Tanya's Blog December 2016

Posted 6 months ago
tanyaStevenson2035

Colin Tizzard must feel as though he is living a fairytale he must smile every time he looks out the window to his stables or watches the gallops.  Success is something to enjoy.  Indeed, my once upon a time is now at the brink of a happily ever after.  Twenty years with Channel 4 Racing and near forty years in guises from just going racing, working for and as a bookmaker, sending betting shows to betting shops for SIS, writing for the Racing Post and the Daily Record, as well as many other extra curricula activities on various committees regarding betting and racing oh it has been so rewarding and so much fun, but it’s time to reclaim some anonymity, while facing exciting new challenges outside of racing.

I watched Cue Card’s demolition job in the Betfair Chase from my sofa, though I was just as thrilled by Three Faces West on the same card, his exuberant jumping had me on the edge and thinking of the big spruce fences at Aintree, meanwhile at Ascot my heart went out to the gallant Lil Rockerfeller who gave Yanworth something to think about.  Neil King may well be targeting the World Hurdle but if Faugheen doesn’t turn up at Kempton over Christmas surely connections have to be tempted to run there instead. Though I suspect at present they are focused on a return to Ascot on December 17. 

There is something special to look forward to every weekend: Tingle Creek, Becher Chase, a return to Cheltenham, Ascot then the tradition of Kempton at Christmas, though Jack Frost made a subtle appearance recently condemning Wincanton, Exeter, Musselburgh and Carlisle to his frozen touch, let’s hope he lays off for a while now. 

That said this is the time of the year when an at least one extra layer is the order of the day, plus hats, scarves and gloves.  But I love how the conditions invite camaraderie and at Cheltenham there is the wonderful little coffee catering outlet by the bottom entrance that sell warm mince pies!  Happy days, roll on December 9th.

The season has shaped up brilliantly so far I’d hate for it to come to an abrupt halt.  Brian Hughes success is a real feel good story, 69 winners for the season and counting, 31 of those in November, carries himself so humbly and comes across as such a great lad what an ambassador for the weighing room.  His favourite ride of mine was aboard Frankie Figg when winning the 2010 Grand Sefton Chase over the big fences at Aintree it was a joy to behold.

Paul Moloney is another jockey who doesn’t receive the recognition he deserves, he is a superb horseman as proved by his exploits on Buywise and his completion rate in the Grand National.  Interesting he rode for Nicky Henderson in the Hennessy rewarding the trainer with fourth aboard Hadrians Approach.  I look forward to Buywise in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham on December 10. 

The rise and rise of Gordon Elliott, often plundering prizes on these shores, he has an unrelenting work ethic and has been rewarded accordingly.  At the time of writing and after a sensational six winners out of seven races at Navan, it leaves him on 108 winners for the season in Ireland, only 15 behind the tally for last season and shortening in the betting all the time for the Irish jumps trainers championship.  Willie Mullins is yet to unleash any of his big star marquee names.  2-1 in a place seems a fair price when you consider Elliott has strength in numbers, being able to saddle 11 in the Troytown Chase is amazing.  Though as a punter, it would be interesting to hear views on betting on such a scenario. 

Colin Tizzard also shortens for the Trainers’ Championship on these shores.  Where he struggles may well be in the hurdling department, though as he lands big Saturday prizes, it means Paul Nicholls is not, but he has the quantity. Though good horses are distributed at many stables, Dan Skelton, Harry Fry, Philip Hobbs, Nicky Henderson and Alan King to name a few.  It makes for a great spectacle.

More immediately all is set for the battle of the Moore brothers, Jamie and Josh, with Sire De Grugy set to take on his young pretender stablemate Ar Mad in the Tingle Creek. With the added bonus of Un De Sceaux, this year’s renewal is a fascinating contest. Meantime at Aintree, the big spruce fences are in use for the Becher Chase and Grand Sefton. Aintree is forever etched in my heart and I will be hoping the action is on the big screen at Sandown.

My pick in the Bechers is Alvarado, twice placed in a Grand National and he showed up well until tiring two out at Cheltenham recently as a back up I’ll go for Viconte Du Noyer, Colin Tizzard’s golden spell could continue with Quite By Chance in the Grand Sefton.  After winning at Ascot he returned to the course to put up a bold show against Sire De Grugy, his big flowing stride could well be suited to the quirks of Aintree. 

As I ready myself to move on, one thing I won’t miss is the public address and racecourse tannoys which are constantly cranked up at a level beyond too high.  But no one will listen, probably because they can’t hear. 

What the Racegoers Club has is special, it must continue to embrace those who love racing and reach out and welcome those just sampling the joys for the first time.  As I follow new paths away from racing I have chosen to step down from the committee, I have many people to thank but mostly and importantly a big thank you to all the members for making this so special.