Wednesday 28 February 2018

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 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

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

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.