Wednesday 15 May 2024

Two-Year-old Horse Racing: Brocklesby Stakes Winners

The 23rd March 2024 the Flat turf season began and the second race on the card at Doncaster (1:50) saw the Brocklesby Stakes take place. This two-year-old horse race had a bumper win price of £20,616. As detailed in a recent post: Why I Love The Brocklesby Stakes [] this race has been won by a number of talented horses, a few going on to be sires.

The winner of the Brocklesby Stakes 2024 Zminiature, trained by Dylan Cuhna, ridden by Rhys Clutterbuck, raced in the familiar silks of the Sarkar family. This diminutive son of Territories ran on well to win in stylish fashion at odds of 16/1, beating Bob The Bandit trained by Brocklesby legend Bill Turner, who has won this race 6 times, dating back to Indian Spark in 1996 when ridden by Tim Sprake. Turner last won this race in 2013 with Mick’s Yer Man. Interesting the horse was later sold to race in Hong Kong where his name was changed to Always Win. This son of Bahamian Bounty went on to win 7 races and total price earning of £328,456.

The Brocklesby Stakes has seen winners including Mind Games (1994), Hearts Of Fire (2009) and more recently Persian Force (2022) trained by Richard Hannon in the ownership of Amo Racing Limited.

In fact the likes of Mind Games, The Last Lion and Persian Force all went on to be stallions.

Looking at the list of Brocklesby Stakes winners on the Wikipedia page, they go back to 1988 when Denham Green won for trainer Steve Muldoon, ridden by J H Brown.

From 1988 to 2024 (a period of 37-years) there have been 37 races although 2020 didn’t take place due to the COVID pandemic and in 2017 the race was split into two divisions.

It’s interesting to consider the winning odds of the 2024 winner Zminiature who returned at 16/1 as the race history has proven to favour those more fancied in the betting with 31/37 (83%) being won by horses priced 10/1 and less starting price (SP).

Interest to note that two of the shortest priced winners were better horses.

For instance:

2016 – The Last Lion, trained by Mark Johnston was priced 4/5f. He went on to win the Middle Park Stakes (Group 1) at odds of 25/1. He went to stud after his two-year-old career. However, he wasn’t successful at stud and came out of retirement to race some five-years later. He raced just four times, pulling up on his final start at Kempton.

2022 – Persian Force won ‘impressively’ for Richard Hannon in the ownership of Amo Racing Limited. A very talented sprinter, he raced 8 times achieving 3 wins including the July Stakes (Group 2) at Newmarket and narrow loser when runner-up in the Prix Morny (Group 1) at Deauville, France. He concluded his two-year-old racing season and career when finishing fourth at Keeneland in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Race in the United States. He now stands as a sire at Tally Ho Stud, Ireland for 8,000 (Euros].

For those who love their two-year-old racing the Brocklesby Stakes will always be the starting point of hope and ambition. For some it will be their only win. While others such as Bill O’Gorman’s Provideo 1984 victor set a 20th century record winning 16 of his 24 races at two, including a couple of Listed races. He was crowned British Horse of the Year (1984).

A truly exceptional horse.

Such a record will never be beaten.

Zminiature has proven his ability to win the Brocklesby Stakes. By all accounts the stable had high hopes detailed by the Racing Post: ‘That was expected. We really fancied Zminiature. He's small but he's done a lot of work and he's tough. We took him to Chelmsford on Monday and did all we had to. He's tiny but he's a lovely horse - Dylan Cunha, trainer.’

Only time will tell if this colt will achieve the lofty heights of past winners.

His name sits proudly in the record book of the Brocklesby Stakes.

Thursday 4 April 2024

Kieran Fallon

Born on the 22nd February, 1965, Kieran Fallon is a retired Irish flat racing jockey, who clocked up an impressive 2,253 career wins in his time in the saddle. Now in his fifties, Fallon hails from County Clare and boasts five 2,000 Guineas Stakes wins, four 1,000 Guineas Stakes wins, three Epsom Derbies, three Epsom Oaks and a victory in the Arlington Million.

In addition to these impressive wins, Kieran Fallon would also become British Champion Jockey a remarkable six times and the early part of his success could be attributed to his association with leading trainer, Henry Cecil. Whilst in the Cecil’s stable, Fallon would enjoy a successful time, but the pairing would come to an abrupt end in 1999, when he was dismissed for undisclosed reasons. The jockey is known to be a fiery character, which could have easily led to a disagreement or two and a subsequent parting of ways.

Rocky Period

After the turn of the century, things became a little ‘chequered’, with a mixture of winners, injury and controversy. Now in the Michael Stoute stable, he won the 2,000 Guineas shortly before sustaining an serious arm injury at Ascot which would ultimately lead to Fallon losing the jockey’s championship that year.

Controversy then struck in 2004 when Kieran Fallon was accused of race fixing in a 2 year long trial, but was subsequently exonerated for lack of evidence. After having been banned from racing in the UK for the period of the inquest, Fallon returned to racing immediately after being acquitted.

Continued Controversy

It seemed that trouble was never far away for Fallon, as the jockey was banned from racing again for six months for failing a drugs test in 2006, then failing another in 2007. In total, he missed almost two years of racing through suspension before returning to the saddle in 2009 as a freelance rider.

With his most successful years behind him, Fallon retired from racing in 2016, citing depression as the primary reason. Four or five years of relative underachievement by his own high standards saw the jockey lose his appetite for the challenge.

During his career, Kieran Fallon was always a colourful character and it was ironically the characteristics that made his successful that ultimately led to his fall from grace. However, race fans will always have a soft spot for the mercurial talents of the jockey.

Friday 15 March 2024

Vertem Futurity Trophy

Inaugurated, as the Timeform Gold Cup, in 1961, the Vertem Futurity Trophy has been known as the Observer Gold Cup, Futurity Stakes and the Racing Post Trophy at various points in its history. However, following the introduction of the European Pattern in 1971, the race was awarded Group 1 status and has maintained that status ever since.

Run over a mile on Town Moor, Doncaster, the Vertem Futurity Trophy is open to two-year-old colts and fillies and its scheduling, in late October, makes it the final Group 1 event in the British Flat racing calendar. In 2019, with Doncaster abandoned due to waterlogging, the Vertem Futurity Trophy was run at Newcastle, thereby becoming the first Group 1 race in Britain to be run on a synthetic surface.

Lester Piggott and Pat Eddery remain the leading jockeys in the history of the Vertem Futurity Trophy with five wins apiece, while Sir Henry Cecil remains far and away the leading trainer with ten wins between 1969 and 1993. The race is considered a trial for the Derby the following season and five winners, namely Reference Point (1986), High Chaparral (2001), Motivator (2004), Authorized (2006) and Camelot (2011) have gone on to win the Epsom Classic. Aside from the subsequent Derby winners, other notable winners of the Vertem Futurity Trophy include Saxon Warrior (2017), Magna Grecia (2018) and Kameko (2019), who all won the 2,000 Guineas the following season.

Tuesday 13 February 2024

Ebor Handicap

Taking its name from 'Eboracum', the Roman name for York, the Ebor Handicap is worth £1 million in prize money, of which £600,000 goes to the winner, making it the most valuable race of its kind in Britain. Inaugurated, as the Great Ebor Handicap, in 1843, the race is run over one mile and six furlongs at York Racecourse, where it forms the centrepiece of the four-day Ebor Festival, staged annually in late August. Since 2019, when prize money was increased to its current level, the Ebor Handicap has been open to horses aged four years and upwards.

Flint Jack, who recorded back-to-back victories in the Ebor Handicap in 1922 and 1923, remains the only horse to win the race more than once. The legendary Lester Piggott remains the leading jockey in the history of the Ebor Handicap, with five winners between 1958 and 1983. His quintet included Gladness, who also won the Gold Cup at Ascot and the Goodwood Cup in 1958, and Jupiter Island, who subsequently became the first British-trained winner of the Japan Cup, in 1983. Other notable winners of the Ebor Handicap include Sea Pigeon (1979), who went on the win the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival twice, in 1980 and 1981, and Sergeant (2005), who completed a notable treble by winning the Northumberland Plate, Ebor Handicap and Cesarewitch Handicap in the same season.