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Sports Then and Now



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.

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 →

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 →

Cecil Pleased with Twice Over Progress 0

Posted on March 09, 2011 by Pete South

Twice Over is looking to win the Dubai World Cup.

Henry Cecil has revealed just how pleased he was with the winning performance of his high-class Twice Over on his first outing of the winter in Dubai last week, a victory that has catapulted the Prince Khaled Abdullah-owned horse to favoritism for the Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest race, set to take place in the desert kingdom on March 26, writes Elliot Slater.

Beaten favorite in last year’s World Cup, the policy of flying the son of Observatory out to the Middle East just a few days before the race appeared to backfire as the dual Champion Stakes winner ran a lack lustre race in finishing tenth behind the Brazilian bred Gloria de Campeao. This time around Cecil has adopted different tactics and sent Twice Over out to Dubai some weeks ago giving him more time to fully acclimatize to the conditions. Read the rest of this entry →

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