Newbury Racecourse paid tribute to one of their key jockeys on Saturday (March 21.) It was the last time Tony McCoy's would ride at one of his 'local' racecourse's popular Saturday meetings. To mark the occasion, the Racecourse made a presentation to him after the first race.
Brian Stewart-Brown, a member of the racecourse's board of directors, presented AP McCoy with a photographic montage showing some of his greatest Newbury rides.
Among them was a photograph of his victory on Mr Mole in the Betfair Price Rush Steeple Chase on February 7. It was while walking to the winner's stand after that race McCoy told Channel 4 Racing he was retiring at the end of the season.
Following the presentation on Saturday he told the parade ring announcer that he would be back to watch racing at Newbury: "It's just fifteen minutes down the road from home."
While he is always in demand for an autograph, McCoy did not have too good a day in the saddle on Saturday. He rode in five of the seven races and took one third place.
He did tell Channel 4 Racing that he did not yet know which horse he would be riding in next month's Crabbie's Grand National - Shutthefrontdoor or Cause of Causes. But he did say that if he won the race, he would probably retire immediately.
Local trainer Neil King had no winners on the Newbury card - the second day of the racecourse's Spring Jumps Meeting - though Lil Rockerfeller came home fourth in the Doom Bar Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.
However, King had sent eight year-old Milansbar and stable jockey Trevor Whelan the 680-mile trip from Barbury to Kelso. And Milansbar won the £25,000 three miles and three furlong Thakeham handicap hurdle. One to watch when he turns to fences next season.
AP's winning salute (Photo from Channel 4 Racing)It might have been just another Grade One victory for AP McCoy - the nineteen times jump champion jockey who retires at the end of this season. But his victory in the Ryanair Chase on the Alan King trained Uxizandre was all the sweeter as it put McCoy on the winners' board for his last ever Cheltenham Festival.
McCoy gave the 16-1 shot a perfect ride from the front and the pair had plenty left in the tank to fend off of the challenge of runner-up Ma Filleule on Cheltenham's famous home-run hill. The seven year-old gelding won by five lengths.
With another huge crowd for the third day of the Cheltenham Festival, McCoy was cheered into the winner's enclosure and was quick to praise Alan King:
"All credit to the trainer - he got him back spot on for the day that mattered. Uxizandre gave me such a thrilling ride. I'll miss days like this."
Uxizandre is owned by JP McManus who McCoy calls 'my boss': "It's great for JP and Noreen MacManus - they are brilliant and it's been marvellous to work for them for ten years. The thrill this horse gave me - I'll miss riding horses like this that run away with you all the way and jump like stags."
AP with his Ryanair Chase trophy - his wife Chanelle is on the right [Photo: Channel 4 Racing]Alan King was full of smiles after this important win: "That was grand...AP has given him a wonderful ride, the visor has probably helped as well. It all felt right. When he's on song, he can go a right gallop...he got into a great rhythm today."
And King paid tribute to McCoy: "AP has been just phenomenal - we'll never see his like again. The winners, the dedication, the commitment - he's quite remarkable. I'm just please to be a very, very small part of it."
The prize money for the race was £300,000 of which the winning owner received £178,538.25.
Smad Place gets a pre-race gallop at Newbury (November 2014)Tomorrow (Friday, March 13) is Gold Cup day and Alan King's yard will be represented by the 7 year-old grey gelding Smad Place.
King says of him: "Smad Place has a good record at the Festival and this is his time of the year, besides which the better ground will also help. We gave him time to recover after the Hennessy [at Newbury on 29 November 2014] , and he showed plenty of enthusiasm on [Cheltenham] Trials day."
French-bred Smad Place will be ridden by King's stable jockey Wayne Hutchinson. And AP McCoy will be on Carlingford Lough - and again he will be wearing the McManus colours.
Nicholson getting fit under the watchful eyes of AP McCoy (photo: Channel 4 Racing)It will be the sixth year the Cheltenham Festival has run its charity race - the St Patrick's Derby that closes the card on the Festival's Thursday - March 12 this year. Lockeridge based event rider, Andrew Nicholson will be one of the selected entrants raising money for the Injured Jockeys Fund (IJF).
It is a flat race for amateur riders who can raise the £5,000 in sponsorship. And their horses must have run twice under rules.
Nicholson will be riding the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Golden Jubilee - a six year-old that has won five times on the flat. Nicholson has been getting his weight down and training hard - including a session under the eagle eye of champion jump jockey AP McCoy at the IJF headquarters at Lambourn.
A former stalwart of the New Zealand eventing team, Andrew Nicholson, told Cotswold Life: “I will be as competitive as I can be but it’s the horse that has to run the mile and a half and lug me up the hill. As long as I do my job right and not make a fool of myself I will be happy and if I have got a horse that can really gallop who knows?"
Phil Clark being interviewed by a Racing UK colleagueHe will face some seasoned competition. The competitors include Clifford Baker who is head lad at Paul Nicholls' yard and Phil Clark the long-standing cameraman for the Racing UK television service and who has probably watched more races more closely than many of the other riders.
The Injured Jockeys Fund was established in 1964 by Lord Oaksey, after the devastating accidents to jockeys Tim Brookshaw and Paddy Farrell. The fund supports jockeys with career ending injuries and does amazing rehabilitation work - notably at its Lambourn headquarters - for many other riders injured in racing and other equestrian sports.
The choice of the IJT to benefit from this year's race is particularly significant as it was on the Thursday of the 2013 Festival that jockey J T McNamara had a terrible fall that left him paralysed.
Also taking part is Olive Murphy, a senior cabin crew member with Aer Lingus. She held an amateur licence in Ireland from 1993 to 1996 and is a lifelong friend of McNamara.
The youngest of this year's twelve riders is Thomas Williams - a student at Loughborough University and a pupil assistant trainer with Violet Jordan.
Andrew Nicholson will not be asking you to back him to win the race, but he does want you to sponsor him at his Just Giving site.
Wiltshire police have issued a photograph of a man they want to interview following the serious assault as a meet of the Tedworth Hunt was ending at about 4.00 pm on January 24 in Everleigh.
The main victim was the 39 year-old joint master of the hunt, Mike Lane. During the assault he was kicked several times in the head. He lost consciousness, suffered a facial injury and needed hospital treatment.
Another man was assaulted with a flail like bar on the end of a rope.
Fortunately no one sustained any serious injury during this assault.
It is assumed that the attack was made by a hunt saboteur - a group of protesters had been following riders and hounds during their drag hunt.
Detectives working on the case want to speak to the hooded man in the photo.
And officers are keen to hear too from anyone who has information regarding this incident.
Anyone who recognises the man in the photo or who has any relevant information should contact PC Randle of the Rural Crime Team on 101. Alternatively call Crimestoppers 0800 555 111 where details may be left anonymously.
Tiggy Wiggy - with Richard Hughes - wins the Cheveley Park Stakes (September 2014) (photograph by Steven Cargill)Richard Hughes is looking forward eagerly to see how two of Richard Hannon's great successes of the 2014 flat season will shape up now they have graduated from two- year-old to three-year-old status: Tiggy Wiggy and Ivawood.
The bay filly Tiggy Wiggy won five of her seven starts on turf - with Hughes riding her in four of those races.
Marlborough News Online asked Richard Hughes whether, now she's a three-year-old, she can have similar successes this season? "Don't know. Only she knows that. Before she raced, she was a menace in the yard - used to take off a bit. When she won her first outing by seven lengths we were amazed - she was never meant to be this good."
The day before her appearance at Ascot last June, she got loose and was out for about half-an-hour. Hughes thinks she may have calmed down: "She's not as small a horse as some people think, and she got bigger over the winter."
She is set to make her first appearance in mid-April at Newbury's Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials meeting: "She'll go for seven furlongs - and if she gets that, she'll go for a mile. She's a bit of freak - we'll have to give her the benefit and try the distance - if not she'll go for sprints."
She is already entered for the 1000 Guineas at the beginning of May.
Richard Hughes believes the bay colt Ivawood is a different matter altogether: "He's the real deal. We have huge belief in him - I've no doubt he'll stay."
Ivawood won three out of his four races as a two-year-old - all partnered with Richard Hughes. For a two-year-old Ivawood was a very big horse. After his Goodwood victory last year Richard Hannon was also optimistic about his future: “Physically he looks streets ahead of a lot of two-year-olds, and I don’t think he will become ‘just a two-year-old’."
Ivawood came second at Newmarket in October - and Hughes believes that at that time he was having some growing pains in his bones. Over six furlongs he came home second to Charming Thought.
He is entered for Newbury's mid-April Greenham Stakes - seen as a trial for the 2,000 Guineas. The Richard Hughes-Richard Hannon Senior combination last won this seven furlong race in 2013 with Olympic Glory.
And he is entered for May's Qipco 2,000 Guineas over a mile at Newmarket.
Marlborough-based Haddon Training were announced winners at the Apprenticeship 4 England Training Provider of the Year Awards 2015 last week. The awards were presented at the Apprenticeship 4 England gala dinner at the Connaught Rooms in Covent Garden, London.
Haddon Training were shortlisted to the final four in the Prime Small 275-500 apprentices in learning category in January, with the winner to be announced at the awards ceremony. This is the first awards of its kind that Haddon Training has entered and the result has been welcomed by Haddon staff as both rewarding and gratifying.
Apprenticeships enable members of staff at equestrian yards and stables to work full time and gain a nationally recognised qualification.
Since 1997, managing director Chris Hewlett has been the driving force behind Haddon Training, striving to raise the standards of training and good practice throughout the equine industry: “I am delighted that Haddon Training has been recognised for this national award. Making the finals recognises the hard work and dedication of every member staff within the company. We are proud to be at the forefront of raising the standards and profile of the equine industry within the education sector.”
The Gala Dinner and Awards ceremony was described by a member of the Haddon team as "Fantastic, with first class entertainment throughout the evening."
Haddon Training is a Grade One ‘Outstanding’ Training Provider which supports qualifications in Horse Care, Animal Care and Business. Haddon Training work with over 400 employers all over England and Wales supporting them to deliver high quality training to their staff.
(Photo from Channel 4 Racing)Sasha Thorbek-Hooper works at Greatwood and also at Newbury Racecourse. On Saturday last she was up early for the charity's big day at the races...and tells the story of the day.
The Greatwood Charity for retired racehorses at Clench Common was delighted to open its doors to Channel 4's cameras on Saturday (February 28) when part of The Morning Line programme came live from the charity's headquarters ahead of our main fundraising event of the year at Newbury Racecourse.
Ex-jockey now turned Channel 4 Racing television presenter, Mick Fitzgerald interviewed Greatwood's co-founder Helen Yeadon about the charity's history. He then moved into the classroom to speak to some of the students that attend Greatwood's educational programmes for disadvantaged children and young adults with special educational needs.
|One of the Greatwood horses featured on The Morning Line programme: Seek The Faith - an American bred horse who ran 49 times with seven wins and 13 places. He was taken in because his owner could no longer afford to keep him. "He is a nice big sort of horse, he had been on his own prior to his arrival and he really enjoys the company of the other horses."
Later on in the Channel 4 programme the students were shown grooming some of the horses they work with, before finishing off the live broadcast by interviewing me about some of our stable stars and my role as fundraiser.
Despite the obvious challenge of broadcasting with horses and children (what do they say about working with one or the other, let alone both?!), the
broadcast was seamless and the media exposure has been enormous for the charity.
And there at Newbury was Mick Fitzgerald doing his day-time jobCollecting from the puntersAfter the programme finished, the Greatwood team rapidly moved base to Newbury Racecourse for the charity raceday.
Now in its 8th year and a firm fixture in the racing diary, the card included six races all sponsored as 'Supporting Greatwood' by betfair, betway, Ladbrokes, Moore of Devizes Ltd and BetVictor. The feature race was The StanJames.com Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup Handicap Steeple Chase.
The raceday included a lunch attended by 300 prominent guests from the world of horse racing, followed by a main auction and a silent auction.
The raceday was a resounding success raising in excess of £72,000 - that's £10,000 more than last year's Newbury Raceday, Huge thanks to everybody involved for making the day so successful.
It rained a bit and it blew very cold, the racing was first class and the fundraising was successful. What better way to end February!
|Waiting for the next winner: Newbury's presentation podium
|Neil Mulholland chats to Barry Geraghty
TM writes: If you want a tip for the Cheltenham Festival check out the jump season's emerging colaboration between trainer Neil Mulholland and jockey Barry Geraghty. The Mulholland trained Leave it Be was brought home by Geraghty to win the day's opening race - the Betfair Supporting Greatwood Veterans' Handicap Hurdle. The Irish bred eight-year-old gelding was 8-1 with the course bookies.
After the race Mulholland said he had booked Barry Geraghty for two of his Cheltenham Festival runners. Geraghty will ride The Young Master in the RSA Chase and The Druids Nephew in the three-mile handicap chase on the opening day of the Festival.
|Barry Geraghty in the silks of Leave It Be's owners - The Hanham Boys Racing Club
And if anyone wanted a reminder of Barry Geraghty's current form he made it a Newbury double with his win on five-year-old Rayak in the Moore of Devizes Ltd Supporting Greatwood Novices' Handicap Hurdle. Rayak is trained by Jonjo O'Neill at Cheltenham.
"The real McCoy" - talking to Rishi PersadThe nineteen times champion jump jockey AP (Tony) McCoy brought Mr Mole home at Newbury on Saturday to win the Betfair Rush Chase - and as he rode back to the winner's enclosure he told Channel Four Racing's Rishi Persad that he is retiring by the end of the season.
Mr Mole, trained by Paul Nicholls, gave McCoy another landmark in his career - he was his 200th winner of the season and it is the ninth season he has reached 200 winners.
Speaking to Channel Four Racing, McCoy said: "I want to go while I'm still enjoying racing and while I am still near the top. This is without a doubt the hardest decision I've ever had to make. I've been dreading this day."
But he did say that being Champion Jockey twenty times would be "a good number" - and that looks a cert as there is no one to challenge him this season.
McCoy's wife, Chanelle, said: "He made the decision maybe two weeks ago. Some days he's at peace with it, some days he's a little bit sad. Hopefully he'll be 20 years champion jockey this year and will go out on a high."
McCoy is 40 years old - and is part owner of The Outside Chance pub in Manton. He and his wife and two children live north of the Marlborough Downs.
In 2010 he won the Grand National - at his fifteenth attempt - and went on to become the first jockey to be BBC Television's Sports Personality of the Year.
As if to prove that racing is a game of hard knocks and ups and downs, in the very next race at Newbury McCoy's horse fell at the first fence. He was riding the Jonjo O'Neill trained Goodwood Mirage in The Betfair Hurdle - which has a prize fund of £155,000.
|Walking back after his fall
||With trainer Jonjo O'Neill
He seemed none the worse for his fall as he walked back along the course explaining to Jono O'Neill what had happened to the 5-year-old Goodwood Mirage.