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.

Almost!

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.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

The Nation's Love for The Grand National

Everyone has their own take on sport. Personally for me watching F1, Golf or Cricket is like watching paint dry. I just can't get into these particular sports even though for many they're clearly nothing short of engrossing. Similarly not everyone loves horse racing. For some, race meetings happening day in, day out don't mean a great deal, and they much prefer a punt on the football or something along those lines.

What I have found though, is that even people who proclaim not to be at all interested in horse racing, can't help but get drawn into the excitement of the Aintree Grand National. Whether it's an office sweepstake or a bet for a pint against a mate, the Grand National is one of those sporting events that inevitably gets the whole nation glued to their screens. A 4 miles 3½ furlongs steeplechase over 30 fences, it's captivating each and every time it comes around. Of course the outcome of the race also feeds into the casual punters view of it. Either the hard luck stories start to come out, or for those that did somehow pick the winner, they suddenly view themselves as being 'in the know'. God forbid they predict the winner two years in a row, they shift to savant mode. Friends and family start asking them for racing tips. Their once lack of interest and complete lack of knowledge of racing is rendered irrelevant in favour of their water diviner-esque Midas touch!

There are other types of Grand National gambler of course. There are professional gamblers, with a genuine and thorough knowledge of racing (though the Grand National can still be a crap shoot as there are so many variables), the 'I'll have a pound each way on....' crowd, the Outsider hunters looking for that once in a life time gigantic odds win, and the inevitable "I liked the name of the horse, the first part of it is the same name as my great uncle' types. Good luck to all of them I say, they help to make up what betting on the Grand National is all about.

Of course the excitement around the Grand National should be of no surprise, as it's been a sporting mainstay for longer than most of us have even been alive. The first official Grand National took place all the way back in 1839 and it's gone from strength to strength since. The stories the race tells  build history upon history. Whether it's Red Rum winning three times (1973, 1974, 1977), or horses winning at crazy odds like Mon Mome, trained by Venetia Williams, at 100-1 with bookmakers (and god knows what on the exchanges), these are all moments that are written and will remain. Not many people can say they're written into the history of a time, place or occasion, so it's no wonder that an event like the Grand National attracts equine excellence and the best jockeys, trainers and owners in the racing world.





Monday, 3 September 2018

Ireland Joyous Again as Robbie “Puppy” Power Narrowly Wins the 2007 Grand National

Grand National 2007For the second year running, the John Smith’s sponsored Aintree Grand National endured a false start, as outsider Cloudy Bays encroached over the tape on the start line. Though it took some time, the field managed to regroup in time to successfully get started, which was met with a raucous cheer from the Aintree faithful.

There were three big favourites going into this one, with the irish pair Joe’s Edge and Point Barrow backed into 8-1 joint favourites, along with english horse Monkerhostin, ridden by Richard Johnson.

They’re away!

Once the race had begun, the early lead was taken up by last year’s winner, Numbersixvalverde who was returning with Irishman Niall Madden again in the saddle. Cloudy Bays was still perhaps affected for his earlier mistake, as he lost almost 10 lengths before getting going after the field.

Point Barrow’s race was over very early on, as he fell at the first fence along with the Alan King trained Tikram. Going over Becher’s Brook for the first time, the field was still quite tightly packed with only a few fallers. By fence 10, rank outsider Naunton Brook was leading the field by about 5 lengths, with Denis O’regan on Ballycassidy close behind.

Going over the Chair, the longshot was still in front with a 3 to 4 length lead, with Ballycassidy still in attendance. Robbie Power was getting more out of Silver Birch, resulting in the Brian Walsh horse making steady progress towards the front.

Becher’s Brook

The lead changed hands a few times before Becher’s was cleared for the second time, as the mare, Libertine hit the front ahead of Ballycassidy and Slim Pickings, with Silver Birch in 4th.

The field began to stretch from 5 fences out and a number of strays were causing a problem for the remaining riders. With 16 horses still in the race, Slim Pickings headed for home in the lead with Barry Geraghty in the saddle. Having cleared the last fence the better, Silver Birch hit the front and stayed there to win, just edging out McKelvey who staged a spirited comeback.

So it was another Irish triumph in the National, with rider Puppy Power, trainer Gordon Elliott and Owner Brian Walsh taking the plaudits, the title and the £399,140 prize money.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Numbersixvalverde Wins the 2006 Grand National, Earning Niall Madden His First Senior Victory

Grand National 2006
The 2006 John Smiths Grand National was billed as a clash of the titans, with Tony McCoy going up against Ruby Walsh for the prestigious steeplechase crown, but it was a lesser known jockey by the name of Niall “Slippers” Madden who steered Numbersixvalverde to an impressive 6 length victory ahead of the Irish pair. Bedecked in the green, black and white colours of his owner, Trevor Hemmings, he strode across the line with his fist held in the air in triumph.

The race had not had the most auspicious beginning as Ross Com poked his nose over the tape causing a false start in the process. However, the field regrouped and they were soon on their way, with Andrew Tinkler on Shotgun Willy making the early running with Ballycassidy ridden by Leighton Aspell for company.

Breakaway

Approaching the halfway stage, Puntal had joined the party ridden by former National winning jockey, Barry Geraghty. He and the Peter Bowen trained Ballycassidy surged to a 4 length lead two thirds the way round the Aintree course.

By the 20th fence, only 4 runners had fallen and the much backed joint favourite and reigning champion Hedgehunter joined the leaders along with Irish compatriot Numbersixvalverde. The field became strung out and with just 6 fences to go, it had turned into a three horse race with Niall Madden’s ride seemingly out of it in 4th.

Tight Finish

Could Hedgehunter become the first horse to win back to back Aintree Nationals since Red Rum? Sadly, no. The chance faded away as Numbersixvalverde defied the odds to surge back into contention and strike the front going into the elbow after clearing the last at a pace. He kicked on and stretched out to an eventual 6 length victory.

The winner had outfought, outraced and outrun the field to claim the £399,140 in prize money and add to the already proud record of the Irish in the Aintree prize steeplechase. Bernard Carroll couldn’t wipe the smile of his face as his man had triumphed over the two big favourites ridden by Tony McCoy and Ruby Walsh.

It had been a race worthy of the occasion and one that Niall Madden would never forget.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Hedgehunter Returns with Ruby Walsh to Claim the 2005 Grand National Crown

Grand National 2005
Having fallen at the last, while still in contention for the 2004 Martell Grand National, the 9 year old Trevor Hemmings owned Hedgehunter had been installed as the 7-1F for the 2005 running of this famous steeplechase. Also heavily backed were last year’s runner up Clan Royal, trained by Jonjo O’Neill, the Richard Ford trained Forest Gunner and French Grey, Strong Resolve.

Last year’s winner, Amberleigh House was listed as 16-1, 5th favourite.

The going for the rebranded John Smith’s Grand National was good to soft and the 40 strong field set off under leaden Aintree skies. The assembled crowd cheered as the race was officially underway.

Over Becher’s

By the time the field crossed over Becher’s Brook for the first time, there had been just 4 fallers, with last year’s 3rd placed horse, Lord Atterbury, trained by M C Pipe amongst those whose race ended in the first few fences. The early running was being made by 150-1 outsider Glenelly Gale, followed a couple of lengths back by Double Honour with Paddy Brennan in the saddle and Astonville in 3rd.

The Chair

At the mid way point of the race, there were still as many as 20 horses within touch of the leading bunch and the arduous Aintree course had resulted in 8 fallers. The remaining field was still headed by Glenelly Gale, who was starting to feel the pace, causing the horse to fade away shortly after.

Bad Luck

Coming up to Becher’s Brook for the second time, Clan Royal, who had been flanked by two riderless horses for much of the straight was baulked by the pair, leading to a refusal and disappointment for Jockey Tony McCoy.

This allowed favourite Ruby Walsh on Hedgehunter to hit the front, jumping over Foinavon, followed by Innox, ridden by Robert Thornton and 16-1 shot, Joly Bay in third.

It was a lead that Hedgehunter would hold all the way to the finish line, Ruby Walsh skillfully saw the steed home, some 14 lengths clear of the field. It was another wonderful day for Irish racing, as the Irish trained and ridden horse romped home to rapturous applause from the vibrant Aintree crowd, earning owner Trevor Hemmings £406,000 in prize money in the process

Sunday, 27 May 2018

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 April 2018

Amberleigh House Returns to Claim First Place at the 2004 Aintree Grand National

Grand National 2004
Joss Naylor and Clan Royal were the fancied horses prior to the 2004 Martell Cognac Grand National, with both listed as 10-1 chances before the off. An overcast day at Aintree did nothing to dampen the excitement for this blue ribbon steeplechase event and the crowd were full of voice as the runners and riders stood at the tape.

The race started with no problems and the 39 strong field jostled for position over the first few fences, with three outsiders Kelami, Luzcadou and Artic Jack ridden by Dominic Elsworth all falling at the first fence.

Becher’s Brook

Going over Becher’s for the first time, the field was still bunched together, with Irish owned and trained Hedge Hunter leading from compatriot Al Capone in second place. Gunner Welburn, who went close to winning in 2003, was also well placed in behind, in third.

The Chair

Half way round this most challenging of courses, the field had spread out considerably, with the leaders having to contend with a number of riderless horses. The fancied, 9 year old 11-1 shot Hedgehunter, trained by Willie Mullins, led the field by a couple of lengths from Martin Pipe mount, Puntal and Lord Atterbury in 3rd.

Over Foinavon, the field was stretching out, with 3 horses surging clear. They included 10-1 joint favourite Clan Royal, Hedge Hunter and long shot, Lord Atterbury who were putting clear daylight between themselves and the chasing pack that featured the 2003 National winner, Monty’s Pass.

Comeback

Going into the 2nd last, it looked to be between these three, with Amberleigh house trailing some 10 lengths back. However, this was a pivotal moment in the race, as Hedge Hunter Fell and Amberleigh House found a second wind.

Through the elbow, it was apparent that the 13 year old Amberleigh House, ridden by Graham Lee and trained by legend, Ginger McCain, had the beating of the other two. He reigned Clan Royal and Lord Atterbury in to pass them both on the nearside, crossing the line 2 lengths clear, much to the delight of owner A L Dickel, who had in that moment, become £348,000 richer.

The J P McManus owned Clan Royal stayed on for 2nd, with Lord Atterbury coming home in 3rd.

It was another Irish win, as Lee punched the air in front of the jubilant Aintree crowd.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Monty’s Pass Streaks Home Victorious in the 2003 Grand National

Grand National 2003
Blue skies and sunshine blessed the 2003 Martell Grand National at Aintree and in the lead up to the world famous steeplechase, all the talk was of clear 7-1 favourite Shotgun Willy, ridden by Ruby Walsh. Having already won the National just 3 years earlier, the 9 year old was heavily backed in the 4 mile 4 furlong race, which was limited to 40 runners.

After the off, Tremallt, ridden by Jason Macguire made the early running, leading over Becher’s Brook for the first time, followed closely by the Joe Tizzard on Montifault, Blowing Wind,Torduff Express and Monty’s Pass ridden by Barry Geraghty.

Fallers

By fence 16 of this 30 fence race, 9 of the field had gone by the wayside, including Youllneverwalkalone, ridden by Conor O’Dwyer and Tony McCoy mount, Iris Bleu. Both were fancied and backed into 8-1.

The bookies favourite, Shotgun Willy had not had the best of races, failing to make any headway on the leading pack. The Irish chestnut Gelding, trained by P F Nicholls and owned by Paul Beck faded and pulled up just after jumping Becher’s for the second time.

Heading for Home

The following few fences sorted the men from the boys and going over Canal Turn, the field had become very spread out, with a small leading group had forming that included 16-1 shot, Monty’s Pass, Barry Fenton on Gunner Welburn, Montifault, Amberleigh House and Torduff Express.

Going into the 2nd from home, the leading pack had been reduced to three, with 10 year old Monty’s Pass, Amberleigh House and the Andrew Balding trained Gunner Welburn vying for the lead. This was where the race was won, as Irishman, Barry Geraghty found strode away through the elbow on Monty’s Pass.

Accelerating and pulling away all the time, Monty’s Pass went on to win by an impressive 12 lengths from Supreme Glory who got up well in the final furlongs to finish second, with Amberleigh House in 3rd.

Irish eyes were smiling at Aintree, as another Irish win was confirmed at the world’s grandest steeplechase, earning the winning owner, Mike Futter a cool £348,000.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

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.

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.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Cheltenham Festival - Triumph Hurdle

Regardless of their national Hunt ranking, races that are run on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival enjoy a certain uniqueness. The atmosphere is already charged and there is a pressure on both horses and jockey to perform. This is not a big worry though, as the shortlisting criteria for final day participants is quite unique.


 The Triumph Hurdle is one of the races blessed to grace the closing day. Strictly four-year-old horses line up waiting to gallop out of the gates to round the two miles and one furlong (3240 m) at
the left-handed new Cheltenham course.


Only eight hurdles barricade the horses’ path, which means there is a lot of pure running to be done here. Braking and humping are key skills, but acceleration is the ultimate strength. A £60,000 purse motivates the competition.

Apple Shakira is the favourite for the 2018 race, but the decision by trainer Alan King to switch Yanworth from the chase races to this hurdle has stirred some new excitement.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Cheltenham Festival - Stayers' Hurdle


This is among grade 1 races run on the third day as the Cheltenham Festival rolls towards its headline event- the Gold Cup. Its slot means it takes place in the left handed new course.

Horses of not less than four years fight it out for a podium finish by rounding a three-mile path (4828 m) laden with 12 jump hurdles. A generous purse of around £275,000 makes this race attract some
of the best horses in the category.


The long and rich history since it was introduced in 1912 is also a huge contributor to its popularity.

This race has been most consistent since 1972 following several disruptions before then. In that period, Paul Nicholls established a four-year dominance from 2009 to 2012 to become the
leading trainer. The record had a consistency of its own, as all occasions were won by horse Big Bucks with rider Ruby Walsh on his back.


Nicholls will be sending out seven-year old Old Guard on another hunt in the 2018 event.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Cheltenham Festival - Spa Novices' Hurdle

Any race run on the final day of Cheltenham Festival is a big race and so is the Spa Novices’ Hurdle. This is a grade 1 National Hunt ranked race that admits four years and above aged horses. They compete over a three mile (4828 m) distance on the New Course.

A generous offering of £68,000 goes to the race winner while the rest share what remains of the £120,000 purse.

The Spa Novices, oft referred to as the Albert Barlett Novices’ Hurdle, has been existence for 12 years before the 2018 edition. It Achieved Grade 1 status in 2008. Its popularity among viewers make it one of the races with a good actual viewing from the stands.

Tony Mc’ Coy is the race’s leading jockey with three wins while the two wins by Jonjo O’ Neill make him the leading trainer.

Horses that compete in the Spa Novices are often angling for elite jump races like the Gold Cup.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Cheltenham Festival - Pertemps Final

The Pertemps Final was established in 1974. Since then, it has taken in tens of horses, becoming a mainstay at Cheltenham. It actually started out as Coral Golden but has undergone various name changes due to changes in sponsors. The name Pertemps came into play in 2002 and has been used
ever since. This Grade 3 race covers 3 miles and takes place at the New Course, Cheltenham. For horses to be able to participate, they have to be at least five years old. In order for horses to qualify for the race, they need to go through eight separate races over a period of 5 months, and only the best get to the final.

Jim Wilson is without a doubt the most famous jockey in this race, having cruised to victory on 3 separate occasions. In the 3 times he won, Wilson rode Willie Wumpkins, making Wumpkins the most successful horse in the race as well.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Cheltenham Festival - Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase

This race enjoys the privilege of a slot on the biggest day of the Cheltenham Festival despite being just a Grade III competition. It brings together racehorses of five years and more to fight for a £100,000 purse over two miles and half a furlong (3319 meters).

There are 14 fences to be cleared along this path in the Johnny Henderson, which closes the events and doubles up as the oldest race in the festival. It has been happening since 1834. Severalvariations have occurred over time but the basic structure of competition has remained the same.

Slightly older horses- eight to ten years specifically- are always the best bets to win this race. They have won over 60% of the race events held in the 21st century. Inexperienced five-year-olds are the worst bets, failing to take top honours sine as far back as 1946. British horses also tend to perform better than Irish ones (nine wins in the last 15).

Eight year old Don’t Touch It is the favourite to win the 2018 race, with similar 10-1 odds as 2017 winner Rock the World.