for Aidan O’Brien. Despite only being in that role for a short time, he managed to become Irish flat racing Champion Jockey for 2004, riding 93 winners.

The success continued for Jamie Spencer after parting ways with O’Brien, as he moved to Britain shortly after to become flat racing Champion Jockey on the British circuit in 2005, riding a not too inconsiderable amount of 180 winners.

Repeat Success

Spencer’s next achievement of note was reclaiming the Britain Champion Jockey mantle in 2007, sharing the honours with Seb Sanders. It was a thrilling season, with Spencer only drawing level with Sanders on 190 winners in the very last race of the season.

Jamie Spencer went on to ride again for Aiden O’Brien, this time as a joint shareholder in Fame and Glory and Cape Blanco. It was to prove a successful reunion, as he rode Fame And Glory to the 2011 Ascot Gold Cup.


Jamie seemingly called time on his racing career in 2014, when he cited ‘family reasons’ for walking away to take up a consultancy role with Qatar Racing, but the pull of the saddle would prove too much and he returned to racing soon after. By 2017, he’d managed to clock up 2,000 winners, becoming one of only 4 active jockeys ever to do so and with Spencer still only 38 years of age, there’s still time for him to add to his already impressive tally.

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Why the National Hunt Chase is Best Trial for Future Stayers


Horses that have won or placed in each of the last three runnings of the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival went on to victory in one of the three most valuable jumps races in the UK in 2018.

Native River, runner-up to Minella Rocco in the 4m marathon in 2016, outstayed all-comers from the front to land the Cheltenham Gold Cup last season. The Colin Tizzard trained stable star also plundered the Hennessy Gold Cup and Welsh Grand National at Chepstow before reaching his peak.

Tiger Roll, meanwhile, triumphed in the National Hunt Chase of 2017 for Gordon Elliott and owners Gigginstown House Stud. That horse was no stranger to Cheltenham Festival success, however, as he landed the Triumph Hurdle over 2m as a juvenile.

One year on from his 4m success, Tiger Roll notched a Festival hat-trick with victory in the Cross Country Chase over three-and-three-quarter miles. From there, he continued to prove he comes alive in the spring by landing the 2018 Grand National at Aintree by a head from fellow Irish raider Pleasant Company.

Sizing Tennessee - another Tizzard inmate - plugged on in-behind 2018 National Hunt Chase winner Rathvinden and gutsy mare Ms Parfois, who finished runner-up, to take third. He went on to spring a shock at Newbury in the Ladbrokes Trophy (which is now what the Hennessy is called).

When looking for staying chasers of the future, the eye of many punters is drawn naturally to the RSA Chase - also held at the Cheltenham Festival, but ran over 3m. Like the National Hunt, it is a novices over fences only event and has of course thrown up classy types aplenty, but it's no surprise to see horses with even greater proven stamina go on to land the big events over jumps.

The ability to stay is a prerequisite for both the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National, so which horses could follow in the hoofprints of the illustrious Native River and Tiger Roll? Ante post Cheltenham odds for the 2019 National Hunt chase with Paddy Power are headed by the Nicky Henderson trained, JP McManus owned Ok Corral at 3/1.

Sired by Mahler - which makes him a half-brother to Ms Parfois - out of a Flemensfirth mare, the nine-year-old has a stamina-laden pedigree which on paper at least suggests he's perfect for this test of endurance. Ok Corral is also two out of two over fences and represents powerful connections who will receive a bonus if winning at the Cheltenham Festival following his debut chase victory.

As the rules state you stay a novice if you don't win during the previous season and qualify as such for the following campaign, last year's National Hunt Chase fourth Impulsive Star, who chased Ok Corral home at Plumpton, can run in it again.

The Neil Mulholland trained nine-year-old has since landed the competitive Grade 3 Classic Handicap Chase at Warwick over 3m 5f to prove his stamina and that he is capable of winning. At 12/1 with Paddy Power, Impulsive Star looks a solid each-way bet to go better on his second try at 4m given the improvement made this season.

He is also the likely mount of top British amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen as father Robert owns the horse. Irish counterpart Derek O'Connor rode Ok Corral on the same Warwick card, meanwhile, to a Listed victory, so the plan appears clear for both to line-up again in the National Hunt Chase.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Saeed bin Suroor

Saeed bin Suroor
Born and raised in Dubai, Saeed bin Suroor is a four-time British Champion trainer and longest-serving trainer at the world-famous Godolphin Stables in Newmarket. 
With over 2,000 international victories and more than 180 Group One winners, including three Prix de l'Arc de Triomphes and four King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Diamon Stakes, bin Suroor is one of the most successful and fearsome trainers of his generation. 
His impressive career includes 12 British Classic victories including at the 1,000 Guineas, the 2,000 Guineas, the Epsom Oaks, the Epsom Derby the St, Leger Stakes and won the Ascot Gold Cup five times. He’s just as successful in his native Dubai with a record-breaking eight wins in the Dubai World Cup, most recently with Thunder Snow in March 2018 and has been awarded the Leading Trainers’ title at the Dubai World Cup eight times, including last year.

Internationally he’s saddled winners in Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Australia, Italy and Ireland. 
Bin Suroor’s life might have turned out very differently if he had stuck with his first career as a policeman. He decided to stop in 1990 when he met Sheikh Mohammed, who after noting his talents, approached him to train his 30 racehorses running in the UK. He took out his training licence in 1993 and a year later was appointed trainer at Godolphin in Newmarket. Godolphin is one of the most famous and largest flat racing operations in the UK.

He currently splits his year between six-months in the UK and six-months in Dubai.