Friday, 16 November 2018

Jason MacGuire Triumphs on Ballabriggs to Win the 2011 Aintree Grand National

Grand National 2011
Just 12 months previously, A P McCoy had ridden Don’t Push It to win the 2010 Grand National and he was installed as joint 2nd favourite on the same horse alongside Silver By Nature ridden by Northern Irishman Peter Buchanan, both backed into 9-1. The most popular money however was on Ruby Walsh on The Midnight Club who was fancied as the 15-2 favourite.

Sunshine graced the start of the 2011 John Smith’s Grand National Grade 3 Handicap and by the 3rd fence, it was Ballabriggs making the running from Hello Bud, who came close in last year’s race. There had only been a few casualties by this point, with outsiders Becauseicouldntsee, Vic Venturi and That’s Rhythm the unfortunate trio.

The leaders fared well over both Becher’s and Foinavon, but that wasn’t the case for everyone as the field reduced further with West End Rocker, The Tother One, Dooney’s Gate and Barry Geraghty on Or Noir de Somoza all falling foul.

Jamie Moore

Santa’s Son had made his way through the melee to reach the front, guided by the brave Jamie Moore who had once been told he wouldn’t walk again after fracturing two vertebrae in a fall in 2004. Puppy Power had also joined the leaders on Killyglen and Hello Bud was tucked in behind.

The entire field had become quite closely bunched with the lead changing hands several times and Santa’s Son was still leading after clearing the Chair. However, this was short lived, as a strong looking Ballabriggs strode into the lead over the water and so it remained, with fence 20 being omitted from the race due to an obstruction.

Becher’s was also omitted just two fences later for the same reason meaning the race had experienced the first and second time it had ever happened.


Ballabriggs almost came a cropper over Valentine’s, but MacGuire somehow managed to hold on and held onto the lead, being pressed by Harry Skelton on Niche Market. How fortunate that was, as it was an advantage Ballabriggs would not relinquish again.

Despite being tested through the elbow by Sam Waley-Cohen on Oscar Time, Jason MacGuire claimed the £535,135 prize money for Trevor Hemmings and the accolades for himself. It had been a hot day in more than one sense and the extreme temperatures meant that Ballabriggs was too dehydrated to take his lap of honour, marking the first time a jockey had ever entered the winner’s enclosure without his champion horse.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Grand National thoughts and ones to watch in 2019

If there's one racing festival or rather a specific festival race that holds both worldwide and national appeal, it's the Aintree Grand National. Taking place each year in the village of Aintree in Liverpool, the Grand National was first run in 1839. That alone gives you a taste of just how steeped in tradition this handicap steeplechase event is. With prize money of over £1 million and TV audiences of around 8.5m viewers in the UK alone (and 600m worldwide) it's no wonder this is 'the one to win' for horse trainers, owners and jockeys alike.

Fun Fact: The Grand National TV audience is bigger than that of the Superbowl (111m in 2017) and UEFA Champions League (118m) combined!

It's no easy task to traverse the National course with 30 tough fences over two laps of the racecourse. This includes notorious fences such as Becher's Brook (described by some jockey's as feeling like 'jumping off the edge of the world') and The Chair (a 5ft 3 inch fence just ahead of a 6 foot open ditch). A combination of its difficulty and history is responsible for the Aintree course becoming something of a legend maker, with the likes of Red Rum achieving a place in racing royalty due to their Grand National successes. For those living under a rock, the Ginger McCain trained Red Rum was a three time Grand National winner in the 70s. Winner of the 2018 Grand National was Tiger Roll ridden by Davey Russell.

The much anticipated 2019 Grand National takes place on Saturday April 6th at 17:15 and already people are considering the odds and runners and who the potential winner may be, out of those horses that may line up on the day. Of course it's an impossible question to answer at this stage, but based on previous form, trainer comments and the like we have early ideas for potential runners and what their prospects may be.

We'll start with an obvious likely runner. Tiger Roll (currently 20-1), winner of the 2018 race is surely likely to attempt to go for back to back wins. Defending the Grand National crown in a rarity especially in the modern age, but 8 year old Tiger Roll is certainly up for the task, having shown his abilities not only in the National but also at Cheltenham and more besides.

Pleasant Company (25-1) was 2nd in the 2018 Grand National and so again it would also be no surprise to see him attempt to go one better in 2019. He eased around the course in 2018 when many struggled, and came close rallying towards the end, so who can blame trainer Willie Mullins for being optimistic. Mullins also trained Hedgehunter, who finished second back in 2006.

Other potentials for 2019 include Bellshill, Step Back, Total Recall and 2017 Grand National winner One For Arthur!

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Champion Jockey Tony McCoy Steers Don’t Push It to Win The 2010 Grand National

Grand National 2010
The pre race betting had Barry Geraghty and Tony McCoy riding the two 10-1 joint favourites going into the 2010 Aintree Grand National and a smooth start saw an unfortunate moment for St John’s Castle, as the horse ridden by Paul Carberry refused to leave the start area.

28-1 shot, Eric’s Charm fell at the 1st and a tight field was still yet to produce a clear leader running towards the second fence. Grey skies did nothing to temper the atmosphere as the cheering crowd were full of voice, each cheering on their own particular favourite.

100-1 outsider Conna Castle reached Becher’s Brook first with a clear 4 length lead, with Black Apalachi and Hello Bud following ahead of a now stretched field. Conna Castle turned wide at Canal Turn, sporting his easily identifiable white nose band, but he recovered to retain his place at the front, with 35 of the 40 starters still running.

This is how it remained for the next few fences and it was only at the Chair that the pack made some headway towards the leading trio. The pace quickened and it was outsider Conna Castle ridden by Sean Flanagan that drew neck and neck with Denis O’Regan on Black Apalachi some 5 lengths clear at the front, leaving Hello Bud a distant 3rd.

Heading over Becher’s for the second time, Black Apalachi had seized the initiative, stealing a 7 length lead, with Conna Castle fading badly. AP McCoy’s Don’t Push It accelerated to close in on the leaders from a good distance behind and draw alongside.

Heading For Home

Over the Melling Road, it was a four horse race, with Don’t Push It now level with Black Apalachi, Big Fella Thanks and Hello Bud running round the final bend. McCoy’s presence at the front began to draw a enthusiastic roar from the assembled crowd as these four were well clear of the rest.

Irish Joy

The last fence saw McCoy hit the front and Hello Bud drop away, leaving a straight sprint for the line for the remaining trio. Despite a strong challenge from Black Apalachi, McCoy managed to get up in the final furlongs, getting to the line first on Don’t Push. Despite winning multiple champion jockey titles, this was his first Grand National win at the fifteenth attempt and you could see it written across his face.

His joy was obvious, as it was for J P McManus and Jonjo O’Neill. It was another great day at Aintree for the Irish and a day of firsts, not least for the punter’s favourite, Tony McCoy.

Friday, 5 October 2018

Kew Gardens Offers Champions' Weekend Value

Source: racenewsservice via Twitter

Champions’ Weekend is on the horizon as the flat horse racing season comes to a close in the United Kingdom for another year. There have been some outstanding competitors that have delighted spectator and bettors alike with their performances on the track. The penultimate weekend in October is the last opportunity that some of the horses will compete at Ascot and their respective trainers will be desperate to see them sign off on a high note.

One of the competitors that will be striving for success will be Kew Gardens. The bay colt put forward a fine performance to win the St Leger Stakes at Doncaster, placing ahead of Lah Ti Dar among others in a talented field. As a result of his performance, he will be one of the leading contenders for the crown in the Champions Long Distance Cup. However, there is a lot of competition in the event, including Ascot Gold Cup winner Stradivarius.

Due to the quality of horses on display, the weekend can be a difficult proposition for punters in accumulators. Therefore, it could behove a bettor to delve into a punt to safeguard against surprise results such as a trixie. A four-fold accumulator can come in if only three horses are successful and to learn more about those types of bet use the trixie betting guide to solve any questions, but for major events such as Champions’ weekend, Royal Ascot and Cheltenham Festival they can be worth their weight in gold.

Source: RBHorseRacing via Twitter


Kew Gardens’ field for the Long Distance Cup is a good reason why trixie bets can be useful. He has immense talent, although, given the quality in the race, the bay colt is still a slight outsider. Stradivarius, Flag of Honour and Capri all have shorter odds than Aidan O’Brien’s charge given their pedigree. To boost the value of an accumulator, placing Kew Gardens in with others leading contenders in other races such as Roaring Lion, The Tin Man and Lah Ti Dar proves the value of the trixie. The other three are the leading contenders and could well sweep their way to victory. As an outsider, Kew Gardens boosts the value, but could well produce a stunning performance at Ascot to defeat Stradivarius and the rest of the field. However, the trixie provides the cover for the bettor.

There’s no reason why Kew Gardens could not win the event, having already achieved a victory at Ascot this term in the Queen’s Vase. The Irish horse was not the favourite for the event, but produced a brilliant performance, displaying the endurance and then the pace down the stretch to close out a comfortable victory. Kew Gardens finished four-and-half lengths ahead of his nearest rival – his stable-mate Southern France – to achieve the win. In his last outing at Doncaster in the St Leger Stakes, he pulled off another fine display, winning the event by two-and-a-quarter lengths ahead of Lah Ti Dar. The challenge will be great for the Irish horse to overhaul a number of fine competitors, but he’s certainly one to monitor given the license of the trixie.

Saturday, 22 September 2018

100-1 Outsider Mon Mome Storms to Victory at the 2009 Grand National

Grand National 2009
Having won the Irish Grand National in 2007, it was Butler’s Cabin ridden by Tony McCoy that headed into the 162nd running of John Smith’s Grand National as the 7-1 favourite. A sun drenched Aintree saw a flawless start and the gathered thousands roared their approval as the 40 strong field got under way.

Two fell at the first fence, with Barry Geraghty on Golden Flight and Himalayan Trail having their races cut short before they’d had a chance to get going. Irish Invader led heading to the 2nd fence with Paul Townend in the saddle, but a pack of up to 20 other riders were close enough to take over at any moment. The second fence saw Ollie Magern and Brooklyn Brownie join the list of fallen horses.

Becher’s Brook

The 11-1 shot, Black Apalachi, ridden by Denis O’Regan was the first to clear Becher’s Brook for the first time, closely followed by the Willie Mullins trained Irish Invader and Silver Brook, the winner of this race just two years previously. These three surged ahead at the Canal Turn, with the rest of the field jostling for position.

Crossing the Melling Road and approaching the Chair, the runners began to spread out and Black Apalachi continued to make the running with Butler’s Cabin some 10 lengths back in 12th. Not much changed over the next few fences, but it was all change when both Black Apalachi and Silver Birch fell when well placed over Becher’s.

This left Hear the Echo ridden by Davy Russell at the head of the race with Offshore Account just in behind. Around ten other riders were within 3 to 4 lengths, so it was still anyone’s race going over Valentine’s for the second time. The leading group included a number of challengers, including Mon Mome, the pre race favourite Butler’s Cabin and last year’s winners, Comply or Die.

All to Play For

15 horses were still tightly grouped together 2 fences out, with Ruby Walsh on My Will leading. Comply or Die looked to have stolen a march over the last, but it was Mon Mome ridden by Liam Treadwell in his first ever National that finished the strongest, winning by a clear 12 lengths.

In doing so, Mon Mome had just become the French trained horse to win this race for more than 100 years and the 100-1 shot had left the bookies amongst the happiest people present on the course that day.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Comply or Die Wins it For David Johnson, Claiming the 2008 John Smith’s Aintree Grand National Title

Grand National 2008

For the first time in 3 years, the Aintree Grand National started without a hitch and with No Full in front over the first fence. Unusually, there were no fallers or refusals, meaning the bunched 40 strong field stayed intact. That changed at the second however, when three horses - King John’s Castle, Black Apache and L’ami exiting, with the latter resulting in a visit to hospital for Mick Fitzgerald.

Going over the fourth fence, it was Milan Deux Mille and Mr Pointment heading the now 31 strong field. The early leader, No Full, ridden by Shay Barry, clipped Becher’s jumping it for the first time, which effectively ended his race.

The Water Jump

Shortly after completing half of this prestigious steeplechase, the Tommy Mullins ride, Chelsea Harbour, ridden by fellow Irishman Davy Russell, took the lead overtaking Mr Pointment, Simon, D’Argent and Comply or Die in the process. By the time Becher’s was jumped for the second time, the remaining field was down to 12, which dropped to eleven shortly after with Point Barrow pulling up.

The remaining riders were tightly packed as they turned for home, with the David Pipe Horse, Comply or Die narrowly in front of the other 11 riders with virtually nothing between them. In that group were the grey, D’Argen, Ruby Walsh on Hedgehunter, Simon and Barry Geraghty on Slim Pickings.

The Last

Comply or Die stayed in contention and after jumping the last the most strongly, the much fancied joint 7-1 favourite gained a lead that he wouldn’t relinquish, achieving the first win by a british horse since Red Marauder in 2001. J P McManus finished a creditable 2nd on King John’s Castle and was followed by Willie Mullins mount Snowy Morning coming in 3rd.

Timmy Mullins called it “the win of my career” and that it was just what he needed after a particularly difficult year for him in his personal life. It was also a big deal for owner David Johnson, who was successful in the National at the 21st time of asking. For once, the might and guile of the Irish had to settle for second place.