Favourite Horse – Desert Orchid

Favourite Horse - Desert Orchid  Aside from his innate ability, over hurdles and fences, ‘Dessie’, as he was affectionately known to his legions of followers, always looked like a winner. His grey coat became lighter with age – in fact, always white – such that, in the latter part of his career, he created the impression of a ghostly apparition being pursued across the landscape by lesser, mortal horses.

No mean hurdler – he was sent off second favourite for the Champion Hurdle, when still a novice, in 1983 – it was in his later career, as a steeplechaser, that Desert Orchid captured the public imagination. Renowned for his bold, attacking style and his versatility, he won 34 of his 71 races, including the King George VI Chase at Kempton four times, in 1986, 1988, 1989 and 1990 and the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Indeed, his victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup was arguably his finest hour; hating the heavy ground and, according to jockey Simon Sherwood, a two stone lesser horse going left-handed, Desert Orchid looked beaten when coming under pressure between the last two fences, but rallied to overhaul confirmed mudlark Yahoo halfway up the run-in to win by 1½ lengths.

Unlike some of the ‘precious’ steeplechasers of recent years, Desert Orchid regularly ran in handicaps, often conceding eye-watering amounts of weight, which only added to his appeal. In early December, 1988, as a 9-year-old Desert Orchid made all the running to give the 81-rated Jim Thorpe 20lb and a very easy, 12-length beating in the Tingle Creek Chase, over 2 miles, at Sandown Park. Just over three weeks later, on Boxing Day, he beat his old rival Kildimo, by a comfortable 4 lengths, to win the King George VI Chase, over 3 miles, at Kempton for the second time and, less than three weeks later, rallied to beat the 83-rated Panto Prince, who was receiving 22lb, by a head in the Victor Chandler Chase, back over 2 miles, at Ascot. In April, 1990, as an 11-year-old, he conceded 28lb to all bar one of his rivals, who received 26lb, in the Irish Grand National, over 3 miles 4 furlongs, at Fairyhouse and won by 12 lengths.

Favourite Jockey – Frankie Dettori

Favourite Jockey - Frankie Dettori  Milanese jockey Lanfranco ‘Frankie’ Dettori, 48, has been riding winners in Britain since 1987 and in 2016 reached the milestone of 3,000 winners in this country. Originally apprenticed to Luca Cumani, Dettori won the Apprentice Jockeys’ Championship in 1989 and in 1990 became the first teenager since Lester Piggott to ride over 100 winners – 141, to be precise – in a season.

Four years later, in 1994, Dettori was offered a retainer with the Godolphin operation, founded by Sheikh Mohammed in 1992 and, in the famous royal blue silks, would ride 110 Group One, or Grade One, winners over the next 18 years. He would become known for his ‘flying dismount’ – apparently borrowed from Puerto Rican jockey Angel Cordero Jnr. – and, aside from his riding ability, for his effervescent, gregarious personality, which made him a celebrity who transcended horse racing.

Dettori has won the jockeys’ championship three times, in 1994, 1995 and 2004, but is probably best remembered for his so-called ‘Magnificent Seven’. On British Champions’ Day at Ascot in 1996, Dettori went ‘through the card’, riding seven winners from as many rides, at accumulative odds of over 25,000/1. All in all, Dettori has won 17 English ‘Classics’, although it did take 14 unsuccessful attempts before he won the Derby, on Authorized, trained by Peter Chapple-Hyam, in 2007.

Having found himself regularly sidelined by Mickael Barzalona and Silvestre de Sousa, who were hired by Sheikh Mohammed in the spring of 2012, Dettori announced his decision to leave Godolphin the following season to ride on a freelance basis. In September, though, he tested positive for a banned substance, which he later admitted was cocaine, during a routine examination at Longchamp and was subsequently suspended from riding for six months.

On his return to the saddle, after a brief period riding as a freelance, Dettori was appointed first jockey to Al Shaqab Racing, founded by Qatari royal Sheikh Joaan al Thani, in July, 2013. The association lasted for five years but, in July, 2018, Dettori – who had already agreed to a substantial pay cut the previous January – announced that it had come to an end. In recent years, Dettori has resumed his association with his old friend and ally John Gosden, who has provided the bulk of his rides and several high-profile winners, including Golden Horn, Cracksman and Enable.

The Kelpies, Scotland

The Kelpies, Scotland

This impressive sculpture in Falkirk, Scotland is known as The Kelpies. Construction of this 30 metre horse head creation was complete in 2013. It’s situated next to Forth and Clyde canal, and is a feature of The Helix – a canal extension that connects and improves transport links between the East and West of Scotland.

Ebony Horse Club – Taking Horses to the Inner City

I first heard about the Ebony Horse Club in an interview with Richard Dunwoody. Known for his charity work and sense of adventure, he was at the time preparing to run a Marathon in North Korea (yes, really!). Part of the money raised was going to the Injuried Jockey’s Fund, and part to Ebony Horse Club.

Upon looking into this charity, I really took to the idea since it’s so different. Inner Ciy areas can be a bit grim and lacking in opportunity at the best of time. Combine that with the image of racing, of being a rather ‘in with the in crowd’ at times, and you have an interesing mix here. The kid in the video hadn’t even seen a horse in real life (not uncommon, London can be a bit of a bubble) and yet now he clearly has a love for them. Let’s hope one day he’s riding a winner.

Funny Horse Stories / Jokes

Funny Horse Stories / Jokes  A cowboy buys a horse from the town pastor. The pastor explains, “to make the horse go, you gotta yell, ‘Thank God!’ And to make it stop, yell, ‘Hallelujah.’” The cowboy rides off. He rides all day and starts to nod off in the saddle when he notices he is about to ride straight over a cliff. Searching his memory, he yells to the horse, “Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” The horse grinds to a stop just at the edge of the cliff. The cowboy wipes the sweat off his forehead. ”Phew!” the cowboy sighs. “Thank God!”

 

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One day a man passed by a farm and saw a beautiful horse. Hoping to buy the animal, he said to the farmer: “I think your horse looks pretty good, so I’ll give you €500 for him.”
“He doesn’t look so good, and he’s not for sale,” the farmer said.
The man insisted, “I think he looks just fine and I’ll up the price to €1,000.”
“He doesn’t look so good,” the farmer said, “but if you want him that much, he’s yours.”
The next day the man came back raging mad. He went up to the farmer and screamed, “You sold me a blind horse. You cheated me!”
The farmer calmly replied, “I told you he didn’t look so good, didn’t I?”

 


 

 

A wealthy racehorse owner gets very attached to his champion horse. It has a very successful racing career and is then retired to stud duties, where it is again very successful. Earning a fortune in stud duties. Sadly one day the champion dies and the owner decides to give it a proper burial. He approaches the local Anglican minister who tells him that he is only interested in saving human souls. He then approaches the Catholic priest who tells him the same thing. As a last resort he asks a Rabbi who gives him the same sermon. As he is about to leave he says that he was going to donate $100,000 to the Synagogue. Hold on, says the Rabbi, you never told me it was a Jewish horse.

 


 

 

Riding the favourite at Cheltenham, the jockey is well ahead of the field. Suddenly he’’s hit on the head by a turkey and a string of sausages. He manages to keep control of his mount and pulls back into the lead, only to be struck by a box of Christmas crackers and a dozen mince pies as he goes over the last fence. With great skill he manages to steer the horse to the front of the field once more when, on the run in, he’s struck on the head by a bottle of sherry and a Christmas pudding. Thus distracted, he succeeds in coming only second. He immediately goes to the stewards to complain that he has been seriously hampered.