Category Archives: Sports

Sprinter Sacre digs deep to win Desert Orchid Chase

Sprinter Sacre ridden by jockey Nico de Boinville (right) ahead of Sire de Grugy ridden by Jamie Moore in the closing stages of the race

Sprinter Sacre ridden by jockey Nico de Boinville (right) ahead of Sire de Grugy ridden by Jamie Moore in the closing stages of the race

Sprinter Sacre got the better of Sire De Grugy to clinch the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton.

Pulled up in this race two years ago and subsequently diagnosed with a fibrillating heart, it has been a long road back for Sprinter Sacre, but having looked back to his best when winning at Cheltenham last month, Nicky Henderson's pride and joy was the 8-11 favourite under Nico de Boinville.

The Gary Moore-trained Sire De Grugy, like Sprinter Sacre a former winner of the Queen Mother Champion Chase, was similarly resurgent in the Tingle Creek at Sandown three weeks ago and was next best in the market at 11-4.

Jamie Moore looked to make a deliberate effort to stretch the field by sending Sire De Grugy to the lead leaving the back straight, but De Boinville covered the move and swiftly allowed his mount to move ominously alongside.

Sprinter Sacre looked to be going the better after jumping the third fence from the finish, but Sire De Grugy would not go down without a fight and maintained a small advantage approaching the last.

However, Sprinter Sacre produced a prodigious leap just when he needed one and after landing running, he galloped to the line to prevail by three-quarters of a length.

De Boinville said: "It was a very gutsy performance. We were spot on at the last and Jamie just missed it. He's a great horse.

"I'd say we were a bit below the Cheltenham run, but still he showed he's got heart as well as class.

"Every day this horse runs and puts up good performance like that we feel blessed that we are here in one piece and running good races.

"For any jockey this is why we do it, it was a tremendous race to be in. We know Sire De Grugy is a good horse in his own right, it was a great race."

Earlier, Ar Mad produced a tremendously game display to deny hot favourite Vaniteux in a pulsating climax to the Novices' Chase at Kempton.

Gary Moore's Ar Mad was a 5-2 chance in the hands of the trainer's son, Josh, following a scintillating front-running display in the Grade One Henry VIII Novices' Chase at

Sandown at the start of the month, with the Nicky Henderson-trained Vaniteux the 10-11 market leader to follow up an impressive chasing debut over the course and distance.

It was nearly all over for favourite-backers at the very first fence as Vaniteux badly fluffed his lines, but Nico de Boinville managed to sit tight and his jumping was far more assured for the rest of the race.

Ar Mad jumped brilliantly out in front, constantly putting pressure on his opponents.

Vaniteux managed to keep tabs on him, however, and looked like coming out on top after hitting the front in the straight.

But Ar Mad roared back tenaciously on the run to the final fence and after producing the quicker leap, he got back up to take the Grade Two prize, better known as the Wayward Lad, by a neck.

Moore said: "I'd say the track was too sharp for him and the ground was probably quick enough as well, so he's done well to win.

"I was amazed that he got back up and beat him (Vaniteux) but it shows what a big heart he's got."

After Sandown, Moore had been keen to rule out an Arkle bid at Cheltenham, with Ar Mad having been beaten when going left-handed on his chasing bow at Plumpton.

But a reassessment looks like being on the cards.

The trainer added: "It (Arkle) is something that we are going to have to try. It's the obvious race for him.

"Whether we go straight there, I don't know – we'll see what options are open to him.

"He's had three quick races now so we'll probably give him a break now."

Henderson hinted that Vaniteux might have been a gallop short.

He said: "I think there's a bit of improvement in him somewhere, but where do you go with a novice chaser when there are only about five suitable races before the Festival?

"He kept at it well, and is broken but not unbowed."

Un De Sceaux falls as Flemenstar grabs the glory at Leopardstown

Andrew Lynch and Flemenstar clear the last on the way to victory at Leopardstown

Andrew Lynch and Flemenstar clear the last on the way to victory at Leopardstown

Un De Sceaux’s dramatic exit two fences from the finish allowed Flemenstar to return to winning ways in the Paddy Power “So Quick, So Easy iPhone App” Chase at Leopardstown.

Willie Mullins' Arkle hero Un De Sceaux was all the rage having won each of his four starts over fences since falling on his chasing debut at Thurles and the front-running 1-4 favourite was still in command when hitting the second-last hard and coming to grief.

Both the horse and Ruby Walsh were quickly on their feet.

That left Flemenstar and British raider Simply Ned clear of the remainder and the latter looked likely to prevail when kicking clear from the home turn.

However, the Nicky Richards-trained eight-year-old began to tread water after the final fence and Andrew Lynch galvanised Flemenstar to get up and score by a length.

Now trained by owner Stephen Curran's son, Anthony, it was 16-1 shot Flemenstar's first victory in over two years and his first at Grade One level since his brilliant display in the 2012 John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase.

Later, Long Dog led from start to finish to claim the Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle.

The Willie Mullins-trained four-year-old was bidding for his sixth straight victory and his second at Grade One level, having seen off stablemate Bachasson in the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse last month.

The two stablemates locked horns once more, with Long Dog narrowly leading Bachasson for much of the two-mile journey, before the latter began to falter from the home turn.

Gordon Elliott's Tombstone and another Mullins inmate in Petit Mouchoir emerged as the biggest threats on the run to the final flight, but 9-4 favourite Long Dog dug deep to prevail by three-quarters of a length.

Tombstone was the same distance in front of Petit Mouchoir at the line.

Winning owner Rich Ricci said: "He's very brave and he clearly wants further – Ruby (Walsh) said he was flat-out the whole way.

"The ground was a bit too heavy for him, but he won that very well.

"He'll definitely go up in trip, but I'm not sure whether he'll run between now and Cheltenham – he seems to take his races very well.

"I'd be happy to go straight to Cheltenham, but it's Willie's call.

"He's a grinder."

Tony McCoy tipped to get a knighthood next week

Tony McCoy

Tony McCoy

Champion jockey Tony McCoy is tipped to be awarded a knighthood at the New Year’s Honours next week, according to reports.

McCoy, 41, is a bookies' favourite to land the accolade and a friend has fuelled further speculation by paying tribute to his achievements.

The friend told the Mirror: "He has made an incredible contribution to racing and delighted millions."

They added: "It is only right that he should be knighted."

The 20-time champion, who retired earlier this year, was last week presented with a lifetime achievement award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony.

Throughout his two-decade career, he rode 4,300 winners including at the Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Accepting his most recent award, he said: "To any young people watching tonight's show – all that I can say is make the sacrifices because it is worth it."

Racing goes ahead at Limerick today

Racing goes ahead at Limerick today

Racing goes ahead at Limerick today

This afternoon’s meeting at Limerick goes ahead after a positive early-morning course inspection.

Although the ground is heavy, conditions were considered good enough for the fixture to receive the green light.

Racing is due to begin at 2pm, with the Grade Two Shannon Airport Novice Chase the highlight.

Yesterday's card fell foul of the weather.

Cue Card wins a dramatic King George VI Chase at Kempton

Cue Card (right) held off Vautour (right) to win the big one today at Kempton

Cue Card (right) held off Vautour (right) to win the big one today at Kempton

Cue Card won the William Hill King George VI Chase at the fourth time of asking for Colin Tizzard in a pulsating finish at Kempton.

The 9-2 chance has been revitalised this year after surgery on a trapped epiglottis and the nine-year-old had already won the Charlie Hall and Betfair Chase in the early exchanges of this season.

Willie Mullins' Vautour had looked all over the winner after taking over at the head of affairs on the second circuit from dual winner Silviniaco Conti, who disappointed and was pulled up.

Vautour was still on a hard rein with three furlongs to run as the rest were coming under pressure, none more so than the favourite Don Cossack, who to his credit was still in with a chance when he fell at the second-last.

Cue Card looked to be booked for second as Vautour pinged two out under Ruby Walsh, but his stride began to shorten, offering Cue Card a second bite.

Paddy Brennan needed a big leap on Cue Card at the final fence but he got in tight, as did Vautour, and the two gave their all on the run to the line, with Cue Card just getting the verdict.

Al Ferof finished third for the third year in succession, this time for Dan Skelton.

Earlier, Lizzie Kelly rode into the history books when Tea For Two jumped immaculately to win the Kauto Star Novices' Chase at Kempton.

No woman had ridden a Grade One winner of a chase in Britain, but backers of the 9-4 chance never really had an anxious moment.

Kelly kept her mount, trained by stepfather Nick Williams, wide throughout, and bar being interfered with a couple of times when rivals were jumping out to their left, she stayed on strongly to defeat Southfield Royale.

Despite racing keenly throughout the first mile of the race, Tea For Two was able to quicken up when Noel Fehily tried to steal a march turning into the straight.

For a few strides Kelly shook her mount up, but he responded impressively and ended up winning by four lengths, in a race formerly known as the Feltham Chase.

Kelly had nearly landed a Grade One in France when Aubusson was narrowly beaten by Thousand Stars in France and could have been forgiven for thinking her chance had gone.

On this display, however, there will be plenty more big days for Tea For Two and his proud jockey.

Kelly said: "It's awesome, I'm absolutely delighted and to do it on this horse is just fantastic.

"He's always been something we were really proud of and today he has shown everyone what he's worth.

"At two out I thought 'we're going to win the Feltham!'. It's some feeling and he's got some turn of foot in that last half a mile – he's awesome.

"I was worried he didn't switch off as well as I thought he would, but his jumping got me out of a few problems early on."

Douvan romps home at sodden Leopardstown

Class: Douvan

Class: Douvan

Douvan was an imperious winner of the Racing Post Novice Chase under replacement rider Patrick Mullins at Leopardstown.

Only four went to post for the Grade One feature, and while all were of significant ability the Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner oozed class in making it two from two over the larger obstacles.

Willie Mullins' five-year-old was expected to have a fight on his hands for the lead with Jessica Harrington's Ttebbob, but Douvan's jumping immediately put that rival under pressure and he was eventually pulled up.

Sizing John closed after Douvan made a semblance of a mistake at the second-last, but Mullins knew what he had underneath him.

Without asking for an effort Douvan began to pull away again and while he was not fluent at the last, he never looked like falling and the 4-7 favourite coasted home, nearly eased to a walk at the line in winning by 18 lengths.

Paul Townend was supposed to take the mount on the Rich Ricci-owned victor, but after returning from injury after a spell out, he had a fall in the first race and stood himself down.

Faugheen back to winning ways in the Christmas Hurdle

Faugheen and Ruby Walsh on the way to victory today

Faugheen and Ruby Walsh on the way to victory today

An injection of pace turning into the home straight helped Faugheen return to winning ways in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.

Having lost his unbeaten record to stablemate Nichols Canyon in the Morgiana Hurdle on his return to action this season, the Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old had a question to answer for the first time in his career.

Ruby Walsh set out to keep it simple by making all on the reigning champion hurdler, but the field were still closely grouped coming out of the back straight.

Without Walsh seemingly making an effort, however, Faugheen (1-4 favourite) sprinted clear and the race was over in a matter of strides.

Approaching the last Walsh made sure he did not make a mistake and he was eased down close home to beat The New One by seven lengths.

The New One was finishing second again after filling the same spot in 2013.

Walsh said: "We went a good gallop, when I gave him a squeeze turning in he started to extend and when I really got hold of him going to two out he pinged it. He quickened really, really well. It was a really good performance. I'm delighted.

"The turn of foot he showed today at the second-last he didn't show at Punchestown.

"When all is said and done he has beaten those, whether he's capable of beating Nichols Canyon only time will tell."

Waterlogged track means racing in Limerick is off today

The weather has hit the racing fixtures today

The weather has hit the racing fixtures today

This afternoon’s meeting at Limerick has been abandoned due to a waterlogged track.

Officials assessed conditions at 8am but found the course to be unraceable.

Horse Racing Ireland tweeted: "Limerick cancelled today. Track unfit for racing due to waterlogging."

Officials will now check the track at 8am on Sunday ahead of that afternoon's meeting.

Elsewhere, officials at Wetherby have called off both days of their Christmas fixture following flooding at the track.

Clerk of the course Jonjo Sanderson had planned to assess conditions for the Boxing Day card, which was due to feature the Rowland Meyrick Chase, at 8am today.

However, flooding at the track prompted an earlier decision and has also forced the cancellation of Sunday's card, when the Castleford Chase was due to be the main event.

Sanderson said: "We've had 32 millimetres of rain since yesterday lunch time and it is still raining now.

"The dykes down the back straight have flooded so that is our problem, not waterlogging.

"It's forecast to continue raining today so it's not going to improve."

Sunday's meeting at Chepstow has also been abandoned following an 8am inspection.

Clerk of the course Keith Ottesen inspected conditions at the venue, which was due to host the Welsh National, but found the track to still be waterlogged following heavy rain.

Officials have moved swiftly to reschedule the feature event though, with January 9 now set to see the latest renewal of the Grade Three handicap.

Ottesen said: "It's due to be a drizzly day today and then another band of rain is forecast to move through with rain from midnight until virtually 12pm tomorrow which would give us another eight to 10 millimetres, which we just can't take.

"The race has been rescheduled for January 9. There was every chance this was going to happen and we have done it before.

"The details of entries etc will be released in due course."

The British Horseracing Authority has confirmed the transfer of the entire card with the exception of the Download The Coral Mobile App Maiden Hurdle Race, which will be replaced by a novices' hurdle over the same two-mile-three-and-a-half-furlong trip.

Original entries in the Coral Welsh Grand National will stand with both that race and the Future Champions Finale Juvenile Hurdle to be shown live on Channel 4.

In order to facilitate the transfer of the Welsh National card, Chepstow's fixture on January 8 has been cancelled and the Doncaster fixture currently scheduled for January 9 will be run 24 hours earlier.