Monday, 19 November 2018

Key Contenders For 2018 King George VI Chase


The King George VI Chase is the highlight of the festive programme over Christmas in the UK and this year’s race is set to be another fantastic renewal with a strong field expected to line up at Kempton in the 3m contest. Here is a look at the leading contenders for the Grade One chase.


Might Bite



BHA Press Office via Twitter

Last year’s winner Might Bite is expected to return to Kempton in December to try to defend his crown and become the first horse to prevail in the race in back-to-back years since Silviniaco Conti in 2014. Nicky Henderson’s runner had a fantastic campaign last season as he also won the Aintree Bowl and finished second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The nine-year-old is expected to target all the leading 3m+ chases in this division this season and connections will have the Gold Cup in mind as the priority where they will be hoping he can go one better than he did in March. Might Bite has proven that Kempton is a course he enjoys, therefore, it is no surprise that he tops the early betting for the 2018 King George.


Waiting Patiently


Waiting Patiently is set to return to the racecourse after 10 months off the track when he lines up at Kempton. Ruth Jefferson’s horse was last seen when he won the Ascot Chase, beating Cue Card, Top Notch and Coney Island in a strong field for the Grade One contest. The son of Flemensfirth has won his last seven races, therefore, he has been in great form. Unfortunately for connections, he has had a number of injuries which have prevented him from running in the big meetings, including the 2018 Cheltenham Festival. Despite his long absence, Waiting Patiently is prominent at 6/1 in the horse racing betting for the King George where, if successful, he would scoop the biggest prize of his career so far.



Native River



Racing UK via Twitter

Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Native River will be looking to join a small club of horses who have won the feature race of the Cheltenham Festival and King George in the same year. The eight-year-old already has an impressive CV with victories also coming in the Hennessy Gold Cup and Welsh Grand National. Native River missed the King George last year through injury and did not make his seasonal reappearance until February where he made a winning return in the Denman Chase. A month later, Colin Tizzard’s Chaser outstayed all of his rivals in the Gold Cup. Given how the pair locked horns throughout at Cheltenham, many people will be looking forward to seeing Native River take on Might Bite once again in what could prove to be a fascinating rivalry for many years to come in the sport. Native River can be backed at 6/1 in the King George betting and he is sure to have his supporters at that price as he is officially rated as one of the best chasers in training in the UK and Ireland.

Enjoy the action on Boxing Day and good luck if you are having a bet in the King George.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Tony McCoy

Tony McCoy
Sir Anthony Peter McCoy OBE, is a retired horse racing jockey hailing from Northern Ireland and is widely regarded as one of the most successful ever in the steeplechasing world. In his career, the jockey known simply as ‘AP’ to many has won everything there is to win, including the Grand National , most recently on Don’t Push it in 2010. With a total of 4,358 winners to his name and he boasts the incredible achievement of winning Champion jockey title 20 years in a row, something that may never again be matched by anyone in the sport.

Out of the Ordinary

Other than his freakish talent for winning, Tony McCoy is different to many other jockeys in that he stands at 5ft 10 inches tall, which is tall for a jockey. Once in the saddle though, there truly is no one like him, as he has a virtually unblemished record as a jockey, even winning the title of Conditional Jump Jockey Champion in his first ever season, winning 74 races.

The fact that AP McCoy won the Champion Jockey title every year he competed in it says everything you need to know about the man and his victories in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, King George VI chase and the Champion Hurdle set him apart from the rest and when you see who he’s up against, you realise just how special that makes him. In his last race, he came third on Box Office at Sandown and despite not bowing out with a win, those attending knew they had witnessed the end of an era.

Tony McCoy retired in 2015 and went on to become Sir AP McCoy a year later. Never has the term champion been more apt and his feats may never be equalled again.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Silvestre De Sousa


Silvestre De Sousa
From the land of the Samba beat, Silvestre De Souza is an ex champion flat race jockey, claiming the title in 2015 and 2017. Born in São Francisco do Maranhão, Brazil on 31st December 1980, De Souza is now based in Britain, having moved to Sao Paulo from his 9 siblings at the tender age of 17 and then moving to England to join trainer, David Nicholls in 2006.

He first sat on a racehorse at the age of 18, after being talent spotted by compatriot Fausto Durso who saw something special in the young man. This potential would eventually become to be realised after a slow start and after a season that De Souza only spent in England on a “What have I got to lose?” basis, he finished with 27 winners and win rate of 14%.

Spotted

Soon after, De Souza found himself on the periphery at the Nicholls yard, with David preferring his own son, Adrian in the big races. This led to a period as a freelance rider which saw him enjoy an impressive record of 21, 35 and 68 winners over the next three years. This performance caught the eye of trainer Mark Johnston who took on De Souza shortly after. It was to be a wise move, as the jockey went onto an Epsom Derby Win and two winners at Royal Ascot, something De Souza described as “unbelievable”.

In 2011, De Souza almost claimed the title of champion flat jockey, narrowly losing out to Paul Hanagan and winning 161 races in the process. There were near misses in the next two years, with De Souza just losing out to Richard Hughes, which led to a bit of a change in direction.

Finally

Success in flat racing’s champion jockey race was finally achieved in 2015 and then again in 2017 with De Souza being employed by Betway as an Ambassador. The season saw the jockey win 155 races and win a staggering £1.7m in prize money.

After a frustrating beginning, the future certainly looks bright for Silvestre De Souza.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Dan Skelton

Dan Skelton
Daniel Skelton is a leading National Hunt Trainer, who has saddled over 465 winners in his career.
With four seasons under his belt, Skelton has had 28 graded/listed winners and scored big wins on the track. This includes his first victory at Cheltenham in 2016 when Superb Story won the Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle, ridden by his brother, jockey Harry Skelton. 
 
By his third season he crossed the 100 winners barrier for the first time and earned over £1 million in prize money. He has continued to build on earlier achievements, with some of his most notable performances coming from Three Musketeers, Blue Heron, Al Ferof, Its’afreebee and Ch’tibello.
Since becoming a trainer, Dan and Harry have struck up a close working partnership. Harry was in the saddle when Willow’s Saviour stormed to victory in the 2013 Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot during Dan’s first season as a trainer.

Dan set up his own training stable at the family farm, Lodge Hill in Warwickshire in 2013 with 12 horses. That number rapidly expanded and he ended the 2013/14 season with 27 wins. 
 
He began his career with a few amateur races, before landing work at Champion trainer Paul Nicholls’ yard, Manor Farm Stables. After initially starting as a pupil assistant, he was quickly made assistant trainer a role he stayed in for nine years. Dan credits his early success to Nicholls’ tutelage at the world-renowned racing stable as well as the unique experience of growing up around one of the world’s best show-jumpers.

Monday, 1 October 2018

Racing Festivals and Events - Ones to Watch in the Months Ahead!


It's certainly been a thrilling year of racing action so far and with a continued focus on the racing calendar and specifically noteworthy festivals and events ahead, we can see that the next 6 months plus are packed with yet more top class racing action, starting with late October's QIPCO British Champions Day and stretching out to early April's Aintree Grand National, where we'll be presenting our usual selection of Grand National tips.


British Champions Day is a single day event held at Ascot, this year on Saturday 20th October. It's a relatively new race, having first taken place in 2011. Despite that the prize money on offer marks it out as a serious money event (almost £4.5 million for the 2018 racecard). The day includes the Group one British Champions Sprint Stakes, and British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes amongst other competitive races. 35 major races over the flat season constitute the 'British Champions series', of which the first five races of British Champions Day are considered the final.


Doncasters Vertem Futurity Trophy is also a stand out October event. There are currently 76 entries for this group one event held over the flat. 2019 Epsom Derby potential, Too Darn Hot, is surely one to watch.

As we move to November, the festival emphasis moves to jumps, rather than flat with Newbury's Winter Carnival as well as Cheltenham's November meeting creating excitement for racing fans.  In December, we have The International at Cheltenham racecourse, but a highlight for me are the Christmas festivals with Sandown Park's Tingle Creek Christmas Festival as well as Kempton Parks' Christmas Festival bringing some festive racing excitement our way.


There are no major festivals or racing events in January. February sees the Welsh Grand National, though for many the real action starts the following month with the much anticipated Cheltenham Festival, a four day national hunt feast of racing featuring highly anticipated races such as the Queen Mother Champion Chase, Champion Hurdle, Stayers' Hurdle and of course the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The Gold Cup is a race that eclipses most others in terms of its profile and history and has elevated the likes of Best Mate and Kauto Star into the echelones of racing royalty due to their consistent successes in the race.

April brings us what's surely classed as 'the one to watch' for even those not heavily into racing. I'm of course refering to the Grand National, held at Aintree, Liverpool. This three day meeting taking place just as the excitement of Cheltenham has died down and really draws in the crowd on course, with numbers close to 35,000 on days two and three. TV screens across the nation and the world will also to tuned in, as without a doubt the Grand National has global appeal.
 
 
Each day of the Grand National festival has its highlights, with the first day kicking off with four grade one races, the next featuring the elegance and fun of Ladies Day and on Saturday we have the Grand National itself. Steeped in tradition going all the way back to 1839, with 4 miles 2 furlongs and 30 tough fences to separate the best from the rest, the Grand National offers the potential to cement a place in racing history, alongside the likes of three time winner Red Rum. If there's one race to win as a jockey, trainer or owner, it's definitely the Grand National.

Monday, 24 September 2018

Does Stratum Deserve Another Chance in Fascinating Cesarewitch Handicap?


Willie Mullins and his team are putting the finishing touches to their preparation to run star five-year-old Stratum in the Cesarewitch Handicap on Saturday 13th October and bookmakers have high hopes, placing him at the head of a talent-laden ante-post pack.

The bay gelding impressed when winning the JLT Cup at Newbury in July, beating runner-up Kloud Gate by a convincing three lengths to land the prize money. That was a handicap race run over two miles, is there enough in the tank to improve again and battle over a further two furlongs against a better class of opposition?

 
Source: My Racing Tips via Twitter

 

Traders certainly aren’t in a rush to oppose and eagle-eyed punters taking a look through the early prices and bookmaker offers at Oddschecker will find Stratum is currently in pole position with no bigger than Paddy Power’s 8/1 on the line. That has him four points better than nearest rival Low Sun but there is a degree of indecisiveness with most eager to keep the jolly onside, as short as 6/1 in places.

That’ll catch the attention of value hunters who know all too well backing a 6/1 favorite at odds of 8/1 is a sure-fire way to make a profit in the big meetings. Stratum is far from a convincing market leader though as he followed that win in the JLT Cup with a bitterly disappointing 12th when challenging for the Ebor Handicap at York next time out.

In a race eventually won by Muntahaa, Stratum was never in the contest as a threat to the major places, jockey Robert Winston holding his ride up at the back but finding racing room difficult to come by at the business end. Badly hampered on the rail inside the final couple of furlongs, it was obvious to those who had invested their money on him that it wasn’t going to be their day.
 

 

Source: Sporting Life via Twitter

 
 

Will punters give Stratum the benefit of the doubt and have another pop or go for a runner with a more attractive price tag attached? There’s certainly a few further down the list that make plenty of appeal, including Limini at 14/1.

Another from the Mullins yard, the seven-year-old mare won at Leopardstown on her most recent appearance and was made famous when clinching the Mares Hurdle at Punchestown in February 2017, bashing odds-on favourite Apple’s Jade by two lengths.

Further down the pecking order, you’ll find Chelkar at 20/1, Whiskey Sour 20/1, Cypress Creek 25/1, Family Tree 25/1 and Here And Now 25/1. All have chances.

 

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Jamie Osborne

Jamie Osbourne
One of the UK’s greatest national hunt Jockeys, Jamie Anthony Osborne is now hunting glory as a celebrated flat trainer. 
 
Brought up near Wetherby, Yorkshire in a hunting and farming family, Osborne had his first race-ride in a point-to-point while studying for his A-levels. His first win as an amateur came in 1986, after which he became conditional jockey for Nicky Henderson. His career was given a huge boost in 1989, when he was picked as Oliver Sherwood’s stable jockey. 
 
His career peaked in the 1996/97 season when he rode 131 winners and came second in the jockey’s Championship. Osborne’s biggest successes came at the Cheltenham Festival, riding 11 winners between 1991 and 1997. He was the lead rider for the 1992 festival, with five victories including three in one day. His most memorable wins came in the 1992 Champion Chase on Remittance Man and in two World Hurdles on Nomadic Way and Karshi. 
 
He ended his 15-year riding career in 1999 to become a trainer and after obtaining his licence opened his yard at Kingsdown in Upper Lambourn, Berkshire in 2000. 
 
One of Osborne’s most successful horses as a trainer was Milk it Mate who in the 2003 season won the Somerville Tattersall Stakes and the Dewhurst Stakes. In January 2018 he attempted to win the $16million Pegasus World Cup in Florida with seven-year-old Toast of New York. 
 
A favourite of the late Queen Mother, Osborne’s career hasn’t been without scandal and was “acquitted” of race fixing in 1998.

Lester Piggott

Lester Piggott
If AP McCoy is the best jump jockey that ever lived, then Lester Keith Piggott is arguably the best flat jockey that ever graced the sport. Born on the 5th November 1935, Pigott’s style was the inspiration for many jockeys that have come since.

He was known affectionately as “The Long Fellow” and in a long career that spanned an incredible 47 years, the jockey achieved an incredible 4,493 wins on the flat. So dedicated was he that for decades, he kept himself a full 30 pounds underneath his natural weight to maintain his competitive edge.

The Early Years

First experiencing the saddle at the age of 10 at his father’s stable, Lester Piggott won his first competitive race at the age of 12 at Haydock Park on a horse aptly named ‘The Chase’. The jockey was regarded as something of a sensation in his teenage years when his first senior race saw him win The Derby aged just 18. It was a race he would win 8 more times in his long, largely peerless career and he was followed by legions of fans who marvelled at his skill and bravery.

As a champion jockey an incredible 11 times, he was part of the Sangster/O’Brien stable before he moved to the Henry Cecil camp at Warren Place.

Dispute

Following a dispute in 1983, Cecil replaced Piggott with Steve Cauthen, as a conflict of interest arose with Lester reneging on an agreement with one of the stable’s principle owners, Daniel Wildenstein to ride All Along at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. It was a move that was damaging to Piggotts season, as he was banned from riding any more of Wildenstein’s horses.

Retirement & Controversy

After retirement in 1985, Lester Piggott became a trainer, successfully training 34 winners from his Eve Lodge stables. However, this new life was curtailed before it really got going, as the ex jockey was convicted of tax fraud, serving just over a year in jail and losing his OBE title he had received 10 years earlier.

He returned to racing in the early 90s, officially retiring in 1995, riding his last race in 1994. Today, aged 82, Piggott lives near Newmarket and will always be remembered for his incredible skill in the saddle and its contribution to flat racing.

Friday, 24 August 2018

Frankel

Frankel is described by a lot of horse racing enthusiasts as the greatest thoroughbred racehorse of all time. The bay colt was foaled in February 2008 and was then trained by the late Sir Henry Cecil. He won all 14 of his racecourse starts from August 2010 through to October 2012, after which he retired to begin his career in breeding as a stallion.

In 2011, the son of Galileo was the highest rated racecourse in the world. He held that position in 2012 in his final season. When he retired he had earned just short of £3 million in prize money. The World Thoroughbred Racehorse Ratings gave him a rating of 140, the highest since they introduced their system in 1977.

Just like his career on the track, Frankel has made a strong start to breeding as a number of his offspring have been successful in some of the leading flat races in Europe over the last few years. One of those horses is Cracksman who won the Qipco Champion Stakes on British Champions Day last year. He can be backed at horse racing odds 5/1 to prevail the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in his first attempt in October, a race which sadly was just outside of Frankel’s ideal distance.


 
Credit: Champions Series via Twitter

The public saw Frankel on a racecourse for the first in a maiden at Newmarket where he lined up in a field of 12 over one mile. Cecil’s runner got off to a winning start as he scored by half-a-length, beating Nathaniel who went on to be a Group One winning horse himself.

Frankel’s first Group One success came in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket. He justified going off as the odds-on favourite to crown himself the champion two-year-old for the season. That was his fourth straight victory in his opening campaign on the track.

A lot was expected of Frankel as a three-year-old and when he returned at Newbury for the Greenham Stakes, he looked even bigger. He proved that he had lost none of his speed following his winter break as he scored by four lengths on his return to the track.


Credit: Racing Post via Twitter

It there was one race that sums up how dominant Frankel was as a miler, though, it was the 2000 Guineas in 2011 where he produced arguably the most dominant performance ever seen in a British Classic. Under the hands of his pilot Tom Queally, the pair hit the front very early into the race and soon went clear of their rivals. Instead of slowing down in the latter stages of the 1m contest, he went further and further from them to blow the field away.

Frankel stepped up in distance from 1m to 1m2f in his penultimate start of his career for the Juddmonte International at York in 2012. The extra two furlongs did nothing to slow him down as he won by seven lengths to prove he was durable in trip.

Racing fans saw Frankel for the last time on the track in the 2012 Champion Stakes where he maintained his unbeaten record. There were some concerns on the day for the horse as the ground was Soft, Heavy in places. The conditions did not spoil his farewell party though as he beat a field which included the French superstar Cirrus des Aigles.

Horse racing fans are still waiting for the next superstar to fill Frankel’s shoes, however, he was a once in a lifetime horse, therefore it remains to be seen if we see anything like him again.


 

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Kieran Fallon

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.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Fergal O'Brien

Fergal O'Brien
A later bloomer, trainer Irish-born Fergal O’Brien has quickly established himself as one of the most exciting trainers in British horseracing. 
 
O’Brien has become known for consistently producing young talent including the promising Alverado and Bradley and has struck up a sold relationship with jockey Paddy Brennan, who has ridden most of his horses. After a string of good seasons, the 2016/17 period proved to be his best with 60 wins and prize money of £600,000.

Originally from County Tipperary, Ireland O’Neill’s involvement with horses began age 14-year-old when he visited his brother at the Doug Francis Stable in Cheshire in 1987. At 16 Francis sent him to the Racing School, after which he began working under Captain Tim Forster. In 1992 and after a spell at Ginger McCain’s he began working his third Grand National-winning trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies. 
 
This was the start of an 18 year-period as Head Lad to Twiston-Davies’. While working under him he was responsible for preparing Grand National winners Earth Summit (1989), Bindaree (2000) and 2010 Cheltenham Cup winner Imperial Commander. 
 
In 2011 he confirmed he was leaving Twiston-Davies’ stable to launch his own training career. He began at Cilldara Stud in Gloucestershire, where his landlord was well-known jump jockey, Timmy Murphy. Success came quickly and during his three and a half years at Cilldara had over 150 winners.

In 2015 he moved back to familiar territory, renting Twiston-Davies’ top yard at Grange Hill Farm in the Costwolds and sharing facilities with his old trainer.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Pat Eddery

Pat Eddery
One of the leading lights in the latter part of the 20th century Pat Eddery was a flat racing jockey who still holds the joint most champion titles, three years after his sad death. With a magnificent total of 4,632 wins on the flat, Eddery had racing in his blood from an early age.

He began as an apprentice in Ireland under the guidance of Seamus McGrath and would move to England in 1967, switching to Frenchie Nicholson’s stable. His first victory in England was at Epsom Downs on Alvaro in the Spring of 1969, which was a welcome experience for the jockey, as it came after an entire season without a win.

Alvaro was something of a talisman for Pat Eddery, as 1969 saw him win 5 more races in a row on the horse and whilst still operating as an apprentice, he claimed the Wokingham Handicap, the Northumberland Plate and the Goodwood Stakes in 1971. All this happened in the year the jockey won the Apprentice Champion title.

Impressive

Eddery won the senior Champion Jockey title an impressive 11 times during a long and distinguished career, claiming his last in 1996. Over his 36 years in the saddle, Pat won countless major races that included the 1,000 Guineas, the 2,000 Guineas and the Ascot Gold Cup. There wasn’t much in the flat racing world that he didn’t win in his time.

English flat racing’s switch to multi purpose tracks at the beginning of the 1990s hit Eddery hard and he found the new tracks tough to navigate. His ‘96 championship win was something of an achievement in itself, proving to the man himself that he could still do the business on the new surface.

Later in life, Pat Eddery was to struggle with alcoholism and it would eventually cost him his life at the age of just 63 from an associated heart problem. It was a sad day for racing when the South Dubliner passed and the contribution to horse racing made by this giant of the sport, will never be forgotten.

Monday, 25 June 2018

Bob Champion

Bob Champion
Born on the 4th June 1948, Bob Champion is one of the most famous jump jockeys that ever graced the sport and is most fondly remembered by racegoers for riding Aldaniti to victory in the 1981 Grand National. So notable was Champion’s career that his autobiography would be made into a film with John Hurt playing the lead role.

Champion is a proud Yorkshireman, who overcame great adversity earlier in life, beating testicular cancer to return to a successful racing career. This was the backstory to the great man’s career that made his subsequent triumphs so compelling and heartwarming. His win on Aldaniti saw him also named as BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1981.

Though the 1981 win defined Champion’s career, it wasn’t his only success in jump racing as he also won the Whitbread Trial Chase and the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup in is time as a jockey. He would remain in the sport as a trainer until his retirement in 1999.

Legacy

Bob Champion, now 69, has been given many awards for his success in racing, not least the OBE he received in 1982 and the Helen Rollason Award at the 2011 BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony. He was also featured on This Is Your Life in the year of his Grand National win, with Eamonn Andrews walking in to surprise him with his big red book.

Though not the most successful jockey in terms of winners, Bob Champion was and still is a colourful figure in the sport of horse racing. He is someone who has inspired millions across the world with his life story and his triumphs in the face of great personal challenges, serving as a role model for young jockeys everywhere.

Without the likes of Robert Champion OBE, the horseracing world just wouldn’t be the same.




Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Ruby Walsh

Ruby Walsh
Born Rupert Walsh in County Kildare on the 14th May 1979, the affectionately named ‘Ruby’ is a highly decorated jump jockey with a list of achievements as long as it is impressive. He has been Irish National Hunt Champion jockey no less than 12 times and the leading jockey at the Cheltenham Festival almost every year since 2004, only failing to claim the honour twice in that period.

He is the son of amateur champion jockey, Ted Welsh and he showed exceptional talent at an early age, twice winning the Irish amateur title in 1997 and 1998, shortly before he became a professional.

Grand National Champion

The promise he showed an as amateur would continue, as he claimed his first major prize, winning the Grand National on Papillon at the tender age of 20. The Mrs J Maxwell Moran owned horse was trained by his father and the achievement was even more notable given that it was his very first ride in the National. Ruby Walsh has won this blue ribbon event once since, triumphing on Hedgehunter in 2006.

It has not all be glitz and glory for Ruby, as he has endured a number of major injuries over the years, with the most serious being the broken leg he sustained in 1999, racing in the Czech Republic. Added to that was another break of the same leg, shortly before his success with Papillon. This succession of personal injuries has thankfully done nothing to dull the his passion for the sport, as he has seemed to come back stronger on each occasion.

Fame and Fortune

A glittering career that has still considerable time to run has propelled Ruby Walsh firmly into the public eye, with the jockey featuring on a TV documentary about jump jockeys and in a song by Christy Moore aptly named “The Ballad of Ruby Walsh”.

There isn’t much that Walsh still left to achieve, but with a hat trick of Grand National winners to aim for, its unlikely we’ll see him retiring any time soon.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Rock Of Gibraltar

Rock of Gibraltar
Owned by Sir Alex Ferguson and Susan Magnier and trained by Aidan O’Brien, Rock Of Gibraltar had the distinction of winning seven consecutive Group 1 races in 2001/02, in so doing breaking the record set by Mill Reef 30 years earlier.

Rock Of Gibraltar raced seven times as a juvenile, winning five times, including back-to-back Group 1 victories in the Grand Crierium - Lucien Barriere at Longchamp and the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket, both over 7 furlongs, in October. Stepped up to a mile for the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket on his three-year-old debut, the Danehill colt led the group on the far side over a furlong out and was ridden out to beat stable companion Hawk Wing, who raced on the near side, by a neck.

Rock Of Gibraltar subsequently bolted up in the Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh three weeks later and readily beat old rival Landseer – whom he’d denied by a short head in the Dewhurst Stakes – in the St. James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot the following month. Two more Group 1 wins, in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood in July and the Prix de Moulin de Longchamp in September, followed before a trip across the Atlantic to contest the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Arlington Park, Chicago. Sent off at odds-on, for the fifth time in a row, Rock Of Gibraltar finished a never-nearer second, beaten three-quarters of a length, behind 26/1 outsider Domedriver.

Understandably, Rock Of Gibraltar was named Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt and Cartier Horse of the Year in 2002.

In 2004, Ferguson threatened John Magnier, owner of Coolmore Stud, with court action in an extraordinary dispute over stud fees for Rock Of Gibraltar, before settling out of court in a compromise deal worth £2.5 million. In his autobiography, Ferguson dismissed the episode in a paragraph or two, but later told a press conference, “It was straightforward. I had an agreement with John Magnier that, after the settlement, nothing will [sic] be said about it at all. I’ve said nothing and they’ve said nothing. That’s how it is and that’s how it should be.”

Friday, 18 May 2018

Michael Stoute

Michael Stoute
Sir Michael Stoute is a Barbadian, British thoroughbred horse trainer who has achieved incredible success over his five-decade career. Stoute is widely considered one of the best trainers in horse-racing, winning in all five British classic races - the 2,000 Guineas Stakes, 1.000 Guineas Stakes, Epsom Oaks, Epson Derby and St. Leger Stakes. 

At 19 he moved to the UK to become an apprentice to trainer Pat Rohan, establishing his own stable in 1972. He was the only trainer of the 20th century to win a Classic in five successive seasons and was named Champion trainer 10 times between 1981 and 2009. Stoute's success continued overseas with victories in Ireland, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, the United States and the United Arab Emirates. 

His most famous horse was Shergar who won the 1981 Epsom Cup by a record 10 lengths. The horse was stolen from a yard in County Kildare, Ireland in 1983 with kidnappers settling a ransom of £2 million. At the time Shergar's value was set at £10 million and despite a nationwide search was never found. One theory was the IRA had stolen him. 

In, 2009 Stoute became the first trainer to finish with a clean sweep of places in Ascot's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes with Conduit, Tartan Bearer and Ask. He had further success at Ascot in 2013 training the Queen's Gold Cup winner, Estimate.

He currently trains at Freemason Lodge Stables and at Beech Hurst Stables, both in Newmarket.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Willie Carson

Willie Carson
Having been born and raised in Stirling, Scotland, Willie Carson 75, has been an ambassador for horse racing for many years and is a face is familiar to most people living in the United Kingdom. Featuring on television for decades, he was once a team captain of BBC1’s Question of Sport, appearing nationally every Saturday evening.

He earned his name in the sport that he still loves today and his journey began as an apprentice to North Yorkshire based Captain Gerald Armstrong. His first win of note came at Catterick Bridge in the Summer of 1962, when he rode Pinker’s Pond to victory in an apprentice handicap.

Willie Carson learned his trade over the next decade, at which point, he really came to prominence. 10 years after winning his first ever race, he went on to win his first British Champion Jockey title in 1972 and then again in 1973. It was a feat he repeated three more times, coming out on top in 1978, 1980 and 1983.

Ironically, Carson’s best ever tally came 7 years later in 1990, riding to an astonishing total of 187 winners. In many other years, this would have been enough to claim the Champion Jockey mantle, but the imposing figure of Pat Eddery stood in his way and got there first with a staggering 209 winners.

That same season saw Carson become one of just 4 jockeys ever to win 6 winners at the same track on the same day in the whole of the 20th century.

Longevity

Carson always looked after himself and this allowed him to continue until well into his 50s. In 1996, he retired at the age of 54 and was very much still at the top of his game. In 1983, he was deservedly awarded an OBE for his contribution to horseracing and will certainly go down as one of the greats.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Tim Vaughan

Tim Vaughan
Former Welsh Champion point-to-point jockey Tim Vaughan is a National Hunt trainer, who in 2012 became the youngest ever to record 100 winners in a season. 
 
Since 2008 he has trained over 700 winners including Grade 1 victors, Saint Are in the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle and Spirit of Adjisa in the Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown. In 2017 he saddled his first ever Cheltenham winner when Master Dancer won in the Brandon Hill Capital Handicap Hurdle. Another career highlight came with Beshabar’s victory in the Scottish Grand National in 2011. 
 
Hailing from the Vale of Glamorgan, Vaughan rode 117 winners and was named Champion Welsh point-to-point jockey during his amateur days. He initially began training as a chartered surveyor, while competing, but despite warnings about the career path, opted to instead become a trainer. 
 
Vaughan obtained his training licence in 2006 and quickly became on the most talented, young trainers in the country. After setting up his stable at Pant Wilkin Stables in Aberthin, Cowbridge in 2008, Vaughan saw his fortunes rise and stable expand. Within eighteen months of starting he had made it into the top 10 trainers list in the country. 
 
Vaughan had 55 winners in the 2008/9 season and went on to break the 100 barrier in the 2011/12. A year earlier he had surpassed another milestone, crossing the £500,000 prize money mark for the first time. He works closely with stable jockey Alan Johns, who rode 45 winners in the 2016/17, all coming from Vaughan.

Desert Orchid

Desert Orchid
Assessing the popularity of racehorses from different generations is never easy, but Desert Orchid must surely rank alongside Arkle and Red Rum as one of the most iconic steeplechasers in the history of National Hunt racing. Although officially a grey, Desert Orchid gradually lost his birth colour with age, becoming almost white. As such, he was easy to pick out in a race which, coupled with his bold, front-running style and flamboyant, albeit occasionally erratic, jumping added to his appeal to the general public.

Owned by Richard and Midge Burridge and trained by David Elsworth, the aptly-named son of Grey Mirage I made 70 starts over hurdles and fences, winning 34 of them. His major victories included the King George VI Chase at Kempton (four times), the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Irish Grand National.

His finest hour, particularly for a horse famously better going right-handed, came at Cheltenham on March 16, 1989. On heavy, almost unraceable, ground, Desert Orchid started 5/2 favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup but, having been left in the lead by the fall of Ten Plus at the third last fence, was headed by confirmed mudlark Yahoo on the run to two out. Yahoo maintained the advantage until the run-in, but Desert Orchid rallied on the famous uphill climb to the line, quickening in the closing stages to win by 1½ lengths. Winning jockey Simon Sherwood said afterwards, “Without doubt he could have won three or four Gold Cups if Cheltenham had been right-handed.”
Aside from his victories at the highest level, Desert Orchid also won numerous handicaps, over a variety of distances, under seemingly prohibitive weights. In the Victor Chandler Chase, over 2 miles, at Ascot in 1989, he beat Panto Prince by a head conceding 22lb and the following April won the Irish Grand National, over 3 miles and 5 furlongs, at Fairyhouse by 12 lengths, despite conceding 26lb and upwards to each of his 13 rivals.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Mark Johnston

Mark JohnstonOne of Britain’s leading racehorse trainers, Mark Johnston has trai
ned over 4,000 British winners one of only three to achieve the feat.

Scottish born Johnston began his career as a vet, studying at Glasgow and practicing for three years before buying a training yard in Louth, Lincolnshire in 1986. He obtained his trainer’s license a year later, achieving his first win with HInari Video at Carlisle. 

In 1988 he moved to the Kingsley House yard in Middleham from where he built one of the most successful stables in the country. Eventually extending it to two further stables, the training facility now covers 270 acres. 

Jonhston’s first British Classic win came in the 2,000 Guineas with Mister Baileys in 1994. In 2004 he won the British and Irish 1,000 Guineas with Attraction, who he cites as the horse he’s proudest of having trained. His most successful was Shamardal, who was voted the 2004 European Champion Two-Year-Old. During his three seasons, Shamardal won the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood, Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket, The Poule d'Essai des Poulains at Longchamp, The Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly and the St. James's Palace Stakes at Ascot. 

In 2017 Jonhston became only the third trainer to pass the 4,000 British winners milestone. He currently sits behind Richard Hannon Snr and Martin Pipe on the all-time list of British winning trainers, who have 4,193 and 4,183 wins respectively. 

He cites Mister Baileys win at the 2,000 Guineas as his career highlight, claiming the victory enabled his career to move up “another level”.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Paul Hanagan

Paul Hanagan
Born on the 8th September 1980 and hailing from Cheshire, Paul Hanagan is a ex champion jockey of great acclaim in the flat racing world.

Having never been in the saddle until the late age of 14 and having had his eyes firmly fixed on a career on the green grass of a football field rather than a racetrack, Paul Hanagan was a graduate of the British Racing School after great encouragement from his father, Geoff Hanagan. Deemed ‘too small’ for professional football, he helped out as a weekend work experience stable hand for trainer Terry Caldwell, based in Warrington, which ultimately led to the pivotal moment when Hanagan realised that racing had gotten under his skin and into his blood.

Captivated by what he saw at Caldwell’s yard, Hanagan would get his first taste of being a jockey, being allowed to ride out at the age of 14 and begin training the British Racing School, graduating in 1997.

Breakthrough

Hanagan got his first taste of senior racing on Stone Beck 4 days shy of his 18th birthday , racing to a creditable 4th place under the stewardship of Malcolm Jefferson, who was better known for his work in National Hunt training. Jefferson knew his onions and he saw a promising flat jockey in Hanagan, guiding the young man to join Richard Fahey as an apprentice flat jockey just a year later.

Over the next four years, the apprentice jockey saw his promise turn into results, improving each season and gaining the title of Champion Apprentice in 2002. He did this by riding a highly impressive 87 winners, the 2nd most since the end of WWII, which included a win on Vintage Premium in the John Smith’s Cup.

Richard Fahey foretold a big future for Paul Hanagan and he wasn’t wrong. Having matured over the next few years, he won his first senior Champion Jockey title in 2010 with a brilliant 191 winners and then backing that up by winning it again in 2011, beating Silvestre De Sousa from Brazil on the very last day of the season.

After this great achievement, Hanagan took a brief sabbatical and stated that he need a break after all his efforts. He did return the next year, but he never again hit the heights of the 2010 and 2011 seasons. To this day, he attributes much of his success to Richard Fahey who he spent 14 years with and he will forever be included in the pantheon of great flat jockeys.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Night Nurse

Night Nurse
Owned by Reg Spencer and trained by Peter Easterby at Habton Grange, near Malton, North Yorkshire, Night Nurse is best known for winning the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival twice, in 1976 and 1977, but also has the distinction of being the highest rated hurdler of the Timeform era.

His first victory in the Champion Hurdle, which came at the expense of Lanzarote and Comedy Of Errors, among others, was part of a ten-race winning streak, which also included the Irish Sweeps Hurdle, the Welsh Champion Hurdle and the Scottish Champion Hurdle. His second came at the expense of such luminaries as Monksfield, Sea Pigeon and Bird’s Nest, not to mention Dramatist, Beacon Light and Master Monday, any of whom would have been a worthy winner in any other year. In fact, the 1977 Champion Hurdle is widely considered, by Timeform, the Racing Post and others, the best ever run and set a benchmark for decades to come.

Less than three weeks after the Champion Hurdle, on Grand National Day, 1977, Night Nurse put up a career-best performance, in terms of ratings, forcing a dead-heat with Monksfield, who was receiving 6lb, in the Templegate Hurdle at Aintree.

Switched to steeplechasing, Night Nurse enjoyed an extremely successful novice season in 1978/79 and was quietly fancied to become the first horse in history to complete the Champion Hurdle - Cheltenham Gold Cup double. However, he blundered away his chance at Cheltenham, eventually finishing tailed off behind stable companion Alverton. He missed most of the 1979/80 season through injury but, on his return, produced some magnificent displays of fast, accurate jumping that was the hallmark of his career. He finished second, beaten 1½ lengths, behind stable companion Little Owl in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1981 and was pulled up, despite starting favourite, in the same race in 1982.

Night Nurse was retired from racing, as a 12-year-old, on New Year’s Day, 1983, having won 32 of his 64 races over hurdles and fences and earned over £132,000 in prize money. When he died in 1998, at the age of 27, Peter Easterby summed him up, saying, “What made Night Nurse so special was he was a natural jumper, brilliant from the first time we ever schooled him. He was a very, very brave horse, hard and brave.”


Monday, 19 March 2018

Frankel

Frankel
Frankel was definitely the best horse in living memory and, arguably, the best horse in the 300-year history of thoroughbred racing. He won all 14 of his races, including 10 at the highest level, was named Cartier Two-Year-Old Colt and Cartier Horse of the Year (twice) and was the highest rated horse since the introduction of World Thoroughbred Rankings in 1977.

His final victory, a workmanlike 1¾-length win over Cirrus Des Aigles in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot on October 20, 2012, confirmed his place in racing history alongside legendary undefeated champions, such as Eclipse, Ormonde and Ribot. At the end of his racing career, he had earned £2,998,302 in win prize money.

Frankel was bred by Juddmonte Farms, owned by Saudi billionaire Prince Khalid Abdullah, and trained throughout his career by the late Sir Henry Cecil at Warren Place Stables in Newmarket, Suffolk. He was named after the late Bobby Frankel, a celebrated American trainer who saddled many winners for Prince Khalid. Sir Henry, who died from stomach cancer in June, 2013, freely admitted that his relationship with Frankel was key to coping with the ravages of chemotherapy in the last months of his life.

Frankel started favourite for all 14 races and odds against just once, on his debut in a European Breeders’ Fund Maiden Stakes at Newmarket in July, 2010. Indeed, that race was the closest he ever came to being beaten, but he had more in hand of Nathaniel than his half-a-length winning margin might imply. In fact, apart from one occasion, in the St. James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2011, he never gave his supporters the slightest cause for concern, although he was racing at prohibitive odds for most of his career.

Since his retirement Frankel has become won of the most exciting young sires in the world, producing more Pattern and Listed winners than his own sire, Galileo, Dubawi and Sea The Stars at the equivalent stage of their careers.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Nijinsky



Nijinsky
Nijinsky, named after Russian-born ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, was a bay colt by Northern Dancer, instantly recognisable by his three white feet and almost perfectly heart-shaped white marking between his eyes. He has the distinction of being the only horse since Bahram in 1935 to win the 2,000 Guineas, the Derby and the St. Leger, collectively known as the “English Triple Crown”.

Owned by Charles Engelhard – who was a friend of Ian Fleming and, apparently, the inspiration for Bond villain Auric Goldfinger – and trained by Vincent O’Brien at Ballydoyle, Co. Tipperary, Nijinsky achieved a Timeform rating of 138 as a three-year-old, leaving him officially 2lb inferior to the so-called “greats” of the Timeform era. Nevertheless, having won major races between 6 furlongs and 1 mile 6 furlongs, Nijinsky was, unquestionably one of the most versatile racehorses of the twentieth century.

Nijinsky was unbeaten in five races as a juvenile, his most important victory coming in the Dewhurst Stakes, over 7 furlongs, at Newmarket. He started his three-year-old campaign by winning the Gladness Stakes, again over 7 furlongs, at the Curragh in April, 1970, before heading back to Newmarket for the 2,000 Guineas. Ridden by Lester Piggott, he started 4/7 favourite and, after travelling well throughout, only had to be pushed out to beat Yellow God by 2½ lengths.

Piggott had to work a little harder in the Derby at Epsom, but the 11/8 favourite was well on top at the finish, beating the the French pair, Gyr and Stintino, by 2½ lengths and 3 lengths. Charles Engelhard described the victory as “the best thing I ever saw”. The Irish Sweeps Derby looked a formality and so it proved, with Irish stable jockey Liam Ward, reinstated over Lester Piggott, oozing confidence as he steered the 4/11 favourite to a comfortable 3-length win over Meadowville, ridden by Piggott.

Piggott was back aboard when Nijinksy “trotted up” in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot and, after a forced absence due to ringworm, again when he recorded his eleventh successive victory in the St. Leger. Nijinsky lost his unbeaten record when controversially beaten a head by Sassafras in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp and was beaten again, at odds of 4/11, in the Champion Stakes at Newmarket two weeks later.



Monday, 5 March 2018

Sir Henry Cecil

Sir Henry Cecil
Henry Cecil is one of the greatest British flat racing horse trainers in history. 

A 10-time Champion Trainer, he trained 25 Classic winners including four in The Derby, eight in The Oaks, six in the 1,000 Guineas, three in the 2,000 Guineas and four winners at St. Leger Stakes.

He was especially known for his success at The Oaks and 1,000 Guineas and as the master trainer at Royal Ascot, where he had 75 winners. 

Born in Scotland in 1943, Cecil began his career assisting at his stepfather, British flat racing Champion Trainer, Captain Cecil Boyd-Rochfort’s stable Freemason Lodge. In 1969 he obtained his training license and won his first English Classic, the 2,000 Guineas in 1975. A year later he took over the running of Warren Place in Newmarket, which quickly became known as the “most glamorous yard in Europe.” 

Noted for his flair in clothing, Cecil’s extraordinary career was marred by huge swings in fortune both and off the track. After a brief dip in success from 2000 to 2006, his career rebound with the training of Frankel. 

Described by Cecil as “the best horse I’ve ever seen,” Frankel was unbeaten in his fourteen-race career and was the highest-rated racehorse in the world from May 2011. His six Length victory in the 2,000 Guineas was called "one of the greatest displays on a British racecourse".

Knighted for services to horse racing in the queen’s 2011 Birthday Honors, Cecil died of stomach cancer age 70 in 2013 after a six-year battle.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Kauto Star

Kauto Star
According to Timeform, Kauto Star was the fourth best steeplechaser since World War II, rated inferior only to Arkle, Flyingbolt and Sprinter Sacre. Owned by Clive Smith and trained by Paul Nicholls, Kauto Star won 23 of his 41 races, including the Cheltenham Gold Cup twice and the King George VI Chase at Kempton an unprecedented five times.

Bred in France, Kauto Star easily won a novices’ chase at Newbury on his debut for Paul Nicholls in December, 2004, but was subsequently beaten at odds of 2/11 – only by a short head after being remounted – at Exeter the following month and didn’t race again that season. He ran only twice in 2005/06, winning the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown, but falling at the third when favourite for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

The following season, 2006/07, Kauto Star was unbeaten, winning the Betfair Chase at Haydock, the Tingle Creek at Sandown, the King George VI Chase at Kempton and the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The rest, as they say, is history. At the end of his career, Kauto Star had never finished out of the first three in all 35 of his completed starts and become the first horse in the history of National Hunt racing to earn over £2 million in win and place prize money. Upon his retirement in October, 2012, Ruby Walsh, who rode him to 17 of his 23 victories said of him, “He’s the horse of my lifetime. I'm very lucky to be the one who got to ride him.”

Following his retirement from racing, Clive Smith transferred Kauto Star from Paul Nicholls to eventing rider Laura Collett without informing, and against the wishes of, his former trainer. Nicholls said, “…what upset me and my team here is when Clive announced that he had spoken to experts about the horse’s future, but failed to consult and listen properly to the team that had looked after him here for the past nine years.”



Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Paul Nicholls

Paul Nicholls
Former Jockey and National Hunt horse trainer, Paul Nicholls is regarded as the leading trainer of his generation. During his career he’s racked up 2000 wins including the 2012 Grand National with Neptune Collonges, four Cheltenham Gold Cups and was named the British jump racing Champion Trainer ten times between 2005 and 2016. In the 2007 – 08 season he had 155 winners alone.

Born in Gloucestershire, Nicholls left school age 16 to work at the nearby point-to-point yard. He started his career as a stable jockey for David Barrons in 1986. 

As a rider, Nicholls and Barrons experienced huge success including back-to-back wins at the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in 1986 and 1987. During his seven-year career Nicholls had 133 wins including in the Welsh Grand National. He retired in 1989, after being kicked by a horse during pre-season training and breaking his leg. 

Nicholls took out his trainer’s license in 1991, serving a two-year apprenticeship as assistant to Barons, before starting his own training stable at Manor Farm in Ditcheat, Somerset. 

He enjoyed a fruitful partnership with jockey Ruby Walsh. Together achieving five wins in the King George VI Chase with Kauto Star, The Queen Mother Championship Chase with Azertyuiop in 2004 and the 2007 and 2009 Cheltenham Gold Cup again with Kauto Star. 

One of Nicholls’ career highlights came in the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup where he had a 1-2-3 with Denman, Kauto Star and Neptune Collonges. 

In November 2011 he reached 2000 winners, the fastest National Hunt trainer to do so.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Odds Conversion

Odds Conversion Table


Let's start as we mean to go on. For many converting decimal to fractional odds and vice versa is something of an annoyance. This useful chart should certainly help out in that department. I've also included the probability of the odds listed!

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Reference Point

Reference Point
Reference Point was a son of Mill Reef, who carried the distinctive racing colours of the late Louis Freedman and was trained by the late Sir Henry Cecil, although back in his heyday, long before his knighthood, when he was just plain “Henry”. Reference Point first rose to prominence when winning the William Hill Furity, now the Racing Post Trophy, at Doncaster in 1986. He started 4/1 third favourite behind stable companion Suhailie, ridden by Steve Cauthen, on that occasion but, having set a strong pace under Pat Eddery, drew away in the closing stages to win by 5 lengths.

Recurring sinus problems, which required an operation, precluded running in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, but Reference Point reappeared in the Dante Stakes, over 1 mile 2½ furlongs at York, in May, 1987. Ridden this time by Steve Cauthen, Reference Point once again set strong fractions and stayed on strongly to win by a length. Following the race, commentator Graham Goode said, prophetically, “This, for me, was a Derby winning performance.”

At Epsom the following month, Reference Point was backed into 6/4 favourite for the Derby and once again, made just about every yard of the running, eventually holding Most Welcome by 1½ lengths, with Belloto a further short head away in third. Cauthen said afterwards, “He’s a big strong horse…he’s going to be better as the year goes on and on more galloping tracks he’s going to be more of a force to be reckoned with.”

Reference Point dropped back to a mile and a quarter for the Coral-Eclipse Stakes, for which he started even money favourite but, having adopted his customary front running role, failed by threequarters of a length to withstand the challenge of Mtoto. He resumed winning ways in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes, thrashing Celestial Storm and Triptych by 3 lengths and a neck, much to the delight of your correspondent, who was at Ascot that day, and completed his domestic season by winning the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York and the St. Leger at Doncaster.

Reference Point made his final appearance in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp, finding uncharacteristically little under pressure and finishing down the field; he was subsequently found to be suffering from an abscess on his foot.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Joe Mercer


Joe Mercer
Awarded an OBE for his contribution in the sporting world, ‘Smokin’’ Joe Mercer is a retired and well decorated flat racing champion racehorse jockey, having ridden over 2,800 winners in a career spanning more than 20 years. They include winners in the Epsom Oaks, the Irish Derby, the Prix de Diane and the Irish St Leger amongst others.

His career began in the early fifties, when he gained an apprenticeship with Frederick Sneyd, a move that let to his first British Classic, the 1953 Epsom Oaks on Ambiguity. It was eventful 2 years for the young jockey, as he became British flat racing apprentice champion in both 1952 and 1953. Over the next few years, he worked for a number of big names in the sport that included Peter Walwyn, Jack Colling, Dick Hern and Henry Cecil.

It was during his time with Henry Cecil that Joe Mercer one his one and only British flat racing champion jockey title in 1979. The most notable horse he rode during his time as a jockey was Brigadier Gerard who only lost one of his 18 races in a two year period between 70 and 72.

He called time on his jockey career at the end of 1985, going on to work as an jockey’s agent. This was for just 2 years and ended when a lucrative job offer came from Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum as a racing manager. He remained in this role for almost 20 years before retiring from the sport at the beginning of 2006.










Friday, 2 February 2018

John Gosden

John Gosden
Known as the “great communicator” Godsen is one of the most successful trainers of his generation with a reputation for honesty and openness. Boasting both national and international success he’s had nine British Classic wins including at The Derby twice, The Oaks twice, the 1,000 Guineas and four times at the St. Leger Stakes. 

Having trained 3,000 winners worldwide, he’s currently the only trainer to have won three Cartier Awards for Three-year-old Filly, Three-year-old Colt and Horse of the Year in the same year. 

Born near Lewes, East Sussex, Godsen is the son of trainer John ‘Towser’ Godsen. He attended Cambridge University where he studied Economics and worked in land development in Venezuela before turning to horseracing. He began his training career as an assistant to legendary trainers Vincent O’Brien and Sir Noel Murless. After a number of prestigious wins, Godsen moved to California where he worked with trainer Tommy Doyle before obtaining his licence in 1979. 

After a decade of success in the United States he returned to the UK in 1989 to train at Stanley House Stables, Newmarket. There he forged a prosperous partnership with jockey Frankie Dettori, together winning hundreds of races including the St. Leger Stakes in 1996 with Shantou. 

In 1999 he moved to Manton Stables in Wiltshire where he quickly enjoyed success including at the 1,000 Guineas Stakes with Lahan. After huge success at the stable including wins at the Prestige Stakes with Nannina and the Royal Lodges Stakes at Ascot, he confirmed a return to Clarehaven Stables.