28 Aug 2019

5 Reasons to Go Horse Racing

The greatest race horse of them all
When did you go to your first horse racing meeting? Perhaps you have never been and have no intention about going. 

You know, even though it sounds a strange thing to say, going to the races isn't all about betting on the horses or losing your shirt. For many, betting is their priority and good for them. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with gambling as long as you use login and reason (don't drink and bet at the same time, unless it is a drinking competition and you can neck a yard of ale like a Newzealand prop forward.)   

I must admit I like a bet. I don't bet for fun as this is my profession along with running umpteen websites. So, horseracing, in many ways, is my life. It doesn't consume every second on the day but it eats up a giant chunk of the working week. However, it isn't a chore because I enjoy what I do for a living.

The first time I went to the races? To be honest, I can't remember what age. No, it wasn't because of a drunken haze. I imagine I was nine or ten years old and went to Great Yarmouth horseracing with my Dad. We used to stay down the road at a caravan park at Caister-on-sea, Norfolk. I'm sure many readers will have a similar experience of being interested in gambling by a relative or friend. (You have them to blame if it has all gone pear-shaped!).   

I pride myself on being an educated gambler - who actually wins money. Don't believe all those stories that you cannot beat the bookies. The majority don't but many do. As the travelling French salesman said as he rode his bike: ''Know your onions.''

So here are my 5 Reasons to Go Horse Racing:

1) Even if you are not a gambler, you may be surprised how enjoyable a day at the races can be. Remember, children under 18 go free and if you are a carer looking after a family member or friend you don't need to pay. The spectacle of watching the horses, brightly coloured silks worn by the jockeys is something you don't see every day and it makes for an exciting day. the sound of the horses' hooves rattling down the final furlong, the booming commentary (hopefully mentioning your horse) and the cheer of the crowd. It sure gets the blood pumping through your veins.  

2) Autograph hunters, photo with your favourite horse trainer or jockey. Horseracing is all about media and very few people in the racing game will turn down an opportunity to sign a race card, take a snap (photo) or point you in the direction of the bar (joke). 

3) The hustle and bustle of the betting ring. There is nothing like placing a bet with a bookmaker on course. Searching for the best price. ''Look, I've seen 11/4 over there, while the others are priced at 5/2''. You don't win if you don't bet. (You don't lose either so remember that part if you are having a day you would rather forget). 

4) Celebrity watching. Even at a small horseracing meeting, you can see a celeb or two. They may be from the racing world such as Lester Piggott, or Shiek Mohammed, flying in by helicopter to watch a two-year-old fancy at Great Yarmouth. There is much to see and enjoy. If you go to Chester, the chances are you will see a professional footballer or two. I even heard that Scarlett Johansson was seen at Huntingdon on a cold, winters afternoon. 

5) Whether you win or lose at the races you have the opportunity to watch the best horses in the world. Who would forget seeing such brilliant equine specimens as Frankel, the day Dessert Orchid won the Gold Cup. Take a photo, because one day you can look back and say with pride: ''I was there!''

27 Aug 2019

A Beginners Guide to the Melbourne Cup 2019

A Beginner Guide to the Melbourne Cup
Think of a famous horse race in Australia? I'm betting odds on you said the Melbourne Cup. 

With a history dating back to 1861, this annual event takes place on Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, Victoria. I've known a few friends who have visited the Spring Racing Carnival to enjoy the richest ''2-mile'' handicap in the world.

This spectacular race doesn't just have a history of winning horses but big bettors, too. If you enjoy a wager, and you fancy yourself being lucky on this special day, then the melbourne cup betting is one of the most famous races to savour. Those punters who backed the 2018 winner, Cross Counter, ridden by Kerrin McEvoy, will remember the day with added zest. 

Considering the Melbourne Cup is held on a public holiday for those living in Melbourne and parts of Victoria, it's a day for gambling. As one of the bookmakers at Great Yarmouth loves to state: ''It's MONEY without WORK!''.

The race is run over a distance of 3200 metres (fractionally less than two miles) and open for horses three-year-old and older. The race takes place at 3pm on the first Tuesday in November. Very much like the British Grand National, it is known as ''the race to stop a nation''. 

With total race prize money of $8,000,000 ($4M to the winner), it is a contest which attracts runners from around the globe. For example, Charlie Appleby trained the winner in 2018, while other high-profile UK trainers such as Saeed bin Suroor, Aidan O'Brien, John Gosden, Hughie Morrison, Mark Johnston, Charlie Fellows & Iain Jardine hope to hit the jackpot. 

Cross Counter is likely to be a hot favourite to take the spoils for the 2019 contest. 

Interesting facts:

Makybe Diva, trained by Lee Freedman, is the only horse to have won this race three times. In actual fact, this mare won the contest in consecutive years from 2003 - 2005. 

Historically, Bobby Lewis (1902 - 1927) and Harry White (1974 - 1979) have won the race four times each, respectively. 

The trainer who has won this race an incredible 12 times is Bart Cummings (1965 - 2008).

Lloyd Williams is the most successful owner with six winners (1981 - 2017).

The fastest horse to win this race Kingston Rule (1990) in a time of 3-minute 16 seconds (.30).

If you enjoy a bet, you may strike lucky with a 100/1 winner. Amazingly, four horses have won at these huge odds. The most recent Prince Of Penzance (100/1) in 2015. 

The shortest prized winner - one of the most famous racehorses of all time - was Phar Lap who was 8/11 favourite in 1930. 

If you back favourites, they have a 23% strike rate in the 150-year race history. 

The oldest winner heralds two eight-year-old victors in the shape of Toryboy (1865) and Catalogue (1938).

We said the Melbourne Cup is popular with racegoers. In 2003, the racecourse saw a record-breaking crowd of 122,736. 

Good luck if you are betting.

13 Aug 2019

Is Gene Doping a Threat to Horse Racing?

While they are keen to reassure us that they do not consider gene doping to be a current issue, it seems that the British Horseracing Authority has significant concerns to the tune of £1m which it has added to an international pot to ensure that the practice does not find its way into the sport as bonusbets.com reports. 

Gene doping is basically the term used to cover the science of gene manipulation for the sole purpose of enhancing performance. Obviously breeders have been using the practices of natural selection for years and explicitly breeding their best examples of racing horses to create new thoroughbred lines that are even better, but until now actually manipulating genes in a lab is something we have not seen.

Less than a decade ago the idea was touted as future development, and now the know-how exists to make it a reality. Keen to keep the industry free from what would essentially be cheating there is an international team working on staying ahead of the potential threat. As they are keen to reinforce there is no danger right now, but if it were to find its way into the sport the consequences could be disastrous, and this is not something the industry wants and has global commitment to prevent.

The money will be used for various things including research as the Chief Regulatory Officers, Brant Dunshea explains. “Late last year we were in discussion with our laboratories, who said that we need to be part of international collaboration on gene doping to ensure that we are not globally duplicating work. Across six or seven countries, we are all working together to do various pieces of the jigsaw puzzle on gene doping. There’s no specific evidence that we’re aware of in relation to there being genetic manipulation that’s happening, but we haven’t done the research yet to be able to develop the techniques to be able to monitor it, so that’s what this research is all about.” 

This initiative will offer reassurance to trainers and breeders, the majority of whom would not want to see the sport polluted in this way. David Sykes, the British Horseracing Authority’s director of equine health and welfare explained how technology could undermine the competition and create issues. “This is new technology that is unravelling all the time. None of us here think that there has probably been a previous incidence of it, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be looking forward into the next five or 10 years and at least being able to identify if it is going to occur. For example, you could send in the material which would alter the EPO [erythropoietin] receptor site, to allow an animal to produce increased levels of EPO naturally [and increase the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity]. That could be expanded to anything else. For example, you could target muscle mass and increasing it, or at some point talk about circulatory systems, increasing blood supply or even cardiac muscle size by genetically altering the DNA sequence.”

2 Aug 2019

Understanding the history of Glorious Goodwood

Today’s grandstand at Goodwood Racecourse
There’s no doubt that Glorious Goodwood is one of the most historic and enjoyable racing festivals in the UK, hosting a glut of high-class horse racing action. The Sussex Downs plays host to a highly competitive string of races across five days. Typically, Glorious Goodwood is scheduled some six weeks after Royal Ascot, giving top-grade Group 1 horses a chance to recover in time to enter in some of Goodwood’s most prestigious races such as the Golden Mile and the Nassau Stakes. 

British horse racing tipsters are just as passionate about Goodwood as they are about some of the other major racing festivals throughout the year, such as Cheltenham. That’s because some of the most valuable and competitive races in European horse racing are on the cards here. Let’s take a closer look at the emergence of Glorious Goodwood and some of the cherished traditions that make it one of the premier meetings of the flat racing season. 

Racing in Goodwood dates back all the way to the early 19th century. Officers of the Sussex Militia used to host annual events at neighbouring Petworth Park. However, when the invitation for the annual races was not forthcoming in 1801, the nearby Duke of Richmond sought to create an alternative course for the Militia within the Goodwood Estate. So well-received was the two-day event hosted by the Duke that he sought to host a similar meeting over three days the following year. The first Goodwood grandstand was erected for the second year to house the event’s most exclusive guests. 

Goodwood’s facilities were quickly upgraded

The Goodwood Racecourse in the rolling hills of the Sussex Downs
The now-prestigious Goodwood Cup was soon established a decade later in 1812, offering a three-mile flat race that’s always been a gruelling test even for first-rate thoroughbreds. The fifth Duke of Richmond was arguably the driving force behind the rapid evolution of Goodwood as a legitimate racecourse. After severe injury forced him to retire from fox hunting, the Duke dedicated his life to improving the facilities at Goodwood, investing in a new grandstand fit for over 3,000 spectators in 1830. 

The fifth Duke of Richmond has also been revered for driving improved standards in the Jockey Club. The Duke introduced several measures that would eventually become commonplace on all other Jockey Club racecourses, including race numbers for each runner, fines for the course Clerk in the event of overrunning start times and flags for race starters. The Duke was even the mastermind behind the concept of the pre- and post-race parade rings. 

Some of today’s headline races at Goodwood were founded in the 19th century 

As the decades ticked by in the 19th century, some of today’s biggest races of Glorious Goodwood were established, such as the Molecomb Stakes, the Stewards’ Cup and the Nassau Stakes in 1833 and 1840 respectively. The Sussex Stakes became a race exclusively for three-year-old thoroughbreds in 1878 and it has been that way ever since. The appeal of Goodwood was enhanced during the years of World War II when no horse racing was scheduled. The post-war years saw the start of a real ‘boom’ era of racing at Goodwood. The Tuesday meeting of Goodwood’s 1955 festival drew a record 55,000 visitors to the course and more than 20,000 catching a glimpse of the action from Trundle Hill – these figures haven’t been surpassed even in the modern day of Glorious Goodwood. 

The festival was expanded in 1970 to become a full five-day event, including a Saturday brimming with races to try and entice locals and newcomers to horse racing at Goodwood. Just after the turn of the Millennium, Goodwood celebrated its 200th anniversary, maintaining its status as one of the most prestigious and historic race meetings in British horse racing. In 2014, Goodwood Racecourse confirmed a 10-year partnership with Qatar who have invested millions into improving and supporting Glorious Goodwood, although the name of the festival has now changed to the Qatar Goodwood Festival. The Group 1 Qatar Sussex Stakes is now one of the richest one-mile races on the planet, with a prize pool of £1 million up for grabs. There’s no doubt that Goodwood really is the definition of vintage British horse racing.

Photos: Peter Trimming

23 Jul 2019

Frankel Blog Vs Frankel Watch

You know, sometimes you find a website which keeps you informed a little bit better than the others. They are dedicated to their niche. Keep to the story and updating just enough to keep you entertained without feeling you are stuck on a conveyor belt. 

Who wants too much news? (You might!).

Anyway, Frankel Blog is a little gem of a website because it tells you about Frankel 2yo horses (colt, geldings & fillies) who are making their debut for trainer big and small. I know what you are thinking, no small horse trainer gets a Frankel. Well, you are wrong because I have detailed one truly surprising Frankel-trainer partnership which will keep you on the edge of your seat. Yes, I'm not detailing it here. 

Frankel Blog is dedicated the two-year-old racing in the UK. It has already identified a number of debut winners and juveniles you need to know.  

If you want an informed read, loving keeping track of the Frankel 2yos without doing any work then this website is the ticket. 

You may see #FrankelWatch used as the hashtag for everything Frankel on Twitter but this blog has its finger on the pulse and while other website and social media platforms come and go this one is here to stay. 

Love to know the best Frankel two-year-olds in training? 

Take a look today.  

9 Jul 2019

3 Ways to be a Wiser Gambler When Betting at the Races

I've been gambling for a long time. 

I've considered many and varied ways of making money gambling on horse racing. Some have felt like pinning the tail on the donkey. I'm sure the commentator got confused at one point and called my selection Eyeore (it's an obvious mistake). 

How do you find that elusive way to win at the races? I mean, we all want to be wiser gamblers and put a few quid in our velcro man purse. Betting should be a considered pursuit of wit and wisdom. Well, at least, the wisdom part. 

Have you ever noticed that most bookmakers price horses by the general average of the horse trainer? It's no surprise to see a Sir Micheal Stoute horse fancied in the betting compared with let's say Neville Bycroft when he trained back in the day. The former would be priced 6/4f while the latter 50/1. 

I'm sure that was Eyeore! 

Both trainers had their days. Even the smallest stables find a good horse if they train long enough and rightfully so. I always cheer on the underdog. ''Get in, Fido!''

I have researched two-year-old horse racing for many years. It is my niche. I don't mind staying, I know more about this ''field'' of horse racing than anyone I have ever met. And I have researched each and every two-year-old horse trainer for both strength and weakness. 

By understanding horse trainers you are one step closer to landing a big bet.

How come? 

Because most punters don't have the slightest understanding of how trainers work. What makes them tick? If they have a decent horse, where will they race it? What kind of betting guide suggests whether it will win or lose?

If you are reading these words and don't have any idea about any given trainer, then you are missing a vital piece of the jigsaw puzzle. 

Here are 3 pieces of information which will help you find a winner or miss a loser. 

1) Michael Dods

He is one of those trainers who can win with a debutant two-year-old at big odds. In fact, he does it every season. His horses seem to go best on testing ground conditions and strangely have more hope of winning at a speculative price than a favourite. His two-year-old debutants have very good place claims at huge odds. Don't believe me, follow them for a season at courses such as Ayr, Ripon or Beverley and you will put some money in your pocket. 

2)  Archie Watson

Certain horse trainers prime their two-year-olds to blast from the stalls like an Exocet missile. That's how I see Archie Watson. Now, you want to keep an eye on the betting market with his debutantes because it is usually telling. If priced 11/4 and less sp on their racecourse bow, I'd expect a big run. 

3) Karl Burke 

One of my favourite horse trainers from Spigott Lodge. He is a very talented trainer who can win with two-year-olds on their first or second start. I particularly look for them running at Carlisle because of his love of this course. He targets this place like Eric Bristow use to hit the bullseye. A master at work. 

When betting, remember the horse is only as good as its trainer.