Les Boots: The Worst Jockey in the History of Horse Racing?

Good Evening!

Welcome to a new post here at zoelouisesmithx.com! Today’s post is one I really wanted to share because I had never heard of this story until recently and thought if I hadn’t then how many others hadn’t? So without further ado, let’s get right into it!


Les Boots was an Australian jockey who’s professional jockey spanned 18 years. In those 18 years he broke just about every bone in his body which included a broken neck which saw him out of action for two years.

Less started as an apprentice jockey, working at Harry Butler’s stables. He began riding out and mucking out stalls until one day Harry called him into the office and told him he wanted him to go to Cheltenham in England and ride a horse called Umbalir in a jumps race, however he parted ways at the first hurdle with Les ending up in hospital. He rode Umbalir twice more, both rimes resulting in a hospital trip. Three for three – It didn’t look great.

Les Boots then went on to be known as the worst jockey in the history of horse racing due to the fact that he never had a winner, never placed in fact, he never even stayed on a horse for more than half a mile in any of his races. In fact, out of 39 starts, he fell 40 times – 41 if you include a non-horse related incident. He explained this to interviewers:

I rode a horse at Cheltenham one day, fell going out the straight, I caught him, remounted him, fell at the half-mile and I fell out the ambulance coming to hospital.”

https://www.punters.com.au/news/the-worlds-worst-jockey_136520/

Les himself told people that out of his 18 year career, he believes he spent 12 of them in the hospital, also saying that Adelaide Hospital used to get a bed reading in advance whenever they saw he had a ride. Les used to ride out many horses each weak and was totally fine, however when it came to a race he just couldn’t stay on.

It got to a point where his wife, alongside a packed lunch, would pack him some pyjamas and anything he would need for a couple of days in hospital whenever he went to a race. In fact it got so bad that whenever he was the jockey, his horse would be 100/1, regardless of how good the horse was due to him being on board.

However Les Boots became a national hero with his jokes and sense of humour with lines such as:

I went to a picnic one day and they even barred me from the merry-go-round – said it wasn’t safe”

https://www.punters.com.au/news/the-worlds-worst-jockey_136520/

A dream of Les’ was always to take part in the English Grand National, he later explained why this never happened:

I never did realise my life’s ambition to ride in the English Grand National at Aintree. My wife cancelled my passport, she reckoned I’d be the first jockey to drown at the water jump.”

https://eu.thespectrum.com/story/sports/mesquite/2019/09/02/worst-jockey-history-had-great-sense-humor/2187365001/

Les Boots lived to be 80 years old and it’s good to see he never lost his sense of humour. Les will go down as one of the worst jockey’s in the history of horse racing, but also someone who will never be forgotten due to the fact he laughed the whole way through his career and although he ended up spending the majority of his time in hospital it was clear to see how much he loved horses and racing.


I thought this was so interesting to read, I had never heard of Les Boots so I really wanted to share. I hope you all enjoyed this one and I will see you all Saturday morning when I have a look at the history of the Irish Derby ahead of this years renewal.

RIP Presenting Percy: What Makes a People’s Horse?

Good Morning!

Welcome to a new post here at zoelouisesmithx.com! After hearing the upsetting news recently that Presenting Percy has passed away, I thought it would nice to have a look back at his career.


Presenting Percy’s career started at Punchestown on January 31st 2016 when he trainer Patrick G Kelly sent him to a 2 mile INH Flat Race (bumper) under Mr S D Bohan who claimed 7. He was a huge 50/1 and shocked almost everybody when he finished 2nd by just 2 and 1/4 lengths to Battleford who was the 4/6 favourite for Willie Mullins and Patrick Mullins.

Presenting Percy then took a 75 day break before heading to Ballinrobe on April 15th 2016 for a Ladies Pro/AM Flat Race over 2 miles 1 furlong, this time Ms Katie Walsh took the ride on the 1/2 favourite and at 5 years old, carrying 12 stone, he had his first win by 6 lengths to his eventual new trainer Gordon Elliott’s horse Carrig Cathal (5/1).

Just a couple of weeks later Presenting Percy headed back to Punchestown for his first Grade 1, this proved to be a little bit too much too soon for him when he could only manage a 7th place at 10/1 under Miss J M Mangan.

After a 167 day break, on October 11th Presenting Percy went to Galway for his Maiden Hurdle and his first ride under his eventual long term partner Davy Russell, he was 2/1 but could only manage a 4th place, finishing 19 lengths behind the 4/5 favourite Le Martalin for Noel Meade and Sean Flanagan.

Just a few weeks later on October 30th Presenting Percy went back to Galway for his second Maiden Hurdle over 2 miles, this time Sean Flanagan took the ride and at 9/4 he beat the odds on 8/11 favourite Canelie for Gordon Elliott and Mark Walsh by 2 lengths.

On November 19th 2016, Presenting Percy headed to Punchestown for a Novice Handicap Hurdle, again under Davy Russell and this time as the 4/5 odds on favourite. He won by 3 lengths to Llancillo Lord (7/1) for Thomas Mullins and Paul Townend.

Just over a month later, on December 28th, Presenting Percy was declared for the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle Qualifier at Leopardstown over 3 miles, he was the 5/1 joint favourite however could only manage a 5th place under Davy Russell.

It would be February 5th 2017 when we next seen Presenting Percy again, this time back at Punchestown for his second Pertemps Network Group Handicap Hurdle Qualifier again over 3 miles, this time under David Mullins at 8/1 he managed a 4th place finishing 4 and 1/2 lengths behind the 11/2 winner Isleofhopeandreams for Willie Mullins and Danny Mullins.

On February 25th, Presenting Percy appeared at Fairyhouse for the first time for a Handicap Hurdle over 2 mile 4 furlongs, with Davy Russell back on board and as the 2/1 favourite he won by 3 and 1/4 lengths.

On the 16th of March 2017, Presenting Percy made his way over the Irish sea to the British mainland to appear at his first ever Cheltenham Festival. As an 11/1 shot in the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle – a listed race over 3 miles. Impressively, Presenting Percy at 6 years old won with Davy Russell riding, carrying 11 stone 11 pounds, by 3 and 3/4 lengths.

Just over a month later on April 26th, Presenting Percy went back to Punchestown for a Grade 1 Novice Hurdle and at 5/2 could only manage a 6th place under Davy Russell. Interestingly, he finished behind horses such as dual Cheltenham Festival winner Penhill, Martin Pipe winner Champagne Classic, Gold Cup 4th place Monalee and back to back Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo.

Presenting Percy then took a 187 day break before returning to Galway on October 30th 2017 for a Beginners Chase over 2 miles, 6 and 1/2 furlongs. He was 11/4 and Davy Russell took the ride again, this time beating the 2/1 favourite De Plotting Shed for Gordon Elliott and Keith Donoghue by 3 lengths.

A few weeks later on November 19th, Presenting Percy headed to Punchestown for a Grade 2 Novice Chase and as the Evens favourite under Davy Russell, he finished 3rd behind winner Jury Duty (6/1) for Gordon Elliott and Robbie Power and 2nd placed Shattered Love (11/4) for Gordon Elliott and Sean Flanagan.

On December 3rd at Fairyhouse, Presenting Percy ran in a Grade B Handicap Chase, and as the 7/2 joint favourite, under Davy Russell he won impressively by 11 lengths to Forever Gold (10/1) for Edward Cawley and Chris Timmons.

Presenting Percy then took a 53 day break before returning to the track, this time Gowran Park on January 25th 2018 for a Grade 2 Hurdle race, as the 9/4 joint favourite, this time under Davy Russell once again, he won by 5 and 1/2 lengths beating Augusta Kate (8/1) for Willie Mullins and David Mullins.

On February 17th, Presenting Percy headed back to Gowran Park for the Grade 2 Red Mills Chase, this time as the Evens favourite, under Davy Russell he finished second by 1 length to Our Duke (5/2) for Jessica Harrington and Robbie Power.

Next up for Presenting Percy was his second visit to the Cheltenham Festival, this time the Grade 1 RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase. And in impressive style as the 5/2 favourite under Davy Russell, he won by 7 lengths to Monalee (100/30) for Henry De Bromhead and Noel Fehily.

Presenting Percy was then off the track for 316 days before returning to Gowran Park on January 24th 2019 for another Grade 2 Hurdle race, again under Davy Russell and as the 9/4 favourite, he won the race by 1 and 1/4 lengths to Bapaume (11/2) for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend.

It was then time for a 3rd trip to the Cheltenham Festival for Presenting Percy, this time being the Grade 1 Cheltenham Gold Cup, he was the 100/30 favourite, however under Davy Russell, they could only manage an 8th in the race, behind horses such as Clan Des Obeaux (5/1), Native River (6/1), Bristol De Mai (18/1) and of course, the winner Al Boum Photo (12/1) for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend.

After a 268 day break, on December 8th at Punchestown, Presenting Percy returned to Punchestown for a Grade 1 Chase, this time at 10/1 under J J Slevin he finished 3rd behind odds on winner Min (8/11) for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend and 2nd placed Hardline (25/1) for Gordon Elliott and Keith Donoghue.

On December 28th 2019, Presenting Percy headed to Leopardstown under Davy Russell, finishing 5th at 7/2 in the Grade 1 Savills Chase, finishing behind winner Delta Work (11/2) for Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy, Monalee (8/1) in 2nd, Road to Respect (7/2) in 3rd and 7/4 favourite Kemboy in 4th.

We then move into 2020 and on February 2nd Presenting Percy ran in the Grade 1 Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown, at 100/30 he finished 3rd under Davy Russell behind winner Delta Work (5/2) for Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy and 2nd placed 5/4 favourite Kemboy for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend.

It was then the 4th journey to the Cheltenham Festival for Presenting Percy and a 2nd attempt at the Grade 1 Gold Cup. At 10/1, under Davy Russell he unfortunately fell 2 out.

On October 8th 2020, Presenting Percy then changed trainer from Patrick G Kelly to Gordon Elliott and his first race under his new trainer quickly approached and on October 31st 2020, he headed to Down Royal for the Grade 1 Ladbrokes Champion Chase, he was 3/1 and Denis O’Regan took the ride, this time finishing 4th behind the winner, The Storyteller (9/2) for Gordon Elliott and Keith Donoghue, the 5/2 favourite Chris’s Dream in 2nd and Tout Est Permis (8/1) in 3rd.

On November 19th 2020, Presenting Percy returned to his winning way, to the joy of so many racing fans, when he headed to Thurles and under Jack Kennedy, he won at 3/1 in the boomerang.ie Chase (Listed Race), beating 11/10 favourite Kemboy for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend.

The last time we would see Presenting Percy would be on December 28th at Leopardstown when he ran in the Grade 1 Savills Chase and at 8/1 under Denis O’Regan however he could only manage an 8th, 76 lengths behind eventual winner A Plus Tard (15/2) for Henry De Bromhead and Darragh O’Keeffe.


Sadly on April 16th 2021, owner Philip Reynolds announced that Presenting Percy at 10 years old had passed away after suffering from a blood infection. He told Racing TV that there had been a three month battle against the blood infection with Fethard Equine Hospital working to save his life and allow him to retire but sadly that wasn’t to be. He could not be saved and he had to be put to sleep. He also said the following:

The sudden sadness of his passing is hard to contemplate, and the wonders of ‘what if’ will remain. To everyone who shared our love for Percy, we are so sorry. The horse of my lifetime – and my honour to have been called his owner.”

https://www.racingtv.com/news/dual-cheltenham-festival-winner-presenting-percy-dies

For me, the words of Philip Reynolds says everything, he was a special horse and so many people fell in love with him, including his long term partner Davy Russell. It makes me sad that he couldn’t have the retirement he truly deserved. It’s sad when any horse passes away and this was no different, the day it was announced everybody on social media was speaking about him and his talent. I think he was a very talented horse and maybe we didn’t get to see him show his full potential. After his win in November 2020, I think we all held out hope that the old Presenting Percy was back and we’d go on to see him continue winning and coming back stronger than ever, it breaks my heart that we will never get that opportunity now.

I hope you’ve enjoyed having a look back at this legends career, like I did whilst writing. Rest in peace Presenting Percy.

I will see you all in my next post Wednesday evening at 6pm.

Richard Johnson – Years at the Top – Happy Retirement!

Good Morning!

Welcome to a new post here at zoelouisesmithx.com. After the news a couple of weeks ago that Richard Johnson was retiring from the saddle I have decided to have a look at some facts and figures of his career so I can compile them all into this post for you all. As many people know by now, Richard was the first person within racing to give up his time and allow me to interview him (twice) and has always supported me and helped me with anything I’ve ever needed, which I appreciate more than anyone realises. The day I first interviewed him, he knew it was the first one I was doing and he knew I was nervous, so he took his time, didn’t rush me and he allowed me to make mistakes, he then spoke to me after the interview and gave me encouragement and support to continue doing what I loved and that’s exactly what I did and I am so glad I did! If you missed my interviews with Richard you can read them here… 2017: https://zoelouisesmithx.com/2017/10/20/worcester-races-exclusive-interview-with-richard-johnson/ and 2019: https://zoelouisesmithx.com/2019/11/22/an-updated-interview-with-champion-jockey-richard-johnson/ . I hope you enjoy those! However, without further ado, I’m just going to jump right into it.


Richard Johnson OBE was born on July 21st 1977 in Hereford, England into a racing family, especially with his mother being Sue Johnson, a horse racing trainer. At 16 years old Richard left school to work for David Nicholson.

Richard’s first win came in April 1994 when he won on Rusty Bridge at Hereford, which turned out to be his only win of the season. However, the following season the 1995-1996 season, Richard rode 56 winners and became the Champion Conditional Jockey at just 18 years old. And he didn’t stop there, the next season 1996-1997 was the first time Richard rode 100 winners in a season ending up with 102 and from that year Richard rode 100 winners every single season (apart from the 2020-2021 season when Richard has retired on 73 winners).

1996 was a pretty good year for Richard, not only did he ride 100+ winners, but those winners also included some pretty big races. Starting with the Towton Novices’ Chase (Class A Grade 2) at Wetherby on the 11th of January on Mr Mulligan, a 3/1 shot who beat the 11/10 favourite Call It A Day by a massive 15 lengths.

Richard then won again on Mr Mulligan a month later on February 14th in the Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase (Class A Grade 2), this time as the 9/4 favourite, beating 4/1 shot Nahthen Lad by 15 lengths again.

It was then April 11th when Richard had another big win when winning the European Breeders Fund ‘national hunt’ Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Final (Class A Grade 3) at Cheltenham on board Miss Optimist, a 9/1 shot for David Nicholson.

Richard’s first Grade 1 win of many also came in 1996 on April 24th when he won the Heineken Gold Cup on Billygoat Gruff for David Nicholson at 7/1.

Moving swiftly into 1997, we then have another brilliant season for Richard, starting with a win in the Seagram Top Novices’ Hurdle (Class A) on April 3rd on Midnight Legend (11/2) beating the team of Mick Fitzgerald and Nicky Henderson with the 100/30 favourite Sharpical by 2 lengths. The very next day, on April 4th another Class A came along, when Richard won the Belle Epoque Sefton Novices’ Hurdle on board Forest Ivory (11/2) actually beating a rare Aidan O’Brien horse, Private Peace (11/2) in second being rode by Charlie Swan.

Richard then headed over to Ireland and Punchestown where he won the Country Pride Champion Novice Hurdle (Grade 2) on the 7/4 favourite Midnight Legend, beating the Aidan O’Brien and Paul Carberry partnership with Whats The Verdict (9/1) by 2 and 1/2 lengths.

Moving into the 1997-1998 season, Richard started with winning the William Hill Haldon Gold Cup Chase Limited Handicap (Class A Grade 2) at Exeter on board Viking Flagship (9/1) for David Nicholson, beating stable mate Mulligan (2/1) by 5 lengths.

Richard then won the Bonusprint Bula Hurdle (Class A / Class 1) at Cheltenham on December 13th on board Relkeel for David Nicholson, beating the Martin Pipe and AP McCoy team with the 13/8 favourite Pridwell by 1 and 3/4 lengths. Just 2 weeks later on December 27th, Richard headed to Wetherby with 4/9 favourite Viking Flagship, winning the Castleford Chase (Class A / Class 1).

It was 1998 when Richard would win another Grade 1 when heading to Punchestown on April 30th on board the 2/1 favourite Zafarabad winning the I.A.W.S Champion Four Year Old Hurdle by just a neck. It was almost a year before Richard won another big race, this came on March 18th 1999 when he won the Bonusprint Stayers’ Hurdle Grade 1 at the Cheltenham Festival on a 40/1 shot Anzum, beating the 2/1 joint favourite Le Coudray who was owned by JP McManus, trained by Aidan O’Brien and rode by Charlie Swan by just a neck.

The following month on April 9th, Richard headed to the Aintree Festival and won the Grade 2 Mumm Mildmay Novices’ Chase (Class A) on the 100/30 favourite Spendid – Coincidentally beating a horse trained by who would become Richard’s number 1 trainer, Philip Hobbs with Village King (11/2).

Richard travelled back to Ireland on April 29th where he won the Grade 1 Ballymore Properties Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown on Anzum (7/1). Richard had plenty of Grade 2 and 3 success during the year, however his next Grade 1 came on December 18th 1999 at Ascot when he won the Cantor Fitzgerald Long Walk Hurdle (Class A) on again on Anzum (4/1) beating the 4/9 favourite Deano’s Beeno by 17 lengths who was rode by AP McCoy and trained by Martin Pipe.

Moving into the 21st century, Richard won the Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase Showcase Race Grade 1 in March 2000, on Looks Like Trouble (9/2). He then had many Grade 1, 2 and 3 success over the years including the Tingle Creek Chase and Queen Mother Chase, both with Flagship Uberalles, the County Handicap Hurdle and Victor Chandler Bula Hurdle both on Rooster Booster and many more.

Also want to note that Richard came second on What’s Up Boys in the Grand National in 2002, which turned out to be his best position in the race, also meeting this when coming 2nd again in 2014 on Balthazar King.

The next race I want to mention is the Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) in 2003 when Richard won on 9/2 shot Rooster Booster for Philip Hobbs by 11 lengths. When I interviewed Richard he said this was one of this favourite rides of his career.

I am going to jump ahead a little while now as if I went through every single graded race Richard won I would end up having a post which is about a 3 hour read. So let’s jump to 2012 and on March 13th Richard won the Glenfarclas Handicap Chase (Cross Country Chase) at the Cheltenham Festival on Balthazar King (11/2). In 2014, Richard won the same race on the same horse, this time at 4/1 and in the same year he finished 2nd in the Grand National on Balthazar King at 14/1 which was the closest Richard got to winning the big race (for a secon time) and again, when I spoke to him, he said that was also one of his favourite races in his career.

We also have the Midlands Grand National in 2014 when he won on Goulanes (13/2F). The Peterborough Chase in 2014 with Wishfull Thinking (13/2). The Denman Chase in 2015 on Coneygree (15/8F) as well as the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Haydock in 2015 on the recently retired Definitly Red (9/4).

We also have my favourite ever horse, Native River who partnered with Richard when winning the Mildmay Novices’ Chase, Hennessy Gold Cup Chase in 2016 and the Welsh Grand National all in 2016, followed by the Denman Chase and Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2018, the Many Clouds Chase in 2019 and the Cotswold Chase in 2021.

There was also La Bague Au Roi who won the OLBG Mares Hurdle in 2017, Ladbrokes Novices’ Chase and Kauto Star Novices’ Chase in 2018, Flogas Novice Chase in 2019. As well as Thyme Hill who won the Persian War Novices’ Hurdle, Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and Challow Novices’ Hurdle in 2019 as well as the Long Distance Hurdle in 2020.


Now we’ve had a brief overview, I want to look at Richard Johnson vs AP McCoy because their rivalry ruled the sport for a long while so let’s just have a little look. Overall AP McCoy finished with 4204 British career wins and 144 Irish career wins whereas Richard Johnson finished with 3799 British career wins and 19 Irish career wins.

From the 1995-1996 season until the 2014-2015 season AP McCoy won and retained the Jump Jockey Championship, however Richard was always on his tail and in the 2015-2016 season after AP retired, Richard took over as Champion Jockey and ended up winning it 4 times, before Brian Hughes won it in the 2019-2020 season.


Now, I’ve summed up Richard’s career, but now let’s look at the Big Race Wins. Let’s start with the Cheltenham Festival:

Cheltenham Gold Cup x 2 (Looks Like Trouble – 2000 & Native River – 2018)
Champion Hurdle x 1 (Rooster Booster – 2003)
Queen Mother Champion Chase x 1 (Flagship Uberalles – 2002)
Stayers’ Hurdle x 1 (Anzum – 1999)
Triumph Hurdle x 3 (Made in Japan – 2004, Detroit City – 2006 & Defi du Seuil – 2017)
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle x 1 (Menorah – 2010)
Champion Bumper x 1 (Cheltenian – 2011)
Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle x 1 (Massini’s Maguire – 2007)
Arkle Challenge Trophy x 1 (Captain Chris – 2011)
RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase x 1 (One Knight – 2003)
Centenary Novices’ Handicap Chase x 1 (Copper Bleu – 2010)
Coral Cup x 1 (Monkerhostin – 2004)
Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase x 2 (Balthazar King – 2012 & 2014)
Fred Winter Juvenile Novices’ Handicap Hurdle x 1 (Flying Tiger – 2017)
Pertemps Final x 1 (Fingal Bay – 2014)
Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase x 2 (Dark Stranger – 2000 & Young Spartacus – 2003)
County Handicap Hurdle x 1 (Rooster Booster – 2002)

Now let’s look at some notable races in Britain:

Tingle Creek Chase x 1 (Flagship Uberalles – 2000)
Long Walk Hurdle x 4 (Anzum – 1999, Mighty Man – 2006 & Reve di Sivola – 2012 & 2013
Henry VIII Novices’ Chase x 1 (Fair Along – 2006)
Kauto Star Novices’ Chase x 1 (La Bague Au Roi – 2018)
Finale Juvenile Hurdle x 3 (Franchoek – 2007, Le Rocher – 2013 & Defi Du Seuil – 2016)
Challow Novices’ Hurdle x 2 (Fingal Bay – 2012 & Thyme Hill – 2020)
Ascot Chase x 1 (Captain Chris – 2014)
Manifesto Novices’ Chase x 2 (Wishfull Thinking – 2011 & Menorah – 2012)
Anniversary 4-Y-O Novices’ Hurdle x 2 (Lord Brex – 2000 & Detroit City – 2006)
Betway Bowl x 1 (Escartefigue – 1998)
Top Novices’ Hurdle x 5 (Midnight Legend – 1997, Phardante Flyer – 2000, In Contrast – 2002, Mighty Man – 2005 & Lalor – 2018)
Mildmay Novices’ Chase x 3 (Spendid – 1999, What’s Up Boys – 2001 & Native River – 2016)
Sefton Novices’ Hurdle x 2 (Forest Ivory – 1997 & Saint Are – 2011)
Liverpool Hurdle x 2 (Mighty Man – 2006 & 2007)
Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase x 1 (Sporting John – 2021)

And now a quick look at Irish notable winners:

Irish Gold Cup x 2 (Florida Pearl – 2001 & 2004)
Punchestown Gold Cup x 1 (Planet of Sound – 2010)
Champion Stayers Hurdle x 1 (Anzum – 1999)
Punchestown Champion Chase x 1 (Flagship Uberalles – 2003)
Ladbrokes Champion Chase x 1 (Looks Like Trouble – 2000)
Dr P. J. Moriarty Novice Chase x 1 (La Bague Au Roi – 2019)
Herald Champion Novice Hurdle x 1 (Midnight Legend – 1997)
Ryanair Novice Chase x 1 (Captain Chris – 2011)
Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle x 2 (What’s Up Boys – 2000 & Spirit of Adjisa – 2011)
Champion Four Year Old Hurdle x 1 (Zafarabad – 1998)

Also think it’s so important to note here that Richard Johnson rode in the Grand National 21 times without winning which holds the record for the most rides without a win, the closest he got was 2nd in 2002 on What’s Up Boys and 2014 on Balthazar King. So let’s sim up his 21 rides:

1/21 = Unseated
6/21 = Fell
5/21 = Pulled Up
2/21 = Placed
4/21 = Finished
2/21 = Brought Down
1/21 = Refused


Things to note… Richard Johnson became the eighth National Hunt jockey to ride 1000 winners in April 2003. In December 2009, at Newbury, Richard became the second jockey to hit 2000 winners, only joining AP McCoy. In January 2016, Richard had his 3000th winner and after being runner up 16 times to AP McCoy, he finally became Champion Jockey.

I also want to note, even though everybody knows by now, that Richard Johnson was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2019 New Year Honours for services to Horse Racing. And on April 3rd 2021, Richard Johnson announced his immediate retirement at Newton Abbot.


So there we have it, I know this post was a little bit all over the place, but I hope it all makes sense as it does to me! I hope you all enjoyed.

I will hopefully see you all in my next post on Wednesday at 6pm!

An Interview with Aidan Coleman

Good Evening!

Welcome to a new post here at zoelouisesmithx.com. Before we get into today’s post I want to mention Lorna Brooke as this is my first post since hearing about her tragic death. My thoughts are with her family, friends and anyone who knew her personally. It’s a heart-breaking time for the sport and anyone involved in the sport in any capacity. Jockey’s put their lives and bodies on the line every single day and people should appreciate that more than they do.


On to today’s post… I got the chance to speak with the Grand National 100/1 runner up, Aidan Coleman this week and after an incredible effort in the Grand National I am very grateful to get the chance to have a chat with him about all things racing, so let’s just jump right in. I hope you all enjoy this one as much as I have!


Me: You’ve rode some incredible horses in some incredible races such as Paisley Park, Put The Kettle On, Epatante and so many more, but what is your favourite race of your career, win or lose?

Aidan: Erm, I suppose it’s tricky, as I say, you’ve alluded to some great ones there. I suppose any of Paisley’s 3 Grade 1’s were special. Obviously the first one was our first Grade 1 which was brilliant because it took so long to do so that was special. His next one was the Stayers Hurdle at the Festival, he was one of the bankers so that was amazing, then also his last Grade 1 in the Long Walk just before Christmas, that was brilliant for a few different reasons, in the fact he was on a comeback trail after what happened to him in the previous Stayers Hurdle, so it was great and very satisfying to get him back and how he did it as well, he just pulled it out of the fire late on and that was very satisfying and a great thrill to win the race.

Me: The one question I think everyone wants me to ask is how is Paisley Park now after being pulled up at Aintree?

Aidan: Yeah, he’s great. I just looked after him, he ran brilliantly at Cheltenham and although he’d been showing the right signs at home, you never know until you get on the track and he was just feelings the affects of Cheltenham basically, so we looked after him and I have no doubt he’ll come back in great form next year and get back winning again.

Me: And we have to speak about what happened just over a week ago when you came second in the Grand National to Rachael Blackmore, which is brilliant in itself, but how did you really feel knowing you was so close to winning it for the first time?

Aidan: Terrible. Absolutely gutting. I’ve never been so down after a race as I was that. Look, its great to be involved in the race. I rode Henry’s other one and he had the 1-2 so it’s great to be a part of it, delighted for everybody but from a personal point of view to get that close and be doing so well turning in and nearly thinking you’re going to win the National and not, it’s very tough to take.

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

Aidan: Kauto Star. He was just brilliant, from 2 miles to 3 miles 2 Gold Cup and longevity as well. Definitely Kauto Star.

Me: One question I like to raise to the jockey’s that I speak with is the discussion surrounding banning the whip, what are your opinions on that?

Aidan: I think it shouldn’t be a discussion. I can see where people are coming from but it’s not really a whip, it’s foam cushioned, it’s foam padded, it does not affect a horse, there’s no element of pain. It’s used very much as a safety measure. You have a lot of people say about the whole horse welfare thing but I think without the whip you’d have a lot more horse welfare accidents to be honest. I think it’s essential and it does not harm the horses.

Me: You’re now Olly Murphy’s number 1 stable jockey, can you tell us a little bit about how that partnership came to be?

Aidan: I suppose, Richard Johnson was his number 1 jockey, he didn’t have a stable jockey then over the years he’s built up a really exciting team and an ever growing team as well and it was getting to a stage where he needed a little bit more continuity. I think it was a hard decision for him because it was nothing to do with Richard – it was the opposite – it was nothing to do with Richard’s riding, he just had too many commitments basically. His team and the quality of horses he was building, he needed some more consistency. And as Richard was so popular and so good, that wasn’t always the case, so he needed someone more available.

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

Aidan: Erm, well it would always be Richard Johnson to be fair so if we did this a couple of weeks ago it would be easy. But look, I have a lot of respect for everybody who does the game over a long period of time. I think Richard was the ultimate professional and ultimate role model and I think especially with how things are these days with young lads – they don’t really understand it all. They’re very nice kids but it’s just a different generation, they don’t really get what it takes to do the job over a period of time. I think anyone who rides over jumps deserves a lot of respect but the years they ride and the more they ride, the more respect they get because they’ve done the hard graft. The more you do it, the more respect you deserve because it’s not easy.

Me: And on from that a little bit, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given by another jockey, trainer or owner?

Aidan: I suppose it’s not really advice for racing, it’s just advice in general… Just work hard and try your best, I think that’s the same in any walk of life and racing is the same. You get out what you put in, if you work hard and conduct yourself in the right way in any walk of life, the rest will fall into place.

Me: What is the one race you haven’t won that you would love to?

Aidan: The Grand National. Very very easy. The Grand National.

Me: If you could choose a horse to watch for the next season or two, what horse would you choose?

Aidan: That’s a good question. But if you’re watching it then you want to be riding it if you get what I mean? So I’m going to have to dodge that question I think Zoe.

Me: You’ve rode for some massive owners within racing including JP McManus in the famous green and gold silks, do you ever feel more pressure when you’re riding in silks like those that are so well known within the sport?

Aidan: No, simple as. Look its great to ride any good horse in any race and every owner is very important and the riding fee is the same so they all deserve for us to go and try our best. But on the other side, when you’re riding for owners like JP that you mentioned and some other big owners, these people have been in the game so long that ultimately, it’s not less pressure because you still have to go out and try your best but if things go wrong, they have been there and it’s happened and they’re very very understanding and you know, it’s almost, they’ve just been in the game so long and understand what can go wrong.

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

Aidan: I suppose it has to come to Cheltenham because it’s one of those places where it really matters, the Festival is magic. I suppose if you’re going midweek, I really like Uttoxeter, I do quite well around there. There’s not many tracks I don’t like, I’m quite happy to go to most of them, there’s a few that I won’t name that I’d happily never go to again, but because it’s nothing personal, nothing against the tracks or those that run them I won’t name them, it’s more that I just don’t like riding around them, but most tracks are very well run and as long as you’ve got good rides then you’re happy to go.

Me: And obviously over the past 12 months there hasn’t been any crowds allowed, personally have you found it easier or harder?

Aidan: I suppose at first it was a bit odd and we had to get used to it, but we’d just came back from 3 months without racing so we were just happy to be there and that was fine. I suppose after that you just get used to it like you get used to anything else in life don’t you? But we will welcome them back and we can’t wait for them to come back.

Me: With the end of the season being so close and the Jockey Championship being so competitive this year, who do you think will be crowned this weekend, Harry Skelton or Brian Hughes?

Aidan: Look, it’s very important for Brian to have a good Perth, it’s up north, he’s got 3 days at Perth to hopefully have a few winners. It’s very hard, I get on well with the both lads, they’re both top class. I’m being very diplomatic here, but it is very hard and I’ll be gutted for whoever loses because they don’t deserve to lose, whoever that may be Harry or Brian, there’s gonna be one of them… A draw would be fantastic to be fair, that would be the ultimate. It would be fantastic to be fair but it’s not usually how these things work, so yeah, it’s gonna be hard for whoever doesn’t win. Look, Brian’s been champion before, this will be Harry’s first go, but I don’t think Brian Hughes will only be Champion Jockey once in his career, I think he’ll have a few more championships before he retires and probably the same for Harry as well.

Me: What is your best advice for a young person with a passion they want to follow whether that be in racing or otherwise?

Aidan: I think it goes back to the best advice I’ve been given… Just go for it. Work hard and try your best and conduct yourself in the right way. You need to have a good attitude and try your best and you’ll get something out of it.


As always, I want to thank Aidan for taking time out of his day to speak with me. He was very honest, open and informative during our call and that makes my job as an interviewer so much easier. I thoroughly enjoyed speaking with Aidan and getting a real insight to all things racing through his eyes and it is always brilliant to hear a horse like Paisley Park is okay and healthy back home. I have the upmost respect for jockeys, they put their bodies on the line every single day for the sport and I think we all take that for granted when we shouldn’t.

I will see you all Saturday morning at 11am for my next post!

Rachael Blackmore – The Best Female Jockey We Have Ever Seen?

Good Evening!

Welcome to a new post here on zoelouisesmithx.com. After the incredible few days racing at Aintree last week, I thought it was only fitting this evening that I looked into the first female jockey to ever win the Grand National and that is of course Rachael Blackmore. I was lucky enough to interview Rachael at the beginning of the year which you can read in full right here: https://zoelouisesmithx.com/2021/01/23/an-interview-with-rachael-blackmore/. We spoke about all things racing including interestingly how her partnership with Grand National winning trainer Henry De Bromhead materialised. However, today’s post is all about Rachael’s career this far. She has started breaking records within the sport and proving that females can compete in an even field with the men and personally, I think that is so important for young girls who may want to get into the sport. So without further ado, shall we just jump straight in? Before we start, this post was written on April 10th and 11th 2021 therefore does NOT include Rachael’s rides at Fairyhouse on the 13th of April 2021.


Rachael Blackmore was born on the 11th of July 1989 in Killenaule, County Tipperary in Ireland, making her currently 31 years old. Rachael’s first ride came on the 28th of January 2010 where she competed in the DBS/EBF Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Commonly known as a bumper) at Ffos Las on board Pilsudski Rose for trainer A J Kennedy where unfortunately they only managed an 11th place at 66/1. It was actually a whole 13 months before Rachael managed to find her first winner, which came on the 10th of February 2011 when she rode Stowaway Pearl to victory at Thurles at 10/1 for trainer John Hanlon in the Tipperary Lady Riders Handicap Hurdle as an amateur jockey.

Just over 4 years later in March 2015, Rachael turned professional and on September 3rd of the same year, she rode her first winner as a professional when she won on the 11/2 shot Most Honourable in the Woodrooff Handicap Hurdle at Clonmel, again for John Hanlon.

Just 2 years later on March 12 2017, Rachael won her first ‘big’ race when she won the Download The Ladbrokes Exchange App Leinster National Handicap Chase (Grade A) at Naas on Abolitionist, a 12/1 shot for Ellmarie Holden. That same year, Rachael became the first woman to win the Conditional Riders’ Title for the 2016/2017 season.

A fact that may surprise some is that Rachael actually also rode on the flat, with her first winner coming on May 16th 2017 at Killarney in the July Racing Festival 17th-20th 2017 Race for Denise O’Shea on Supreme Vinnie at 14/1.

One month later, on June 21st 2017 Rachael rode her 60th racecourse winner at Wexford in the Oulart Maiden Hurdle, where she rode out her claim. She ended up winning on the 4/1 shot Sweet Home Chicago for trainer Colin Bowe by a massive 16 lengths.

We swiftly move into 2018 and on July 22nd at Tipperary, Rachael rode her first ever treble when she partnered up with Henry De Bromhead to win on Theatre Dreams (10/1) by 8 and 1/2 lengths, Monbeg Chit Chat (9/4F) by 2 and 3/4 lengths and Classic Theatre (5/4F) by a head.

Rachael followed that up on February 16th 2019 with another treble when she won on Star Max (5/2) for Joseph O’Brien by 1/2 length, followed up with her first Grade 2 win of her career when winning on Monalee (EvensF) in the Red Mills Chase for Henry De Bromhead by 2 lengths with her third win of the day coming on Smoking Gun (4/1F) for Joseph O’Brien again. Just the next day on February 17th, Rachael would go on to win her second Grade 2 when winning by just 1/2 length to the 5/4 favourite Champagne Classic in the Ladbrokes Acca Boosty Ten Up Novice Chase on Chris’s Dream (5/2), again for Henry De Bromhead.

Moving ahead just one month, we head into the Cheltenham Festival 2019. This was the year that Rachael rode her first Festival winner when she rode 5/1 favourite A Plus Tard to victory in the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase by a massive 16 lengths for Henry De Bromhead. It was also this festival that brought Rachael her first ever Grade 1 when she rode the massive 50/1 outsider Minella Indo to victory by 2 lengths to the 4/1 favourite Commander Of Fleet in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. This victory made Rachael the first female to ride a Grade 1 winner over hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival.

Just one month after her very successful Cheltenham Festival, on April 21st, Rachael had her first Grade 1 success in Ireland when she rode 6/4 favourite Honeysuckle to victory by 5 and 1/2 lengths at Fairyhouse in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final.

Proving to be a woman of many talents, on June 17th 2020, Rachael guided Oriental Eagle to victory at Limerick in the Martin Malony Stakes for Emmet Mullins. This being Rachael’s first Listed winner on the flat.

Heading into 2021, Rachael took the Cheltenham Festival by storm, ending up being the first female to be leading jockey with six winners. The six winners including Honeysuckle in the Grade 1 Champion Hurdle, Bob Olinger in the Grade 1 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, Sir Gerhard in the Grade 1 Weatherbys Champion Bumper, Allaho in the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase, Telmesomethinggirl in the Grade 2 Parnell Properties Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle and Quilixios in the Grade 1 JCB Triumph Hurdle. As well as a second place in the Grade 1 WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase on board A Plus Tard (100/30).

Then onto the day that pushed me into finally producing this post, the Grand National. Rachael had the leg up on the 11/1 shot Minella Times for her regular trainer Henry De Bromhead carrying 10-3. Rachael went clear at the last and stayed on to win by 6 and 1/2 lengths to 100/1 shot Balko Des Flos in second. This victory made her the first female to ever win the Grand National and what a victory it was.

I think the Grand National 2021 will be one that is spoken about for weeks, months, even years because of what Rachael has achieved. Many years ago, we had women cutting their hair to try and get a ride in the Grand National because they looked like a male. But over the years things have changed dramatically with the likes of Nina Carberry, Katie Walsh, Lizzie Kelly, Bryony Frost and now Rachael Blackmore carving the way for females to become jump jockeys at the highest level and I love to see that!


Next, let’s sum all of those up and go through some of Rachael’s major wins in her career, starting with the UK and the Cheltenham Festival:

  • Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle x 1 ( Minella Indo – 2019)
  • Centenary Novices’ Handicap Chase x 1 (A Plus Tard – 2019)
  • David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle x 1 (Honeysuckle – 2020)
  • Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle x 1 (Bob Olinger – 2021)
  • Champion Bumper x 1 (Sir Gerhard – 2021)
  • Champion Hurdle x 1 (Honeysuckle – 2021)
  • Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle x 1 (Telmesomethinggirl – 2021)
  • Ryanair Chase x 1 (Allaho – 2021)
  • Triumph Hurdle x 1 (Quilixios – 2021)

Also in the UK:

  • Grand National x 1 (Minella Times – 2021)

Next, let’s look at some major wins in Ireland:

  • Racing Post Novice Chase x 1 (Notebook – 2019)
  • Paddy’s Reward Club Chase x 1 (A Plus Tard – 2019)
  • Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final x 1 (Honeysuckle – 2019)
  • Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle x 1 (Minella Indo – 2019)
  • Arkle Novice Chase x 1 (Notebook – 2020)
  • Hatton’s Grace Hurdle x 2 (Honeysuckle – 2019 & 2020)
  • Irish Champion Hurdle x 2 (Honeysuckle – 2020 & 2021)
  • Slaney Novice Hurdle x 1 (Bob Olinger – 2021)

What I want to look at now is some interesting facts and figures that I have managed to find. Please bare in mind that this post was wrote on the 10th of April 2021 so a few figures may be a few days behind if Rachael has anyway winners in between the day of writing and the day of posting which is the 14th of April. With that in mind, let’s get right into these.

First things first, the trainers that Rachael has ridden for. Now the first one may not come as a surprise, but they trainer Rachael has ridden the most for is Henry De Bromhead. She has ridden 921 times for him, being victorious in 173 including 15 Grade 1’s and 11 Grade 2’s as well as placing in 218 races. This means that Rachael has won 18.78% and placed in 23.67%. So overall Rachael has won or placed in 42.45% of the rides she has had for Henry. I also found that roughly, she has won $8,350,189 AUD, which at the time of writing this (10th April), converts to £4,643,673.71 for Henry alone.

The next trainer is John Hanlon, Rachael has ridden 390 times for him with 28 victories and 62 places. Meaning Rachael has won 7.18% and placed in 15.9% meaning the overall percentage of wins and places is 23.08%. Winning $518,168 AUD which is the equivalent to £288,161.52 in prize money for John.

Third is Miss D O’Shea who Rachael has ridden for 100 times, winning 14 and placing in 20. Meaning she has won 14%, placed in 20% with an overall win/place percentage of 34%. She has won a total of $299,385 AUD which converts to £166,492.79 in prize money.

We then have Ellmarie Holden who Rachael has ridden for 62 times, winning 13 times and placing 23 times. With a win percentage of 20.97%, a place percentage of 37.1% with an overall win/place percentage of 58.07%. In terms of prize money, Rachael has won $418,210 AUD for Ellmarie, which converts to £232,573.27.

The fifth trainer in the list is Willie Mullins. Rachael has ridden 71 times for Willie, including 12 victories and 15 places, which works out to 16.9% wins, 21.13% places with an over all win/place percentage of 38.02%. She has also won $874,981 AUD for Willie, which equals £486,590.93.

Other notable trainers Rachael has ridden for is Joseph O’Brien who she has ridden for 67 time, winning 11 (16.42%), placing in 17 (25.37%) meaning an overall win/place percentage of 41.79%. Mouse Morris who Rachael has rode for 54 times, winning 6 (11.11%), placing in 12 (22.22%) meaning an overall win/place percentage of 33.33%. Also Gordon Elliott, who she has rode for 46 times with 6 victories (13.04%) and 12 places (21.74%) so an overall win/place percentage of 34.78%. And finally a mention to Noel Meade, who Rachael has rode for 13 times, winning 4 (30.77%) and placing twice (15.38%) with an overall win/place percentage of 46.15%.

Now I’m going to focus on where those wins came. This list is in order of where the most victories have came and so on. When I interviewed Rachael back in January, she told me her favourite track was Leopardstown, however the figures show that Leopardstown is not even in the top 3 of the Irish tracks that Rachael has achieved great things at. In fact Leopardstown is 13th in the list with Rachael riding 157 times, winning 13 times (8.28%) placing in 30 (19.11%) meaning overall the win/place percentage is 27.39%.

So let’s look at the courses where Rachael has done the best so far in her career. (These are all based on most wins.) First up, let’s look at the Irish courses and the first one which is Punchestown, where Rachael has ridden 235 times, winning 37 times (15.75%) and placing 49 times (20.85%) meaning an overall win/place percentage of 36.6%. Secondly is Fairyhouse where Rachael has rode 233 times, winning 25 (10.73%) and placing 46 times (19.74%) meaning an overall win/place percentage of 30.47%. The third course on the list is Clonmel where Rachael has rode 131 times, winning 23 times (17.56%) and placing 30 times (22.9%) meaning an overall win/place percentage of 40.46%.

Moving on to the UK courses now. First up is Cheltenham, Rachael has had 66 rides, winning 10 (15.15%) and placing in 7 (10.61%) meaning an overall percentage of 25.76%. Secondly, which surprised me actually is Huntingdon where Rachael has had 4 rides, winning 3 (75%) and placing in 1 (25%) meaning she has a win/place percentage of 100% here. Thirdly, another surprise to me is Cartmel, here Rachael has rode 11 times, winning twice (18.18%) and placing 3 times (27.27%) meaning an overall win/place percentage of 45.45%. Finally I wanted to look at the fourth course, where Rachael famously broke the record of being the first female to win the Grand National and that is of course Aintree. Rachael has only had 13 rides here, winning twice (15.38%) and placing twice (15.38) meaning an overall win/place percentage of 30.76%.

The next thing I wanted to look at is the horses Rachael has had the most success on. The first horse I want to mention is Honeysuckle who Rachael has ridden 11 times and won 11 times meaning a 100% win record. Another with a 100% win record is Abbey Magic who Rachael has ridden 4 times and won 4 times on. Next is a mention to Bob Olinger, they have partnered together 4 times, winning 3 times (75%) and placing once (25%) meaning a win/place percentage of 100%. Another 100% win/place record is A Plus Tard who Rachael has ridden 10 times, winning 3 times (30%) and placing 7 times (70%). Another couple of noticeable mentions goes to Supreme Vinnie who Rachael has ridden 27 times, winning 7 times (25.93%) and placing 7 times (25.93%) meaning an overall win/place percentage of 51.86%. A quick mention also to Minella Indo, they have partnered together 10 times, winning 5 times (50%) and placing 3 times (30%) giving an overall win/place percentage of 80% an finally a mention to Notebook who Rachael has ridden 15 times, winning 6 (40%) and placing in 5 (33.33%) meaning an overall win/place percentage of 73.33%).


Overall, from the research I have done, you can see Rachael is a ridiculously talented jockey and at 31 years old, we potentially have many more years left of her riding at the highest level and she could go on to achieve more and more each year. I have met Rachael multiple times and was lucky enough to interview her earlier this year and each and every time she has been incredible, she is welcoming, she speaks to everyone and some of the stories I have seen on social media this week have shown how classy she is. Not only is she super talented, she’s also an incredible ambassador for the sport in every single way. I, for one, am so grateful I am alive at the same time as Rachael Blackmore and able to witness the greatness she has brought to this sport.

One of the 100’s of reasons I absolutely love racing is because women can compete with men on an even playing field at the highest level and be just as good. Racing is a male dominated sport, we all know that, but seeing so many women come through at the highest level is incredible to see and Rachael is one of those paving the way. I love watching Rachael and I hope we have many more years to come of being able to watch her.

I really hope you have all enjoyed reading this post, as much as I loved researching more into Rachael. I shall see you all in my next post!

Best Mate: What Makes a People’s Horse?

Good Evening!

Welcome to another post here on zoelouisesmithx.com. Today’s post is a new post in my What Makes a People’s Horse series all about Best Mate, thank you to @WattyRacing for this suggestion. Let’s just get right into it!


Best Mate was foaled on 28th January 1995 by Un Desperado out of Katday. He was bred by breeder Jacques Van’t Hart and owned by Jim Lewis who sent him into training with Henrietta Knight.

Best Mate started his career on 14th November 1999 at Cheltenham in a National Hunt Flat Race (Bumper). He had Jim Culloty on board and a starting price of 10/1, shocking a lot of people, he won by 3/4 lengths to Hard To Start (14/1). A couple of weeks later, he then headed to Sandown on 3rd December 1999 for a Novices’ Hurdle where he started as the 5/4 favourite, again under Jim Culloty, he easily won by 10 lengths to Rosco (100/30).

We then move into the new millennium and on the 8th January 2000, Best Mate headed back to Sandown for the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle. Here he started at 4/1 under Jim Culloty, here he finished second by 2 and 1/2 lengths to the 11/8 favourite Monsignor.

Best Mate took a 66 day break before heading back to Cheltenham, this time for the Festival and the Grade 1 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on the 14th March 2000. Under Jim Culloty again, he started the race at 6/1, where he finished second by 3/4 of a length to Sausalito Bay (14/1), however beating the 5/4 favourite Youlneverwalkalone by 1 and 1/4 lengths. Next up for Best Mate was Aintree on the 7th of April 2000 for a Grade 2 Novices’ Hurdle, where as the 4/11 odds on favourite, under Jim Culloty, he beat Copeland (9/2) for AP McCoy and Martin Pipe by 2 and 1/2 lengths.

Best Mate then took a 193 day summer break before returning to the track at Exeter on the 17th of October 2000, this time for a Novices’ Chase. He started as the 1/2 favourite and unsurprisingly won by 2 and 1/2 lengths under Jim Culloty to Bindaree (3/1). Just under a month later, with Jim Culloty, Best Mate headed back to Cheltenham for a Novices’ Chase in the November meeting on the 12th of November. This time starting as the 8/13 odds on favourite, where he won comfortably by 18 lengths to Fathalkhair (33/1) for Richard Johnson and Brian Ellison.

Swiftly we move into 2001 and after an 83 day break, Best Mate returned to Sandown on the 3rd of February for a Grade 1 Novices’ Chase and as the 5/4 favourite, under Jim Culloty, he won by 13 lengths to Crocadee (5/1). Best Mate avoided Cheltenham and after a 63 day break he headed to Aintree on the 7th of April for the Grade 1 Aintree Hurdle, under Jim Culloty as the 3/1 favourite he finished second by 14 lengths to Barton (9/1) for jockey Tony Dobbin and trainer Tim Easterby.

Best Mate then took a 213 day summer break before returning to Exeter on the 6th of November 2001. As the odds on 8/13 favourite under Jim Culloty he won by 20 lengths to Desert Mountain I (14/1) for jockey Joe Tizzard and trainer Paul Nicholls. We then move forward a couple of weeks and on the 24th of November 2001 Best Mate headed to Ascot for the First National Gold Cup, here he started as the 8/13 favourite under Jim Culloty where he finished second by just 1/2 length to Wahiba Sands (4/1) for AP McCoy riding for Martin Pipe.

One month later, on Boxing Day 2001, Best Mate headed to Kempton for the King George Chase, this time being rode by Champion Jockey AP McCoy, where they started at 5/2, however they could only manage a second by 3/4 of a length behind Florida Pearl (8/1) for jockey Adrian Maguire and trainer Willie Mullins.

We then move into 2002 and back to the Cheltenham Festival, so after a 78 day break, Best Mate headed to Cheltenham on the 14th of March 2002 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Here he was back under his regular jockey Jim Culloty where they started at 7/1 and won by 1 and 3/4 lengths to Commanche Court (25/1).

After winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Best Mate had a 254 day summer break before returning to the track in November, this time heading to Huntingdon on the 23rd of November for the Peterborough Chase, starting as the 8/15 favourite under Jim Culloty, Best Mate won by 8 lengths to Douze Douze (7/2). Just over a month later on Boxing Day 2002, Best Mate headed to Kempton for the King George Chase, where as the 11/8 favourite, back under Champion Jockey AP McCoy, Best Mate won by 1 and 1/2 lengths to Marlborough (14/1) for jockey Timmy Murphy and trainer Nicky Henderson.

As we head into 2003, Best Mate took a 77 day break before returning to the Cheltenham Festival on the 13th of March 2003 to try and retain his Gold Cup title. With regular jockey Jim Culloty taking the ride on the 13/8 favourite, he won by 10 lengths to Truckers Tavern (33/1) meaning he was now a duel Gold Cup winner.

After impressively winning his second Gold Cup, Best Mate took a 254 day break before returning to Huntingdon for the Peterborough Chase, here he was the 8/13 favourite under Kim Culloty, however he could only manage a second place to Jair Du Cochet (100/30). To end 2003, on the 28th of December, Best Mate crossed the Irish Sea and headed to Leopardstown for the Grade 1 Ericsson Chase, here he started as the 8/11 favourite under Jim Culloty where he won impressively by 9 lengths to Le Coudray (14/1).

The 2004 Cheltenham Festival quickly came around and after an 81 day break, Best Mate headed straight into his third Gold Cup on the 18th of March, where as the 8/11 favourite, under Jim Culloty, he successfully won his 3rd consecutive Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Best Mate then took a 246 day break before returning to Exeter on the 19th of November 2004 where he won the William Hill Chase as the 4/7 favourite, this time under Timmy Murphy. Best Mate ended 2004 by heading back over to Leopardstown for the Grade 1 Lexus Chase on the 28th of December 2004, however as the 9/10 favourite, back under his regular jockey Jim Culloty, he could only manage a second place, finishing behind Beef Or Salmon by 7 lengths.

The plan was for Best Mate to head straight to the Cheltenham Festival to try and win a 4th Gold Cup however just 8 days before he was due to run, he was withdrew from the race after he burst a blood vessel on the gallops. So therefore Best Mate wouldn’t be seen again until the 1st of November 2005, when he returned to Exeter, sadly, this day turned out to be the saddest day for racing fans, jockey Paul Carberry pulled up on Best Mate during the running of the Haldon Gold Cup, however when he dismounted, Best Mate stumbled and fell to his knees, sadly he collapsed and died of a suspected heart attack.

When Best Mate died, it made national news with everybody within the sport and outside of the sport feeling absolutely heartbroken at the loss of a complete legend. Government regulations meant that his body could not be buried at Exeter like his owner wanted, instead Best Mate was cremated and on the 10th of December 2005, his ashes were buried beside the winning post at his much loved course Cheltenham.

In March 2006, a life size bronze sculpture of Best Mate was unveiled at Cheltenham Racecourse, which still stands to this day. There is also a bronze stature near to the farm in Lockinge where he trained. In March 2007, Best Mate was named one of the ‘elite 12’ on the Cheltenham Hall of Fame.


So there we have Best Mate’s career. I don’t even think we need to go into much detail about his career, because as you can see he was a complete legend. However, let’s have a look at his career form:

11221/1112/1221/111/211/12/P/

So from that, as you can see, Best Mate had 22 races, winning 14 of them and finishing 2nd in 7 of them, the 22nd, sadly being where he pulled up before his life ended. This means that in Best Mate’s career, he never once fell. Matching Arkle’s record, Best Mate won three consecutive Cheltenham Gold Cup’s and he was the first horse to win multiple Gold Cup’s since L’Escargot who won in 1970 and 1971.

So, to sum it up, Best Mate was an unreal horse who everybody fell in love with. I was alive during his time, but I was young and don’t really remember much about him, but even though, he is still a horse that I know of and have been told about many a times by my family and those online who were lucky enough to remember him. I don’t think I need to say anymore about him, he was a legend and always will be and I’m so happy that his statue remains at Cheltenham so generations like my own can respect him for what he did during his career.

I want to thank you for reading this post and I hope to see you all in my next one!

An Interview with Richard Pitman

Good Evening!

I hope you’ve all a brilliant final day of the Cheltenham Festival. Today I am super excited to bring you an interview with Richard Pitman. I had the honour of speaking to Richard this week about all things racing including that race Crisp vs Red Rum. I thoroughly enjoyed speaking to Richard and I hope you all enjoy!


Me: You obviously won some incredible races in your career, but what was your favourite race, win or lose?

Richard: I’m afraid it’s pretty obvious, but it was 40 years before you were born, it was Crisp in the 1973 Grand National finishing second to Red Rum. And the reason being, Aintree is just a magical cauldron and for him to have made the running and jump the fences as if they were hurdles, until all the steam ran out… He won the Queen Mother Champion Chase which is run at the Cheltenham Festival and he won by about 20 lengths and then just to nearly win the national, it was an amazing ride.

Me: The one question I wanted to ask about that Grand National was how did you feel at the time when you got beat by Red Rum and did those feelings change over the years when you realised just how special Red Rum went on to be?

Richard: Well, that’s a good question. You see, the good Champion jockey’s… I was second in the jockey Championship twice but didn’t win it… The good Champion jockey’s, McCoy, Francome, Scudamore, Dunwoody, Dicky Johnson – Their tunnel vision, like Usain Bolt in running races. But I was more of a cavalier, I just enjoyed riding so although it was devastating to be caught – and I could hear him coming, it was fast ground so you could here his hoofed feet and he was a high blower so every time he exhaled his nostril flaps, so it got louder and louder but it was only the last two strides that he swept past me. So utter devastation but only a minute to recover and be elated because it was a ride money couldn’t buy, I had earnt it and it was my ride. Okay, I’ll be blamed for being beaten for many many things. Going on was one of them but that was our plan. He was such a bold jumper, in behind 40 horses he’d have jumped on someone else’s back so that’s what we had to do. I made a wrong decision taking my hand off the reigns to give him a whip half way up the running. You know, he was a big horse, tired, gone… I should’ve kept hold of his head, but there you are, you can’t go back. I remember every blade of grass in that race but I admire Red Rum… So much, you couldn’t not. I rode him for the BBC, I used to do lots of stunts afterwards around Aintree in the build up to the National, so I rode Red Rum with two other horses on the flat track there and Ginger McCain who was a larger than life, micky taking man, said “now then Pitman, you seen his backside in 73, you can look through his ears now lad” and gave me the leg up.

Me: Another question following on from that, I wanted to ask was how did you feel when history essentially repeated itself when your son Mark Pitman got beat on Garrison Savannah by Seagram in a similar fashion in the 1991 Grand National?

Richard: Yeah, good question! Well Mark was heavier than me, I was always a chubby little fella who had trouble with my weight, but Mark was taller and had more trouble. He used to be in his sauna from 5am to 7am in the dead of winter in his garage and then go out and ride 5 or 6 lots on the gallops in the freezing cold, it was really hard work and he was a good jockey. His mother would have hated it but he and I did discuss how to do things and I’m sure she would have done with him many times. And he asked for my advice and I said “Mark you won’t believe how quickly horses lose their petrol up the running if stamina comes into play.” And at elbow he hadn’t gone for Garrison Savannah and I put my coat on as I was working for the BBC and Bill Smith was with me, I said “Bill the replay is yours I’m going to see Mark come in” and as I got my coat on he said “you better turn around, the picture has changed” and as he got to the elbow, again he just flattened out. Once they go at that distance and lose their stamina, they just walk. He was beaten by Seagram who was very cleverly rode by Nigel Hawke coming wide and not challenging close up so not to galvanise Garrison but Garrison had gone. But he rode a great race.

Plus, he had won the Gold Cup 3 weeks before and two hours later was in Cheltenham general hospital with internal injuries and a fractured pelvis, but rode 3 weeks later in the National. But that was nothing to do with him getting beat because he was on plenty of pain killers, but I was so proud of him… I still am.

Me: If you could ride any horse currently in training now, who would you choose and why?

Richard: Aw, there are so many aren’t there? I think Cloth Cap is the biggest certainty we’ve seen in the National for years, providing nothing goes wrong. If you look at the previous videos of McCoy on Clan Royal going down to Becher’s for the second time, five or six clear, on the bridle, two loose horses run across him and force him into the wing of the fence. I mean… It’s such a race where you don’t know what’s going to happen. But Cloth Cap at Jonjo’s, I love the way he jumps, he goes on the ground, he gallops with his head quite low, not overly low, but quite low – which I love. It means a horse is looking at the bottom of the fence, rather than head up, fighting the jockey. So Cloth Cap for me, is the one horse I’d love to ride.

Me: And from your point of view, you retired many years ago, but how do you feel about the discussions to ban the whip? And how important was the whip for yourself when you were riding?

Richard: Right, now… I should not have used my whip on Crisp half way up the running at Aintree, it unbalanced him, I took my hands off the reigns. I think it did more harm than good. And I challenge anyone, anywhere to come up with a video showing me where the use of a whip has stopped a horse from running out or being the aide it’s meant to be. Of course, it’s meant to be used to encourage, but to me it puts a lot of horses off. That’s why I love watching the flat as well, the ground is so much better and there is a lot less use of the whip. I’d agree, let them carry it, but only give them a slap down the shoulder for encouragement, I would not want them to take their hand off the reigns or give them one behind the saddle. I am very strong on that and yet people say to me “but you used it” – Yes I used it, but not in excess. Fred Winter, my trainer would always say “you can give them two, but don’t give them three.”

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

Richard: Probably Cheltenham because I was born there. I could always see the course and I have a field with my sister now on Cleeve Hill looking down into the racecourse. Cheltenham really grabs me and I rode a lot of winners there. I got beaten and should’ve won two gold cups but didn’t, so… Cheltenham is really mine.

Me: A lot of jockey’s don’t go into the TV side of things, what made you make the decision to do so?

Richard: Well, I’d been offered the job as a paddock commentator for the BBC 2 years before I retired but then I had 5 of the best horses in the country, now you wouldn’t give 5 horses up for anything. I didn’t care what the future was. But two years later I was offered the job again and if I turned it down a second time, it wouldn’t be available so I went to Fred Winter on the muck hill, where we were making the muck hill tidy in the morning, and I said to him this is the situation and he said for the first time ever John Francome shared the job with me, he was 10 years young and he was good but I was welcome to ride half the horses as long as I wanted to. But there was only 2 of my good horses left by then and I said to him would you run one in the Grand National, he said no his legs are dodgy so he wouldn’t subject him to it. So I said “well in that case, thank you so much for everything you’ve done for me” I shook his hand and joined BBC.

Me: What was your favourite or most memorable moment whilst working with BBC?

Richard: Well, I was involved for 35 years so there was so many. But Bob Champion and Aldaniti was a fairytale that will be hard to match. And if Aldaniti hadn’t won that day, the second was ridden by John Thorne who was 54 years old, he owned the stallion, owned the mare, bred it, trained it and rode it. So that would have been another fairy story. Another was the void race for two false starts and then of course the one that was put off due to the bomb scare and ran on the Monday.

But the two false starts one was just incredible, I finished my build up to the race, handed over to Peter O’Sullevan and then there’s these two false starts and a group of horses carried on going. The producer said to me ‘Pitman get off your backside and get out there and find out what can happen’ so I ran out of my little pod in the paddock, slipped on the scaffolding boards and I was winded, but we had floor managers so my guy, a great big ex rugby player, picked me up with one hand and pushed me through the crowd, knocking people out of the way as I was trying to get my breath back. I said to the starter “Keith, the whole world is watching, Hong Kong, Australia, America… What can happen?” and he said “I can tell you exactly what will happen. Only the 9 that didn’t fall or complete one circuit can run.” So we’d got the news. I thought I’d done a good job, so I was wondering back and the producer said “okay Pitman that was good but find a steward.” The stewards area that day was an area four ladders high up on some scaffolding and at the bottom was a soldier with a sword and big feathery hat on. He said “you can’t come up here son, it’s stewards only” and I said “I’m sorry, we’re BBC and they’ve asked us to come up to give us the news.” Well when we got one camera and sound man up there and knocked on the door of the porter cabin, out came Patrick Hibbert-Foy who was the stewards secretary he said “yes Pitman what do you want?” and I said “well Patrick, the whole world is watching and we need to know because the next race in Hong Kong can’t run until we’ve got the result of this one.” And he said “You will be told when the people on the racecourse are announced and told first. They’re the paying customers.” And I said “we’ve got 600 million people around the world” and he said “You’ll be told.” And that’s how they viewed it in those days. It was quite an amazing race, I won’t go through it but it had to be stopped. It was the second false start and it had to be stopped. And they put cones across the front of the chair fence which is the 15th and one of the officials stood in the middle of the fence in the cones and waved his arms trying to stop them, but the 9 guys who had carried on thought it was anti’s trying to make a demonstration and they galloped over the chap and through the cones and went around again. And of course once you had gone around once you couldn’t go again if it was raced later on. But it was so exciting.

And the bomb scare, well that was hairy. We kept losing TV positions one by one as they evacuated us along with everyone else and the last man standing was Jim McGrath commentating from a scaffolding very very high down by Becher’s Brook and he spoke for 28 minutes without drawing breath whilst mayhem was going on up in the stands.

Me: How much do you think racing has changed ssince you were riding?

Richard: Oh 360 degrees! I mean, we didn’t ride on Sunday’s, we didn’t have evening racing, we had 2 months off in the summer to recuperate. The styles have changed, we rode longer, we had some pretty good stylists in our day but before that they rode full length, the style has changed. The quality of racing has changed, we’ve had plenty of Gold Cup winners run in the Grand National, but the depth has changed. When I rode Crisp I had 12 stone, top weight, along with L’Escargot (Tommy Carberry) who had won two Cheltenham Gold Cup’s. But we were giving 25 pounds away to Red Rum. You know, it was a few at the top and a great void down the bottom and horses were running off 8 stone 9, they had to carry 10 stone, therefore you had to be rated 110 to get in the race. Now you have to be rated 140 and you still might not get in. So the general overall figure of the horses running at Aintree has improved tremendously. I just love it. I think jockey’s, we were cavaliers in our day, now they’re professionals. They’ve got drivers, nutritionists, people who look after your minds, psychiatrists. You know, like golf and tennis, they are top sportsmen.

Me: And on from that, how much do you think social media and new technology has changed racing?

Richard: Well, it’s very very good to come home and look at your races as a jockey and see what you’ve done wrong. I mean, (AP) McCoy was the most brilliant because he would come home having won 4 races and look to see why he hadn’t won the 5th but also look back at the 4 races he had won and thought should I have done anything different in that race, not to win further, maybe win easier. It’s a tremendous tool, accept with social media it allows people to be anonymous and be absolutely vile, are they called trolls? Now, that isn’t very fair and mentally it pulls people down. My answer to that is, if you’re being targeted by idiots, don’t look at it. Turn it off. It’s a hard enough game mentally, the weight loss, the travelling, the riding is great, but it’s a hard enough game without being pillared on social media.

Me: You mentioned AP McCoy there, do you think there is any current jockey riding who will come close to or beat his records?

Richard: Be very difficult, because Brian Hughes has been around a while, Dicky (Richard) Johnson won’t be going long enough to do it, I think if Dicky (Richard) Johnson’s body holds up, because he’s young, he’s fit, he doesn’t have the weight, no he’s not young sorry, he’s forty something now, his body is trim, he doesn’t have weight which is a huge advantage, but the falls have been taking it’s toll over the last few years on him. He could actually ride more winners than AP rode in history, as long as his body holds out. But we’ve got some great young jockey’s, but again for Sam Twiston-Davies, Tom Scudamore, Aidan Coleman, there’s a stack of very very good jockey’s, have they been riding long enough to get into the same mode as AP… He was Champion Conditional and then for the next 20 years Champion Jockey so right from that early start before he lost his allowance he was champion. You know… It’s going to be a very difficult thing to do.

Me: And talking about Champion Jockey’s, this year we have Harry Skelton, Harry Cobden and Brian Hughes all very close at the top, who do you think will get the edge?

Richard: Well, that’s difficult, I think Brian Hughes will because it matters to him, for example, he’s freelance, he can go anywhere, he’s popular, he’s the go to jockey. For instance, the first two days of Cheltenham he rode in the North so that means he wants winners, not particularly quality winners. In fact, the trainers he rides for don’t necessarily have these top ones. Whereas Cobden will have to go where Paul Nicholls wants him to go for the big races. And the Skelton’s have been amazing haven’t they? How they’ve come on in such a short time, quality and quantity.

Me: And for the final question, what is your best piece of advice for a young person who wants to follow their passion?

Richard: Right, you’ve got to be dedicated of course, but you’ve also got to enjoy it. If you enjoy a job, it isn’t work. Even though in stables it is hard graft and being a jockey, you know, I used to get up very early in the cold and drive with the sweat suit on to lose even more weight, you know it’s a hard old graft but the passion has got to be there, you’ve got to want it. My advice to any young person who goes to riding school is to look at the trainers and see who gives a chance to young people and go to them and make sure they’re not a 10 horse trainer because with a big trainer the crumbs off the table are big enough to feed you because if a senior jockey gets hurt then you come in and get your chance.


So there we have it, I want to say a massive thank you to Richard for his time, it was an honour speaking with him. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and I hope everyone else has too! I also want to say a massive thank you to everyone for the support this week, I am so grateful to anyone who’s taken time out to read my work this week and I will hopefully see you all tomorrow at 11am for my final post in my 7 in 7 days series which is an interview with Eoin Walsh which you do not want to miss!

The History of the Cheltenham Gold Cup

Good Evening!

I hope day 3 of the Cheltenham Festival was a good one for you all and I hope tomorrow’s fourth and final day is even better. This evening I bring to you my final post of the week, The History of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. I hope you enjoy this one and I hope you learn something new!

The Cheltenham Gold Cup is a Grade 1 National Hunt race run on the new course (since 1959), it was first ran in 1924 and is ran over 3 miles, 2 furlongs and 70 yards with 22 fences to jump. The race is open to 5 year olds and over and is ran on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival every March.

In 1924, the winner was Red Splash for jockey Dick Rees for trainer Fred Withington for owner Maj. Humphrey Wyndham.

The first horse to win the race twice in a row was Easter Hero who won as the favourite both times in 1929 and 1930. Firstly he won for jockey Dick Rees for trainer Jack Anthony and owner John Hay Whitney, the second time winning for jockey Tommy Cullinan for the same trainer and owner.

The next horse to make an impact in the race would be Golden Miller, winning in 1932 rode by Ted Leader, in 1933 rode by Billy Stott, in 1934 and 1935 rode by Gerry Wilson – all for Trainer Basil Briscoe and owner Dorothy Paget. Then a fifth and final time in 1936 for jockey Evan Williams, trainer Owen Anthony and owner Dorothy Paget.

We then move forward over ten years to 1948, 1949 ad 1950 where Cottage Rake won all three years for jockey Aubrey Brabazon, trainer Vincent O’Brien and owner Frank Vickerman

The next horse to dominate the sport wouldn’t be until Arkle came along in 1964, winning three years in a row in 1964, 1965 and 1966 for jockey Pat Taaffe, trainer Tom Dreaper and the owner, the Duchess of Westminster.

In 1970 and 1971, L’Escargot won for Tommy Carberry, trainer Dan Moore and owner Raymond R. Guest. In 1986, Dawn Run won for Jonjo O’Neill, Paddy Mullins and Charmian Hill. Desert Orchid won in 1989 for jockey Simon Sherwood, trainer David Elsworth and owner Richard Burridge.

The next horse to make an impact in the Gold Cup would be Best Mate who won in 2002, 2003 and 2004, each time with Jim Culloty riding for trainer Henrietta Knight and owner Jim Lewis.

We then move forward a couple of years to the Kauto Star vs Denman rivalry. In 2007 Kauto Star won for jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Paul Nicholls and owner Clive Smith. In 2008, Denman won, beating Kauto Star by 7 lengths, for Sam Thomas, Paul Nicholls and Barber / Findlay. Then in 2009, Kauto Star winning again beating Denman by 13 lengths for Ruby Walsh, Paul Nicholls and Clive Smith.

We then have winners such as Imperial Commander (2010) for Paddy Brennan, Nigel Twiston-Davies and Our Friends in the North. Synchronised (2012) for AP McCoy, Jonjo O’Neill and J.P. McManus. Bobs Worth (2013) for Barry Geraghty, Nicky Henderson and The Not Afraid Partnership. Coneygree (2015) for Nico de Boinville, Mark Bradstock and The Max Partnership.

We also have Don Cossack (2016) for Bryan Cooper, Gordon Elliott and the Gigginstown House Stud – who I wrote about just a few weeks ago, you can read that here: https://zoelouisesmithx.com/2021/02/27/don-cossack-what-makes-a-peoples-horse/

In 2017, Sizing John won for Robbie Power, Jessica Harrington and Ann & Alan Potts. In 2018, my favourite horse ever, Native River winning for Richard Johnson, Colin Tizzard and Brocade Racing, again I wrote about him a few weeks ago, you can read that here: https://zoelouisesmithx.com/2021/02/10/native-river-what-makes-a-peoples-horse/

We then have another double winner with Al Boum Photo winning in both 2019 and 2020 for Paul Townend, Willie Mullins and Mrs J Donnelly.

Some things to note, the race was abandoned in 1931 due to frost, again in 1937 due to flooding, the again in 1943 and 1944 due to World War 2. The 2001 running was cancelled due to a foot and mouth crisis, a substitute race was ran at Sandown.

The most successful horse in the race is Golden Miller who won a total of 5 times, one after another, in 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935 and 1936.

The leading jockey is Pat Taaffe who won a total of 4 times. Three times on Arkle (1964, 1965 & 1966) and once on Fort Leney (1968)

The leading trainer with 5 wins in total is Tom Dreaper who won with Prince Regent (1946), Arkle (1964, 1965 & 1966) and Fort Leney (1968).

The leading owner with 7 wins is Dorothy Paget who won with Golden Miller (1932, 1933, 1934, 1935 & 1936), Roman Hackle (1940) and Mont Tremblant (1952).

Now onto some interesting facts about the race. Out of the last 12 winners, 11 of them have been aged between 7 and 9. And out of those last 12 winners, 5 of them have been favourites or joint favourites, with 7 out of the last 12 being in the top 3 of the betting.

Out of the last 12 winners, 10 of them have won on their previous run before the Cheltenham Gold Cup, 9 out of 12 of the last winners had ran within the last 77 days and 12 out of 12 of the last winners had their last run 33 days or longer before the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Only 3 out of the past 12 winners ran in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on their last run, 2 of the 3 won. And 3 out of the past 12 winners ran in the Denman Chase at Newbury as their last run, all 3 of them won. Out of the last 12 winners, 9 of them were rated 166 or higher, with 6 out of 12 being rated 170 or higher. All 12 of the previous winners had won at least one Grade 1 race with 6 out of 12 winning at least 2.


So there we have it, the history of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. I hope you all enjoy tomorrow’s final day of the Festival, I know I’m very much looking forward to it! Again, I hope you all enjoyed this post and maybe learned something new.

My next post will be on Saturday (20/03) at 11am when I bring to you an interview with Eoin Walsh, so I hope to see you then!

The History of the Stayers’ Hurdle

Good Evening!

I hope day 2 of the Cheltenham Festival was a successful, enjoyable one for you all. Today I am looking back at the history of tomorrow’s Stayers’ Hurdle, so let’s get right into it!

The Stayers’ Hurdle began back in 1912 and is ran over 2 miles, 7 furlong and 213 yards. It is for four year olds and older and is ran on the third day of the Cheltenham Festival each year.

The first winner of the race in 1912 was Aftermath for jockey J. W. Pullen for trainer Newey Hednesford for owner A. Newey. The next two runs of the race in 1913 and 1914 were both won by Silver Bay for jockey W Catling, trainer Fitton Lewes and owner G. H. Hearman.

The next notable winner was called Warwick, who won once in 1923 for I. Morgan, trainer Tabor and owner S. Cohen, then again in 1925, for jockey George Duller, trainer W. Payne and owner Jesse Brown.

The next notable winner would be over 50 years later when Galmoy won in 1987 for jockey Tommy Carmody, trainer John Mulhern and owner Miss D. Threadwell the again for the same trio a year later in 1988.

We then wait for over 10 years, when in 2002 and 2003 we had Baracouda who won both times for jockey Thierry Doumen, trainer François Doumen and owner J.P. McManus. A few years later Inglis Drever would achieve this also winning twice in a row, three times in total, once in 2005 for Graham Lee, trainer Howard Johnson and owners Andrea & Graham Wylie, then again 2 years later in 2007 for jockey Paddy Brennan, then again in 2008 for jockey Denis O’Regan for the same trainer and owner.

Next up would come the most successful horse in the Stayers’ Hurdle to date, Big Bucks. Big Bucks starting his winning streak in 2009 winning for jockey Ruby Walsh, trainer Paul Nicholls and owners the Stewart Family, he would then win again in 2010, 2011 and 2012 for the same trio.

Some horses to note in the following years include More Of That (2014) for Barry Geraghty, Jonjo O’Neill and J.P. McManus. Thistlecrack (2016) for Tom Scudamore, Colin Tizzard and John & Heather Snook. Nichols Canyon (2017) for Ruby Walsh, Willie Mullins and Andrea & Graham Wylie. Penhill for Paul Townend, Willie Mullins and Tony Bloom, Paisley Park (2019) for Aidan Coleman, Emma Lavelle and Andrew Gemmell. The finally the 2020 winner, Lisnagar Oscar for Adam Wedge, Rebecca Curtis and owners, Racing For Fun.

Now onto some interesting things to note about the race. The Festival was not run between 1916 and 1919 because of World War 1. Between 1928 and 1929, the race was dropped from the Festival programme. The race was then abandoned in 1931 due to frost and again in 1937 due to flooding. Between 1939 and 1945 it was once again dropped from the Festival programme, before in 1947 it was abandoned due to snow and frost. The race was also cancelled in 2001 due to a foot and mouth crisis.

As I mentioned above, the most successful horse (since 1972) in this race up until today is Big Buck’s who won a total of four times in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

The leading jockey (since 1972) being Ruby Walsh, who won a total of 5 times on Big Buck’s (2009,2010, 2011 & 2012) as well as Nichols Canyon (2017).

Moving onto the leading trainer (since 1972), Paul Nicholls, who has won a total of 4 times, all four times with Big Buck’s (2009, 2010, 2011 & 2012).

There are two leading owners in the Stayers’ Hurdle (since 1972), both with 4 wins each:
The Stewart Family – Big Buck’s (2009, 2010, 2011 & 2012)
Andrea & Graham Wylie – Inglis Drever (2005, 2007 & 2008) and Nichols Canyon (2017).


So there we have the history of the Stayers’ Hurdle. I am looking forward to tomorrow’s renewal, I think it should be a brilliant race. I hope you all enjoyed today’s post and again, learnt something new.

I shall see you in tomorrow’s post where at the same time of 6pm for The History of the Cheltenham Gold Cup!

The History of the Queen Mother Champion Chase

Good Evening!

I hope you’ve all had a brilliant first day of the Cheltenham Festival. I hope you all had plenty of winners and are excited for tomorrow’s day. Focusing in on tomorrow, tonight’s post is all about the Queen Mother Champion Chase, I hope you enjoy and I hope you learn something new as you read!

The Queen Mother Champion Chase is a Grade 1 National Hunt Steeplechase and is ran over 1 mile 7 furlong and 199 yards and is open to five year olds and older. The race takes place at the Cheltenham Festival on the 2nd day, the Wednesday, first taking place in 1959.

The first winner in 1959 was Quita Que for jockey Bunny Cox, trainer Dan Moore and owner Mrs D. R. Brand.

The first horse to win twice in a row followed up for the next two years, 1960 and 1961, both won by Fortria, both times for jockey Pat Taaffe, trainer Tom Dreaper and owner George Ansley.

The next horse to win twice in a row was Drinny’s Double who won in 1967 and 1968, both times for jockey Frank Nash, trainer Bob Turnell and owner Paul Mellon. This wouldn’t happen again until 1976 and 1977, when Skymas won for jockey Mouse Morris, trainer Brian Lusk and owner Matt Magee. It then happened again for the next two years when Hilly Way won the 1978 and 1979 running of the race, firstly for jockey Tommy Carmody, trainer Peter McCreery and owner J. W. Sweeney, the second time with Ted Walsh riding.

The next notable horse was Badsworth Boy who, to this day, holds the record for being the most successful horse in the race. He won in 1983, 1984 and again in 1985. All three times with Robert Earnshaw riding for owner Doug Armitage, the first two runs being for trainer Michael Dickinson and the final time for trainer, from the same family, Monica Dickinson.

The next notable name is Pearlyman, who won twice, once in 1987 and again in 1988. The first time rode by Peter Scudamore for trainer John Edwards and owner Valerie Shaw, the second time with jockey Tom Morgan on board. The next two years were then won by the Barnbrook Again, in 1989 Simon Sherwood rode for trainer David Elsworth and owner Mel Davies, in 1990 with Hywel Davies on board.

We then have Viking Flagship who won twice, once in 1994 and again in 1995. Firstly for Adrian Maguire riding for trainer David Nicholson for owners Roach Foods Ltd, secondly for Charlie Swan.

Other notable winners include One Man in 1998, Edredon Bleu in 2000, Moscow Flyer in 2003 as well as 2005, Master Minded who successfully won in 2008 and 2009, both times for Ruby Walsh riding for Paul Nicholls for owner Clive Smith. We then have Sizing Europe winning in 2011, Sprinter Sacre who won in 2013 and again in 2016, Sire de Grugy who won in 2014, Altior who won in 2018 and 2019, both times for Nico de Boinville, Nicky Henderson and owner Patricia Pugh. We then have the 2020 winner of this race, Politologue for jockey Harry Skelton for Paul Nicholls for owner John Hales.

Some interesting things to note, in 1980 Chinrullah finishished first, however was later disqualified after testing positive for a banned substance. And the 2001 running was cancelled due to a foot and mouth crisis, a substitute race was later run at Sandown.

As I mentioned above, the most successful horse is the only horse to have won this race 3 times and that is Badsworth Boy who won in 1983, 1984 and 1985.

There are two leading jockey’s in the race, both with 5 wins:
Pat Taaffe – Fortria (1960 & 1961), Ben Stack (1964), Flyingbolt (1966) and Straight Fort (1970)
Barry Geraghty – Moscow Flyer (2003 & 2005), Big Zeb (2010), Finian’s Rainbow (2012) and Sprinter Sacre (2013)

There are 3 leading trainers in the race, all with 6 wins each:
Tom Dreaper – Fortria (1960 & 1961), Ben Stack (1964), Flyingbolt (1966), Muir (1969) and Straight Fort (1970)
Nicky Henderson – Remittance Man (1992), Finian’s Rainbow (2012), Sprinter Sacre (2013 & 2016) and Altior (2018 & 2019)
Paul Nicholls – Call Equiname (1999), Azertyuiop (2004), Master Minded (2008 & 2009), Dodging Bullets (2015) and Politologue (2020)

We then have three leading owners, all with 3 wins each:
George Ansley – Fortria (1960 & 1961) and Straight Fort (1970)
Doug Armitage – Badsworth Boy (1983, 1984 & 1985)
John Hales – One Man (1998), Azertyuiop (2004) and Politologue (2020)


So there we have it, the history of the Queen Mother Champion Chase. I am very much looking forward to tomorrow’s renewal of the race, I think it always turns out to be a good race and tomorrow should be no different. I hope you all enjoyed this post and hopefully learned something new whilst reading.

I will hopefully see you all in tomorrow’ evening’s post at the same time of 6pm for The History of the Stayers’ Hurdle!