From The Horse’s Mouth: Neigh 12

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Updated: February 10, 2015

In this edition find out which Welsh horse with humble beginnings enchanted the Sundance Film Festival of 2015 with his life story. Just as the film world Oscar nominations were announced in January, so the US equine world was rewarded at the Fan Choice Awards ceremony. A couple of old friends mentioned in this newsletter previously found themselves collecting two awards each. And a legend of British horse racing announced his impending retirement at the weekend.

McCoy Announces Retirement

A P McCoy to Retire. Image credit @Channel4Racing

A P McCoy to Retire. Image credit @Channel4Racing

Jockey AP McCoy made headline news after winning the 1500 Betfair Price Rush Chase at Newbury on Saturday 7th February. McCoy had just secured his tenth tally of 200 wins (within a season), when he announced his retirement from the sport at the end of this season on April 25th at Sandown Park. The nineteen times champion jockey had shown his tremendous horsemanship during the Betfair Chase when his ride Mr Mole jinked at the start of the race. McCoy found his mount some twelve to fifteen lengths behind the field going into the first fence. But the jockey steered a steady race and as fallers in front reduced the field, Mr Mole run steadily to get back into contention. Once he hit the front there was no stopping the horse as it romped clear to give McCoy his 200th win by an amazing 13 lengths. In the next race McCoy was brought back down to earth literally, when his horse on landing after the first hurdle unseated its illustrious jockey.

McCoy unseated after retirement announcement. Image credit @Channel4Racing.

High Numbers

Prior to A P McCoy’s terrific ride at Newbury race goers watched Bygones Sovereign take to the front early on in the 1350. The horse gallantly romped ahead of the field and showed absolutely no signs of tiring. Trainer David Pipe was given an unexpected 42nd birthday present when Bygones Sovereign at 12/1 odds secured a 28 length victory, in what was effectively a one horse race. In the same race Rigour Black Bob made a return to the track after an absence of around 768 days, last competing on 28th December 2012. The horse made a brave effort but weakened to finally pull up lame three from home. Hopefully Rigour Black Bob will continue to have the opportunity to return to his previous good form.

Sprinter Sacre made a successful return to the track in January having been away from competition for 386 days. A second place in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot looks promising for the future.

Having witnessed Bygones Sovereign superbly run at Newbury this weekend, some other winning margins I’ve come across recently may not be so unbelievable after all!!

Two results at the Thurles Racetrack from 15th January particularly stand out in this respect.

1445: Winner: Don Cossack 6-4 2f by 44 lengths over Texas Jack 8-1odds.

1515: Winner: Vroum Vroum Mag 1/2f by 26 lengths over Elise 33/1

California Chrome Award Winner

Multiple Award Winner California Chrome. Image credit California Chrome Facebook page.

Multiple Award Winner California Chrome. Image credit California Chrome Facebook page.

California Chrome was named the 3-year-old Male Horse of the Year and Horse of the Year at the Fan Choice Awards 2015 ceremony in late January. His wins in the 2014 Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Hollywood Derby (Nov 29th) certainly helped his cause. “Chromie” race fans are delighted that the horse will continue to compete as a four year old. The first outing of 2015 came this weekend (Feb 7th), at the Santa Anita racetrack in the $500,000 San Antonio Invitational Stakes. After being in the lead before the home stretch, California Chrome came in second as he wasn’t able to overcome the late surge from victorious Shared Belief. I’ve read a report that suggests California Chrome’s trainer Art Sherman has an interest to run the horse at Meydan Dubai on March 28th in the $10 million World Cup. Shared Belief meanwhile looks set to compete in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 7th.

At the time of going to press (Feb 9th) California Chrome along with Alert Bay and Big Macher, are in contention for the title Cal-bred Horse of the Year at the CTBA ceremony (California Thoroughbred Breeders Association). It is already known that California Chrome has been voted both Cal-bred Turf Horse of the Year and 3 Year Old Cal-bred Male Horse of the Year. His trainer Art Sherman will be named California Trainer of the Year.

Wise Dan Award Winner

Another old friend who has appeared before in these newsletters is Wise Dan who took two accolades at the Fan Choice Awards 2015. He was named Older Male Horse of the Year and Turf Male Horse of the Year.

Sundance Film Festival

Dark Horse: The Incredible True Story of Dream Alliance is a film worth looking out for and is due for release in the UK & Ireland on 17th April this year. Director Louise Osmond attended the Sundance Festival and watched her film be named Winner of the Audience Award for World Cinema Documentary. It portrays the heart-warming story of how a small Welsh former mining village living in economic hard times, form a syndicate to breed and raise a race horse named Dream Alliance. The horse is reared on an allotment within a coal slag heap environment but grows to triumph in the Welsh Grand National of 2009 having overcome a career threatening injury. The horse foaled on March 23rd 2001 and now lives in happy retirement, but he stepped back into the limelight to make appearances in the film as himself. I believe there is very little archive material available to document the Dream Alliance story, other than some old home movie footage, photos and newspaper clippings. Although the Dream Alliance syndicate never made a fortune, the horse gave hope and purpose to a community during a time of economic austerity. It’s lovely to think the old boy is still around to star in his very own “This Is Your Life”, and I look forward to seeing him on the red carpet!

Dream Alliance. Image credit @Channel4Racing

Dream Alliance. Image credit @Channel4Racing

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