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 Martin Pipe?

Martin Pipe, who officially retired, due to poor health, in April, 2006, was a revolutionary, often controversial, trainer, who dominated British National Hunt racing from the late Eighties until the early Noughties. In fact, Pipe won the National Hunt Trainers’ Championship 15 times in all between 1988/89 and 2004/05, including ten seasons in a row between 1995/96 and 2004/05; indeed, he relinquished his reign as Champion trainer only briefly, to the late David Nicholson, in 1993/94 and 1994/95.

Based at Pond House, Nicholashayne, on the Devon-Somerset border, Pipe trained his first winner, Hit Parade, at Taunton in 1975 but, in his 30-year career, would amass a total of 4,180 winners, more than any other National Hunt trainer in history. He saddled 34 winners at the Cheltenham Festival including Granville Again and Make A Stand in the Champion Hurdle, in 1993 and 1997, respectively, and won the Grand National with Miinnehoma im 1994. Indeed, he trained over 200 winners in a season, including a then record 243 in 1999/2000, on eight occasions.

Pipe is credited with introducing training innovations such as blood tests, meticulous record-keeping, which allowed him to chronicle his horses’ health and interval training, all of which are commonplace in the modern training regime. His approach allowed him to boost the fitness of his horses more than any other trainer and he achieved much of his success with cheaply-bought ‘castoffs’ from other stables, which he often improved out of all recognition.

Which was Willie Mullins’ first Cheltenham Festival winner?

Willie Mullins, who has won the Irish National Hunt Trainers’ Championship every season since 2008/09, has also been no stranger to the winners’ enclosure at the Cheltenham Festival in recent years. Indeed, the County Carlow handler is the most successful trainer in the history of the March showpiece meeting, with 72 winners, and has been crowned leading trainer seven times.

The Queen Mother Champion Chase is a notable omission from Mullins’ CV but, of the other three main ‘championship’ races, he has won the Champion Hurdle four times, the Stayers’ Hurdle twice and, after finishing runner-up six times, the Cheltenham Gold Cup twice, courtesy of Al Boum Photo in 2019 and 2020. Everyone needs to start somewhere, of course, and in Willie Mulllins’ case his first winner at the Cheltenham Festival was Tourist Attraction in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 1995. Ridden by Mark Dwyer, the 25/1 chance led on the run-in and stayed on well to beat Ventana Canyon, trained by Edward O’Grady and ridden by Charlie Swan, by two lengths.

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