Friday, May 02, 2014

A review of the 2013/14 jumps season

Champion jockey: A P McCoy
Champion trainer: Paul Nicholls
Winning owner: J P McManus
Leading conditional rider: Gavin Sheehan

This time last year Nicky Henderson was long odds-on to retain the trainers' title but last year's Arkle winner Simonsig missed the entire season while stable star Sprinter Sacre, pulled up on his seasonal debut in Kempton's Desert Orchid Chase, was found to have an irregular heartbeat. Later the problem was reported to have 'righted itself' but the gelding hasn't raced in public since.

As is so often the case in racing, it's an ill wind... Sire De Grugy stepped up to win six of his seven starts including Cheltenham's Queen Mother Champion Chase; Gary Moore's charge was named jumps Horse of the Year.

Riding at Towcester on Thursday November 7th McCoy recorded his 4,000th win aboard a horse called Mountain Tunes and two days later Richie McLernon rode Johns Spirit to victory in the Paddy Power Gold Cup.

A week on and any lingering doubts about Cue Card's ability to stay three miles appeared to have been answered as Joe Tizzard made all to claim Haydock's Betfair Chase, with Dynaste, Silviniaco Conti and Gold Cup holder Bobs Worth all well beaten. At Kempton on Boxing Day Colin Tizzard's stable star looked set to confirm that form in the King George but in heart-breaking fashion Cue Card ran out of petrol in the home straight and was outstayed by Silviniaco Conti.

Cue Card missed the remainder of the season through injury while regular pilot Joe Tizzard later announced his retirement from race-riding.

At that same Kempton meeting My Tent Or Yours pipped The New One in the Christmas Hurdle - both horses set their sights on the Champion in March. A vintage renewal saw Jezki claim the crown holding McCoy's mount My Tent Or Yours a neck with The New One third.

The bare result only tells half the story. The New One was badly hampered after Our Conor fell fatally at the third but he still finished like a train while McCoy had had the choice between the first two but chose the wrong one.

That evening the champ will have been cursing his luck and his mood will have turned darker still two days later when he finished third in the World Hurdle on At Fishers Cross; emphatic winner More of That was another McCoy had rejected - on both occasions Barry Geraghty was the fortunate beneficiary.

Geraghty was aboard market leader and clear form choice Bobs Worth in Friday's Gold Cup but the race went the way of Lord Windermere (20/1) who held On His Own (16/1) a short head at the line with The Giant Bolster (14/1) threequarters of a length adrift in third.

Dr Richard Newland doesn't train for a living but that fact didn't stop his Pineau De Re coming home five lengths clear in the Aintree Grand National at odds of 25/1; Peter Bowen's Al Co (40/1) claimed the Scottish version while Richard Lee recorded a win for the home side with Mountainous in the Welsh version.

Daryl Jacob experienced mixed fortunes as Paul Nicholls' stable jockey; eyebrows were raised when he knocked back the ride on the legend Big Buck's...

Distraught at being beaten a nose by Richard Johnson in the Pertemps Network Final at the Festival, the next day Jacob rode Lac Fontana to victory in the County Hurdle but before the very next race suffered horrific injuries when Port Mellon spooked, broke through a rail and dumped him on a concrete hard-standing.

In stark contrast Sam Twiston-Davies recorded a total of 115 winners and saw his stock rise in meteoric fashion; he has just been appointed Paul Nicholls' stable jockey while Jacob has chosen to go freelance.

Finally a word for Jason Maguire who finished third in the jockeys' championship (130 winners) despite missing the final six weeks of the season after suffering life-threatening injuries in a fall from Scots Gaelic at Stratford on the eve of the Festival.

As trainer Donald McCain pointed out - it puts it all into perspective, doesn't it?

1 comment:

Mully said...

Roll on 2014/15 !