Thursday, 6 May 2021
Monday, 5 April 2021
As you well know from the trainer biographies on the site, female trainers have had a fair amount of success over the years. Who can forget Jenny Pitman breaking down barriers (not literally, that would be cheating!) with Grand National success with Corbiere in 1983. Buoyed by that success she went back for seconds, with a further Grand National win in 1995 with Royal Athlete. It's amazing what seeing success can do for others, and over the years both Venetia Williams and Sue Smith have both since walked in those same Grand National winning footsteps.
But what's the story of female jockeys in the Grand National specifically? Well Katie Walsh had a few thoughts for Betway on that very topic. It's strange to think how slowly society can be at coming around to ideas that decades on seem like they've surely always been that way. It wasn't until the late 70s that changes to the law opened the door for female jockeys in the Grand National, the very first of whom was Charlotte Brew. Geraldine Rees, in those early days, was the first woman to complete the race.
To-date Katie Walsh has set the highest standard by achieving of 3rd place in the Grand National. Such huge strides have been made over a relatively short time period, and with 16 women jockeys so far playing their part in the race (with three female jockeys competing this year alone), their performances and prominence in the event is going from strength to strength. Progress.
Sunday, 28 March 2021
Monday, 15 March 2021
If there's one racing event that really grabs the interest of racing fans, it's the prestigious Cheltenham Festival. The same applies for trainers too of course, with the Prestbury Cup being a prime example of how competitive racing can get, not just between individuals, but between nations too. Ireland have ruled the roost in recent years when it's come to picking up the Prestbury Cup, but what will the story of 2021 be? As a fun way of getting into the Cheltenham Festival spirit West Ham players representing both Ireland and Great Britain duke it out in a jovial Betway racing quiz presided over by none other then Richard Hoiles.
Thursday, 11 March 2021
Sunday, 21 February 2021
No racehorse trainer boasts a better recent record in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase than Ditcheat maestro Paul Nicholls. Over the last 15 years, he has saddled four winners and six placed horses in the Aintree Grade 1 for stayers.
Equine legends Bick Buck’s, admittedly best known for his exploits over hurdles, and Silviniaco Conti are among those to triumph for Nicholls in the Mildmay. This year’s Ditcheat contender Next Destination has quite a legacy to live up to, then.
His is an interesting story. During his younger days and earlier career, Next Destination was trained by Willie Mullins over in Ireland. Progressing from the point-to-point field into bumpers, he made-up into a top-class novice hurdler during the 2017-18 National Hunt season.
"He's a good horse and there should be more to come from him." Grade 2 Navan Novice Hurdle winner Next Destination slashed for Ballymore after comfortable win - https://t.co/ikfQI82KrP pic.twitter.com/ZcHiYmgpKW— Racing Post (@RacingPost) December 17, 2017
Next Destination landed Grade 1 races at Naas and the Punchestown Festival, either side of a fine third behind Samcro at Cheltenham. Injuries then contrived to keep him off the track for 920 days.
Owner Malcolm Denmark concluded a change was a good as a rest and, during his two-and-a-half years on the sidelines, Next Destination moved across the Irish Sea from the Mullins yard to Nicholls’s care.
Now it was about making up for lost time. Before being belatedly sent chasing, Next Destination blew away the cobwebs with a run in the West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby on his return to action and chased home the well-weighted mare Roksana, herself a previous Cheltenham Festival heroine.
Rising nine years old, fences finally beckoned for Next Destination. He made a winning debut over the larger obstacles in the John Francome Novices’ Chase during the Winter Carnival at Newbury and then followed-up under a penalty in the Hampton around Warwick.
👌 Smart performance— Warwick Racecourse (@WarwickRaces) January 16, 2021
Next Destination makes it two from two over fences with Grade 2 success in the McCoy Contractors Civils And Infrastructure Hampton Novices' Chase for @CobdenHarry and @PFNicholls 👏 pic.twitter.com/EXmOlS37Mx
After passing those staying tests, Next Destination holds entries at the Cheltenham Festival but Nicholls stable jockey Harry Cobden raised running in the Mildmay as an alternative target. “The three-mile race at Aintree might suit him,” he said.
“One thing I do know is this – the be all and end all is not Cheltenham in Paul’s mind. Aintree is on the cards.”
With feedback like that from the man riding him, it’s no wonder that Next Destination features among Grand National day 2 tips & predictions for the Mildmay. Running him at both of the UK’s end-of-season jumps festivals is not out of the question either.
Nicholls has plenty of options for Next Destination this spring. While his entry in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham looks precautionary, given how well he has taken to fences, choosing between the Festival Novices’ Chase (best known as the RSA) and the National Hunt Chase or skipping both and going straight to Aintree seems to be the choice.
Topofthegame represented the stable in both the RSA and Mildmay Novices’ Chase in 2019, winning the former and just being bested by Lostintranslation in the latter. Next Destination remains a horse of obvious interest after overcoming his problems and lengthy absence, and looks like he has a big shout in staying novice events over fences this spring.