Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Cheltenham Festival 2014: Six of the Best for Quevega

In 2013, Ruby Walsh announced that his decade-long association with Paul Nicholls would end and, consequently, the Cheltenham Festival in 2014 was his first as stable jockey to Willie Mullins. Not that it made much difference, because the partnership were off the mark at the first time of asking – as they had been the previous year – with victory for Vautour in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. The story on day one, however, belongs to another Mullins-trained runner, Quevega, who made it 6-6 in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle, for which she had started favourite on all six occasions, the last four at odds-on.

Willie Mullins was also on target with Faugheen, ridden by Ruby Walsh, in the NIM Novices’ Hurdle and Don Poli, ridden by Michael Fogarthy, in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle. Mullins and Walsh were crowned leading trainer and jockey, respectively, for the third year in a row.

Other notable winners during the week were Jezki in the Stan James Champion Hurdle, Sire De Grugy in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, Silver Concorde in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper, More Of That in the Ladbroke World Hurdle and Lord Windermere in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup. The latter was trained by Jim Culloty, better known as the jockey of Best Mate, who won the Blue Riband event in 2002, 2003 and 2004.

Friday, 11 May 2018

Cheltenham Festival 2013: Sprinter Sacre Reigns in Queen Mother

Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins set out his Festival stall early in 2013 with a treble on day one. Champagne Fever, the winner of the Weatherbys Champion Bumper in 2012, won the William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, Hurricane Fly regained his title in the Stan James Champion Hurdle, reversing 2012 form with Rock On Ruby, and the admirable mare Quevega won the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle for the fifth year running.

All three were ridden by Ruby Walsh, but Mullins’ son, Patrick, joined the party early on day two, making up 6 lengths on the run-in to win the John Oaksey National Hunt Chase on Back In Focus, also saddled by his father. Mullins Snr. and Walsh added Briar Hill – unbelievably a 25/1 chance – in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper later in the day to their respective totals and that was enough for the pair to take the leading trainer and jockey titles.

Elsewhere, Sprinter Sacre turned the Queen Mother Champion Chase into the anticipated procession, barely coming off the bridle to win by 19 lengths, Solwhit won the Ladbrokes World Hurdle and Bobs Worth won the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup. The hitherto unbeaten Our Conor, trained by Dessie Hughes and ridden by Brian Cooper, was the easiest winner of the JCB Triumph Hurdle for many a year, effortlessly drawing clear in the closing stages to win by 15 lengths.

Monday, 7 May 2018

David Nicholson

David Nicholson, universally known as “The Duke”, was a highly successful National Hunt trainer. In a 31-year career, he saddled a total of 1,499 winners, including 17 at the Cheltenham Festival, and won the National Hunt Trainers’ Championship twice, in 1993/94 and 1994/95. In fact, he was the only trainer to break the monopoly on the trainers’ title held by Martin Pipe between 1988/89 and 2004/05.

Instantly recognisable on the racecourse by his gaudy sheepskin coat and red socks, and famous for his frank, forthright attitude, Nicholson sent out his first Cheltenham Festival winner in 1986. The victory of Solar Cloud in the Triumph Hurdle, though, was followed by another for Charter Party in the National Hunt Chase later the same day. Charter Party would return to Prestbury Park two years later to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Alongside property developer Colin Smith, who owned a share of Charter Party, Nicholson was instrumental in the development of Jackdaws Castle, a state-of-the-art training facility in Temple Guiting, near Cheltenham, now occupied by Jonjo O’Neill. In 1990, he sold Cotswold House, in Condicote, near Stow-on-the-Wold and accepted a salaried position at Jackdaws Castle. Later Cheltenham Festival highlights included Mysilv in the Triumph Hurdle in 1994, Viking Flagship in the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 1994 and 1995 and Anzum in the Stayers’ Hurdle in 1999.

David Nicholson retired from training in 1999 and died, from a heart attack, in 2006, at the age of 67. In 2008, a new race, registered as the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle, was added to the Cheltenham in his memory but, for sponsorship purposes, has been run as the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle since 2011.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Grand National Quiz!

Well here we are, another year, another huge weekend for Horse Racing fans. The Grand National at Aintree in Liverpool has been running for over 170 years, and is without a doubt the most popular racing meet in history. Over its long four day weekend, it’s estimated that over 600 million people are set to watch the event globally, and a whopping 150,000 fans showing up in person to attend. With the festival just around the corner, we’ve got this brilliant quiz to help you dial in your knowledge this year. All you need to do is read the stats of each anonymous horse and guess which horse it is! The stats range from age, origin, important wins and even trainers. Hopefully it’ll help you figure out the best Grand National Betting offers this weekend.
Who’s your money on? D’you think you’ll do well? Let us know, and best of luck readers!

Relive the 2018 Cheltenham Festival

The 2018 Cheltenham Festival was an epic event which saw the favourites live up to the billing while they were a few underdogs who managed to make some surprises. The only downside of the event was probably the death of at least five horses both during and subsequently soon after the Cheltenham Festival, something which has prompted the authorities to launch an investigation into the matter. Besides this rather unfortunate turn of events, everything else was smooth and punters who managed to go to the Festival and those who placed their bets online at various sportsbooks such as NetBet Sport were thrilled at most of the favourites won. The last day of the Festival provided the bulk of the action, let’s relive some of the action. 

Gold Cup

The Gold Cup epitomised this year’s Cheltenham Festival’s brilliance and style as the top horses all fought resolutely for the ultimate prize. In a race that was widely awaited for by many, the Gold Cup did not disappoint as Native River won the prestigious Gold Cup in stunning fashion. The favourite before the start of the race Might Bite had to settle for second place despite putting in the performance of a winner. 

The Gold Cup which also presented Might Bite’s trainer, Nicky Henderson with the opportunity to record a first Cheltenham Festival treble ended in disappointment as Henderson’s horse, Might Bite could only manage second place. Nicky Henderson’s previous two wins were in the Champion Hurdle with Buveur d’Air and the Champion Chase with Altior. 

With favourites, Minella Rocco, Shantou Flyer, and Double Shuffle ruled out for this year’s Cheltenham Festival, Might Bite’s task was made a little bit easier. However, Might Bite paid dearly for a slow start which allowed Native River to get on the front from the word go, a position Native River maintained for the entirety of the race. 

Grand Annual

The penultimate race of the Cheltenham Festival saw some top horses battle it out in the Grand Annual. The two-mile handicap chase which is a test of stamina and speed was full of action from start to finish. The race was made much more intriguing by the fact that there was no clear favourite before the start. Last year’s winner, Rock the World though competing again was not tipped by many to retain the title. North Hill Harvey, Don’t Touch It, Theinval, and Vanietux were some of the horses with favourable odds at the start of the race. 

At the start of the race, Bright New Dawn took the lead and showed incredible pace as he tried to establish a wider gap between him and the other horses. However, the fast start was halted a bit when he failed to negotiate some jumps and Gino Trail took the lead. It was only after some leaps that Bright New Dawn came back into the thick of things. With Gino Trail leading by two lengths, last year’s winner North Hill Harvey fell at the third last. A few lengths before Gino Trail could claim his first Cheltenham win, Le Prezien took a great leap and overtook Gino Trail to finish the race in pole position leaving Gino Trail having to contend with second place. Le Prezien which was being ridden by Barry Geraghty gave him his second win in three races at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival.