21 Nov 2019

Will Faugheen Bounce Back This Season?

Former Champion Hurdle winner Faugheen survived a couple of jumping errors to make a winning start over fences on his chasing debut at Punchestown on Saturday. The famous 11-year-old is embarking on a novice chasing campaign and he scraped through his bow with a hard-fought victory in the Naas Oil Beginners Chase. It was not exactly the calibre of opposition that Faugheen is accustomed to facing, as he has previously vanquished the greatest hurdlers in the land. But trainer Willie Mullins will be pleased to see him emerged unscathed, and he can now plot a path towards glory over smaller obstacles. 

This is a make or break season for a horse dubbed “The Machine”. He burst onto the scene during an eye-catching novice hurdles campaign in 2013/14, which culminated with him winning the Grade 1 Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle in the second fastest time in the race’s history. He maintained his unbeaten streak throughout the following season, seizing the Christmas Hurdle and then delivered on his status as the 4/5 favourite to win the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham by breezing to a comfortable victory. 

Faugheen suffered a surprise defeat at the beginning of the2015/16 season, but bounced back by winning the Christmas Hurdle for a second consecutive year. He was then rated the best two-mile hurdler of the 21st century after an emphatic win at the Irish Champion Hurdle. He finished 15 lengths clear of runner-up Arctic Fire. Greatness awaited Faugheen, but things have not quite gone to plan since then. He suffered a season-ending injury while training in February 2016 and he was ultimately off the track for 22 months. He made a winning return at his old stomping ground, Punchestown, but then began to struggle. 

The Light Begins to Dim 

Faugheen went off as the 2/11 favourite for the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase at Leopardstown, but he was pulled up by new rider Paul Townend, deputising for the injured Ruby Walsh. He was odds-on once again to win the Irish Christmas Hurdle in 2018, but he could only finish second to Supasundae. He then gave an underwhelming performance in finishing sixth in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, disappointing punters that thought he could overwhelm Buveur d’Air. The Machine returned to winning ways at the Grade 1 Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown showing that he still had what it takes to challenge for the top honours. 

He was second in the Grade 1 Morgiana Hurdle on his seasonal reappearance, but then fell at the Christmas Hurdle, before finishing third at the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and being pulled up at the Aintree Hurdle. Mullins has now decided to change tack and push him into a novice campaign over smaller obstacles. It is a bold move and it could spark a renaissance for the popular veteran, but if it ends it failure it may be the end of him. Faugheen is 11 and that is very late to be starting a novice campaign, and he could be eased into retirement if it does not work out. 

A Bold Change of Tack 

The Closutton maestro has always flirted with the idea of sending Faugheen chasing. Back in 2015, after The Machine extended his record to 11 wins from 11 races at the Punchestown, Mullins hailed him as a future chaser. “He wants fences to maybe make him drop the bridle and travel,” said the iconic trainer. Yet Faugheen continued to dazzle over hurdlers and Mullins changed his tune by the time he won the Champion Hurdle that year. “There’s no reason to go novice chasing when you have a hurdler as good as this,” he said. 

Yet Faugheen’s form over hurdles has seemingly swayed him. The Machine was well beaten in the Stayers’ Hurdle in March, and his decline over hurdles was clear. You could argue that he never fully recovered from injury that kept him out of action for 22 months. In his heyday he was electrifying, but he has lost his sparkle over hurdles and he has not been jumping with the old flair and confidence in recent races. Faugheen took a bad tumble early in the year and that has seemingly affected him. 

Mullins clearly feels that a change of discipline has the potential to revitalise him. There was a considerable buzz around Punchestown as the legendary hurdler prepared to make his chasing bow at the weekend. It is extremely rare to see such a superstar slumming it in a soft beginners chase, and plenty of punters lumped on Faugheen, who was an attractively priced favourite with top betting sites like https://www.marathonbet.co.uk/en/betting/Horse+Racing/. It was not all plain sailing, but he eventually got the job done. 

Battering the Schnitzel Townend was happy to let The Machine lead from the front, and everything went to plan until he approached the eighth fence. He made a complete hash of the jump and almost unseated his rider, but Townend somehow managed to cling on and return to his saddle in time to clear the ninth. That blunder saw Faugheen lose the lead to Lord Schnitzel. Another error saw him peck on landing after jumping over the third from last fence, but the nine-time Grade 1 winner eventually rallied and his class shone through as he soared over the final two fences and secured a seven-and-a-half length victory from Walk Away, with Lord Schnitzel third. 

His trainer put on a brave face following his shaky start to life as a chaser. “Faugheen is a bit stiff this morning,” said Mullins on the day after the race. “I think he's fine, but any horse that hits a fence hard is going to be a bit sore. I expect him to be all right in a couple of days.” 

Sterner Challenges Await

It is one thing winning a modest beginners chase, but triumphing in Graded novices chases and going on to challenge for the biggest honours is another matter entirely. It is worth noting that Faugheen is lightly raced, albeit due to injury, and that could count in his favour. Many horses make the transition to chasing late in their careers, so Mullins’ strategy is not particularly unusual. Plenty from his stable have started novice chasing careers after thriving over hurdles. 

However, Faugheen holds a special place in the hearts of many racing fans and they are keen to see him end his career on a high note. Many fear seeing a diminished Machine being trounced by young guns in a quick Grade 1 contest. Some even point to the fate suffered by Wicklow Brave as a cautionary tale about changing disciplines late on in a stellar career. 

The light has seemingly dimmed in Faugheen. It would be thrilling to see him make a success of his jumps career, but so many have made the transition and disappointed, meaning expectations must be tempered. Some punters will gleefully oppose him as he steps up in class, particularly on hard ground. His nervy performance at Punchestown does not inspire a great deal of optimism, and there was always a sense that he sprawled too much with his hind legs when clearing hurdles, which could see him come unstuck over fences. It seems as though Faugheen could retire soon, and he will receive a raucous reception when he does, but punters will be waxing lyrical about his form between 2014 and 2016 rather than his late chasing career.

15 Oct 2019

Top of the Search Engines

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      ''NEED TO FIND A TRAINER ON YOUR DOORSTEP?''


16 Sep 2019

The History of Horse Racing

The History of Horse Racing
Racing horses is a pastime as old as the wheel. Ever since humankind first sat astride a horse, we’ve been fascinated with racing. In fact, the history of horse racing is said to date as far back as 4500 BC when the nomadic tribes of central Asia domesticated the wild horse. 

Since then, it’s been such an integral part of society throughout the world that it’s quite possibly one of the oldest known sports aside from some forms of athletics such as wrestling and, of course, running cross country.

The Roman Races 

We’ve all seen the old films such as Ben Hur with that epic chariot race. And the truth is, that this is perhaps where the modern age of betting on horse races began. The crowds would gather in the stands and place bets on their favourite horseman who would then race at breakneck speeds around the arena.

It gave the people a taste for equine sports and the Romans being the Romans, they then took their ideas to the rest of the civilized world. However, this was not the beginning of horse racing but it did give us a taste for placing the odd wager on a race.

Horse racing in the UK 

During the crusades of the 11th -13th centuries, English knights returned home with Arabian, Barb, and Turkish horses. These foreign animals were a considerable improvement on the breeds available locally and soon became prized possessions. Owners began to breed the foreign mounts and sell them at a premium to local lords and knights.

It’s thought that thoroughbred horse racing began in England at this time. Breeders would race horses against each other in a bid to impress potential buyers. This became a common occurrence and during the reign of Richard the Lionheart, the first purse was offered for a race over a 3-mile course. 

By the 17th century, organised horse racing had become commonplace with horses and riders competing for the King’s Plates. These were the prizes introduced by Charles II and earned him the moniker ‘The father of the English Turf’. 

King Charles brought in the first known sets of rules to horse racing. He determined that horses must be the same age (six years old) and that they must carry a similar weight. It seems like a common-sense rule in this day and age, but incredibly, prior to Charles racing articles, there were no regulations regarding a rider’s weight. 

Racing quickly became a national pastime with events taking place all across the UK.  Fast forward to today and we now have live horse racing events across the globe, many of which were, in fact, inspired by the races championed by King Charles.

Horse racing becomes a global sport  
The History of Horse Racing
Horse racing events can now be found all across the globe

The sport quickly took root in France where the first documented horse race took place in 1651. This first race was a result of a wager between two nobles but it started a trend and in a few short years, betting on horse races was prevalent among all the classes. By the 18th century, King Louis XVI created a jockey club and imposed rules on any organised racing event. 


Around the same time that the French were getting carried away by the racing bug, the colonists of America introduced the sport to the nation. What was then known as New Amsterdam that we now call New York was where the first track was built. It was a 2-mile course on Long Island that the commander of the British Troops named Newmarket after the home of British horse racing

In the mid-19th century, British residents in Japan organised a racing event in the new port of Yokohama. These were informal races, but the locals were intrigued and just a few years later a dedicated race track was built. While the track was initially intended for expatriates, the local community were so enamoured by the sport that it became a thriving hub of activity with races held every week. The sport spread throughout the country and soon became one of the most popular athletic events in Japan and it remains so to this day. 

The rise of horse racing may have taken a couple of centuries to get where it is today but it is now one of the most recognized sports in the world. With organised events in such far-flung locations as Dubai, Melbourne, and Tokyo, racing has at long last become a truly global sport. Sure, we may not have thoroughbred races in every nation in the world, but in time, we most likely will.

Photo credits: Clarencealford & Marcelkessler

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.”