Category Archives: Horseracing


A history of female jockeys in the Grand National

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Horse racing is one of a still very limited number of sports where men and women are able to compete against each other on a level playing field.

Since the Sex Discrimination Act was passed in 1975, the sporting world has made few moves to bring women and men together to compete alongside each other in the same disciplines.

Horse racing bucks the trend somewhat. As far back as 1977, jockey Charlotte Brew made history as the first ever female rider to compete in the Grand National. Almost 40 years later we are still awaiting a first female winner of the Aintree showpiece. But with more female jockeys on the scene than ever before, a first victory is surely not far away.

Bryony Frost is one of those who will be gunning for success in the 2018 renewal. The daughter of the Grand National winner Jimmy Frost, Bryony has enjoyed a breakthrough season as a professional. She rode a first Grade 1 winner aboard Black Corton in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase in December and could take a ride at Aintree for Paul Nicholls.

Lizzie Kelly may also pick up a ride. The Briton has tasted Grade 1 success with Tea For Two and also rode Coo Star Sivola to success in the 2018 Cheltenham Festival. Bridget Andrews and Harriet Tucker also tasted victory at the 2018 Festival and could now pick up rides at the Grand National.

Here we take a look at the female jockeys that have plied their trade in the Grand National from 1977 to the present day.

Charlotte Brew:

Brew entered the race aboard 200/1 shot Barony Fort in 1977. The pair made it as far as the fourth last fence before a refusal took the duo out of the race. Red Rum would go on to win the contest for legendary trainer Ginger McCain. Brew had another go in 1982 on Martin stown, but was unseated once again

top femal jockey grand national

Geraldine Rees:

1982 proved a landmark year as Geraldine Rees became the first female jockey to complete the Grand National course. Rees rode Cheers to an eighth place finish at Aintree before returning the following year on 500/1 shot Midday Welcome. The pair lived up to their lengthy odds by failing to make it past the first fence.  

Geraldine-Rees female jockey

Venetia Williams, Penny Ffitch Heyes and Gee Armytage:

1988 saw the highest number of female entrants to a Grand National ever, with three ladies taking up rides for the renewal. The trio, aboard Hettinger, Marcolo and Gee-A, all failed to finish the course. Armytage, in particular, can consider herself extremely unlucky having been forced to call it a day at the 26th fence after pulling a back muscle. She had won two races at the Cheltenham Festival the previous year.   1988 saw the highest number of female entrants at the Grand National ever, with three women riding. Unfortunately, not one managed to finish the race, despite previous good form.

Gee Armytage (sister of Marcus Armytage, who went on two years later to record the fastest Grand National winning time on Mr Frisk), had won two races at the Cheltenham Festival the previous year. However, injury in the form of a pulled back muscle led her to pull up at the 26th fence.

gee armytage woman jockey

Nina Carberry:

Irish jockey Nina Carberry holds the record for Grand National attempts by a female jockey. The 33-year-old has participated in the event six times, coming closest with Character Building in 2010, who finished seventh. She finished ninth on Forest Gunner in 2006, 15th on Character Building in 2011 and 16th on First Lieutenant in 2015.

She has been unseated twice aboard Organised confusion (2012) and Sir Des Champs (2016). However, Carberry did win the Irish Grand National in 2011 and has also tasted success at the Cheltenham Festival on numerous occasions. She also won at Aintree in 2015 aboard On The Fringe in the Fox Hunters’ Chase.

Nina Canberry female jockey

Katie Walsh

Sister of double-Grand National winner Ruby Walsh, Katie holds the record for the highest place finish by a female competitor in the race. In 2012 she rode Seabass and was just seven furlongs off taking home the first ever female victory, finishing in third. Walsh rode Seabass again the following year but could only manage 13th place. Other finished include 13th with Vesper Bell in 2014, UR aboard Ballycasey in 2016 and 19th with Wonderful Charm in 2017.

A female jockey has yet to win the Grand National. But with more promising young stars emerging from the world of racing, a first female win in one of the world’s most famous races is surely just around the corner.

Katie Walsh woman jockey


The A-list owners and trainers of the Grand National

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The horses and jockeys may well be the stars of the Grand National in the eyes of the public, but behind the scenes are the owners and trainers who make the event possible.

Grand National owners include members of the Royal Family and celebrities from the world of film and sport, and throughout history certain trainers have also become legends in their own right.

Take a look at some of the most famous trainers and owners who have made an impact at the Grand National over the years.

Royal owners

Horse racing is a noble sport and has long been a passion of the British Royals. From James I who brought the sport under royal patronage to the current Queen, the Royal Family has almost always owned and trained horses.

Ambush II, the horse that won the National in 1900, was owned by the then Prince of Wales, who would later be crowned King Edward VII. The Queen Mother famously witnessed her entrant Devon Loch, who looked like a sure thing for victory in 1956, leap a phantom jump in the home stretch and fall. She famously shrugged the incident off with the comment “that’s racing”.

Celebrity owners

Various celebrities have owned racehorses over the years that have run in the Grand National and some have even produced winners. Comedian Freddie Starr was over the moon when his horse Miinnehoma romped home first in 1994.

Actor Gregory Peck owned Different Class, the starting favourite in 1964, while celebrity hairdresser Raymond Bessone part-owned two winners – Ayala in 1963 and Rag Trade in 1976.

Famour horse trainers

Famous horse trainers

There are to date three trainers sharing the record for most Grand National winners at four apiece – George Dockeray, Fred Rimell and Ginger McCain.

Of these, Ginger McCain is undoubtedly the most legendary for his training of Red Rum, who famously and record-breaking won the race three times between 1973 and 1977, coming a close second in the two intervening years. McCain also trained Amberleigh House, who won in 2004.

Jenny Pitman made history as the first female trainer to enter a winning horse in the Grand National with Corbiere in 1983. Pitman went on to train another National winner, Royal Athlete, who took the prize in 1995.

Vincent O’Brien was voted in the Racing Post’s 2003 worldwide poll as the Greatest Influence in Horse Racing History. He trained three horses who won the Grand National in three consecutive years from 1953-1955 – Early Mist, Royal Tan and Quare Times. He also trained Cottage Rake, who may not have won the National but who took home the Cheltenham Gold Cup for three successive years.

In recent years, bettors on the Grand National have begun watching out for those horses owned by businessman Trevor Hemmings. Hemmings has had three Grand National winners since 2005 with Hedgehunter, Ballabrigs and 2015’s winner Many Clouds.

In addition to the horses and their jockeys, the owners and trainers of Grand National runners play a huge part is securing a victory at this famous race. From Royals to hairdressers, the people behind the scenes are a huge influence in one of horse racing’s most thrilling events.

Cheltenham dress code

What is the dress code for the Cheltenham Festival?

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Horse racing meetings are often as much about style and fashion as they are about the actual events, with many taking the opportunity to socialise and to bring out their fanciest and most glamorous outfits for display.

Deciding what to wear can be time-consuming, especially when there are rules and dress codes to follow. Knowing what’s allowed and what other people are likely to be wearing can help make that decision easier.

What is the dress code?

There is no real dress code at Cheltenham, which has a reputation for being more relaxed, informal and colourful than, say, Royal Ascot.

The only rules on Festival weekend involve the Club Enclosure, where no fancy dress is allowed. However, those that do arrive in fancy dress will be permitted entry to the Best Mate or Tattersalls enclosures where inoffensive fancy dress is allowed.

While management reserve the right to refuse entry, the lack of formal dress code means that the rules are fairly relaxed, although the vast majority of spectators outside of the Best Mate enclosure will choose to dress smartly.

What to wear on Ladies’ Day

Ladies’ Day places a strong emphasis on fashion, with competitions running for the best dressed throughout the day. As long as outfits are fashionable and not too revealing, virtually anything goes on Ladies’ Day at Cheltenham. Outlandish and gaudy costumes stand side by side with elegant and understated.

In 2015 for the first time it was all about colour with #ColourMeMarch, judged via social media. Hats are not a must, but for many Ladies’ Day is the ultimate excuse to don that fancy headwear and get down to the track.

Feathers, frocks and fancy shoes or scarves, gloves and winter coats – the weather is not always suitable for dressing to the nines so check the forecast before you head out without sleeves. For hen party ideas, Ladies’ Day at Cheltenham is certainly a good one!

Things to remember

One of the main reasons Cheltenham chooses not to enforce a dress code is because most of the racing season runs over the winter months. Spectators are advised to dress warm and dry when necessary in order to stay comfortable and enjoy their day at the races.

Most people will choose to avoid overly casual clothing such as sports clothes, but these are still allowed. Ladies choosing to bring out the towering stilettoes might do well to remember to pack a pair of pumps or flip-flops if they plan to be standing a lot throughout the day. Other than that, anything goes.

A day at Cheltenham is all about having your own style and enjoying the social aspects of the event as well as watching some spectacular world-class racing.

cheltenham festival day 2

Ladies day 2018 Cheltenham Festival Day 2

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On Wednesday, March 13th, it’s all glitz and glamour as Day Two of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival sees Ladies Day kick into gear.

But what is Ladies Day? It’s not all heels and hats. For racing punters, it’s a great opportunity to back bigger prices and each-way bets.

With bigger fields and bigger odds, today’s the day for some speculative betting. And it’s all topped off by the Queen Mother Champion Chase – the most prestigious race of the day.

Elsewhere, there’s cracking renewals of the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle, the RSA Steeplechase, and the Coral Cup.

Get your glad-rags on!

Ladies Day – 2018 Race Schedule

 The Queen Mother Champion Chase is the big race of the day, featuring a fascinating battle between Altior, Min, and Douvan.

1.30     Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (2m 5f)

2.10     RSA Steeple Chase (3m 1/2f)

2.50     Coral Cup (2m 5f)

3.30     BetVictor Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase (2m)

4.10      Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase (3m 7f)

4.50      Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (2m 1/2f)

5.30      Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Open NH Flat Race) (2m 1/2f)

Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle

Raced by four-year-old hurdlers and above, this Grade 1 race has produced some huge stars over the years. Hark back to the likes of Istabraq and Faugheen for example.

Willoughby Court won a thrilling race here last year.

Run over 2m 4f, this renewal looks a belter with Gordon Elliott’s highly-fancied Samcro the hot favourite

RSA Chase

Winners of this Grade 1 race tend to be put forward for Gold Cup contention in the following years.

This race isn’t one for the faint-hearted. You need to have plenty of speed, stamina, and determination to win here.

Presenting Percy and Monalee currently head the betting but the likes of Black Corton and Yanworth will be great dangers.

Coral Cup

Always a hugely competitive race, the Coral Cup presents speculative punters looking for bigger odds winners with a good opportunity.

Robbie Power and Jessica Harrington teamed up last year on the victorious Supasundae. William Henry and Bleu Et Rouge currently head the betting.

Queen Mother Champion Chase

Can Altior complete his comeback with a win in the 2018 Queen Mother Champion Chase?

Nicky Henderson’s charge blitzed the field on his return at Newbury in February and is a short-priced favourite at 4/6 to win.

Politologue was second that day. Can he sensationally beat Altior this time around? Or will it be one of Douvan or Min to upset the applecart?

Cross Country Handicap Chase

Run over 3m 7f, the Cross Country Handicap Chase favours stayers with good form in these tricky sorts of races.

Enda Bolger has a superb record in this race with five previous wins. And he has a fantastic chance of making it six wins with Josies Orders.

2017 winner Cause Of Causes currently heads the antepost betting.

Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle

The Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle is traditionally one of the most open and difficult races of the festival to predict.

Contested over 2m and eight hurdles, last year’s winner Flying Tiger came in as a 33/1 winner.

Nube Negra and Act Of Valour are currently neck-and-neck in the betting.

Champion Bumper

The most unique race of the entire festival, the Champion Bumper is the only race to be run on the flat.

It’s another extremely difficult race to predict and sometimes one that will be for a watching brief only.

Gordon Elliott won the 2017 renewal with Fayonagh.

Ladies Day Results 2017

1:30 – Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle

  1. Willoughby Court – 14/1
  2. Neon Wolf – 2/1
  3. Messire Des Obeaux – 8/1

2:10 – RSA Chase

  1. Might Bite – 7/2F
  2. Whisper – 9/2
  3. Belshill – 5/1

2:50 – Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle

  1. Supasundae – 16/1
  2. Taquin Du Seuil – 12/1
  3. Who Dares Wins – 33/1

3:30 – Queen Mother Champion Chase

  1. Special Tiara – 11/1
  2. Fox Norton – 7/1
  3. Sir Valentino – 33/1

4:10 – Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase

  1. Cause Of Causes – 4/1
  2. Bless The Wings – 10/1
  3. Cantlow – 9/4F

4:50 – Fred Winter Juvenile Novices’ Handicap Hurdle

  1. Flying Tiger – 33/1
  2. Divin Bere – 4/1F
  3. Nietzsche – 12/1

5:30 – Champion Bumper

  1. Fayonagh – 7/1
  2. Debuchet – 10/1
  3. Claimantakinforgan – 22/1

Find out all Cheltenham betting odds for 2018 at Ladbrokes!

cheltenham festival day 1

Champion Hurdle Day 2018 Cheltenham Festival Day 1

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Day One of the Cheltenham Festival begins at 1.30pm on Tuesday, March 13th.

After 12 long months away, 76,000 screaming punters will cram into Prestbury Park for the start of the greatest horse racing festival on the planet.The Cheltenham roar will bellow down the first stretch of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

There are seven races in total on the opening day, topped off by the Champion Hurdle – the most prestigious hurdle race in the world.For the 2018 Champion Hurdle, Buveur D’Air will defend his crown against the might of Willie Mullins’ Faugheen.

Champion Hurdle Day – 2018 Race Schedule

Day One of the Cheltenham Festival kicks off on Tuesday with seven festival races, four of which are major renewals.

Are you ready for the roar? Let’s take a look at the schedule and expand on eachof the Cheltenham Festival races.

1.30        Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (2m 1/2f)

2.10        Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeple Chase (2m)

2.50        Baylis & Harding Affordable Luxury Handicap Chase (3m 1/2f)

3.30        Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (2m 1/2f)

4.10        Mares’ Hurdle (for the David Nicholson Trophy) (2m 4f)

4.50        National Hunt Chase (4m)

5.30        Novices’ Handicap Chase (2m 4 1/2 f)

Supreme Novices Hurdle

The 2018 Cheltenham Festival opens with the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Run over 2m, this race is always a bit of a heart-pounder, with the best young hurdling horses all lining up for glory.

Gordon Elliot won here last year with the unfancied Labaik at a huge 25/1. But it’s Willie Mullins’ Getabird who’s the hot favourite for the 2018 renewal at 7/4.

Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeplechase

A Grade 1 chase for novices over 1m 7f, the Arkle Chase tends to produce plenty future major festival winners.

Nicky Henderson has a particularly brilliant record in this race with the English trainer winning six times, including last year’s winner, Altior.

Willie Mullins’ Footpad is the current favourite at Even-Money, with Petit Mouchoir next in the betting at 7/2.

Baylis & Harding Affordable Luxury Handicap Chase

At 3m long, this race can be a bit of a slog with the most consistent stayers generally triumphing.

The winner of this race traditionally goes on to take part in the Aintree Grand National.

Un Temps Pour Tout won back to back in 2016 and 2017, but it’s Singlefarmpayment and Gold Present who are vying for favouritism this year.

Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy

£400,000 and the title of the most prestigious hurdling race of the year are at stake in the Champion Hurdle.

The cream of the hurdling crop is all included for this race, with Buveur D’Air emerging last year to win the 2017 crown.

Nicky Henderson’s charge is well-fancied to retain his crown again. But he could face a stern challenge from the likes of Faugheen, My Tent Or Yours, Yorkhill, and Min.

Mares’ Hurdle (for the David Nicholson Trophy)

The first race was run back in 2008, and this race has gone from strength to strength over the years since.

A Grade 1 contest open to fillies and mares four-years-old and above and run over 2m 4f, 2018’s renewal looks a tight affair.

Apples Jade returns to defend her crown and retains strong favouritism at 8/13. However, the likes of Lets Dance and Vroum Vroum Mag should make it a cracking race.

National Hunt Chase

This gigantic 4m Listed race is open to amateur riders and novice chasers only. It’s traditionally an ultra-competitive race with generally only the best amateurs triumphing.

Tiger Roll here won last year for Gordon Elliot, but previous years have produced stars like Minella Rocco, and Native River.

This year’s favourites include Presenting Percy, Dounikos, and Elegant Escape at 8/1.

Novices’ Handicap Chase

The final race of a breathless first day at Cheltenham is the Novices’ Handicap Chase – a 2m 4f renewal over 16 fences,

Barney Dawn, Hells Kitchen, and Rather Be all currently head the betting for this incredibly competitive handicap.

Champion Day 2017 Results

Ahead of the 2018 renewals, check out every winner on Day One of the Cheltenham Festival 2017.

There were twists, turns, upsets, and favourites striding home to glory.

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle 2017 Result

  1. Labaik – 25/1.
  2. Melon – 3/1JF
  3. River Wylde – 6/1

Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeplechase 2017 Result

  1. Altior – 1/4F
  2. Cloudy Dream – 12/1
  3. Ordinary World – 25/1

Baylis & Harding Affordable Luxury Handicap Chase 2017 Result

  1. Un Temps Pour Tout – 9/1
  2. Singlefarmpayment – 5/1F
  3. Noble Endeavour – 15/2

Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy 2017 Result

  1. Buveur D’Air – 5/1
  2. My Tent Or Yours – 16/1
  3. Petit Mouchoir – 6/1

Mares’ Hurdle (for the David Nicholson Trophy) 2017 Result

  1. Apple’s Jade – 7/2
  2. Vroum Vroum Mag – 11/4
  3. Limini – 6/4

National Hunt Chase 2017 Result

  1. Tiger Roll – 16/1
  2. Missed Approach – 50/1
  3. Haymount – 33/1

Novices’ Handicap Chase 2017 Result

  1. Tully East – 8/1
  2. Gold Present – 14/1
  3. Two Taffs – 7/1

Check out all Cheltenham festival odds at Ladbrokes!


The most infamous Grand National’s Fences

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The four mile, three-and-a-half-furlong Grand National race is often billed as the ultimate test of horse and rider due to the difficulty of the course.

There are sixteen fences in total, fourteen of which get jumped twice, with the Chair and the Water Jump being missed on the second circuit as the horses veer off to the home straight.

Many of the fences are almost as infamous in their own right as the race itself and each has its own history. Here, we will take a look at some of the most iconic ones that make this race so intense and dramatic.

The Chair (Fence 15)

The Chair is the tallest fence at Aintree, standing at 5’3”, although the tricky part is that the take-off side is 6 inches lower than the landing side, resulting in feeling like the ground is heading up to meet the horses.

Since the first ever Grand National in 1839 there have been three equine fatalities here. This fence is most infamous, however, for causing the only human casualty in the long history of the Grand National. In 1862 jockey Joseph Wynne was badly injured after falling at The Chair, dying just hours later.

Valentine’s Brook (Fence 9 and 25)

Valentine’s Brook was so named after an incident in the 1840 Grand National, where the runner Valentine is reputed to have managed to jump what was then called the Second Brook hind legs first.

With no video cameras it is impossible to prove this, but nevertheless the fence has been named for that horse ever since.

Canal Turn (Fence 8 and 24)

The Canal Turn is one of the trickiest fences on the course at Aintree due to the fact that horses and riders must make a 90 degree turn almost immediately upon landing.

There have been seven fatal falls at Canal Turn over the years and the fence is renowned as a game-changer, with many instances in which the expected outcome of the race has been dramatically altered.

Foinavon (Fence 7 and 23)

One of the smallest fences on the course at just 4’6”, this fence was re-named Foinavon in 1984 in honour of the 100/1 outsider who won the Grand National in a shock result in 1967. A loose horse darted along the fence causing every single other horse to stop or fall: except Foinavon, that is, who was so far behind the pack he had time to readjust and jump first time, gaining a lead of thirty lengths that was enough to take him first over the finish line.

Becher’s Brook (Fence 6 and 22)

This fence is notoriously difficult due to the vast difference in height on take-off and landing: the five-foot fence actually has a drop of between six and 10 inches lower.

It was named after the first ever Grand National in 1839, when jockey Captain Martin Becher came unseated and famously sheltered right in the brook for safety. Many amendments have been made to this fence over recent years after pressure from animal rights groups, with fourteen recorded equine fatalities in total.

The many fences at the Grand National are what make the race so challenging, and these five are some of the most well-known of all.

Cheltenham Festival crowds umbrellas

The Cheltenham Festival: Explained

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The Cheltenham Festival is one of the main highlights of the National Hunt racing season, held over four days in March. Prize money for the Cheltenham Festival is second to only the Grand National and there are several Grade I feature races over the course of the event.

The Festival is noted on the racing calendar as much for its atmosphere as for its racing, with the phrase ‘Cheltenham roar’ having long been coined to describe the noise made by the crowds.

Origins of the Cheltenham Festival

The origins of the Cheltenham Festival date back to 1860, although the Festival as we know it and at its current location began in 1911.

Prior to this the racing event, known then as the Grand National Hunt Meeting, was held at a variety of locations, including Market Harbour, Cheltenham and Warwick. The Ladbrokes World Hurdle – formerly known as the Stayer’s Chase – is the oldest race still currently run, dating from 1912.

Cheltenham Festival Gold Cup riders

The feature races

There are 27 races in total over the four days of the Cheltenham Festival, with each individual day revolving around one feature race.

Day one, known as Champion’s Day, features the Champion’s Hurdle. Day two, Ladies’ Day, is known for the Queen Mother Champion Chase. On day three, referred to as St. Patrick’s Day, spectators gather for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.

The fourth and final day (Gold Cup Day) is named after the blue riband event: the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Types of race

The Cheltenham Festival showcases a wide variety of events, with 14 steeplechases, 12 hurdles races and one bumper race, which is run on the flat as a sort of testing race for new horses.

Eight races are for novice or juvenile horses, 11 are handicap races and four are championship. There has also been a Cross Country Chase held since 2005, where horses are required to jump 32 obstacles such as ditches, walls, water and hedges as well as navigate steep banks, creating a unique spectacle for the crowd.

Cheltenham Gold Cup jockey winner

A day at the races

The Cheltenham Festival is as much about the social aspect as the racing, and this is never truer than on Ladies’ Day.

Cheltenham has a reputation for being slightly more colourful and laid-back than Royal Ascot, with thousands of women competing for the Best Dressed prize in an array of extravagant outfits.

The venue is populated with mobile catering stalls and bars, featuring live music at various points throughout the Festival. For members and club ticket holders there are also several quality restaurants serving everything from afternoon tea to tapas, and the exclusive Golden Miller Champagne Bar for those who want to really splash out.

The Cheltenham Festival is one of the most prestigious events in the racing calendar, staging a number of thrilling races that can make stars of both horse and rider. With plenty of excitement and an electric atmosphere, this is not to be missed.

Would you like to bet on Cheltenham festival 2018? Get all Cheltenham odds, and races information at


The Cheltenham Festival Day 2, Ladies Day: Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle

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Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle

The  Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle takes place on the left-handed, turf-surfaced Old Course at Cheltenham over a distance of 2m 5f. It is the opening race on day two of the annual Cheltenham Festival.

Horses are required to jump ten hurdles and can enter from four-years-old and upwards. The weight carried is set at 10st 12lb for any four-year olds and 11st 7lb for five-year olds and above, with a 7lb allowance for mares and fillies.

Last year’s renewal was won by Willoughby Court, who was ridden by David Bass and trained by Ben Pauling. Connections won £71,875.50 for their victory out of a total prize fund of £125,000.

The 2018 contest sees chances throughout the field, although Samcro is highly-fancied to land a first success in this renewal for trainer Gordon Elliott.

As ever, the race marks the start of Ladies Day on Day 2 of the Cheltenham Festival. The starter will waive the runners off at 1:30pm on Wednesday 14th March 2018.

Find out the latest  Ballymore Novices Hurdle odds at Ladbrokes

History of the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle

The race is registered as the Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle, in honour of the creator of the original festival.

However, it has been known under a variety of different names over the years due to sponsorship. Currently the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, this race began life known as the Aldsworth Hurdle in 1971.

From 1974 until 2006 the race came under the guise of the Sun Alliance Novices Hurdle due to sponsorship from Sun Alliance (which was later Royal & Sun Alliance).

Ballymore Properties took over sponsorship for the following three years before Neptune Investment Management offered their support in 2010. Their sponsorship lasted seven years until Ballymore resumed their association with the event for the 2018 contest.

Race Records

No single horse has managed to achieve victory here more than once, although several winners have gone on to bigger and brighter things at the Festival including Faugheen (Champion Hurdle 2015) and Simonsig (Arkle Challenge Trophy 2013).

The record for leading jockey is held by Ruby Walsh. The 38-year-old has been aboard four winners of the race, most recently with Yorkhill in 2016. He’s one ahead of Charlie Swan who enjoyed three successes with Danoli in 1994, Urubande in 1996 and Istabraq in 1997.

Walsh’s success has gone hand in hand with that of trainer Willie Mullins. The Irishman has four winners under his belt in this renewal – Fiveforthree in 2008, Mikael d’Haguenet in 2009, Faugheen in 2014 and the aforementioned Yorkhill in 2016. Mullins is one ahead of rival Nigel Twiston-Davies, who has trained three winners.

Neptune Novices’ Hurdle Trends

  • Only one of the last 40 winners have been aged six or over.
  • 14 of the last 22 winners were aged exactly six-years-old.
  • Irish-trained horses have won six of the last 10 renewals.
  • Nicky Henderson has won this race just once from 26 attempts.
  • Willie Mullins has accounted for four of the last 10 winners of this race.
  • Only three of the last 12 SP favourites have claimed victory.
  • Even Dawn is the longest-priced winner at 40/1 in 1972.
  • 31 of the last 32 winners of the Baring Bingham had finished first or second in their previous start.
  • Two of the last 17 victors had previously won the Tolworth Hurdle in the same season.


The Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle is an exhilarating race for novice hurdlers aged four and above, ready to make a big impact at Cheltenham for the very first time.

Success in the renewal is often the indicator of a true top-class hurdler. Istabraq won the 1997 renewal before going on to claim a hat-trick of Champion Hurdle successes. More recently Faugheen claimed the 2015 Champion Hurdle as well as a whole host of other major successes over sticks.

Walsh and Mullins have proved the dominant pair over the last decade. The duo have teamed up to enjoy success on no fewer than four occasions over the past ten years.

Novices Hurdle Winners

  • 2008: Fiveforthree – Ruby Walsh
  • 2009: Mikael d’Haguenet – Ruby Walsh
  • 2010: Peddlers Cross – Jason Maguire
  • 2011: First Lieutenant – Dave Russell
  • 2012: Simonsig – Barry Geraghty
  • 2013: The New One – Sam Twiston-Davies
  • 2014: Faugheen – Ruby Walsh
  • 2015: Windsor Park – Davy Russell
  • 2016: Yorkhill – Ruby Walsh
  • 2017: Willoughby Court– David Bass
Cheltenham David Nicholson Mares Hurdle

The Cheltenham Festival Day 1, Champion Day: OLBG Mares’ Hurdle

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OLBG Mares’ Hurdle

The OLBG Mares’ Hurdle is one of the newest races to be introduced at the Cheltenham Festival. Inaugurated in 2008, the race was originally intended to be a seventh race on the final day of the Festival, Gold Cup Day. From 2009 onwards it has been the fifth race on Day One – Champion Day.

The race was originally named in honour of legendary jockey and trainer David Nicholson, who passed away in 2006. Nicholson’s impressive record included five wins as a jockey at the Cheltenham Festival. When he retired to become a trainer he entered 17 winning horses in Cheltenham races.

The race was held on the New Course in 2008 but since moving to Day One has been run over the Old Course, with a race distance of two miles, four furlongs, and with horses leaping nine hurdles.

Hot favourite for the 2018 Mares’ Hurdle is the defending champion, Apple’s Jade. Gordon Elliott’s star fought off Willie Mullins’ duo of Vroum Vroum Mag and Limini to win.

The two former names will square off again for the 2018 renewal in what looks an exciting battle.

Cheltenham David Nicholson Mares Hurdle

Quevega, Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins

The OLBG Mares’ Hurdle has been dominated by three characters throughout its short history – horse Quevega, jockey Ruby Walsh and trainer Willie Mullins. Although the race was won in 2008 by Jason Maguire on the Donald McCain Jr trained Whiteoak, the famous trio would go on to take victory for six consecutive years.

When Ruby Walsh and Quevega entered in 2009 they were billed as the favourite and given short odds of 2/1. Over the following years, the consistent success of the pair caused those odds to be shortened even further, to 6/4, 5/6 and 4/7 in 2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively and to 8/11 in 2013 and 2014.

In the 2015 year, Quevega was retired and Ruby Walsh fell on Annie Power after being priced the 1/2 favourite. Another horse from the Willie Mullins stable, Glens Melody, took victory ridden by Paul Townend.

In 2015 year Quevega was retired and Ruby Walsh fell on Annie Power after being priced the 1/2 favourite. Another horse from the Willie Mullins stable, Glens Melody, took victory ridden by Paul Townend.

David Nicholson Mares Hurdle riders

Race Information

The fifth race on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival, the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle follows on from the day’s feature race, the Champion Hurdle.

The race is open to fillies and mares aged four and above, with four-year-olds carrying a weight of 10st 10lb and those aged five and over carrying 11st 5lb.

Run on the Old Course over 4,023 metres with nine hurdles, the prize pot for the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle stands at £110,000.

Statistics and Trends

  • The fastest winning time goes to Quevega in 2010 when she finished in 4 minutes and 45.4 seconds.
  • 8 of the last 10 winners have been favourite or 2nd favourite.
  • The longest price for a winning horse was 20/1 for Whiteoak in the inaugural 2008 running.
  • Willie Mullins has trained all but two winners in ten renewals.

Despite the narrow field of victories since its inception, the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle is a hotly-contested race, with each horse and rider team eager to be first past the post. It is part of what makes Day One at Cheltenham such a thrilling experience for racers and spectators alike.

You can find all your 2018 Cheltenham OLBG Mares’ Hurdle odds  at Ladbrokes.

Cheltenham Arkle Challenge Trophy jockeys

Arkle Challenge Trophy

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The Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy

The Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy is the second race of the Cheltenham Festival Day 1. A National Hunt steeplechase run on the Old Course, this race is the foremost novice minimum distance chase on the seasonal calendar.

It is open to five-year-old horses and above and run over a distance of around two miles.

Arkle Challenge Trophy

The Arkle Challenge Trophy was introduced in order to pay tribute to the legendary Irish thoroughbred racehorse Arkle.

Arkle famously won the prestigious and challenging Cheltenham Gold Cup on three consecutive years from 1964-1966; in honour of his achievements, the former Cotswold Chase was renamed the Arkle Challenge Trophy.

Until 1980 the race took place on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival, moving in that year to its current slot as race two on Day One.

There have been four sponsors of the Arkle Challenge Trophy, the first being Waterford Castle from 1991 until 1993. Guinness sponsored the race from 1994 until 1999, followed by the Irish Independent newspaper from 2000 until 2011. Current sponsors the Racing Post took over in 2012.

There have been several winners of the Arkle that have later gone on to win the Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase, the most prestigious two-mile steeplechase on the calendar. These include Sprinter Sacre, who took home the Queen Mother in 2013.

Footpad is the hot favourite for the 2018 Arkle Chase. The Willie Mullins-trained star won the Irish Arkle at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown this year.

His nearest challenger that day – Petit Mouchoir – is the second favourite for the Cheltenham renewal.

The Course

The Arkle Challenge Trophy takes place over what is known at Cheltenham as the Old Course.

Thought of as slightly easier than the New Course due to being a little shorter, the Old Course is nonetheless challenging for horse and jockey alike. Open ditches and a water jump combine with an undulating course structure to create unique challenges requiring a fine balance of pace and stamina.

There are thirteen fences that must be jumped during the two-mile duration of the Arkle Challenge Trophy. Making all races at Cheltenham particularly challenging is the undulations in the turf and the fact that all courses feature relatively steep inclines and declines at various points.

Arkle Challenge Trophy Trends

  • Five of the last six winners have been the odds-on favourite.
  • The top jockey in terms of this particular event is Barry Geraghty, with four wins.
  • Nicky Henderson is the most successful trainer with six winners.
  • Eight of the last 27 winners have gone on to win the following season’s Champion Chase.
  • Willie Mullins has trained two of the last three winners.
  • Six-year-olds and seven-year-olds are the most successful horses in this race.

This novice race helps get the Cheltenham Festival started, making Day One a thrilling and challenging day for newcomers to the world of competitive horse racing. If you’re after a really exciting flutter, this is the race for you.

Recent Winners

Over the last 10 years, the Arkle Challenge Trophy has been dominated by trainers Nicky Henderson and Willie Mullins, who have won five of the last 10 renewals.

Of the jockeys, Barry Geraghty has three victories, with Ruby Walsh with two. The last ten winners are as follows:

  • 2008: Tidal Bay – Denis O’Regan
  • 2009: Forpadydeplaster – Barry Geraghty
  • 2010: Sizing Europe – Andrew Lynch
  • 2011: Captain Chris – Richard Johnson
  • 2012: Sprinter Sacre – Barry Geraghty
  • 2013: Simonsig – Barry Geraghty
  • 2014: Western Warhorse – Tom Scudamore
  • 2015: Un De Sceaux – Ruby Walsh
  • 2016: Douvan – Ruby Walsh
  • 2017: Altior – Nico de Boinville

Find out more about Cheltenham betting at Ladbrokes!