Whips- What are the rules?

By Samantha

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Native River won the Cheltenham Gold Cup but his rider gained a whip ban.

 

Over the past few weeks, there has been lots of controversy and outrage about whip bans in the media with lots of the winning jockeys of some of the biggest races in the National Hunt calendar picking up bans.

Over the course of Cheltenham, six whip bans, totalling thirty four days, were handed out to five different jockeys. All bar one of the jockeys have had the majority of their rides in Ireland this season. The reasons for the bans issued were varied. The majority were because the jockey used their whip over the permitted rate allowed. As well as this, some were for not allowing the horse to respond between hits, using the whip with excessive force and using the whip at an incorrect place up the run-in.

Arguably, the most high profile whip ban given out this season was given out in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Richard Johnson rode the winner, Native River, but picked up a seven day ban and was fined £6550 because he exceeded the permitted amount of smacks allowed in a race.

At the Aintree Grand National meeting, less bans were given out as there was only four. In total, twenty five days were given out to four different jockeys. Jamie Codd picked up the largest ban of the two meetings after his winning ride on Getaway Katie Mai in the Mares’ Flat Race on the first day of the meeting. The mare won the race by one and a quarter lengths but her jockey was handed a seventeen day suspension and a £400 fine because he used his whip above the permitted amount after the wings of the second last.

There are lots of things jockeys have to think about when riding to make sure they abide by the rules and not compromise the horse’s welfare. So, what are the rules?

What should the whip be used for?

In the rules of racing, it is mandatory for all jockeys to carry a whip. Despite this, jockeys don’t have to use the whip if they don’t feel obliged to. Its main purpose is for safety and to encourage the horse. It can be used to keep the horse focused and concentrating but the stimulus provided by the whip must be limited so it doesn’t compromise the welfare of the horse. The whip must be used appropriately and jockeys have to take into account the rules of racing.

What do jockeys need to think about whilst riding?

A big thing jockeys need to remember is to consider how much of the race is left to run before picking up their whip so they don’t run out of hits allowed before the closing stages and cause the horse to not get the best position possible. Before that, it is recommended that the jockey uses hands and heels to lengthen the horse’s stride and increase their speed. They are asked to show the horse the whip first and give them the opportunity to respond before hitting them with it. It is important that jockeys use their whips in a backhand position and in rhythm with the horse’s stride. Both hands need to stay on the reins if the jockey is hitting them on the shoulder in a backhand position.

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In National Hunt races, jockeys can whip their horses a maximum of eight times.

 

What rules do the jockeys have to follow?

In flat races, as they are a shorter distance, jockeys are allowed to hit their horses a maximum of seven times whereas, in a national hunt race, jockeys are allowed to hit their horses a maximum of eight times. If that amount is exceeded, stewards can decide whether to hold an enquiry and they will consider how many times they have used the whip throughout the race, particularly in the closing stages and all the relevant factors. These can include looking into the manner of which the whip is used and with what force, the purpose if using it, whether the horse was still responding and that the distance over which the whip was used was reasonable ands necessary.

Sometimes, providing that the manner in which the whip had been used was measured, Stewards may choose to disregard occasions when the whip has been used in the following circumstances:-

ALL RACES

  • To keep the horse in contention or to maintain a challenging position prior to what would be considered as the closing stages of a race.
  • To maintain focus/concentration.
  • To correct a horse that is hanging.
  • Where there is only light contact with the horse.

JUMP RACES

  • Following a mistake at an obstacle.
  • To correct a horse that is running down an obstacle.

Stewards may be less tolerant about a rider using the whip more when:-

  • The horse is young or inexperienced.
  • A rider continues to use the whip when not being directly challenged for a position.
  • A rider fails to recognise that his use of the whip is not having the intended effect.

Should the result of a race be changed because the winning jockey exceeded the whip limit?

We ran this as a poll on our Twitter page (@ReinItInRacing) and fifty-six percent said no. Twenty-five percent said yes and nineteen percent said depending on the margin. As a follow up question, we asked which distance would cause it to be reversed and the majority (forty-four percent) said that a head is the largest distance that a race result should be changed because of.

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In flat racing, jockeys are only allowed to whip their horses seven times.

 

So… Should riders be allowed to have a whip?

There are lots of debates on this subject. Animal rights activists like to say that jockeys force the horses to run by whipping them so it is abuse. Whips are made of a foam material so the horses don’t get hurt by it. Mainly, it is the sight of it in the corner of their eye that sends them forward. Looking at it from a riders’ safety point of view, horses are extremely strong animals and can be very hard to control. The whip is a necessity when it comes to keeping jockeys safe as the whip can work to reinforce leg aids. A poll Rein It In ran on twitter had the result of ninety-seven percent of voters saying that jockeys should carry a whip.

Comment your thoughts below or on our twitter page.

Happy Retirement Smad Place!

SMADBy Samantha

 

Every racing fan knows of Smad Place. A flash of white at the fore front of proceedings in a majority of the high class chases ran in the past few years. He ran thirty three times and won nine of them earning himself a strike rate of twenty seven percent.

Born on 24th April 2007, he came over from France in 2010 to Alan King’s yard, after running twice on the flat in France. His first run was at Newbury, a track at which he has ran five times at and won on three of those occasions. He won the race by twenty seven lengths to the short priced favourite. Next time out, he found Grade One company tough and was third by about three lengths. His next win came next time out when he dropped back in class at Wincanton. Next time out, he ran in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and came tenth.

Smad returned back to the track in January of the following year and won the Holloway’s Hurdle at Ascot, a Grade 2 Limited Handicap. Two starts later, he lined up at the Cheltenham Festival for a second time- this time in the World Hurdle- and finished in third behind Big Buck’s. At the Aintree Grand National meeting, Smad fell at the forth last with Big Buck’s once again winning.

During the next season, Smad Place didn’t win at all and he was third in the World Hurdle for a second time at Cheltenham.

On his first chase start, in the November of that year, he was six lengths ahead when he unseated his rider at the last fence. He won two subsequent novice chases before going to the Cheltenham Festival to run in the RSA Chase. Alan King was confident with Smad’s preparation and couldn’t see why he wouldn’t go close. The grey was clear up the run-in but was headed by 12/1 shot O’Faolains Boy in the final fifty yards and Smad was runner up at the Festival once again. His first start for the next season was at Newbury in the Hennessy Gold Cup. He finished fifth with subsequent Grand National winner Many Clouds winning.

The following year, Smad was in the winner’s enclosure after that race. He bolted up by a huge twelve lengths beating Theatre Guide and First Lieutenant. He had kicked off the season in fine style winning the Graduation Chase at Kempton by eight lengths and went on to do well for the rest of the season winning the BetBright Trial Chase at Cheltenham.

Smad Place has seemed to struggle to be in the winners enclosure as new talent emerges. He kicked off the 2017/2018 season with a brilliant win in the Grade 2 Old Roan Chase at Aintree in October, showing there was still life in his old legs.

But now the old boy’s career is over. Retired safe and with a ligament injury.

Happy Retirement Smad Place!

Thank you for the memories and happiness you have brought to so many people.


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Cheltenham Trials Day 2018

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Many Clouds (Leighton Aspell) and Thistlecrack (Tom Scudamore) jump the last together.

By Samantha

Last year, Cheltenham’s Trials Day was a moving one. The sadness came in the Cotswold Chase. It was a high-class renewal containing two Hennessy Gold Cup winners in the form of Smad Place and Many Clouds, who won the Grand National. Smad Place led until Many Clouds passed him at four out. He jumped well but King George winner, Thistlecrack appeared at his girths. It was a head to head battle from the last. They jumped it together and as they galloped up the run-in, Thistlecrack looked to be in the lead. But Many Clouds said no. He battled on under Leighton Aspell’s strong drive- fighting like a boxer, pushing himself to the limits all the way to the finish. It was a photo. Many Clouds pushed himself too hard. In the shadow of the winning post, Clouds collapsed. The result to the finish came through. He had won. Then the news came through that he had died. There was a strange atmosphere around the course. Spectators had witnessed one of the most spectacular horse races in history and yet it had concluded with a tragic end. In an interview after, Clouds’ trainer Oliver Sherwood said, “I always said he would die for you and he’s died for me and the team today, doing what he does best. He wanted to win that race. He was beaten and then fought back to win in the last fifty yards to win.”

Hopefully, no sadness comes out of 2018’s Trials Day, only joy at the incredible performances that we will get to see.

The Races

JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial (Grade 3)

Nicky Henderson, who is enjoying a great time of it at the moment, has Apple’s Shakira in this Grade 2 that kicks off the card. She is current favourite for the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham. She’s won her last two by a combined twenty and a half lengths, both were at Cheltenham. Look My Way comes to this race of the back of a win at Ludlow and a second to Act of Valor, who hasn’t done anything to help the form, on his first start. Elixir De Nutz has a brilliant jumping pedigree and it is interesting that he is making his debut in a Grade Two event so he must be held in high regard at home.

Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase

This race could go to Colin Tizzard once again after he won it with Royal Vacation last year. Here he has Sizing Tennessee. The gelding put up a brilliant performance in defeat behind Yanworth on heavy ground over two miles five. Ballyandy was beaten eleven lengths in that race in forth. Previously to that, Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge beat Duel At Dawn the only other finisher and that horse was beaten into second last weekend by progressive Ms Parfois in a Listed race. The youngest runner in the race, Mister Whitaker, ran well last time out behind nice-looking Hell’s Kitchen. They pulled readily clear from Touch Kick, nineteen lengths back in third. Previously to this run, Mister Whitaker won at Carlisle, beating Solstice Star, who re-opposes in this race.

Crest Nicholson Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

Ballyhill won last time out at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, beating in form Shantou Flyer, who had a return to form on that run due to cheek pieces. The latter is four pounds better off than the former and, if his cheek pieces work for a second time, he could turn the tables on Nigel Twiston-Davies’ gelding. Frodon had O O Seven behind him last time out when they were behind Gold Present, who managed to turn the tables on Frodon, after he won a Grade Two at Kempton in February of 2017. Paul Nicholls’ charge has been in the top three on his past four starts. The only problem is that he has to carry a big weight. Lightly-raced Pressurized comes here off the back of a nice win at Chepstow, where he bolted up by fifteen lengths. Coo Star Sivola is having his first start in a handicap so that could be interesting and Ultragold, who was a good second over the National fences last time out, tends to pop into the winners enclosure when it is least expected.

Betbright Trial Cotswold Chase (Grade 1)

Bristol De Mai’s performance in the Betfair Chase could arguably be one of the best of the season if not ever. He won that race by a whopping fifty-seven lengths. He had nine times Grade One winner Cue Card in second as well as Outlander and Tea For Two filling the other places. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ grey was well-fancied to win the King George but failed to fire in Kempton’s big race and it was later discovered that he had suffered from stomach ulcers but now he’s back and on a retrieval mission. Tea For Two is a good horse in his own right and has danced in all the major dances this season. He ran very well for third in the King George. Definitely Red was favourite for the Grand National last season but was pulled up after a tack malfunction. This season he was third to Bristol De Mai in the Charlie Hall Chase and franked that form by following it up with a win at Aintree in impressive style. His old foe, The Last Samuri, has been second on both starts this season. His last run was over Grand National fences and he was beaten by Blaklion.

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Mulcahys Hill (left)

 

Ballymore Classic Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2)

Mulcahys Hill looked a nice sort when finishing second to Poetic Rhythm in the Grade One Challow Hurdle. Adrian Heskin kicked for home on the home turn and went very far clear at Newbury but the horse got very tired on the run-in but rallied back to be beaten only by a short head. Nicky Henderson is double handed in this race; he has Pacific De Baune won first time out in a maiden hurdle by seven lengths and has the possibility to be anything but Santini seems to have the better form because he won in December at Newbury by four and a half lengths and the second has won twice subsequently. Tikkanbar won on both starts this season. His most recent was a listed contest where he beat Aye Aye Charlie into forth. Slate House is rated 1lbs lower than Tikkanbar and he won his first two for trainer Colin Tizzard but found three horses too good last time out.

Cleeve Hurdle (Grade 2)

It would be very emotional if Beer Goggles was to win this race after his trainer passed away on Tuesday. His win last time out beating the likes of Unowhatimeanharry and Thistlecrack came as a complete surprise but he won really nicely. His main threat could come from Wholestone, who won the previous race on the card last year. He comes into this race off the back of a smart win at Cheltenham beating Agrapart and Colin’s Sister. That was Agrapart’s only run in this country this season and could be thereabouts. Finian’s Oscar comes into this race off the back of a relatively successful bout over fences, where he won two of his four starts. Over hurdles, he won the Tolworth on his second start and the Grade One Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree’s Grand National meeting. Consequently, he has to be respected on his return to the smaller obstacles. The Worlds End hasn’t shown much this season but he won four of his six starts last season so could return to form. It is also interesting that Saint Are has been brought back over hurdles considering he is usually up in the front ranks in most of the Grand Nationals from the past few years. He last ran in 2017’s Grand National and was second last time out but he hasn’t ran over hurdles, over which he won a Grade One, since 2011.

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Beer Goggles and Richard Johnson

 

Steel Plate and Sections handicap Hurdle

Our Merlin ran well in defeat behind Call Me Lord, who looks smart, after completing a three-timer. He’s gone up four pounds for that but he looks to have more class than the rest. Remiluc could go close as he has been running consistently well and knocking on the door lately. He was second to Old Guard on the Ladbrookes Trophy card at Newbury and the third horse ran well in defeat behind Jenkins last time out. Dino Velvet was forth in that race and his only win to date has come over one mile seven furlongs and has gone close over two miles. Recently, he has been running over two and a half miles, which has seemed a bit far for him, so this drop down should suit. Huntsman Son is a model of consistency and he has only been out of the top three on one of his five starts. The forth came last time out where he was comfortably in third when Brave Eagle shot past them to win well. Clondaw Castle could be a smart hurdling prospect as he has won two of his three starts over obstacles and he won by four lengths last time out so he could be one to watch for the future.

MAKING THE SWITCH

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Finian’s Oscar

By Samantha

This week, there has been news of some of the best Novice Chasers possibly switching back to hurdles to contest the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March. The Thursday showpiece, which seems to be extremely open at present, has a total prize money fund of £325,000.

Connections of last year’s Tolworth Hurdle winner Finian’s Oscar have announced that the son of Oscar will return to hurdles for the remainder of the season. The gelding has run four times over chase fences and won twice – a novices’ chase around Cheltenham and a listed race on his chase debut at Chepstow, beating Tintern Theatre who won a Class 2 Handicap Chase at Cheltenham a couple of weeks ago. Finian’s Oscar’s trainer, Colin Tizzard, said of the switch, ‘He jumps fences adequately but I don’t think he’s that brave.’ If everything goes to plan, he will go to the Cleeve Hurdle but if he gets beaten in that, he could revert back to chase fences for his run at the festival.

Similarly, Yanworth has won twice over fences but he has picked up some bigger prizes. Alan King’s charge was second to Willoughby Court when Ben Pauling’s gelding won the Grade Two Berkshire Novices’ Chase. The pair reversed form in the Grade Two Dipper Novices’ Chase when Yanworth won and Willoughby Court could only make third behind Sizing Tennessee who was in second. It may come as a relief for racing viewers that Yanworth is reverting to hurdles for the remainder of the season as his jumping is quite hair raising to say the least with lots of will-he-wont-he fall moments that could give a punter a mini heart attack. At the end of last season, the gelding won the Ryanair Stayers Liverpool Hurdle with Supasundae back in second. The beaten horse ran in behind super mare Apple’s Jade over in Ireland. Trainer Alan King says that this gives him a good chance in hurdling company this season.

L’Ami Serge, a French Champion Hurdle winner, is going to warm up for the Stayers by going the opposite way to the others by going to the SkyBet Chase to see if he’s improved as a chaser. Interestingly, Isaac Suede and Simon Munir’s gelding, who is trained by Nicky Henderson, was entered into the Ryanair Chase on Tuesday but is currently 12/1 for the Stayers Hurdle.

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Sam Spinner and Joe Colliver (not our photo)

 

At the minute, the favourite for the Stayers is progressive Sam Spinner. He won the Grade One Long Walk Hurdle beating L’Ami Serge and Unowhatimeanharry for Joe Colliver and Jedd O’Keeffe as well as the Haydock version of the Stayers Hurde by a whopping seventeen lengths. Supersundae is also being backed after his galliant effort in defeat behind Mares Hurdle challenger Apple’s Jade.

For the JLT Novices’ Chases at the Festival, Willoughby Court is a short-priced favourite and progressive Irish horse Footpad is about a 7/1 shot but his main focus for the festival seems to be the Arkle. Despite the news that he’s most likely moving back over hurdles, Yanworth is highest priced 10/1.

WHAT A CHRISTMAS!

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Buveur D’air galloping to victory. (not our photo)

          By Samantha

Christmas Day came and went and Boxing Day arrived. The day most National Hunt fans look forward to and in some cases enjoy more than Christmas Day itself. The Christmas Period can be used to attempt to untangle the strings that lead to the Cheltenham Festival and find the winner of each race at the meeting. In some ways, things have become clearer but in other ways, it has made it a lot harder to work it out.

The Boxing Day coverage of ITV Racing began with the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton. Black Corton, a six year old son of Laverock out of Video Rock, won the Grade One race under Bryony Frost, giving the 3lbs claimer her first Group One victory. The gelding, who is trained by Paul Nicholls, reversed form with Elegant Escape who beat him into second on his previous start and this time around, Black Corton beat Colin Tizzard’s charge into second by one and a half lengths. The festival aim for the Jeremy-Kyle-owned gelding seems to be the RSA Chase and he enters the betting picture at around 25/1.

Nicky Henderson, Paul Nicholls’ main title challenger, struck back at Nicholls’ Grade 1 win with a win in the next race, the Unibet Christmas Hurdle. Last years Champion Hurdle winner, Buveur D’Air, galloped strongly to the finish, adding over £68,000 to his trainer’s pot for the season, under Barry Geraghty. The New One was second and the two outsiders finished with a four length gap between them.

Next was the King George VI Chase. It was a high class renewal containing last year’s winner Thistlecrack, Charlie Hall and BetFair Chase winner Bristol De Mai and quirky RSA winner Might Bite. Bristol De Mai made all until the tenth when when he made a mistake and Might Bite went to the front. At four out, Might Bite headed Nigel Twiston-Davies’ grey and went on. After jumping the last, 50/1 outsider Double Shuffle mounted a challenge on the son of scorpion but he repelled the challenge and won by a length under Gold Cup winning jockey Nico De Boinville.

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Footpad is a short price for the Arkle. (not our photo)

Meanwhile, over in Ireland, racing fans witnessed a very exciting Novice in the form of Footpad. Owned by Isaac Suede and Simon Munir, the gelding went on in the final straight taking the last with ease and won the race by eleven lengths. His trainer Willie Mullins said afterwards, “He’s electric. From the first day at home that I saw him jumping over fences I thought he was the best I’ve seen for a long while. He was good on his debut at Navan but today he was just awesome. He gained lengths at his fences and he’s one to really look forward to.” Lots of people agreed with the Champion Trainer and consequently, his price has been slashed for the Arkle.

On the 27th, the card at Chepstow, containing the Welsh Grand National, was abandoned but that didn’t put a dampener on the days racing. ITV showed two Grade Twos from Kempton Park and both of these were won by Paul Nicholls. The supporting card at Wetherby contained some good races. The first Group Two shown was the Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase. Sean Bowen steered Cyrname to win the race by seven lengths to 6/4 favorite Shantou Rock. The second leg of the double was the Desert Orchid Chase, Sam Twiston-Davies piloted Politologue to win the Desert Orchid Chase by thirteen lengths. 2017 Champion Chase winner Special Tiara crashed out at the eighth fence leaving Politologue in front. It was Sam’s first winner since breaking his elbow in a fall. He followed up that success by winning the next race with Titern Theatre for his father Nigel.

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Politologue and Sam Twiston-Davies (not our photo)

Over in Ireland, there was one word to describe the racing at Leopardstown- DRAMATIC! In the Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase, Min and Simply Ned were neck and neck as they ran up the run in but Min repeatedly pushed against Simply Ned causing him to loose his momentum. Despite crossing the line in front, Min was relegated to second after the race going to the stewards room. That concluded what was a good December for trainer Nicky Richards as he won the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup with Guitar Pete on the sixteenth. In the next race, evens favourite, Megli Khan, ran out through the wing of the third last fence unseating Jack Kennedy. Before viewers could process that, the last fence came and two Willie Mullins horses were in front, Real Steel and Shajar but they both horses fell, leaving Whiskey Sour in front. Patrick Mullins and Paul Townsend were clearly angry after hitting the deck at the last.

On Thursday, the main jumps racing action was at Leopardstown and Limerick. In the Christmas Hurdle, super mare Apple’s Jade stormed to victory for Davy Russell and Gordon Elliot. Her victory was marred by the untimely death of Nichols Canyon. He won the Stayers Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and a Listed race on the flat when he was trained by John Gosden and ridden by William Buick.

The main race of the day was the Christmas Chase also at Leopardstown. Sizing John, Gold Cup winner, was favourite to win the Grade One chase in a race that was also contested by Willie Mullins’ Djackadam and Yorkill and many Grade One winners. From quite far out, Sizing John and Djackadam were looking out paced and not comfortable. Before the last, Djackadam was pulled up with Sizing John and Yorkill toiling at the back of the field. At that fence, Road To Respect shot into the lead and battled up the straightto win by one and a quarter lengths with Balko Des Flos in second. It was a 1-2-3 of Gigginstown owned runners. Sad news came after the race that Grade One winning horse Zabana was put down after falling.

Most of the horses at the head of the market for the Gold Cup had performed unlike themselves over the christmas period and this sent the betting market into turmoil. No one knew who would win. The only horses that could be bet on with confidence at that time were King George winner Might Bite and unraced this season Native River. Since then, reasons have come out about the strange behavior of the horses, including Bristol De Mai being found to have stomach ulcers which were hurting him when he ran and Sizing John having a hint of hyperthermia.

Hurdler Faugheen took to the stage to show off his season’s credentials in the Grade One Ryanair Hurdle on Friday. Viewers did not get to see the winning spectacle they wanted though. He led up until three out and then faded very quickly. Paul Townsend dismounted him and led him back, saying that he didn’t feel like himself. The gelding passed all his post race checks. So maybe he was having an off day? Who knows. We just have to hope and pray that he won’t be ruled out like Douvan for the rest of the season and will bounce back and contest the Champion Hurdle in a duel against Buveur D’air.

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Neck-and-neck! (Not our photo) 

The centre piece of the racing shown on ITV on Saturday was the Challow Hurdle. It was an exciting race to say the least with Adrian Heskin taking the bull by the horns and making the race a staying test in the bottomless ground. Aboard Mulcahys Hill, the 16/1 outsider, Heskin kicked for home before three out and went clear. His mount and Poetic Rhythm jumped the last together and fought it out to the line to loose out by a short head.

It’s safe to say the Fergal O’Brien team went bonkers. ‘Gorgeous George’ as Poetic Rhythm is known at home was rushed to an equine hospital in early December with colic but now at the end of the month he is a Grade One winner! Just shows the hard work put into these horses by the people at home.

All in all, the week has been full of ups and downs and confusing moments but has truly summed up the spirit of horse racing. Bring on The Festival!

2017 Wrapped- National Hunt Racing At Its Best.

By Samantha

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Cotswold Chase. Thistlecrack (nearside) and Many Clouds fighting out the finish. (Not our photo)

It’s been a year filled with incredible National Hunt races that truly summed up the essence of the sport. There has been highs and lows with some of the big favourites of National Hunt fans being lost. The racing included some thrilling finishes and high class clashes.

The year kicked off with ITV taking over the main horse racing coverage. At first fans were unsure. Filled with cheesy scenes from presenters and bad jokes, the New Years Day coverage was nothing like how Channel 4 had done it before but now racing fans have accepted the new crew. The behind the scenes parts if the programme shows vinners the work that goes on in racing and that’s good to see.

Racing fans got exactly what the sport needed in the Cotswold Chase of 2017- a thrilling battle between the best of the best. King George winner Thistlecrack locked horns with Grand National winner Many Clouds in an amazing race. In the end, Many Clouds won by a head after being passed by Colin Tizzard’s Grade 1 winner in the run in but fighting all the way to the finish to prevail.

But then disaster struck. Many Clouds collapsed in the shadow of the winning post and it was later confirmed that the horse was put down. The whole racing world was shook by the tragic loss. His trainer Oliver Sherwood said, “I always said he would die for you and he’s died for me and the team today doing what he does best.” That is true- he died doing what he did best, winning.

After recovering from the heartbreak of Many Clouds, the racing word turned their attention to Cheltenham. Buveur D’air (5/1) bolted up in the Champion Hurdle under Noel Fehily. He was 4 1/2 lengths ahead of My Tent Or Yours, a synonymous second place horse. The favourite Yanworth (2/1) was also owned by JP McManus like Buveur D’air and My Tent Or Yours but he didn’ seem to fire and seemed outpaced towards the end.

The RSA Novices’ Chase was by far the most dramatic race of the meeting though. At two out, Might Bite was 12 lengths clear of the remainder of the field but he made a mistake at the last fence and veered right at one furlong out and was temporarily headed by his stablemate Whisper. It went to a photo and Might Bite won the race by a nose, which was a good thing for punters as he was the 7/2 favourite.

The main race of the festival was won by Sizing John. The gelding was trained by Henry De Bromhead but was transferred to Jessica Harrington’s yard at the start of the 16/17 season by his owners Ann and Alan Potts. He was a 7/1 chance to land the spoils under Robbie Power. Old favourite Cue Card fell at three out and Sizing John headed long time leader Native River at two out and went clear to win by 2 3/4 lengths with Minella Rocco in second.

At the start of April, the nation tuned in to watch the Grand National live on ITV. Blaklion was the favourite to win the infamous chase but he came forth. Second favourite Definitely Red was pulled up after a saddle malfunction. In the end, One For Arthur won under Derek Fox and for Lucinda Russell. He had Cause Of Causes four and a half lengths behind in second.

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Coneygree, Djackadam and Sizing John fight out the finish to the Punchestown Gold Cup. (Not our photo)

Now the season was coming to a close. At Punchestown, the Gold Cup had a thrilling finish between three high class chasers- Djackadam, Sizing John and Coneygree. They were neck-and-neck at the last but Sizing John stayed on to win by a short head to Djackadam in second.

Then the big national Hunt horses were turned out for the summer, turning the attention of racing fans to the flat.

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Daryl Jacob and Bristol De Mai. (Not our photo) 

The first Grade One race of the 17/18 National Hunt Season came around in November. Ran over 3 miles and 1 and a half furlongs, the Betfair Chase was won in tremendous style by Nigel Twiston-Davies’ grey Bristol De Mai. The gelding had won the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby beating Blaklion and Definitely Red, who both franked the form after that (Blaklion won the Becher Chase and Definitely Red won the Many Clouds Chase). Bristol De Mai won the Betfair Chase by a whopping 57 lengths to Cue Card and new rider Harry Cobden. His win was expected considering he was 11/10 favourite but no one expected him to win by that much because of the field of brilliant horses.

Christmas for National Hunt fans was incredible. It all kicked off with Sam Spinner winning the Long Walk Hurdle on the 23rd then the racing took a pause for the Christmas festivities. On Boxing Day, the King George VI Chase was won by Might Bite. The cheeky son of Scorpion won by a length with 50/1 outsider Double Shuffle back in second. The previously quirky individual was very mature in the race and didn’the give his owner or trainer any unnecessary scares. In the other two Grade Ones on the card, Black Corton gave Bryony Frost her first Grade One win in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase and Buveur D’air won the Christmas Hurdle.

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Might Bite crossing the line in the King George VI Chase ahead of last year’s winner Thistlecrack. (Not our photo)

On the following day, Politologue bolted up in the Desert Orchid Chase, giving Sam Twiston-Davies a welcome first winner after coming back from his time on the side lines after breaking his elbow. Politologue was left in the front when Special Tiara took a crashing fall. The 8/15 favourite gave punters a scary moment when he dragged his feet through the top of the last but ran on, unchallenged, by the other two runners.

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Politologue and Paul Nicholls. (Not our photo)

It has been a brilliant year. Bring on 2018!!