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It is no trite ambition, seeing such good horses venture onto such awful ground, to ask only that the likes of Long Run and Finian’s Rainbow complete their comebacks tomorrow in one piece.
Barack Obama called it “a terrific debate” in his closing statement last night. But he’d be hard pressed to find any Democrats who agree.
Disaster struck Danedream last night when her defence of Europe's richest prize was derailed by an outbreak of an infection at her local racecourse. Officials said that the filly, who had been due to return to Paris on Sunday as one of the favourites for the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, will not be allowed to travel. In the bigger picture, the outbreak of Equine Infectious Anaemia (EIA) is a calamity for the German racing industry.
A sport gratified by the monarch's unswerving priorities – she will draw the nation's attention to Epsom on her Jubilee weekend, by attending the Investec Derby as usual – tonight welcomes back the colt who prompted so much patriotic fervour this time last year.
On a day when tailbacks in and out of Newbury amply testified to the appeal of a free day at the races, plenty seemed eager enough to look a gift horse in the mouth.
Last year, an equivalent postponement after two horses had been electrocuted in the parade ring could only alter the tone, six days later, from macabre to melancholy. This time round, the card scheduled for Newbury last Saturday was lost merely to snow and frost, and the silver linings are dazzling. For one thing, entry today is free. And the goodwill that has secured this boon extends to the sponsors' injection of extra funding, despite the loss of a weekend profile, to guarantee the Betfair Hurdle's status as the richest handicap of its type in the calendar. Before that prize is won and lost Channel 4 viewers will already have seen one of the most exciting novice chasers of recent seasons, in Sprinter Sacre, and Long Run's rehearsal for the defence of his Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The best measure of Josh Gifford is that his death yesterday robbed the jump racing community of so cherished a friend that his status as one of its greatest achievers seemed almost incidental. Though a multiple champion jockey, and trainer of one of the most loved Grand National winners, Gifford will be mourned primarily as one whose relish for life and laughter warranted a far broader indulgence than 70 years.
While it seems by no means obvious that a change of jockey might provide the necessary impetus, it is certainly time for some kind of fresh start for a horse who arrived at the Cheltenham Festival last March as one of the hottest favourites of the week. Time For Rupert goes to Newbury today with his career at an unmistakable crossroads.
Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Denman has been retired after suffering a setback in his preparation for the Lexus Chase.
Racing has endured some dodgy headlines of late, courtesy of contentious new rules about whipping, and may have to brace itself for more this week, courtesy of the latest round of investigation into alleged corruption. But the one element of the sport that can rise above any human grubbiness is the most important of all, the horse at the heart of it all.
Bewildering lack of knowledge, blind terror of others, paranoid hatred of Barack Obama... herein lies her appeal to the frothing far right
Defending a crown generally brings more pressure than challenging for one, so both relief and pleasure washed round Haydock's winner's circle yesterday after the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Imperial Commander, opened his season with an authoritative success in the Betfair Chase. The nine-year-old, ridden by Paddy Brennan, took control of the three-mile contest after the first circuit and, though tiring on the testing ground in the closing stages, held Tidal Bay's late flourish by a length and a quarter.
Tom George, trainer of the Betfair Chase third favourite Nacarat, is relishing the dashing grey's return to the top level in Saturday's Grade One feature at Haydock. The nine-year-old warmed up for his meeting with Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Imperial Commander with a convincing victory at Wetherby last month and has, apparently, been sparkling at home since.
Two of the Turf's biggest names went back to basics yesterday. First connections of Kauto Star rejected a hazardous experiment in his historic bid for a fifth consecutive success in the William Hill King George VI Chase, deciding to keep him fresh for Kempton on Boxing Day rather than take in the Hennessy Gold Cup en route. And then Johnny Murtagh, who had announced his departure from Ballydoyle a week previously, cast that decision in a fresh light by accepting a contract to ride the 120 horses trained for the Aga Khan in Ireland.