Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Gordon Elliott

Gordon Elliot
Formerly a highly accomplished amateur rider, Gordon Elliott first took out a training licence in 2006/2007 and saddled his first winner, Arresting, in a handicap hurdle at Perth in June, 2006. However, Elliott really announced his arrival in the training ranks by saddling the 10-year-old Silver Birch, ridden by Robbie Power, to win the Grand National the following April. Of course, Elliot recently hit the headlines again, when saddling Tiger Roll, ridden by Davy Russell, to win the 2018 renewal of the world famous steeplechase, but the whole of his 11-year training career has been nothing short of phenomenal.

Based at Cullentra House Stables in County Meath, in eastern Ireland, Elliott had actually saddled five winners, including Silver Birch, on mainland Britain, before opening his account in his native land. Nevertheless, he trained his first Grade 1 winner, Jessies Dream, in the Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse in December, 2010, and his first winners at the Cheltenham Festival, Chicago Grey in the National Hunt Chase and Carlito Brigante in the Coral Cup, in March, 2011.

The high-profile victory of Don Cossack in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2016 was an eighth success at the Cheltenham Festival but, in September that year, he was the major beneficiary of a split between Gigginstown House Stud, owned by Michael O’Leary, and Willie Mullins, which resulted in 60 horses being removed from the County Carlow trainer.

Elliot saddled six winners at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival, edging out Willie Mullins on countback to become leading trainer for the first time, and a further eight at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival, beating Mullins 8-7, to take a second trainers’ title. In early April, 2018, Elliott was €550,000 ahead of Mullins in the race for the Irish trainers’ championship and long odds-on to take the title for the first time.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Martin Keighley: Cheltenham Specialist

Martin Keighley
Martin Keighley began his career in racing as a conditional jockey in 1992. In seven seasons, he rode just nine winners, but they did include King’s Road, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies in the Martell Champion Standard National Hunt Flat Race at Aintree in April, 1998. Keighley gave up race-riding at the age of 25 and subsequently worked as a groundsman at Cheltenham, where he learnt about ground conditions and how to build hurdles and fences, which would help him when he started training.

Keighley first took out a public training licence in October, 2006, but had previously trained point-to-pointers and hunter chasers under permit. In fact, his first winner under Rules was one of his own horses, Bosuns Mate, ridden by his wife Belinda, in a hunters’ chase at Sandown in February, 2003. Having moved into Condicote Stables in Luckley, near Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, his first winner as a licensed trainer was Prince Dundee, whom he also part-owned, in a conditional jockeys’ selling handicap hurdle at Taunton in January, 2007.

The horse that made his name as a trainer, though, was Champion Court, who recorded his first major success in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle in 2010. The Court Cave gelding made up into a smart steeplechaser, too, winning the Dipper Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham in 2012 and the Silver Trophy Chase, also at Cheltenham, in 2013.

Keighley, understandably, has a special affinity with his local course and, at the last count, had saddled 19 winners at Prestbury Park. His most recent major success was with Brillare Momento in the Thoroughbred Breeders' Association Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle in April 2017.

In March, 2016, Keighley saddled his first “winner” at the Cheltenham Festival when Any Currency was first past the post in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase. However, the 13-year-old was subsequently found to have traces of the prohibited substance triamcinolone acetonide (TCA) in his urine and disqualified. A disciplinary hearing at the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) cleared Keighley of any wrongdoing but, nevertheless, promoted Josies Orders, second in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase, to first place. Any Currency did gain some scant compensation when winning a handicap chase on the New Course at Cheltenham the following month.

He was retired, as a 14-year-old, a year later after attempting, unsuccessfully, to win both races again. Keighley said of him, “…you have been a horse of a lifetime; we’ll miss you, but wish you the long and happy retirement that a dude like you deserves.”

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Who Will Win St. Leger Stakes 2019?

St. Leger is one of the most prestigious horse races in Great Britain. It is also the oldest one of the five classics, established in 1776 and the last of the five to be run each year. The race takes place in Doncaster and is part of the four-day St. Leger festival, attracting a large audience both on the track and on television. Today, we will talk about the horses and trainers who are top favorites to win the 2019 edition of the race.

Betting on St. Leger 2019

Sponsored by William Hill, this event attracts a lot of punters in the UK and all over the world, who never hesitate to put their money on a horse they think can come out on top. Sports bookmakers have already come out with betting odds for this event.

They currently have Japan as the heavy favorite at 4/1. Broome is next at 9/1 and Anthony Van Dyck, Constantinople, Logician, Sir Dragonet and Sovereign all received odds of 10/1. The four horses that are least likely to win are Severance, Peach Tree, King Pellinor, and Kiefer, all at 100/1.

Although horse racing can be a bit hard to predict, bookies are generally correct with their odds. Last year’s favorite, Lah Ti Dar, finished second. The biggest surprise was Southern France, finishing third despite relatively high odds of 20/1 of winning the race.

Now, let’s go over some of the top favorites.


Trained by the very successful Irishman Aidan O’Brien, Japan has had great results lately, winning 2 out of his last 3 races, including a prestigious win at the Royal Ascot in June. He was also the heavy favorite for that race, and he delivered, which gives us very little doubt that he will come through again in Doncaster.

Japan is rightfully the top favorite and then some for this event, but, as we said previously, anything can happen when it comes to horse racing. However, anything else but a win for Japan seems pretty unlikely at this point.


Another favorite that is trained by A P O’Brien, as are most other favorites, is Broome. This horse has had great thus far, winning 3 out of his 8 races. He had an outstanding start of the year after he won his for two races, the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial Stakes and the P.W. McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes. He was also pretty good at the end of 2018, but his last two races were rather disappointing, finishing 4/13 and 6/8.

However, given his history of success, and the overall solid year he’s had, we would still put Broome among the top favorites to win the St. Leger Stakes in September.

Anthony Van Dyck

Sired by legendary horse Galileo, Anthony Van Dyck has risen as one of the top racing horses after winning the 2019 Epsom Derby. He also took the Derby Trial Stakes in May, in his debut as a 3 year old.

In his most recent race, the Irish Derby, Anthony started as a 5/4 favorite but ended the race in 4th place despite making some nice progress during the race.

Given his impressive record of 8 top 3 finishes in 10 races, including 5 wins, it is hard not to count on Anthony Van Dyck as one of the heavy favorites for this race.


Constantinople is having an outstanding year, earning top 2 finishes in all 4 of his races thus far, and there is no reason to believe that the 2019 St. Lager Stakes will be anything different. Even if we go back to 2018, this horse hasn’t finished outside the top 3 since his very first race in August 2018. A full year and 7 more races under the belt, Constantinople will look to keep his impressive run going in this tournament.