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2013 John Smith’s Aintree Grand National Set for April 0

Posted on February 19, 2013 by Dean Hybl
The Aintree Racecourse offers challenge for both the jockey and horse.

The Aintree Racetrack offers challenge for both the jockey and horse.

While the Kentucky Derby is the best known horse racing event in the United States, a month prior to the Derby, Liverpool, England will serve as the host for a very different, yet equally exciting horse racing spectacle.  The 2013 John Smith’s Aintree Grand National Hunt race is the world’s most popular steeplechase event.

Originally held at the Aintree Racetrack in 1839, the 2013 event is slated for April 6th and serves as the culmination of the three-day Aintree Festival.

The Grand National provides a unique set of challenges that only the best jockeys and horses can conquer.

The racecourse is triangular in shape and includes 16 fences, all except The Chair and the Water Jump are jumped twice. The course has a reputation as the ultimate test of horse and jockey, and just completing the two circuits is considered a great accomplishment. Some of the fences are famous for their difficulty, most specifically Becher’s Brook, The Chair, and the Canal Turn.

Unlike the Kentucky Derby and American Triple Crown, which includes the best three-year-old horses, the Aintree Grand National is typically won by a horse with far more years and experience.

In 2012 11-year-old Neptune Collonges, ridden by jockey Daryl Jacob for trainer Paul Nicholls and owner John Hales was able to conquer the challenging track and claim victory in the Grand National. He was the oldest winner of the Grand National since 12-year-old Amberleigh House in 2004.

The oldest horse to win the Grand National was 15-year-old Peter Simple in 1853. Since 1994 the youngest horse to win the race was eight-year-old Bindaree in 2002 and the race has been won 12 times in that stretch by a horse with double-digits in the age column.

For many, one of the great allures of this annual event is the many betting opportunities and certainly the recent history of older winners is one thing for those who enjoy betting on this exciting event to consider as they ponder which horse and jockey they will support. Through William Hill Grand National 2013 you can watch all the races of the three-day festivities through livestreaming and also keep track of the latest betting odds and opportunities.

Questions Arise Regarding Frankel’s Next Race 0

Posted on August 23, 2012 by Thomas Rooney

Where will Frankel run next?

After Frankel’s incredible performance at York on Wednesday afternoon, where he stormed to victory by seven lengths, questions are now arising as to whether he will run in the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on October 7th.

Those assessing Racing tips from Bet Victor note how the Juddmonte International Stakes was the first time Frankel had ran over a mile, but he was still the red-hot favourite to come out on top and did not disappoint.

Owner Prince Khalid Abdullah has now hinted that is it possible that the four-year-old may now compete in the Arc, but he will hold talks with Sir Henry Cecil before making any final decisions.

He said: “I will talk to Henry and, if he thinks so, we will take him there.”

Frankel does not currently hold entry for the Arc though and it is being suggested that Prix du Moulin at Longchamp next month and either the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes or Champions Stake at Ascot in October are the more likely races that he will compete in before retirement to stud at the end of the campaign. Read the rest of this entry →

The Early Years of the Melbourne Cup 18

Posted on July 14, 2011 by Rod Crowley

Although now known universally as “the race that stops the nation” the very first Melbourne Cup was raced at Flemington Park in November 1861 and was an absolute spectacle which saw one horse bolt before the start and three fall during the two mile race, two of which had to be put down. That first race was eventually won by a horse from Melbourne’s rival city of Sydney named Archer an unfancied outsider. He had allegedly walked from Sydney to contest the race but whether he had or hadn’t became academic as he romped home by six lengths from the Victorian bred favourite and champion Mormon. That win by an ‘outsider’ fuelled the interstate rivalry that helped to develop the popularity that the race still holds to this day in Australia. The win earned Archer’s connections the equivalent to $1,000 AU.

Somewhat amazingly, the New South Wales bred Archer was entered into the Melbourne Plate the following day and won that two mile event too taking back to Sydney another good sized purse.

Mormon returned to Flemington 12 months later, this time with an eight length success a winning distance that has never been bettered since. The unfortunate Mormon had to content himself once again by finishing in second place. Archer’s entry was the reason why the crowd had doubled in size that year with plenty of home supporters hoping to see him beaten but wasn’t to be the case and the result consigned his name into Melbourne Cup folklore.

Unfortunately, that was to be Archer’s last run in the increasingly popular race. It had been hoped that he would turn up in 1863 but due to the fact that his entry for the race arrived during a Victoria State Public Holiday he was never entered and despite protests by his connections, he was subsequently scratched.

The withdrawal of Archer caused much consternation for both Victorians and those from New South Wales and in a show of support for Archer’s trainer, Etienne de Mestre, plenty of owners withdrew their entries from the race, leaving just a field of seven runners. It would have been a minor miracle however if Archer had won the race for a third time as he would have been carrying 11st 4Ib over a stone more than the next highest in the handicap.

De Mestre also became a name synonymous with the Melbourne Cup, before retiring he trained three further winners of the race, Tim Whiffler in 1867, Chester in 1877 and Calamia in 1878.

The victory by ‘Tim Whiffler’ was particularly amusing as he was one of two horses that had turned up for the race with that name. They had received the names courtesy of a verse in a poem written by Adam Lindsay Gordon in 1865 where he predicted that a horse called Tim Whiffler would win the Melbourne Cup. The stewards and the connections agreed that they both needed to have their names tweaked, so for the purpose of the race, the De Mestre entry was called “Sydney Tim Whiffler”, while the other, which was bred in Melbourne was called “Melbourne Tim Whiffler”. The crowd of course thought this was a great idea but only until the ‘Sydney’ version got up to win!

The Melbourne Cup ahs gone on from strength to strength since those early days and is now the number one horse racing in Australia attracting a crowd of over 100,000. The 2011 Melbourne Cup takes place on 1st November.

The Tragic Tale of Ruffian 1

Posted on July 06, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Many consider Ruffian to be the greatest female horse of the 20th Century.

It was 36 years ago today that an event created to be a celebration of horse racing greatness turned tragic and resulted in the death of one of the top female racehorses of all-time.

A coal black filly with champion blood lines that included Native Dancer and Bold Ruler, Ruffian had no equals during her two year racing career and was U.S. Filly Champion as a two and three year old.

In 10 career races, Ruffian was never defeated and in 1975 claimed the Filly Triple Crown (now called the Triple Tiara). She established a new record in eight different stakes races, seven of which still stand.

Her dominating victories against female horses led many to wonder if she was capable of competing with the top male horses of her time.

This led on July 6, 1975 to a match-race between Ruffian and 1975 Kentucky Derby winner Foolish Pleasure at Belmont Park. Coming only two years after the Billie Jean King-Bobby Riggs “Battle of the Sexes”, the race was promoted as a chance for America’s finest filly to show her overall dominance in the “Equine Battle of the Sexes”.

Interestingly, jockey Jacinto Vasquez was the primary rider for both horses, but chose to ride Ruffian for the match race and many experts fully expected Ruffian to pull off the victory. Read the rest of this entry →

Poetry in Motion as Animal Kingdom Claims Kentucky Derby 10

Posted on May 11, 2011 by Rod Crowley

Graham Motion, the English born trainer of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom could hardly contain his surprise after his outsider hosed up in the ‘Race for the Roses’ in front of a record crowd of over 160,000 at Churchill Downs last weekend. Amazingly it was the horse’s first run on dirt having previously run all his races on turf.

Having only his fourth start, the huge Chestnut colt was only rated at around 20/1 to win America’s most prestigious race, but he looked every bit the winner when he began his surge down the final stretch of the ten furlong race. “It’s not something I ever expected to do,” said Motion a few hours after he had won the race, but he confirmed that the horse had come out of the race in great shape and that he would take his chance in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in three weeks time, for which he’ll sure to be favourite in the Preakness Stakes Odds given the manner of his Derby victory. Success in that race of course will put him in line to win the highly coveted American Triple Crown of horse racing, should he take part in the Belmont Stakes two weeks later.

The win was also a huge bonus for jockey, John Velazquz, who got the ride after the one time race favorite Uncle Mo was withdrawn from the race. It was Velaquez’s first win in the ‘Derby’ in thirteen previous attempts and he now looks like staying on the horse for the Preakness. Read the rest of this entry →

Does Horse Racing’s Triple Crown Still Matter? 6

Posted on May 05, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Secretariat dominated thoroughbred racing in 1973 and was named as the 35th greatest athlete of the 20th Century.

There was a time when the most important sporting event on the first weekend of May wasn’t the NBA or NHL Playoffs, but rather a two minute race between the fastest three-year-olds on four legs.  While still an exciting event for those lucky enough to make it to Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby and thoroughbred racing in general isn’t quite the national obsession that it once was.

However, the history of this regal sport is laced with many great champions, some of whom captured the spirit and hearts of the American public.

While greatness for a thoroughbred is often identified with winning the famed Triple Crown (Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes), only some of the best known horses actually claimed that distinguished honor.

Chances are you have never heard of the first Triple Crown winner, Sir Barton, in 1919, but may have heard about the legendary Man O’War, who many consider the greatest horse of all-time with victories in 20 of his 21 races. However, Man O’War did not follow Sir Barton as a Triple Crown winner during his three-year old year of 1920 as his owner held him out of the Kentucky Derby. Read the rest of this entry →

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