The new game machines are set to go in the shops ...

We have one runner tonight at Wolverhampton

Friday, 13 January 2017

"Everything comes to pass, nothing comes to stay."

Matthew Flickstein.

The snow is begining to fall

We were lucky overnight with only a slight dusting of snow here in Newmarket and very little frost in the early hours. It has got colder as the morning has gone on and we have now had several good snow showers with a bit starting to settle. I think the next couple of days is very similar but thank goodness we have not had the wind a lot of the country has had. All the team are working well and in this weather we are getting them out, giving them a canter and getting them back in the warm as quickly and smoothly as we can. All has gone well so far. The heathmen have been out salting and gritting as much as they possibly can do and keeping the tracks rotavated. We are very lucky training at Newmarket.

Driving Topapinion on long reins

Our runner today is Topaling this evening at Wolverhampton. She is as fit as I can get her and has won here before on the Tapeta. I don’t think she liked the faster ground at Chelmsford City last time and if her brain is in gear, she should run well tonight. Thomas Brown takes the ride

Our other runner over the weekend is Heavensfield who runs at Lingfield on Saturday. I have fitted the blinkers on her and it is not a very good race. She has got the number one draw, Stevie Donohoe is on board and this could be her day if the headgear concentrates her mind.

... and back the other way

I see the Racing Writer Of The Year, Tom Kerr, has come out very quickly in print and called the Kempton proposed sale a “treacherous act of vandalism”. Tom is a very good writer and deserves all the credit he gets, but in this case I think he would have been better waiting to see what actually is going to happen, before coming out and writing such a hard knocking piece. I won’t go into all the rights and wrongs, but just to say, the Jockey Club have been unbelievably good custodians of our sport and will continue to be so. They are not old fuddy-duddies, but clear thinking people who are moving with the times and thinking ahead. If Kempton is sold the money will be used very wisely and for the benefit of all, not just the people who are in the industry at present, but those 50 years ahead will benefit from their foresight. I am the biggest fan and defender of our historic races, but losing one race is not the be all and end all in the big scheme of things.

The snow is falling hard now

Phil on Friday


Best news of the week was surely the proposal to create an all-weather track at Newmarket. This is racing’s HQ after all, and nearly 3,000 horses are trained on the doorstep.

Way back in the 19th century, however, the desire of those charged with organising racing at Newmarket appeared to be to keep the crowds away and save their beloved Heath from “invasion by outsiders”. Races finished at various different winning posts and bookmakers and punters needed to be extremely mobile, driving carriages or mounted on hacks.

A sporting magazine at the time recorded the difficulties faced by a would-be Newmarket racegoer: “On consulting his card he would discover the first race finished at the Rowley Mile Post and this involved a walk of nearly two miles, a considerable portion of it uphill, from the railway station.

“The second would end at the top of the town which meant he must retrace his steps for nearly a mile. The third took him back again to [a different] winning post, another mile tramp. Then there was another general scurry to the top of the town and so on through the card.”

The writer reckoned “ten miles at a nice useful pace” was necessary to see the whole meeting, and the scheme to keep the hordes away was undoubtedly successful.

Those who did brave all this inconvenience, however, could console themselves at lunchtime (most meetings started in the morning then) with a ‘thumber’ from a booth set up near the Birdcage. This was a huge cheese sandwich between thumb-size pieces of pork, beef or mutton which the client would carve for himself.

Back to the present day - the plan to close Kempton Park has met with a mixed reception, but it would not have displeased Lord Howard de Walden. Back in 1977 he was quoted as saying: “I think you could probably reduce the 66 racecourses to something like 50 without doing a great deal of harm”. Well, it’s been slowly heading that way.

One whose wishes have not been fulfilled – quite the opposite in fact – was Sir Desmond Plummer, in 1979 chairman of the Betting Levy Board: “We must reduce the number of racecourses in Britain …. We need to lose approximately 100 of the 984 fixtures and this means lopping a few courses”. He might not have included Kempton in his ‘lopping’ of course, but those 984 fixtures of which he spoke rose to 1,482 last year!

A two-year-old needing a bit of reassurance

Congratulations go to Mike Winter who was the winner of the Christmas quiz. It was a very close run thing and the runner up was Tom Morton. Both of them get a prize and if they would like to phone the office on 01638 661434 to arrange a date to call in to see us, we can get them presented. Thank you everybody who entered and to Richard Marriott who compiled and marked it.

Christmas Quiz

1 Name Lester Piggott’s first Derby mount.

Zucchero in 1951

2. Name in full the fruit associated with Southwell.

Apple Bramley’s Seedling

3. Name the racecourse where the Lincoln was originally run.

The Carholme

4. When Freddie Starr purchased his National winner at Doncaster Sales, how did he bid and what was the name of the horse?

By putting his tongue out / Minnehoma

5. State the difference in distance between the Irish Derby and the Irish Oaks.

None, both are 1m 4f

6. Name the 2006 Grand National winner and the origination of the name.

Numbersixvalverde – named after owners holiday home address

7. Which former racehorse trainer always wore a red shirt?

Jack Berry

8. How many races did Gordon Richards win in his career?


9. Which jockey born in the early 20th century was nicknamed “The Head Waiter”?

Harry Wragg

10.  What was former jockey Steve Cauthen’s best attribute?

Judgement of pace

11.  In which years was Frankie Dettori champion jockey?

1994, 1995 and 2004

12.  Who were the trainer and jockey responsible for Halkapous winning the Bula Hurdle?

Mark Tompkins & Adrian Maguire

13.  Which horse race is accepted as the oldest annual race run in the English sporting calendar?

Kiplingcotes Derby (Beverley)

14.  How many Grand Nationals did Desert Orchid win?

One – The Irish National in 1990

15.  Name the three grey horses to win the English Grand National.

The Lamb 1868 & 1871, Nicholas Silver 1961 and Neptune Collonges 2012

16.  How many races did Frankel win in his career?


17.  At his peak what Timeform rating did Arkle achieve?


18.  What was the name of Sir Winston Churchill’s first racehorse?

Colonist II

19.  Which racehorse trainer is based at Nawton, North Yorkshire?

Roger Fell

20.  Where was Shirley Heights raised prior to racing?

Garrowby Stud

21.  Which horse won the German Derby in 2014?

Sea The Moon

22.  Who is chairman and vice chairman of the Newmarket Trainer’s Federation?

Mark Tompkins and William Jarvis

23.  Where is the Galtres Stakes run?


24.  Which racing pundit had a velvet voice?

Sir Peter O’Sullevan

25.  Name the longest ever priced winner of a British racecourse and what were the odds?

Equinoctial 250/1 at Kelso in November 1990

26.  Who won the Coral Cup at Cheltenham in 2016?

Diamond King

27.  What is Sir Mark Prescott’s favourite cigar brand?


28.  Which racecourse recently re-opened after closing in December 2012?


29.  Where is the Pitman’s Derby held?


30.  Which racecourse closed in October 1977?


Off racing