Monday, 4 November 2019

Multiple Bets


In the days before the abolition of off-course betting tax in the early years of the twenty-first century, a multiple bet, typically in the form of a double, on two short-priced selections, was a legitimate way for horse racing punters to avoid paying tax on the second selection. Of course, betting tax is long gone, but multiple bets, in the form of doubles, trebles and accumulators, remain a carrot that bookmakers dangle in front of small-stakes betting shop and armchair punters.


The prospect of a large, possibly colossal, return for a small initial outlay is undeniably attractive. Nevertheless, punters should remind themselves that they are betting at multiple odds, in the first place, and be prepared for losing runs consummate with the odds attempted. Winners will often go astray and control over the ebb and flow of any betting bank will be diminished, at least to some extent. Those following horse racing at YesBets and the like, can also take advantage of free bet offers, of 'best odds' recommendations to tip the balance and the odds further in their favour


Of course, a multiple bet must be placed with a single bookmaker, so punters are limited to the prices offered by that bookmaker, rather than having the pick of the market prices, as would be the case with a single bet. Many bookmakers now offer ‘best odds guaranteed’ on most, if not all, horse races in Britain and Ireland, which means that pricing is less of an issue than it once was. Even so, a difference of half a point, or even a quarter of a point, in the price of any selection(s) can make a huge difference to the total return once multiplied throughout a bet.


From the bookmakers’ point-of-view, multiple bets are an excellent money-spinner. Double, treble or even five times the odds for a single winner in popular multiple bets, such as the ‘Lucky 15’, ‘Lucky 31’ and ‘Lucky 63’, has become the norm, as have bonuses of up to 25% on all-correct versions of those and similar bets. By contrast, single win bets are the bookmakers’ biggest loser, which is why you rarely, if ever, hear anything about them in advertisements and press releases.


Sunday, 20 October 2019

Workforce

Workforce
Bred by Juddmonte Farms, owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah and trained by Sir Michael Stoute, Workforce was a bay colt by 2,000 Guineas winner King’s Best, famous for winning the Derby and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 2010. In fact, Workforce won just four of his nine races between 2009 and 2011, but his two successes at the highest level contributed to total career earnings of over £3.2 million and were sufficient for him to be named Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt in 2010.

Having won his maiden at Goodwood in September, 2009, with consummate ease, Workforce was beaten 3 lengths by subsequent Irish Derby winner Cape Blanco in the Dante Stakes at York on his reappearance the following May, although his cause wasn’t helped by the bit slipping through his mouth in the closing stages. In any case, he was sent off 6/1 joint second favourite for the Derby at Epsom three weeks later and, having collared pacemaker At First Sight with over a furlong to run, drew away to win by 7 lengths. In so doing, he broke the track record set by Lammtarra 15 years earlier.

The King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in July was his next target but, despite starting 8/11 favourite against the older horses, he ran the proverbial ‘stinker’, trailing in fifth of six, beaten 16¾ lengths, behind the 4-year-old Harbinger, also trained by Sir Michael Stoute. Sir Michael said afterwards, “I didn’t know which was the better horse. I’ve never pitted them together. It was just a question of which horse had progressed the most since his last run.”

Workforce wasn’t seen again until the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in October where, in a rough race that saw the eventual seventh, Planteur, disqualified for causing interference, he ran on strongly to beat Japanese challenger Nakayama Festa by a head. In so doing, he gave Sir Michael Stoute his first winner of the race. Stoute said, “I'm thrilled to have won it with this horse, especially after he was so brilliant in the Derby and inexplicably disappointing in the King George.”


Monday, 30 September 2019

Altior the One to Beat In King George VI Chase



With the National Hunt season set to get in full swing in October, we take a quick look ahead to the second most prestigious chase on the English hunt racing calendar.
 
 

Prestigious race

 

The King George VI Chase is second only to the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the pecking order of National Hunt chases. The Grade 1 steeplechase is run at Kempton Park over a distance 3 miles (4,828 metres) on Boxing Day each year. Horses aged four-years-old and over qualify for the event which was won by the Paul Nicholls-trained Clan des Obeaux in 2018.

The race was first held in 1937 and has produced famous stars such as four-time winner Desert Orchid and five-time winner Kauto Star. Jockey Ruby Walsh was on board for each of Kauto Star’s wins and remains the most successful rider in the history of the race.
 
 

Prospect of big-name showdown

 
 
Although the race is some months away, preparations are already underway and the stage is being set for a showdown between two of the sport biggest names. The Nicky Henderson-trained Altior has been targeted for the race and will warm up with a run at Ascot in the Christy 1965 Chase in November. There, he will almost certainly go up against Cyrname who could also line up in the King George.
 
 

Early bookmaker’s favourite

 
 
Altior is unbeaten in 19 starts over jumps but has never run more than two and a quarter miles before. If all goes well, he could even take a shot at the Gold Cup next year. His is already favourite for the King George VI Chase in the early horse racing odds with ante-post prices of 5/2 available, while Cyname can be backed at 5/1.
 
 

New kid on the block

 
 
Cyrname is the new kid on the clock who will be hoping to upset the party having already excelled at Ascot this year. The handicapper has rated the newcomer slightly higher but the Christy 1965 Chase should offer some clarity on their respective credentials before the Boxing Day bash.

Altior has barely put a foot wrong in the last four years has already gained superstar status. He regained the Champion Chase at Cheltenham earlier this year to make it four-consecutive years with a festival win.


The Gold Cup question

 

Those two races will be crucial in deciding whether Altior will go on to compete in the Gold Cup or revert back to the Champions Chase. If he can go on the claim the King George and the Blue Riband prize at Cheltenham, he will go down in history as one of the greats. But there is a lot of work to do between now and then.


 

 
 
Whatever happens in November and December, the prospect of seeing these two horses going head to head during the Xmas festival at Kempton has already got National Hunt fans licking their lips in anticipation. The big question is: Can Altior make the step up in distance?

 
 

Monday, 2 September 2019

Ouija Board

Ouija Board
Owned by Lord Derby and trained by Ed Dunlop in Newmarket, Ouija Board has the distinction of being named Cartier Horse Of The Year twice, once in 2004, when she was also named Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly, and again in 2006, when she was also named Cartier Older Horse. Dunlop once said of her, “Having her outweighs everything. She’s changed my career, changed my life, changed [owner] Lord Derby’s life.”

Her three-year-old campaign was, undoubtedly, her best. Having won the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes, over 1 mile 2 furlongs, at Newmarket by 6 lengths on her seasonal debut, she turned the Oaks at Epsom into a procession, surging clear in the closing stages to beat All Too Beautiful and Punctilious by 7 lengths and 3½ lengths. She beat Punctilious again, albeit by just a length after being eased in the closing stages, in the Irish Oaks the following month, but wasn’t seen again until the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe 77 days later.

Initially held up at the rear of the field, she finished strongly down the centre of the track but, at the line, was 1½ lengths adrift of the winner, Bago. She ended the season on a winning note, though, running on strongly to win the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Lone Star Park, Texas.

Ouija Board didn’t reappear until June, 2005, when she was beaten out of sight in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, run at York while Ascot was being redeveloped. Having resumed winning ways in the Group 3 Princess Royal Stakes at Newmarket in September, she finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Arlington Park, Chicago, fifth in the Japan Cup at Tokyo and completed her season with a convincing win in the Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin.

The following season, she proved her York run all wrong by winning the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot and added the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood and another Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, this time at Churchill Downs, Kentucky, to her winning tally later in the campaign. All in all, she won 10 of her 22 races, including seven at the highest level, and earned just over £3.5 million in total prize money.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Enable


enable horse
Owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah and trained by John Gosden – both of whom described her as a “filly of a lifetime” – Enable was named Cartier Horse of the Year in 2017 after a phenomenal three-year-old campaign, in which she won five Group 1 races.

Having won her sole start as a juvenile, Enable was beaten in a condition stakes race over 1 mile 2 furlongs at Newbury on her three-year-old debut, staying on to finish third, beaten 2½ lengths and a head by stable companion Shutter Speed and Raheen House. However, her proximity to the 110-rated Raheen House, who’d finished fourth in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster the previous October, earned her an 18lb rise in the weights.

She proved that the weight rise was justified, though, by winning the Cheshire Oaks by 1¾ lengths, eased down, on her next start at Chester. Winning jockey Frankie Dettori said afterwards, “She’s a very nice filly, who is improving all the time. She is beginning to know what she is doing.”

The daughter of Nathaniel certainly knew what she was doing by the time she arrived at Epsom for the Oaks proper, drawing clear in the closing stages to beat the odds-on favourite, Rhododendron, by 5 lengths, with her old rival Alluringly a further 6 lengths away in third.

She won at the Curragh, with a minimum of fuss, to become a dual Oaks winner and moved on to Ascot for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, in which she faced older horses, including colts, for the first time. Frankie Dettori wasted down to 8st 7lb, his minimum riding weight all year, to take the ride and Enable quickened clear in the closing stages to win by an impressive 4½ lengths.

After another facile victory in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks at York in August, at odds of ¼, Enable made her final start of the season came in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, run at Chantilly during the redevelopment of Longchamp, in October. Sent of 10/11 favourite, she was ridden clear 1½ furlongs from home to beat Cloth Of Stars by 2½ lengths. Her Timeform rating of 134 is only a few pounds behind the best fillies of the last five decades or so and she stays in training as a four-year-old, so she could still be better yet.

Friday, 12 July 2019

Montjeu


Montjeu
Bred by Sir James Goldsmith, owned by Michael Tabor and trained by John Hammond in Chantilly, France, was a bay gelding by Sadler’s Wells, probably best remembered for winning the Derby, the Irish Derby and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe as a 3-year-old and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes as a 4-year-old.

In fact, his victory in the latter contest, in 2000, is widely considered the easiest since Nijinsky and Lester Piggott toyed with the opposition three decades earlier. Certainly, Montjeu started the shortest-priced favourite, at 1/3, since Nashwan, at 2/9, beat Cacoethes by a neck in 1989. Facing just six rivals, all of whom had 11lb or more to find on official figures, Montjeu made progress from the rear of the field with two furlongs to run and cruised home by 1¾ lengths from Fantastic Light with jockey Mick Kinane barely moving in the saddle. Kevin Darley, rider of the fourth home, Beat All, said afterwards, “It looked as if he [Monjeu] had just joined in at the turn.”

Montjeu ran his last race at Churchill Downs, Kentucky, in November, 2000, finishing a never-nearer seventh of 13, beaten 4½ lengths, behind Kalanisi in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. At the end of his racing career, he had won 11 of his 16 races, including six at the highest level and earned over £2.2 million in total prize money. His Timeform rating of 137 was the same as that achieved by Derby winners Grundy, Troy and Peintre Celebre.

He was retired to Coolmore Stud, Co. Tipperary for the start of the 2001 breeding season, initially with a stud fee of £30,000. However, Montjeu proved extraordinarily successful as a stallion, siring Motivator, Authorized, Pour Moi and Camelot, winners of the Derby in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2012 respectively. Consequently, his stud fee rose considerably, to as high as €125,000 in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

When he died in 2012, due to complications arising from acute septicaemia, trainer John Hammond said, “He was a wonderful racehorse and a wonderful stallion. If you wanted to get yourself a Derby horse, he was your man. If he had been human, he would have been an eccentric genius.”


Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Galileo


Galileo
Nowadays, Galileo, by Sadler’s Wells out of Urban Sea, is best known as a champion sire. Indeed, in 2017, he was named leading sire in Great Britain and Ireland for the ninth time in ten years, with 12 Group 1 winners, including Classic winners Churchill and Winter, and just under £12 million in prize money. Since 2012, he has stood exclusively at Coolmore Stud, Co. Tipperary, for a “private” fee, which is reputed to be in excess of €400,000.

In a racing career lasting exactly a year and a day, Galileo won six of his eight races, including the Derby, the Irish Derby and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes in 2001, and earned over £1.6 million in prize money. He raced just once as a juvenile, winning his maiden, over a mile, at Leopardstown, by 14 lengths from subsequent winner Taraza. He reappeared in the Listed Ballysax Stakes, over 1 mile 2 furlongs, at the Co. Dublin course the following April when, at odds of 1/3, he made short work of stable companion – and future St. Leger winner – Milan, winning easily by 3½ lengths. He stepped up in class for the Group 3 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial over the same course and distance less than a month later but, although he had to work a little harder for victory, he stayed on strongly to beat Exaltation by 1½ lengths.

As an unbeaten colt with a top pedigree, owned by Mrs John Magnier and Michael Tabor and trained by Aidan O’Brien, it was really no surprise that Galileo started joint favourite, at 11/4, for the Derby at Epsom. His main market rival, Golan, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, was also unbeaten and already a Classic winner, having beaten Tamburlaine in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket the previous month. Nevertheless, it was Galileo who prevailed, leading inside the final quarter of a mile and drawing clear for an impressive 3½-length win over Golan, with Tobougg a never-nearer third, beaten a further neck. Galileo earned a Timeform rating of 132, making him one of the best Derby winners since the turn of the century, alongside Authorized and Workforce.






Monday, 13 May 2019

Who are the Leading Contenders for the 2019 Epsom Oaks?


"Epsom Downs is home to The Oaks" by Framax97 (CC BY-SA 4.0)


The Oaks at Epsom Downs Racecourse is the second fillies' only Classic of the British Flat horse racing calendar.

Two trainers in particular, Aidan O'Brien and John Gosden, have dominated the 1m 4f test for three-year-olds on this undulating racetrack in recent years - winning six of the last seven renewals between them.

Ahead of this year's running of the Epsom Oaks on Friday, May 31, who are the leading contenders for Classic glory at the Surrey venue?

Pink Dogwood


If the betting on The Oaks is anything to go by, then favorite Pink Dogwood is the main O'Brien hope from his Ballydoyle stables. This filly is out of Epsom Derby winner Camelot and her sire won three Classics in all back in 2012, with 2000 Guineas success at Newmarket and later the Irish Derby at The Curragh.

Pink Dogwood's damsire, meanwhile, was the prolific stallion Shamardal who landed the French Derby. As thoroughbred pedigrees go, she has the ideal breeding to get the trip.




What has Pink Dogwood done on the track, though? She got a mile as a juvenile and was unlucky to finish fifth in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac during Arc weekend at Longchamp in Paris last October.

Although swamped and short of room that day so she was unable to mount a challenge, Pink Dogwood has come out and won a Listed event at Navan on her return to action over 1m 2f under a hands and heels ride in ready fashion. There is clearly more to come from her and she looks sure to feature among many experts' Epsom Oaks betting tips as a result.

Mehdaayih


The leading British contender, meanwhile, looks to be Mehdaayih. Trained by Gosden, this daughter of the mighty Frankel could attempt this trip which is something her sire never tried in his glittering career, but she'll have to be supplemented by her owner.

Any worries about her lasting this distance can be quickly belayed by the fact that Frankel was out of Epsom and Irish Derby winner Galileo. Again, such a pedigree strongly suggests Mehdaayih will have the stamina to last a mile-and-a-half.




After winning her final start as a juvenile, she bolted up by 14 lengths on reappearance on an artificial surface before returning to turf with a visually impressive 4 1/2 lengths victory in the Cheshire Oaks.

That is a key trial for the Epsom equivalent because that race distance is just over 1m 3f, and the emphatic nature of both her wins this season means Mehdaayih commands the utmost respect.

Hermosa


Only the late, great Sir Henry Cecil has trained more winners of The Oaks in modern times than O'Brien, and another of his leading Irish raiders is the 1000 Guineas heroine Hermosa.

She was given a bold, enterprising ride on the front end by Wayne Lordan at Newmarket when landing that Classic on the Rowley Mile. Such is the curious world of equine thoroughbreds that Hermosa is Mehdaayih's aunt as she's by Galileo out of a Pivotal mare.



Unlike some of the other Epsom Oaks contenders, she had plenty of racing as a two-year-old but is clearly bred to come into her own this year. O'Brien is already talking up an English Classic double following her length victory over Lady Kaya.

There were no excuses for those in-behind Hermosa, but the difference between the Guineas and Oaks is four furlongs - half a mile. That greater stamina test will suit some that could take her on again at Epsom better.

Maqsad


Like Mehdaayih, the William Haggas trained Maqsad is related to Hermosa through Galileo who is her damsire. This filly is unbeaten in two starts as a three-year-old and has already stepped up to 1m 2f when taking the Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket by a decisive five lengths.

She does have juvenile form from Yarmouth to turnaround with her cousin, however, and both have clearly trained on. Maqsad had her Newmarket rivals well strung out behind her, but the same can be said of Mehdaayih. It makes choosing between them tough.



As Maqsad is available ante-post at bigger odds, she represents solid each-way value and The Oaks must come into consideration for her connections now. She does have lots of options in both France and the UK.

Wherever Maqsad lines up next, and that could include the French Oaks or the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot, her progression this season certainly suggests she is a group calibre filly in the making.

Friday, 10 May 2019

Enable Bidding for a History Arc Treble in 2019

Enable is looking to achieve what no horse in the history of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe has been able to do when she lines up at Longchamp in Paris in October: three victories in the most prestigious flat race in Europe.

Eight horses have been able to land the Arc twice, with Treve and Enable being the most recent ones. Treve attempted the hat-trick in 2015 but she had to settle for fourth place on that occasion in the race that was won by Golden Horn.



Enable, who is a daughter of Nathaniel, dominated her three-year-old campaign on the track, winning the Oaks, Irish Oaks, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Yorkshire Oaks before her opening success in the Arc.

Unfortunately for those connected to the horse and for racing fans, we did not see much of her in 2018 as an injury ruled her out for the opening three-quarters of the season. She made a return to the track at Kempton on the all-weather surface in the September Stakes where she scored by just over three lengths.

Enable Holds Sea of Class to Defend Arc Crown


In the 2018 Arc, Franke Dettori opted to make his drive for the winning line at the two-furlong pole and he was chased home by Sea of Class, who finished just a short-head behind her rival in what proved to be a thrilling finish to the 1m4f contest.




Enable could meet Sea of Class once again in the same race in October where the defending champion is 11/4 in the horse racing betting to make history by completing her hat-trick at Longchamp.

The reigning Arc winner did not stop at Longchamp for the season in 2018. A month later, she went across to the United States where she became the first horse to score in the Arc and a Breeders’ Cup race in the same year. Enable lined up in the Breeders’ Cup Turf and along with Magical, the pair went clear of the opposition from North America to fight it out between them at the finish. Dettori was just able to get to a little more from his horse to prevail by just under a length.

Enable Set to Run at Epsom in Coronation Cup


John Gosden’s mare is set to make her seasonal reappearance in the Coronation Cup at Epsom on May 31. If successful, it will be her eighth Group One success and will bring her unbeaten record up to 10 races.

The Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot is also likely to be on Enable’s radar this season but Gosden is unlikely to over-run his mare in what could be a lightly campaigned year to ensure she is fresh for her main target at the end of the year.

Challengers to Enable in the Arc this year are likely to come from Too Darn Hot, who is tipped to be the leading three-year-old in the UK this season, while 2018 Derby winner Masar could be a strong challenger on his return from injury.

The 2019 Arc takes place on October 6 in what will be the 98th running of the turf race this year.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Harry Angel


Harry Angel
Bred by Paul and Marie McCartan under the banner of CBS Bloodstock, owned, since June, 2017, by Godolphin and trained by Clive Cox in Lambourn, Berkshire, Harry Angel was Cartier Champion Sprinter in 2017. In fact, he was the fourth highest-rated horse in Europe, behind only Battaash, Cracksman and Enable.

A February foal, Harry Angel began his racing career with defeat, by the minimum margin, in a novice stakes race, over 5 furlongs, at Ascot in May, 2016. He raced just once more as a juvenile, returning from a 133-day break to win the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes, over 6 furlongs, at Newbury in September in convincing style.

An enthusiastic, free-going sort, he pulled too hard for his own good when second in the Group 3 Pavilion Stakes, over 6 furlongs, at Ascot on his three-year-old debut. However, he returned to winning ways in the Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock, quickening clear on the firm going to beat Second Thoughts by an impressive 4½ lengths.

Harry Angel was bought, privately, from original owner Peter Ridgers by Godolphin shortly afterwards and made his first appearance in Group 1 company in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot in June. Sent off 11/4 second favourite, he led until the final half a furlong, but was unable to withstand the hitherto unbeaten Caravaggio, who ran on strongly in the closing stages to win by three-quarters of a length.

The pair met again in the Group 1 Darley July Cup at Newmarket three weeks later but, ridden with a little more restraint, Harry Angel led approaching the furlong marker and, although the likes of Limato, Brando and Caravaggio set off in vain pursuit, he crossed the line 1¼ lengths in front. Winning jockey Adam Kirby said afterwards, “He’s gone from boy to man with every race and I can’t express how good he is.”

After eight weeks off, he was even more impressive in the 32Red Sprint Stakes at Haydock, making all on heavy going to beat Tasleet by 4 lengths. On his final start, in the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot, he again pulled hard and, having made progress to lead inside the final quarter of a mile, faded to finish fourth, beaten 2¼ lengths, behind Librisa Breeze.




Thursday, 7 March 2019

Tiger Roll Looking to Create Cheltenham and Aintree History



"Cheltenham Racecourse" by Carine06 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

There are few horses in training that are more popular than the nine-year-old Tiger Roll, and he is looking to create history over the coming months. After completing a famous Cheltenham/Aintree double by winning the Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, and following that with a win in the Grand National at Aintree, he is now heading back to try and win both again.

This very likeable horse has a tough task ahead of him if he wants to create history, but preparation for these two races could not have gone any better for him after a smooth success in a Grade Two hurdle at Navan recently. The horse was nowhere near ready that day, and trainer Gordon Elliott estimated that he was 75% fit after the race, with plenty of work still left to do. However, despite that, he cruised to victory in a good race and one that was probably run over a distance too short for him to show he is better than ever before in his quest to complete the double-double.

The latest horse racing odds have Tiger Roll at 12/1 to win the Grand National and at  just evens to win the Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival a month before. He is favourite for them both, and while he does have a tougher task than last year, the way he ran recently at Navan was very impressive.

 

Looking back at his double last year and you could make a case for this wonderful horse making history by winning his third Cheltenham Festival race when landing the Cross Country Chase. Many horses come to life around Cheltenham, and he is certainly one of them, adding the Cross Country Chase to the Triumph Hurdle and National Hunt Chase titles he already has to his name. Winning three times at the festival is enough to make you a hero to many, however, he was not happy with just going to the festival and winning for the third time, he wanted to do more.

Tiger Roll was next out at Aintree, where he contested the Grand National, one of the toughest and most competitive races ran anywhere in the world. He only just held on at the end, but he ran out the winner by a neck, beating another Irish runner in Pleasant Company to land the first prize of £500,000. Red Rum won back to back Grand Nationals and in April, Tiger Roll will be looking to emulate that for his trainer Gordon Elliott.

When we get to Cheltenham, despite the abundance of top quality action taking place on the course, a win for Tiger Roll in the Cross Country Chase would go down as one of the most popular wins of the week. Then, if he manages to go onto the Grand National at Aintree and pull off this unique double-double, he is sure to lift the rood off the Merseyside racecourse, and have people cheering from living rooms all over the UK and Ireland.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Horse Racing: Gordon Elliott's Success in the American Grand National Could See More European Trainers Follow Suit

Gordon Elliott is fast becoming a trainer to keep an eye on. The impressive horseman can boast multiple winners across the UK and Ireland and his success in the 2018 American Grand National at Far Hills will be viewed as yet another feather in his cap. This historic race still attracts a huge audience despite seemingly playing second fiddle to its UK equivalent and Elliott's recent victory in the contest may prove to be the catalyst which inspires other powerful National Hunt operations to send their charges to the US for this year's renewal.


Source: teaattheritz via Twitter

The County Meath-based trainer wasn't the only overseas handler to take part in the 2018 race but it was the Irishman who came out on top, managing to mastermind a famous victory in the iconic steeplechase. Elliott teamed up with Robbie Power once again and the pair celebrated effusively as Jury Duty helped them clinch the $450,000 prize purse in New Jersey on October 20th. Despite his triumph on US soil, the eight-year-old was swiftly returned to Ireland, while stablemate Clarcam is likely to stay in the country according to connections. Although the French-bred star hasn't fared well in his two previous runs at Saratoga and Belmont Park, Elliott insisted that he'd prefer the much-travelled nine-year-old to remain on the east coast and continue his career on the New York circuit. 
 
 
Gordon Elliott's talented duo were joined by the former-Paul Nicholls-trained runner Hinterland, who finished fourth in the contest. New handler Jack Fisher was pleased with the performance but was disappointed that his charge couldn't build upon a decent performance in the Lonesome Glory Handicap Hurdle at Belmont Park back in September. Ben Pauling's Jaleo also made the journey across the Atlantic but could only finish fifth despite making a very strong start to the contest. Charlie Longsdon is another trainer who isn't afraid to explore alternative opportunities for his runners and he was reportedly feeling confident about Hammersly Lake's chances in the contest – but he was only able to finish in a disappointing seventh place. 
 
 
Last year's race attracted the strongest-ever contingent of UK and Irish runners to the track and that is a trend which looks likely to continue going forward. Jury Duty's success in the contest may just help inspire other trainers to try their luck in the event.
 
 
Jumps racing is nowhere near as popular stateside with just 11 of 50 states hosting steeplechasing events on a regular basis. However, with far less-challenging obstacles and competitive prize pots on offer, it is ideal for trainers who wish to give their newcomers a suitable workout. The American Grand National is held in late October which is a time of the year when many UK and Irish trainers are gearing up for a busy National Hunt season at home and it's understandable that many of these astute operators tend to overlook this opportunity. However, it does appear to be the perfect chance to raise their profile whilst potentially getting their hands of a share of the generous prize purse. 
 
 
Elliott was planning his assault on the historic steeplechase for a number of months and after Jury Duty finished third in the Galway Plate, the trainer immediately sought advice from acquaintances in the USA. After hearing about the probability of good ground, it seemed like a no-brainer for the experienced horseman. He also spoke about Jury Duty's need for a sharper track and Far Hills is one of the few courses which appeared to match that brief. 
 
Source: HRI Owners via Twitter

The American Grand National is still reasonably popular amongst sports fans but it is overshadowed by the UK equivalent which takes place in April at Aintree Racecourse. Prior to his Far Hills-success, Elliott had already finished as the top trainer at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival and had also been victorious in the Randox Health Grand National for the second time with diminutive chaser Tiger Roll. Elliott was delighted with his charge, who had also triumphed in the notoriously-tough Cross Country Chase at Prestbury Park just a month earlier and the Gigginstown-owned chaser is likely to return to both tracks in 2019.
 
 
The savvy trainer was also successful in the Irish Grand National on Easter Monday and was delighted to complete a memorable treble. He's in unstoppable form and punters are already backing him to continue where he left off.
 

Despite sharing a name with its US counterpart, the UK race is significantly more taxing. It is contested over the four miles and 514 yards and is an energy-sapping slog through often-muddy conditions. The fences may have been lowered in recent years but they still require a huge amount of skill to negotiate and with forty horses all charging towards the same obstacles, falls and stumbles are part and parcel of this hugely entertaining spectacle. It is not uncommon for fewer than twenty runners to finish the race with many of the participants tending to pull up half-way around the circuit. 
 
 
Experienced National Hunt bettors will often spend hours meticulously studying the form and ante-post wagers on the contest are also incredibly popular. Clues can be obtained throughout the National Hunt season and horses who win impressively in testing contests will often be well-backed for success in the Aintree showdown. Sizing Tennessee could be one to keep an eye on in 2019 and according to Oddschecker, the Colin Tizzard charge is one of the most talked about horses for this year's Grand National following a dominant performance in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury. His eye-catching ten-length success has provoked a flurry of wagers and it's Aintree odds have slowly started to shorten as a result. 
 
 
In the US, ante-post wagers are available with some online bookmakers but the majority of the bets tend to be placed on the day of the race, especially with American Grand National attendees being able to place legal bets for the first time in 2018. Organizers believe that should help boost the profile of the contest and subsequently attract bigger crowds to New Jersey over the next five years. The prize money is still significantly lower than many marquee thoroughbred flat races and despite the contest being moved between tracks over the last twenty years, it is still a big deal for steeplechasing enthusiasts and it is always reasonably well-attended. 


Source: Robbie Power via Twitter

Robbie Power isn't the first overseas jockey to enjoy success in this race with Ruby Walsh also prevailing two years earlier. Rawnaq was victorious for US trainer Cyril Murphy with the Irishman on board back in 2016. Walsh was a late replacement for injured jockey Jack Doyle who wasn't able to retain the ride after picking up an injury at Belmont Park earlier in the season. He guided the talented steeplechaser to an impressive three-quarter length victory and he remained in the country for three further rides at the track. It capped off a superb year for the US trainer who fired in 17 winners from 53 runners and the versatile Rawnaq also become a household name as a result. 
 
 
Increased access to online streaming has allowed sports fans to enjoy US racing from the comfort of their own home and many UK enthusiasts have also become recent converts to the American Steeplechase scene. Gordon Elliott's success in the 2018 renewal of the race made headlines in his homeland and many other trainers are likely to have taken note of the Irishman's triumph. Smaller operations may not have the funds to send their charges across the Atlantic but a considerable amount of the UK's most powerful yards may just opt to send their stable stars down this alternative path in 2019 and as a result, it should help this iconic contest go from strength-to-strength. 

Monday, 11 February 2019

Don't Push It


Don't Push It
Don’t Push It was a bay gelding, owned by John Patrick “J.P.” McManus and trained by Jonjo O’Neill at Jackdaws Castle in Gloucestershire, who won eight of his 28 races under National Hunt Rules and over £750,000 in total prize money. However, the son of top-class jumps sire Old Vic etched his name into the annals of racing history when, on April 10, 2010, he put in a faultless round of jumping to win the Grand National under A.P. McCoy.

Don’t Push It was backed into 10/1 joint favourite, from 20/1, on the day of the race, but McManus – nicknamed the ‘Sundance Kid’ because of his betting exploits – said, “I noticed his odds had come in before the race but I didn’t back him, I was just happy to see him deliver the goods.”

In a race run at an end-to-end gallop, Don’t Push It made headway from mid-division to track the leaders heading out into the country for the second time and, by the time the bold-jumping Black Apalachi took over from the long-time leader Conna Castle at Becher’s Brook on the second circuit, only a handful of horses were left with a realistic chance of winning. Two of them, Big Fella Thanks and Hello Bud, weakened from the second last fence, at which Don’t Push It took second place. He took the lead at the last and stayed on well from the famous “Elbow” to beat Black Apalachi by 5 lengths, with State Of Play, who snatched third place from Big Fella Thanks close home, a further 20 lengths away.

In so doing, he became the first Grand National winner for A.P. McCoy after fifteen attempts. The perennial champion jockey – who retired in April, 2015, with a record 4,358 winners and was knighted in the New Year's Honours in 2016 – said afterwards, “The National is the people’s race and to have won it at last is really special.”

Jonjo O’Neill, who was also winning the race for the first time, later reflected on the occasion, saying, “I think we’ll always remember the magical day he won the Grand National as it was one of the greatest afternoons in the life of myself, J.P. and A.P. as we had all been trying to win the race for so many years.”

Friday, 1 February 2019

Jamie Spencer

Jamie Spencer
Jamie Spencer is an experienced flat racing jockey, who is still currently plying his trade on the UK flat racing circuit. Born in the Spring of 1980 in Tipperary, he was to date won 4 major classic races with two in his home country of Ireland and two in the UK. Spencer has something of trademark for riding his horses sensibly until the critical moment and then kicking for home, using the sprint to great effect.

Racing has long since been in Jamie Spencer’s blood, as his father was a successful National Hunt trainer by the name of George Spencer, who most notably trained the 1963 Champion Hurdle winner, Winning Fair. Despite the family connection to the sport, the young Jamie Spencer was not involved until late in his childhood years.

When he did start however, he made up for lost time quickly, claiming the first of his classic triumphs on Tarascon in the Irish 1,000 Guineas in 1997. When he did so, he made history, as the youngest jockey ever to win a classic race, before going on to become Ireland’s champion apprentice the next year, riding to 46 victories.

Aidan O’Brien

Spencer’s talents hadn’t gone unnoticed and it led to a short stint as stable jockey at Ballydoyle for Aidan O’Brien. Despite only being in that role for a short time, he managed to become Irish flat racing Champion Jockey for 2004, riding 93 winners.

The success continued for Jamie Spencer after parting ways with O’Brien, as he moved to Britain shortly after to become flat racing Champion Jockey on the British circuit in 2005, riding a not too inconsiderable amount of 180 winners.

Repeat Success

Spencer’s next achievement of note was reclaiming the Britain Champion Jockey mantle in 2007, sharing the honours with Seb Sanders. It was a thrilling season, with Spencer only drawing level with Sanders on 190 winners in the very last race of the season.

Jamie Spencer went on to ride again for Aiden O’Brien, this time as a joint shareholder in Fame and Glory and Cape Blanco. It was to prove a successful reunion, as he rode Fame And Glory to the 2011 Ascot Gold Cup.

Retirement

Jamie seemingly called time on his racing career in 2014, when he cited ‘family reasons’ for walking away to take up a consultancy role with Qatar Racing, but the pull of the saddle would prove too much and he returned to racing soon after. By 2017, he’d managed to clock up 2,000 winners, becoming one of only 4 active jockeys ever to do so and with Spencer still only 38 years of age, there’s still time for him to add to his already impressive tally.

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Why the National Hunt Chase is Best Trial for Future Stayers

 

 
 
Horses that have won or placed in each of the last three runnings of the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival went on to victory in one of the three most valuable jumps races in the UK in 2018.

Native River, runner-up to Minella Rocco in the 4m marathon in 2016, outstayed all-comers from the front to land the Cheltenham Gold Cup last season. The Colin Tizzard trained stable star also plundered the Hennessy Gold Cup and Welsh Grand National at Chepstow before reaching his peak.

Tiger Roll, meanwhile, triumphed in the National Hunt Chase of 2017 for Gordon Elliott and owners Gigginstown House Stud. That horse was no stranger to Cheltenham Festival success, however, as he landed the Triumph Hurdle over 2m as a juvenile.

One year on from his 4m success, Tiger Roll notched a Festival hat-trick with victory in the Cross Country Chase over three-and-three-quarter miles. From there, he continued to prove he comes alive in the spring by landing the 2018 Grand National at Aintree by a head from fellow Irish raider Pleasant Company.

Sizing Tennessee - another Tizzard inmate - plugged on in-behind 2018 National Hunt Chase winner Rathvinden and gutsy mare Ms Parfois, who finished runner-up, to take third. He went on to spring a shock at Newbury in the Ladbrokes Trophy (which is now what the Hennessy is called).

When looking for staying chasers of the future, the eye of many punters is drawn naturally to the RSA Chase - also held at the Cheltenham Festival, but ran over 3m. Like the National Hunt, it is a novices over fences only event and has of course thrown up classy types aplenty, but it's no surprise to see horses with even greater proven stamina go on to land the big events over jumps.




The ability to stay is a prerequisite for both the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National, so which horses could follow in the hoofprints of the illustrious Native River and Tiger Roll? Ante post Cheltenham odds for the 2019 National Hunt chase with Paddy Power are headed by the Nicky Henderson trained, JP McManus owned Ok Corral at 3/1.

Sired by Mahler - which makes him a half-brother to Ms Parfois - out of a Flemensfirth mare, the nine-year-old has a stamina-laden pedigree which on paper at least suggests he's perfect for this test of endurance. Ok Corral is also two out of two over fences and represents powerful connections who will receive a bonus if winning at the Cheltenham Festival following his debut chase victory.

As the rules state you stay a novice if you don't win during the previous season and qualify as such for the following campaign, last year's National Hunt Chase fourth Impulsive Star, who chased Ok Corral home at Plumpton, can run in it again.

The Neil Mulholland trained nine-year-old has since landed the competitive Grade 3 Classic Handicap Chase at Warwick over 3m 5f to prove his stamina and that he is capable of winning. At 12/1 with Paddy Power, Impulsive Star looks a solid each-way bet to go better on his second try at 4m given the improvement made this season.

He is also the likely mount of top British amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen as father Robert owns the horse. Irish counterpart Derek O'Connor rode Ok Corral on the same Warwick card, meanwhile, to a Listed victory, so the plan appears clear for both to line-up again in the National Hunt Chase.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Saeed bin Suroor

Saeed bin Suroor
Born and raised in Dubai, Saeed bin Suroor is a four-time British Champion trainer and longest-serving trainer at the world-famous Godolphin Stables in Newmarket. 
 
With over 2,000 international victories and more than 180 Group One winners, including three Prix de l'Arc de Triomphes and four King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Diamon Stakes, bin Suroor is one of the most successful and fearsome trainers of his generation. 
 
His impressive career includes 12 British Classic victories including at the 1,000 Guineas, the 2,000 Guineas, the Epsom Oaks, the Epsom Derby the St, Leger Stakes and won the Ascot Gold Cup five times. He’s just as successful in his native Dubai with a record-breaking eight wins in the Dubai World Cup, most recently with Thunder Snow in March 2018 and has been awarded the Leading Trainers’ title at the Dubai World Cup eight times, including last year.

Internationally he’s saddled winners in Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Australia, Italy and Ireland. 
 
Bin Suroor’s life might have turned out very differently if he had stuck with his first career as a policeman. He decided to stop in 1990 when he met Sheikh Mohammed, who after noting his talents, approached him to train his 30 racehorses running in the UK. He took out his training licence in 1993 and a year later was appointed trainer at Godolphin in Newmarket. Godolphin is one of the most famous and largest flat racing operations in the UK.

He currently splits his year between six-months in the UK and six-months in Dubai.