The History of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes

Good Morning!

Welcome to a new post here at zoelouisesmithx.com! Ahead of today’s renewal of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes let’s take a look at the history of the race, some records in the race and a little look at today’s runners. Let’s get right into it!


The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes is a Group 1 flat race which was inaugurated in 1951. The race is open to horses aged three and older. It is ran at Ascot racecourse in England over a distance of 1 mile, 3 furlongs and 211 yards and takes place in July each year. In 2020 the race was worth £400,000 with the winner receiving £226,840.

The race was formed as a result of an amalgamation of two separate races at Ascot, the first being the King George VI which was a 2 mile contest for three year olds held in October and the second being the Queen Elizabeth in honour of his wife which was a one and a half mile contest over one and a half miles held in July. The idea was raised by Major John Crocker Bulteel who was the Clerk of the Course at Ascot, who wanted to create an international race over one and a half miles for horses aged 3 or older. So the first ever run took place on July 21st in 1951.

In 2009, Betfair started to sponsor the race and its prize fund was increased from £750,000 to £1,000,000 and is now Britain’s second richest horse race, with a purse exceeded only by The Derby.

In 2011, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes became part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, so the winner now earns an automatic invitation to compete in the same year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf.


So let’s take a look at some of the previous winners!

The first winner in 1951 was 3 year old Supreme Court who won for jockey Charlie Elliott, trainer Evan Williams and owner Vera Lilley.

Skipping forward 5 years, in 1956 Ribot – who I wrote about in this post: https://zoelouisesmithx.com/2021/05/19/ten-undefeated-racehorses/ won the race at 4 years old for jockey Enrico Camici, trainer Ugo Penco and owner Mario della Rocchetta.

Skipping forward again, in 1970 Nijinsky won at 3 years old for Lester Piggott, Vincent O’Brien and Charles Engelhard, with 3 year old Mill Reef winning in 1971 for Geoff Lewis, Ian Balding and Paul Mellon. In 1973 and 1974 Dahlia won the race at 3 and 4 years old respectively for trainer Maurice Zilber and owner Nelson Bunker Hunt with Bill Pyers riding in 1973 and Lester Piggott in 1974.

Skipping forward again, in 1981 the brilliant Shergar won the race at 3 years old for Walter Swinburn, (Sir) Michael Stoute and HH Aga Khan IV. Skipping to 1997 and 1998 now where Swain won the race for trainer Saeed bin Suroor and owners Godolphin, in 1997 at 5 years old for jockey John Reid and in 1998 at 6 years old (one of two horses to win this at 6 years old) for Frankie Dettori.

In 2001, the late, great Galileo won the race at 3 years old under Michael Kinane for Aidan O’Brien and Magnier / Tabor. In 2011 Nathaniel won at 3 years old for William Buick, John Gosden and Lady Rothschild. In 2015 Postponed won at 4 years old for Andrea Atzeni, Luca Cumani and Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum.

In 2016 Highland Reel won at 4 years old for Ryan Moore, Aidan O’Brien and Magnier / Tabor / Smith. In 2017, 2019 and 2020 Enable won the race at 3, 5 and 6 years old (second of two to win this race at 6 years old) for Frankie Dettori, John Gosden and Khalid Abdullah. In the middle in 2018 Poet’s Word won at 5 years old for James Doyle, (Sir) Michael Stoute and Saeed Suhail.


So now onto some records in the race.

Firstly the oldest horse to win this race is joint between Swain and Enable who were both 6 years old when winning the race.

The most successful horse with 3 victories is Enable who won in 2017, 2019 and 2020.

The are two leading jockeys in the race both with 7 victories. Firstly Lester Piggott who won with Meadow Court (1965), Aunt Edith (1966), Park Top (1969), Nijinsky (1970), Dahlia (1974), The Minstrel (1977) and Teenoso (1984). And secondly Frankie Dettori who has won with Lammtarra (1995), Swain (1998), Daylami (1999), Doyen (2004) and Enable (2017, 2019, 2020).

The leading trainer with 6 victories is Sir Michael Stoute with Shergar (1981), Opera House (1993), Golan (2002), Conduit (2009), Harbinger (2010) and Poet’s Word (2018).

The leading owner, including part ownership, with 6 wins is Michael Tabor with Montjeu (2000), Galileo (2001), Hurricane Run (2006), Dylan Thomas (2007), Duke of Marmalade (2008) and Highland Reel (2016).


Now onto this years runners… Please not all odds are via Ladbrokes and are correct at the time of writing this post. (11pm on Thursday 22nd July 2021)

Of course we have the 5/4 favourite Love for Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore and I think she will be my pick this weekend. I think she’s a very impressive horse and has won over course and distance. I know Ryan can get into some questionable positions sometimes but I think Love is good enough to get him out of a tricky situation. She hasn’t lost a race since October 2019, winning the 1,000 Guineas, Oaks, Yorkshire Oaks and Prince of Wales’s since then. I really like the look of her and I, personally, will find it hard to bet against her.

Although, saying that this is a really competitive race. There are only 6 horses declared but between them they have won 11 Group 1’s and 4 Classics, so a very impressive line up and it should be a brilliant, competitive race, so let’s take a look at the other 5 runners.

Lining up alongside Love we have 9/4 shot Adayar for Charlie Appleby and William Buick. He’s ran the distance before and won The Derby just last month, so again another classy horse. Possibly more to offer after his Derby win and William Buick seems to be in good form also so I wouldn’t be surprised if he came close here.

Next up we have Lone Eagle for Martyn Meade and Frankie Dettori – currently a 5/1 shot. He came second by just a neck in the Irish Derby just a month or so ago clear of the 3rd placed horse. Again another horse you can’t rule out and Frankie Dettori has a habit of coming to the forefront in the big races so with him taking the ride anything is possible here.

We then have Mishriff for John & Thady Gosden and David Egan – currently around the 8/1 mark. Mishriff was very impressive the beginning of the year when winning the Saudi Cup and a Group 1 in Meydan and when returning to the UK he finished 3rd just a neck from Addeybb in the Coral Eclipse. Again not a horse we can rule out here, maybe 8/1 is a big price for a horse that could go very well here. He has won over this distance before, the big occasion won’t affect him at all and he and David seem to have a pretty good relationship so maybe one to watch.

We then have the 11/1 shot Wonderful Tonight for David Menuisier and Oisin Murphy. She has won course and distance before, winning 5 out of 9 races she has had in her career. Interestingly William Buick has rode her the last two times out, in which she won both, but here Champion Jockey Oisin Murphy takes the ride. Now Oisin is in top form lately and he cannot be ruled out whichever horse he rides. Is she as good as some of the others in this race? Maybe not. Could she still win here though if everything goes in her favour? Absolutely.

The final horse in the race is of course another Aidan O’Brien horse. Would this even be a Group 1 without multiple Aidan O’Brien horses? We have Broome at 28/1 under Wayne Lordan. For me 28/1 seems a big price, the second string horse for Aidan O’Brien but by no means a bad horse at all. Broome seems to have been around forever hasn’t he? Pretty impressive career so far and I don’t feel like he’s quite finished winning just yet. There are definitely better horses in the race here, but I definitely couldn’t rule him out. He won last time out in France over a very slightly longer distance of 1 mile 4 furlongs and he could very well win again here.

For me any of the 6 could win this race, they are all extremely talented horses and not one of them can be ruled out, however I am personally going with Love. I really do love her as a horse and I think she will show, once again, just how good she is. I couldn’t back against her, however any of the other 5 could win. It looks to be an absolutely brilliant renewal this year and one thing is for sure… If the running is as competitive as it looks on paper then we’re in for a very exciting race.


This years renewal looks to be an absolute cracker and I can’t wait to see who comes out on top. I will see you all Wednesday evening at 6pm for my last scheduled midweek post. If you did not see my previous post last weekend, from August I will only be doing 1 scheduled definite post on a Saturday and some extras throughout but not a guaranteed post every Wednesday as my current schedule just does not allow me the time to get two posts I am happy with up each week without burning myself out.

The History of the Coronation Stakes

Good Evening!

Welcome to another post here at zoelouisesmithx.com! Ahead of tomorrow’s renewal of the Coronation Stakes, let’s take a look back at the history of the race!


The Coronation Stakes is a Group 1 flat race which was first ran in 1840. It is open to three year old fillies and is ran at Ascot Racecourse in June each year over 7 furlongs and 213 yards. In 2020 the race was worth £250,000 with the winner receiving £148,000.

The race was established in 1840 and is named after the coronation of a new British monarch, Queen Victoria just two years earlier. In 1971, the race held Group 2 status before being promoted to Group 1 level in 1988.


Now onto some previous winners. The first winner in 1840 as a horse called Spangle. In 1867 a very well known horse called Achievement won the race after winning the 1,000 Guineas a few weeks earlier and then went on to win the St Leger and Doncaster Cup in the same year. In 1874, a horse called Apology won the race, she was the third horse to win the Fillies’ Triple Crown when winning the 1,000 Guineas, Epsom Oaks and St Leger all in the same year as her Coronation Stakes win before going on to win the Ascot Gold Cup two years later in 1876.

In 1894 a miracle horse won the race when Throstle won. As a foal she was considered a likely candidate for euthanasia when she was born partially bling, however she went on to be one of the best fillies of her generation in Britain.

In 1900 there was a dead heat called when Sainte Nitouche and Winifreda crossed the line at the same time in an impossible finish to call. In 1904 Pretty Polly won the race, she was the 15th horse to win the Fillies’ Triple Crown when winning the 1,000 Guineas and Epsom Oaks before her Coronation Stakes victory then winning the St Leger a few months later all in 1904.

Skipping forward a little while now and into 1961 when Aiming High won for jockey Lester Piggott, trainer Noel Murless and owner Queen Elizabeth II. Skipping forward a little more to 1998, Exclusive won the race for Walter Swinburn, Sir Michael Stoute and Cheveley Park Stud. In 2013 Sky Lantern won for Richard Highes, Richard Hannon Sr and B Keswick. In 2017 Winter won for Ryan Moore, Aidan O’Brien and Tabor / Smith / Magnier. In 2020 Alpine Star won for Frankie Dettori, Jessica Harrington and Niarchos Family.


On to some records in the race! Firstly the leading jockey, here we have two who both have 5 wins each:

Nat Flatman: The Princess (1844), Stitch (1845), Distaffina (1848), Lady Evelyn (1849) and Barcelona (1851)

Morny Cannon: Lady Hermit (1892), Silene (1893), Throstle (1894), Helm (1896) and Lowood (1898)

Now the leading trainer who has 6 victories in the race John Porter who won with: Lovely (1883), Sandiway (1884), Cereza (1891), Throstle (1894), Helm (1896) and Lowood (1898).

With the leading owner with 7 victories being Waldorf Astor, 2nd Viscount Astor who won with: Winkipop (1910), Pogrom (1922), Saucy Sue (1925), Book Law (1927), Sunny Devon (1931), Betty (1933) and Traffic Light (1936).


At the time of writing this post (11pm on June 13th 2021) the final declarations have not been made for the race, however the horses still in the current line-up look to make a very interesting renewal this year. Who do you like the look of?

I hope you enjoyed this post and I will see you tomorrow evening at 6pm for ‘The History of the Diamond Jubilee Stakes’.

The History of the Ascot Gold Cup

Good Evening!

Welcome to a new post here at zoelouisesmithx.com! Ahead of tomorrow’s renewal of the Ascot Gold Cup let’s take a look at the history of the race.


The Ascot Gold Cup is a Group 1 flat race which was first ran in 1807 and is open to horses aged four or older. It is ran at Ascot Racecourse over 2 miles, 3 furlongs and 210 yards and is ran in June of each year. The race was worth £250,000 in 2020 with the winner receiving £148,000.

When the race was established in 1807 it was originally open to horses aged three or older and the first race was ran in front of King George III and Queen Charlotte. In 1844 the running was attended by Nicholas I of Russia who was making a state visit to England. At the time of his victory the winning horse was unnamed so was given the name ‘The Emperor’ in honour of the visiting monarch and in return Nicholas offered a new trophy for the race – the ‘Emperor’s Plate’ and this became the title of the race for a while however it’s original name was restored after 9 years.

On June 18th 1907, the Ascot Gold Cup was actually stolen by thieves, the theft was never solved. In August a replacement was finished.

The Ascot Gold Cup is the first leg of Britain’s Stayers’ Triple Crown, followed by the Goodwood Cup and the Doncaster Cup. Stradivarius was the last horse to win the Stayers’ Triple Crown in 2019.


Now onto previous winners of the race, the first winner in 1807 was three year old Master Jackey. The first multiple winner was Anticipation who won it in 1816 at four years old and winning again in 1819 at seven years old. The first horse to win two consecutive races was Bizarre who won it in 1824 at four years old and 1825 at five years old, both times for jockey Bill Arnull, trainer R D Boyce and owner Lord G H Cavendish. In 1836 (at five years old) and in 1837 (at six years old) Touchstone won for trainer John Scott and owner the 1st Marquess of Westminster. In 1836 with jockey John Barham Day and in 1837 with jockey William Scott.

In 1844 The Emperor won at three years old followed up by another win in 1845 at four years both times for jockey G Whitehouse, trainer W Edwards and owner the 4th Earl of Albemarle. Before The Hero followed up with two wins in 1847 (at four years old) and in 1848 (at five years old) for jockey Alfred Day and trainer and owner John Barham Day.

In 1854, the first ever Triple Crown Champion from the previous year 1853, West Australian at four years old won the Ascot Gold Cup for Alfred Day, John Scott and the 1st Baron Londesborough.

Let’s now skip forward to the 1900’s. In 1931 (at five years old) and 1932 (at six years old) Trimdon won the race for Joe Childs, Joseph Lawson and Charles Lambton. We then move forward to 1942, 1943 and 1944 which were all ran at Newmarket during the World War and were all won by jockey Gordon Richards. In 1942 he won on four year old Owen Tudor for trainer Fred Darling and owner Catherine Macdonald-Buchanan. In 1943 he won on four year old Ujiji for trainer Joseph Lawson and owner Alfred Allnatt. In 1944 he won on four year old Umiddad for trainer Frank Butters and owner Aga Khan III.

In 1957 the leading jockey Lester Piggott won for the first time on board six year old Zarathustra for trainter Cecil Boyd-Rochfort and owner Terence Gray. In 1888 five year old Sadeem won the race for Greville Starkey, Guy Harwood and Sheikh Mohammed, however first past the post was actually Royal Gait who got demoted to last place after a stewards’ enquiry. Sadeem then won again in 1989 at six years old, this time partnering up with Willie Carson.

In 1992 (at six years old) and 1993 (at seven years old) Drum Taps won the race under Frankie Dettori for trainer Lord Huntingdon and owner Yoshio Asakawa. In 1998 Kayf Tara won the race at four years old for Frankie Dettori, Saeed bin Suroor and Godolphin before winning it again two years later at six years old this time partnering up with Michael Kinane for the same owner and trainer. In 2001 (at five years old) and 2002 (at six years old), Royal Rebel won for Johnny Murtagh, Mark Johnston and Peter Savill.

Let’s now skip forward to 2006 which was the start of a streak for Yeats. At five years old in 2006 all the way through to 2009 at eight years old he won the race for trainer Aidan O’Brien and owners Magnier / Nagle. In 2006 partnered with Kieren Fallon, in 2007 partnered with Michael Kinane and in 2008 and 2009 partnered with Johnny Murtagh.

Skipping forward to 2016, Order of St George won at four years old for Ryan Moore, Aidan O’Brien and Smith / Magnier / Tabor. Followed by fix year old Big Orange in 2017 for James Doyle, Michael Bell and Bill Gredley.

We then see a triple winner start his streak in 2018 at four years old Stradivarius won, followed in 2019 (at five years old) and 2020 (at six years old) for Frankie Dettori, John Gosden and Bjorn Nelsen.


Now onto some records. The most successful horse is Yeats who won in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

The leading jockey with 11 victories is Lester Piggott who won on: Zarathustra (1957), Gladness (1958), Pandofell (1961), Twilight Alley (1963), Fighting Charlie (1965), Sagaro (1975, 1976, 1977), Le Moss (1979) and Andross (1981, 1982).

The leading trainer with 7 victories is Aidan O’Brien who has won with: Yeats (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009), Fame and Glory (2011), Leading Light (2014) and Order of St George (2016).

The leading owner with 7 victories – including part ownership – is Sue Magnier who won with: Yeats (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009), Fame and Glory (2011), Leading Light (2014) and Order of St George (2016).


It is important to note that Stradivarius is currently the 4/5 favourite (odds via Ladbrokes are accurate at the time of writing this post 12:45pm on June 15th 2021) and if he wins he will join Yeats as the joint most successful horse in the race.


Personally, I am going for the now seven year old Stradivarius to win. For me it’s down to the fact that he’s been an absolute fan favourite over the years and I would love to see him win it again. I am going with my heart above all else but I have to stick with him to have his 4th victory in the race. Who do you think will win? Let me know over on Twitter!

I hope you enjoyed this post and I will see you tomorrow evening at 6pm for ‘The History of the Coronation Stakes’.

An Interview with Amy Murphy

Amy Murphy

Hiya guys!

Today I am bringing to you an interview with the brilliant, quickly up and coming trainer Amy Murphy. I hope you enjoy!

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Me: What’s your favourite day of the racing calendar?

Amy: On the flat, my favourite day would be the Tuesday of Royal Ascot and National Hunt, it would be the Tuesday of the Cheltenham Festival.

Me: What’s the goal for you and the team? Grand National, Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle, what’s the dream?

Amy: My goal as a trainer would be to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup. For the team, more realistically, my goal would be to constantly hit and better the targets we set at the beginning of each season. In doing so, I would hope that we can then improve the quality of horses in training.

Me: If you could train one horse that is currently in training elsewhere, what horse would you choose and why?

Amy: Enable, for obvious reasons. She is everything that you would look for in a racehorse.

Me: Do you ever get any down time? What’s your favourite thing to do when you do get some spare time?

Amy: The best down time for me is having a relaxing day with my family and friends with a glass or two of champagne. 

Me: What would you say to anyone who thinks racing is animal cruelty?

Amy: I would ask them to take the time to visit my yard and see first hand the five star care and attention the horses get and then tell me whether they still think the horses are suffering from cruelty.

Me: Kalashnikov is one of the most loved horses over the past few years, how is he? Where do you hope he goes next season?

Amy: This National Hunt season did not go to plan for Kalashnikov. However, he has had a period of rehab and will now have a long summer break out in the field with the other National Hunt horses. I would expect him to be back in the early part of the Autumn 2020/2021 season.

Me: What’s your favourite race course to visit?

Amy: My favourite flat track would be Chester and my favourite National Hunt track would be Fakenham for the friendly country feel you get.

Me: What is your ‘horse to watch’ that you train?

Amy: A horse to watch for the future would be Rudaina over middle distances on a flat galloping track.

Me: What’s your favourite race to look back on as an owner, rider or trainer?

Amy: My favourite race to look back on would be the Betfair Hurdle, again for obvious reasons.

Me: What are your opinions surrounding discussions of banning the whip?

Amy: With regards to the whip debate, I can see both sides of the argument. Personally, I feel the whip should not disappear as, if nothing else, it is an aid for correct measures in a race.

Me: What is your best piece of advice for a young person following their passion, whether that be in racing or something else?

Amy: My advice would be to follow your dreams and make sure you get plenty of hands on experience in order to make sure your dreams become a reality. Also, never be afraid to ask for other people’s opinions and advice.

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Firstly, as always, I want to say a massive thank you to Amy for taking the time out to speak to me. Personally I think Amy is a trainer to watch, she is a brilliant trainer, a lovely person and overall just a great female ambassador for our sport.

I really hope you all enjoyed this interview and I shall see you all next Saturday at 11am for An Interview with Danny Mcmenamin.

An Interview with Max Kendrick

Max Kendrick

Hey guys!

Today’s post is an interview with conditional jockey Max Kendrick, he gave some really interesting answers so I really hope you enjoy!

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Me: What is your favourite race of your career, win or lose?

Max: My favourite race would have to be on Graceful Legend at Ascot, it was my first Saturday winner as a conditional. It was very memorable to enter the winners enclosure where so many great horses and jockeys had been before. Another race that springs to mind is The Aintree Foxhunters in 2014, I had my first ride round the national fences on Court Red Handed. The adrenaline rush was unbelievable and it certainly wet my appetite to ride in the main event.

Me: If you could ride any horse that you never have, past or present, what horse would you choose?

Max: I would have to choose the mighty Kauto Star. I grew up watching the Kauto – Denman battle, it fuelled my passion for racing. I always wanted Kauto to win as he was extremely versatile with speed and stamina on his side and was champion over 2, 2.5 & 3+ miles. I also wonder what it would be like to ride something like Frankel, I rode a few winners on the flat as an amateur on horses rated around 70 and I thought I was going fast so I can’t even begin to imagine the speed that something rated 130 must go!

Me: What are your opinions surrounding the discussions of banning the whip?

Max: I understand it is a very sensitive subject, I think for the good of the sport we have to be seen to continually evolve, improve and educate people about horse welfare and the sport as a whole. Changes have been made with regards to the whip, the national and everyday practices both on the racecourse and at yards. Personally, I think the whip rules are in a good, manageable place at the moment. It allows jockeys to ride a race and correct horses without any risk to the horse. It is heavily monitored by stewards and cameras every day across all meetings, big or small. I worry that if we bow to the people who want to ban the use of the whip completely they will not be satisfied until racing is no longer an industry or sport. I believe the key is education and the recent BHA videos featuring Tom Scudamore are a good start to empowering passionate racegoers, jockeys or trainers with information they can readily share with people who may not fully understand the whip. Perhaps changing the name from ‘whip’ to another name would also help remove some of the negative or aggressive connotations with the word. We are all part of this industry because we have a love and passion for horses and ultimately we all want what is best for the horse.

Me: As a jockey, weight is obviously a huge thing for you guys, so what would you eat on a regular day? Are there any periods across the year where you can actually just eat everything and anything or is it a strict kind of diet all year round?

Max: I am very lucky that weight isn’t an issue for me personally. I am passionate about health and fitness so I do remain on a balanced diet all year:

Breakfast: All Bran Cereal with skimmed milk, protein pancakes or Boiled Eggs.

Snack: Fruit e.g. Apple or Banana

Lunch: Whole wheat pasta with meat and vegetables

Snack: Fruit

Dinner: Meat and vegetables

I tend to let myself have one day a week of eating as I want, this helps me maintain this balance all year round. I don’t really drink unless it is during the jump racing break in August, aside from that I keep eating well all year round.

Me: What would you say to anyone who thinks racing is animal cruelty?

Max: I would ask them to look at both sides, to visit a yard and witness first-hand how well horses are treated on a daily basis and also to go to a racecourse and see the specialist vets, care and legislation in place to protect all parties involved, including the horses. The racing industry gives the thoroughbred horse a purpose, like dairy cows for example they are bred with a purpose in mind. Do you think farmers would keep dairy cows if there was no longer a need for milk production?

Me: Racing is an all year round sport, so when you do get some down time, what do you like to do?

Max: I love all sport and am a lifelong Arsenal supporter for my sins. I love watching them whenever I can and am lucky enough to visit the Emirates a couple of times a year, whenever racing permits! I also have a Labrador called Ned who is great to have as I get the same greeting from him whether I have won, lost or fallen – he never fails to cheer me up after a bad day. I have an amazing circle of friends outside of racing, it’s good to spend time with them and my girlfriend to have a break from it all!

Me: Who do you look up to in the weighing room?

Max: People that have been very influential to me in the weighing room are; Kielan Woods and Paddy Brennan. They have ridden plenty of winners between them and are fantastic mentors, they have never hesitated to point something out if it needs improving. When I was younger, before I was in the weighing room watching Ruby Walsh and Sir AP McCoy battle it out was always a highlight for me.

Me: What is one race you’d love to win?

Max: It has to be The Gold Cup for me on the biggest stage for jump racing at The Festival, that’s the dream. If you win the Gold Cup you can without doubt say that you have won on the best staying chaser that year. I, of course, grew up watching Kauto Star, Denman and Imperial Commander fight out some of the best Gold Cups in history.

Me: What’s your overall goal in racing over the upcoming few years?

Max: I am down to my 3lb now so firstly, it is to ride out my claim. Looking past that, I would like to keep consolidating the relationships I have built over the years. I want to continually improve the quality of races I am winning.

Me: What would be your ‘horse to watch’ for the next season or two?

Max: My horse to watch is a very nice store by Kayf Tara that my Mother owns called Ted Da Titan, he was supposed to run this spring but the Coronavirus has put pay to that, he has been going very well at home. He will now spend the summer out and will hopefully run well in a bumper in the Autumn.

Me: What is your favourite racecourse to ride at and why?

Max: I love riding at Exeter, I have had some luck round there and it is a very fair, big, galloping track. You don’t often find too many hard luck stories there.

Me: What is your best advice for young people who have a passion they want to follow, whether that be racing or something else?

Max: Follow your passion, don’t be afraid to ask advice from people already in the industry but above all work hard and don’t give up on your dream. 

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Firstly, a massive thank you to Max for taking time out to answer some questions. He is an incredible jockey and he will definitely go onto big things, I can’t wait to follow his career and see where it takes him. He gave some in-depth answers which are always interesting to hear from people in the industry, so I really hope you enjoyed!

I will see you all next Saturday at 11am with An Interview with Amy Murphy!

An Interview with Ben Curtis

Ben Curtis

Hey guys!

Today I am bringing you an interview with flat jockey Ben Curtis. I really hope you enjoy!

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Me: What is your favourite race of your career, win or lose?

Ben: I think my favourite win so far was an early one. The Irish Lincoln on Drombeg Dawn at the Curragh. It was a race that helped kick start my career on a bigger scale.

Me: If you could ride any horse that you never have, past or present, what horse would you choose?

Ben: A horse I was close to working for John Oxx at the time, Sea The Stars was a horse I would have loved to have ridden in a race. He oozed class in all aspects.

Me: What are your opinions surrounding the discussions of banning the whip?

Ben: I believe as a sport we have bent over backwards to co-operate with all of the bad publicity this subject receives. There is no whips in racing as it is! We are using pillows on sticks. They do not cause any pain only persuade horses through sound. Either way they are always going to be needed for safety purposes and I believe that as long as we, as jockeys, stay within the rules and guidelines that are currently set, the current situation should not be looked at again to appease anyone and we now need to stand our ground on this matter.

Me: As a jockey, weight is obviously a huge thing for you guys, so what would you eat on a regular day? Are there any periods across the year where you can actually just eat everything and anything or is it a strict kind of diet all year round?

Ben: As a jockey I believe it’s hard for anyone to stick to a routine diet with the amount of travelling involved, logistically it is near impossible to plan. Personally I don’t eat breakfast and would often miss lunch. But I love an evening meal and I live by the philosophy once you burn more than you put in then you won’t put on weight. It’s very simple.

Me: What would you say to anyone who thinks racing is animal cruelty?

Ben: Anyone who considers horse racing as cruel are misinformed and uneducated on the matter. These horses receive five star treatment. They are bred to do a job and love what they do. And a visit to any racing stables will highlight the regard and love these horses receive.

Me: Racing is an all year round sport, so when you do get some down time, what do you like to do?

Ben: It all depends on what you plan for the year. Whether it is to take some downtime in the winter, attack the all weather or focus on jobs abroad. Downtime for me is rare as I like to keep busy and competitive throughout the year. But when I do, I like to spend time with my family and love a day out with a few beers and music with friends and depending on the amount of beers a possible dance.

Me: Who do you look up to in the weighing room?

Ben: Mick Kinane was always my idol, but presently looking up to Ryan Moore and Frankie (Dettori) two completely different characters but both masters of their trade.

Me: What is one race you’d love to win?

Ben: I’m not pinpointing one but there are a few, the Nunthope as I love York, the Derby or any race at Royal Ascot. 

Me: What’s your overall goal in racing over the upcoming few years?

Ben: My main goal first and foremost is riding winners but a group one is my ultimate and what I put all the work in with a view of achieving.

Me: What would be your ‘horse to watch’ for the next season or two?

Ben: I think Lord Of The Lodge is a classy animal and when the ground is soft a horse called Ainsdale could turn into a high class sprinter.

Me: What is your favourite racecourse to ride at and why?

Ben: York and Ascot are both exceptional tracks to ride and both get large crowds and have an atmosphere to boot. 

Me: What is your best advice for young people who have a passion they want to follow, whether that be racing or something else?

Ben: If you are lucky enough to pursue a job or career that you love, put in the hours, do the work and don’t give up. There are a lot of downs in any career choice but once the highs outweigh them you are on the right track. Always look at where your going, not where you’ve been!

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Firstly, I want to say a massive thank you to Ben for taking some time out to speak with me. He gave some brilliant answers and I really enjoyed this one, I hope you guys enjoyed it too!

I will see you all next Saturday at 11am for An Interview with Max Kendrick!

An Interview with Jamie Spencer

Jamie Spencer

Hey guys!

Today I am bringing you an interview with Jamie Spencer who has achieved brilliant things within the sport. I hope you enjoy this little insight to him!

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Me: What is your favourite race of your career, win or lose?

Jamie: Riding a winner at Cheltenham on Pizarro, lots of other more important flat races but jump racing I was born into as my father won the Champion Hurdle.

Me: If you could ride any horse that you never have, past or present, what horse would you choose?

Jamie: Boring selection, but obviously Frankel. He’s been the best horse of my lifetime.

Me: What are your opinions surrounding the discussions of banning the whip?

Jamie: If it’s not broken, then don’t fix it. Horses are herd animals and generally run together as a pack to see who’s the best, then they need a form of encouragement.

Me: You have won multiple classics in your career as well as being Champion Jockey both in Ireland and Britain, what do you class as your biggest achievement? What are you most proud of this far in your career?

Jamie: Winning the St Leger on Brian Boru in 2003, it was a month after one of my best friends and housemate Kieran Kelly had died from a fall at Kilbeggan.

Me: As a jockey, weight is obviously a huge thing for you guys, is this ever a worry for you?

Jamie: My weight isn’t a major issue so I’m fortunate.

Me: You rode for Aidan O’Brien for a short while as his stable jockey at Ballydoyle, since then he has gone on to break all sorts of records, as have you. How was it working for him?

Jamie: He’s clearly broken all the records, been a genius in the sport. We are all older and wiser now and thankfully he’s supported me to win many Grade 1’s since then.

Me: What would you say to anyone who thinks racing is animal cruelty?

Jamie: We all start in racing because we love the horses, that sentiment never leaves, from a personal point of view.

Me: Racing is an all year round sport, so when you do get some down time, what do you like to do?

Jamie: It’s an all year round sport, but as I have gotten older I do more for myself so I take plenty of time off. I can’t complain.

Me: Who do you look up to in the weighing room?

Jamie: I admire lots of people for varying reasons. For example, Luke Morris is a tremendous advocate of how there is no substitute for hard work. Then you get Andrea Atzeni who’s naturally a gifted horseman. And then there’s plenty who do very well but if I was an owner I wouldn’t use them, so who’s right and who’s wrong? Racing is all about opinions.

Me: What is one race you’d love to win?

Jamie: The Derby.

Me: What’s your overall goal in racing over the upcoming few years?

Jamie: I’m on the back nine regards being a jockey, I’ve concentrated on other areas of the sport for many years and hopefully will utilise these efforts in the future. The beauty of racing is nothing is a given.

Me: What would be your ‘horse to watch’ for the next season or two?

Jamie: I’m particularly hopeful Mohican Heights can progress, but like everything at this time of year, it’s a guessing game.

Me: What is your favourite race course to ride at and why?

Jamie: Ascot. It’s been good to me and I love going there more than any other track.

Me: What is your best advice for young people who have a passion they want to follow, whether that be racing or something else?

Jamie: If you want to be involved in racing, there are no short cuts. I believe the jockeys adapt so well as they’re not educated enough to realise it’s madness the hours they put in and living the dream of finding the good horse. Outside of racing, well I know nothing else than this game, but I’m guessing if you follow people like Bill Gates or John Magnier’s advice, you won’t go far wrong.

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As always, firstly I want to thank Jamie for taking the time to speak with me, he is a ridiculously talented jockey who has achieved some incredible things so it was an honour to get the chance to ask him some questions.

I hope you enjoyed!

A Stable Visit to Racefield Stables + A Full Interview with Phil and Grace Mcentee

Mcentee's

Heya guys!

So this weekend I went down to Newmarket where I spent the morning with Phil Mcentee and his family at their Racefield Stables, I can honestly say it was one of my favourite mornings. Even though we were in the middle of a storm, it was an amazing morning and the whole family are just lovely.

When we arrived Phil explained to us that there are only four members of staff and he is one of them. It is a small operation with currently 19 horses in training. Phil has been at Racefield Stables for 10 years now and it is a lovely set up that he has. Shortly after arriving Bernie’s Boy was getting ready to leave for the first at Lingfield, where we now know he finished second with Grace on board, which is another brilliant win for the whole family.

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One thing I noticed about Phil’s yard is it is very much a family occasion, the whole family are involved in one way or another and I think that is so special, as each winner is a huge family victory.

We then went up onto the famous Newmarket gallops to watch a couple of horses exercising. Phil explained on a day like today they will do an hour on the walker then a run up the gallops for around 4 furlong and then back into their stable for some food and rest.

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Of course, we also got to go around Phil’s yard and meet all of his horses, which is always brilliant.

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The one thing I did notice during the tour around his horses is how passionate Phil is for every horse he owns. You can see he loves them and they clearly love him too.

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One thing many people don’t see is the hard work that goes into getting a horse to the racetrack and what I absolutely loved about the visit was seeing how hands on Phil is with his horses. Some trainers aren’t as hands on with their horses, but Phil told us he makes up 25% of his workforce so therefore he has no choice but to be hands on, but he also said he loves his job so he doesn’t mind doing the, not so glamorous, things.

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After a lovely cup of tea, I was then able to sit down with Phil and Grace and interview them. Here is what they had to say…

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Me: What is the best advice you have received from another trainer or another jockey?

Phil: For me, I would say… I think Olly Murphy quoted this one, it’s the old one we’ve all been told. Keep yourself in the best company and your horses in the worst. But, no listen, as long as your horses are healthy that’s the most important thing. Work hard and as I say, place them properly.

Grace: I’d probably just say patience is key really, you’ve gotta be patient. It doesn’t just come straight away, you’ve got to work hard at it. But when it does pay off it’s worth the wait.

Me: This question we have already spoke about briefly, but where do you stand with people that say the whip should be banned?

Phil: Erm, yeah, I mean I’d be anti banning the whip absolutely. The problem is, the perception is probably, people that don’t really truly understand the thoroughbred or the horse at all are the ones that want the whip banned. In the long term, the whip has got to remain a part of racing, it’s there as a corrector. My view on going forward, what’s the best way to get rid of the whole whip debate, I personally think you should disqualify the horse if the jockey goes over and I think that very soon you’ll see a huge change in what happens with jockey’s that go over using the whip.

Grace: I think if you ask most jockey’s in the weighing room every single one of them would say they don’t want to go out there without a whip, because it is there as a guidance to the horse, it’s not necessarily used to tell them off, it is just a guidance, so if you’ve got one hanging, you can correct them. And I don’t think it really should get banned as it doesn’t even hurt them, it’s cushioned and I don’t think a lot of people realise that.

Me: If you could pick one horse that you haven’t had any involvement in from the past or present, what horse would you choose?

Phil: For me, jumping, it’s a horse I was involved in, I worked for David Elsworth from 86 to 89 and Desert Orchid, I got to ride him out. The head lad at the time used to ride him a lot, well all of the time, but on the odd Sunday when he wasn’t around I got to sit on him a couple of times. He was really keen and there was just one canter he used to go up and, without blowing my own trumpet here, but obviously Elsworth obviously thought I was good enough and had good hands. When I was an apprentice, I used to ride Desert Orchid very occasionally. So for me, the time I was at Elsworth’s Desert Orchid was in his prime and that was brilliant. And on the flat, I’ve got to say standing in the Grand Stand at Newmarket when Frankel went 8 clear in the Guineas, that was something I’ll never forget. So for me, Frankel and Dessie.

Grace: Yeah, obviously I’d have to choose Frankel. I think he’d be most people’s favourite just because of, no other horse being like him. So I’d have to say Frankel.

Me: What racecourse do you love to go to? What is your favourite?

Phil: I’ve got to say, erm, Cheltenham is just around the corner, so to go as a spectacle, four days at Cheltenham, every horse in every race trying for it’s life, the absolute best in all the disciplines is right up there. And I was very fortunate, I was a rubbish jump jockey for a couple years and I got to ride a winner at Cheltenham, So the feeling of jumping the last and coming up that hill at Cheltenham is second to none, so for me I’d say Cheltenham.

Grace: I’d probably say Ascot, my favourite day’s racing their is Champion’s Day and I just think the track itself an the atmosphere, I’d say it’s my favourite track.

Me: What is your favourite race of your career, win or lose? What sticks in your head the most?

Phil: I’m going to say when Emily Goldfinch…

Grace: I was going to say we’ll both say the same.

Phil: Again, it’s all personal with us, you know, every horse I train… I’ve got some brilliant loyal owners and every winner we’ve trained for them has been really good. Grace rode a winner at the Rowley Mile, last year, two years ago?

Grace: A year ago, yeah last year.

Phil: On Emily Goldfinch, owned by her sister, in her colours, trained by me, Grace’s first ever winner of the Rowley Mile. And my first as I’d had winners at the July course but not the Rowley Mile. So, yeah that was a special day.

Grace: Yeah that would be mine. It’s kind of, I think that was possibly my third winner for Dad and obviously my sister owning it, at our local track, it was just the highlight of my career so far.

Me: If you could choose one horse, who is in training with someone else, to ride or train, what horse would you choose?

Phil: The problem is you all want to train the superstars don’t you? On the flat, Enable, what she’s done, Breeders Cup, Arc’s, you know, she’s been an unbelievable filly. And we get to see her every morning on Newmarket Heath too as well. That’s the glory of this game, especially training here at Newmarket, I’ll be sat waiting for the horses to come up and all of a sudden Enable comes past you and Stradivarius. At the moment the horses in Newmarket are brilliant, so on the flat Enable. Over the jumps, gosh there’s been so many good ones over the years, but Native River – horses like that the longevity you get out of horses like that, with jumps horses, we don’t really have that so much over the flat so yeah I’d say because she’s in Newmarket and I see her every day Enable would do me, a trip to the Arc and the Breeders Cup.

Grace: I knew we was going to have the same answer to a lot of these. Just for the same reasons, we will ride past her in the mornings and she’s just one of the best there is. I’d love to ride Enable but the chances of that happening are very very low.

Phil: We see them and get close to these horses even though they’re not yours.

Grace: Yeah, they’re almost famous in their own rights.

Me: With people like Joseph and Donnacha O’Brien retiring from the saddle due to struggling with their weight, how difficult is that for you to keep your weight to a healthy weight? Have you found that difficult or quite easy?

Grace: To begin with my weight was quite good and I could more or less eat whatever I wanted. But as I have got older I have got slightly heavier, erm so like Monday just gone I went to speak to a diet nutritionist, so there are plenty of people out there who can help you out and keep your weight but doing it in the right way. Obviously a lot of jockey’s sweat and it’s not the best thing for you, so trying to sort out a diet, it’s more kind of trying to maintain that weight.

Phil: Yeah you have to be disciplined in doing it. But ultimately of course the sacrifices have to be made. Grace is lucky that I can know a week or two in advance if there’s going to be a light one pop up and also she realises now, it helps that she’s just lost her seven pound claimer, but with 48 hour declarations, you might get a call up and have to lose a couple of pounds.

Grace: I’d say that in a jockey’s life, that’s what is the most stress for them. Every single day that’s all you’re worried about, jumping on the scales and checking your weight and doing it the right way. It’s part of the job and you know going into it it’s something you’re going to have to deal with but it’s worth it when you have the winners.

Phil: With Donnacha and Joseph, they were riding classic winners, so it’s slightly easier going to Southwell on a Tuesday, but they all have to make their sacrafices.

Me: Obviously here you have a small team, but you can see just how loved every single horse is, what would you say to someone who thinks horse racing is animal cruelty? For me, you can see how much they are loved by everyone here, but a lot of people still have those comments to make.

Phil: Yeah, I mean, the problem is they’re making a judgement call on 60 seconds or 90 seconds they see on a Saturday where they think the horses are being abused. They are looked after like…

Grace: They’re literally pets at ours. We don’t see them as just horses, we see them as our pets. Like we have bonds with every single one of them and we would be absolutely devastated if anything happened to any one of them or they had to get sold.

Phil: I think it’s the treatment they get, they get fed three times a day, they have duvet rugs on, they get groomed, they get lovely bedding, they get nice feed, they get the best of everything these horses. They have the best of everything. There are a lot of humans around the world in a lot worse condition than these horses are, trust me. They are so well looked after and loved by the people who look after them and ride them, the people that own them. As I say genetically over hundreds of years these guys have been bred to race and that’s what they’re here to do. And as we said, the whip now is cushioned and people have no idea the concept of what goes on behind the scenes.

Me: Obviously every jockey and every trainer has a dream, what is the big dream for you? What’s the one race you’d just love to win?

Phil: Erm, listen, the reality is I’m probably never going to have a classic horse or a Gold Cup horse, trainers are only as good as their owners budgets really. But this year we’ve got a filly we got from Book 1, a little yearling and we’ve never had a Book 1 yearling before, by Golden Horn and I’ve acquired her and I own her myself so erm, she’s a bit of an ugly duckling at the moment, but the dream, who knows? With her pedigree, her grandmother was a champion, her dad was a champion, so this year the dream is could she go and do something spectacular? It would be brilliant if she could. And as I own her and Grace to be on her, if she’s any good and could be good enough to run in a group race with Grace to ride her. I won’t set the goals too high but to have a group winner with Grace riding it, anywhere is my dream right now.

Grace: Yeah, I would love that dream. But realistically for me now I just want to ride as many winners as I can. There’s no specific grades…

Phil: Well if you can win the Hands and Heels series today.

Grace: Yeah and possibly the All Weather Championship for apprentices. My main goal is just to ride my claim out really and have a safe career and just enjoy it and get what I can out of it.

Me: So obviously you rode out your 7 pound claimer this week and Phil told us earlier he got very emotional about it, how special is that for the both of you to share that relationship by riding out your claim on one of your dad’s horses and obviously seeing your daughter succeed like she is on one of your horses and being able to succeed together?

Phil: Yeah, for me, two or three years ago when Grace got her amateur license she was going to college and she wasn’t going to be a jockey.

Grace: Yeah, it was a dream from when I was a young kid but as I got older I wanted to do eventing and I wasn’t as interested in racing as I once was when I was younger. But then I started working for dad and I fell in love with it again.

Phil: Yeah, exactly. To be able to share this with Grace and as you’ve seen my daughter has just gone off racing and my other daughter and we’re all off going there today. So yeah, it’s really good. It’s given it an extra buzz every day coming in the yard. We’ve got horses here that are winning and the yard is in good form and to know potentially you can have a winner or two and to have Grace riding them is brilliant.

Me: And Grace your dad told us earlier you’ve grown up around a lot of successful women, Josephine Gordon, Hollie Doyle, how inspirational is that for you as you’re coming through the ranks, being able to work with such successful female jockey’s?

Grace: Yeah, they’ve just proven it can be done. Josie was champion apprentice, Hollie has won over hundred winners so they’ve proven that is can be done so it gives you hope and faith that you can follow in their footsteps as it has been done before. There is people out there who do believe in girls and want to use girls so yeah, it’s just good really to have them as a guide to follow.

Me: And what would be your horse to watch for the season?

Grace: I think Split Down South when he gets on the turf, I think he can improve even more from what he has done on the all weather. I think he’s one to look at on the turf and see how he goes.

Phil: Yeah, with him, the grey horse race at Newmarket is definitely on his radar, it’s on ITV, it’s a Saturday race and there’s good prize money on offer. I think when he goes in a straight line on the turf he’ll be nice as well. I think, as I mentioned earlier, the Golden Horn filly, she’s an unnamed two year old at the moment, she’s the one, the golden ticket. Because as you’ve seen, we are a very small team, there’s not a lot of funds floating around the yard at any stage, so I managed to acquire her and I own her myself and with her pedigree if she wins a maiden or does any good she might be worth a bit of money, so who knows? We might get to go on holiday. 

Me: And my final question, what would be your one piece of advice for a young person with a dream or passion they want to follow whether that be within racing or outside of racing?

Grace: I’d say just give it time. Things don’t happen over night, just stay at it, keep trying and just be patient. That’s all I can say.

Phil: Yeah, never give up on your dream, whatever you want to do in life. Speaking in the horse industry, there are so many avenues to get into it and when you are in it, it is so rewarding and so many highs and lows and the every day stuff, it’s a brilliant industry to be in. But ultimately as a youngster, you have to work hard and never give up on your dreams.

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I want to say a massive thank you to Phil, firstly for allowing us to visit his gorgeous set up and a massive thank you to Phil, Grace and the whole team for a brilliant morning. I thoroughly enjoyed this visit, it was incredible to see such a small team compared to others I have visited, but they care so much about these animals and I love to see that. For me I think Phil is an incredible trainer and the passion he has for the sport you can see a mile away. Grace is a ridiculously talented rider and in my personal opinion I would love to see more trainers give her the opportunity to ride in the bigger races because she could give any male jockey a run for their money and I hope more trainers do take notice of how well she is doing and give her those opportunities.

Overall we had an incredible morning and as discussed with Phil, we will hopefully be working together again in the future which will be very exciting.

Thank you for reading, I thoroughly hope you have enjoyed reading!