Busman’s Holiday

As a member of team Duralock, it is not possible to go anywhere without ‘fence spotting’ and holidays are no exception! A trip to Barbados last week happily coincided with the start of the third and final racing season of 2015.

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Whilst the Thoroughbred Breeders Association and competitive racing are relatively new to the island (1970’s & 80’s), this does not mean that the sport has any less of a prestigious history here than anywhere else in the world. The Barbados Turf Club, which regulates and promotes horse racing in Barbados, was established in 1905 and is located in the Historic Garrison Savannah, close to the capital, Bridgetown.

The Garrison Savannah has been the home of horse racing in Barbados since 1845. The officers of the British Regiment, who were stationed in Barbados, used what was then the parade ground to match their horses in races and the wealthy merchants and planters later joined them.

Nowadays, those who want to enjoy race day from the stands can do so from as little as $10, however if you prefer a more informal atmosphere you can just lounge in the shade of the trees which surround the entire 6-furlong track, completely free of charge! Here, you will find traditional Bajan barbecue, burgers and cold beers all for sale from stalls, bikes and the back of vans or pickups.

A Caribbean race day is definitely an experience and not just because of the closeness of the track to the stands (you can actually stroke the winners on their way past and chat to the trainers and jockeys on their way in), but mostly because of the warm welcome and carnival atmosphere that comes with any event on these islands.

There is one complaint however, not a piece of Duralock fencing in sight… yet!

 

 

Shetland Agility, Hound Dogs and Star Wars Side-Saddle…. The Blenheim Review!

Duralock Post and Rail Fencing

We’ve just got back from a fabulous four days in the Oxfordshire countryside! Granted, it’s only a ten minute drive away from the Duralock office, but working from a green field surrounded by galloping horses and HUNDREDS of dogs passing … Continue reading

Triple Crown Racing

The finale of the Triple Crown is coming up on Saturday June 6th, with American Pharoah the most likely looking contender to take all three race titles in 37 years.

Here’s a brief outline of what is possibly the three most important races in American Thoroughbred Racing:

The Kentucky Derby

The first jewel in the Triple Crown is the Kentucky Derby, held at Churchill Downs. This race has earned the title ‘The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sport’. For the horse owners, the Run for the Roses is the first step to seeing if their thoroughbred has a shot at the crown.

The Preakness Stakes

Thoroughbred racing comes to Maryland on the third Saturday in May each year for the second and shortest leg in The triple Crown. This week-long celebration concludes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore and determines if there will be a Triple Crown contender for the year.

The Belmont Stakes

The Belmont Stakes, first run in 1867, is the oldest of the Triple Crown races and one of the oldest stakes races in North America. This third and final leg is contested three weeks after the Preakness and five weeks after the Kentucky Derby. Only 11 times has a horse been able to wrap it all up in New York, the last being in 1978! Could this year be the 12th?

Triple Crown Winners

Triple Crown Winners

The grande finale of the jump season

Punchestown Festival,
Tuesday 28th April to Saturday 2nd May 2015.

The Punchestown Festival is the highlight of the Irish sporting and social calendar and is considered the grande finale of the jump season. With top class horses, trainers and jockeys from both sides of the Irish sea converging on the Kildare venue, the quality of racing is unrivalled. A total of 12 Grade 1 contests take place during the Festival, making Punchestown the home of Irish National Hunt Racing.

Punchestown’s history is a long one, the first race day meeting was held in 1824 with the first Festival meeting taking place 30 years later. Brush fences and hurdles were introduced in the 1960’s and after a massive £8.75m redevelopment in 1998 the Festival became a four day event the following year. Punchestown now also hosts two all weather arenas and a Hunter Trials Course.

Full race running order and any other course information can be found here: http://www.punchestown.com/race_running_order.asp

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Scottish Grand National 18th April 2015

Saturday sees one of the sporting highlights of the Scottish racing calendar, the Scottish Grand National, held at Ayr Racecourse.

Attracting some of the finest chasers from the UK & Ireland, this blue riband event will host many recognisable names from the English Grand National held at Aintree the previous weekend. There are 30 runners in total, with Balthazar King, Gas Line Boy and Soll (amongst many others) all part of this years line up, competing over four miles and jumping 27 fences.

The Elk was the first Scottish Grand National winner, back in 1867, which indicates that the Scottish Grand National history is a long and illustrious one. The race was originally hosted by Bogside racecourse where it was run over a distance of 3 miles and 7 furlongs, before being moved to Ayr in 1966. The 1974 was an unforgettable race when it was won by the peerless, Red Rum, carrying top weight and just a few weeks after winning Grand National at Aintree. This incredible feat still remains a record.

Red Rum Scottish Grand National

Brian Fletcher takes Red Rum (No 1) to victory in the Scottish Grand National. Ayr, April 1974. Picture: TSPL.

 

 

Valet of the Kings

We received an interesting article this week in the Duralock offices, from jockeytalk360.com, on how Valets smooth the way for jockeys in the USA:

“… The first thing he does is ice down the different drinks (Sprite, Coke, iced tea, Gatorade, water) that his jockeys like to drink. A special sliding container is replenished with candy bars, chips, cookies, and assorted snacks…  the next task, is checking helmets and laying out helmet covers that match saddle cloths. Saddle girths and whips are checked for condition. Goggles by the dozens have to be cleaned. Depending on the distance of a race, jockeys will wear three to four sets of goggles. A trip to the laundry room is followed by laying out all the pants, socks, and underwear that have been washed and dried from the night before. Gilbert has 40 towels in his stockpile, and by the end of the night they will all be soiled. Each of his riders has two to three pairs of boots. Elbows flying, he has to have the boots shined and laid out before the first jockeys arrive in the room.”

Which got us wondering if they exist outside of the USA, and if so, what the differences would be between a a US and a UK valet? Well, it turns out they do indeed exist over here, with their own Flat and Jump Associations and a pretty similar working day to their US counterparts.

Mainly made up of men that used to be jockey’s themselves, they have an understanding of the needs and the pecking order of the jockeys in the Weighing Room before a race. The pegs where jockeys change are determined by seniority, Frankie Dettori held the No.1 peg on the Flat for many years, but it might well surprise you to hear that AP McCoy wasn’t the No.1 over jumps, that honour went to Jimmy McCarthy.

The Weighing Room can be a tense place before big events, and by the nature of the sport, tragedy through injury to it’s participants is as much a part of the ritual as is triumph. UK Jockeys’ valet Chris Maude reminisces:

“… I tied Peter Toole’s cap for him at Aintree on Grand National day then watched as he took that horrific fall that left him in a coma for 25 days. That was the worst day, but the best was when he came into the Weighing Room at Plumpton to see everyone…”

With racing at Aintree starting today and The Grand National on Saturday, spare a thought for the unsung heroes behind the scenes who are making sure everyone has the right clothes on and weighs out at the correct weight!

Duralock Performance Fencing outside The Old Weighing Room at Aintree

Duralock Performance Fencing outside The Old Weighing Room at Aintree

Duralock exhibits in Essen

Equitana, Germany 14-22nd March 2015

Messe Essen houses 850 exhibitors in 17 exhibition halls during the 9 days that Equitana is held. Dubbed ‘The Equestrian Sports World Fair’, it certainly lives up to its reputation.

With every equestrian need catered for, from feeding to breeding, don’t be surprised to see people passing by with brand new wheelbarrows loaded to the hilt with the latest products or whizzing past on scooters. There are live shows and galas throughout, with around 1000 horses taking part and many of them camping on the site. There is also an entire market street and even the odd brass band appearing randomly throughout the halls!

Duralock Performance Fencing has been an exhibitor here for many years and this year we can be found at Stand C32 in Hall 3. So why not pop by for a coffee and a chat with Jean-Philippe or Julie? We are located close to the main Eingang West entrance.

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Day 4 round up Cheltenham Festival 2015

Gold Cup Day!

Rain fell on the final day of The Festival changing the ground to soft/good to soft and most likely changing the outcome for many of the competitors.

Ruby Walsh took an early lead in the JCB Hurdle with Dicosimo by five or six lengths, but Peace And Co and Top Notch stepped up as they approached the last, with favourite Peace and Co taking the win at the very end.

The Vince O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle was taken by outsider Wicklow Brave, who came from nowhere at the end to romp home at 25/1. Noel Fehily took a fall on Roman Flight, but both horse and rider were ok.

Mortello Tower just managed to hold on to his lead in the Albert Bartlett, with the team at Dan Skelton Racing (a favourite of Duralock) coming in 5th with the hotly tipped Value At Risk.

The hugely anticipated Gold Cup did not disappoint. Coneygree was first out and managed to fend off some serious competition throughout. Ending in an exciting three way sprint and becoming the first novice to win The Gold Cup since 1974!

The Foxhunters, had a false start, an aborted second start and a messy standing start before they finally got underway. On The Fringe, ridden by female jockey Nina Carberry, opened up a massive lead before winning by a street from Following Dreams.

The Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle was no less dramatic, starting smoothly, Bulgarry took a crashing fall at the second flight and the race ended with Killutagh Vic pronounced winner in a photo finish with Noble Endeavour.

The final race of the festival and Tony McCoy’s last at Cheltenham was The Grand Annual Chase. After a well fought battle, hampered by a fall from Dresden, he handed the trophy to the winner to a rapturous applause from the crowd. Maybe not the fairytale ending most people had hoped for, but he can certainly look back on the week with pride.

Two men who definitely can, are Champion Trainer Willie Mullins, who trained a record eight winners and Champion Jockey Ruby Walsh who rode four winners over the four day festival.

Festival over, we can all relax a little bit over the weekend and catch up on who’s in and out of pocket… until the Grand National!

Tony McCoy with Tom Scudamore, who rode the winner of the A P McCoy Grand Annual Chase at Cheltenham

Day 3 round up Cheltenham Festival 2015

St Patrick’s Thursday.

Day three was another mixed bag for punters, in the first race the well backed favourite Vautour easily won the JLT Novices Chase by 15 lengths. Regal Encore and Tony McCoy were favourites in the Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle but were beaten into third; Unique De Cotte looked to be striding on to win before being beaten up the hill by third favourite Call The Cops.

The Ryannair Chase saw Uxizandre, one of the lesser fancied of Tony McCoy’s Cheltenham rides at 16-1, finally provide him with his first winner in his last Festival.

The World Hurdle was a one horse race taken by Cole Harden who led the entire way.

The Brown Advisory and Meribelle plate proved to be the most exciting of the day. With 20 runners and a false start, Kings Lad ploughed through the first fence causing Daryl Jacob to lose his reins and end up off course. Champion Court and Make A Track battled it out in front with Hollow Penny in third. Outsider, Darna stormed the win right at the end coming in at a massive 33-1!

In the final race of day three, The Kim Muir Challenge, Standing Ovation lead over the first fence, with the favourite Champagne James in last. Sixty Something fell when going for home and bought down three others, leaving The Package in front, a £10,000 horse who at 12 years old pulled clear to win at a canter!

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Day 2 round up Cheltenham Festival 2015

Ladies Day.

With Tuesday being labelled as ‘favourites day’, Wednesday was a mixed bag. Windsor Park took the first race with the favourite Nichols Canyon in third. Don Poli ran an awesome race in the RSA Chase to finish first, appearing to idle the whole way up the straight and then pricking up his ears, dropping down a gear and storming to the finish. Aux Ptits Soins and Zabana pushed the favourite to third in The Coral Cup.

Dodging Bullets won the big race of the day, the Queen Mother Champion Chase, netting one brave punter £1/4million on a £50,000 bet at 5/1! The expected battle between Sire De Grugy and Sprinter Sacre never materialised as Sprinter Sacre was pulled up, trainer Nicky Henderson revealed he had been sent to be scoped by the vet and there has been no indication about retirement.

Rivage d’Or won the Cross Country, but the big story happened before the finish as Quantativeeasing and Toutancarmont crashed through the (Duralock) barriers and knocked down a photographer. This video shows how the racerail acts exactly as designed, separating without splintering or shattering and helping steer the horses to stay close to the course: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/racing/article-2990069/Cross-Country-carnage-Toutancarmont-Quantitativeeasing-crash-barriers-knock-photographer.html#v-4105254140001

Qualando won the Fred Winter at 25/1 with the favourite Moon Racer taking the Champion Bumper.

Meanwhile, Jennifer Wrynne, a milliner from Leitrim in West Ireland was crowned best dressed in a hat she designed and made herself.

Chelt 2015 XC 1 Chelt 2015 XC hats