Sunday, April 25, 2010

End of term report 2009/10

In my opinion this has been a very good National Hunt season taking into account the inclement weather during the winter, but in yesterday's Independent Chris McGrath could see only the same familiar problems.

A number of snapshots will stay with me for some time to come - Denman's phenomenal weight-carrying performance in the Hennessy, Kauto Star's victory in the King George, that same horse falling in the Gold Cup, Barizan's brave attempt to win the Triumph from the front, King John's Castle refusing to budge an inch at the start of the Grand National and Tony McCoy's first victory in that race at the fifteenth time of asking.

McCoy will think fifteen is his lucky number as he took the champion jockey award for the fifteenth consecutive year; Paul Nicholls was champion trainer for the fifth consecutive year. As anyone who has read Nicholls' autobiography Lucky Break will know, there was a time when he thought he'd never overturn Martin Pipe; at Sandown on Saturday the handler hinted next season's title could be a close run affair as Nicky Henderson builds up a strong string at Seven Barrows.

Rhys Flint was champion conditional while it was a season of stark contrasts for two Sams - Sam Twiston-Davies and Sam Thomas. The former, at the tender age of seventeen, made all on Baby Run to take the Christie's Foxhunter at Cheltenham, just half an hour after his father had sent out Imperial Commander to win the Gold Cup. Three weeks later Hello Bud gave the youngster the thrill of a lifetime in the National, racing with the leaders for much of the way before fading to finish fifth; in the final week of the season Mr Sam Twiston-Davies turned professional. On the other hand Sam Thomas, in his first season as Tom George's stable jockey, suffered a hairline fracture of his back in a schooling accident on Paul Nicholls' gallops; back riding now, he'll be looking forward to a fresh start. Lest we forget, this horse-riding stuff is a dangerous business - Melanie Reid's poignant article in Saturday's Times highlighted the point in no uncertain terms.

One trainer and one jockey both passed the 100 winner mark in the final week of the season, David Pipe reaching the landmark on the final Saturday while jockey Jason Maguire achieved his goal at Perth in midweek. Many of Jason's winners were provided by Donald McCain, a trainer who has made significant progress this year. His stable star Peddlers Cross is nominated 'Blog Horse of the Year' - tipped twice, the bay gelding won on both occasions (including the Neptune at Cheltenham) at odds of 11/8 and 7/1. Cue Card (40/1 Festival bumper winner) was considered but as that one was only mentioned in dispatches and wasn't one of the blog's highlighted selections, Peddlers Cross is declared the winner by a short head. Albertas Run won the BHA's (rather more prestigious) Order Of Merit.

Tony McCoy rode the first winner of the new season, Marodima taking the Ludlow Golf Club Claiming Hurdle at odds of 1/7. Some things never change... On the other hand, some things do - the following courses are offering free entry to racing this week as part of the Racing For Change initiative:

Monday 26 April: Towcester and Wolverhampton
Tuesday 27 April: Sedgefield and Nottingham
Wednesday 28 April: Kempton and Ascot
Thursday 29 April: Huntingdon
Friday 30 April: Doncaster
Saturday 1st May: Goodwood (apparently sold out!)

As always, check details with individual courses beforehand.

And if this season just past hasn't been one of the best for you personally, always remember, as my dear old Mum used to say, there's likely to be someone worse off than yourself. Spare a thought for the Royal Mail van driver Cemal Celikkanat who discovered last week he had thrown away a winning £100,000 lottery ticket...

1 comment:

Mark said...

Nice synopsis - you certainly captured the highlights as far as I am concerned. Look forward to reading more of your blog in the new season - Mark