Cheltenham 2014The Cheltenham FestivalMarch 11th, 20143 days to go.
Aintree 2014Grand National MeetingApril 3rd, 201426 days to go.
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I'm Steve, 40 from Rochdale. My blog is about the ups & downs of a regular punter and sports fan. A place to come to share ideas, tips and of course-friendly banter!
Article from www.famousracehorses.co.uk
Norton’s Coin was foaled in 1981, and will go down in racing folklore for causing one of the greatest upsets of the modern racing era when winning the 1990 Cheltenham Gold Cup at 100-1. Ridden by Graham McCourt, he beat the Jenny Pitman-trained Toby Tobias by three-quarters of a length—10-11 favourite Desert Orchid was back in third—in a time four seconds faster than Dawn Run’s course record to make unknown three-horse permit-holder Griffiths an overnight racing celebrity. He was running in the race solely because he had missed the entry deadline for a handicap at the meeting, and he set off for Cheltenham only after Griffiths had milked the cows on his West Wales farm early in the morning. Originally a successful point-to-pointer and hunter chaser, Norton’s Coin won six races under rules all told, notably outsprinting top two-miler Waterloo Boy in the South Wales Showers Caradon Mira Silver Trophy back at Cheltenham in 1991.
However, his Gold Cup win is the race he will always be remembered for. The 100-1 victory may have shocked the racing world, but it caused less of a surprise to his owner-trainer Sirrell Griffiths. Griffiths, then a three-horse permit holder from Nantgaredig, near Carmarthen, had produced the gelding to win three chases—including a valuable race at Cheltenham in April—the previous season. And as he drove the box to Cheltenham that morning, he was convinced Norton’s Coin was not the rank outsider the bookmakers believed him to be.
“I thought he could get in the first four,” he said. “I didn’t expect to win but I told people that if he ran well he could get in the first four. I was getting excited coming to the second-last, and I could see McCourt was sitting quiet.
“Coming to the last, I thought, ‘If he jumps well, he’s going to win’. And I was shaking this chap’s shoulders like a terrier dog. As they passed the post, he turned round and said, ‘Do you mind? That’s my neck!’
“It was like a football match when I got back to the yard—ITV television were there and had plugged their floodlights into the electricity—and you could see the yard from a couple of miles away. I didn’t get to bed that night.”
McCourt recalled: “He hit the first fence down the back on the first circuit and I thought, ‘That’s my Gold Cup out the window’. But after that he jumped perfectly and at the top of the hill I looked at Desert Orchid and knew I had him beat, and it was a tremendous fight up the hill with Toby Tobias.”
Jenny Pitman, trainer of the runner-up, said: “Norton’s Coin winning at Cheltenham will be a day that neither Sirrell Griffiths nor I will ever forget. For Sirrell, a small trainer in Wales, to win it is what National Hunt racing is all about.”
Norton’s Coin went on to win once more at Cheltenham the following year, and was retired in 1993 after an operation failed to cure problems with his breathing. When his racing days were over the gelding was given an honourable retirement at his owner-trainer Sirrell Griffiths’ Rwyth Farm in Nantgaredig, near Carmarthen, Wales, where he lived for the rest of his natural life. Sadly, in 2001, Norton’s Coin, who was by now 20, died after what was believed to have been a heart attack. Griffiths said: “I turned him out into a field this morning, I went back to put some hay in the field and when I got there the poor old boy had died. He obviously had a heart attack.
“He had a life of leisure—we never rode him after his last race because he had an operation on his throat which went wrong, and every time he did a gallop he coughed.
“He was one of the family, but we can’t do much about it. It’s a pity we can’t all go the same way instead of suffering goodness knows what.” Norton’s Coin won six races under Rules during his career and finished eighth of 13 on his only start on the Flat, in the Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot in 1991, when ridden by Lester Piggott.
McCourt, who retired from riding to begin training in 1996, said yesterday: “It was a wonderful day. The old horse gave me a lot of fun and I owe him a lot. It’s a big shame.”
The Cheltenham Gold Cup 1997
By Graham Shaw, Sporting Life
Tony McCoy completed the Champion Hurdle-Gold Cup double as Mr Mulligan romped to a brilliant triumph at Cheltenham. The chestnut nine-year-old, trained by Noel Chance and sent off at 20-1, jumped superbly to run his rivals ragged and claim an impressive success.
The win completed a wonderful Festival for McCoy, who won the Champion Hurdle on Make A Stand on Tuesday. The jockey was only given the go-ahead to ride at the end of last week after recovering from a fractured shoulder and collar-bone sustained on January 23.
He said: “I had physio twice a day every day and I was in the swimming pool by two and a half weeks. Martin Pipe put me on a few safe horses and some odds-on winners brought my confidence back,” he said. Pipe had offered the ride on Cyborgo, the last of eight finishers. McCoy admitted he was tempted to switch mounts, especially after Mr Mulligan worked lethargically at Newbury 12 days ago.
“The way he worked a bumper horse would have beaten him two furlongs and I told Noel I was very disappointed,” added McCoy. “But Noel said to come and school him and he jumped the fences much faster than he had run on the flat. If the rain had come I would have definitely thought about Cyborgo but I decided to honour my commitment to Noel.”
Outsider Barton Bank (33-1) ran a gallant race to take second, while Dorans Pride finished third for Ireland at 10-1. One Man threatened to take the race coming to the last – just as he did last year. But again his stamina appeared to give out on the uphill run to the finish. The race ended in disaster for the 1996 winner Imperial Call, who was pulled up a long way out by Conor O’Dwyer. Fergie Sutherland’s charge, a 4-1 chance, became the 17th horse who has failed to complete the Gold Cup after being sent off as the favourite and the 13th defending champion who has been beaten in the race the following year. Ireland’s hero Danoli made a number of mistakes before falling at the second last when out of contention.
Dublin Flyer and Mr Mulligan cut out all the early running, followed by Barton Bank. Unguided Missile’s chance went when he suffered a crashing fall as they began the final circuit. Dublin Flyer began to fade out of contention as they started to rise up the hill. Down the hill Mr Mulligan led the field by four lengths from Barton Bank, with One Man travelling well under a patient ride.
Two from home Mr Mulligan still led the field by four lengths with One Man getting much closer. But as One Man weakened the chestnut put in a flying leap at the last to run away with jump racing’s biggest prize by a convincing nine lengths from Barton Bank. Dorans Pride was a further half-length back in third.
McCoy was repeating the feat of Norman Williamson who triumphed on Alderbrook in the Champion and Master Oats in the Gold Cup two years ago.
“I can’t believe it, it’s fantastic,” he said as he made his way back to the winner’s circle on Mr Mulligan. “I schooled the horse at Newbury recently and he was very disappointing, I could barely get him out of a canter. “But then we took him onto the gallops at Lambourn and he went really well at which point I began to believe again that he could win today. “I was happy just bowling along in front on him as he was jumping super.
“I was obviously a little bit worried coming to the last after what happened in the King George when he took a heavy fall at the same stage. “But he’s taken it perfectly and run on really well.”
Trainer Noel Chance was claiming by far the biggest win of his career and he said: “This horse has been a nightmare to train – he’s had problems with his legs and his back. “But he’s got a big heart and that’s the most important thing. “His work at Lambourn the other day convinced me he was right and people also forget that he would probably have won the Sun Alliance Chase here last year had he not clattered the first fence. “Luckily he’s a clean-winded horse as we’ve only had six weeks to get him fit after his King George fall. “It was traumatic watching the race, I could barely keep my eyes open. But I knew that when he jumped the last in front he wouldn’t be caught. “I’ve struggled for 20 years in Ireland before coming over to England and to win the Gold Cup is a dream come true.” Owner Michael Webster was quick to pay tribute to both the horse’s battling qualities and Mary Bromiley’s expertise in treating his back problems. He said: “I would just like to put on record our thanks to Mary Bromiley, she has been fantastic with the horse. “Mr Mulligan is a tough old bugger, he just goes on and on. He simply grinds down his rivals.”
I’m not here. Just to let you know this is an automated post as I have some other pressing issues to deal with at the moment.
So the bumpers for jumpers fancies went well on Wednesday with wins for Very Noble (Nick Scholfield, 6/1) & Vodka ‘n Tonic (A Tinkler, 7/1).
They’re racing at Doncaster today and the feature race is packed with Aintree contenders rather than Cheltenham ones. Speaking of Doncaster Races I sent them an email last weekend asking what the logic was behind the draconian identity requests they wanted us to provide in order to pick up two free Betdaq offer tickets on the gate for their last meeting? I pointed out we were traveling on the train and were not comfortable carrying such documents around all day on a 125m round trip so we decided not to attend. As of today I’m still waiting for a reply.
I’m still hoping to find some time to post up a blog on each of the mornings of the Cheltenham Festival. Those posts however will for the first time be password protected for reasons that will become apparent in the next few weeks. I just need to devise a way of letting you know the daily password now.
Sadly I have no intention of running the Cheltenham Fantasy Telegraph League again this year which is a great shame as it boasted £350 in prize money in 2013 and had 210 players. Again this is for reasons that will become apparent.
Today’s Doncaster fancies:
1.45 Donc- Victor Hewgo (win).
2.20 Donc- Cannon Fodder (e/w).
2.55 Donc- Lidar (e/w).
3.30 Donc- Storm Survivor & Mart Lane (e/w).
4.05 Donc- Hartforth (e/w).
4.40 Donc- Monksgold (e/w).
5.15 Donc- The Grey Taylor & Vinnie Red (e/w).
Apologies for the doom and gloom above. Here’s something to really cheer you up…
I love a party with a happy atmosphere!
Just a quicky blog post as I thought it was worthwhile looking at the bumpers for jumpers card at Lingfield today. These races often throw up some unexpected results and are pretty much a favourites graveyard on the whole. Lot’s of juicy each-ways today then.
2.10 Ling- Very Noble (e/w).
2.40 Ling- Ya Hafed (e/w).
3.10 Ling- Fred Le Macon (e/w).
3.40 Ling- Ourmanmassini (win).
4.10 Ling- Alfraamsey (win).
4.40 Ling- Vodka N Tonic (e/w).
5.10 Ling- Minx Of The Lamp (e/w).
I can’t be the only one feeling a sense of unease at the moment with the emerging drugs related stories in racing and I can’t be the only one who thinks that the whole racing world could implode at any moment. There are only so many times such activities can be brushed under the carpet. Lone operators do exist but there appears to be rather too many “loners” being discovered/exposed to deny there is a underlying problem somewhere along the line.
So what are the solutions? Well, if there is a drugs problem in racing people shouldn’t just imply there is but they should set about to prove it. Good investigative journalism is the key. If people are concerned enough about the tarnished reputation of the great sport of racing they should jump off that cozy gravy train and give the lone guy in the boat a hand in rocking it.
Today’s Newcastle fancies:
1.50 Newc- Edmund Kean (win).
2.20 Newc- Kudu Country (e/w).
2.55 Newc- Relax & Presented (e/w).
3.25 Newc- Getabuzz (win).
3.55 Newc- Ride The Range (e/w).
4.30 Newc- Wicklow Lad (e/w).
5.00 Newc- One For Arthur (e/w).