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

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!

McCoy McCoy-563578

 

Jumping for joy

William Hill Imperial Cup Day – Saturday 7th March 2015

William Hill Imperial Cup Day is a must for any Jump racing fan. The day features on Channel 4 and includes two Grade 3 races and the Mares Bumper.

Sandown Park was one of the first courses to be enclosed and this style proved to be a great success, followed soon after by a proliferation of ‘Park’ courses, including the nearby Hurst Park and Kempton Park. The Eclipse Stakes was inaugurated in 1882 and in 1907 the first Imperial Cup was run.

The Imperial Cup, run at Sandown the weekend before Cheltenham, was once the premier hurdle race in the calendar, although that honour now belongs to Cheltenham and the Champion Hurdle, the Imperial still remains as one of the most prestigious. Duralock Performance Fencing is used throughout.

Sandown Park

Sandown Park, racerail

 

For more information on the course, the event, ticket options and even what to wear, please visit: http://sandown.thejockeyclub.co.uk/events-tickets/whats-on/william-hill-imperial-cup-day