Tuesday 1 December 2020

Grand National Focus - 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.

Monday 19 October 2020

Horse Racing and Betting: Much-loved Melbourne Cup Winner Subzero Dies of Heart Failure

Legendary racehorse Subzero and the winner of the Melbourne Cup in 1992, died of heart failure. The horse was trained by Lee Freedman and was four years when it won the Melbourne Cup competition in Flemington. Ridden by Greg Hall, the horse mastered the wet weather conditions to finish the race ahead of Castletown and Veandercross.

Also known as Subbie, he was one of the best-thoroughbred stayers in Australia during the 1990s. He was euthanized after developing heart complications. The death of Subzero was confirmed by Bruce Clark, one of the most prominent racing figures in the world.

Subzero died two months after his great long-term career mate Graham Salisbury passed on after a long battle with cancer in June. The two mates paraded horseracing to different generations with frequent visits to nursing homes and schools. Additionally, they were one of the horseracing great ambassadors in Australia.

If you love horseracing and gambling, then this must be sad news for you since you have lost one of the figures that you would place wagers on. However, there is no need to worry since Sportsbet still has many horseracing options for you to select from when it comes to betting.

How Legendary Race Horse Subzero Died

Subzero died at the age of 32 at the Bendigo Equine Hospital. He died after battling ill health for a few days. After his death, Giles Thompson, the RV chief executive, said that it was another sad day for all individuals within the Victorian horseracing industry as well as sports fans. Subzero’s contribution to the sport both on and off the racing track was incredible, and will forever be grateful to a horse that touched the hearts of everyday Australians and fans, he added.

Many young individuals have grownup having had the opportunity to meet and pat only one horse, which was Subzero. From the elderly to schoolchildren and Hollywood A-listers to those battling ill health, Graham and Subzero did plenty to provide them with joy while at the same time promoting the thoroughbred racing sport.

Race Horse Subzero Achievements before the Death

On the track, Subzero performed excellently. He won six races from a total of 48 starts. Aside from his Melbourne Cup victory in 1992, his other major wins included the Adelaide Cup in 1992 and South Australia Derby in the same year. Aside from the racing career, Subbie was also the Course horse clerk until 2008 when he retired from those duties.


Subzero’s name will always be remembered by many horseracing fans and Australians at large. Until now, there is no better example of love and friendship between a horse and man than Subzero and Graham Salisbury. 

The two together brought love and friendship to many individuals ranging from racing fans and sports bettors of all ages to the general public across the world. Sadly, the horseracing industry has lost one of the key figures a few months after another sad news of Graham.

Tuesday 1 September 2020

Cheltenham Festival - Coral Cup

The Coral Cup brings together of four years and older to compete over a distance of two miles and five furlongs (4225 m) on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival. The competitors clear ten hurdles on the way to the finish line of this grade 3 race. Handicaps are applied to balance competition.

The 2018 event will be the quarter century event of the Coral Cup. Its popularity has remained intact for the better part of its time in existence.

It is remarkable that no single horse has won twice in this category. That is partly due to competitiveness and partly due to the fact that it is a low-pressure race where competitors seldom make a return.

Thursday 13 August 2020

Cheltenham Festival - Golden Miller Novices' Chase

The third day of the Cheltenham festival sees races move from the Old to the New Course. This race for Novice chasers is one of the first races run over the New Course. The National Hunt rankings
place this chase in the first grade.

Horses of five years and above compete to complete a distance of two miles and four furlongs (4,023 m) making this one of the long races at the event. For their pains, the winners take home a prize of
around £70,000 from the race sponsors.

The 2018 race will be the eighth edition of this competition. It will be another chance for horses to make an attempt at a second win, whereas jockey Ruby Walsh will be looking to cross the finish
atop the winning horse for the fourth time. Willie Mullins, trainer of Ruby’s past three winners, will on the other hand be looking for a fifth win.

Wednesday 17 June 2020

Brief History of the Derby

Legend has is that the Derby was so-called as the result of a coin toss between its co-founders, Edward Smith-Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby, and Sir Charles Bunbury, Chairman of the Jockey Club. The veracity of that claim is debatable but, either way, the Derby Stakes was run for the first time on May 4, 1780.

Derby had already founded the Oaks Stakes, open to three-year-old thoroughbred fillies, and run over a mile-and-a-half on Epsom Downs, the previous year. By contrast, the Derby Stakes was open to three-year-old thoroughbred colts and fillies but, for the first three years of its existence, was run not over a mile-and-a-half, but over a straight mile. It was not until 1784 that the distance was extended by four furlongs and the sweeping, downhill turn into Tattenham Corner was incorporated into the Derby course. Apart from the years 1915-1918 and 1940-1945, when Epsom Downs was commandeered by the Army and a substitute race, known as the ‘New Derby, was run on the July Course at Newmarket, the Derby has continued, uninterrupted, ever since.

That said, the Derby was ‘interrupted’ on June 4, 1913, when suffragette Emily Davison ran out onto the course at Tattenham Corner. Her purpose for doing so is debated to this day, but she was struck by Anmer, owned by King George V, suffered a fractured skull and died from her injuries four days later, without regaining consciousness.

On a lighter note, the Derby is, and probably always will be, synonymous with the legendary Lester Piggott who, with nine winners, is far and away the most successful jockey in the history of the Epsom Classic. Piggott became the youngest jockey ever to win the Derby when, at the age of eighteen, he rode 33/1 chance Never Say Die to victory in 1954 and subsequently added Crepello (1957), St. Paddy (1960), Sir Ivor (1968), Nijinksy (1970), Roberto (1972), Empery (1976), The Minstrel (1977) and Teenoso (1983) to his impressive winning tally.

Thursday 26 March 2020

Famous Grand National Owners

There's certainly no shortage of famous faces showing up at prestigious race days, but perhaps what's not quite as well known is the number of famous owners in racing too. Sandymount Duke, bred and owned by Ronnie Wood, and Give Me A Copper, jointly-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson and former chat shoe host Jeremy Kyle, both held entries in the Grand National in 2019. In fact, over the years, various celebrities, including royalty, have all owned horses that have contested, and occasionally won, the Grand National. I wonder if any of them have free betting tips for Grand National 2020?

In addition to Sir Alex Ferguson, ex footballer Michael Owen is also an owner at his 160 acre Manor House Stables training yard. It currently accommodates 90 horses. Owen isn't shy of stating his love for racing and more precisely horse ownership.

The joy of owning a racehorse is indescribable, from buying them as youngsters, watching them develop and seeing their first visit to a racecourse. I have owned horses for many years and whenever I have time off, you‘ll find me down at the stables!" said Owen.

At the turn of the twentieth century, Edward, Prince of Wales – who succeeded to the throne, as King Edward VII, two years later – owned Ambush II, who divided public loyalty by beating previous dual winner Manifesto, who was conceding 24lb, in the 1900 renewal. Over five decades later, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother witnessed the inexplicable collapse of her horse, Devon Loch, when in an unassailable five-length lead, just yards from the winning post in 1956. Through successes and failures alike, all of these royals had a top table seat in racing and royal connections (most from our own monarchy and others) are present in the aptly named sport of kings to this day.

Hollywood actor Gregory Peck fared little better when his horse, Different Class, was brought down, when in a prominent position, in the infamous melee at the twenty-third fence in 1967. His jockey, David Mould, later explained, “I was literally buried in the fence. I climbed out and couldn’t find the horse anywhere.” Desperately unlucky on that occasion, Different Class was sent off 17/2 favourite for the 1968 Grand National but, despite completely the course, could only finish third, beaten 20 lengths and a neck, behind the winner, Red Alligator.

Other celebrity owners to have won the National, though, include hairdressing icon Raymond Bessone, a.k.a. ‘Mr. Teasy-Weasy’, and the late Liverpool comedian Freddie Starr. In fact, Bessone was lucky enough to have owned a share in two National winners, Ayala, a narrow, three-quarters of a length winner at 66/1 in 1963, and Rag Trade, a two-length winner, from none other than Red Rum, at 14/1 in 1976. Starr, born and bred in Huyton, on Mersey, was the sole owner of Miinnehoma, who won the 1994 Grand National, under reigning champion jockey Richard Dunwoody, at 14/1. It's not hard to see the appeal of being involved in horse ownership. Most of us get excited enough if we have a winning wager on a horse, let alone an actual direct hand in its success.

Thursday 16 January 2020

Tiger Roll Keeps On Rolling in the 2019 Grand National

The pre-race hype surrounding the 2019 renewal of the Grand National was all about Tiger Roll, owned by Michael O’Leary and trained by Gordon Elliott, who was attempting to become the first horse since the legendary Red Rum, in 1974, to win the celebrated steeplechase two years running. At one point, there was even talk of Tiger Roll starting a shorter-priced favourite than Poethlyn, who won the 1919 renewal, under Ernie Piggott, at odds of 11/4.

In the end, common sense prevailed, at least to a degree, and Tiger Roll was sent off 4/1 favourite on the day. In truth, apart from a couple of stumbles at Valentine’s Brook and the following fence on the second circuit, from which he quickly recovered, the diminutive steeplechaser barely gave his supporters and anxious moment. He led, going well, between the last two fences and readily drew clear before being ridden out in the closing stages to hold 66/1 chance Magic Of Light by 2¾ lengths. Tiger Roll did, in fact, become the shortest-priced winner of the National since Poethlyn and his victory made Gordon Elliot – who also saddled Silver Birch in 2007 – the first trainer since the late Tim Forster to train three National winners.

Elliott took no chances, saddling a record eleven runners, although his next-best finisher was 50/1 chance A Toi Phil, who finished twelfth, 34¾ lengths behind the winner. Also among the also-rans were Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Anibale Fly, who stayed on inside the final furlong to finish fifth, but could never really land a blow, and 2017 winner One For Arthur, who weakened on the notoriously long run-in to finish a place behind. However, the 2019 Grand National will always be remembered for the performance of ‘rock star’ Tiger Roll, as winning jockey Davy Russell later called him, and although a third attempt is highly unlikely, his place in National history is assured.