Was the Derby ever won by a four-year-old?

Although it was originally run over the ‘last mile of the course’, the Derby is, and always has been, restricted to three-year-old colts and fillies. Consequently, the Epsom Classic cannot ever have been won, at least not legitimately, by a four-year-old.

However, in 1844, inveterate gambler Abraham Levi Goodman attempted what the Solicitor-General later described as ‘a gross and scandalous fraud’, by substituting the four-year-old Maccabeus for the three-year-old Running Rein in the Derby.  Just looking at the year alone, it’s fascinating to see that today’s appetite for casino games online, horse racing and the like is nothing new. The swindle was initiated some 18 months earlier, when Maccabeus was saddled, as ‘Running Rein’, to land a gamble in a juvenile race at Newmarket.

Turf reformer Lord George Bentinck had suspected, at that stage, that the horse purporting to be Running Rein was an impostor. However, a subsequent inquiry collapsed when ‘Running Rein’ was postively identified by Northamptonshire farmer George Worley as the horse he had looked after in the winter of 1841/42. In the Derby, ‘Running Rein’ beat Orlando, bred and owned by Colonel Jonathan Peel, brother of Prime Minister Sir Rober Peel, by three-quarters of a length.

However, Lord Bentinck filed suit on behalf of Peel and, after a lengthy court case, lawyers for the connections of ‘Running Rein’ admitted that the horse had vanished and that ‘some fraud had been practiced’. The subtefuge was laid bare, ‘Running Rein’ was disqualified and the race was awarded to Orlando. It’s a relief that such behaviour was called out then as it often is now. Nowadays the hallmarks of a reliable betting environment, whether it’s a casino related one like www.bestusacasinosites.com , or the racing world, is that it’s above board and regulated to the point that those putting down their hard earned money can have faith in it.

Grand National 2021

It’s almost that time of year again. On April 10th 2021 (after a ‘virtual’ hiatus last year) one of the showpiece events of UK sport, let alone racing, is here. I’m of course referring to the AIntree Grand National.

Above we get to see Katie Walsh of Betway Horse Racing (and renowned former jockey!) give her personal take on the Grand National and how far women and racing has come over recent years.

Many of us I’m sure have our own take and memories related to the Grand National. Steeped in tradition and with worldwide TV viewing figures into the hundreds of millions, it’s a must see event for racing fans and casual watchers alike. It’s a shame that due to unforeseen events (that’s putting it mildly!) and pulling out this year, Tiger Roll was unable to achieve three National wins in a row. That said we do have a very short priced favourite for a change – Cloth Cap and so all eyes will be on whether he has what it takes on the day. Don’t miss it!

Nunthorpe Stakes

The Nunthorpe Stakes is a Group One race run over 5 furlongs at York Racecourse on the third day of the four-day fixture, known as the ‘Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival’, staged annually in August. The Nunthorpe Stakes is open to colts, fillies and geldings aged two years and upwards and, as such, is not only one of the few races in which juveniles can compete against older horses, but the only Group One contest in Britain open to juvenile geldings.

Established, in its present guise, in 1922, the Nunthorpe Stakes takes it name from Nunthorpe, an outer suburb of Middlesbrough, on the edge of the North York Moors National Park, 50 miles or so north of York Racecourse. Since 2007, the Nunthorpe Stakes has been sponsored by the prestigious Coolmore Stud – headquarters of the largest thoroughbred breeding operation in the world – in Co. Tipperary, Ireland. In 2019, the Nunthorpe Stakes offered total prize money of £400,000.

Two horses – namely Tag End, in 1928, 1929 and 1930, and Sharpo, in 1980, 1981 and 1982 – have won the Nunthorpe Stakes three times. The leading trainer in the history of the race remains Australian-born Captain Oswald ‘Ossie’ Bell, who saddled five winners in the Twenties and Thirties. Flat racing legend Lester Piggott rode seven winners between 1958 and 1978 and is the leading jockey in the history of the Nunthorpe Stakes.

According to the ‘weight-for-age’ scale, which is designed to compensate younger horses for their lack of physical maturity, juveniles competing in the Nunthorpe Stakes carry just 8st 1lb. By contrast, three-year-olds carry 9st 9lb and four-year-olds and upwards carry 9st 11lb. However, despite a generous weight concession, of 22lb and 24lb, respectively, from the older horses, the last two-year-old to win the Nunthorpe Stakes was Kingsgate Native in 2007.

The 2019 renewal of the Nunthorpe Stakes proved pivotal, insofar as the winner, Battaash, trained by Charles Hills, recorded a time of 55.90 seconds and, in so doing, broke the five-furlong course record set by Dayjur 29 years earlier. Dayjur, trained by Dick Hern and owned, like Battaash, by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, was billed in his heyday as the ‘fastest horse in the world’; his winning time of 56.16 seconds was widely considered to be unbeatable.

Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp

The Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp or, in English, ‘Prize of the Abbey of Longchamp’, is a Group One race run over a straight 1,000 metres, or 4 furlongs and 213 yards, at Longchamp Racecourse, in the Bois de Boulogne, west of Paris France. The race is open to colt, fillies and, since 2001, geldings aged two years and upwards. However, since 1972, just one juvenile – the Habitat filly Sigy, trained by Christiane ‘Criquette’ Head-Maarek and ridden by her brother, six-times French champion jockey Freddy Head – has won the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp.

As the title suggests, the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp was named after a thirteenth century priory which, prior to the French Revolution, occupied an area on the northern boundary of the modern racecourse. The race was inaugurated in 1957, when it was added to the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe fixture, staged on the first Sunday in October, to celebrate the centenary of Longchamp Racecourse. Following the introduction of the European Pattern race system in 1971, the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp was assigned Group Two status, but subsequently upgraded to Group One status in 1976.

Yves Saint-Martin, the darling of the French racing public in the Sixties and Seventies, is the leading jockey in the history of the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp, with five winners between 1962 and 1975. François Mathet, perennial French champion trainer between 1957 and 1982, did better still, saddling a total of eight winners between 1957 and 1974.

The Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp is regularly contested by the crème de la crème of sprinting talent from the other side of the English Channel. Since the turn of the century, various British and Irish trainers, including David Nicholls, Clive Brittain, Roger Charlton (twice), Kevin Ryan (twice), Sir Mark Prescott and Charles Hills, among others, have tasted success in the Longchamp showpiece. Other illustrious ‘foreign’ winners down the years have included Sharpo, trained by Jeremy Tree, in 1982, Habibti, Timeform Horse of the Year, trained by John Dunlop, in 1983, Dayjur, European Champion Sprinter, trained by Dick Hern, in 1990 and Lochsong, Cartier Champion Sprinter twice, trained by Ian Balding, in 1993 and 1994.