TWE 2016 Highlights
TWE 2016 Highlights
There were many ups and downs in the world of horse racing in 2016. We lost some former stars in Simonsig, who won the 2013 Arkle Challenge Trophy, former two-time Queen Mother Champion Chase, one-time Tingle Creek and one time Arkle Challenge Trophy winner Moscow Flyer. We also tragically lost three-time Cheltenham festival winner Vautour, who suffered from a fatal accident whilst in the prime of his career. Additionally, Walter Swinburn, three-time Epsom Classic winner, winner of the 1983 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and Breeders’ Cup in 1996, and one of the most renowned jockeys of his generation, died in December aged 55. All these individuals have contributed to the rise in popularity of horse racing over the years and made many special moments. Fortunately for us, despite some sad times, 2016 definitely did produce some great moments that we will remember for years to come.
How can we forget Sprinter Sacre’s miraculous comeback at Cheltenham in March? Written off by many as being past his best, Sprinter regained the Queen Mother Champion Chase crown by disposing of 4/6 favourite Un De Sceaux in a three and a half-length victory! Sprinter Sacre was known as one of the best chasers in his generation after successfully completing a ten race winning streak which included winning the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 2013. However, the unbelievable run came to an end when, in December 2013, he was abruptly pulled up at Kempton and it was discovered that the horse had an irregular heartbeat. This led to many pundits calling time on his career. It seemed they were right, for he was beaten on his next three outings, one of which included being pulled up in the Champion Chase. However, Sprinter defied the odds and went on to scoop the Queen Mother Champion Chase crown, silencing all the doubters. His trainer, Nicky Henderson, was rightly elated: “To come back and do that after all that time, it’s incredible… the two years in the wilderness were dark days. There was always something there. This is completely different to where he was a couple of years ago. Everybody at the yard has put it all together.”
Aidan O’Brien’s Fantastic Year
What a year 2016 was for Irish trainer Aiden O’Brien. Minding was named Horse Of The Year at the 2016 Cartier Racing Awards. The five-time Group One winner in 2016 triumphed as her Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien dominated the event, celebrating the best of European flat racing. Order of St George won the Top Stayer category whilst stablemate Churchill was voted the top two-year old colt in training. Minding was certainly a highlight for O’Brien: the horse of the year managed to win the 1,000 Guineas, Oaks, Nassau Stakes and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes! O’Brien’s spectacular year was topped off in October when he produced an unprecedented 1-2-3 in the Prix de L’Arc De Triomphe, which was won by top older horse Found. It will certainly be very hard for any trainer to replicate O’Brien’s success in 2017.
Frankie Dettori’s 3000th Winner
In August, much loved Italian jockey Frankie Dettori became only the 6th rider in horse racing history to reach 3,000 winners on the flat in Great Britain. He reached the landmark with a victory on board the John Gosden-trained Predilection at Newmarket, which made all and won in typical Dettori style. He joins a much-coveted list of superb flat jockeys in Lester Piggott, Pat Eddery, Sir Gordon Richards, Willie Carson and Doug Smith to ride 3,000 winners. Only two jump jockeys have reached the 3,000 winner mark and they are Sir Anthony McCoy and Richard Johnson. Dettori was obviously delighted to reach the landmark and said, “It’s special, just beautiful to do it here at Newmarket where I landed 30 years ago, I don’t know what to say… I purposely didn’t ride all week to have the opportunity to do it here, this is my home.” What a lovely story! Surely Frankie couldn’t make 4,000?
During 2016 Thistlecrack swept away everything before him. Going into 2016 Thistlecrack was the one to beat in the staying hurdle division. No one could get close. Rounding the bend in the world hurdle in March, Thistlecrack had them working in behind. A flick of the reigns by Scudamore and he was gone. Barely off the bridle, Thistlecrack returned a popular even money favourite. He then went on to decimate the field by 7 lengths at Aintree. Much anticipation awaited his chase debut and questions were raised over his opening price for the Gold Cup. Despite a scare in his second start over fences at Cheltenham, Thistlecrack made light work of his opposition in his first 3 starts chasing. Colin Tizzard’s decision to enter Thistlecrack against his stable mate Cue Card in the King George raised eyebrows, and questions about the horse’s ability were raised again. Could The crack handle this huge step up? The answer couldn’t have been more conclusive. Thistlcrack won eased down against a high-class field and is now odds on for the Gold cup with most firms. He is a monster, an equine powerhouse whose engine no one can match. Thistlecrack has everything and can go on to dominate British chasing for the foreseeable future. He certainly is a horse of a lifetime!