Wednesday 27 December 2017

Queen Mother Champion Chase

The Queen Mother Champion Chase was established in 1959 and, at that time, was known simply as the National Hunt Two-Mile Champion Chase. However, in 1980, the race was renamed to commemorate the 80th birthday of the late Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, widow of King George VI and mother of Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen Mother Champion Chase is run over 2 miles on the Old Course at Cheltenham, where it is currently feature race on the second day of the four-day Cheltenham Festival, which takes place in March each year.

In terms of popularity, the Queen Mother Champion Chase may be overshadowed by the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Champion Hurdle, but it remains a prestigious and valuable contest worth £350,000 in guaranteed prize money. Several horses, including notable names, such as Moscow Flyer, Master Minded and, most recently, Sprinter Sacre, have won the Queen Mother Champion Chase twice, but just one, Badsworth Boy, has won the race three times. In 1983 and 1984, Badsworth Boy was trained by Michael Dickinson and in 1985 by his mother, Monica Dickinson; he was ridden on all three occasions by Robert Earnshaw.

Barry Geraghty has been the most successful of the current jockeys in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, having partnered Moscow Flyer (2003, 2005), Big Zeb (2010), Finian’s Rainbow (2012) and Sprinter Sacre (2013) to victory, for a total of five wins. Sprinter Sacre started odds-on (8/11) when impressively beating Cue Card by 7 lengths in 2013, but the shortest-priced winner ever was the legendary Flyingbolt (1/5) in 1966, who cantered home by 15 lengths from Flash Bulb. Flyingbolt, officially the second best chaser ever, behind Arkle, reappeared the following day to finish third, beaten just over 3 lengths, behind Salmon Spray in the Champion Hurdle.

Tuesday 5 December 2017

Cheltenham Festival - Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup

Another race with its own uniqueness at the Cheltenham Festival is the Fulke-Muir challenge cup. It is upgraded, admits amateur riders and covers a taxing three miles and one-and-a-half furlongs distance (5130 meters). Now that is quite some distance for an amateur rider atop a horse not less than five years old.

Nineteen fences along the path make the race even more gruelling. Riders are put to test as they have to balance their own skills with the horse’s stamina.

The race class does not however deny it any limelight. It takes place on the prime third day of the festival on the new course.

This race’s name pays homage to WWII casualty Kim Muir and Cheltenham great rider Fulke Walwyn. A purse of around £65, 000 is divided among the participants of the race.

Fred Rimell set a trainer record of our wins that has stood since 1977. The jockeys’ record belongs to Jamie Codd and was set in 2016.

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Cheltenham Festival - Fred Winter Juvenile Novices' Handicap Hurdle

The Fred winter takes place on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival. Racehorses aged four years rush out of thegates in a bid to complete the two miles and half a furlong (3319 m) in the
fastest time. And boy is this race interesting; you wouldn’t tell it’s a grade three race from a mere look.

Despite being a young race (established in 2005) it has meshed well with other races run on the Old course. The left handed nature of this turf surface make it necessary to race with maximum concentration. Horses that win here are oft billed to go big in the horseracing career.

And it does carry its own fair share of surprises too. In 2017, for instance, Flying Tiger raced to victory despite lying on the outside of the favourites circle at the start. Nube Negra has been
pinpointed as the favourite to win the 2018 edition, but can he go the distance.

No single jockey has had a repeat win at the race named after famous jockey/trainer Fred Winter. Paul Nicholls has, however, seen horses trained at his stable sweep top honours three times (2010,
15 & 16) and will once again be looking to extend that dominance.

Wednesday 8 November 2017

Cheltenham Festival - Foxhunter Chase

Three miles and two-and-a-half furlongs (5331m) make the Foxhunter Chase one of the most taxing races at the Cheltenham Festival. It is an exact replica of the main event- The Gold Cup- running over
the same distance and a similar 22 fences. That it is ungraded is thus of little consequence.

The major differences are the pedigree of the competing horses and the £40,000 purse that pales in comparison to that of the Gold Cup.

The race has been in existence since 1904 and not once has its popularity dipped. It is so loved that it has earned itself the name amateur Gold Cup.

To get the Foxhunter’s competitiveness in perspective, consider that not a single horse has been able to win it three times. The record stands at two wins, shared by eight horses. The four-win trainer record set by Richard barber stands to date. Colman Sweeney made it three wins for a single jockey in 2013 and still stands a chance to extend the record.

Friday 13 October 2017

Cheltenham Festival - Dawn Run Mares' Novices' Hurdle

This is an extremely green event at the festival, having been run for the first time in 2016. This prospect makes it an attractive slot for all stakeholders who want to be part of its early history.

The hurdle race brings together horses of minimum four years of age to compete through a distance of two miles and a furlong (3240 m) that is dotted by eight hurdles. The purse is also a humble offering of £65,000.

Ruby Walsh (jockey) and Willie Mullins (trainer) have won both events of the race that is often referenced by sponsor Trull House Stud’s title.

The race’s characteristics ensure it has a large field, and more horses are likely to grace the 2018 event. Fayonagh has been heavily tipped to go the distance this year going by her performance at
the Champion Bumper in the season go by. This will be a great avenue for mares to prepare to get into competition against male horses.

Wednesday 27 September 2017

Cheltenham Festival - County Handicap Hurdle

This weighted race is run on the closing day of the festival, when five years and older horses line up to compete over within a distance of two miles and one furlong on the New Course.

It is ranked grade three by the National Hunt and has eight hurdles along the path to the lion’s share of a £90,000 purse.

How the race has remained a grade 3 event is interesting given its popularity among viewers and the tight qualifications required for horses coming into it. Big names like Trespasser have featured in
the County Handicap. It is also so tough that no horse has won it twice since 1946.

Ruby Walsh holds a record jockey record of four wins, while Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls hold a trainer record of a similar number of victories. Max Dynamite ranks ahead of Arctic Fire who won
last year’s event as 2018’s favourite. Both horses are trained by Mullins.


Sunday 3 September 2017

Cheltenham Festival - Champion Bumper

The Champion Bumper is considered one of the most prestigious National Hunt races because of the level of interest in people and the kind of participation showcased by jockeys and their horses. It takes place on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival and happens at the Old Course. Established
in the Year 1992, this event allows entry for horses of ages 4 to 6. For this specific race, horses will run over 2 miles and 0.5 furlong.

In 2017, this race was won by Fayonagh, with Jamie Codd at the reins. The horse is trained by one Gordon Elliot. In the same fete, Debuchet came in second.

When it comes to smashing records, some jockeys and trainers have fared far better than others. For example, Ruby Walsh has beaten other jockeys to the punch three different times while riding three different horses. Willie Mullins has come out top as a trainer a whopping 8 times.

Friday 18 August 2017

Cheltenham Festival - Mildmay of Flete Challenge Cup

This is a unique race in that it is one of the lower grade races that are slotted close to the climax event of the Cheltenham Festival. Horses of a minimum five years of age line up at the New Course of the Cheltenham venue and gallop over a two miles and four furlongs distance, clearing 17 fences in the process.

This race owes the origin of its name to the well-known steeplechaser Mild of Flete who died a year before its introduction in 1951.

Despite the long existence, only two horses have been able to win this race twice- Tsarevich in 85, 86 and Elfast in 1992 and 1994. Fred winter is the top jockey with three wins, while a four win joint trainer record is held by Bobby Renton, Nicky Henderson and Martin Pipe.

A £100,000 purse makes this one of the best paying handicap races at the festival. This makes it attract decent horses, but none of them have proved to be dominant beyond the Grade 3 category.

Sunday 16 July 2017

Cheltenham Festival - Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle

This hurdle race is one of the youngest races run on the closing day of the Cheltenham Festival. Horses aged four years and above compete over two miles four-and-a-half furlongs in a bid to take home £31,000 of the £60,000 purse price.

Weight handicaps are used to balance competition, while conditional jockeys are a strict requirement in the riders’ qualifications. Conditional jockeys must be less than 26 years old, be apprentices in national Hunt competitions and must not have won more than 75 races ran under competition rules.

The 2018 event will be the 10th edition of this competition. Willie Mullins has won three Martin Pipe races as trainer, while all horses and jockeys that have participated never won more than once. Paul Nicholls could equal Mullins’ record with a win in the 2018 event.

Champagne classic has a chance of setting a two win record this year, but is currently ranked behind Flawless Escape as favourite.

Friday 16 June 2017

Cheltenham Festival - RSA Chase

The RSA Chase takes centre stage in the early moments of the second day of the annual Cheltenham Festival. It is a grade one race that brings together horses of age five years and above to compete for a purse of around £150,000 by clearing a distance of three miles and 110 yards (4929 m). The long path is riddled by 19 fences that must be jumped, making it a pretty stamina-demanding exercise.

This race was introduced in 1946. 11-year-old Birthlaw took first finish in that inaugural race and still remains the oldest horse to finish in that position ahead of the 2018 edition.

Horses that take place in this are often likely to go on to the more challenging Gold Cup. Most remarkable is Lord Windermere who took first honours here in 2013 and went on to claim the Gold Cup on the New Course a year later.

Leading Jockey Ruby Walsh is still looking to join the record ranks in this one. He has just one win here. Willie Mullins won for the fourth time in 2015 to equal the 4-win trainer record set by Fulke Walwyn in 1957. Mullins has a variety of horses to pick from as he seeks to set a new record at the 2018 event.

Tuesday 25 April 2017

Group Horse

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Saturday 1 April 2017

Cheltenham Festival - David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle

Cheltenham Festival enlists several races for female horses only. Among them is the David Nicholson Hurdles race that is run on the opening day of the four-day festival. It has proven to be a popular competition for mares seeking to go against the boys in subsequent competitions.

Mares must have attained the age of four years to become eligible for the David Nicholson Hurdle. They take to the Old course looking to complete a two miles and four furlongs distance (4005 m) with a £110,000 purse at stake. The winner takes around £60000 of this amount.

The race will be crossing its decade mark in the 2018 festival as it continues to build history for itself. Quevega remains the race’s most dominant horse having won six consecutive outings between 2009 and 2014. She was ridden by Ruby Walsh and trained by Willie Mullins the entire time. The duo enjoy a record six and seven wins respectively which they will look to extend at the 2018 event.

Monday 16 January 2017

Cheltenham Festival - Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase

This chase race is a listed competition that marks the close of the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival. It is often referred to by its official name- the Centenary Novices’ handicap Chase. It has been held here on every occasion since 2005.

Horses of five years and over line up to compete over a distance of two miles and four-and-a-half furlongs (4124 m) and 16 fences dotting the path. The handicap balancing makes the competition even for horses taking part on the Old Course of the venue. A £60,000 purse is available for division among participants, more than half of which goes to the first-place finisher.

Six and seven year olds tend to have great runs in this race. The reigning champion is Tully East, who was even years old when he took first position in 2017. No single horse has been able to win the race twice, and the record for both jockeys and winners (two for both) is just as scanty.

Deplotting Shed is tipped favourite to finish in first position in the 2018 event.