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!

 

 

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

Punchestown-Festival-2015-logo

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 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

 

Day 1 round up Cheltenham Festival 2015

The roar!

The excitement at the start of the festival that has been heralded the Olympics of horseracing, is captured beautifully here by former Grand National winning jockey Marcus Armytage, writing for Betfair:

“At 1.30pm in the natural amphitheatre below Cleeve Hill, a roar will ring out across the north-eastern corner of Cheltenham that signals the start of the 2015 National Hunt Festival; four days, 27 races, Britain versus Ireland, punter versus bookmaker, the retiring A P McCoy against Ruby Walsh …” 

It looked to be Walsh’s day with a win in the first race, the Sky Bet Supreme Novice Hurdle on Douvan (and a win for the punter that placed £20k on him!). Followed up by a win in the Arkle on Un De Sceaux and to the cries of ‘Ruby, Ruby, Ruby, Ruby’ Faugheen wins the Stan James Champion Hurdle. The bookies were panicking, Twitter was alive with speculation on the massive losses about to be made as the fourth favourite Annie Power looked all set to take the win in the Mares Hurdle, jumping well and tucked in on the nearside, second to last she took the lead and on the final hurdle… disaster! Today’s photos look as if she jumped the shadow and landed too early, either way Ruby and Annie were out of the race and it was a photo finish with Glens Melody taking first. Everyone (especially the bookies) breathed a sigh of relief as it was confirmed that all involved were well. Cause of Causes wins the Toby Balding and the last race of the day is won by Irish Cavalier.

An exhilarating start to what is truly the greatest show on turf!

Annie P