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Monday, 16 September 2019

Nijinsky


Nijinsky, in 1970, was first horse since Bahram in 1935, and the last, to complete the so-called ‘Triple Crown’ by winning the 2,000 Guineas, Derby and St. Leger and is considered, in some quarters, to have been the greatest racehorse of the twentieth century. Lester Piggott, who rode him throughout his three-year-old campaign, said that, on his day, Nijinsky was the ‘most brilliant’ horse that he’d ever ridden. However, Timeform, the respected ratings organisation, awarded Nijinsky a rating of ‘just’ 138, 7lb inferior to the 1965 Derby winner Sea-Bird.


Owned by American industrialist Charles Engelhard, who bought him on the recommendation of the original ‘Master of Ballydoyle’, Vincent O’Brien, Nijinsky was unbeaten as a juvenile, rounding off his two-year-old campaign with an easy win, for the first time under Piggott, in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket. He reappeared in the Gladness Stakes, over 7 furlongs, at the Curragh the following April, which he won as a prelude to impressive victories over his own age group in the 2,000 Guineas, Derby and Irish Derby, before taking on his elders in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. In the latter race, Nijinsky was the only three-year-old among the six runners but, sent off at 40/85, never remotely looked in danger of defeat, eventually cruising to an effortless, 2-length victory over the four-year-old Blakeney, who’d won the Derby the year before.


However, preparation for his Triple Crown attempt was interrupted by ringworm, such that, for a time, he could not be saddled, or worked properly. He did make it to Doncaster for the St. Leger but, according to Piggott, “the gleam in his eye was a little dimmed”, a fact that was reflected by his performance in the race. Nijinsky recorded his eleventh consecutive success, but was ultimately all out to hold runner-up Meadowville by half a length, and never won again. He was controversially beaten in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and again in the Champion Stakes at Newmarket, two weeks later, before being retired to stud.




Tuesday, 20 August 2019

All-Weather Courses - Fibresand, Polytrack & Tapeta


All-weather horse racing or, in other words, horse racing on synthetic surfaces, has been a fact of life in Britain since 1989. The pioneering racecourse was Lingfield Park, which raced for the first time on Equitrack – silica sand, oil and a chemical binder mixed together to form a very firm, hard surface – in October that year. Fast forward nearly three decades and the all-weather programme has expanded to six racecourses. Three of them, namely Chelmsford City, Kempton Park and Lingfield Park, race on Polytrack, Southwell, alone, races on Fibresand and the remaining two, Newcastle and Wolverhampton, race on Tapeta.


Fibresand

Fibresand is the oldest of the synthetic surfaces still used in Britain, having been raced on at Southwell since nine days after the opening of the Equitrack course at Lingfield. Like Polytrack and Tapeta, Fibresand is based on silica sand, reinforced with polypropylene fibres but, unlike its competitors, contains no wax or chemical binder. The firmness of the surface can be adjusted by maintenance procedures, such as rolling or harrowing, but Fibresand is typically deeper, and looser, than Polytrack. Consequently, the surface places more emphasis on stamina, resulting in slower race times, wider margins between horses and less trouble in running.


Polytrack


Polytrack, too, is a mixture of silica sand and polypropylene fibres, together with recycled rubber, coated with wax. Appropriately weighed and blended, Polytrack creates a racing surface renowned for its uniformity and longevity. The brainchild of farmer and builder Martin Collins, Polytrack first rose to prominence as a surface for training gallops, such as that installed for Richard Hannon Snr. in 1987, but was not used as a racing surface until 2001. That year it become the surface of choice at Lingfield Park and Wolverhampton replaced both its Fibresand and turf courses with a single Polytrack course three years later.


Tapeta

Tapeta was designed and developed by Michael Dickinson – the same Michael Dickinson who saddled the first five home in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1983 – and was first laid at his Tapeta Farm training centre in Maryland, USA in 1997. Essentially an improved version of Polytrack, Tapeta has the same basic composition, but mimics the root structure of turf. Like Fibresand, the firmness of the surface can be dictated by the Clerk of the Course and, again like Fibresand, Tapeta sheds water extremely well. Tapeta replaced Polytrack as the surface of choice at Wolverhampton in 2014 and replaced the turf course at Newcastle as part of a £12 million redevelopment of the racecourse in 2016.

Friday, 19 July 2019

Horse Humour: Part 2


Did you hear about the man who was hospitalized with six plastic horses inside him?
The doctor described his condition as stable.



A young jockey and his stable lass girlfriend make the decision to get married. Everything is planned and the couple intend to honeymoon in Italy for a week. The marriage goes without a hitch and the couple set off on their honeymoon. While checking in the lady behind the desk asks 'We have two suites available for you, would you like the bridal?' 'No thanks says the jockey I'll just hold her ears till she gets the hang of it!' -


A horse walks into a bar. The barman says "hey". The horse says "sure, thanks
Where do horses go when they’re sick? The horsepital.


How do you make a small fortune out of horses?
Start with a large fortune


Q. What does it mean if you find a horseshoe?
A. Some poor horse is walking around in his socks.


A: I put £10 on a horse yesterday who was running against applesB: 
B: What happened?
A: I lost, he got pipped at the post

What do you call a horse that can’t lose a race? Sherbet.


What’s black and white and eats like a horse? A zebra.


Which side of a horse has more hair?
The outside


"Bob, I can't understand how Bill can have so much luck at cards and be so unlucky with horses."
"That's easy," said Bob. "You can't shuffle the horses."

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Gold Cup Preview


The Gold Cup, run over 2 miles 4 furlongs, is the oldest surviving race at Royal Ascot and remains the showpiece event of the five-day meeting. This year’s renewal, due off at 4.20pm on Thursday, June 20, potentially features a maximum of eleven runners, headed by last year’s winner, Stradivarius, who is chasing a seven-timer. However, while John Gosden’s five-year-old is likely to prove a tough nut to crack once again, that fact is reflected by prohibitive odds of 6/5, in a place, and shorter elsewhere.

At the other end of the market, rank outsiders Cypress Creek (40/1), Raymond Tusk (33/1) and Master Of Reality (33/1) look to have plenty to find if they’re to be involved at the business end of such as prestigious contest. However, Thomas Hobson has just 1½ lengths to find with Stradivarius on their running in the Long Distance Cup, over 2 miles, at Ascot last October and, having previously won over course and distance – when sauntering home by 6 lengths in the Ascot Stakes tow seasons ago – looks to have a sporting chance of reversing the form at odds around the 20/1 mark.

Willie Mullins’ nine-year-old was surprisingly turned over, at odds-on, in the Group Two Oleander-Rennen at Hoppengarten on his seasonal debut in May, but still ran respectably on his first start since October. Officially, the son of Halling has 8lb to find with Stradivarius but, with Met Office weather warnings of thunderstorms in place for Tuesday and Wednesday, some easing of the going at Ascot seems highly likely. Soft, or even heavy, going holds no terrors for Thomas Hobson and, while he has yet to win at the highest level, the return to further should do him no harm, either. Win or lose, Thomas Hobson looks outstanding value at the odds on offer and could be ripe for an each-way ‘burgle’.


Selection: Ascot 4.20 Thomas Hobson each-way at 20/1