January 6, 2020 at 08:15 #1479063
I am sure I remember One Man running in the Rowland Meyrick. His connections thought it was a better option of going to Kempton on the same day. He fell, if memory serves.
The Castleford Chase was probably the second biggest two mile chase of the season, back in the days when the fences at Wetherby were the stiffest outside of Aintree. Now, aside from Charlie Hall day, it is only half the track it was. Similar comments apply to Haydock outside of Betfair Chase day. Races like the Tommy Whittle and Peter Marsh used to have Gold Cup contenders in the field.
I suppose 1990 was the beginning of the end of that golden era for the jumps in the North. The Dickinsons, Stephenson, Richards, Fitzgerald, Smyth, Easterby, Reveley and others gave the northern circuit real strength and depth. I suppose by this time the power was starting to shift away to Pipe and Henderson and it was just before Nicholls started to emerge and the revival of Irish jumps racing as well. Hopefully some of the young jumps trainers in the north can spark a revival.January 6, 2020 at 14:02 #1479091
The Dickinsons, Stephenson, Richards, Fitzgerald, Smyth, Easterby, Reveley and others gave the northern circuit real strength and depth
Don’t forget Lenny Lungo and all of his Ashleybank Investments owned string. Or the Sir Robert Ogden owned horses trained by Gordon Richards.
You are right, One Man fell in the 1994 Rowland Meyrick with Jodami one of the other two runners.January 6, 2020 at 17:05 #1479109
Jodami – my favourite jumps horse ever! I saw him win a novices handicap hurdle at Doncaster in January 1991. I thought he looked magnificent in the paddock. A big, old fashioned horse but athletic as well. I told everyone I knew that I had seen a future Gold Cup winner. I got it right for once!
I reckon he never quite got the credit he deserved. He won three Irish Gold Cups as well as his win at Cheltenham.January 6, 2020 at 17:21 #1479114runandskip84Participant
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I actually like going jumping at the new Ascot and it would be a fitting home for The King George should JCR do their worst with Kempton.
I do remember at the old Ascot the missed number boards and the Distinct voice of Cloudsley Marsham bellowing out from the cctv.
Also remember seeing Looks Like Trouble in the John Bull Chase on his comeback from injury,must have been one of the last runnings before the bookies took over racing.January 6, 2020 at 18:23 #1479119
Jodami was incredible went sent over to Ireland, never out of the first three. And he was my first bet in a Hennessy when 2nd to that 40/1 shot Sibton Abbey.
Just think of the great horses from the north in the 90s and early 00s, Unguided Missile, The Grey Monk, One Man, Scotton Banks, Avro Anson, Cab on Target and so on…..
Also remember seeing Looks Like Trouble in the John Bull Chase on his comeback from injury,must have been one of the last runnings before the bookies took over racing
One of the better chases of the entire racing calendar. Sadly only run between 1988 and 2003, but with winners like Toby Tobias (twice), Deep Sensation, the enigmatic Dublin Flyer, the giant Callisoe Bay, or the most underrated GC winner LLT.January 6, 2020 at 19:22 #1479124DroneParticipant
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Jodami was a good ‘un that’s for sure
A race of his I recall particularly was the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock when Williamson produced him between the other contenders and two flailing whips – deliberately it appearead – to win: Jodami seemed to relish the challenge
In 1998 there was an event christenend the ‘Festival of Racing’ or somesuch held at York racecourse, which was intended to be an annual event for the public-at-large to get a taste of all things racing, but turned out to be a damp squib never to be repeated. Jodami – I think recently retired – ridden by trainer Peter Beaumont did a turn on the members’ lawn and I was pleased to say eyeballed a hitherto rather bored me at very close quarters. A maginificent specimen: ‘you love him’ I ventured, ‘aye’ replied Beaumont with a warm, moisty smileJanuary 7, 2020 at 11:44 #1479151obiwankenobiParticipant
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Ap – I like your post – it is thought provoking. Over the years the long distance horse (stays longer than the mother in law joke) either breaks down before reaching this target, or is considered too slow a type to interest many trainers at the sales (has also changed the trend in breeding). Playing the long game with the giant stores went hand in hand with the up rising of the French imports. 4yr old with weight allowances would win many races against big backward stores, having their first chase at 6 or 7 against French imports with weight allowance at 4 over fences. (we owned a French import 20 yrs ago and he did very well, we also bought the big store that you would be patient with, he broke down). Owners and trainers want success to build their numbers and businesses and buying French attracted owners/trainers. The whole look of NH has changed, markedly I think the actual race riding has changed. Its was a bit of an amble in the 80’s, nothing ridden out with too much haste and no use of the whip like we see today. Trainers also now train to win first time out, 20 years ago several prep runs would bring them forward enough to be right on the day for the big one – a lot has changed and not necessarily for the best.January 7, 2020 at 14:46 #1479167befairParticipant
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I was at Leopardstown, when Danoli beat Jodami in the Hennessy Gold Cup; incredible race. I was standing beside Gordon Richards when The Grey Monk fell.January 10, 2020 at 18:21 #1479461Titus OatesParticipant
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Another informative and thought provoking instalment @ap –thanks for the good read.
You have certainly got me thinking about the effects of the jump racing pattern – this time in relation to the sorts of horses that are to be seen at particular courses. Back in the day, Dessie was an annual standing dish at Wincanton – look back at his race record and pretty much every year one could see this outstanding chaser there doing what he did best. And he didn’t always win. Nowadays, the only time you’ll see a G1 winning chaser at Wincanton is when they’re paraded in the paddock. I guess, if you’re lucky, there might be a future one on display in the Grade 2 Novices’ chase (See More Business, Silviniaco Conti and Frodon are past winners) – but that is the only graded race over fences currently staged at Wincanton, where the ‘big’ chases are all staying handicaps. That seems a loss. But how has this happened?
An effect of the jumps pattern is that it ensures that the top quality established chasers appear at only a handful of (Jockey Club) tracks – Cheltenham, Sandown, Ascot and Kempton, plus the once a year outing at Haydock for the 3-milers. The immediate losers here are NH fans living away from London and the SE, near these other tracks, like Wincanton – or Wetherby, as others have mentioned. In the longer term, though, I wonder if the concentration of quality at a small number of courses is also part of the explanation for the general demise of NH racing in the North? The lack of races in the North for established top quality jumps horses must mean that any owner/s in the lucky situation of having such a quality horse would face what are presumably considerable transportation/over-night costs just to get their horse to the races. Why incur that additional cost when there are plenty of other options further South?January 10, 2020 at 19:38 #1479470apracingParticipant
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In the case of Wincanton, presumably because it’s also owned by Jockey Club Racecourses. They therefore own not just the fixtures, but the races, and can move them to other courses they own. I also think the pattern imposed minimum prize money levels that some ‘midweek’ courses couldn’t manage.
For example, the 3M Worcester Novice Chase was moved from Worcester to the Hennessy meeting, where it’s still run under a different name. The Dipper moved from Newcastle to Cheltenham. I suspect both moves were financially motivated.
A similar case to Wincanton is Warwick, another Jockey Club course. They used to run a Festival trials card on a Wednesday in February. In 1988, Rebel Song and The West Awake won the novice hudle and novice chase at that meeting and both went to win at Cheltenham. Two years later, the novice chase saw Party Politics beat Garrison Savannah.
At some point during the year, I planned to use one of the weekly updates to list all the major races run midweek in 1990, that are now staged on a Saturday or Sunday. It will be a long list!January 10, 2020 at 21:52 #1479484Titus OatesParticipant
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@ ap – re Wincanton, indeed. Thanks to these posts and the delving they have inspired, I have finally cottoned on to why the NH horses I enjoy watching the most (top quality chasers) are to be found racing consistently and exclusively at the same tracks.
When you start looking at the distribution of graded races across the JCR portfolio of tracks, you see just how much they have concentrated the quality chases into Cheltenham, Sandown and Aintree, and then Ascot and Kempton. Chasing the market, I presume, in that, with the exception of Cheltenham, these are the courses closest to the most densely populated parts of England. But whilst that strategy may work in relation to the flat, I do wonder whether NH racing (outside of Cheltenham) appeals in the same way. Some of the other JCR tracks (like Warwick and Wincanton) get their token graded race a year, or a couple if they are lucky – but these are more likely to be hurdles than chases. So, yes, races have been moved to strengthen the core offer at the Tier 1 JCR tracks, leaving the remainder with much more ‘bread and butter’ fare.
When you look at the NH pattern beyond JCR tracks then it is slim pickings indeed, and skewed to juvenile/novice hurdles and novice chases – though Charlie Hall day at Wetherby and Ayr’s April meeting are exceptions. Funny you mention the Dipper. Newcastle is my local track, and I went to that ‘Dipper meeting’ in the early 2000s, specifically to see Barton, trained in the North by the Easterby’s. He was an impressive horse – an example of the sort of animal that used to be trained up in these parts not that long ago. That was the day he came back in to the winners with a nasty cut on, I think, his off fore. Nowadays though the only graded jumps action at the track is the Fighting Fifth – a sign of the times.
I look forward to the long list – no doubt that is linked to the rise of ‘the Saturday horse’. That is another example of how marketing has changed the sport.January 10, 2020 at 23:36 #1479501
the rise of ‘the Saturday horse’
Well said, Titus. I didn’t mind the Wednesday Derby, the Thursday Ebor or July Cup, and the Cheltenham Gold Cup was also okay on the Thursday. Now everything is being moved towards the weekend or towards more profitable tracks or TV times.
By the way, the Dipper was a very competitive Nov Chs in the North, once it moved to Cheltenham they basically halved the number of runners and robbed northern trainers of another great race and the chance to prove that they can train too.January 11, 2020 at 13:04 #1479561
“Saturday horse” is one of the most irritating phrases that has crept into racing. Along with “hit the line hard”. And when O’Brien says a horse has a “great mind”.January 11, 2020 at 23:06 #1479606apracingParticipant
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January Week Three
One of the great mysteries of NH racing is the now almost eternal question ‘What happened to novice chases?’ The contrast between the week commencing Monday 14th now and the same week in 1990, highlights what is the biggest change in the NH program.
In 2020, there will be four novice chases run in that week, and that includes one on Sunday 20th. One of those four is a Beginners Chase, thus unavailable to any horse that has already won a chase. And the one absolute certainty about those four races is that they won’t attract double figure fields, but they will very probably attract criticism online!
Going back to 1990, there were fifteen NH meetings (excluding those on the AW), and only one of those meetings didn’t stage a novice chase. Kempton on Saturday had two, one at 2M and one at 3M, and on the same afternoon, Warwick ran two divisions of their novice chase. So that’s sixteen novice chases in six days, and they produced a total of 153 runners. There was only one race with fewer than seven runners, a three runner contest at Catterick, which probably came about because the official going there was good to firm.
And they were competitive races, even when future stars like Royal Athlete and Antinous were winning at odds on. The eight runner contest at Towcester on Friday was won by Knight Oil for Oliver Sherwood, with future stars Garrison Savannah and Docklands Express filling the places.
So what caused the demise of this type of race? My opinion (and it is only that) is that the changes to the handicapping of novices implemented by Phil Smith in the late 90’s were the initial trigger. Once he began to give novice chasers significantly higher initial ratings than his predecessor, two things happened. Firstly, trainers became wary of the risk of handicap rises if they ran close to the winner in a novice chase and secondly, the higher ratings given the winners of novice chases, opened up the possibility of running a novice in valuable handicaps, whereas they would previously not have been rated high enough to get into those races.
A prime example of this that many will remember, was the novice season (1999/2000) of the staying chaser Beau, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies. He ran four times in novice chases, winning one, a record that earned him a rating of 129 – and I reckon that was about a stone higher than he would have got for the same form ten years earlier. He then won the Great Yorkshire Chase at Doncaster from that mark, collecting a prize worth more than the Reynoldstown Novice Chase which was his next run.
And even after that Ascot win, connections opted for the N H Handicap Chase (finished second to Marlborough) over the Sun Alliance Chase, and he ended his season by winning the Whitbread Gold Cup by 30 lengths. Combine that with the exhilarating performance of Gloria Victis in winning the Racing Post Chase off a mark of 151, after he had won the Feltham on Boxing Day, and it was a series of results that opened the eyes of the more traditional trainers.
Back in 1990, spending an entire season running in novice chases was simply the accepted way to train. There wasn’t much difference then in prize money between the novice and handicap races and with a smaller fixture list and no summer jumping, the program of handicaps wasn’t actually a more attractive option.
Once the fixture list grew and the number of handicap chases expanded, the gradual decline of numbers in level weight novice races was inevitable. The authorities have fiddled with the program, the definitions of what is a novice chase, massively increased the number of novice handicaps, but none of these changes have altered the basic financial reality. Which is that moderate chasers (rated 130 or less) have a better chance of paying their way in handicaps than taking on the big stables at level weights.
And if trainers won’t run their horses in novice chases at what we might call the ‘midweek’ tracks, then those courses won’t schedule them, because they only get their full media rights payments for each way races.
Ok, that’s enough on that topic and just one other point worth taking from the then and now comparison this week. In 1990, both Catterick and Kempton staged two day meetings on Friday/Saturday, and this was a common pattern for most tracks. Ascot raced on the Friday before the Victor Chandler on the Saturday, Doncaster did the same for their January meeting, as did Newbury for the Tote Gold Trophy.
Only Doncaster have retained the two day Fri/Sat meeting during January and February. The other tracks have all spread their fixtures around, primarily to avoid losing two day’s business to a spell of bad weather. Newbury for example, now stage a meeting on the Wednesday of week three in January, and the big February meeting is Saturday only. With modern covering reducing the impact of frost on cancellations, they could probably go back to the old set-up, but even that would add the considerable cost of laying and removing the covers twice rather than just once.
Result of the Week
Sat Jan 20th Haydock Premier Long Distance Hurdle 3M
Mrs Muck G Bradley 13/8 Fav
Trained by N Twiston-Davies
This was the final fling of her memorable career for the home bred mare that launched N T-D as a trainer. She started out in April 1985 with bumper wins at Hereford and Cheltenham and progressed to running in all the major races over hurdles, switching from 2M to 3M+ in successive races with no noticeable difference in her results. Throughout all that period, N T-D was just a permit holder, and I’m fairly sure this was her first and only win for him after he took out a full licence. Without her influence in raising his profile, I suspect he’d still be farming and keeping a few point to point horses.January 11, 2020 at 23:16 #1479608SteeplechasingParticipant
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A fascinating thread. Thanks.
Never argue with a fool. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience, then onlookers might not be able to tell the difference. https://lazybet.com/
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