Who was champion jockey was before Sir Anthony McCoy?

In recent years, the British Jump Jockeys’ Championship has been dominated by Richard Johnson, who was Champion Jockey in 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18 and is currently 22 winners ahead of his nearest rival, Harry Skelton, with less than two weeks of the 2018/19 National Hunt season remaining. However, prior to 2015/16, Johnson had to play ‘second fiddle’ to Sir Anthony McCoy, who was Champion Jockey for 20 consecutive years between 1995/96 and 2014/15 or, in other words, every year as a full licensed professional jockey. All told, McCoy rode 4,384 winners in an extraordinary career, the likes of which National Hunt racing may see again.

However, there was a time, albeit a few years ago, when McCoy had yet to win his first Jockeys’ Championship and Richard Dunwoody was Champion Jockey three years running in1992/93, 1993/94 and 1994/95. Indeed, Dunwoody rode 1,699 winners, making him, at the time, the most successful jump jockey in history, before his career was cut short by a recurring injury at the age of 35.

How many fences do horses jump in the Cheltenham Gold Cup?

The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the most prestigious race of the National Hunt season and has been run, over 3 miles 2½ furlongs, on the ‘New’ Course at Prestbury Park, in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire since 1959. It’s a prime betting opportunity for serious and casual punters alike, and there are plenty of free bet opportunities on sites like freebets.ie.  Nowadays, the Cheltenham Gold Cup is the highlight of the fourth, and final, day of the Cheltenham Festival, held annually in mid-March.

The New Course is a left-handed oval, approximately a mile and a half in circumference and constantly on the turn. Although sharper than widely believed, with pronounced undulations, the New Course is essentially galloping and testing in character, with ten, notoriously stiff fences per circuit.

From the start position, horses in the Cheltenham Gold Cup jump two plain fences – which will become the second-last and last in two circuits’ time – in the home straight before continuing uphill out into the country. The fourth fence is the water jump and the fifth and seventh fences are open ditches, the first of which is jumped uphill. The uphill ditch can prove problematic as horses can see the rising ground on the landing side, which alters their perception of the fence. The second open ditch is followed by two more plain fences and a pronounced downhill run, with another plain fence, back to the point of departure.

The fence after the turn at the top of the hill, which is jumped as the ninth and nineteenth, or fourth-last, has been resited for safety purposes in the past, but still provides its fair share of incident, as does the fence on the downhill stretch; this is especially true on the second circuit, as horses come under pressure. At the end of the second circuit, horses jump the two fences in the home straight for a third, and final, time, making a total of 22 fences in all. With further knowledge of the Gold Cup course, you’re well positioned to take advantage of betting opportunities on bettingsites.ie . You’ve got to be in it to win it!

Who is Nicky Henderson?

Nicholas ‘Nicky’ Henderson is the son of the late Major John ‘Johnny’ Henderson, a founder of the Racecourse Holdings Trust and, as such, credited with helping safeguard the future of Cheltenham Racecourse in the Sixties. The name of Nicky Henderson, too, is synonymous with Cheltenham, predominantly the Cheltenham Festival, where he has saddled 68 winners, making him the second most successful trainer in history, behind only perennial Irish Champion Trainer Willie Mullins.

Indeed, Henderson is the leading trainer in the history of both the Champion Hurdle, which he has won eight times and, jointly, alongside Tom Dreaper and Paul Nicholls, the Queen Mother Champion Chase, which he has won six times. He has also won the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Stayers’ Hurdle twice apiece.

Henderson has also won the National Hunt Trainers’ Championship six times including, most recently, in 2019/20. The National Hunt season was brought to a premature end on March 25, as the result of the coronavirus pandemic but, at its close, Henderson had saddled 118 winners, including 15 at Graded level and, more importantly, amassed £2.53 million in total prize money; his seasonal total was £192,550 higher than his nearest rival, reigning Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls.

Henderson, who turns 70 in December, 2020, began his training career as assistant to eight-time Champion Trainer Fred Winter in 1974, before taking out a training licence in his own right four years later. He is currently based at Seven Barrows in Upper Lambourn, Berkshire, the yard to which he moved in 1992.

What do the letters mean in horse racing form figures?

By form figures, we mean the series of numbers and letters that appear to the left of the name of each horse on a racecard. Whether the racecard is printed in a small booklet or programme, as it is on the racecourse, or in a daily newspaper or displayed online, the form figures provide an at-a-glance snapshot of how a horse has performed in its recent races.

Form figures should be read from left to right or, in other words, the most recent finishing position, if any, is on the right; form from two seasons or longer ago, or from last season, is separated from the remaining figures by a slash (/) or a dash (–), respectively. Numbers in the form figures represent the finishing position of the horse in the race in question, with the number zero (0) – not to be confused with a capital letter ‘O’, which means something entirely different – representing a finishing position of tenth or worse.

Letters, on the other hand, typically signify that a horse failed to finish, for whatever reason. The letters that appear most commonly in form figures, particularly in National Hunt races, are ‘F’, ‘U’ and ‘P’, which stand for ‘Fell’, ‘Unseated rider’ and ‘Pulled up’, respectively; the first two are fairly self-explanatory, but a horse is said to have been ‘pulled up’ if its jockey decides, usually because of suspected injury or simply because the horse is out of contention, that it should take no further part in a race.

Other letters that signify a horse failed to complete the course include ‘B’, ‘S’ and ‘O’, which stand for ‘Brought down’, ‘Slipped up’ and ‘Ran out’, respectively; if a horse runs out, it fails, through its own volition or because it has been hampered by a rival, to stay on the designated course or misses out an obstacle. A letter ‘R’ can stand for ‘Refused to race’ or, in a steeplechase, simply ‘Refused’, a letter ‘D’ stands for ‘Disqualified’ and a letter ‘V’ stands for ‘Void’, indicating that the race in question was declared void under the Rules of Racing.

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