Filly your boots: The big horse racing moments of the year
The year has been full of brilliant horse racing, sprinting and controversy. City A.M. take a look at the key runners, riders and winners of the calendar year.
Jumps at home
With recent news that the glorious Cheltenham Festival will remain a four-day event, it’s worth starting in the Regency Town. The Friday is known as Gold Cup day as the jumps of the famous racecourse are tackled by some of the world’s best.
Though Rachael Blackmore’s win atop A Plus Tard meant she became the first person since 1997 to win the Champion Hurdle (Honeysuckle) and the Gold Cup at the same meeting, it was the following that really blew the socks off.
The Hunters’ Chase was won in remarkable fashion by Patrick Mullins on Billaway for his trainer father, Willie. The 10-year-old was six lengths down to Winged Leader at the penultimate fence but stormed through to win it at the post – it was sensational.
Nearly 150 miles north and a couple of weeks on it was the turn of a packed field to attempt to jump the likes of Valentine’s, Becher’s Brook and the Canal Turn in the 30-fence Grand National.
The 2021 winner Minella Times returned to Aintree at 9-1 but he was never really looking like a challenger among the 40 runners and riders – Blackmore was an outsider for this one.
Instead it went to 50-1 Noble Yeats, the 7-year-old ridden by Sam Waley-Cohen in what would be the jockey’s last race.
It was a fairytale meet for the winner, whose jockey became the first amateur to win the National since 1990. The British jump meets are unmatched.
On the flat
But horse racing is more than jumps and hedges, it’s raw speed and luck of the draw, too.
The pomp of the Derby was heightened when it became an official part of the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. Derby favourite Desert Crown came home two-and-a-half lengths clear of 150/1 outsider Yoo Ya Mal.
In keeping with the pomp and circumstance of flat racing, Ascot is always a staple of the high society calendar – days of top hats and royal presence.
And in one of the most iconic races – where Queen Elizabeth enjoyed her biggest win with Estimate – all eyes were on Frankie Dettori and Stradivarius.
Ageing and nearing retirement, Stradavarius was run well but could only muster third – it was a result which reportedly damaged Dettori’s relationship with owner Bjorn Nielsen. Kyprios, ridden by Ryan Moore, won the key event ahead of Mojo Star.
King of the flat Dettori has since announced that he will conclude his career next year after the flat season.
Flung far and wide
Beyond British shores there are a number of iconic races that shape the global calendar.
The Dubai World Cup – this year towing a $7.2m prize fund for the winner – was won by Dettori aboard Country Grammar for Bob Baffert – who’s been training winners since the 1990s.
The Kentucky Derby – a 10 furlong race in Louisville with a prize pot of $1.8m – was claimed by Rich Strike, who began the morning of the race 30-1. He edged Epicenter and Zandon for Steve Asmussen and Chad C. Brown respectively.
The 101th running of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp Racecourse on the outskirts of Paris saw yet more history for the 2022 archive. The win for Alpinista was a first win in the race for the owner, trainer and jockey – Kirsten Rausing, Sir Mark Prescott and Luke Morris. Alpinista was just the first five-year-old mare to win the Arc since Corrida did it in 1937 – she was the first female horse to win the Arc twice.
The Melbourne Cup was won last month by French horse Gold Trip ahead of Duais and Knights Order. In an event known as the race that stops the nation, Gold Trip took the iconic trophy at odds of 20/1.
And so the North American race season came to an end with the Breeders’ Cup and it was Fightline who came home in the Classic to win the $6m prize pot at Keeneland.
It’s been a stellar year of racing across and if next year is anything near as good then fans are in for a wild ride.