We welcome Ruth Carr to the Horse Racing Tavern, who kindly took time out of her busy schedule to answer our questions!
When did you first develop your love for horse racing?
My late Grandfather, David Chapman, was the original Sprint King (in my opinion anyway!) and my father was a farrier so I’d grown up around horses. I mucked out and worked on the yard for what seemed like years until Grandad let me ride one of his racehorses!
You had a successful career as an amateur rider prior to training. What was the highlight of this period?
I had a lot of fun riding as an amateur and was lucky enough to ride over thirty winners. One that sticks in my mind was winning a low grade hurdle race at Sedgfield on my Dad’s Baher beating Peter Niven in a tight finish.
How did you originally get into training horses?
I worked full time for my Granddad straight from leaving school and loved every minute of it. I drove the horsebox up and down the country as well as doing all the usual yard duties. One morning at breakfast about 8 years ago Granddad said out of the blue “he was ready to call it a day and did I want to take the license?” I could have joined my parents successful saddlery retail business but I loved the racing and being hands on with the horses and thought it was now or never.
What was the biggest challenge when starting to train your own string?
I went from taking home a wage every week to paying the wages – that was a big responsibility! I was very lucky to have Grandma and Granddad to support and guide me and I appreciate that I had a fantastic “leg up”
starting my business.
Who do you look up to when training at the yard or on course?
I keep going back to Granddad but obviously he has influenced me massively both professionally and personally. If I’m umming and ahhing now about an entry or how to deal with a particular horse I’ll often think “what would Granddad have done”.
Which horse do you have a soft spot for?
I try not to get too attached to horses in the yard but a mention for both Dubai Dynamo and Imperial Djay who have both won decent handicaps which has helped my career no end. I looked after Soaked for Grandad. He won 19 races in total. In 1998 he won 9 handicaps equaling the record at the time and I rode him to win two of them. He unseated me going out onto the track both times! I learnt how was best to manage him and that was for the jockeys to mount him at the trot on the racetrack well past the stands. I have to mention Quito who was a rig and could be very tricky especially at home but won 20 races including the Ayr Gold Cup and 7 listed races.
Which is your favourite race meeting and why?
There’s something special about York racecourse. I was born and bred not far away and to get a winner there is amazing.
Which racecourse do you enjoy visiting and why?
Chester has a fantastic atmosphere, looks after its owners and trainers well and the prize money is decent.
Which race would you love to win in the future?
It’d be stupid to say the Derby or a Classic as I don’t train those sort of horses. Any winners a winner to me but I’d love to win one of those big, heritage handicaps like the Stewards Cup or Great St Wilfred.
Who is the biggest joker in the yard?!
My brother, Richard Clark, who is our farrier. In his recent interview for my newsletter some of his answers were:
“I wanted to be a jockey but my love of eating pies was greater!”
“Hoof It for Mick Easterby (He is the one that looks like Greengrass out of Heartbeat!”
“Best part of my job; Getting lots of cups of coffee off me big sis!! Worst; Sister bringing no biscuits with the coffee!!!”
If you have a long car journey in front of you, who would you want in the car with you?
My long journey would be driving the horse box and so any of my staff that were going to stay awake and I couldn’t do without the radio to sing along to some cheesy tunes if they do nod off!
It’s our round at the bar – what’s your tipple?
If we’ve had a winner a glass of champagne always goes down well otherwise cold, dry, white wine or a vodka and tonic with plenty of ice. If we’re at the races it’ll likely be a lime and soda water as I’ll have to drive my horses home!
Our last 50p goes in the jukebox – what song would you go for?
I like all music but it’s always good to hear something you haven’t for ages so go for a random number and pray for a good one!
Which racehorses stick in your memory and why?
I can remember leading up an old horse for Grandad called Apple Wine at Beverley when I was very young. I have a feeling that the horse was older than me! I can also remember Grandad buying a horse called Janes Brave Boy after he’d won a seller and being allowed to ride him the following weekend.
One of the first times I went on the gallop I rode Chaplins Club. Our then stable jockey, the late Steve (Samson) Wood, told me that he could take a pull and to just put my hands on his neck and let him do as he pleased. So off I went, flat to the boards, around the gallop with my hands on his neck thinking wow this is great! When I got back to the yard my Dad had been watching me and said “what the bloody hell did you go so fast for” I didn’t realise I was going too fast I thought that was the speed you went every time on the gallop!
Dark horse to follow for the future?
Duabi Dynamo is black – will he do?!
How do you feel about the recent doping stories to hit the headlines?
The only time racing makes the headlines in the none racing media is when something bad happens. I just hope the general public don’t tar us all with the same brush.
The tough economic times have made it very difficult for trainers to increase or retain owners. What do you think could help drive more owners into the sport?
Prize money is the easy answer. The difficult bit is how do we increase it. Also some racecourses do much better than others at looking after their owners.
We thank Ruth for taking the time to answer the Horse racing Tavern Q&A session. Follow Ruth on Twitter @RuthCarr1!
Expect underfoot conditions to play a part by the time we get to Saturday’s Hennessy Gold Cup, the showpiece of Newbury’s card, writes Rob Lawfield.
It doesn’t seem to have stopped raining since the start of May and although the forecast says the end of the week will be drier, there is a chance of frost. The ground will get chewed up over the opening two days of the festival and then as it freezes and thaws it becomes very gluey and stamina-sapping. This, obviously, isn’t every horse’s cup of tea, so caution is advised wherever you look to have a bet this weekend.
Nicky Henderson isn’t keen on putting his stars through such an ordeal this early in the season so it is at least encouraging that he seems happy to run Bobs Worth. The seven-year-old, officially rated 160, needs to be going close in order to establish himself as a genuine Gold Cup contender, although only Denman has won this off a mark so high. I was really impressed with him in the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, which is a useful pointer for this race. Trabolgan landed the double in 2005, heading the same trio who had chased him home at the Festival.
But, First Lieutenant was just two-and-a-half-lengthsbehind Bobs Worth in the RSA and at a price four times bigger he makes plenty of appeal.
To win a Hennessy you need a horse who stays (nine of the last ten winners scored beyond three miles) and you need a horse with some class (eight of the last ten winners scored at listed/graded level previously). First Lieutenant fits the bill having looked set for a big future over fences when landing the Neptune Investments hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2011. He held off the attentions of Rock On Ruby that day and although he has only won twice since, five of his last six starts have been in Grade 1 company and he has been placed in four of them.
On the figures, he produced an effort just as good as his RSA second when getting within a length of the much-improved Kauto Stone at Down Royal last time (in first-time cheekpieces), making the running and sticking to his task well. The last six winners of the Hennessy have been front runners and you wouldn’t want to be having to make up a lot of ground in these conditions so his running style will suit. He was third in a Grade 1 novice chase last season on heavy and should handle conditions well.
His trainer, Mouse Morris, knows what type of horse you need for this. Only War Of Attrition has represented the Irishman in the last ten years, but he saddled Cahervillahow to hit the frame twice in the early 1990’s as well as Boss Doyle in 1998.
Tidal Bay couldn’t have been more impressive when scoring at Wetherby over hurdles four weeks ago and will like the ground. However, his chase mark has risen 12lbs as a result of his Betfred Gold Cup win in April and he faces a tough task giving Bobs Worth 6lbs. Largely thanks to Denman, top-weighted horses have won three times and been placed the other twice in the past five years, and their overall recent record reads 90F91P1313. Tidal Bay is 11 now, though, and only Diamond Edge (1981) has won this at nine years plus in the last 40 years.
The Package was seen just once last term, when fourth to Alfie Sherrin at the Cheltenham Festival and goes well fresh, as he proved when returning better than ever to land the Badger Ales at Wincanton three weeks ago. Connections believe they have solved his tendon problems but he needs to show he can back that Wincanton effort up from an 8lb higher mark.
Hold On Julio made giant strides last term having moved to Alan King from the English Point-to-Point scene. He was really impressive when slamming subsequent National winner Neptune Collonges by nine lengths, from 3lbs out of the weights at Sandown last January. However, his jumping let him down at the Cheltenham Festival and again on his seasonal return.
Frisco Depot, brought over from Ireland to be trained with the Grand National in mind, deserves a mention. He was a Grade 2 winning novice chaser last term after matching Flemenstar for a long way on his previous start. He was going very well before coming down three out on his debut for Charlie Longsdon and is a lively alternative to the selection.
First Lieutenant @ 14/1 with Bet365
We’ve been lucky enough to have plenty of racing personalities answering our Q&A sessions at the Horse Racing Tavern recently! Just in case you’ve missed any, here’s the latest Q&A installments all in one place:
Make sure you check back at the Horse Racing Tavern for more Q&A sessions coming soon!
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Haydock Sprint Cup Preview
The 45th Sprint Cup takes place on the 8th September at Haydock and it should be an occasion to remember. With six explosive furlongs to be covered, the 2012 is likely to be extremely competitive with a host of possible winners.
Looking at some information about this eagerly anticipated race, it is worth noting that it is a Group 1 flat horse race which was first established back in 1966. There have been some famous winners of this event over the years too and it is certainly a stage to make your name.
Referring again to the competitiveness, and indeed unpredictability, of this race, it is interesting to see that only one horse has won this race twice. This was back in the 1960’s too, so there isn’t a dominant force when it comes to the Sprint Cup.
In fact, this race hasn’t even had a trainer emerge victorious two years in a row since Jeremy Tree enjoyed back to back success in 1988 and 1989.
This takes nothing away from the standard though. This race sees some excellent sprinting and the time is getting better and better. Look at the 2010 race for example, it was won by Markab in record time.
Leading the way in terms of the horse racing odds for next weekend’s race is Ortenisa, available at 3/1. The Australian sprinter has shown excellent pedigree on British soil this year with impressive wins at Glorious Goodwood and the Nunthorpe Stakes at York.
As soon as trainer Paul Messara revealed that the Sprint Cup would be the next race for Ortensia, it became the horse to beat.
There is no shortage of other contenders though with Bated Breath available at 5/1. Aiming for a first ever Group 1 success, this horse has plenty of potential and will receive a fair share of backing. Much may depend on the going with Bated Breath’s team hoping for fast ground.
You then have Excelebration (5/1), Mayson (7/1) and Strong Suit (10/1) all in with a chance. Much discussion is taking place with regards to Pearl Secret too. Alongside Strong Suit, this 12/1 shot represents Sheikh Fahad Al Thani at Haydock.
The winner could of course come from elsewhere, but these are the main contenders. Whatever happens, it should be an excellent race and one many horse racing punters will be glued to on 8th September 2012.
Will the favourite Ortenisa storm to victory or can Bated Breath taste Group 1 success? These are the two to watch initially, but anything could happen.
Fancy a bet on the Haydock Sprint Cup? Open an account with Betvictor and get up to £25 in free bets!
We caught up with Tom Dascombe at Haydock a couple weeks ago, and he kindly answered some questions for us. Tom reflects on his career so far and what he feels the future holds for the racing industry.
You originally began your career in racing with Henry Candy at Lambourn – what jobs did you do at the yard when first starting out?
At Henry Candy’s I mucked out and swept the yard. I also looked after his children’s pony’s for which I mucked out and turned them out, and twice a week I was responsible for mixing up mash for the pony’s food.
You were a jockey for Martin Pipe for six years – what was a highlight of your time there?
Highlight of my jockey career for Martin Pipe has to be riding in the Grand National.
You became assistant trainer to Ralph Beckett in 2000, before becoming Mike De Kock’s assistant in 2003. What elements of their training have you transferred to your current training regime at Manor Stables?
Ralph Beckett taught me how crucial it is to find the right race for your horse. If you search for the right race then your chance of having winners is much increased.
From Mike De Kock I took the philosophy that prevention is better than cure. If you can spot a potential problem and prevent it, then your horse is more likely to have a successful career.
What was the most difficult aspect of making the transition from jockey to trainer?
There is no difficult aspect of making the transition as they are entirely different jobs. The major difference for me is that I used to blame the trainers for a poor performance of a horse, now I blame the jockeys!
In 2005, you began your own company called ONEWAY Racing, sending out plenty of winners across Great Britain. Which was the most memorable winner when running ONEWAY Racing?
The most memorable winner has to be my first. The horse was Principal Witness and won on the 4th January 2006 at Lingfield. He had run 13 times before joining my stable and was still a maiden, I was convinced first time out that he would win but got beaten into second, I was devastated. But when he won at Lingfield, I thought, thank goodness, I can do this job!
You began training in 2009 at Manor House Stables, an establishment developed by footballer Michael Owen and the joint founder of Betfair, Andrew Black. Which factors persuaded you to give up your own business to become trainer at Manor Stables?
The chance of becoming Trainer here appeared to be a good opportunity to develop my career.
Which race meeting is your favourite and why?
Favourite meeting has to be Royal Ascot. It’s the place where the best horses compete and it is the best racing. Also it’s at an exciting stage of the season as the two year olds are still improving.
Which racecourse do you enjoy visiting and why?
In my opinion Haydock is the best racecourse in the country. Everyone there is very helpful and the staffs are very friendly. The surface is excellent and it is the best horse who wins most of the time as there is little draw bias, except over seven furlongs where you don’t want to be drawn too high.
Which horse do you have a soft spot for in the yard?
My soft spot is for Bear Behind simply because he is one of life’s real triers.
Do you ever contemplate training jump horses as well with you’re riding experience and why if so/not?
I have no interest in jumps racing anymore. When I started training I trained three jumps horses but unfortunately they all died.
A dark horse to follow for the future?
Which race would you love to win in the future?
I always want to win the next race.
Is Frankel the best racehorse you’ve ever seen? Which other racehorses stick in your memory and why?
Frankel is not only the best horse I have ever seen but the best horse anybody has ever seen!
My memorable horses are Oh So Sharp as I was a massive fan of Steve Cauthen and Dayjur for his brilliant speed.
The tough economic times have made it very difficult for trainers to increase or retain owners. What do you think could help drive more owners into the sport?
I think the biggest problem in racing is that nobody seems to want to work together to support our industry, I feel that the BHA should take charge.
We thank Tom for his time and wish him a successful season at Manor House Stables! Follow Tom and the Manor House Stables team on Twitter @TomDascombe!
We welcome racing enthusiast Simon Holt to the Horse Racing Tavern, who will be familiar to most from his racecourse commentary live on Channel Four racing, where he has been commentating on racing since 1994! We caught up with Simon at the track recently and got his thoughts on his career, his favourite race meetings and horses to follow for the future!
When did you first get into horse racing and how did commentating come about?
I want to begin these answers by saying that, for whatever talent I may have, I have been very lucky throughout my career. Despite having no family background/interest connecting me to horse racing, I have loved it since a very early age and haven’t a clue why! I can remember watching Specify winning the Grand National (aged 7) but Red Rum’s first victory, when overhauling the exhausted Crisp, was the race that really hooked me, and remains perhaps the greatest race I have ever seen. My parents were very good about indulging my interest, sacrificing the TV set on Saturday afternoons and taking me to local courses like Brighton and Fontwell, though Dad would only come along on condition he be allowed to sulk all afternoon. To work in the racing industry was always a bit of a dream and I was hugely fortunate that, in my home town of Shoreham-by-Sea in West Sussex, there was a small publishing firm called Furlong Press who produced a weekly form book called ‘Superform’ as well as the ‘Haig Races and Racehorses Annual’. I began there on Saturday mornings and, eventually, after failing all but one of my A-levels, I joined them full-time. It was a superb grounding in writing and, in particular, handicapping. Eventually, after leaving Furlong Press and enduring a period of unemployment, I got a big break when there were job vacancies on The Sporting Life as a result of the Racing Post start-up. While working for the Weekender (first) and then the ‘Life’ – a great experience working with colourful characters and involving anything from tipping to feature writing and on-track reporting (plus an alarming amount of drinking!) – I was encouraged to send a tape to SIS which was about to provide pictures to betting shops for the first time. They were seeking new commentary talent and, although I had only done a few point-to-points, they took me on. Right place at the right time.
Have you commentated on other sports during your career?
Shamefully, only once. Through a colleague who used to direct Channel 4 Racing, I learned there were some opportunities at the Commonwealth Games to be held in New Delhi. Not everyone was keen on the venue apparantly – there was a security risk – but visiting India was an attraction for me. I didn’t know what sport I would be given, and got lawn bowls! It was hard work, conditions were a bit basic, the heat intensive and food ordinary, but it was extremely refreshing to try something new. Compared to calling horse races, you couldn’t get a more different discipline than bowls. There is no need to talk throughout which is a good job as one womens singles match lasted nearly three hours. Effectively, we were working in a garrison; there were no spectators, just competitors, team managers and media. We were body-searched each day on arrival and one of the guards was definitely a serial ‘groper.’ It became the highlight of my day.
How do you prepare for a race meeting that you’ll be calling home?
More thoroughly than when I was younger and learned the colours on the way to the start. I could probably still do that but, with colours and form available on the internet now, there is no reason not to get a head-start. Generally, and especially if the fields are large, I would spend a little time on-line the evening before racing (better before partaking in wine rather than after) and ‘semi’ learn the colours. This has worked well for me, and my peace of mind. On the day, I make various marks denoting fillies, headgeared runners, front-runners, white faces, writing out the draw, etc but try to keep it as simple as possible by merely folding up the page from the Racing Post.
What are the most challenging aspects of being a horse racing commentator?
Well, identification and accuracy in big fields, especially on a bright sunny day. Every year, there are a few races which really challenge me – I’m doing Ayr Gold Cup day in September which is a tough one and autumnal handicaps like the Cambridgeshire and Cesarewitch are never easy. However, in the biggest races, the challenge is often to find the right words to fit the occasion.
Which racing commentary line from the past sticks in your mind?
There are a few: “Crisp is getting very tired, he’s been out there a long time…”, “You’ve never heard a reception like it at Liverpool…”, “The mare’s beginning to get up” and “Dayjur took a bad step!”
Which race sticks in the memory the most and why?
I have been fortunate to watch (and in some cases call) many memorable races but, most recently, Kauto Star’s comeback win in the Betfair Chase last November was unbelievable and Black Caviar’s Diamond Jubilee win will not be easily forgotten. There are so many to be honest.
Which is your favourite racecourse when race commentating and why?
For sheer excitement and emotion, the Cheltenham Festival beats everything in my book. It has long been the biggest week of my year working for Channel 4 and the Gold Cup itself seldom disappoints. People look forward to Cheltenham for months and, at no other race meeting, do you see such passion. Sometimes I think how nice it would be to watch the Festival at home on television with a glass of red but, deep down, I think I’m addicted to it and no meeting gives me more job satisfaction if everything has gone well.
Also, I’ve always enjoyed commentating at Goodwood, Plumpton and Lingfield none of which are too far from home!
Which is your favourite racecourse to visit and why?
My answer to this is always, at the top end, Cheltenham over jumps and Goodwood on the Flat. Of the more rustic venues, Plumpton, Fontwell and Ludlow are always fun.
Which horses do you have a soft spot for?
It’s usually a chaser who keeps coming back each season. As I’ve already said, Red Rum was the horse who hooked me and Desert Orchid was also a great favourite. More recently, I have had a strong affinity with both Best Mate and Kauto Star not least because, during their careers, I have had the privelege of visiting them at home on various occasions. I am not ashamed to say that some horses make me very emotional; Kauto Star is one and, at Cheltenham a few years ago, I very nearly blubbed live on air when describing Hardy Eustace as a “Cheltenham legend”! On the Flat, stayers like Double Trigger and Persian Punch were great favourites.
Which horse are you looking forward to seeing this flat/jumps season?
I would like to see Nathaniel have a crack at the Arc; he’s such a brave and talented horse while, over jumps, it will be very exciting to see what Sprinter Sacre can do this coming winter. What a monster he is!
Do you have a horse to follow for the future?
I shall be following Hunt Ball with great interest after the phenomenal improvement he made last winter. His owner has backed him to win a million if he can land the Gold Cup next March.
Is Frankel the greatest racehorse you’ve seen in your lifetime? Which horse comes closest if so/not?
On the Flat, I guess he must be as I was very young when Brigadier Gerard was racing. But I remember Dancing Brave very well and was tipped off about him when he won his very first race at Sandown. Very few middle distance horses have had his acceleration – his performance to come from an unpromising position and win a top class Arc was exceptional – and I was lucky enough to interview all those connected with the horse when working on features for The Sporting Life. Like Frankel, Dancing Brave was special.
We welcome Paul Brierley to the Horse Racing Tavern, who is a jockey’s agent and runs BB Jockey Management. We asked Paul some questions about the job!
1. When did you first become a jockeys agent and how did it come about?
November 2011, I had a brief spell in 2006 doing it, but decided to do it full time in 2011 as a result of Campbell Gillies and Ewan Whillans asking me to do it for them.
2. How many winners in total have your jockeys saddled?
From November 2011 to end of 2011-12 season we had 76 winners and nearly 200 placed, so far in 2012-13 we have had 14 winners and 102 placed.
3. Who is your most well known jockey on the books so far and what is his/her biggest achievement to date?
Probably Campbell Gillies, who had 38 winners last season and biggest success was the Cheltenham Festival winner on Brindisi Breeze who sadly died last month in a freak accident.
4.What types of services do you offer to jockeys?
We, as in my other half, Samantha Burns is part of the team, and she helps with sponsorship, training and development , transport etc. I do all the jockey bookings. Our company, BB Jockey Management, sponsor Ewan Whillans and Grant Cockburn.
5. What’s a typical day for you?
I get up at 6.30am, prepare the print offs for the races, highlighting potential rides or booked rides and from 7.30am I am on the phone contacting trainers for confirmations or spare rides before the decs close at 10am. Once the decs are complete then receive the 5 day entries and work on them, basically I am working 7 days a week.
6. A jockey signs for you and asks you to get him/her some winners. How do you go about this?
All jockeys usually have some sort of stable attachment. For e.g. Campbell Gillies, Grant Cockburn and Steven Fox are attached to Lucinda Russell, firstly I contact their trainers and then look to get them into other yards to ride out for new contacts and potentially new rides.
7. How far in advance do you tend to book jockeys with trainers?
The 5 day entries are the first source of booking rides, and I tend to know the jockeys’ guaranteed rides and jock them up accordingly, then I look to add to their rides with outside spares.
8. How, if at all, have the new whip rules affected your job with regards to dealing with bans and booking rides?
The whip rule hasn’t really had a major effect on the jockeys, the initial whip rule change with regards losing riding fees was very harsh, as it affected not only the jockeys, but others such as valets and agents who also lost earnings. So far the worst ban one of my jockeys has had is 2 days, generally they have all adjusted to the rules very well.
9. What is one of the most challenging aspects of the job?
The most challenging aspect has to be when a jockey is perceived to have given a horse a poor ride and I therefore have to act as the middle man with the trainer and jockey, generally the trainers understand the situation and gives them the benefit of the doubt.
10. What is one of the most rewarding aspects of the job?
Winners, it’s that simple!!
11. As a jockeys agent, which race would you love to see one of your jockeys win?
The Grand National, although having Campbell winning at Cheltenham was some buzz, I have never shouted so loud on a run in!!!!
12. Who’s the biggest joker on your books?
That’s a tricky one, although Campbell Gillies, Alexander Voy and Ewan Whillans can be a nightmare for tricks when they are together!!!!
13. Which Jockey would you love to have on the books?
It has to be AP McCoy, from a business point of view he has so many rides and winners!!!!!
14. Your favourite racecourse and why?
Hexham, as I live about one mile from the track and my horse has won there twice this year, I also like Perth and Uttoxeter, whilst Aintree is also special place.
15. Your favourite horse in training?
Outlaw Tom (trained by Lucinda Russell) we bought him last year and I run the racing partnership, he’s currently on holidays with myself and Samantha in Hexham. He won twice at Hexham for us last season, and they were both very special moments, so he has to be my favourite!!
16. The horse you’re looking forward to seeing running this season or next?
It was going to Brindisi Breeze but he met with such a tragic death it really was heart breaking, I would love to see Lie Forrit return to winning ways, Sprinter Sacre is going to be very exciting again this season.
17. Dark horse to follow?
Ballycool (Lucinda Russell) not ran for her yet, but a friend trained it before it went to Lucinda and they say he’s good! One to watch !!
18. Which route do you think both Frankel & Camelot should take this season?
Frankel should be aimed for Breeders Cup and prove to the world he is the best, whilst Camelot should go the Arc route, although a Triple Crown tilt would be amazing to see.
19. Finally, if you could offer advice to any young aspiring jockeys, what would it be?
Work hard, seek advise off senior jockeys, be patient and get a good agent!!!!
For info jockeys on my books can be seen on www.bbjockeymanagement.com, soon to be added is Craig Gallagher from Ben Haslams yard.
Follow Paul on Twitter @PB_Jockeyagent!
CAN BARNEY MCGREW HOSE HOME IN FEATURE?
The flat season at Ayr Racecourse gets under way with the two day May meeting featuring Spring Raceday on Wednesday May 30 and Blue Square Raceday on Thursday May 31.
Two competitive days racing are in prospect with Wednesday’s highlight being The Bet Mobile At BetVictor.com Handicap over the minimum trip of five furlongs with £10,300 in the prize fund.
Entries include Barney McGrew from the Michael Dods stable – second to Jimmy Styles in the 2009 William Hill Ayr Gold Cup, Jim Goldie’s Rothesay Chancer and Mayoman representing the trainer – jockey combination of David O’Meara and Danny Tudhope.
Jim Goldie’s impressive three year old Jack Dexter is a likely runner in the Bet At Bluesquare.com Handicap over six furlongs on Thursday and if this horse is as good as it appeared last time out at Chester it should take this race.
The feature on day two is the opening race – a two year old maiden over five furlongs which will attract runners from top southern yards.
First race both days is due off at 2.10 pm and for further information go online at www.ayr-racecourse.co.uk or call 01292 264179.
Follow Ayr Racecourse on Twitter @ayrracecourse!
We welcome Hayley McDermot who joins us at the Horse Racing Tavern to discuss thoroughbred breeding and the quest for the perfect racehorse!
The recent dominating efforts of champion racehorses Sea the Stars, Zarkava and Frankel have left little room to doubt that thoroughbred breeding in the UK is still a thriving industry. Every year, the finest colts and fillies frolic across verdant pastures before going on to dominate not only in the UK, but also in France, America and Australia. Through long centuries of careful observation and experimentation, breeders have come to understand the intricacies of bloodlines and conformation, and yet all of this strenuous effort can only improve their odds of producing the next champion, not guarantee it. For every great foal, there are hundreds or thousands more that will never rise above mediocrity. The answer to what makes that one foal so special is the holy-grail for horse breeders.
Of course, no matter the uncertainty, pedigree is still an extremely important part of the breeding game. While greatness can arise anywhere, it’s much more likely to spring from a mating of the very best stallions and mares available, or at least their descendants. Typically, stallions are expected to have won at least one stakes race, with stud fees determined by the success of progeny and their race records. Broodmares are typically lightly raced, although most champion fillies go on to become mothers as well. Horses are generally grouped into ‘families,’ based on their lines and prominent sires in their pedigrees. One of the most successful practices of breeding is to determine which lines mix together to produce consistently strong runners.
Beyond the broad spectrum of matching families, breeders also consider if a stallion and a mare are a good physical match for each other. A large, slow-to-mature mare, for example, might be bred to a stallion with a reputation for siring precocious offspring. In the same manner, a small, light horse might be bred to a larger one to improve bone structure and overall size. Optimal distance must also be considered when looking over breeding prospects. Some horses excel at sprints, while others are best at the classic distances. Breeding two horses for speed, stamina or both will have a pronounced effect on the foal’s distance potential. A good breeder of race horses understands the strengths and weaknesses of his or her stock, sets a goal and then finds the right match to reach it. The best stallion for a particular mare may not have national acclaim, but instead offer exactly the right traits to beget a future stakes winner.
In the end, however, a good deal of thoroughbred breeding comes down to luck. A foal may inherit all the best characteristics of its parents, but it may also inherit the worst. And, as they say, lightning rarely strikes twice, meaning no match is a sure thing. A good example of this is the family of American racehorse Barbaro, who won the Kentucky Derby and tragically broke down in the Preakness Stakes. Since then, the owners of Barbaro’s dam have repeatedly bred her back to his sire, but so far every full brother to the champion has been a disappointment on the track. No matter the odds, though, there are always one or two outstanding individuals that rise to the top of their division. And even at the lowest levels, every winner is a vindication for a breeder, the true craftsmen of this thrilling sport.
Hayley works for Anything Equine, an equestrian clothing store that provides helpful advice and tips to beginner riders. Her years of experience have helped Hayley gain lots of knowledge about equestrian products and especially Professional riding boots.
It’s hot in the UK at the moment, but it is certainly a bit hotter over in the United Arab Emirates. It is from there on Saturday that Dubai World Cup night will be staged, the culmination of this year’s racing carnival. In anticipation of such a star studded card, Tim Carroll, our International Racing Correspondent who is currently in the UAE, has kindly put pen to paper and thrown up a few of the key players to concentrate on. If that’s not enough, make sure to check back on Saturday when Alan Hughes will also be wading in with his assessment of who to lump on out in Meydan.
The former Andre Fabre inmate African Story now with Godolphin has been in terrific form during the carnival. He returned from a 5 month break when winning a handicap at Meydan in January before finishing 3rd to the stable companion Sandagiyr in a race that was not run to suit. African Story was last seen when recording an impressive 4 length victory in the Group 3 Burj Nahaar over course and distance on Super Saturday. This lad thrives on the tapeta surface and has been drawn nicely in stall 4. Frankie Detorri is booked to ride and has expressed his positivity that this horse is his best chance of a winner. African Story is the current market leader at 7/4 with William Hill.
This year’s carnival hasn’t produced a 3yo of any note. For this reason, I am looking toward those that have been shipped over recently for this race. Ballydoyle have both Wrote and Daddy Long Legs engaged. Daddy Long Legs won the Group 2 Royal Lodge at Newmarket in September when 4.5 Lengths ahead of Wrote, and wasn’t seen again until the Breeders meeting when failing on the dirt at Churchill Downs in the Grey Goose Juvenile. Provided he has recovered from the trip to the States there is no reason he cannot figure here.
However, I am siding with his stable companion Wrote. This High Chaparral 3yo was a dominant winner at the Breeders Cup and although behind Daddy Long Legs in the Royal Lodge he has always given the impression he had more scope for improvement. He has proven he can cope with travel and although on the tapeta for the first time his run on the dirt at the Breeders Cup would suggest he is a versatile type. Another positive is the booking of Ryan Moore to ride. Although it can be difficult to deduce exactly who is the preferred rider for Ballydoyle, Moore would have had the pick of the yard for this race. Wrote is available at 4/1 best price with Stan James.
Another horse with an undeniable chance in this race is the Godolphin owned and Australian trained entrant Helmet. The most experienced runner in the race who already has 3 Group 1 victories to his name. Although it can be difficult to line up the Australian form, it is worth noting that Helmet was one of the more fancied runners when taking on the older horses in the 2011 Cox Plate (a race won twice by So You Think) which is the premier WFA race in the Southern Hemisphere. On that occasion he led before tiring and not seeing the 2040m trip out. He is officially the highest rated animal in the race and when interviewed during the week his rider Kerrin McEvoy was of the opinion that he would relish the tapeta surface.
Al Quoz Sprint
This race is run over the straight 5f on the turf. Low numbers are drawn on the inside of the course. Speed is the name of the game here and although a strong 5f type can win the race it is worth looking for those that get further as they burn early up front and tend to set it up for those at the back. One horse that will be suited to the way the race will be run is the Paul Messara trained Ortensia. A Group 1 winning sprinter in Australia, she has won her last two starts – the latest victory coming in the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes over 6f at Ascot. She has form up to 7f but her optimum distance is 5-5.5f where she has won 3 from 4. She has been set for this race and goes well fresh having won first up last campaign and finishing 3rd to the wonder sprinter Black Caviar the campaign prior. Ortensia is 10/1 with SkyBet.
Last years King Stand winner Prohibit is another who will be suited to the way the race will be run. A hold up type, his two runs at Meydan during the carnival have only been fair but this is the race they have targeted and expect the Robert Cowell runner to be there when the whips are cracking. Prohibit can be backed at 16/1 with William Hill.
Regally Ready is a high class performer who had a very good 2011 winning 6 races in total including the Nearctic Stakes at Woodbine (beating Bated Breath a neck) and the Grade 2 Breeders Cup Turf sprint at Churchill Downs. His overall record on turf is 7 from 12 and he is 3 from 4 over the 5f trip. Regally Ready was last seen when having his only start here in Dubai and a shade disappointing behind Invincible Ash. However, he will have taken benefit from the run and his trainer Steve Asmussen knows what type of horse it takes to win races in Dubai. Regally ready is also available at 16/1 with William Hill.
Rocket Man holds all the aces here. He is the 2ndhighest rated sprinter in the world behind Black Caviar and won this race last year. He has won 19 of his 25 career starts, but even more impressive is his record on artificial surfaces where he has won 8 from 9 and would have been 9 from 9 except for pilot error here in 2010. Rocket Man has only finished out of the top two on two occasions and that was in Japan 3 starts ago and in Hong Kong (poorly drawn) on his penultimate start. He was tuned up for this with an easy kill in a minor sprint race at Kranji Singapore earlier this month. This proven world class performer hasn’t always had the best of luck at the draw but has managed to land the prime 1 marble here. Felix Coetzee will have him up on the speed and should get the run of the race from there. Viewing him this week, he looked very well within himself during track work. Rocket Man is currently best price with Ladbrokes at 11/4.
Sepoy is considered along with Hay List as the next best sprinter in Australia after Black Caviar. He has won 10 of his 12 starts including the Group 1’s Blue Diamond and Golden Slipper as a 2yo. He suffered only his second defeat last time out when drawn poorly carrying top weigh in the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate beaten 3/4L. However, that run was awarded a rating as high as any of his victories such was the effort. The main concern for this Godolphin owned 4 year old is if he will take to the tapeta surface with his rider Kerrin McEvoy notably cautious when questioned. If he handles the tapeta, then Sepoy (4/1 PaddyPower) ranks as the main threat to Rocket Man.
Dubai Duty Free
Mutahadee is a high class performer from the Mick De Kock yard. Formerly with Tommy Stack in Ireland, he was in the frame in all 3 starts including the Royal Whip at The Curragh and Kilternan Stakes at Leopardstown. Mutahadee won his first two starts here at the carnival including an impressive 4L victory over Viscount Nelson in January. He finished 3rd to Master Of Hounds on his last start on Super Saturday, however there were legitimate excuses as he was given plenty to do and finished strongly despite not getting the clearest of runs. Christophe Soumillion has the pick of the rides for De Kock in Dubai and opted for this one over Musir, surely a sign in itself. Mutahadee can be backed at 7/1 with Ladbrokes.
Await The Dawn won three in a row last year before getting sick and taking a stint on the sidelines. He was brought back for the Breeders Cup Turf over 1.5 miles where he acted as a pacemaker for his stable companion and eventual winner St Nicholas Abbey. Ballydoyle have had a few months to get this horse right and has undoubted ability having won 5 of his 8 starts. One of the best looking horses in training, if they can get him back to form he would take all the beating here. The slight concern is that several of the recent arrivals from Europe have been noticeably sweating up during track work in what has been a very warm last week of March even by Dubai standards.
Dubai Sheema Classic
St Nicholas Abbey (10/3 William Hill) was an impressive winner of the Breeders Cup Turf in November, finally fulfilling the promise he showed early on in a career that has been restricted by problems. Winner of the Coronation Cup at Epsom and the Ormonde Stakes at Chester, his final start in Europe was a creditable 6th in The Arc on a rock hard track that suited those on the speed. St Nich will act on good going and should appreciate the long sweeping run-in at Meydan. Returning from a break shouldn’t be a problem but keep on eye on him prior to the race as he often sweats up even in cooler climates and wont want to get too warm here.
Cirrus De Aigles is one of the highest rated middle distances horses in the world who was only denied a shot at the Arc due to the cruelest of snips down below. He is a nice strong type who won the Champion Stakes at Ascot defeating World Cup favourite So You Think by 3/4L. The French raider followed that with a disappointing run when 5th to California Memory in The Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin in December. The prep race for Meydan was on the AW at Chantilly in which he was surprisingly beaten by Zazou, although he is very smart performer in his own right (also on the card). Cirrus Des Aigles (3/1 William Hill) should come on for that run and is expected to improve here. He is a tough and consistent sort who will give you a good run for your money.
Dubai World Cup
So You Think (5/2 William Hill and PaddyPower) is without doubt the best credentialed horse in the race having recorded a staggering 126 official rating on no less than 6 occasions. This monster joined Ballydoyle last season and won the Mooresbridge Stakes, Gold Cup at The Curragh, The Eclipse, and Irish Champion Stakes and in the process defeating the reigning Derby/Arc winner Workforce and dual Oaks heroine Snow Fairy. His only defeats in Europe were when 2nd beaten a neck by Rewilding in the Prince of Wales when he was arguably pressed on too soon and a 5.75L 4th to Danedream when given far too much to do in the Arc. His season began to look disspointing when beaten into 2nd by Cirrus Des Aigles in the Champion Stakes at Ascot., followed by a 6th place finish at the Breeders Cup behind Drosselmeyer. He over raced with blinkers applied and was stuck in the worst part of the going along the fence for most of the race. So You Think is a 10 furlong specialist and versatile enough that the tapeta should not pose a problem. Coolmore wouldn’t bring him over here if he wasn’t fit enough. I watched him walk the track a couple of times earlier in the week and it was noticeable that he was a muck lather of sweat. However this race is run at 9.40pm local time and he doesn’t have a history of sweating on race days. More of a concern could be the fact that no horse has won this race since 1999 (Almutawakel) without a prep run.
Like many American gallopers who can get a trip, Game On Dude has plenty of pace and will more than likely use it to get across from the wide draw in 14. He is a Group 1 winner at the distance and should have won the Breeders Cup Classic (So You Think 6th) but for running on the worst part of the track. He Won his prep race for this and has the right run style for the World Cup. The only negative is the American horses have ceased to be so dominant at the meeting ever since the old dirt track was closed and replaced with the tapeta at Meydan.
Capponi reminds me of several World Cup contenders over the years who appear to be out of their depth but still perform well on the back of a successful carnival. He was only seen once in 2011 and Godolphin have shown plenty of patience with this 5yo. Capponi was first past the post in a handicap here in January (disqualified after failing a drugs test) and then was too strong when defeating Disa Leader by 3L before winning round 3 of The Maktoum Challenge by 4L from Silver Pond. He has the perfect on-the-pace style for this race and acts on the tapeta. He is stepping up in class but looks a major player in this, buoyed by positive comments from his jockey who fancies a place finish for sure.