Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Magnificent Middleham Park Racing

Middleham Park Racing was launched 25 years ago. 

While other racing syndicates come and go - they are as strong as ever. Their undoubted success is a testament to understanding horse racing on many levels from owners to trainers and much more. 

Global pattern race successes and astonishing prize money detail the superb job Tim Palin who is Partner & Director of Racing and his team has done to bring enjoyment to owners and a respected part of the racing industry.

You have to go back to July 1995 to remember their first horse China Castle, trained by Patrick Haslem. Finishing tenth on his debut at Beverley didn't look the most aspiring of starts but by the end of his career, he had notched up 26 wins with prize money totaling £125,000. 

Since then, the winners have kept on coming and coming for Middleham Park Racing. 

Richard Hannon Snr and now Richard Hannon Jnr have always been worth looking out for when training horses for Middleham Park Racing. These successful partnerships are testimony to how Palin and the team have their operation running like a well-oiled machine.

The list of winners the partnership has enjoyed is always worth remembering. 

Older readers may remember Esentepe causing a bit of shock when winning the Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes for Richard Hannon Snr back in 2012 at odds of 28/1 and a nice pot of £31.190.50 to go with it. Esentepe was bought by Peter Doyle Bloodstock for 22,000 Guineas and sold for 220,000 Guineas two years later, not a bad bit of business to be honest. 

Toormore has to be Middleham Park Racing's biggest success to date. 

What a horse! 

An inspired purchase for £36,000 at the Premier Yearling Sales in 2012. 

This son of Arakan won on debut at Leicester and remained unbeaten in his next two races as a 2-year-old winning the Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Goodwood then winning the Group 1 National Stakes with ease. 

It was Richard Hannon Snr’s last season holding a licence, and he couldn’t have gone out on a higher note after Toormore was crowned European Champion 2-year-old colt. Over the years more group success followed Toormore before being sold to Godolphin. It was a tragedy when Toormore suffered a heartbreaking leg injury and had to be put down in 2018. A highest official rating of 122 and prize money of £475,551 means Toormore will always be remembered as an amazing horse and a great success story for Middleham Park Racing. 

Chief Barker was another nice winner for Richard Hannon Snr and Middleham Park Racing. The Azamour colt won first timeout at Sandown before going on to win a Listed race at Haydock in 2013 and then went on to race in America for new trainer Larry Rivelli as a 3-year-old. 

Kool Kompany was a top-class 2-year-old for the Middleham Park Racing team back in 2014 when winning his first three races on the racecourse including a Listed race at Naas and going on to win the Group 2 Railway Stakes, Group 2 Robert Papin and finished runner-up in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes at Curragh. Kool Kompany then went on to win the Craven Stakes at Newmarket as a 3-year-old in what was a brilliant racing career. 

Currently standing stud at Dehesa De Milagro, Spain. 

Lexington Times did well to win the Spring Cup as a three-year-old in March 2015 and then contest some nice races without winning. 

Ventura Storm was an expensive purchase for the Middleham Park Racing team at the Craven Breeze Up Sale back in 2015 when bought for 110,000 Guineas but it was definitely money well-spent on the Zoffany colt.

A 20/1 shot on debut at Newmarket, Ventura Storm ran a decent race to finish third but made no mistake next timeout at the same venue. Pitched in at the deep end for his last race of the season in the Group 1 Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp, Ventura Storm was never involved after being short of room and finished near the back. 

It was a different story when he made his reappearance as a 3-year-old and went on to win two Listed races, the 2016 Group 1 Gran Premio del Jockey Club, Milan and the 2016 Group 3 Prix De Reux, Deauville before moving to Australia. 

A highest official rating of 113 and Prize Money worth £327,648 made Ventura Storm a brilliant purchase for all involved. 

Great Page is another who won on debut this time at Windsor. The Roderic O'Connor filly went on to win a listed race at Naas and a Group 3 at Deauville in 2015 and finished her career in America. 

The same year Viren’s Army finished his career off in style for Richard Hannon Jnr and the Middleham Park team when winning the Listed Dee Stakes at Chester before moving to the Charlie Appleby yard and enjoying success in Meydan for his new trainer. 

Raymond Tusk wasn't seen as a 2-year-old but soon made up for lost time when winning his maiden at Newbury on debut as a 3-year-old. The 11/1 shot put the race to bed at the furlong pole and better was to come when taking a Listed race at Hamilton and a Group 2 in Milan.

Boitron has also won a Listed race this time as a 2-year-old at Newbury and this after winning his first two races of the season. 

A great look down memory lane with plenty of fantastic horses for the Hannon's and the Middleham Park Racing team. I really hope we see another Ventura Storm or maybe another legend like Toolmoore this year out of this bunch.

CITYZEN SERG (Pedigree RAVEN'S PASS (USA) SUMMER DREAM (IRE) OASIS DREAM) is a 3-year-old bay colt who had a few niggles as a 2-year-old, the 75,000 euro purchase will be hopefully making up for the lost time when he makes his debut this season.
VENTURA TORMENTA (Pedigree ACCLAMATION (GB) MIDNIGHT OASIS (IRE) OASIS DREAM) is a 2-year-old bay colt who cost £95.000 at the Goffs Premier Yearling Sales and one I will be looking out for this season. 

UNNAMED (Pedigree ACCLAMATION (GB) XEMA (GB) DANEHILL) is a 2-year-old with a great pedigree who Richard has a share himself and describes him as a great mover and a real athlete. 

LEXINGTON LIBERTY (Pedigree DANDY MAN (IRE) WARM WELCOME (GB) MOTIVATOR) is a 2-year-old who cost 50,000 euros at the Tattersalls Ireland Yearling Sales and a full sister to black-type performer Danielsflyer. Another with a great pedigree and could be an early type to look out for. 

UNNAMED (Pedigree FOOTSTEPSINTHESAND (GB) MAJRAA (FRA) INVINCIBLE SPIRIT) is a 90,000 euro purchase for the Middleham Park team and looks a nice type who could be out midseason over 6 or 7 furlongs. 

FOUR CLUBS (Pedigree MAXIOS (GB) TRIMURTI (USA) HARLAN’S HOLIDAY) is a 2-year-old who has been described as a physically imposing sort. 

KEEP RIGHT ON (Pedigree ACCLAMATION (GB) KHALICE (GB) BAHAMIAN BOUNTY) A £26,000 purchase at the Goffs Yearling Sales and could be out in April.

MYBOYMAX (Pedigree MYBOYCHARLIE (IRE) PLEBEYA (IRE) DUBAWI) is a 2-year-old purchased at the Osarus Yearling Sales in France. 

VENTURA WIZARD (Pedigree PEARL SECRET (GB) CONCENTRATION (IRE) MIND GAMES) is a 2-year-old that was purchased at the Tattersalls Ascot Yearling Sale just like Ventura Rebel was last year so hopes are high for this £30,000 colt. Described as looking very strong and looks like a real athlete by the team. 

Thanks for reading and look out for my next 2-year-olds to follow.

Photo: Toormore (A True Champion) 

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

John Gosden King of the Castle

KINGMAN was always going to be a sire to be taken seriously after a glittering but short career for trainer John Gosden. The Khalid Abdullah owned Invincible Spirit bay colt was born on 22 February 2011 at the famous Juddmonte Farms and has never looked back since. 

A dazzling debut at Newmarket in 2013 saw Kingman storm clear to win by six-lengths and firmly establish himself as a serious prospect for the season ahead. Little did we know that a chipped bone would only see him race only once more as a 2-year-old but as with his easy debut win it was the same again as Kingman stepped up a level and was rewarded with his first black-type as he cruised to the lead two furlongs out in the Group 3 Solario Stakes at Sandown and win without breaking a sweat. 

Kingman was back for the Greenham Stakes at Newbury after recovering from a successful operation on a chipped bone. A new season but the same story as Kingman demolished the field. Only a second in the 2000 Guineas stopped him having a perfect record as Kingman ended his career winning four Group Ones on the bounce including the Irish 2000 Guineas, St James’s Palace Stakes, Sussex Stakes and Prix Du Haras De Fresnay-Le-Buffard- Jacques Le Marois Group One at Deauville. An amazing year was topped off when Kingman was named Champion three-year-old colt and Horse of the Year at the Cartier Racing Awards for 2014. 

The news of Kingman’s retirement was announced in September 2014 after he picked up a throat infection and plans to run him in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes were thwarted. It was a brilliant career, and he’s stood at the Banstead Manor Stud alongside the great Frankel since the 2015 breeding season. Kingman became the highest-ranked second season-sire in the world this year with a nomination fee of £150,000 for the new breeding season. I will be keeping a close eye on the third season crop after successful purchases at the yearling sales. 

To say Kingman’s offspring have done well is a bit of an understatement with Persian King winning Group 1 at Longchamp and also Group 2 winners Headman and Calyx, also Nausha winning the Musidora Stakes and Sangarius winning the Hampton Court Stakes at Ascot. His second crop did well too with four Stake winners including Tom Dascombes Boomer who won the Group 3 Prestige Stakes at Goodwood. 

John Gosden does love a Kingman offspring and with Calyx being a big success. I have no doubt he will have a few nice types this season to keep an eye out for. Two I have my eye on are owned by Mr. A.E. Oppenheimer who had a couple of first timeout winners with John Gosden over the past two seasons. First was the Dansili colt Sucellus who won on debut at Wolverhampton in 2018, and then we had Tiempo Vuela the Lope De Vega filly who also won on debut this time at Newcastle last October. 

The first unraced homebred colt is ALTO VOLANTE

Pedigree KINGMAN-DISCO VOLANTE (SADLER'S WELLS) (USA) who has an entry for the 2021 Investec Derby. Dam's most notable successes being a gelding previously trained by Mark Johnston called Namibian who won the Queen's Vase and the Gordon Stakes back in 2011 and had an official rating of 112. Another who never hit them heights was an 80 rated gelding owned by MR A.E. Oppenheimer called Westwood Hoe who ran for John Gosden three times and won his Maiden on his third start before changing trainer. 

The second unraced homebred colt is MEGALLAN

Pedigree KINGMAN-EASTERN BELLE (CHAMPS ELYSEES) who has an early entry for the 2021 Investec Derby. Dam Eastern Belle ran at a decent level for owner MR A. E Oppenheimer and an official rating of 104 for trainer John Gosden after winning the Listed Lord Weinstock Memorial Stakes at Newbury in 2014. This will be the first offspring for this Dam so interested to see how Megallan shapes up. 

Thanks for reading and keep an eye out for my next 2-year-olds to follow for 2020.

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Cheveley Park And Sir Michael Stoute 2-Year-Olds To Follow 2020

Cheveley Park And Sir Michael Stoute 2-Year-Olds To Follow 2020

The 2020 flat season is upon us and as always I have been busy trying to find any information to beat them, god-damn bookies, this season. As you well know it’s the 2-year-olds I love to look out for and this year I'm hoping to unearth a couple of unraced beauties to go in my tracker for the season ahead. I always love to see what exciting prospects Cheveley Park Stud and Michael Stoute have lined up for the seasons ahead and this year is no different. Over the years they have produced some nice 2-year-olds and are always worth a second glance. 

REGAL REALITY was a nice 2-year-old for the Sir Michael Stoute yard in 2017. By Intello out of Regal Realm, the bay colt made a pretty impressive debut at Yarmouth despite drifting from 15/8 to his eventual starting price of 9/4. Ryan Moore dictated the pace and kicked on to win well. Regal Reality was put away after that success for the winter and since then the 5-year-old gelding won the Group 3 Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes at Goodwood in 2018 and last year added the Group 3 Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown. 

Another Sir Michael Stoute horse that made a big impression as a 2-year-old in 2017 was the Frankel filly VERACIOUS. The bay filly was easy to back in a nice looking Class 2 event at Newbury on debut despite taking a slight drift from 5/2 to 3s, Veracious could only manage third that day after looking a touch keen. Next timeout Veracious looked a different horse with that run under her belt and stormed clear to put the Newmarket contest to bed for Ryan Moore gaining her first win for the Cheveley Park team. As a 3-year-old she only raced four times but all at Group level and gained her first Group win in the Group 3 Atlanta Stakes at Sandown. Next year the hardened Group performer got her rewards with a much-deserved win in the Group One Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket and continues to race at the highest level. 

2019 seen Stoute and the Cheveley Park team unleash another Frankel filly in the name of MELNIKOVA. The chestnut well-bred filly was surprisingly sent off 8/1 for her debut in a Kempton Novice Stakes race in August, even though she ran green James Doyle managed to get a nice tune out of her and Melnikova stayed on to win by a neck. A host of nice entries followed but her next race was a Class 2 at Newbury where she could only manage third to another Frankel superstar QUADRILATERAL. I imagine we haven't seen the last of Melnikova and will be back stronger this season. 

I for one will be looking forward to seeing the firepower that Cheveley Park and Sir Michael Stoute bring to the new 2020 flat season. Let’s hope a couple of these can make a name for themselves in the future: 

QUEEN’S FAIR - 2-year-old bay filly by Dansili - Queen's Best by King's Best 

POTAPOV - 2-year-old bay filly Invincible Spirit - Safina by Pivotal 

IRREPROACHABLE - 2-year-old bay colt by Frankel - Infallible by Pivotal

INIGO JONES - 2-year-old bay colt by New Approach - Spacious by Nayef (2021 Investec Derby Entry Group 1) 

DIVINE HERALD 2-year-old bay filly by Frankel - Heaven Sent by Pivotal 

DEGREE 2-year-old bay filly by Dubawi - Echelon by Danehill 

Thanks for reading

Friday, 24 January 2020

The Most Perverted Way to Remember a Pack of Cards

With age, our memories fail. 

I can't remember the exact age (and that's not me playing on a pun) but around 40 our brain cells are dying at a rate on knots. I'm sure in my teens I could recall information much easier. In fact, when it came to two-year-old horse racing I could reel off form lines, horse names, trainers, courses, betting movements and future plans like I was reading them from a piece of paper. 

Today, well, I can remember more than most simply because I read, write and think about horse racing more than the average person. However, I still forget a name or a face when I really shouldn't. 

Some people have trained their minds to remember all manner of things. 

The idea of memorising a pack of cards seems difficult if not impossible. Even without a couple of jokers, it seems incredible.

Anyway, many years ago, I decided to try and memorise a full pack of cards. I wasn't sure I could remember 10 or 12 let alone 52 + 2 jokers (who would taunt me if I got it wrong). 

Could you remember a full pack of cards? 

I can imagine you saying: ''No!''

However, I am confident you could if you needed to. It wouldn't even take me putting a gun to your head. In fact, if you do achieve such a feat of memory you will probably be as surprised as others watching (if you want an audience). 

I'm confident you could do it because I did. And I'm pretty sure my brain isn't any better than Joe Bloggs. 

So how did I do it?

The answer is to make remembering something/anything into a funny story. 

It is surprising how much easier it makes what may seem an impossible challenge. 

As for the pack of cards, think of placing cards around your house, on your person, or anywhere that you can visualize. 

Let's start with a kind of perverted thought...just to help you remember one card... (laughing to myself). 

I can make you remember the King of Spades like your mind is on fire. In fact, I can guarantee from this day forth you will never forget this card even though you want to. Sorry, if this sounds disturbing, but it's all about remembering a pack of cards. 

The first card to visualise in our story to remember a pack of cards. The King of Spade is found in my underpants. 

Remember these cards are chosen at random (you just make a story to remember them). 

The next two cards to remember are the five of hearts and seven of clubs. 

So in my mind, the King of Spades was given five heart transplants and in his right hand, he is holding a club with the number 7 scorched on it. In fact, the club is on fire which makes me rather hot under the collar (or underpants) and I rush to the sink in the kitchen to turn on the tap, where you bump into my gran dressed as the jack of clubs while a chicken on her shoulder is dressed up in a parrot costume with the 3 and 4 of hearts stuck to its wings which it flaps trying to shake them off. 

For some strange reason, there's a snake curled around the tap. This snake's eyes reveal a diamond in each eye (2 of diamonds). Turning on the tap, the snake falls into the bowl and makes the shape of an eight (8 of diamonds). You take a glass in the shape of a number 5, but the water is bright red, and at the bottom of the glass is a big diamond worth a billion pounds. 

You throw the water on your smoldering pants. The water runs down into one shoe which you take off to reveal a 3 of diamonds. You turn the card over and it turns into the 3 of spades. 

You have an image in mind of a wizard waving a magical number 1 which turns everything he points at into a heart, which then explodes like a firework.  

You have just memorized 12 cards from the pack. 

If you really need to remember something bad...turning those things, names, places, dates (whatever) into the most ridiculous story you can imagine makes it easy. 

You'll be surprised at what you can remember or can't forget! 

By Jason Coote

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

How Much Money Do you Need to Bet to be a Professional Gambler?

Many punters dream of being a professional gambler. 

It isn't impossible but it is far from an easy task. If it wasn't difficult enough to have a high level of knowledge to be better than most, what about the money you need to bet? In many respects, that is even more daunting than the knowledge although you won't have any chance of winning if you don't have the info to start. 

I think I read from a recent post on Craig's Betting Blog Facebook Page (posted by Seamus Furlong) that a professional gambler is unlikely to have a return of more than 5% on their bets. I think I read that Alex Bird - classed as the original professional gambler - that he had a 2% return. In fact, his profit or loss depended on the tax paid on bets at the time. 

When you think of the amount of work is put in to being a professional gambler, it doesn't seem a great return. I mean, in the good old days of banks paying interest on your savings, the Post Office used to give about 10%. Those days are long gone (scandalously) but it makes you think why gamble with your hard-earned cash if that is all you can get back in return? 

To be fair, I'm not sure the highest percentage the best professional gamblers make? I guess if your bet twenty barrow loads of cash, it is a nice return even on a small return. 

I'm sure a lot of people make much more than a few percents. 

By all accounts, the percentage paid by using betting exchanges would nullify profits let alone higher percentages. 

Would you bet literally £100,000 to win £5,000? 

The decision is yours. 

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Terry Ramsden And His Half A Billion Mistake

Most gamblers remember Terry Ramsden. 

Essex man made good. An investor and gambler. His mastery of Japanese stock saw him make millions. In fact, he became self-employed at 19 and earned £25,000 in his first month. 

Clearly, he was an astute businessman. He knew his trade and made a killing. As many of you know, his weakness, if not his Achilles Heel, was his love of betting on the horses. 

However, few realise that he made money gambling in those early years, giving him enough cash (with his other trading knowledge) to purchase Glen International in 1984. 

It is said, his annual turnover went from £18,000 to £3.5 billion in three years and with it the accolade of being the 57th richest man in the United Kingdom. At his peak, his net worth was a staggering £150 million. 

He owned houses around the world, flashy cars, expensive watches, and a media man's dream. In 1986 he bet £500,000 (£250,000 each-way) on his horse Mr. Snugfit to win the Grand National. The horse came 4th returning a cool £1 million.  

All that was about to change. 

In 1988, following the 1987 stock market crash, and later the Japanese market bubble bursting, Ramsden lost a staggering £58 million gambling on horse racing and suffered a capital loss of £100 million. 

In 1991, he was arrested and jailed in Los Angles for six months while awaiting extradition to the United Kingdom for fraud. A claim Ramsden denied. 

By 1992, he was in debt to the tune of £100 million. He was declared bankrupt and pleaded guilty in 1993 to recklessly inducing fresh investments into Glen International. He received a two year suspended sentence. 

However, in 1997, he breached his Insolvency Act after it was discovered he was hiding £300,000 in assets and sentenced to almost two years in prison. He served 10 months. 

His wife had left him, all the hangers-on nowhere to be seen. 

Ramsden returned to his love of trading working in the private treaty market, creating a trading system that sped up trading equities transactions. The company grew to be worth £250 million. 

In 2003, he was cleared by the Jockey Club to own horses again. One horse, Jake The Snake, a two-year-old purchased for 16,000 euros at the yearling sales, named after his son, won on debut at Lingfield at odds of 2/1. It was trained by Conrad Allen, but sold after the initial start as not living up to expectation. 

The interesting part of Terry Ramsden's story is that he said at the time he wanted to be the first billionaire in the UK. And in a way, he wasn't so far away with his investments (if only he hadn't lost his shirt along the way). At one point he owned 30% shares in Chelsea F.C. In 2018 the club, one of the richest in the world, was worth about £2 billion pounds. If Terry had kept his investments that alone would be worth £600 million this day. 

Many punters point to Ramsden for being a gambling fool. Sure, much of his betting cost him dear but that had as much to do with the stock market crash which saw millions of investors fall by the way. Ramsden never gave up, even in times when he had lost just about everything he held dear but lived to fight another day. He is someone who won and lost more money than the likes of any punter who tries to say they know better. But how many of you were ever worth £100 million? 

A classic tale of rags to riches - to rags to somewhat comfortable in bank balance and his own skin. 

Author: By Jason Coote

Friday, 17 January 2020

Charlie Hills: 5 Horses to Follow in 2020

This season was always going to be a hard act to follow for Charlie Hills with his 2-year-old horses because 2-year-olds like Phoenix Of Spain don’t come around very often. 

Phoenix Of Spain had a special year in 2018 winning the Group 3 Acomb Stakes then finishing second in the Group 2 Champagne Stakes and the Group 1 Futurity Stakes at Doncaster. 

As a three-year-old Phoenix Of Spain won the Irish 2000 Guineas at 16/1 on his reappearance. 

This season has seen a couple of nice 2-year-olds come from the Hills stable in Lambourne.

Flippa The Strippa made her debut in a Nottingham Stakes race at the end of April. It was a nice introduction by the Outstrip filly who stayed on nicely to finish third despite not being fancied in the betting. 

Flippa The Strippa went onto win her next race at Chepstow then contested the Listed National Stakes at Sandown. Even though it wasn’t the strongest field Flippa The Strippa won well and picked up some nice prize money too. Not bad considering she cost just £10,000 at the yearling sales. 

Persuasion was bought for 155,000 gns by Peter & Ross Doyle Bloodstock as a foal and sold on to owner Susan Roy for 220,000 gns in 2018. 

The Acclamation bay colt won first timeout at 16/1 and showed the potential that Charlie Hills had seen on the gallops. Persuasion was given some fancy entries this season and ran a great race to finish second in the Group 3 Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket when beaten by Wichita which was no disgrace. 

Persuasion has only had three races and will look to be challenging the big guns next season. 

One horse that has been pretty frustrating this season is DULAS who am pretty sure has ability but also has a few issues. The Raven’s Pass colt was bought for 60,000 gns at the 2018 October Yearling Sale and is owned by Julie Martin & David R Martin & Partn. A big price on debut at Newmarket in a pretty hot race, Dulas was far to green to make any impact and finished down the field. He was entered in the Convivial Stakes at York but was unruly before the start and withdrawn. 

After a long lay off I was pretty sure Dulas would be spot on but again ran to free and blew his chance but having said that the winner that day Highest Ground could be a bit special and has an early entry for the Irish 2000 Guineas next season. Dulas did look to be getting the hang of things late on and I won’t be giving up on the bay colt just yet. 

One more Charlie Hills 2-year-old that looks to be held in high regard is the Mr. Hamdan Al Maktoum filly SHURAFFA. The Shamardal filly was also keen on debut at Salisbury in a Class 2 race. Charlie had given Shuraffa two significant entries before her debut and hopefully, she will improve next season and break her maiden tag. 

Thanks for reading and look out for my next horses to follow.

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Brough Scott: A Man of Many Talents

Born John Brough Scott on the 12th December 1942. Brough was the presenter of Channel 4 Racing for thirty years. 

Personally, I always remember when I got the racing bug that would be my Saturday in front of the television sorted watching him talk with such passion about horse racing. 

That’s just one of the many things he’s done in an amazing career which has seen him honoured with an MBE in the Queen's Birthday honours list in 2009 and front other racing programmes including the ITV Seven and a brief spell presenting football on Channel 5. Brough has also been a journalist for newspapers including the Sunday Times, Independent On Sunday and Sunday Telegraph in which he won Sports Feature Writer Of The Year three times. 

Let’s not forget the many books he has written over the years including Henry Cecil Trainer Of Genius, Galloper Jack and an updated version of his Grandfather's book Warrior: The Amazing Story Of a Real War Horse.

If that wasn’t enough in one career, I haven't even mentioned he was a jockey who rode over a 100 winners!

Brough, how long have you been involved in horse racing? 

When I was a kid my Dad had a magazine at the beginning of the year “Racehorses of 1950” (or a date around then.) That got me interested and I have. 

If you weren't involved in horse racing what would you have done? 

Probably started with Whitbreads where my Dad worked. 

As a jockey you rode over a 100 winners do you have any standout wins? 

My greatest moment was winning the Imperial Cup on my third day back from a broken arm which was still in a special cast. 

As a presenter of Channel 4 racing for over 30 years, you must have had some great times?

The two best days were Lester Piggott’s Breeders Cup and Desert Orchid’s Whitbread. 

Has racing changed much over the years and if so do you think it's for the better? 

Many things are much better. Fitness of horses and jockeys, safety and medical arrangements for jockeys and veterinary support, communication on the track and off it; but at the same time racing has slid a long way down.

Naturally, you have met many legends of the racing world over the years who was a real character that you always enjoyed interviewing? 

When Steve Cauthen first arrived he was an absolute revelation. 

Your all-time top three horses? 

Arkle, Nijinsky and Desert Orchid.

You was appointed an MBE in the Queen's birthday honours list in 2009 has this been the highlight of your career? 

It was a great honour but the highlights have been the big days on TV and in print – like Dancing Brave’s Arc and Barry McGuigan’s defeat in Las Vegas which I covered for The Sunday Times.

What do you like to do in your spare time? 

Go exploring with my grandchildren. 

Any horses you are looking forward to seeing this season?  

Tiger Roll in The National.

Favourite racecourse and why? 

Cheltenham – because it was I started out as a jockey at Frenchy Nicholson right next to the course. 

Thanks to Brough Scott for taking the time to answer a few questions for my blog.

Visit Brough Scott's Website

Twitter: @broughscott

Vintage Footage of Brough Scott 

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Micky Hammond from Stable Lad to Top Trainer

Micky Hammond horse trainer
Based at Oakwood Stables, East Witton Road, Middleham, Micky Hammond has a wealth of experience within thoroughbred horses racing. A top jockey in the 1980s and established horse trainer who knows how to get the best out of his horses. Not bad from a young man who didn't come from a racing background! 

With an eye for spotting a good horse and known as one of the best-dressed trainers in the game, he's one of those people you just can't help but like. 

Micky, how long have you been involved in horse racing? 

I've been in racing over 40 yrs, having never ridden before leaving school! I actually wrote a letter to Epsom horse trainer Brian Swift about becoming an apprentice jockey but started working weekends for local trainer TM Jones while in my final year at school in preparation. When I left school, Mr. Jones asked if I would like to work with him, the bonus being I could still live at home.

If you weren't a jockey or a trainer what would you have done?

I would have gone into the building trade. 

What memories do you have about riding Hardy Lad to victory in the Scottish National? 

He jumped well throughout the race, taking it up in the home straight. It was a brilliant feeling and one I will never forget. 

Do you feel a lot of pressure training horses or is it a relaxed career that you enjoy all the time? 

A lot of situations are beyond our control when dealing with animals, staff, and jockeys.

It's good when its good but can be very lonely when it's not. 

What race would you love to win before you retire? 

The Champion Hurdle.

What do you do to relax when you get the time? 

I love eating and drinking in nice places. Also, attending football matches.

Cornerstone Lad looks an absolute star and after winning the Fighting Fifth what plans do you have for him next? 

Cornerstone's gutsy win will see him next at Haydock 18th March.

How is the old fella Alderbrook Lad? 

It looks like he’s still enjoying racing at the ripe old age of 13.  Alderbrook Lad is in fine form, he is going to have his final season contending (and enjoying himself) around Cartmel.

Do you have any dark horses for my readers to follow this season? 

Rory And Me and an unnamed Mahler gelding.

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Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Sue Smith Only the Third Female Trainer to Win the Grand National

Midnight Shadow wins at Cheltenham
Based at Craiglands Farm near Bingley Moor, In West Yorkshire, Sue Smith was only the third female trainer to win the Grand National when the 66/1 outsider Auroras Encore won the famous Aintree race in 2013 putting her alongside the great Jenny Pitman and Venetia Williams. The one time top class show-jumper clearly loves horses and her first win came in 1990 when African Safari won at Ascot. Her first Cheltenham winner came in the name of Mister McGoldrick in 2008 and plenty of big winners have followed. A big thanks to Sue Smith for answering a few questions for my blog and good luck for the rest of the season.

Sue, how long have you been involved in horse racing? 

I got my full licence in 1990 but my dad owned racehorses and I used to ride out for a local trainer when I was still at home. If you weren't a trainer what would you have done? It would have been something with horses, I was a show jumper and I liked bringing on the younger horses so I probably would have carried on in something like that. 

Do you feel a lot of pressure training horses? 

There can be a lot of pressure and it’s non-stop, every day no matter what the weather is doing but I love doing it and when the horses run well and we get winners it is worth all the hard work. 

If you could train any horse in history who would it be and why? 

To be honest we’ve been very lucky with what we have trained and had some really special horses like The Last Fling, Auroras Encore and Mister Mcgoldrick. 

Winning the Grand National with Auroras Encore must be up with the highlights of your career, what others stand out for you? 

Beecher Chase – Ardent Scout and Kildimo, Mister Mcgoldrick at Cheltenham, Royal Emperor 2nd in The RSA. 

A typical Christmas at the Smith household?

Starts the same as most other days with getting the horses out and making sure everyone is ready for racing on boxing day. Harvey cooks a lovely Christmas dinner and some of the lads will join us. 

What do you do to relax when you get the time? 

We don’t really get a chance to relax at home, we try to go to our place in Spain a few times a year and that is when we get to relax and not do a great deal other than a bit of swimming and sunbathing! 

Tell us something we don't know about Sue Smith? 

Erm… I don’t know what to say. I still ride out when the horses first come in, I like Never Up – do people know that? 

The old fella Vintage Clouds looked in fine shape in the Tommy Whittle last time out and kept on nicely, will he be taking another shot at the Grand National?

No, he doesn’t like the fences there so we will be looking for something else for him. Do you have any dark horses for my readers to follow this season? We have plenty of young horses that we are looking forward to like Aire Valley Lad and Jayaaah as well as Flamboyant Joyaux and Frimeur de Lancray.

Visit Sue Smith's Website

Twitter: @Suesmithracing

Instagram: Suesmithracing

I would like to thank Sue for taking the time to answer these questions and wish the stable a successful season. 

Thanks for reading. 

Photo: Midnight Shadow winning at Cheltenham 

Saturday, 4 January 2020

12:40 Lingfield Racing Tips (4th January)

This looks a weak race. 

Mainly, I will review this race from a statistical point of view. 

In general, these races go to form horses. Stats for debutantes indicate very few horses win over 20/1 so the winning chances of Runcible, Beggarman, Crazy Love, and Misty Girl are slim (unless seriously backed).

Mickey Dripping, cheap purchase. Wide draw on debut. Slow start and looked very inexperienced if not awkward. Pushed along, outpaced, still holding head high and looking difficult to ride. Ran on at the line. [Doesn't inspire confidence and needs to show a lot more].

Glorious Return cost 40,000 guineas at the yearling sales. Johnny Portman often sends his better horses to run at Newbury on debut. This chestnut colt is a fair-looking horse and backed on debut. Showed some pace, but tired out of contention and struggling a long way out over 6 1/2f. Not seen for a long time. Interesting to see if stepping up in distance helps. Portman can win at bigger odds second time out although he has few winners. In fact, his win stats for 13/2 & less sp are very poor. His place stats are fair. One of the more likelier types at speculative odds but needs to improve. 

Stately Home is well trained by James Tate in the familiar silks of Saeed Manana. This grey son of Colodvil cost 20,000 guineas at the yearling sales. The mare looked pretty hopeless. The betting is key for this horse. Tate has very few debut winners over 13/2. If in this best betting guide has decent place claims. However, unless priced 11/4 & less sp they struggle to win. 

Even though the two favourites are no world beaters they most likely set the standard. 

Richard Hughes' Mazikeen looks a professional type of horse. Looks likely to lead. Has to shoulder a win penalty which isn't ideal. Ran out an easy winner last time and has pace to sit handy and most likely try to slip the field on the final bend. The form of her last win hasn't been franked but she did beat them well. Could run a race and may well lead into the final furlong. 

Cable Speed wasn't unfancied on debut and hampered early which wasn't ideal. This 30,000 guinea yearling ran on in half-willing fashion in a Novis Stakes, so this is a drop in class by race type. From a statistical point of view, it has fair win and place claims. The odds aren't giving much away but a horse with the right profile. 

Conclusion: The betting will tell the story for most, especially Stately Home. The betting exchanges suggest he isn't fancied but it is worth noting market moves. Glorious Return may have half a hope if looking for a horse to run a race at a price but needs to improve from his debut effort. The two favourites are professional-looking horses and even though short odds are likely to play a major role. Mazikeen, even with a penalty, is likely to set the pace and may well hold a lead into the final furlong. Cable Speed will improve for his debut and be primed. This is a drop in class. A poor race where most look unlikely to figure. If pressed I would back Cable Speed to win but not a race I would be betting as there is little value.    

Guest post: Jason Coote