Did Prince Charles ever ride a winner as a jockey?

Charles, Prince of Wales, made his debut as an amateur jockey, at the age of 31, in a charity race at Plumpton on March 4, 1980. He finished second aboard favourite Long Wharf and, just four days later, finished fourth aboard Sea Swell in his first steeplechase at Sandown. Later the same year, on October 24 – on the first occasion he and Lady Diana Spencer had been seen together in public – Charles rode his own horse, Allibar, into a highly creditable second place in an amateur riders’ handicap chase at Ludlow. After a promising start, it would be fair to say that the remainder of Charles’ brief riding career was not altogether happy.

In early 1981, Allibar collapsed and died while being ridden out one morning and Charles was subsequently unseated twice, in the space of five days, from his own horse, Good Prospect, including famously in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup at the Cheltenham Festival. He rode his sixth, and final, race at Newton Abbott on May 21, 1981, finishing ninth on Upton Grey, owned by his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother; his career form figures read ‘242UU0’ so, while he came close once or twice, Prince Charles never did ride a winner as a jockey.

What does it mean to be ‘warned off’?

If an individual is charged with a serious breach of the Rules of Racing, including, but not limited to, corruption, improper use of ‘inside’ information or administering a prohibitive substance, he or she is required to appear before the Disciplinary Panel of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). After a fair, impartial hearing, the Disciplinary Panel decides if there has been a breach of the Rules of Racing and, if so, on an appropriate punishment.

If the charged individual is ‘warned off’, they are excluded from any premises licensed by the BHA, including racecourses and training establishments, and restricted from associating with other licensed or registered persons, including jockeys, trainers and owners, for a length of time stipulated by the Disciplinary Panel. In the most famous case in recent years, in May, 2013, former Godolphin trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni was warned off for eight years, with immediate effect, after admitting administering prohibited anabolic steroids to several horses in his care and acting in a manner prejudicial to the good reputation of horse racing.

Which are the highest and lowest racecourses in Britain?

Interestingly, the highest racecourses in Britain are well-publicised, but less so, or so it would appear, are the lowest. The highest racecourse in the country is, unequivocally, Exeter Racecourse, which stands 850 feet above sea level in the Haldon Hills, near the city of Exeter, in Devon, in southwest England. The second highest is Hexham Racecourse, which is situated in High Yarridge, 600 feet above the market town of Hexham, and 800 feet above sea level, in Northumberland, in northeast England. Both Exeter and Hexham exclusively stage National Hunt racing, so the honour of being the highest racecourse in the country to Flat racing goes to Bath Racecourse, which is set on the Lansdown Plateau, 780 feet above sea level, in Somerset, in southwest England.

Worcester Racecourse, in Worcester, the county town of Worcestershire, in the West Midlands of England, lies in the floodplain of the River Severn and appeared a likely candidate for the lowest racecourse in Britain, granted the frequency with which it is flooded. However, according to Ordnance Survey, Worcester Racecourse stands at an elevation of 66 feet above sea level or more than twice that of two racecourses in East Anglia, in eastern England.

Again according to Ordnance Survey, the lowest point, geographically, is Holme Fen in Cambridgeshire, which stands at an elevation of 9 feet below sea level. Huntingdon Racecourse, which is situated just under 15 miles south of Holme Fen, in the low-lying parish of Brampton, has an elevation of just 33 feet above sea level and so, too, does Great Yarmouth Racecourse, situated just over a hundred miles east of Holme Fen on the coast of Norfolk.

How can I tell if a horse is suited by soft going?

The safest way to tell if a horse is suited by soft going is to inspect its recent form. If a horse has won one or more races, or at least finished close up – inside, or maybe even just outside, the places – on soft or heavy going, it is probably safe to assume that similar underfoot conditions will pose it no problem.

However, if the horse in unraced, or has never run on soft going, the formbook may be of little or no use, but analysing the pedigree of the horse in question may provide some clues regarding its likely going preferences. The progeny, or offspring, of certain sires show definite liking for one type of going or another.

Beyond that, you really need to see the horse, preferably in motion, to assess its conformation, or physique, and its action, or manner of moving. There are no hard and fast rules, but horses with sloping, rather than upright, shoulder joints and longer pasterns – parts of the feet, between the fetlocks and hooves – may be more effective on soft going. They tend to have a higher, more rounded knee action when galloping and their feet hit the ground hard. Similarly, horses with larger ‘dinner plate’ hooves often fare best when the going becomes testing.

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