Auroras Encore was the winner of the 2013 John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree Racecourse, on Saturday 6th April. The 66-1 long shot, ridden by jockey Ryan Mania and trained by Sue Smith (wife of the legendary showjumper Harvey Smith) won by 9 lengths. Sue is only the third woman to have trained a Grand National winner, following Jenny Pitman (1983 and 1995) and Venetia Williams (2009). Katie Walsh was doing her best to make history as the first female jockey to win the National but sadly her ride, Seabass, “ran out of petrol” to finish in 13th place. Cappa Bleu, ridden by Paul Moloney, came 2nd and Teaforthree, ridden by Nick Scholfield came in 3rd. The race started with 40 runners, competing for a share of the £975,000 prize fund.
Hunting has now finished for another season and the horses are getting a well deserved rest, but hunting functions and fund-raisers for the Vale of Lune Hunt will continue throughout Spring and Summer, so look out for those. The next event will be the Point to Point at Whittington, near Carnforth, on Easter Saturday 23rd April which promises to be a great day out for the family. If the weather holds up,this beautiful area of the Lune Valley is ideal to spend the day and enjoy a picnic with family and friends. Racing starts at 1pm so check out www.whittingtonraces.co.uk for directions and more information.
It’s a disaster for North West Racing with the weather conditions being as they are. This has resulted in 2 major meets being lost at Haydock – The Peter Marsh Steeplechase due to frost and Champion Hurdle Trial lost due to fog. Meets all over the North have been abandoned, Hexham, Carlisle, Catterick and Doncaster all been affected with courses being either frozen or waterlogged.
We are now looking forward to the next meet at Haydock on Saturday 19th February as this is major race, the totesport Grand National Trial. Horses will be competing in this to qualify for the John Smith’s Grand National held at Aintree on 9th April (the meeting held over 3 days 7th-9th April).
We are sorry to hear that this week Pedlar’s Cross, trained by Donald McCain, has reportedly been coughing. We hope is is well and fit in time for The Champion Hurdle at The Cheltenham Festival on March 15th. The McCain family have always had strong ties with the North West, largely due to Donald (Ginger) McCain, owner and trainer of the 3 times Grand National winner Red Rum.
For the past 50 years, racing has been funded mainly by a tax paid on Bookmakers profits. Bookmakers levy when last negotiated was £141 million. It is now up for re-negotiation and Bookmakers are offering £50 million, but the BHA (British Horseracing Association) are looking for £111 million. This money is used for prize money and track maintenance amongst other things. Because an agreement cannot be made, talks have collapsed and the Secretary of State has had to step in to adjudicate. Bookmakers are saying that Horse Racing is far less important to them than it used to be. This is probably because betting shops are now more like amusement arcades, and with a guaranteed return on their arcade game earnings of 24%, Bookmakers aren’t as reliant on racing. This has to have a knock on effect on racing with such a large shortfall in levy, which will probably result in various meetings around the country being cancelled.
The National Hunt season is in full flow now and all major park meetings are starting. As far as North West followers are concerned, we are looking forward to the appearance of Gold Cup Winner Imperial Commander, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies. He will appear at Haydock Park on November 20th to contest the Betfair Gold Cup, in which he was beaten in 2009 by a nose. Unfortunately, Katau Star will not take part this year. He has been sent to Ireland on the same day to contest the J W Nicholson Trophy.
Local racing from Wetherby Saturday 13th November, Hexham 17th, Haydock 20th, Aintree 21st, Sedgefield 23rd, Wetherby 24th, Newcastle 27th and Carlisle 28th November. It makes for a great day out and good fun if you haven’t been before.