Tuesday, 1 September 2020

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.

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Native River


Native River
Owned by Garth and Anne Broom, under the banner of Brocade Racing, and trained by Colin Tizzard in Milborne Port, Dorset is a bay gelding, by Indian River out of a Be My Native, best known for winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2018. Having finished third, beaten 2¾ lengths and a short head by Sizing Europe and Minella Rocco, in the Cheltenham showpiece in 2017, Native River was involved in an epic duel with Might Bite in 2018, eventually outstaying his main market rival in the last half-a-furlong or so to win by 4½ lengths, with 33/1 outsider Anable Fly a further 4 lengths away in third. In so doing, Native River gave trainer Colin Tizzard his first winner in the race.

Immediately after the race, Tizzard said, “It was unreal, wasn’t it? To win the Cheltenham Gold Cup means everything to everyone’s life. Let's not pretend it’s not,” adding, “We’ve had a wonderful preparation and you think something could go wrong in the race, but it didn’t.”

Unlike in 2017, when the Cheltenham Gold Cup was something of an afterthought after victories in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury, the Coral Welsh National at Chepstow and Betfair Denman Chase, also at Newbury, Native River was trained with the “Blue Riband” event as his only major target of the season in 2018. En route, he did win the Betfair Denman Chase for second year running, jumping well for a ready 12-length win over Cloudy Dreams.

In winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Native River achieved a Timeform rating of 172, still 10lb inferior to that achieved by his stable companion Cue Card in his heyday, but he is still only eight years old and remains relatively lightly raced, so it remains to be seen where he ends up in the hierarchy of staying chasers since World War II. Currently 8/1 third favourite, behind Presenting Percy and Might Bite, for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2019, Native River has stamina in abundance, but isn’t, necessarily an out-and-out mudlark so, barring accidents, looks one to keep on the right side wherever he goes.

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Frankie Dettori

Frankie Dettori
Lanfranco Dettori was born in Milan, Italy on the 15th December 1970 and has a dazzling record in the sport of flat horse racing, winning pretty much everything there is to win. Thanks to his stellar record of wins, Dettori has become something of a TV personality and will be most remembered by the wider racing public as the jockey that managed to achieved 7 winners in the same Champions day at Ascot in 1996. The combined odds of the seven winners worked out at 25,051-1, earning one lucky punter £500,000 on the day.

Career Success

Dettori has won so many major races on the flat it would take too long to list them all here, but since the age of 12, the jockey has had ‘the bug’, something he shares with his son Rocco, who himself is just 13 years of age.

He began his career in the Britain in 1985 under the stewardship of Luca Cumani, who took on the young Frankie as a stable jockey. His first senior win in Britain was in 1987 and he has since gone on to achieve more than 3,000 wins in an amazing career.

Near Miss

Dettori had a lucky escape in 2000 when the light aircraft he was travelling in crashed near Newmarket. A crash that the authorities admitted he was lucky to walk away from. Despite this, the wins kept coming and by 2007, the only British Classic win not in the jockey’s back pocket was the Epsom Derby. Frankie redressed the balance however, romping home later that year on Authorized to claim the prize that had eluded him for so long.

Controversy

After admitting to substance abuse to keep down his weight on BBC’s Newsnight in 2010 and then failing a drugs test in 2012 after having been found to have used cocaine, there followed an acrimonious parting of the ways with the Godolphin stable. After serving a 6 month ban and a brief period as a freelancer, he joined the Stable of Sheikh Joaan Al Thani for whom he continues to regularly ride winners.

When Frankie Dettori does eventually hang up his whip and jockey’s uniform, the sport will be poorer for it and his trademark jumping dismount will be sadly missed.

Friday, 19 June 2020

Richard Johnson

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

Great Start

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

Cheltenham Festival

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

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

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

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Camelot


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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Mick Channon

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

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Katchit

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Brief History of the Grand National


The Grand National was the brainchild of William Lynn, proprietor of the Waterloo Hotel in Liverpool, although Lynn took his inspiration from the existing, and highly successful, Great St. Albans Steeplechase. The inaugural running of the Liverpool Grand Steeplechase took place in 1836, but the first ‘official’ running of the Grand National is recognised as having taken place three years later, in 1839.

Indeed, for the first three years of its existence, the Grand National was a conditions race, in which all the runners carried twelve stone, and did not become a handicap until 1843.

With the exception of the years 1941-1945, when the race was cancelled because of World War II, a Grand National of some sort has been staged every year since. However, during the years 1916-1918, during World War I, the race was transferred to Gatwick Racecourse, where it was run first as the as the ‘Racecourse Association Steeplechase’ and subsequently as the ‘War National’.


In 1993, disaster struck when the majority of the jockeys failed to realise a false start had been called and seven horses completed the course, leading to the race being declared void and going down in history as the ‘National that never was’. A real out there event that wouldn't have been present in anyone's Grand National predictions. Four years later, in 1997, a coded bomb threat from the Irish Republican Army, led to the evacuation of Aintree Racecourse and the running of the one and only ‘Monday National’ 48 hours later.

In the early days, the point where runners cross the Melling Road, near the Anchor Bridge, really did mark the boundary of the ‘racecourse proper’. Beyond that boundary, horses raced over open countryside, including ploughed fields, and jumped a variety of natural obstacles, including banks, brooks, ditches and hedges. Over time, some of the original obstacles, and also a stone wall and two standard brush hurdles, were modified, or done away with altogether, and incorporated into an enclosed National Course. Of course to this day the National is very much known for it's challenging fences. The Chair and Canal Turn especially are notorious for their level of difficulty. Many gifted horses have come a cropper navigating the National course.

Taking us to the present day. The 2020 Grand National will be the 173rd running of the prestigious event, a fact which takes some getting your head around. TV viewing figures in the UK are expected to be around 8-10 million, and worldwide into the hundreds of millions. There may be updates to the record books should Tiger Roll do what many would have won thought impossible. Namely win a third Grand National in a row. His season has gone as expected so far, and predictably he's been made favourite for the race. Tiger Roll has been level pegging it with the legend of racing that is Red Rum, but will he be able to take this achievement to the next level? If he does, I dare say I'll be six feet under before any horse ever beats THAT record.

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Golden Horn


Golden Horn
Bred and owned by Anthony Oppenheimer and trained by John Gosden in Newmarket, Suffolk, Golden Horn was named Cartier Horse of the Year in 2015 after winning the Derby, the Coral-Eclipse, the Irish Champion Stakes and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. All in all, in a career lasting just over a calendar year, he won seven of his nine races and earned over £4.4 million in total prize money.

A March foal, Golden Horn raced just once as a juvenile, overcoming greenness to win a run-of-the-mill maiden stakes race over an extended mile at Nottingham in October, 2014. However, he improved significantly from two to three, winning the Listed Feilden Stakes, over 1 mile 1 furlong, on his reappearance at Newmarket the following April and readily accounting for stable companion Jack Hobbs in the Betfred Dante Stakes, over 1 mile 2½ furlongs, at York a month later.

Golden Horn was supplemented for the Derby, at a cost of £75,000 to connections, and faced 11 rivals, headed by Jack Hobbs and Giovanni Canaletto, trained by Aidan O’Brien, who’d been narrowly beaten in the Group 3 Gallinule Stakes at the Curragh on his previous outing. He was sent off 13/8 favourite and duly collected, running on well in the closing stages to record a comfortable 3½-length victory over his old rival Jack Hobbs.

Winning jockey Frankie Dettori, who’d first won the Derby eight years earlier on Authorized, said afterwards, “When you’re young, you don’t really appreciate the full importance of this Derby, so it means a great deal to win it for a second time.”

Golden Horn took on the older horses for the first time in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown in July and, although involved in a good battle with The Grey Gatsby throughout the last half a mile, stretched clear in the closing stages to win by 3½ lengths. He faced The Grey Gatsby again in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York the following month and, as he had at Sandown, started 4/9 favourite to extend his unbeaten record to six. Golden Horn beat The Grey Gatsby easily enough but, surprisingly, failed to overcome 50/1 outsider Arabian Queen – a three-year-old filly officially rated 21lb inferior – going down by a neck.

Golden Horn resumed winning ways in the Irish Champion Stakes, won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe under a fine ride by Frankie Dettori and finished his career by finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Keeneland, Kentucky.