25 Apr 2018

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horse trainer
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16 Apr 2018

Which Trainer Will End Their Grand National Drought?

After the drama of Cheltenham Festival, the attention of the National Hunt campaign turns to the Grand National. One For Arthur will not be competing at the event, leaving the door open for a new champion to enter the winners’ enclosure at Aintree. 

Colin Tizzard was the triumphant party in the major race at Cheltenham as Native River won the Gold Cup. However, two of the leading trainers of the National Hunt circuit, Nigel Twiston-Davies and Willie Mullings, will aim to hit back at the National and end their respective droughts. 

It has been 15 years since Twiston-Davies produced a winner in the Grand National. Binaree was the last of his charges to triumph, which came back in 2002. However, he has a fine chance to end his losing streak, with Blaklion considered the leading contender to win the crown.

As of 22nd March, the bay gelding has odds of 10/1 with Betway to secure the win, although he will face tough competition to get over the line as Mullins also bids to end his wait for the National. Total Recall underwhelmed in the Gold Cup but could be the one to challenge Blaklion and win the race for the first time in 12 years for Mullins.


Blaklion
Blaklion 

Twiston-Davies’ charge was considered the favourite for the National last season, despite finishing second in the Grand National Trial Handicap Chase at Haydock Park in his last outing before the race. Blaklion appeared to be on course for a challenge in the final stages of the race after moving second after the 24th fence, but he lacked the pace to beat out One For Arthur, finishing in fourth place. 

He returned to action for the start of the new campaign at the Charlie Hall Chase. The bay gelding faced off against his stable-mate Bristol De Mai, and the two horses duelled for the win down the stretch. However, it was Bristol De Mai and jockey Daryl Jacob that came out on top, securing the victory by half-a-length.

Blaklion returned to his peak form with a brilliant run at the Becher Handicap Chase at Aintree in December. Gavin Sheehan had his charge at the back of the field in the early stages of the contest but was gradually able to shift through the gears, moving second behind Highland Lodge two fences out. He surged down the stretch and was able to canter to victory by nine lengths, highlighting his speed in the final furlong. 

Tough conditions hampered almost all of the competitors in the Grand National Trial Handicap Chase at Haydock Park in February. Only three horses managed to complete the race, with Yala Enki managing to battle his way to victory by an overwhelming margin, although Blaklion emerged with second place. It will still take a fine performance from jockey and the nine-year-old to pull off the victory for Twiston-Davies. 


Total Recall
Total Recall 

The Irish horse passed into the hands of Mullins at the start of the 2017/18 National Hunt campaign. In his first race under his new trainer, Total Recall put forward a fine performance to secure victory at the Munster National Handicap Chase, winning the race by seven lengths. 

Due to the result, the bay gelding was considered the leading contender for the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase. As Ruby Walsh was sidelined due to injury, Paul Townsend took the reins and was able to guide the eight-year-old to victory, although he was pushed all the way by Whisper. The two horses battled down the final furlong, but Total Recall was able to defeat his rival by a nose. 

Mullins’ charge entered the William Fry Handicap Hurdle with momentum and, with Townend once again in the saddle, he made a steady start to the race. The Irish horse upped the ante from the fifth fence and was able to see out the victory with relative ease, finishing three lengths ahead of Oscar Knight. 

Total Recall was entered into the Gold Cup, despite Mullins lining up the National for his charge. However, he and the rest of the field were blown away by the performances of Native River and Might Bite. The Irish horse fell three fences from the end of the meet after labouring, although he was able to get spring back up, much to the relief of his trainer. Mullins will be hopeful that his charge’s performance in the Gold Cup will not affect a potential charge for the National.

12 Apr 2018

Which Trainer Has Had The Greatest Success At The Grand National?


Ginger McCain and Red Rum
Ginger McCain and Red Rum
The Grand National is the biggest race in the British calendar and claiming victory represents the pinnacle of many trainers’ careers. It requires putting forward a horse blessed with a phenomenal amount of grit, determination and stamina, as the course is epic and perilous in equal measures. It comes with a prize purse of £1 million, making it Europe’s richest race, and it attracts hundreds of millions of viewers, so it is a great opportunity to shine. The prestige associated with winning the race is also enormous. So which trainer has enjoyed the most success at the Grand National over the years?

Well, it is actually a tie, as there are three trainers that have each secured victory on four different occasions. The race began in 1839 at Aintree in Merseyside and it attracted 17 runners. Queen Victoria was on the throne, the Whigs were in power and horseracing was very much in its infancy. Lottery went off as the fourth favourite at 9/1 and he took the lead on the second circuit at First Brook, a lead he held onto until the finish, winning by three lengths. Trainer George Dockeray, a former Ascot Gold Cup winning jockey, was triumphant. The following year he saddled Jerry, who beat Lottery – a faller – and favourite The Nun to win the race, making it two out of two for Dockeray.

Charity took the 1841 renewal for William Vevers and Lord Craven, but Dockeray was back with a vengeance the following year. This time he saddled Gaylad, who beat stablemate Lottery and Peter Simple to win the 1842 race, making it three out of four for Dockeray. He had to wait a decade for his next victory, but he remained patient and it paid off when Miss Mowbray handed him his fourth win in 1852.

Dockeray died in 1857 and his record still stands to this day. Nobody matched him for more than a century, but Fred Rimmel pulled off four wins between 1956 and 1976. Rimmell was another former jockey and he went on to become the first trainer to earn £1 million in prize money for his owners. He also earned the nickname Mr Grand National as a result of his prowess in the Aintree showpiece, and his journey began in bizarre fashion in the 1956 National.

The Queen Mother’s horse, Devon Loch, was the heavy favourite and he justified that status by opening up a five-length lead in the run-in to the finishing post. But then Devon Loch inexplicably jumped in the air and belly flopped to the turf. Jockey Dick Francis tried to rouse him, but was unsuccessful and Rimmel’s E.S.B. overtook him and secured victory. Five years later the trainer tasted more success when Nicolaus Silver defied odds of 28/1 to become the first grey to win the race in 90 years. It took another nine years before Rimmel secured more glory. In 1970, Gay Trip carried top weight but did not seem unduly bothered as he romped to a 20-length victory. Rimmel picked up his fourth and final win in 1976, when his 14/1 shot Rag Trade beat the legendary Red Rum to land the race.

By that time, Ginger McCain already had two wins under his belt, and Red Rum had claimed both of them. In 1973, the superstar chaser was 15 lengths behind Crisp after the final hurdle, but produced a stunning burst of energy to overhaul his rival and win by three-quarters of a length. It is widely considered the greatest Grand National in history. He carried top weight the following year but still won, and then went on to win the Scottish Grand National, becoming the only horse to claim both races in the same year. Red Rum was always burdened with top weight and he finished second in 1975 and then second again to Rag Trade in 1976. But in 1977 he cemented his greatness by completing a Grand National hat-trick aged 12 in what is ranked as one of the greatest sporting moments in British history. Remarkably, after 27 years without a victory, McCain picked up a fourth win to move level with Dockeray and Rimmel when Amberleigh House won the 2004 renewal.

A few trainers have won three races, but nobody has come close to matching that trio in recent years. Of the current crop, Nigel Twiston-Davies leads the way with two wins - Earth Summit in 1998 and Bindaree in 2002. Leading lights such as Willie Mullins, Gordon Elliott and Paul Nicholls have only managed one victory, illustrating just how difficult this race is to win. Star trainers such as Nicky Henderson and Dan Skelton have never won this race, so for Twiston-Davies to claim two victories is a great achievement. If you take a look at the horse racing spread betting, you will see that Twiston-Davies saddles one of the leading contenders for this year's race in Blaklion, who finished seventh in 2016 and sixth last year, so he could be moving up to three, and then the McCain-Rimmel-Dockeray record would be within his sights.

11 Apr 2018

Royal Ascot 2018: Queen Mary Stakes Trends

Lady Aurelia: Queen Mary Stakes 2016
It's that time again. Horse racing in the month of June means one thing. Ladies get your best clobber ready, while men it's time to put on your whistle and flute (suit). From the 19th - 23rd June, those lucky few get a chance to enjoy some royal ascot hospitality. If you love fashion and horse racing, there is no better place to go. 

For those who enjoy two-year-old horse racing, there are 6 high-profile races to have a bet. 

Pencil this into your diary: 21st June, Wednesday, 3:05. 

A Brief History

This Group 2 race is open to two-year-old fillies and run over a distance of 5f. It was named after Queen Mary, the consort of King George V. It's inaugural running proved victorious for Wild Mint in 1921. This race was upgraded to Group 3 class in 1971 and changed to Group 2 status in 2004.  

Historically, Sir Gordon Richards and Fred Darling are leading jockey and trainer with five wins and seven wins, respectively. 

An number of exceptional talents have won this race over the years. 

Speed merchant, Lyric Fantasy (1992), trained by Richard Hannon Snr, went on to win the Nunthorpe Stakes. 

Mark Johnston's Attraction won this race in 2003. A truly exceptional talent for a small filly with an unnatural running action. She went on to win the English and Irish 1000 Guineas in 2004. 

Clive Brittain, late in his racing career, unearthed Rizeena in 2013. This daughter of Iffraaj shone brightly for owner Sheikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum. 

American trainer Wesley Ward hit the headline with one of the fastest fillies racegoers have ever seen in 2016 when Lady Aurelia blasted clear of the opposition to win unchallenged by seven length, ridden by Frankie Dettori. 

Trends 

Over the last fifteen years we have seen a mixed bag of results. Three horses have won at odds of 20/1+ (Ceiling Kitty 2012, Langs Lash 2008 (25/1) & Elletelle 2007). Seven favourites have won over this period of time. The shortest priced being Attraction (13/8f) in 2003. As noted, Wesley Ward does well in this contest with three of the last nine winners. Compared with the Coventry Stakes (Group 2) there is more chance of an upset in this heat although ten of the last fifteen winners have been priced 10/1 & less. Average SP  being 17/2. 

Other notable two-year-old races:

Windsor Castle Stakes (Listed)
Coventry Stakes (Group 2)
Norfolk Stakes (Group 2)
Albany Stakes (Group 3)
Chesham Stakes (Listed) 

10 Apr 2018

Elitloppet: Sweden’s biggest horseracing event

Elitloppet: Sweden’s biggest horseracing event
Elitloppet, which translates literally to “The Elite Race", is Sweden’s largest annual horse racing event, and one of the most prestigious international trotting events in the world. Taking place in Solvalla since 1952, the invitational Group One harness event is part of the European Grand Circuit and is a big phenomenon in Sweden, drawing crowds of over 50,000 fans every year for the races and surrounding festivities.

Traditionally raced on the last Sunday of May, the Solvalla racetrack also holds special races on Friday and Saturday, with all three days being generally extremely well visited by Swedish and international crowds alike, in what is commonly referred to in Sweden as "The Elitlopp weekend". The Elitlopp is considered by Swedes to be one of the biggest sporting events of the year and is widely watched throughout the country, with viewing parties taking place in practically every Swedish city or town.

Elitloppet is also one of Sweden’s most bet on sporting events. While traditionally Swedes are known for their award-winning casinos and online slots, this is completely eclipsed by betting on horses during the Elitloppet weekend, with record breaking figures being registered at the bookmakers practically every year. 

Last year, Elitloppet weekend drew in over 60,000 visits, approximately one million TV viewers, and 373 million SEK in revenue on ATG's game modes. This year the event will take place between May 25-27th, and the event seems on track to surpass those numbers already. As is customary, the winner being decided through two qualifying races, and subsequently the grand final being celebrated on Sunday May 27th. Each qualifying race will feature eight starters, as will the final race. 

The beginning of a tradition

While Elitloppet might be an established yearly tradition now, when it was first held in 1952 it was intended to be a one-time event. In order to celebrate its 25th anniversary, Solvalla’s racetrack decided to host a huge international race called “Solvallas Jubileumslopp”, or Solvalla’s Jubilee Race. With some of the finest racehorses from all across Europe travelling by train to the Swedish town, the event created high levels of anticipation along horse racing enthusiasts.

In the first edition, the format of the race was different than that which is currently used today. The winner was decided through two heats followed by a race-off, with German horse Permit ultimately being crowned victorious in a riveting race.

The Jubileumslopp was considered by all standards a smashing success, and the Solvalla Race Track decided to hold the event again next year, now under its well-known name of Elitloppet.

Racebooks release the odds

With all participating horses having been released, several different online bookmakers have already dutily posted odds for betting on the event, trying to entice bettors into placing early wagers.

As was to be expected, the favorite to win the event is the Swedish horse Readly Express, at odds of 3.25. Readly Express is one of the best Swedish horses in memory, being crowned the winner of the Grand Prix de l'UET, the Jubilee Cup, the Prix Tenor de Baune, the European Championship for 5 year olds, and the Swedish Championship. However, when he also took home the Grand Prix d'Amérique on the Vincennes Hippodrome in Paris in January - widely considered the world’s toughest tram - it was clear that Readly was something out of the norm and would be considered the favorite in home ground. 

Standout horses Propulsion and Bold Eagle are not far behind either, with odds of 4 each, with the closest competitor after, Twister Bi, lagging behind at odds of 9, making it clear who the favorites to place in the race are. You can check out the odds for all competing horses below:



Horse
Highest odds
Readly Express
3.25
Propulsion
4
Bold Eagle
4
Twister Bi
9
Cyber Lane
16
Ringostarr Treb
20
Belina Josselyn
25
Ferrari B.R.
40
Uza Josselyn
40
Cruzado Dela Noche
50
Diamanten
50
Takethem
50
Dante Boko
50
Lionel
50
Perfect Spirit
50
Buzz Mearas
60
Dd's Hitman
60
Love Matters
60
Lionel N.O.
65
Zenit Brick
75
Tjacko Zaz
75
Workout Wonder
75
Digital Ink
85
In Vain Sund
100
Traders
100
Southwind Feji
125
Volstead
150
Carabinieri
175
Elian Web
175

Photo source: Sko Info

6 Apr 2018

Two Big Price Grand National Hopefuls Worth Having

Grand National 2018
Nigel Twiston-Davies has trained two Grand National winners in the past and is fancied by bookmakers to land the hat-trick this year. The 171st running of the famous steeplechase returns to Aintree racecourse on Saturday 14th April as the sport’s biggest names aim to save a place in the history books.

One For Arthur won the race last year off a bumper SP 14/1 but he misses out on a shot at two-in-a-row through injury and Team Twiston-Davies have the early favourite with their Blaklion priced as jolly across the board, no more than 12/1 trading following the conclusion of the Cheltenham Festival.

The supremely talented nine-year-old gelding brings form to the Liverpool track and it’s little surprise to see traders falling over themselves to keep the bay close. Past runnings of this race prove it’s always worth taking the favourite on with a lively outsider and, with Blaklion winning only one of his last nine, there’s reason to look further down the pecking order.
Here are two hopefuls at a bigger price that should give backers a run for their stake money:


Gold Present is sure to be popular with those who like to keep the trends of this race in mind with the Nicky Henderson representative ticking all the right boxes. As an eight-year-old, he falls into line with two of the last three champions, One For Arthur and Many Clouds, who are also eight-year-old winners.

He’s also available at 25/1 and that has been the price of half of the last four victors. Saw a two-run purple patch come to an end when pulled-up in the Ultima Handicap Chase by Nico de Boinville at Cheltenham but we can forgive him that, as a losing effort in the run before Aintree has been a feature of past National winners.


The clues say he’ll go close and the price makes him easy to take a chance on.
Rathvinden is another who will find friends in the betting ring before this year’s 4m 3f slog over 30 fences and he arrives with confidence to burn following a winning effort at Prestbury Park. Willie Mullins saddles this 10-year-old, who has been chalked up at 33/1 to book another appearance in the winner's enclosure.

He's an outsider but he has already proven his passion for upsetting the horse racing betting odds, claiming the National Hunt Challenge Cup over 3m 7f in March.
With race favourite Jury Duty getting rid of Jamie Codd that day, Rathvinden took full advantage to drag nearest finisher Ms Parfois home by ½ a length. That success means he has never finished outside of the places when managing to stay on his feet.
Eight wins, three seconds and a couple of bronze medals go against four failures to finish, including unseating Patrick Mullins in the Flogas Novice Chase at Leopardstown in February. If he gets around, he should go close and will catch the eye of each-way backers.