Thursday 18 November 2021
Thursday 14 October 2021
Ed Walker began his career in the bloodstock industry, at Watership Down Stud in Burghclere, near Newbury. He subsequently served two years with Roger Charlton and four years with Luca Cumani before taking out a training licence in his own right in October, 2010. At that stage of his career, he rented two dozen boxes in the historic St. Gatien Cottage Stables in Newmarket but, remarkably, saddled a Listed winner with his very first runner; the 6-year-old Riggins dead-heated for first place in the Hyde Stakes at Kempton Park on November, 2010.
Thereafter, Walker moved three times but, nonetheless, steadily improved the quality of his string year-by-year until settling at his current base, Kingsdown Stables in Upper Lambourn, in December, 2016. By that stage he had already saddled three Group 3 winners, including Stormy Antarctic – who has become a flag-bearer for the yard in recent seasons – in the Craven Stakes at Newmarket in April, 2016.
Walker has yet to win a Group 1 race, but Stormy Antarctic has won two Group 2 races, three Group 3 races and finished second, albeit no match for the winner, in the Group 1 Prix d'Ispahan at Longchamp in July, 2020. Now an 8-year-old, Stormy Antarctic has won nine of his 36 races and amassed over £695,000 in win and place prize money.
Walker likes to campaign his horses worldwide and has saddled winners in Australia, France, Germany and Italy. Domestically, he enjoyed his most successful season, in terms of winners and prize money, in 2018. That year, he saddled 61 winners and earned over £822,000 in prize money. All told he has over 350 winners to his name.
Tuesday 3 August 2021
David Bridgwater, 50, was formerly a successful National Hunt jockey with over 450 winners to his name, including five at the Cheltenham. Indeed, he was, for just over a season, stable jockey to Martin Pipe, but resigned that position in September, 1996 to ride freelance.
'Bridgy', as he is popularly known, joined the training ranks in 1998 and from his intial base, at Hill House Stables in Lambourn, saddled three winners with his first three runners. He subsequently moved to Slade Barn Stables in Ford, Gloucester en route to his current base, at Wyck Hill Farm in nearby Stow-on-the-Wold. However, despite a flying start to his training career, it was not until the 2011/12 that Bridgwater reached double-figures for a National Hunt season; despite holding a combined training licence, he has still yet to do so in a Flat season. He enjoyed his most successful so far, numerically, in 2014/15 with 33 National Hunt winners.
Bridgwater achieved his first major success as a trainer in January, 2012, when The Giant Bolster won the Murphy Group Chase at Cheltenham. Less than two months later, the same horse belied odds of 50/1 to finish second, beaten 2¼ lengths, behind Synchronised in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
It would be fair to say that big race winners for the yard have been few and far between, but Bridgwater did saddle The Giant Bolster to win the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham and Wyck Hill to win the Eider Chase at Newcastle in early 2014. More recently, he achieved his first Cheltenham Festival winner as a trainer with the ill-fated The Conditional in the Ultima Handicap Chase in 2020; a leading fancy for the 2021 Grand National, The Conditional was fatally injured in the Denman Chase at Newbury in February that year.
Monday 7 June 2021
Here for @RacingPost members, an interview with John and Thady Gosden in which they speak revealingly about their new partnership and each other - plus John's major fears for the future of British racing and plenty of great anecdotes.https://t.co/vLNwdg3uun pic.twitter.com/NXUPlOuwQs— Lee Mottershead (@leemottershead) May 7, 2021
One of the quirks of training racehorses is, until very recently in the UK and Ireland, one person alone has held the licence to do it at a set of stables. Officially, those individuals are responsible for their equine charges but of course there is a whole team at the bigger yards supporting them.
The fact that both British and Irish horse racing authorities have now allowed joint training licences, like those elsewhere in other countries including Australia, reflects a changing attitude within the industry. It is also wider recognition of what goes into getting thoroughbreds ready for the track.
Just because a trainer can share the burden and responsibility doesn’t automatically mean that they should or will. However, handlers are beginning to see the benefits of joint licences and embrace the concept particularly on the Flat in Britain.
When a high-profile stable such as the John Gosden yard in Newmarket does this, that makes people sit up and take notice. This is one of the high-profile training facilities in a real equine hub, but the licence now reads John and Thady Gosden as father and son team up.
Thady Gosden - who handled MISHRIFF in Saudi last month - will share a joint licence with father John from the start of the UK Flat season.— The Saudi Cup (@thesaudicup) March 9, 2021
🙌 Congratulations and good luck! pic.twitter.com/0Ozs4vFPkw
In principle, this can be seen as the beginning of the process that sees the torch passed from one generation to the next. However, in practice, there remains a number of top class thoroughbred racehorses in the yard including the likes of Lord North, Mishriff and Stradivarius.
Checking the free horse racing tips for tomorrow and seeing a famous trainer name next to a fancied runner can make or break your decision whether to take a punt or not. In the case of Team Gosden, the joint venture between them ensures some continuity.
Their approach contrasts sharply with the O’Brien family in Ireland. Father Aidan remains master of all he surveys at Ballydoyle and focuses on the Flat thanks to the continuing support of owner-breeders Coolmore. Eldest son Joseph, meanwhile, has horses that run both on the level and over jumps.
Thursday 3 June 2021
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.
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.