Sedgefield Racecourse

Sedgefield is a jump-race type track located in the village of Sedgefield, in Durham County, North East England. It is owned by Northern racing, and has its action screened on At The Races.

History

Racing here dates back to the first half of the 18th Century, although none of it was documented back then. The area became the home of the Ralph Lambton Hunt in 1904, when Ralph teamed up with several other race lovers to form a club. The course raced regularly with annual meetings for races like the Sedgefield Hunt until it was forced to take a break during World War I.

Much improvement was done between 1977 and 1991, under the chairmanship of Frank Otto. The old tin huts were replaced by decent recent huts, and the projects initiated in that period are what form the baseline of the course’s infrastructure to date. A 1999 incident of unguided horses running onto the track that resulted in the death of three horses threatened to overshadow the achievement made by the introduction of a first grade weighing facility the previous year.

The course

Sedgefield is roughly rectangular shape, with fine edges that make for fair turning at the bends. There is a gentle uphill at the end of the run in, with the other sections of the circuit rolling in crests and troughs marked by demanding fences. Initially, the run in was 525 yards from the last obstacle to the finishing line. This however changed once the existent water jump was swapped for an ordinary fence- The John Ridley.

Road and rail access are most viable. Newton Aycliffe railway station is nearest, 5.5 miles off. Stockton-on-Tees (9 miles) Durham (12 miles) and Darlington (8 miles) are also possible access points.

Races

There are 20 fixtures on Sedgefield, run in ten months of a year. The two-moth break comes between June and July, during which the course facilities are mainly hired for meetings, conferences, weddings and concerts. The Durham National steeplechase in October is the course’s headline meeting.

Sandown Park

Sandown Park Racecourse is located in Esher town in the Surrey County of England. It is a dual-race type track owned by the Jockey Club Racehorses, with race meetings televised on Racing UK.

History

The course opened in 1895, over a 3-day Grand National Hunt Chase, which has since moved to Cheltenham. During this race, viewers had to part with half a crown to watch, pitting Sandown among the foremost the first race venues to charge attendance. The Steeplechase run on the Saturday after that firs hunt carried a £2,130 winning prize, the highest paid for a race of the type that season. The construction of a grandstand prior to the 1875 opening made gave it one of the best unobstructed viewing areas, a factor that greatly increased its popularity.

The course

The track is roughly oval, narrow on one side and wide on the other. It has a long straight cutting the oval through the center along its length. It is a gently sloping circuit, with a not-too-steep climb towards the finish. The track hosts both flat and jump races.

The course has retained a modern look at all times, staying ahead of some courses that have done more recent upgrades. A 1972 viewing stand of 76, 000 capacity is to date regarded one of the best place to be on race days.

Access to the course is by car, rail or you can make a helicopter landing on the helipad within the ourse with prior arrangement with the management. The Esher railway station is close nearby, just ten minutes’ walking distance. Dress code is not strict at Sandown, although extreme wear like rugged jeans may be restricted in some areas. Smart casual is the safest bet.

Races

Sandown has a busy calendar, with racing activity held throughout the year. Some of the biggest races, famous jockeys and horses have been here. Think of eight-time champion Desert Orchid, or Arkle.

The Gold Cup, usually run in April, is the course’s main race. The Eclipse Stakes and the Tote Masters are also popular within Sandown’s 29-day fixtures.

Mullins and Elliott scrap it out for Grand National supremacy

 

Some of the biggest names in the world of horse racing slug it out over four miles at Aintree on Saturday 14th March to decide this year’s Grand National winner. It’s the event that brings the UK to a standstill, uniting avid backers and race fans with once-a-year penny punters.

 

One for Arthur banked the prize money last year for trainer Lucinda Russell with those who had him backed celebrating a chunky 14/1 pay-out. The champion won’t be back to defend, ruled out through injury, meaning there will be a new king or queen and all we have to do is pick it before the off and get our stake money down. Easier said than done but there is no lack of opinions flying around in the build-up, including the Grand National tips at Timeform.

 

As well as some of the brightest talents in handicap steeplechasing, we also get a chance to witness the bravery of the jockeys as they aim to write their name into the history books. In the madness of it all, the crowds cheering jockey and horse as they kick for home, it’s easy to overlook the dedication and commitment of the racehorse trainers.

 

This year, we see old rivals Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott go head-to-head and both men have wheeled out the big guns in an attempt to shoot down the other. Mullins famously won the race back in 2005 with Hedgehunter but that remains his sole success to date. Gordon Elliott finally made an appearance in the Aintree winner’s enclosure two years later with Silver Birch.

 

Both trainers hold strong hands in this year’s renewal with two horses each featuring in the first ten of the ante-post betting. Here are their hopes and what’s expected of them…..

 

Source: Kevin Blake via Twitter

 

Total Recall (Mullins)

 

Total Recall has already proven very popular with punters and he goes no bigger than 12/1 pre-Cheltenham. That’s a compliment but it’s easy to see where traders are coming from with the jolly enjoying a hot-streak, winning each of his last three.

 

That purple patch began with an eye-catching win in the Munster National Handicap Chase at Limerick in October when hammering a strong field, nearest rival Alpha Des Obeaux coming home seventh lengths behind in second. 2/1 favourite that day and the shorter distance won’t be a worry as the victor seemed to have plenty to give on the run-in. Two months later, he was seen taking the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase at Newbury over 3m 1f, although this time it was closer, Whisper beaten a neck. The hat-trick was completed with a decent cushion over Oscar Knight at Leopardstown in the William Fry Handicap Hurdle.

 

Cause Of Causes (Elliott)

 

The tallest stalk in Gordon Elliott’s field is Cause Of Causes, who was runner-up in last year’s race behind One For Arthur, 4 ½ lengths the distance between gold and silver. Despite going to post a 16/1 also-ran, the experienced 10-year-old knew enough to move his way into the mix despite finding plenty of trouble along the way.

 

Hampered and bumped during an eventful race, he was with the winner at the business end before going flat when it mattered. With a clearer run, who knows what may have happened. Connections will be eager to right a few wrongs here and that course and race form must be respected.

 

Source: Kevin Blake via Twitter

 

Bellshill (Mullins)

 

Moving onto the bigger prices; this is one race you can’t put a line through a runner simply because the odds-makers think it can’t win. This is the home of the upset and 25/1 says Bellshill will trump them all on the day. The eight-year-old bay holds the respect of Mullins and showed what he had in a warm-up race earlier this year, winning the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse over 3m 1f.

 

Favourite going to post, the gelding lived up to the hype with a near five-length lead of A Genie In Abottle in second. The result was expected but the manner in which he won the race wasn’t easy to sweep under the carpet, taking the trip without drama and running away from them at the post. Third in the RSA Novices Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last year under the ride of Ruby Walsh, he’ll receive a share of each-way bets again here.

 

Ucello Conti (Elliott)

 

33/1 in places but that won’t put many off. Ucello Conti rates as a well-treated 10-year-old who went into the spring with a record of three seconds and a third from a dozen starts. Still has plenty to learn and this may be a bit much for him but the outsider has bags of progression and his runner-up in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown in December behind Anibale Fly won him some new friends.

 

He took silver off a cracking 25/1 SP that day but question marks remain over his ability to stay on his feet; he got rid of Daryl Jacob in last year’s National on the second crack at Bechers. Looked to be in the race when making that mistake and would’ve come on for the experience.