Monday, 1 March 2021

Cheltenham Festival - Cheltenham Gold Cup

There is definitely a good reason why this race is the headline event of the Cheltenham Festival. An Assortment of the best horses fight it out for the top position through three miles and two-and-a-half furlongs ( 5331m) on the Cheltenham New course.

The horses must have attained the age of five years to participate, and will have to have been in tip-top position throughout the season. A gruesome path of such lengthy distance is laden with 22 fence obstacles.

A horse’s acceleration over short distances, endurance, braking and jumping skills are put to ultimate test in this event. The same applies to a rider’s handling skills.

For all the pain, the winner gets to take home a whopping £327,000 from a £575,000 purse. Gamblers find some of the best odds here too!

When it’s time for the Gold Cup, everything else comes to a stop. The viewing stands fill up to the brim as spectators line up to see this spectacular event.

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Cheltenham Festival - Queen Mother Champion Chase

This is one of the elite Grade I races run on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival. It is a tough race that enlists horses of age five years and above to compete over a distance of two miles (3219 m). Twelve fences are jumped along this path.

The inaugural event of Queen Mother was held in 1959. Then, it was known as National Hunt Chase. It was renamed to the current form in 1980 on the eightieth birthday of Elizabeth (Queen Mother). It often takes a prefix to go along with the existing sponsor (currently Betway).

You might guess from the name that this is a pretty royal race. With a purse of around £350,000, it ranks among the highest paying races at the event. Consequently, it attracts the best horses and the biggest crowds.

Nicky Henderson will be making an entrance in this event during the 2018 festival with Arkle winner and increasingly popular horse Altior, who is 4-1 favourite to finish in first position

Thursday, 7 January 2021

Cheltenham Festival - Cross Country Chase

The Cross Country Chase- oft referred to with sponsor Glenfarclas name as a prefix- is another longer distance race run during the latter stages of the Cheltenham Festival. It opens its gates for
horses of age five years and more who fight to complete three miles and seven furlongs (6236 m) on the cross country course.

Along this distance, an astounding 32 obstacles are to be cleared, all in the bid to collect the most of a £50,000 purse. The already tough race is made even more demanding by the presence of condition weights used to cull weight advantages.

It is a unique race in that it is the only cross country competition held at the Cheltenham event and all over racing circles at this time of the year. This has caused its popularity to go up among stamina race lovers since it was first introduced in 2005.

Irish trained horses do love this chase as indicated by their 11 wins in the 13 editions running up to 2017. It gets even better for horses of between eight and 10 years who have won ten of the
thirteen races. The other three were 12-year-olds. Garde Champetre and Balthazar King share a record of two wins. The leading trainer is Miss Nina Carberry with three wins, during which she rode leading trainer Enda Bolger (5wins) trained horses.

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Grand National Focus - Geraldine Rees

Geraldine Rees
In recent years, Geraldine Rees has been better known as racehorse trainer and, since she relinquished her licence in 2010, as the head of GSR Thoroughbreds, a breeding operation based at Moor Farm, near Preston, Lancashire. However, in her younger days, Geraldine was a highly accomplished amateur rider and has the distinction of being the first woman to complete the Grand National course.

In 1982, at the age of 26, Geraldine rode Cheers into a weary eighth, and last, place behind Grittar, ridden by 48-year-old Dick Saunders. Her original intended mount, Gordon’s Lad, went lame shortly before the race and, when her attempt to buy Cheers – who’d finished twelfth behind Aldaniti in 1981 and was entered for the Grand National again in 1982 – at auction failed, the winning bidder booked her for the ride in any case.

Geraldine wasn’t the first woman to ride in the Grand National. That distinction is held by Charlotte Brew, who in 1977, at the age of 21, rode her own horse, Barony Fort. The 12-year-old had qualified for the race by finishing fourth in the Fox Hunters’ Chase, over one circuit of the National fences, at Aintree the previous year, but was hopelessly tailed off when refusing at the fourth last. Of course, 1977 was the year in which Red Rum won his unprecedented third Grand National, so Charlotte was destined to play second fiddle to the legendary steeplechaser.

Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Cheltenham Festival - National Hunt Challenge Cup

This penultimate race of the opening day events at the annual festival is a grade two competition that brings together horses of age five years and more. These compete to complete a distance of four miles (6400 m) with the winner earning an estimated $59000 of a £100,000 purse.

The race enjoys the record of being the longest distance at the festival as well as ranking among the oldest events since it was first run in 1860. It has been especially consistence, recording the single largest number of repeat competitions.

The gruelling distance is not made any easier by the twenty four fences that competitors have to go over. It calls for outstanding stamina and endurance on the part of the horse and excellent handling by the rider.

The fact that no single horse has been able to win thrice in a race that is over a century and a half old is an indicator of its competitiveness. Jonjo O’ Neill is the leading trainer with six wins to his name.