Friday 23 December 2022

Dubai World Cup Carnival

Formerly known as the Dubai International Racing Carnival, the Dubai World Cup Carnival consists of a series of nine meetings staged at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, United Arab Emirates between January and March each year. The Dubai World Cup Carnival is staged in preparation for Dubai World Cup Night, in the late March, the highlight of which is the Dubai World Cup, a Group 1 race run over 2,000 metres, or approximately a mile and a quarter, on dirt and worth $12 million in prize money.

Inaugurated Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai, in 1996, the Dubai World Cup was originally run at Nad Al Sheba before being transferred to Meydan in 2010. In its recent history, the Dubai World Cup has vied with the Pegasus World Cup, staged at Gulfstream Park, Florida in January, as the most valuable horse race in the world. However, since the inauguration of the Saudi Cup, at King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which is worth $20 million, the Dubai World Cup has been only the second most valuable race in the world.

Nevertheless, the Dubai World Cup Carnival builds to a major milestone in the form of so-called 'Super Saturday', typically staged on the first Saturday in March. Super Saturday is the official 'dress rehearsal' for Dubai World Cup Night, intended to allow trainers from home and abroad with their eyes on the major prizes on the single most valuable raceday anywhere in the world to fine tune their chages.

Wednesday 22 June 2022

Sydney Carnival

The Sydney Carnival, or Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival, consists of a series of major horses staged at Rosehill Gardens Racecourse and Royal Randwick Racecourse, situated in the suburbs of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, over a six-week period in March and April each year. The Sydney Carnival includes 45 Group races and, at the last count, was worth $33 million in prize money.

At Rosehill Gardens, the highlight of the Sydney Carnival is Golden Slipper Day, which features the Golden Slipper, a Group 1 contest run over 1,200 metres or approximately 6 furlongs and open to two-year-old colts, fillies and geldings, plus four other Group 1 races. The Golden Slipper, alone, is worth $3.5 million in prize money, making it the most valuable race for juveniles run anywhere in the world.

At Royal Randwick, The Championships, billed as 'The Grand Finals of Australian Racing', are staged on the first and second Saturday in April. As the name suggests, The Championships feature twelve races over a variety of distances, open to different age groups and collectively worth over $21 million in prize money. Highlights of The Championships Day One incude the $3 million Doncaster Mile and the $2 million Australian Derby, while highlights of Day Two include the $4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the $2 million Sydney Cup. In 2019, the incomparable racemare Winx was retired from racing after winning the Queen Elizabeth Stakes for the third year running.

Tuesday 15 March 2022

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

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.

Tuesday 18 January 2022

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

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