Breaking In at 2- Is it all bad?

One of the most frequently worded complaints of horse racing is the fact that the horses are commonly broken in at the tender age of two years old. At this age horses are still thought of as adolescents, with the mindset of one too.

It is argued that this seemingly strenuous activity on what is essentially a juvenile horse, could lead to a higher rate of breakdowns and injuries for horses. But of course, the whole story isn’t that simple.

The chief American racing authority, The Jockey Club, carried out a study on the breakdowns at 97% of American racetracks, and the figures they were left with all but confuses the story even more.

They found that of the 25,045 two year old horses that raced in America in 2016, there were only 33 fatalities, giving a fatality rate of 1.32 deaths per every 1000 starts. In contrast, of the 202,767 older horses (four years and older) there were 310 fatalities, giving us a fatality rate of 1.53 deaths per every 1000.

This shows that although two year olds are regarded as weaker, they have a lower fatality rate than older horses. Although there is no given reasoning as to why the rate increases for older horses, it could be due to the fact that older horses are more likely to have longer and heavy campaigns, making more runs than two year olds. Although this could show that two year olds have easier campaigns, these figures could also show that two year olds are stronger and more mature at their age, than for non racing horses.

Another explanation for this could be Wolff’s Law. In short, Wolff’s Law states that bone in a healthy animal will adapt to the load under which it is placed. This essentially proves that if a two year old horse is happy and healthy, it will quickly adapt to the pressures of racing and as a result it’s bones will become stronger than if it was started later. So there is the possibility that starting horses younger is preventing a higher amount of breakdowns.

In short, there is sufficient evidence to show that in the majority of circumstances, there would be no long term physical damage to a horse by starting it as a two year old.

But physical damage shouldn’t be the only damage that is focused on. There are ethical concerns about the horse’s mental wellbeing that should be factored in as well. If a young horse is not mentally ready to begin a racing career, it shouldn’t be started so early, even if there are no physically damaging side affects.

Chatting with… Jessica Cooley


Who is Jessica Cooley?

According to the Racing Post, Jessica Cooley is a licenced apprentice and conditional jockey. Over the last 2 years, Jessica has amounted 8 winners and 14 placings, having only had a handful of good rides. She is a wonderful role model to younger jockey hopefuls. You can find Jessica on twitter @JessicaCooley07.


What got you interested in horse racing?

Well, I’ve always been in with horses and always wanted to be a jockey. I was so keen to turn 16 so I could just go to the racing school and start. My dad always has watched racing but other than that, I just took an interest myself.


How did you start of your career and how did that transpire?

I started at the British Racing School like most, my first job in racing was for Ed Dunlop where I learn a lot, gained lots of experience riding work and yearlings. Then I went on to Alan Bailey’s where I got my amateur licence, he was brilliant to work for, I had a lot of opportunities for him and rode 7 winners from 40 rides as an amateur. I then went on to Chris Dwyer’s to work towards my apprentice licence. Due to a lack of horses currently, now I have started at George Scott’s, a young expanding trainer and looking forward to riding winners for him!


What are you views on the female representation in the horse racing industry as a whole?

I think the female riders are setting a high standard and are proving they can ride just as well as the boys. They are proving they can ride just as well as the boys. They are proving great role models and are also helpful to us younger/inexperienced girls. I think the silk series has been a great initiative for female riders and gives the girls a chance to ride for different trainers and build more connections.


Can you briefly explain what an apprentice jockey is, in comparison to a professional, for those that don’t know?

An apprentice is someone ‘climbing the ladder’. You have to work your way up which comes with experience and working hard for your trainer. Once you get noticed other trainers/owners take notice and once you get the ball rolling you expand as a rider and confidence grows. A professional is already established where as an apprentice is working towards that mark.


Any horses from Chris Dwyer’s yard to watch out for this season and next?

Phoenix Star- he is a very progressive 2 year old with a bright future ahead. First time out he came on from the run, learnt a lot, and came out his second run winning his novice race. One to look forward too.

About ‘Phoenix Star’:

  • 2yr old Bay Colt
  • Dam: Volcanic Lady (IRE)
  • Sire: Alhebayeb (IRE)
  • Trained by Chris Dwyer & Owned by Flying High Syndicate
  • Winner 2nd time out over 5F at Yarmouth
  • No future entries to note


I thank Jessica very much for taking the time out of her schedule to talk to me. She’s such a polite and friendly lady, any owner/trainer would be lucky to have her ride for them.

We all wish her the best of luck for the rest of this season and for many more seasons to come.

Thank you.


BHA Face Backlash After ‘Bad Day At The Office’


By Samantha

It’s safe to say that the BHA didn’t have the best day in the history of the organization yesterday with a few of their decisions causing all kinds of controversy and uproar. It was described as a ‘bad day at the office’ by Alex Steedman, a Racing UK pundit, but in all fairness, it was a bit worse than just a bad day.

The day began with employees from the BHA turned up to Jim Boyle’s yard in Epsom to do a random drugs test. It was also the Epsom Open Morning where the yards, including Boyle’s, were open for the public to visit. On Twitter, Boyle described it as ‘a joke’. It was quite thoughtless and inconsiderate of the BHA to attempt to do this on a day the trainer called their ‘busiest morning of the year’. It is common knowledge that the Epsom Open Day, in aid of Racing Welfare, happens on the August Bank Holiday and has done for many years.

Later on in the day at Epsom racecourse, Pretty Jewel, an Ian Williams trained filly, was refusing to go to the start and playing up so one of Peter Hedger’s employees, who was looking after his boss’ runner and saw what the filly was doing, tossed a small amount of water from a bottle at the filly’s hind quarters. From the looks of things, she didn’t react at all. It was an irrelevant gesture but done with good intentions. Peter Hedger and the employee where called into the stewards and the employee said he didn’t know that he wasn’t able to throw things as a form of encouragement. Peter Hedger was fined £140 for the incident, which in my eyes seems a ridiculous overreaction to a trivial thing. It didn’t hurt the horse or affect her chances so I don’t see why a fine should even have been given. The racing public showed their anger on twitter with users questioning what the sport is coming too and the reliability of those at the top of the game.

And if things couldn’t get any worse for them, yet again, one of the stalls were slower to open than the others at the start of one of the fourth race at Southwell. Handsome Dude, ridden by Andrew Elliot, was drawn in stall one and he normally runs prominently but couldn’t do that as the stall seemed to open after the rest of the field’s. The gelding was being dropped down from six furlongs, his seemingly preferred trip, to about five furlongs, a trip he had previously won at on two occasions. The horse didn’t have the required pace to get to the main body of the field and finished thirteenth of the fourteenth runners, three lengths behind the twelfth horse past the post. The horse’s chances were blown at the start but, after an enquiry into what happened, with the jockey, the starters and the clerk of the course all present, the stewards were satisfied that ‘the incident had not materially prejudiced a sufficient number of runners’ so no further action was taken but a report was forwarded to the head office.


From this picture, you can see the advantage the other horses were handed at the start.

It wasn’t the first time this has happened in the past week. On the 23rd, in the 5:10 race at Wolverhampton, stall six didn’t open as quickly as the others and the horse set to start from that stall, Cadeaux Boxer, was at an unfair disadvantage. The horse is at his happiest when bowling along in front and as a result he’s a very quick starter so with some bumping along, from his jockey, Theodore Ladd, he managed to get a reasonable position but he was never comfortable and was out of contention from three furlongs out. The starters were interviewed and said that the stalls were checked before and after the race and no fault had been detected. The stewards then decided that the malfunction ‘had not materially prejudiced a sufficient number of runners’ and the result remained the same.

Surely, something more should have been done as both horses’ chances were ruined at the start. They were both reasonably fancied and punters seem to have been let down by nothing happening to compensate them for the incident. It would only be fair that the people who have backed the horse get their stake back as the horses haven’t run to their best possible placing on that day as the rest of the got a head start on them.

If this kind of thing is going to happen regularly, the BHA should tackle it now and make sure that the stalls don’t do it again because it is unfair on everyone involved. Being realistic, the integrity of the sport is at stake by the racing authorities making decisions to turn a blind eye to incidents like these. These incidents come after the stewards at a racecourse recently got the outcome of a photo finish wrong. If more things like this happen, the faith that trainers and members of the racing fraternity have in the BHA will lessen.

It may be time for a change in the leadership to people with practical experience in the day-to-day running of racing like trainers or jockeys and a reevaluation of the rules of racing to prevent petty incidents like the one at Epsom from reoccurring.

Ebor Handicap Preview


By Samantha

The feature race of the meeting is the Sky Bet Ebor Handicap raced over one mile five furlongs and there is a prize of £311,250 to the winner. Stratum has been the long time favourite but it was touch and go whether Willie Mullin’s charge would actually get in. He has and will carry the saddle cloth with the number nineteen on it for the race. He’s a really consistent horse and he will most definitely stay and handle any conditions. Mullins also has Whiskey Sour in the line-up. He’ll have no issues with the trip as he has won over two miles over jumps but there is question marks about whether he is too high in the handicap as the highest flat winning mark 86 and he’s now running off 103.

Dylan Mouth won over course and distance last time out and has beaten a few of these in the past. Scotland was third behind him on that occasion but seems to be running at a trip entirely inappropriate for him since landing his only victory in a mile race. He looks really high in the weights despite Jason Watson taking off 3lbs and he won’t stay in my opinion. Time To Study was fourth in that race, beaten nine lengths and he has won over this trip before but is 3lbs higher than his last win and may prefer softer ground. Platitude was ahead of Time To Study on that occasion and is a Listed winner over this trip and has ran well over further in the past. Muntahaa beat Dylan Mouth in a Group Three in 2017 and that was the last time he won a race. He has won a Listed race over this distance but has been unplaced over it since.

Blakeney Point was a close second over one mile six furlongs at Glorious Goodwood last year and he has won over two miles so there are no worries about his stamina but he was behind Montaly in the 2017 renewal of the Chester Cup. Montaly won the Lonsdale Cup last year so his stamina is assured as well and seems to be returning to form after some poor runs so Blakeney Point may be able to reverse the form. My Reward is a Listed Handicap winner and has been behind Blakeney Point and Dylan Mouth on a few occasions.

Fun Mac is drawn right on the end of the stalls in 22 and he was third over one mile seven furlongs in a race he won the previous year. He was behind Saunter at Doncaster in November and since Saunter has won his last two starts and is a winner over one mile five furlongs. He has a good chance but would prefer it if it was on the softer side of good.

Mustajeer, Crowned Eagle and Teodoro are the unknown quantities in this race as they are yet to try a trip above one mile and a half. The first mentioned horse is a winner over a mile and a mile and two furlongs and has a good weight and draw and can use Crowned Eagle, who is draw next to him, to get a good passage across to sit behind the leaders as the other horse sometimes leads. Crowned Eagle is a progressive four year old and has a decent weight to help him. I’m quite surprised Teodoro is running in this as there is a Group Three at Windsor which would’ve been suitable. He won a group three last time out by making the running and he has a big chance if he stays but only if he’s ridden more conservatively than then.

Nakeeta in the Ebor last year

Lord Yeats and Nakeeta are the only horses who ran in last year’s edition of this race. Nakeeta won it for Ian Jardine and Callum Sheppard to partners him again in this. He ran really well to finish fifth in the Melbourne Cup but hasn’t figured since. He is coming back to form and is 3lbs higher than last year. Lord Yeats was unplaced behind Vazirabad last time out and was beaten twice by Order Of Saint George before that. He stands his ground usually in good company and is a good each way shot.

Sea The Lion is a very lightly raced seven year old and has won five of his nine life time starts. He is coming her looking for a four timer after wins at Leopardstown, Cork and the Curragh over one mile four. The margins haven’t been the biggest but he’s given suggestions that he’ll stay. Weekender has top weight and won over one mile six on seasonal debut and was beaten six lengths in third by Magic Circle and was a neck behind Marmelo over this trip. He has a good shot on bare form but he will struggle carrying top weight. Mountain Bell is a mare and has barely any weight on her back with Andrew Breslin taking off 5lbs. She won over two miles in December and will stay.

Where will the pace be?

Teodoro (Drawn 3) made the running last time out to win but because of the step up in distance he may be ridden more reservedly. Lord Yeats usually goes from the front too and has a middle draw so if he jumps well he could go and bag the rail. Blakeney Point is drawn on Teodoro’s inside in 2 and sometimes leads so will be able to bagsy the rail from the start to go the shortest way round. Weekender (Drawn 13) has been forced to make the running on some occasions but will probably be ridden prominently.


-Largest weight in past ten years has been 9st9lbs (Rules out Muntahaa, Weekender and Dylan Mouth)

-More often than not two digit draws (Rules out Time To Study, Blakeney Point, Montaly, Teodoro, Saunter, Platitude, My Reward, Stratum and Mountain Bell)

-One seven year old has won in the past ten years (Rules out Fun Mac, Sea The Lion, Nakeeta and Scotland)

-Usually 12/1 or bigger (Rules out Crowned Eagle and Whiskey Sour)

-Fourth or better last time out (Rules out Lord Yeats)


My Verdict

Stratum has the consistency which prepares him well for this race. Willie Mullins is good with his flat horses so both of his seem to have a good chance but Whiskey Sour is on quite a high mark. Muntahaa is a classy horse and has a good shot but I’m a big fan of MUSTAJEER’s chances. He is yet to race over this far but his dam stayed two miles four well and his sire is the same sire of Melon (Rated 165 over jumps) who races over two miles plus. He may prefer softer ground but he has a good weight. He usually runs behind the leaders and is drawn in 20 so I think if Gary Carroll can follow Crowned Eagle, who has a good chance himself, to the to the inside, he’ll be in a perfect position to mount a challenge when push comes to shove. I’m hoping for a big run from him to defy his odds and seems a good each ways shot in an impossible contest to decipher.

Ireland On Saturday

By Killian 
The strongest maidens in Ireland are generally contested at our two premier tracks: The Curragh and Leopardstown. A horse needs to be stakes class or a high class handicapper to claim glory. The big yards save their best youngsters for these races and competition is fierce. Backing horses in maidens is not a good practice. There is very little form to work off, the market is based on pedigrees and the names of trainers. It makes little sense to have a bet to me. A more worthwhile practice is to sit back and analyse the race. Makes notes and try to find eye catchers or horses that will develop. Go down to the parade ring if you are there and assess the horses in terms of size and maturity. This work will be always be beneficial. Sometimes it is good to take a watching brief. Aidan O’Brien has some intriguing runners in both maidens. In the opening maiden over a mile he runs three including Blenheim Palace who is full brother to Churchill and Clemmie. I think this horse may need time as he looked very big on debut. Gee Rex will be hard to beat off 96 and sets a high standard. Cosmic Horizon is owned by Ireland rugby coach Joe Schmidt and looks a talented horse. He finished behind the smart Zuenoon at Galway, who won at Killarney this week. Take a watching brief is my advice, plenty winners will come out of this maiden. The second maiden looks wide open with 28 runners over 6f. Ferritti and Giottino were two expensive purchases and will be interesting to watch. Rita Levi is rated 80 and is consistent, but may find one too good again. Notebooks at the ready.
Coral Beach looks to have found a good opportunity to get her head in front in the 6f nursery. She has finished behind some class animals including Fairyland and Zuenoon on her last start. Her mark of 79 is fair and Donnacha will have her up with the pace. Coral Beach should take all the beating. Ed Chamerlain is involved with Lord Rapscallion and that one has a chance. The Leger trial is harder to predict. A case can be made for most of the field. Flag Of Honour and Southern France are improving types and fit the bill. On ratings there is very little between all the runners. Perhaps a watching brief would be beneficial again. The listed Curragh Stakes over 5f isn’t a particularly strong contest. Indigo Balance will appreciate the drop down in class and could prove too good for this field. A reproduction of his run behind Advertise will see him take this. Gossamer Wings looks an obvious danger. Royal Naval Warship will go off at skimpy odds for the 45-75 handicap. The last race is ultra competitive. Perhaps Gasta will reward each way punters.

Meanwhile at Killarney it is the final day of the four day August Festival. The Grade B Handicap Chase is the centrepiece of a full national hunt card. I am struggling to get to grips with the race and all the horses in the market are tightly bunched. Peregrine Run has won over C&D and is a proper summer horse, but is not a strong choice by any means. I cannot split Babbling Stream and Lizzies Champ in the 2:35. I have an affinity for both, so hopefully they will be the 1-2. Indigo Balance is my NAP (Curragh 4:00). In the Ebor I think Sea The Lion has a sporting chance. I was lucky enough to see this fabulous horse in the parade ring at Cork, prior to winning. He is ultra consistent and it would top off a great week for Sea the Stars.


Selections: Curragh
2:55 Coral Beach
4:00 Indigo Balance
York Ebor: Sea The Lion
Double: Indigo Balance and Coral Beach

Killarney Preview

By Killian

4:45 Nursery Handicap 1m 35 yds
The general rule of thumb is to back the top weight in a nursery. However I am going to side with Bodhicitta for Michael O’Callaghan. This horse was an eye catcher behind Mohawk at Cork. She ran a great race at Galway despite being unsuited by the undulations of the track. This filly by Showcasing has plenty of pace and a return to a flat track should see an improved performance. Bodhicitta wears a first time tongue tie, but her draw in 7 is a slight worry. In my opinion she is better than her mark of 74. Urban Light is the main danger and should be involved in the finish with the talented 5 pound claimer Denis Lenihan on board.

5:20 Rated Race 1m 35yds
This a quite a tricky contest. Chorcor, the favourite, is unexposed and potentially improving. The Choisir gelding beat a next time out winner at Gowran last time out, but will need to improve again to win here from a wide draw. Tony The Gent is my tentative selection. Ger Lyons’ horse is consistent and a return to form would be good enough to take this. Koybig has good course form but the ground might be gone against him.

5:55 Fillies Maiden 1m 3f
She Got Fast will take all the beating in this. Her debut behind the classy Falcon Eight at the Curragh looks like strong form. Champion jockey Colin Keane is on board and I would be disappointed to see her lose. Cascabel finished ahead of her at Galway, but I expect a reverse in from. Cascabel has a better draw but I will still side with She Got Fast. Samasthiti will appreciate the return to maiden after being outclassed in listed class.

6:30 Plaza Hotel Handicap 1m 6f
I fancy National Wealth in this handicap. Some solid efforts in maidens have earned National Wealth a mark of 81 for his first handicap. The longer trip is what the horse needs as he looks a stayer. At bigger odds Touch Of Gold may go close. Touch Of Gold was an unlucky looser at Killarney in July over a mile and 3 furlongs. It would be no surprise if she won.

7:00 Grade B Handicap Hurdle 2m 1f
Nessun Dorma is the market leader for obvious reasons: Ruby Walsh traveling for one ride for Willie Mullins, a last time out winner at Galway and course from. However I like Play The Game for Tom Gibney. Personally I feel he was better than the 0.5l winning margin last time at the track. On the basis of his flat mark of 100 this horse still could be well treated at 128. At 10/1 Play The Game is worth a shot.
• I have no opinion on the last two races.

Killarney Races Review

By Killian

Killarney is viewed by many as Ireland’s most scenic racecourse and it is hard to disagree. The mountains above the lakes of Killarney, along with beautiful greenery and Ross Castle form an idyllic backdrop. The Cathedral acts a focal point for jockeys entering the home straight. There was an all flat card with the listed Vincent O’Brien the highlight of the day. A decent crowd was in attendance with a nice mix of locals and tourists. However one worrying sign was the lack of activity in the betting ring. Many young racegoers now bet on their phones and on course bookmakers are definitely suffering. During midweek meetings in winter they must really struggle to make money. I hope the betting ring survives as it brings such colour and vibrancy to racing. Can you imagine how boring and empty it would be without them?

I will begin with the highlight race. I Can Fly was sent off as the 2/1 fav for this listed contest over a mile. Concerns over the form of the O’Brien yard caused her to drift in the market. Rionach attracted plenty support. The race developed as I expected, Petticoat and Marshall Jennings set the pace. Rionach was ridden for her usual finishing burst on the outside. I Can Fly’s really showed her class as she covered every move and easily put the race to bed. Rionach claimed second and Marsahall Jennings stayed on for third. I Can Fly was sent off at 7/1 for the Guineas and is clearly held in high regard. Hopefully the winner will now go to Champions Weekend and will go close in whatever race she goes in.

Third World got up to win the opening 7f maiden by a head from Excelsius for Dermot Weld at the third time of asking. Excelsius and Karasi in third will definitely win races. Vivianite led home a 1-2 for Michael Halford in the second maiden. This filly had the form in the book and deserved a 1 beside her name. Connections will now search for blacktype. Colin Keane and John Murphy, who loves a Killarney winner, teamed up to claim the 1 mile handicap with High Altitude. The horse was third reserve and was lucky to get in. This was the horses maiden win after many placed efforts. Denis Lenihan was seen to good effect on New Identity in the apprentice handicap. 4 pound claimer Gavin Ryan drove Danehill Quest home in the other apprentice handicap for the in form Sheila Lavery. We saw two very nice performances in the final two races. Still Standing continued to improve by bolting up in the M C Group handicap over a mile and three. I personally think Still Standing is a stakes horse and is one to follow this Autumn. Falcon Eight, a half brother to Free Eagle, put a good field to the sword in the lucky last, completing a double for Dermot Weld. Comments after the race were taking. The horse will run once more in 6 weeks and will hopefully be an Irish St Leger horse next year. Could he be a Melbourne Cup horse? In conclusion, it is well worth keeping an eye on Killarney form and plenty good horses come out of the meetings. A great day was topped off by local jockey Oisin Murphy winning the International at York. downloadfile.jpg

Yorkshire Oaks Preview


By Samantha

Thursday’s feature race is the Yorkshire Oaks. The first running was in 1849 and it is a race for fillies and mares aged three or over. It has an illustrious role of honour with the likes of Enable, Midday, the dam of Midterm and impressive recent winner Midi, Dar Re Mi, dam of So Mi Dar and the unbeaten Lah Ti Dar and Too Darn Hot, and Alexandrova have won it in their careers.

This year’s renewal looks a very good one with the French and Irish Oaks winners taking part. Here’s your runner-by-runner guide to the race…


Frankie Dettori and John Gosden

This filly was frequently over-shadowed by stablemate Enable last season but she showed her true ability when scoring in the group two Middleton at York on seasonal debut and has since been second in the Prix De Saint-Cloud and third in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Because she’s a four year old, she has to carry 9st7lbs which could catch her out against some higher rated, progressive three year olds.


William Buick and Dermot Weld

Dermot Weld’s filly seems a nice sort as she is yet to be out of the top three in all of her starts to date. She has ran once this season when landing the Ballyroan Stakes. She is a multiple group three winner and was third in last year’s Irish Oaks, one and a quarter lengths ahead of Coronet. She goes on any ground and will get the trip so she could be some value.


Oisin Murphy and Andrew Balding

She was second to Coronet in the Middleton before coming out and winning the Lancashire Oaks beating Flattering over sixteen lengths. She may not be able to reverse the form with Coronet but still deserves her place in the line up.

4.Bye Bye Baby

Wayne Lordan and Aidan O’Brien

This horse has ran in lots of the big events of the mares’ calendar and won a group three before finishing third in the Oaks ahead of Magic Wand. She was then fourth in the Pretty Polly and fourth in the Irish Oaks behind Sea Of Class and once again ahead of Magic Wand. She’s a nice filly and has more appeal than any of the other Aidan O’Brien horses but would prefer soft ground and doesn’t seem to have the class of some of these horses.


Michael Hussey and Aidan O’Brien

She is a fairly lightly raced filly and has won twice in her career, both times at Cork. She was third in the Oaks Trial at Lingfield and then was fifth in the real thing. She won the Munster Oaks but was then well beaten by Horseplay at Haydock and next time out in the Lillie Langtry. She’ll need to step up.


PJ McDonald and Karl Burke

It is almost impossible to be more consistent than this filly. She has handled every challenge connections have given her and in brilliant style too. Her form figures read 1211211. At two, she won the May Hill at Doncaster and the Fillies’ Mile beating September, Magical and German guineas winner Nyaleti. She kicked off this season by finishing second in the 1000 Guineas beating some nice horses. She won the Prix Saint-Alary and the Prix De Diane (French Oaks) in brilliant, gutsy style. She steps up in trip but looks as though she can handle it.

7.Magic Wand

Ryan Moore and Aidan O’Brien

This mare broke her maiden in the Cheshire Oaks and then was fourth in the actual Oaks. She got back to winning ways in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot beating Wild Illusion but couldn’t live with Sea Of Class in the Irish Oaks next time out. With the form of the yard questionable, I’d look elsewhere for the winning filly.

8.Sea Of Class

James Doyle and William Haggas

This filly is by Sea The Stars as her name suggests and is the best offspring so far of a Listed race winning mare. She was beaten on debut and then won a Listed race over one mile two at Newbury and then won a similar contest over that course and distance last time out. She then went over to Ireland for the Irish Oaks and won in good style, beating Bye Bye Baby and Magic Wand. She is a classy filly and will be hard to beat.


On some occasions in races like these, there is a horse you like with your heart and another with your head and, for me, LAURENS fills both of those criteria in one. All her victories have been so brilliant this year and she was desperately unlucky not to win the 1000 Guineas. She will be ridden by PJ McDonald, who deserves every group winner he gets. He’s always so friendly at the races when I see him and he is very excited to ride this girl. I think she’ll make the running and her biggest rival Sea Of Class is likely to be in the rear but she’ll be hard to pass when out in front despite the extended trip. The Aidan O’Brien fillies don’t look like they have the raw ability to win this and especially with the bad form the yard is in at the minute. The fillies could possibly be unaffected with whatever is going on at Ballydoyle as I Can Fly bolted up in a Listed race at Killarney on Wednesday.

Juddmonte International Preview

Eight horses are set to contest tomorrow’s Juddmonte International Stakes, a race won by many champions, who graced the turf at York before finding their way into the history books. And that could be the case this year.

Although marred by the lack of John Gosden’s duo (Cracksman and Enable), this race is still setting up to be a champion making one.

Heading here off the back of a Group 1 success is Poet’s Word, who has won three successive races this season. Having a run of good form, he seems to be the one to beat.

Poet’s Word, trained by Sir Michael Stoute

Another interesting runner could be the Group 1 winning son of Frankel, Without Parole, who heads here after a shock defeat in the Sussex Stakes last time out. He was previously undefeated, so there is definitely value in saying he wasn’t quite himself in his most recent race.

Interesting, Thunder Snow heads here at the beginning of hid campaign this year, assumably with his ultimate target being Dubai at the start of next year, much like his campaign last year. His campaign last year ended in him passing the wire first in the Dubai World Cup over a dirt surface, so he’s probably been sent here for a freshen up, as opposed to a real effort put in to win.

Saxon Warrior heads here in an attempt to get his form back intact after a disappointing string of performances, however the ‘bug’ that went around Ballydoyle could be to blame for these performances, so he could also appear as a contender.

Roaring Lion is another interesting horse contesting the Juddmonte tomorrow. He beat Saxon Warrior in the Eclipse last time out, and takes on the older horses for the first time. He receives a weight allowance for being a three-year old, so might that be the push he needs to establish himself as a champion?

Thundering Blue is the outsider of this race, heading here after a Group 2 success. However, he had to be supplemented for this race, which could hint that his connections have faith in him to boost his trophy collection with victory in the Juddmonte.

Latrobe, trained by Joseph O’Brien could also be a contender, but seemed to win the Irish Derby in what could be seen as a fluke performance last time out.

The final horse in the running is Benbatl. He won the Dubai Turf early this year, but that was over a relatively weak field.

This running of the Juddmonte International seems quite open, and it wouldn’t be hard to see any of the eight horses ending up in front. One thing is for certain, however. The horse who finishes in front tomorrow will certainly stamp his authority on the mile and a quarter division of horses.

Leicester Raceday Review

By Samantha (20/8/18)


Leicester racecourse may not be one of the biggest or hold the best races like Ascot or Cheltenham but every time I visit, there is always a brilliant, friendly atmosphere and it’s always a great day out.

The course on a nice day is absolutely gorgeous. The old fashioned blue stands stand out against the back drop of red brick houses just ten minutes on the bus from the city centre. It is always bright with colour and there are lots of vantage points to get the best view of the racing. From the stands, you can pretty much see the entire course. There are always a fair few bookmakers lined up ready to take bets and there are a couple of bars and Tote betting places around the course.

At first glance, the card didn’t look anything special. Of the six races, the majority were class five contests and for two year olds but the racing did not disappoint! There were some thrilling, blanket finishes to most of the races but it wasn’t a particularly good day for favourite backers with none managing to win and only a few placing.

The straight course was the one mainly in use on this raceday and it is relatively undulating. From the seven furlong start, the horses travel downhill and then go up hill to the two pole where it begins to flatten out.

The first race was over the straight six furlongs for two year olds. Eleven runners went to post with the absence of number five Capla Rock. They all jumped well apart from Porcelain Girl who dwelt and found herself at the back of the field. Red Hut Red led with Happy Odyssey at her shoulder. She began to fade at the two pole when Happy Odyssey got to the front. There was a few in contention but Porcelain Girl flew down the outside of the field under a typical, text book Jamie Spencer ride. The filly just headed Happy Odyssey on the line to win and they were a neck ahead of Kwela in third.

Jamie Spencer gained a second win of the day in the next race aboard Floria Tosca. The filly made all of the running and just held off a strong challenge from Cheerfilly, who dwelt and was held up by Richard Kingscote for a late, eye catching challenge. She went down just half a length and will be winning soon. They didn’t go a very quick gallop so there were four horses in contention at the finish. The 2/1 favourite Point In Time, who beat Florida Tosca last time just failed to get in the each way places as he could only manage fourth.


A really eye catching horse in the parade ring was Firmdecisions. He stood out not just because he was turned out really nicely and looked very well but because of his silver mane. The Captain Rio gelding had won over course and distance before and was a pound lower than then and, considering the way he ended up winning, his price of 11/1 seems very big. The eight year old was in mid-division throughout until his jockey, Lewis Edmunds, made his challenge at the furlong marker and he zipped into the lead to prevail by a length to Blizzard in second, who out-ran his odds of 25/1.

Over The Guns went into the fourth race as a really short favourite as he won quite well on debut and he was the only horse who had got his head in front on the line before. The colt’s owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who is the chairman of Leicester City football club, and the King Power Racing team were in attendance to see their six horses race. They had to wait to get their first winner of the day though as he raced just behind the leaders but was under pressure from just over a furlong out and never got closer. He rallied for fourth though but the first three were over a length ahead of him. The eventual second had taken them along for most of the way but was hanging right when he was asked to quicken. Silkstone came up on the horse’s right and was gun-barrel straight and prevailed by a neck under William Cox. Stella Comet ran well into third for Mark Johnston and PJ McDonald and is likely to get off the mark soon.

Chonburi and his connections.

The next race was the Gallowgate Nursery. King Power Racing got their winner in this race when Chonburi made all the running to land the contest without being challenged at all under Rossa Ryan, who is a very good jockey from the front. Leicester City players Wes Morgan and Jamie Vardy were present for the winners’ presentation and posed for the camera beside the winning connections.

The owners had a good chance to get a quick fire double on the last contest of the day with the Andrew Balding trained Rux Ruxx but she could only manage third after being out paced from two furlongs out. Eventual winner, Roys Dream, made the majority of the running and got to the line a length ahead of old boy Ninjago, who finished with a flourish but he couldn’t pass Paul Collins’ filly. The victory knocked rider Patrick Vaughn’s claim down to 5lbs as it was the twentieth win of his fledgling career and definitely earned his fee just by pulling up the horse, who fancied going again. It was brilliant to see how emotional the winning owner, Mrs Pickering, was after the race when she got her prize.

Roy’s Dream going to the start before winning the race.

Some trainers had good days and others didn’t. Mark Johnston came into the day needing just one winner to be the winning-most British flat trainer ever. He had three decent chances to get a winner but none could oblige so he is still searching for that record-breaking win.

Leicester is a great course because you can get up close to the stars of the sport- both the jockeys and the horses- at no extra cost (on most race days). It is incredible that you can go and talk to the jockeys and ask them to sign your racecard before they go out to ride and I was very lucky to meet lots of jockeys that I haven’t met before. I spoke to PJ McDonald about Laurens and he seemed really excited to ride her at York this week in the Yorkshire Oaks. To top my already incredible day off, I got to meet Alan King, the trainer of my all-time favorite racehorse Smad Place, and it was brilliant of him to talk to me. You’d never be able to talk to a football player or manager before their match, would you?

Hats off to the Leicester Racecourse staff, who did a really good job of making it a brilliant day out for everyone who went- win, lose or draw.


Here are some more photos from my day out…