Top 5 Racing Events for 2018

Here it is...a new year...2018, and what a year it is going to be. This is the list that shouldn’t be kept for another year, the time is now, and we want to send you some of the best racecourses and racing events there are to offer across the UK and Ireland.

Leopardstown 3-4th February 2018

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Shake off the January blues, and get back into the swing of things with a trip to Ireland for some scintillating racing action at the Dublin Jumps Festival at Leopardstown. This is a new festival taking place on 3rd and 4th of February 2018. There isn’t much time to ponder and think about it...just do it! The festival comprises of a brilliant showcase of seven Grade One and three Grade Two races. The festival was created as a merge of two standalone fixtures at the end of January and beginning of February so a plethora of great races to get you excited for the new year racing fixtures. New and existing valuable handicaps mean that there will be a minimum race prize value of €75,000 and a total prize money over the 15 races across the weekend amounts to €1.5million. Ireland is only across the water and we have a selection of racing/hotel packages that will make it all the more worthwhile.

Aintree 12th -14th April

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Next on the list is none other than the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree. This is one of the biggest races in the world with a peak of 12 million tuning in around the world to watch live on TV. So why not be there on the day to experience this incredible, testing and nail-biting race from the side of the course? The race has a safety factor of 40 which is one of the largest fields in any race in the UK. The horses take on 30 fences which are like no other measuring up to 5ft 2in in height and they are some width too! Situated in Liverpool, the Grand National Festival is a few days of great fun to be had with a group of friends or family with the racecourse only a short train journey outside the city centre.

Cheltenham 13th-16th March

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As if you didn’t already know, Cheltenham Festival is the ultimate racing experience. Crowds of over 200,000 people flock through the gates over the 4 days of top class racing and there is something for everyone to enjoy whether you are a racing enthusiast or not. The atmosphere is electric and the Cheltenham Roar at the start of the first race on the first day will have the hairs on the back of your neck standing on end. For those who may not enjoy standing out in the cold weather at all times, there are plenty of places to take shelter, places like the shopping village. There are over 50 exhibition stands with some of the best , high profile outfitters and fashion brands in the country. Tickets and hotel rooms are selling out fast so make sure you don’t miss out on this legendary week of racing fun and frolics.

York 22nd- 25th August

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The York Ebor Festival is one of the highlights of the summer, taking place in the fabulous setting of York racecourse. This is the last chance to wear your summer outfit and soak up any sun before the weather turns for a long cold winter. The Ebor is known as the Ascot of the North and features top class flat racing and eye-catching fashion as its showpiece. The feature race and highlight of the festival is the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes. The meeting also features Britain’s richest handicap, over the marathon of a mile and three-quarters. A stunning racecourse and York has so much to offer during your time away from the track. Make a weekend of it with a group of friends or family and ladies...don’t miss your chance to shine on Ladies Day which takes place on

Ascot 19th - 23rd June

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Ascot racecourse is something to marvel at in its structural design as well as the fabulous setting in which it lies. Just on the outskirts of London, Royal Ascot is the hottest event of the summer and for many, the entire year. This is where class and style amalgamate and create a spectacular sense of occasion. For many, attending Royal Ascot week is the highlight of the social calendar. The royal parade is what makes this event all the more special as Her Majesty the Queen attends every day, arriving in a horse drawn carriage with other royal family members and acquaintances. Royal Ascot is a match between some of the best flat horses in the world and is a real test for which will succeed later in the season. A strict dress code of women in hats and dresses and men in mourning suit, this week is something special to be a part of and definitely one to tick off the list. If you like Pimms, Champagne, Horses and a good social occasion, then it’s a no brainer.

Top 5 Jump Trainers

Top Jump Trainers:

 

Paul Nicholls:

Paul Nicholls is one of the best Jump trainers in the world with 71 wins already in the 2017-18 season. He has shown he is one of the best in the business starting off as a trainer in 1991 with only 8 horses and turning into a yard of over 150 horses in training to go along with 10 times British champion trainer awards. With over 25 years’ worth of experience Nicholls has trained some of the best horses in the world and won some of the biggest races in the racing calendar, he has trained 114 Grade 1 winners. Nicholls best horse and properly the greatest jump horse of all time Kauto star helped Nicholls secure the Tingle Creek Chase (2005, 2006), Old Roan Chase (2006), Betfair Chase (2006, 2007, 2009, 2011) King George VI Chase (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011) Aon Chase (2007) Cheltenham Gold Cup (2007, 2009) Ascot Chase (2008) Champion Chase (2008, 2010). Nicholls yard is based at Manor Farm Somerset where all his horses are kept and trained. He will be trying to add to his impressive tally of wins during the rest of the season.

Top Horses: Politologue, Le Prezian, Black Corton, Vicente

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Nicky Henderson:

The English trainer is a veteran in the horse world and well known for being one of the best, with over 30 years as a trainer under his belt Nicky has shown his worth with carrying out some of the biggest wins over the years. The four-time champion trainer who was assistant to Fred Winter for four years before setting up on his own and basing himself in Seven Barrows near the racing town of Lambourn. One of Henderson’s finest horses was See you Then who won the champion hurdle 3 years in a row from 1985-87. He holds the record for the most festival wins by a trainer with 53 and counting, maybe his finest win came in 2015 courtesy of Peace And Co, who won the Triumph Hurdle at the 2015 Festival, and the Simon Munir-owned gelding set up a Henderson 1-2-3 in the race with Top Notch and Hargam filling the places behind the favourite. Henderson is hoping to finish 2017 with a bang with a win in the King George where the trainer has 3 horses capable of winning in the field with his best chance coming from the inform Might Bite.

Top horses: Top Notch, Whisper, Might Bite, Altior

 

Nigel Twiston-Davies:

Twiston-Davies who began training in 1981 and sent out his first winner, Last of the Foxes, at Hereford Racecourse in 1982. The Gloucestershire based trainer has had a good start to the season with 45 already has set his sites on trying to train the winner of 3 Triple Crown races this season by already securing the Betfair Chase with Bristol de Mai who is also one of the favourites to win the Boxing Day race at Kempton. Twiston-Davies has had some Phenomenal wins over the years including 2 Grand national wins one in 1998 with Earth Summit and most recently with Bindaree in 2002. He has also recorded a Triple on the last day of the 2010 Cheltenham Festival where the trainer has bagged himself 17 wins in total at the home of jump racing and is looking to expand on that this season.

Top Horses: Bristol De Mai, Blaklion, Ballyoptic, The New One



 

Colin Tizzard:

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Colin Tizzard is well known for being one of the top 5 Jump trainers in the country, Tizzard has been training world class horses since 1994 and has a wealth of experience in the field. He has had some of the finest horses in the last few years. One of his most popular and well know horse is Cue Card who Tizzard trained to victory in the Cheltenham Festival Champion Bumper in 2010 then 4 years later in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.  Some of his bigger wins in recent times include back to back wins of the King George Chase and is hoping to make it 3 out of 3 with Thistlecrack going to try and retain his title.

Top Horses: Fox Norton, Cue Card, Finian’s Oscar, West Approach, Thistlecrack

 

Willie Mullins:

There is always a big debate about who is the best Jumps trainer and Willie Mullins is one of those who is in that category. Mullins has had a very successful campaign as a trainer after being an assistant to his father Paddy and then for Jim Bolger. He has proved himself on the highest stage with by setting up by himself in 1988 and going out and training winners in almost every big race in England, Ireland and France. Mullins biggest success in England would have been his Grand National win in 2005 with Hedgehunter. Mullins will be hoping to bring his Big Guns such as Douvan over from Ireland to rain on the brits parade both at the festival and the Grand national.

Top horses: Total Recall, Faugheen, Un De Sceaux, Douvan

The Return of Toast of New York

Toast of New York. How did this Colt go from the glitz and glam of winning the UAE Derby and being beaten by a nose by Bayern in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic to a first runout in three years on a Wednesday at Lingfield? A story in horse racing which you can’t help but feel a sense of astonishment over.

As a two-year-old he was beaten in his first two races but then won two races on the synthetic track at Wolverhampton Racecourse by an aggregate margin of twenty-eight lengths. Having shown the true potential this horse possessed, as a three-year-old he truly excelled.

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Being sent over the the UAE to contest in the UAE Derby, over nine and a half furlongs at Meydan Racecourse, he started at odds of 11/1. After tracking the leaders for most of the way, Toast of New York took the lead two furlongs out and won by two and a half lengths.

This is when the world truly started to take notice. The Summer of 2014 saw Toast of New York being sent to the Del Mar to make his debut at the track in the Grade I Pacific Classic. Going off as third favourite, he tracked the leaders and found himself in second place just behind Game on Dude. Going into the final turn he moved up to challenge the leader but was overtaken by Shared Belief, finishing second.

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As a four-year-old and in early 2015, Toast of New York was purchased by Sheikh Joaan Al Thani’s Al Shaqab Racing. Preparing for the 2015 Dubai World Cup, Toast of New York sustained a soft tissue injury and was subsequently withdrawn from the race. A sad affair which saw him forced into retiring to stand at stud in Qatar from 2016.

Returning to England in early 2017, he was assessed for a return to racing due to only being able to cover a minor number of mares at stud due to the small nature of Qatar’s breeding industry. After veterinary staff approvement of his ability to be able to race again, he was subsequently transferred to Jamie Osborne's stable. From November, Toast of New York was ready to race again!

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As big as Paul Scholes’ return to Manchester United after announcing his retirement (maybe not quite), Toast of New York was ready to be entered into a minor race at Lingfield in early December! He made his comeback in the ten-furlong Betway Conditions Stakes at Lingfield on 6 December, ridden by Racing Breaks ambassador Frankie Dettori, and won by a length at odds of 2-1 from the favourite, Petite Jack.

After the race, Dettori was quoted in saying "Jamie has done a great job to get him in this shape first time out. He still feels a little rusty, but after three years off I can't emphasise enough how brilliant everyone has been to get him back. He's only 70% at the moment, but he still won. That's a step forward and should improve him a lot.” This is certainly going to be an exciting horse to follow in the coming future. Good luck Toast of New York.

ITV COMPETITION

If you have been away for a while or haven’t been watching the racing recently, then you may not know that we currently have a fantastic competition ongoing with ITV Racing.

If you have missed it, here is all you need to know…

Racing Breaks and ITV have teamed up to offer the fantastic chance to win a trip to Australia for the Melbourne Cup Carnival 2018 with hospitality tickets. You could be in with a chance to win an incredible £30,000 in tax-free cash as well as flights, accommodation, tickets and transfers to and from the races.

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You could grab yourself a once in a lifetime opportunity with this amazing RacingBreaks package….one like no other. This package includes return flights from major UK airports to Melbourne, Australia for one winner and up to three companions, as well as return transfers from Melbourne airport. You will fly out to Melbourne for 10 nights accommodation at the luxury Crown Metropol Hotel which is only a short car journey to Flemington racecourse.  You will have the choice of a double or twin Luxe King room.

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The Crown Metropol is a 5 star, luxury hotel in the centre of Melbourne and is the ultimate city retreat. Enjoy your stay in comfort and make the most of all of the facilities during your down time between each race day. The hotel is equipped with a blissful infinity pool as well as a state-of-the-art fitness centre for when you want to spend some down time relaxing by yourself after a busy day at the races.

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You won’t be going alone and to ensure you have an amazing time, you can share this experience and take up to three people with you. You will receive admission tickets to the racecourse as well as race cards for each of the days to ensure you can keep an eye on the form for the day. The Victoria Derby Day is on 3rd November where you will have access to Reserved Seating Lawn Stand by the winning post. You do not have to worry about getting to and from the racecourse as we have it all covered with transfers which will ensure you get there and back to the hotel safely.

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On the Melbourne Cup day, 6th November, you will receive tickets for admission to the racecourse, four race cards, two-course buffet lunch with mini desserts. And, if that wasn't enough, enjoy a relaxing afternoon tea served from both indoor and outdoor bars. You will also have access to a private garden area, a live band and an elevated viewing platform to watch the races.

Again, for the third day of racing, the VRC Oaks Day on 8th November 2018 we will include racecourse admission, Reserved Seating Lawn Stand by the winning post and transfers to and from the hotel. An experience you will never forget!!

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As well as getting the chance to head to one of the most exciting racing festivals in the world, you also will win an incredible amount of money…£30,000 to be exact...and all tax free! A very generous prize and very worthwhile entering. Competition closes on 3rd January 2018 so make sure you enter and get everyone you know to enter too to be in with the best chance of heading off to the Melbourne Cup Carnival in 2018, £30,000 richer.

For full Terms and Conditions and details on how to enter the competition, please visit the ITV competitions website at; www.itv.com/comps/   and head to the ITV Twitter to view the competition video tape: www.twitter.com/itvracing/

 

The Best National Hunt Horses Of All Time


Here are some of the best National Hunt Racehorses of all time. With several hot contenders this season, it will be exciting to see who can break records and tally up the wins to compete with these four legends.

Desert Orchid

Image: CheltenhamFestival.net

Image: CheltenhamFestival.net

One of the most famous and greatest National Hunt horses of all time, Desert Orchid, had an astonishing career winning the King George VI Chase an incredible four times. Not only this but Dessie (stable name) also went on to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1989. This stunning grey not only won the hearts of racing enthusiasts but the whole nation. There are many other great horses who have achieved similar victories at the same level however, nothing quite compares to this enthusiastic and flamboyant grey’s career. Desert Orchid had a total of 70 runs where he won a staggering 34 times and was placed 19 times. What made him special and more advanced than any other was his versatility. It was not only the greatest races in the National Hunt calendar that made this horse's’ name in the history books but, it was his capability to produce some of the best handicapped runs ever. Most of his life was spent in training with David Elsworth at Whitsbury Manor Racing Stables and partnered with 4 different jockeys including Colin Brown, Simon Sherwood and Richard Dunwoody. Other great wins include the Tingle Creek Chase, the Irish Grand National and the Whitbread Gold Cup. It was in December 1991 that the legend Dessie was retired, making many public appearances to soak up the glory of such a successful career. He lived happily in retirement and lived to a grand old age of 27. His ashes are buried at Kempton racecourse near his statue and the inaugural Desert Orchid Chase is named in memory of Dessie, and takes place late in December each year.

 

Red Rum

Image: Bethq

Image: Bethq

Red Rum was a superb champion thoroughbred steeplechaser, who set an unmatched historic treble when he won the Grand National in 1973, 1974 and 1977 and placed second in the intervening years. This notoriously challenging and difficult race is best described as the ultimate test of a horse's courage and ability with fences which measure over 5 ft in height and width including the world famous the Chair which measures at 5 ft 3 in height, followed by a 6ft ditch. The race consists of two laps of 16 fences over a distance of 4 miles and 4 furlongs. Red Rum also known as Rummie was in training with several trainers over his career but most famously won whilst with trainer Ginger McCain. Unfortunately, Rummie became lame and retired from racing in 1977 but only after a staggering 21 steeplechase wins, 3 hurdle and 3 flat wins. This legend now lives on in memory at his favourite racecourse, Aintree, where his statue stands and he lays buried by the winning post.

 

Kauto Star

Image: BBC Sport

Image: BBC Sport

The third great horse of all time appeared on the racetrack a little more recently than our other legends. The legend that is Kauto Star, won an incredible 23 of a total of 41 races over the course of his memorable career. Big wins include the King George VI an astonishing five times for Somerset based trainer Paul Nicholls. He also won the Gold Cup twice and is the only horse to have won the Gold Cup and regain it after having lost it. Other wins include the Betfair Chase four times.  He is known as one of the most successful steeplechasers of the modern era and became the first horses to win over £2 million in total prize money whereas Desert Orchid won £654,066 during his career. His total prize money won was helped by a £1,000,000 bonus for the completion of the 2006/07 Stayers Chase Triple Crown. With plenty to be proud of, owner Clive Smith retried Kauto Star in 2012 at the age of 12. He sadly died in a freak accident whilst based with British Event rider Laura Collett where he had been training to do Dressage; one of the three disciplines in Eventing.

 

Denman

Image: Getty Images

Image: Getty Images

Last but by no means least is former giant of jumps racing, Denman, an Irish-bred thoroughbred by Presenting. Another great to come out of Paul Nicholls yard, Denman won 14 out of a total of 24 under rules races. His most memorable wins were the Hennessy Gold Cup in 2007 and 2009, and the Cheltenham Gold Cup the following year with now retired jockey Sam Thomas on board. This chaser was stable mates with Kauto Star and was his  biggest rival. The ‘Tank’ as he was also known, gave Kauto Star a run for his money in the 2008 Gold Cup, beating him by seven lengths. Denman’s career was short lived after an injury during training for the Lexus Chase in 2011 and retired in 2012. His life after racing still continued with Team Chasing and Hunting but was recently retired from all work in 2017. Denman’s career performances are honoured by the Betfair Denman Chase which is run at Newbury racecourse in February.

Top 5 Best Hen & Stag Do Racecourse in the UK

Hen and stag do's have become synonymous with going to the races in recent times. At the same time racecourse attendance is going up year on year. So, it may come as no surprise that these two boozy events have coincided with each other. As a matter of fact, it just so happens the big racecourses around the country coincide with the notorious party cities of the UK. Coincidence? I think not.

5) Epsom Downs - Famous globally for hosting one of the biggest horse racing events in the UK (the Oaks & Epsom Derby), the downs has to make my list for this reason. These couple of days constantly offer an unbeatable experience in terms of atmosphere, history and passion. The course is one I have been to many, many time having lived so close to the downs.

When the sun is shining and the drinks are flowing it’s hard to beat. However, this racecourse makes my list for more reasons than one. One may be in the ‘heart of the Surrey countryside’ (their words not mine), but in reality you’re just a stone's-throw away from the city of London. A short taxi ride to Epsom station (around 5 minutes away) will allow you to board a train direct to Waterloo. London may not be everyone's cup of tea but there is certainly no denying of a shortage of things for hen/ stag parties to do!

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4) Aintree - I’m sure this was the first racecourse on everyone's mind when you read the word’s hen/ stag; and I’d probably have to say it was mine when I thought about writing this article. The truth is, Liverpool is the most humorous, vibrant and welcoming city I have ever been to. Not only this, a night out in Liverpool is up there with some of the best nights out I have ever had. Ever. There just seems to be such a buzz to whichever place you go. Not only this, it won’t cost you an arm and a leg for the drinks on the night either! Oh yeah, and I suppose the Grand National is alright as well.  

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3) Cheltenham - Where do I start. Cheltenham is my favourite racing festival in the UK calendar. This 4 day event is perfect for any hen/ stag party (booze, booze, booze). Unlike the Grand National where there is an obvious bigger buzz around the day of the Grand National, Cheltenham has this ‘buzz’ consistently throughout the 4 days. The town center gets rather rowdy in the evenings and every person you meet is in a similar mindset of simply having a good time. Highly recommend attending this festival to anyone I meet! As such, this course certainly makes it on my list.

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2) Newcastle - Like liverpool, this is an obvious hen/ stag party city. I see a lot of similarities between the two cities - the atmosphere is friendly, humorous and people are up for a good time. However, unlike the previous 3, no event stands out more than the other fixtures.That being said, the Unibet Fighting Fifth (this year on the Saturday 2nd December) is the standout one to attend for me. If you attend this date I’m sure the atmosphere would be spectacular in the city centre, especially being so close to Christmas.

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1) Ascot - A highlight of any British racing fans calendar, the Royal Ascot festival is the pinnacle of horse racing in the UK (at least in my opinion). This fun packed 5 day event showcases some of the best horses from all around the world competing against one another! Having recently been refurbished, Ascot is certainly up there with some of the most modern racecourses in the world.

Ascot is particularly appealing to race goers and hen/ stag parties alike due to its fun, vibrant atmosphere at the course. Not only this, but like Epsom, Ascot had a direct train running to and from Clapham Junction frequently; meaning a night out in London is certainly on the cards. Once in London, it seems as if there is an endless possibilities of places to go. Whether you want to keep it civilised and eat in an upmarket restaurant, or you want that little more rowdy night out, London has it all

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Top 10 UK Rejected Horse Names

Horse racing. Perhaps best known for its historical roots, association with the royal family & a classy, elegant day out. However, these owners certainly take all the above and chuck it in the bin! In no particular order, here is our top 10 rejected UK horse names of all time!

It must be noted that some of the names we simply cannot post. Some are golden, others.. Well, I’ll leave it up to your imagination to figure that out.

10) Yoghurt Cannon - A far from flattering name has left innocent minds imagining squeezy yoghurt tubes being squeezed too quickly. Those of you who thought any different should bath in holy water and hang your heads in shame!

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9) Yehbutnobutyeh - A reference from the hilarious Little Britain character Vicky Pollard which took the country by storm between 2000 - 2007. This horse would’ve had those of you who like to put your money on names, rather than any study on form certainly lumping £2.50 ew whenever this name popped up.

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8) Hugh Gass - Something which Bart Simpson himself would’ve been proud of prank calling Moe’s tavern. A hilarious play on words and certainly worthy of making my top 10 list.

7) Nowyouratit - A very innocent British way to insult one another & one I personally find quite hilarious. I just have visions of this horse finishing last every time.

6) Ride Me Jockey - As I’m sure you could have predicted, there is a common theme of rude phrases going on here. If you listen closely enough you can hear the school children giggling in the background as the announcer calls this one out.

5) The Fat Jockey - I’m one of the biggest admirers for the work and effort jockeys go to in order to maintain their slim frame. However, just the thought of an overweight jockey trying to compete as he finishes stone dead last has a humorous connotation associated to it.

4) Prick - I'm not too sure this was a reference to sharp stabbing pain. 

3) Chris P Nutts - I think this name was a little unfortunate to be rejected. It’s very close to the name I’d call my racehorse, if I had one (Chris P Bacon). Oh well, better luck next time!

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2) - Are We Dare Yet - You can’t help but say this name in your head and not imagine a Kevin & Perry-esque moody teenager in the back of the car moaning to their parents. Likewise, I’m sure there’d be a few moody Kevin & Perry-esque adults roaming around the racecourse after this horse loses.

1) Esajollygoodfello - Again, I struggle to see why this got rejected. An old time classic which would have been sure to be stuck in the heads of all the punters upon reading it.