Tim Price on Wesko at Luhmuhlen 2014 (photo: K.HOFFMANN)Mildenhall-based eventer Tim Price has suffered a blow to his and New Zealand's hopes for the Rio Olympics: his star horse Wesko is injured and will be out of action for the remainder of the season.
Wesko is one of three horses Tim Price has on the New Zealand High Performance Squad. It is reported that the 13-year-old Dutch-bred horse has suffered a 'significant' soft tissue injury.
This weekend Wesko was going to travel to Kentucky for the prestigious Lexington 4* Rolex competition, in which he took second place last year. Price will ride Bango at the Kentucky event.
Tim Price said he was disappointed and saddened not to be taking Wesko to Kentucky. He told NZ Horse and Pony: "He has gone his whole life so far 100 per cent injury-free. It’s really poor timing, and it is not cool for the team, and not cool for me either, but it is what it is."
This is a second blow for the New Zealand Olympic selectors: rider Jock Paget announced a week ago that his stalwart Clifton Promise - part of the bronze medal winning team in 2012 - was being retired. He will ride Clifton Signature at Kentucky.
Tim Price won the Luhmuhlen 4* event on Wesko in 2014. And in 2015, as Marlborough.News reported, Wesko was named British Eventing's Horse of the Year.
Michael Jung with the Mitsubishi Motors Trophy (photo courtesy: Badminton Horse Trials) Germany's Michael Jung riding La Biosthetique took the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials 2016 four star title - coming home nine points clear of his fellow German Andreas Ostholt on So Is Et.
His win completed the treble of winning Burghley, Kentucky and Badminton - making Jung only the second winner ever of the £240,000 Rolex Grand Slam prize.
New Zealand's Olympic hopes got a boost with their riders taking fourth, fifth, sixth and tenth places. Marlborough based Sir Mark Todd took Leonidas II into fourth place - aged 60 will he be going to his seventh Olympics?
Todd was followed by fellow Kiwis Clarke Johnston (fifth), Jonathan Paget (sixth) and Mildenhall based Jonelle Price (tenth). Jonelle's husband Tim Price was eliminated when he came off Ringwood Sky Boy during the cross country.
New Zealand's Blyth Tait came in at thirteenth place and Jess Campbell was placed at thirty-three.
Jonelle Price's horse Classic Moet - or Molly - was in great form and the pair were one of only ten combinations to come within the allotted time in the cross country. In the final show jumping stage of the competition, Molly was described as being 'on springs' - with just four faults.
Molly has now won her own Badminton silver horse and will not feel overawed by Ringwood Sky Boy's trophy when he and Tim came ninth.
Among other headlines: Great Britain's Gemma Tattersall - who had never been higher in the Badminton results than sixteenth - took third place on Arctic Soul and Zara Tindall rode High Kingdom - who she rode so successfully at the 2012 Olympics - into twenty-third place to give her qualification for the Rio Olympics.
Brodie Hampson being interviewd on Channel 4 Racing (Photo by C4 Racing)Amateur jump jockey Brodie Hampson has been voted the Stobart Jockey of the Month following her two victories in her father's colours. On February 19 she won the Royal Military Gold Cup on Jennys Surprise - her first win over jumps.
Her father Mark Hampson was there to see her win - he is at present patient at the Prospect Hospice suffering from cancer.
The Jockey of the Month award was made at Sandown (March 12) - with an interview on Channel 4 Racing's transmission.
Brodie Hampson is part of trainer Sally Randell's team at Broad Hinton. Sally and Brodie, who is 21 years-old, have worked together for the past five years.
Just before February disappeared, Brodie also rode the eight year-old gelding Goal to win at Southwell in a two mile selling handicap hurdle. Goal is owned by Mark Hampson and - to complete the circle - is trained by Sally Randell.
Brodie Hampson's award announced on Twitter by Great British Racing - horseracing’s official marketing & promotional bodyAnd to add to the 'firsts', Goal was Sally Randell's first winner since she got her training licence in November.
The Stobart Jockey of the Month is voted for by Channel 4 Racing viewers. Also nominated for February was Richard Johnson - for reaching his two hundredth winner of the season. Johnson tweeted his congratulations to Brodie.
Interviewed on Channel 4 Racing by Alice Plunkett, Brodie said: "It means a lot - and thanks to everyone for voting for me - it's a privilege." She was asked how her father was: "He's doing well - he has good days and bad days, but he's been good lately."
Another young woman jockey, Lizzie Kelly, was voted last December's Jockey of the Month. At the time she worked for Neil King up on the Marlborough Downs above Broad Hinton.
Jenny's Surprise won again at Sandown on Friday (March 11.) Trained by Fergal O'Brien and ridden this time by Lieutenant Colonel Erica Bridge, she won the Grand Military Gold Cup - a three mile chase for military amateur riders.
And to nearly complete the connections - Sally Randell was the first woman to win the Grand Military Gold Cup - indeed won it three times.
Great British Racing - horseracing’s official marketing and promotional body.
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.
Day two: with the dreassage stage complete, Jonelle Price is still in the lead. But Germany's Bettina Hoy is now in second place - 3.50 points behind Ms Price. The end of day two sees other members of the New Zealnd team falling behind: Jesse Campbell is in 12th place - Tim Price in 40th - and Daniel Jocelyn in 72nd place.
After day one (Thursday, October 8) of the dressage phase of the CIC3 eventing competition at Boekelo in the Netherlands, Mildenhall-based Jonelle Price is in the lead. Forty-four of the 85 competitors have completed the dressage.
This is an important competition for the New Zealand eventing team as they go for the only team place at the Rio Olympics available to Group G nations - which takes in Oceania and South-East Asia.
New Zealand takes on Japan and Australia for that single team place, although the latter have already qualified by virtue of their placing at last year's World Equestrian Games.
Jonelle is riding eight-year-old black gelding Cloud Dancer - known as Marley. Her very low dressage score of 34.10 is 4.80 points above her nearest rival - Britain's Pippa Funnell on Billy the Biz.
Jonelle and Marley's latest victory came in the CIC3* for 8-9 year-olds at the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials last month. Ranked fifth in the world, Price finished second at the four-star Luhmuhlen in Germany and fifth at Burghley.
Also in the New Zealand team at Boekelo are Dan Jocelyn on Dassett Cool Touch (currently lying at 36), Tim Price on Xavier Faer and Jesse Campbell aboard Kaapachino. Tim Price and Jesse Campbell 's dressage competition will be on Friday.
If the New Zealand team do not clinch the Rio place at Boekelo, they will have to wait for the international rankings to see if they go to Brazil.
A field of fourteen is set to go to post for the £50,000 StanJames.com Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup - the highlight of the seven-race card at Newbury on Saturday (March 5) - Greatwood Charity Day.
This is one of the main days for Greatwood's fundraising for its work at Clench Common, Marlborough with retired racehorses and disadvantaged children.
The weights for the handicap chase, run over just short of two and a half miles, are headed by Shutthefrontdoor (11st 12lb, Jonjo O'Neill/Barry Geraghty, 16/1 with Stan James), who finished fifth in last season's Grand National and was third over hurdles on his only appearance this season at Aintree in December.
Paul NichollsPaul Nicholls has landed the StanJames.com Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup an amazing seven times since its inception in 2004, including last year's race with Sound Investment.
This year the champion Jump trainer, based in Somerset, enters Stan James's 11/2 favourite Art Mauresque (11st 4lb, Noel Fehily) and 7/1 joint second-favourite Sametegal (11st 3lb, Harry Cobden (7)).
Art Mauresque won a novices' chase at Cheltenham in October and went on to finish a close sixth in the Grade Three Paddy Power Gold Cup back at the same course the following month, while fellow novice Sametegal scored at Huntingdon in November and was travelling well when unseating Sam Twiston-Davies in the Grade Two Fuller's London Pride Novices' Chase at Newbury later the same month.
Bennys Mist (11st 5lb, Venetia Williams/Liam Treadwell, 9/1) was the three quarters of a length runner-up to Sound Investment last year and has been in great form this season. Successful in the Grand Sefton Chase over two miles and five furlongs of the Grand National course at Aintree in December, he was last seen out when a close third to stable companion Dare Me in a valuable handicap chase at Ascot on January 23.
The 10-year-old runs in the Manchester United-inspired colours of the Mezzone family and Graham Mezzone commented today: "Bennys Mist has been an outstanding horse for us and exceeded all our expectations.
"He was second to Sound Investment in this race last year and they finished 17 lengths clear of the rest. We were really using the race last year as a prep race before going to Aintree so it was a tremendous effort.
"My daughter picked him out as a three-year-old when Venetia held a celebration at her stables after Mon Mome won the Grand National (2009) and he has been a real star for us - he has won almost 10 times what we paid for him.
"The horse seems to love Newbury and Aintree - they are the two courses he always seems to run well at. He has run four times at Newbury - he won a novices' chase, fell in a race when Aidan Coleman thought he would have won and ran a cracking race in the Greatwood Gold Cup last year.
French trainer Emmanuel Clayeux is set to saddle his first runners at Newbury in the StanJames.com Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup, headed by Pythagore (11st 8lb, Felix de Giles, 10/1), a multiple winner over fences in France including in a Grade Two contest at Auteuil in November. Clayeux's other starter is Vicomte Du Seuil (10st 8lb, Jacques Ricou, 12/1), who won a chase at Pau in December and ran most recently when runner-up in a hurdle at the same venue on February 2.
Other contenders prominent in the betting market with Stan James include Little Jon (11st 3lb, Nigel Twiston-Davies/Wayne Hutchinson, 7/1), successful over the course and distance in November, and Generous Ransom (10st 10lb, Nick Gifford/Daryl Jacob, 8/1), a winner at Cheltenham last season who hinted at a return to form on his latest start at Doncaster in December.
Colin Tizzard's yard is in great form and is set to be represented by Ultragold (10st 5lb, Paddy Brennan, 8/1), a comfortable winner at Wincanton last month.
"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.
Richard Hughes at NewburyRichard Hughes, who lives in Collingbourne Ducis and has been stable jockey to the nearby Hannons' training yard for twenty years, has announced he his retiring before the end of the current flat racing season.
As the Racing Post headline put it so succinctly: "Champ calling time at top of his game as he puts future first." That future is his new career as a trainer - based just over the border in Hampshire at Stockbridge.
He had said he wanted to be flat racing's Champion Jockey for a fourth year running. Now, as the preparations for his training yard take preference, he will retire in two weeks' time - at the end of Goodwood. From August 1 he will no longer be a jockey.
Earlier in the year Hughes told Marlborough News Online that it would be harder to win the championship again as he had to make time to prepare his yard and employ his staff. With 45 winners on the board, he could still have won the championship - though at present he is lying in second place in the table behind Silvestre de Sousa.
On Saturday (July 18) Richard Hughes rode a winner at Newbury. He took the four-year-old Windfast, trained by Brian Meehan at Manton, to beat Mister Universe by a length in a seven furlong handicap. As it happens Mister Universe was ridden by Silvestre de Sousa.
Richard Hughes in the Queen's racing colours Hughes wrote in his Racing Post column: "It's only recently things started to change in my head. I began to realise the enormity of what I was trying to take. While at the July Sales at Newmarket it became obvious how much time, care and attention I must devote to the upcoming yearly sales.'
"I honestly feel my first full year of training will be the most important year in my training career."
Hughes apologised to those who had backed him to retain the championship. Betfair Sportsbook and BoyleSports have said they will refund stakes on Hughes.
Richard Hannon, who is Hughes' brother-in-law, said: "`It's the end of an era but he wanted to enjoy his last couple of weeks and Goodwood has been good to him, so it's a nice place to end things."
Richard Hannon told the Racing Post: "I totally understand his situation. He wants to get on with training and that's fine. he has to do what's best for him."
2015 will indeed go down in racing history as the end of an era. In April twenty times Champion Jump Jockey AP McCoy retired.
Before he retired: AP McCoy with trainer Jonjo O'Neill