Randox Health Grand National- Rupert Bell commentary

Another exciting piece of commentary from our man Rupert Bell. This one was from last weekend’s Randox Health Grand National at Aintree. I think it’s fair to say it was an exciting race from Rupert’s reactions!

Rupert Bell Randox Health Grand National commentary

A Cheltenham Festival Review by Mike Vince

So what planet are we on?

The reason I ask is simple, I am just back from a wonderful, if professionally challenging, week at the Cheltenham Festival, where once again the Irish did a Veni Vidi Vici job on the hapless Brits- and they even gave us a race on the first day by failing to turn up.

The ‘Holy Trinity’ of the big trio stayed at home thanks to the exploits of Buveur D’Air, Altior (one of the all time greats in waiting) and Native River but practically everything else went green- and in the likes of Footpad, Samcro and Laurina the Irish have young horses, already Cheltenham winners who promise to get even better.

48 hours after the last race, with the glorious tones of a nation in song to ‘The Fields of Athenry’ having moved from Gloucestershire up the A40 to Twickenham- passing a load of broken down chariots who have swung so low their wheels have fallen off- comes the news Cheltenham is unraceable because of snow.

Yes- three days after the Ides of March!!

I’m lucky. Cheltenham is like no other – superb week thanks to the willing assistance of trainers and jockeys who don’t avoid a microphone and without whom I couldn’t do the job- so Big Thank You’s all round.

But it is also the sports shop window, and the lack of success (again) against the Green Armada should be prompting some serious talk of how the balance can be redressed.

But it won’t. The talk, quite simply is of ‘The Beast from the East’ promoting Siberia Hysteria.

How much is a ticket to Planet Reality?

by Mike Vince 

The Irish cannot wait! – Mike Vince

The Irish cannot wait!

You get asked many strange questions in this job, but I must admit I wasn’t prepared, when getting into a taxi at my hotel a week ago after Day 1 of the Leopardstown Festival, for the driver to enquire: ‘Do you suffer from vertigo?’

This was his response to me asking to be taken to what I at that moment found out was Ireland’s highest pub, to which I had been invited by senior officials of Horse Racing Ireland and Leopardstown Racecourse, who staged a quite superb Dublin Racing Festival where stars that will lead the Irish assault on Cheltenham next month were paraded in race after race.

Ireland is a land of 100,000 welcomes – I think I met most during that weekend! It also reminded me that the countdown to the biggest week of all – Cheltenham – is upon us, and the Irish fancy their chances of yet more Brit bashing in little over a month from now.

Johnny Fox’s, the pub in question, was a place to try and plead for dual citizenship that night – the sense of anticipation has begun in earnest. The Boys in Green are on the march.

Next week there’s one distraction – the weights for the Randox Health Grand National are announced, then it’s all about finding 28 winners (no make that 27 – a clear round sees Altior win on the basis of Saturday) and it’s first port of call, Seven Barrows, where the soup offered is always a treat and there is so much information you can’t digest anything else.

Lots to see, lots to do and lots of people to interrogate – a busy month ahead!

Having been to the top in Ireland – it’s now a downhill run to The Festival!

The Irish cannot wait!

by Mike Vince

Our day at Cheltenham Races

What was looking like a wet and miserable start to the calendar year, we arrived at The Home of Jump Racing at a very early time of 7am.

We started out on Talk Sport 2 interviewing owner Rich Ricci who discussed his recent shock defeat at Leopardstown where his horse Faugheen pulled up and how it was a real low moment for him. It was a great insight interview despite his obvious disappointment.

This interview with Rich Ricci can be found via the following link:

https://talksport.com/horse-racing/racing-club-podcast-cheltenham-new-years-day-meeting-180101266955

Next on our agenda was our live broadcast on Cheltenham Radio and Rupert was joined by another member of our racing team Hayley Moore, to discuss and profile key runners and riders including Yanworth’s racing perspective who later went on to win the BetBright Dipper Novices’ Chase that day.

As the day developed, we bumped into Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials winner Andrew Nicholson who is looking forward to defending his title later on in the year as well as Olympic Dressage Champion Carl Hester.

So another fantastic day of racing to bring in the New Year while the LBP racing team are already looking forward to the Cheltenham Festival Trials on 27th January. As Rupert explains:

“It’s been an extraordinary build up this year’s Cheltenham Festival Trials Day so let’s hope this helps clear the muddy water”.

Happy New Racing Year!

Racing’s highs and lows of 2017 – Mike Vince

Racing’s highs and lows of 2017

Time for the annual fitness regime to kick in. Short break in Washington DC over, now comes two of the most testing weeks of the year – The Awards Circuit.

We have ours on Monday – the Horserace Writers Derby Awards to be more precise, and the very next day an early plane beckons to the Horse Racing Ireland Awards, to which an invite is much prized. And, as if that is not enough, the very next day its back to the UK and to Gloucestershire for more ‘hospitality’ at the launch of the 2018 Randox Health Grand National – this at a yard which has had more cause for celebration (and by all accounts made the most of it) in recent weeks.

Even then we’re not done as the following week it’s the Go Racing in Yorkshire Awards.

We all have our own memories of 2017 and I won’t embarrass the guilty by naming mine for ‘Worst Transport Nightmare’ (though there is a runaway winner) or the ‘Worst Interviewee of the Year’ (in fairness a very small field), but here are a few of my 2017 highlights which will stick in what’s left of my brain long beyond the Big Ben chimes of midnight.

 

BEST INTERVIEW LINE OF THE YEAR

No question. Winner: Sir Mark Prescott. Good enough to speak to me about the chances of his brilliant filly Marsha before she went to the Breeders Cup – the first time Sir Mark was planning to race there himself.

“She was fantastic down the 5 furlong straight at York.” I said “How hopeful are you she’ll be as good round a bend?”

“No problem,” the legendary Baronet replied “After all, she’s handled Catterick!!!”

 

BEST MOMENT OF THE YEAR

Tough, but probably seeing Jessica Harrington, for whom my respect is only matched by my admiration in the winners enclosure after Sizing John’s Gold Cup win at Cheltenham. At the age of 70 she had struck gold with her first runner in the Blue Riband.

 

WORST MOMENT OF THE YEAR

And for some years – Many Clouds, brave and courageous to the end at Cheltenham. Enough said.

 

THE ‘IF ONLY’ MOMENT OF THE YEAR

Jockey James Doyle is one of the most personable, helpful and articulate of all the flat jockeys, to such an extent that he emerged before racing at Royal Ascot one day to do an interview for ITV at the entrance to the weighing room clad in a top and with his bottom half covered in a well fitting towel, which he was holding in place while doing the interview. The ‘opportunity’ this presented was seized by the Jockeys Room mischief department who got to the scene seconds too late. One more question to that nice Mr Doyle and things would have got, shall we say, interesting.

 

NAME FOR THE FUTURE

The next generation always take their time to adjust to media demands, that’s understandable, but in more years than I care to admit doing this job few have proved a better interviewee than teenager Harry Cobden. Sensible and mature way beyond his years he made a great impression and he’s shaping as a rider with the potential to go to the top.

 

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT OF 2017

Here’s the contentious bit – to paraphrase the great Bill Shankly – ‘to some punting is a matter of life and death, to us it’s much more serious’. Of all those that go racing or watch it, how many really care about ante post, spreads, exchanges, sectional timing and the like? The answer is a minority, but a very loud one if you believe the amount of coverage given to those rather than to the sporting interests of the majority. People talk through their wallets and not their heads, and to me it is just plain wrong.

 

So here endeth 2017 and if you don’t hear from me for a while I hope you will understand why!

 

by Mike Vince