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Horse RacingMay 5, 20210

Fergal O’Brien – Bringing the Fun to Racing

The 2020-2021 National Hunt season ended with trainer Fergal O’Brien amassing 104 wins, 146 places, an 18% strike rate and a grand total of £779,000 in prize money. A terrific season that concluded with a personal best for the trainer and a new inductee into the exclusive ‘100 winners in a season’ club. 

Horse RacingMay 4, 20210

Old guys rule the Guineas

Anyone that is of a certain age and feels a bit past it at times would have had a spring in their step after this weekend’s Guineas meeting at Newmarket. Where the old (er) guys ruled the two feature races. 

Horse RacingApril 30, 20210

The Floorman

Back in the day, that is the days before Betfair, electronic boards and the Internet, the betting ring was bustling. The bookmakers, depending on the size of their firm would often be mob-handed. The ‘staff’ would mainly be family members, the bookmaking father with sons and sometimes daughters learning the ropes.

Horse RacingApril 29, 20210

Melbourne Cup Blow to International Horses

Changes to Melbourne Cup qualification rules will make it much more difficult for UK other foreign trained raiders to compete in the ‘race that stops the nation’. A series of new measures will be brought in to counteract what officials saw as an unacceptable rate of injuries and fatalities mainly to overseas runners.

Horse RacingApril 28, 20210

Punchestown Festival Day One

Day one of the Punchestown Festival was dominated by Willie Mullins who saddled five winners including the three richest races. He was expected to land the €59,000 Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase and did so in style, but with 7/1 chance Colreevy and not 10/11 favourite Monkfish as widely anticipated.  To be fair the race was expected by punters to be a match between the jolly and Henry De Bromhead’s Envoi Allen sent off a 6/4.

Horse RacingApril 26, 20210

Dramatic demotion in the bet365 Gold Cup

There was drama in the jump season’s concluding big race at Sandown on Saturday when Paul Nicholls Enrilo, the 7/2 favourite, was demoted to third after winning the bet365 Gold Cup nearly a length. After a good jump at the last and in front on the run-in the gelding began wandering on the run to the line. The jolly ridden by the new champion jockey Harry Skelton then veered badly left.

Horse RacingApril 25, 20210

Perth Festival 2021

Wednesday The highlight on the card, certainly for Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls was the running of the three-mile listed British EBF William Hill Gold Castle “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle. Nicholls saddled the winner Threeunderthrufive the 15/8 second favourite who won with some ease under Adrian Heskin despite making a rick at the last. In doing so Nicholls set his personal best tally of winners for a season hitting 172 after equalling his previous best at Kempton on Monday.

Horse RacingApril 23, 20210

Harry Skelton wins NH Jockey’s Title

Harry Skelton will become champion jump jockey at Sandown on Saturday after a season-long tussle with defending champion Brian Hughes. Hughes was the early leader in the jockey’s title race but Skelton whittled down his advantage in the last few weeks before kicking on to win title on Thursday when it became numerically impossible for him to be caught. 

Horse RacingApril 23, 20210

Grassroots Gamble

Racing at its purest, point to pointing, has been hit hardest during the pandemic. Being classed as an amateur sport their season has been badly truncated, unable to continue, even behind closed doors unlike its under rules counterpart. There was a sigh of relief when racing was able to resume albeit under very strict rules when Covid restrictions were eased. With plenty of horses out there to race, point to point meetings have been well-supported with entries since their resumption in April. Sadly, for it’s army of followers, racing between the flags has been held behind closed doors with only essential staff and latterly connections able to attend.

Horse RacingApril 20, 20210

Jockey Lorna Brooke dies after a fall at Taunton Racecourse

The racing world was rocked on Monday when 37 amateur jockey Lorna Brooke passed away as a result of injuries suffered from a fall at Taunton on April 8th. She was airlifted to Bristol Southmead Hospital after her mount, Orchestrated, fell at the third fence in the Pontispool Equine Sports Centre Handicap Chase.  She was said to be in intensive care undergoing tests for a suspected spinal injury and was in a serious, but stable condition, and was conscious.

Horse RacingApril 16, 20210

Newmarket Craven Meeting 2021

Newmarket’s first meeting of the year is one that has thrown up clues for the forthcoming season since it was held in 1771 didn’t disappoint this year. The three days bristled with action though sadly no general public. The feature race of the opening Tuesday, the bet365 Feilden Stakes (Listed) has thrown up a couple of Derby winners in recent years. This renewal belonged to trainer Charlie Appleby who saddled the first two home. Highland Avenue beat Secret Protector a length and a quarter under James Doyle. The winner is a best-priced 16/1 chance for the 2000 Guineas. 

Horse RacingApril 15, 20210

The Achilles Heel Of The Industry SP?

It was a lovely afternoon’s racing at Newton Abbot on Tuesday. Even better that the light appears to be at the end of the pandemic tunnel for racing. Some owners could attend, with one bookmaker there to service them. The bookie was happy to be there too but it’s fair to say that had it been a pre-Covid day’s racing he’d have been considering if he’d ever bother again given the business. I spoke to him just before the sixth race where he just laid his 32rd bet of the afternoon, £600 – £100 the ultimate winner of the race, which returned 5/1.