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?


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.


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

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

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.


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.