Gold Cup champion trounces Irish challengers to become clear favourite to retain Festival crown
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Saturday 18 February 2012
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.
Friday 17 February 2012
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.
Saturday 11 February 2012
Friday 10 February 2012
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.
Tuesday 07 February 2012
Wearing a decidedly affronted air, as he surveyed all the bustle and activity outside his stable, Kauto Star for once found himself a neglected spectator yesterday as his neighbour and former rival was instead restored as centre of attention. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, after all, and while Denman continues his recuperation from the injury that ended his career in December, he is not yet in a condition to be paraded before the race that bears his name on Saturday. Not that even Denman could be counted the most remarkable veteran posing for the cameras during a morning to promote the big Newbury card – joined, as he was, by two of the humbling servicemen who will shortly be "Walking With The Wounded" up Everest itself.
Saturday 21 January 2012
Whether or not it was the change of training ground that did it, Cristal Bonus finally justified his fancy transfer fee at Chepstow yesterday. The six-year-old showed such promise as a youngster in France that his then owners would not let him go for a bid of nearly £300,000 when they sent him to auction.
Thursday 12 January 2012
With 64 days to go, the countdown to the Gold Cup can officially start. The entries were made yesterday, 34 of them, and all the names that should be there are there, with no ghastly errors of omission. Kauto Star, already the first horse to regain the Cheltenham crown, can go for a unique three in five years; his great rival Long Run can try to redeem his reputation as the future of this particular branch of the sport.
Wednesday 04 January 2012
In his 20 years at Ditcheat, Paul Nicholls reckons he has never known a tempest to compare with the one that prompted him to abandon third lot yesterday. At the home of the Derby, meanwhile, staff had been evacuated after roofing and insulation was ripped off Epsom's new grandstand. And racing at Ayr was abandoned, despite somehow surviving an initial inspection – by mid-morning it turned out that broken and hanging branches on a nearby tree would prevent the RaceTech lorry taking its position, and thereby the provision of television, commentary and PA services.
Saturday 31 December 2011
Friday 30 December 2011
"It's a Santa Rally," cried City traders. The FTSE 100 shot up more than 1 per cent, rising 59.37 points to 5566.77, on its last full day of trading before the year-end. The few equity traders at their desks this week have been doggedly seeking positive news but for much of yesterday the market remained depressingly lacklustre. Volumes were less than 3 per cent of the 90-day daily average, which gives an indication of just how quiet it was.
Thursday 15 December 2011
Wednesday 14 December 2011
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.
Friday 09 December 2011
Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Denman has been retired after suffering a setback in his preparation for the Lexus Chase.
Thursday 08 December 2011
Betfair, the beleaguered betting company, yesterday made a further move to rehabilitate its battered image in the City with the appointment of Gerald Corbett, the serial non-executive director and City veteran, as deputy chairman.
Sunday 20 November 2011
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.
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