Friday, 19 June 2020

Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson
Born on July 21st 1977 in Hereford, Richard Johnson is an English jockey who rides on the National Hunt circuit and who very much has racing in his family, as the son of successful trainer, Sue Johnson and a father who spent many years as an amateur jockey.

Great Start

By the age of 18, in 1996, Johnson had claimed the title of Champion ‘Conditional’ Jockey, which refers to a rule by which a jockey with less than 20 winners to his or her name can claim extra weight. His first ‘under rules’ National Hunt winner was in 1994 on Rusty Bridge at Hereford Racecourse.

Cheltenham Festival

Over the last 20 years, Richard Johnson has enjoyed great success at Cheltenham winning numerous major races there, something that led to him being named the top jockey at the 2002 festival. He is one of just 3 jockeys to have won all 4 of the champion races at Cheltenham and has won there as recently as 2018, when claimed the prestigious Gold Cup on the Colin Tizzard horse, Native River.

There is still much to come from Richard Johnson, with the jockey already having passed 3,000 winners in Britain already. He still harbours hopes of winning the Grand National, something that he has not managed in 20 attempts to date, which at time of writing, is the joint highest number of races competed in and unfortunately for him, the most races competed in without a winner. He came close twice, coming second on Whatsupboys in 2002 and Balthazar King in 2014, but has yet to cross the line first.

Luckily for him, he still has lots and lots of time to put the record straight, and with a winning record like his, you’d be foolish to bet against him doing so.

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Camelot


Camelot
Bred by Sheikh Abdulla Bin Isa Al-Khalifa, bought, as a yearling, by the Coolmore organisation and trained by Aidan O’Brien at Ballydoyle, Co. Kildare, Camelot, was a bay colt by Montjeu. He was one of the few horses of the modern era to attempt the traditional English Triple Crown – that is, the 2,000 Guineas, the Derby and the St. Leger – last won by Nijinsky in 1970.

Camelot raced just twice as a juvenile, easily winning his maiden at Leopardstown in July before giving his rivals similarly short shrift in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster in October, when stepped up to Group One level for the first time. He reappeared in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket the following May without the benefit of a preparatory run but, although left with plenty to do entering the final quarter of a mile, led inside the final furlong and stayed on well to justify favouritism, beating French Fifteen by a neck.

In the Derby at Epsom, Camelot started 8/13 favourite to beat just eight rivals – the smallest field since 1907 – and duly obliged, running on strongly to beat Main Sequence by 5 lengths, eased down. Aidan O’Brien said afterwards, “From day one he’s been exceptional, so I was really taking it race by race rather than by trip.”

In the Irish Derby later the same month, Camelot faced just five rivals, including stable companion Astrology, whom he’d already beaten at Epsom, and was sent off 1/5 favourite to extend his unbeaten record. Before the race, Aidan O’Brien had expressed concerns that the soft to heavy going at the Curragh might prove too testing for Camelot but, despite jinking left in the closing stages, he kept on well inside the final furlong to beat Born To Sea by 2 lengths.

Camelot was rested for six weeks until his bid for the Triple Crown at Doncaster in October. His nine rivals in the St. Leger included Thought Worthy, his old rival Main Sequence and Encke, who’d previously finished first, second and third in the Great Voltigeur at York. However, over the extra 2½ furlongs on Town Moor, Encke fared best of that trio and proved to be the proverbial fly-in-the-ointment for Camelot. Try as he might, the 2/5 favourite could never quite reel in the 25/1 outsider and Encke held on well to win by three-quarters of a length.

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Mick Channon

Mick Channon
Former Southampton F.C. and England footballer Michael Roger Channon is now one of racing’s most respected trainers. 
 
While he’s yet to produce a winner of one of the British Classic Races, he won his first Irish Classic in 2012 with Samitar in the 1,000 Guineas. Other career highlights include wins in the Cheveley Park Stakes, the Dewhurst Stakes, the Falmouth Stakes, and the St James’s Palace Stakes. 
 
He has regularly had over 100 wins in a season, with his best to date in 2003 where he saddled 144 winners and took home prize money over £2million. 
 
Born in Orcheston, Wiltshire Channon made his footballing debut age 17 for Southampton in 1966. While he played for Newcastle United, Manchester City and Norwich during his career, he was best known for his time at Southampton who he won the F.A. Cup with in 1976. In 1972 he was called up to the England national team by Alf Ramsey and went on the chalk up 46 caps in his international career. 
 
After retiring from football in 1986, long time race enthusiast Channon began working as an assistant trainer. In 1990 he obtained his trainer licence and purchased West Ilsley Stables, Newbury whose previous owner was Queen Elizabeth II. After starting out with around 10 horses, Channon’s operation has expanded to nearly 200 and his yard welcomes some of the best racing talent in the country. His old footballing pals including Sir Alex Ferguson, Kevin Keegan, Alan Ball and Chris Cattlin all have horses at his stables.

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Katchit

Katchit
Katchit was best known for winning the Triumph Hurdle in 2007 and the Champion Hurdle in 2008. The latter victory made him the first horse since Persian War, in 1968, to complete the Triumph Hurdle - Champion Hurdle double in consecutive years and the first five-year-old since See You Then, in 1985, to win the Champion Hurdle.

Small in stature, but a swift, instinctive hurdler, Katchit was bought by Wiltshire trainer Alan King after he watched him win his only race on the Flat, a 0-75 handicap, over 1 mile 2 furlongs, at Salisbury in June, 2006. Katchit made his hurdling debut at Market Rasen the following September and only had to be pushed clear by Robert “Chocolate” Thornton to win by 9 lengths, eased down. Indeed, Katchit won seven of his eight starts as a novice, culminating with two victories at Grade 1 level. In the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, he led approaching the last flight and was driven clear for an impressive 9-length win, while in the Anniversary 4-Y-O Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree, less than a month later, he stayed on strongly to beat Punjabi by 4 lengths.

Katchit reappeared at Aintree the following October, taking revenge on Degas Art, the only horse to have beaten him as a novice, but was beaten the next twice, in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle and the International Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Nevertheless, he resumed winning ways in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton in February, running on well to beat Blythe Knight by 5 lengths. In the Champion Hurdle a month later, Katchit started only joint fifth choice in the market in a field of 15 runners, which included Osana, who’d beaten him 8 lengths in the International Hurdle, and Harchibald, who’d beaten him 3¼ lengths in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle. However, in the Cheltenham showpiece, Katchit took the lead with two to jump and, although strongly challenged by his old rival Osana at the last flight, stayed on well up the hill to win, all out, with Punjabi a further 5 lengths away in third.

Sadly, Katchit never won again. When he died, as a 10-year-old, in 2013, following colic surgery, Alan King said of him, “He was a marvellous horse. He was just tough. It is definitely up there with my best winners and we will never forget him.”