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What we learned from the weekend: 26th, 27th & 28th February…

Indeed…what did we learn from this weekend…

It’s been a testing few days for racing (to put it mildly)…

As is often the case, the actions of a few have the potential to destroy the many…

With regards to the images that have caused this situation that racing currently finds itself in, they are utterly disgraceful, wholly disrespectful and completely indefensible. What these individuals have done, they can’t be defended, they shouldn’t be defended, I won’t defend their actions and I imagine most reading this also won’t, and rightly so. 

People ‘make mistakes’, I get that, we’ve all in some way, shape or form made ‘errors of judgement’, but what the individuals in question have been shown to do is highly immoral and something the majority of us would never even dream of doing. Such disgusting acts have no place anywhere, anytime, but for it to come from people within the industry, and in some cases from some that hold a very high rank in the industry, it is, again, inexcusable and these people need to be severely punished and made an example of, before this magnificent sport that we all love is dragged further through the mud, before those people who treat their horses with the respect and dignity they rightly deserve are unjustifiably tarnished with the same despicable brush.

There are, sadly, ‘bad apples’ in every sport and in every walk of life…but we can’t let the actions of the few ruin it for the many. As a sport we need to stand up and show the world the ‘real’ horse racing, the love, attention and affection that 99.999% of people that work in this industry shower upon their horses day in, day out, 365 days a year…

Let’s not let this great sport be defined by the actions of the few…

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…despite all this we do still have a Cheltenham Festival to look forward to and following on from my post from a couple of weeks back – 2021 Cheltenham Festival stats pointers here are three more stats you’d do well to keep in mind…

2021 Cheltenham Festival stats pointers…

Cheltenham Stat #4

Only two of the 180 Horses aged 11+ to run in Class 1 races at the last 15 festivals have won…

2/180 | 1% S/R | -£46.00 LSP  – W&P 25/180 | 14% S/R

74% below expectation

I’ve mentioned this stat plenty times in the run up to a Cheltenham but it’s always worth mentioning again…sentimentality, as always, leads you to the Festival poorhouse.

The simple facts are that the old boys (and girls) struggle to get their heads in front at the Cheltenham Festival in the Class 1 races (Listed level or better). This isn’t a place for old legs and it is the younger generation that holds sway here.

Those two winners came in handicaps. If you look at the same time frame and concentrate only on the NON-Handicaps you get the following…

0/64 | 0% S/R | -£64.00 LSP  – W&P 10/64 | 16% S/R

You want to have a hell of a lot else in your favour to be siding with one of the old guard at the Festival…

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Cheltenham Stat #5

Of the 94 horses with 33 or more previous (UK) career starts to have run in a G1 at the last 15 festivals, NONE have won…

0/94 | 0% S/R | -£94.00 LSP – W&P 9/94 | 9.5% S/R

This sits nicely alongside the previous age stat and the figures very much point to there being an upper ceiling to the number of starts a horse can have in their career before life at the top level starts to become difficult. That ceiling, according to the stats, and with regards to the Festival, is 33+ career starts.

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Cheltenham Stat #6

187 of the 189 Grade 1 race winners ran in a NON-HANDICAP race last time out…

2/240 | <1% S/R | -£224.25 LSP – W&P 27/240 | 11% S/R

The above figures are of those horses stepping up from a Handicap on their last start before The Festival into a Non-Handicap G1 Cheltenham race.

99% of the Grade 1 races were won by a horse running in a NON-HANDICAP last time out.

Now yes, a vast majority of the runners in Grade 1’s at the festival ran in a Non-Handicap last time out, you don’t need me to be telling you that, but there are always some each year that take the ‘less traditional’ route and warm-up with a handicap start, the stats, however, tell you it’s really not the best way to prep yourself for the ultra-competitive Grade 1 Festival heats…



Let’s hope this current situation is at least on the path to being ‘dealt with’ by the time tapes go up for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on the 16th of March…

Ben (NTF)



Doors to the 2021 NTF Cheltenham Festival service are now OPEN!

Click on the following link for more details…

>>>2021 NTF Cheltenham service

14 responses to “What we learned from the weekend: 26th, 27th & 28th February…”

  1. Here’s hoping the BHA do what is needed.

    Tbh…screw Gordon Elliott. The BHA have to act of the good of the sport in general. Which means making sure it has nowt to do with them or their jurisdiction.
    They took the correct decision banning him from the UK & they took it quickly so fair play to them.

    But here’s the thing. Regardless of the IHRB decision or how long it takes, Gordon CANNOT come to either Cheltenham or Aintree. That can’t be stressed enough.

    Anyone with half a brain knows that the tabloid newsdesks are watching this with their knives sharpened just waiting. They can’t wait to crucify Cheltenham & racing in general a year on from trying to pin Covid on us. They’ll descend on both courses & write their usual concoction of lies, half-truths & bullshit & then walk away leaving everything in ruins as they move on to their next sensation.

    With Gordon not there, there’s no story. It’ll be an “Irish thing”

    Betfair & Cheveley Park have figured this out in no time flat. The regulator needs to do the same. Never mind fears about legal challenges & such, worry about that later.

    This is exactly the springboard the Ban Racing brigade have been praying for. We can’t let them have it. This whole country is filled with suppressed anger right now & it needs to explode over something. We can’t let that be racing.

    A comment over the weekend that summed it up:

    ” Why is everyone shocked? These people torture animals for a living. Everyone involved in this barbaric “sport” should be in prison ”

    Like it or not, thats a pretty widely held view. & widely held views attract the attention of ambitious politicians. If we keep this out of the UK then they have no platform.

    Yes, it’s excessive punishment. Yes, it’s probably unfair. I appreciate all of that.

    But sorry. Gordon has to go under the bus. The survival of the sport is more important & he has no-one but himself to blame.
    Coming out of Covid we’re going to need public AND government support. Gordon sets foot in Cheltenham or Aintree & we can forget both.

    Banned til May. Then figure it out later. Get it done BHA.

    We live in a sensationalist world where reactions are disproportionate & public opinion tends toward the hysterical. I hate everything about it. But it’s not going to go away. Like or not, we have to deal with the reality of it.

    • Bri has got this spot on! My thoughts exactly, there is no choice this HAS to be done to save our sport!

      On a personal note I thought his apology was the worst ever – who advised him? Whatever the Irish decide he should never be allowed to own or train a horse running in the UK ever again. The cut must be quick and clean though I sense the Irish will come up short to what should happen…

    • Because we weren’t talking about that were we?

      But for the record he should have been banned under the “fit & proper person” criteria.

      (Which of course he won’t be as half of Newmarket would disappear if he was)

  2. Bri has hit the nail on the head there. Gonna be a shit show at festival now even if elliot is banned. Glad to see Cheveley Park take a swift decision and hope the morans do the same. If Gordon Elliot loved horses and horse racing as much as purported then he will retire immediately. There’s nothing left in the game for him anyway. No elliot and no gigginstown and Irish racing will thrive. Still looking forward to the festival after the year we’ve had but shame the headlines won’t be ALL about the equine superstars.
    Loving the stats Ben. Keep up the great job
    From Rik

  3. As a teenager I spent my summer holidays on a farm. Three uncles and an aunt were all involved on separate sites with livestock, All of them cared for their animals. Not one of them would have considered it a heinous act to sit on a dead horse or cow before moving it.. One of them – a forrester who logged trees on his own and moved them chained to a shire – thought riding horses for prize money was abominable.

    Gordon Elliott clearly did not cause the death. Too many sanctimonious knee jerk reactions. A bit like Blair’s cabinet with their dangerous dogs. Moving in the right direction is fine if you know why you are heading that way.

    • Problem is racing is interlinked with gambling which is the second worst thing in the world after COVID if you listen to most people drink/drugs/violent crime seem way down the list. Gordon must go as we’ve enough problems with societies views on racing.

  4. Great piece of work as usual Ben. With regard to the Elliot turmoil it
    seems someone has been upset since this was from 2019 and have
    waited until now 2 weeks before Cheltenham to cause maximum
    damage to him and the stable and racing. Is it an individual an organized disclosure by a bookmaker perhaps, who knows, but I’m sure
    someone will track down the source and that will be a story to come
    out. Regards to all Steve.

  5. I think there is no abuse here but dreadful optics and a callous attitude to the dead Morgan. Acknowledged by even “they’re livestock” types like Ruby Walsh and Kevin Blake. I think the BHA’s first reaction was wrong “we are watching you Ireland” which from the old colonial ruler was rich. The he is suspended is the right one leaves IHRB to take its time and says to owners up to you and heads off those bombastic connections lording it to the detriment of the sport. Elliott is still lying claiming it was a few years ago when it was less than 2 indeed likely 20 months most given Morgan ran in June 19.

    Some imply Elliott is a paragon on welfare regardless of his lack of sentimentality to Morgan. However I am troubled by his attitude to welfare. Can someone explain what running a palpable non stayer like The Game Changer in the Irish National was not abuse? The ones to keep opposition to Tiger Roll down? Take Blow by Blow [BbB] who’d gone P6P having had 7 runs in his novice season – the 6 being beaten a mile [RP 64] then ran in Tigger’s 2nd National with 5 other Giggis and 2 they sold to run 2 days before. After BbB predictably pulled up he was then thrown a few weeks later in the Irish National and pulled up again then dumped for 9 Bags.

    Does make an irony of Gigginstown pulling Tiger Roll as he can’t run to that mark but good to see their attitude to horse welfare has improved!

    Happy to talk about Mullins Nicholls O’Neill Pipe Henderson attitude to welfare. If anyone thinks this is a personal attack or I unfairly consider him much worse than the others.

  6. There is no act of cruelty here. Gordon Elliott and his team do not have the success they have by treating horses badly. It is a disgusting and indefensible example of behaviour from somebody who insists that his life is all about horses. He should voluntarily step down for a period of reflection and absolutely should not be seen near a race course any time soon. But by focusing anger and disgust on one high profile image you are denying the part by association we all play in supporting and facilitating actual acts of cruelty across this industry on an almost daily basis and no doubt there is a lot worse out there behind the scenes that has not been captured on a Smartphone. For me the obvious good care and treatment given to the vast majority of these magnificent animals both during and after their racing careers far outweighs the negative aspects of the sport and therefore I am comfortable taking my enjoyment from same.

  7. If we banned everything we believed was ” cruel and indefensible ” then horse racing would cease to exist. I am as repulsed as anyone by the photos we have seen but I also appreciate that Elliott would have been nowhere near as successful if that were his general attitude to training and please spare a thought for the stable lasses and lads who give their heart and soul to racing and would lose their livelihood as well. If we are to do the ” Right thing ” then deal with all the Trainers,jockeys and owners who transgress. Are you seriously suggesting this Elliott business is worse than jockeys who whip beaten horses, in some cases until they die and owners who send horses to the knackers yard when they have served their purpose. I care about racing but let us not fall into the trap of meting out a punishment that will satisfy all those who would wish to see racing banned and becomes therefore disproportionate to the crime committed

  8. As a lifelong gambler I can now see the cruelty inflicted on horses in the name of money. Nowadays there are so many other sports to bet on without exploiting animals. I now prefer betting on football.
    How many times do we hear these hypocrite s in the racing world say that their horses have 5 star treatment but continue to flog them and risk their lives. The day is not far away when animal rights become law and these people will be prosecuted and banned from keeping them.

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