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Wednesday, 24 July 2019

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.




Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Thursday, 18 April 2019

15 Funny and Meaningful Horse Quotes

If your horse says "no", you either asked the wrong question, or asked the question wrong - Pat Parelli

Any money I put on a horse is a sort of insurance policy to prevent it from winning - Frank Richardson

A dog may be man's best friend...but the horse wrote history - Author Unknown

A great horse will change your life. The truly special ones define it… – Author Unknown
I've spent most of my life riding horses. The rest I've just wasted - Author Unknown

A man on a horse is spiritually as well as physically bigger than a man on foot.  – John Steinbeck

What the colt learns in youth he continues in old age – French Proverb

A horse is dangerous at both ends and uncomfortable in the middle - Ian Fleming

A horse doesn't know whether the rider on his back wears a dress or pants away from the track -
Diane Crump

God forbid that I should go to any Heaven in which there are no horses  – R.B. Cunninghame Graham

Whenever I was upset by something in the papers, Jack always told me to be more tolerant, like a horse flicking away flies in the summer - Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

This is really a lovely horse and I speak from personal experience since I once mounted her mother -  Ted Walsh - Horse Racing Commentator

That was the first time I saw a horse start from a kneeling position! - Henny Youngman

A difference of opinion is what makes horse racing and missionaries - Will Rogers

A horse gallops with his lungs, perseveres with his heart, and wins with his character. - Federico Tesio



Tuesday, 12 February 2019

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.

Monday, 7 January 2019

3.10 Ayr, Tuesday, January 7


In the RacingTV.com Handicap Hurdle (3.10) at Ayr on Tuesday, Cornborough returns from a 52-day break, but beat subsequent dual winner Golden Jeffrey with something in hand at Wetherby when last seen in November and the handicapper appears to have erred on the side of leniency by raising him just 4lb for that success. Indeed, the runner-up had beaten all bar the progressive Chica Buena on his previous start at Musselburgh, so the form looks particularly strong in the context of this race.


Cornborough has won a couple of times over hurdles on rain-softened ground, including a maiden hurdle over course and distance three seasons ago, and demonstrated his ability to act on the prevailing ‘soft’ going when winning on the Flat at Chester in September. Relatively lightly raced for an eight-year-old, the son of Derby winner Sir Percy has won off his current handicap mark, of 126, in the past and, having run at least as well as ever the last twice, must have every chance of doing so again.

In fact, Cornborough missed an engagement in a better race at Sandown on Saturday to wait for this easier opportunity, so the hint looks well worth taking. All of his rivals have questions to answer, for one reason or another, so provided he’s fit and ready to do himself justice after a short absence Cornborough looks to have an outstanding chance of following up his Wetherby victory.



Selection: Ayr 3.10 Cornborough to win