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Monday, 1 March 2021

What is the Great Metropolitan Handicap?


It's a question I doubt many will have the answer to. Since 1985, the Great Metropolitan Handicap has become just another middle distance handicap, albeit run over the same course and distance as the Derby – that is, a mile and a half on Epsom Downs – but, in its modern incarnation, is a pale imitation of the race which, in its heyday, was contested by first rate horses. The Great Metropolitan Handicap was devised by London publican Samuel Powell Beeton, who banded together with other licensees and bookmakers to sponsor a race – one of the first of its kind in Britain – at the Epsom Spring Meeting.

Inaugurated in 1846, ‘The Publicans’ Derby’, as the race was known in its early years, was originally run over the extreme distance of two and a quarter miles. Participants started at the winning post, ran the ‘wrong’ way up the straight, nearly as far as Tattenham Corner, before meandering across the North Downs to rejoin the racecourse ‘proper’ at the mile marker.

While the North Downs was public land, not ideal for horse racing, in terms of maintenance, the Great Metropolitan Handicap continued in its original, unique form for over a century. Indeed, in 1947, it had the distinction of being the first horse race in Britain in which the newly-introduced photo-finish camera was used to determine the result.

However, 1985 marked the end of an era, when the distance of the Great Metropolitan Handicap was reduced to a mile and a half and the race was run, for the first time, the ‘right’ way round on the Derby Course. In 2018, total prize money for the Great Metropolitan Handicap was £25,000 which, in real terms, is substantially less – in fact, just over £11,000 less, accounting for inflation – than the £300 raised by Beeton and his associates to sponsor the inaugural running of the race.




Thursday, 14 January 2021

Cheltenham Festival - The Arkle Challenge Trophy

The Arkle Challenge Trophy, Cheltenham Festival’s second race, is another exciting spectacle that draws spectators to the annual sporting event. It is run immediately after the festival’s curtain-raiser- the Champion Novices’ Hurdle on the same Old Course that hosts the first race.

With the crowd already charged by the first race, the Arkle race serves to turn the tempo a notch higher. Fan stands are usually buzzing with excitement during this race, with many punters placing stakes on their favourite horses.

The race distance is about 3199 metres (2 miles) with thirteen fence obstacles placed strategically along the course. The fence spacing stretches both the horses’ and jockeys’ skills of jumping, landing, deceleration, and acceleration.

Eligibility for the race is that horses should be five years or older. This makes it pretty popular as most horse owners use the minimum-distance factor to test their horses. Winners at the Arkle have often gone on to win the bigger Queen Mother Champion Chase and the premier Gold Cup. More and more owners keep registering their horses in this with an aim of seeing them progress to the elite
competitions.

The race has been run by its current name since 1969 when it replaced the Cotswold Chase. It was named in honour of Arkle, a racehorse who dominated the Gold Cup with three commanding wins in the 60s.
The 2017 race was an especially spectacular event as competitors kept switching places and threatening to trash bets at every point. Race favourite Altior was given a real run for the money by Charbel, who surged to the front within seconds of the start. Nico de Boinville, slightly ahead of Altior, kept blocking attempts to catch up with Charbel.


With the race seemingly decided, Charbel fluffed at a landing sending his jockey sprawling. Altior took immediate advantage to charge again and win by six full-lengths, finishing to a thunderous crowd applause and setting the stage for an explosive 2018.

Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Saddle Up for some Horse Jokes

Where do horses go when they’re sick? The horsepital.


How do you make a small fortune out of horses?
Start with a large fortune


Q. What does it mean if you find a horseshoe?
A. Some poor horse is walking around in his socks.


A: I put £10 on a horse yesterday who was running against applesB: 
What happened?
A: I lost, he got pipped at the post
What do you call a horse that can’t lose a race? Sherbet.


What’s black and white and eats like a horse? A zebra.


Which side of a horse has more hair?
The outside


"Bob, I can't understand how Bill can have so much luck at cards and be so unlucky with horses."
"That's easy," said Bob. "You can't shuffle the horses." 

A man has a racehorse who never won a race. In disgust the man says, ” Horse, you win today or you will be pulling a milk wagon tomorrow morning.”
The starting gate opens, the horses take-off, they move the gate away and there lays his horse asleep on the track.
He kicks the horse and asks, “Why on earth are you sleeping?”, The horse, half asleep says, “I have to get up at three in the morning.”

A Kentucky horse breeder had a filly that won every race in which she was entered. But as she got older she became very temperamental. He soon found that when he raced her in the evening, she would win handily, but when she raced during the day she would come in dead last. He consulted the top veterinarians and horse psychologists but to no avail. He finally had to give up because it had become ... a real night mare.

Thursday, 5 November 2020

What is Equine Flu Anyway?


Equine influenza, or equine flu, is a severe, respiratory disease, regularly found in British horses. Indeed, small outbreaks of the disease occur throughout the country every year, but the last major outbreak came in the spring of 2003, when horse racing stables in Newmarket were particularly badly affected.

The disease is caused by strains of the influenza virus type A, which is akin, but not identical, to the human influenza virus. The good news is that equine influenza cannot be transmitted to humans, but the bad news is that it is highly contagious – in fact, one of the most contagious diseases affecting the British horse population – and can be physically carried by human skin, hair and clothing, as well as by equipment and vehicles.

The equine influenza virus infects the thin, membranous tissue of the upper respiratory tract, causing them to become inflamed and ulcerated. Aside from an abnormally high body temperature, the main clinical signs of equine influenza are a harsh, dry cough – which is the main means by which the disease spreads – and a profuse, watery nasal discharge. The damage areas in the lining of the airways may be penetrated by bacteria, causing secondary infections, including bronchitis and pneumonia.

The treatment of uncomplicated cases of equine influenza consists of strict rest, usually for a week or two, to allow the disease to run its course, but secondary bacterial infections require antibiotic treatment, delaying the recovery period. Clearly, equine influenza has major economic implications for owners, trainers and anyone else involved in horse racing in Britain, so despite complaints from some quarters – not least trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies, who described the measures to contain the disease put in place by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) as a ‘massive overreaction’, the regulator has every right to be nervous. With the Cheltenham Festival and Grand National just around the corner let me hope that the situation improves over the coming days.