Kids’ Cheltenham drawings to support charity

Ed Chamberlin and kids at Cheltenham.

WellChild, the national charity for seriously ill children, in partnership with The Jockey Club, is calling on children across the UK to send in their brightest and most creative horse racing themed drawings as part of a new competition to celebrate The Festival supporting WellChild and this year’s WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup.

This year, Jump Racing’s flagship event, The Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse, and the sport’s most prestigious race, the Cheltenham Gold Cup, are supporting Cheltenham based WellChild, one of the UK’s leading charities helping seriously ill children and their families.

This new children’s art competition celebrates the partnership and the winning artists will have their artwork showcased on the course and across coverage of the four days of this year’s Festival.

The competition will be judged by an expert panel from the charity and world of racing, including WellChild Ambassador and ITV Racing lead presenter Ed Chamberlin.

To take part, all you have to do is send WellChild a Festival-themed drawing on an A4 piece of paper – either scan and email it to, or post it to: Festival Competition, WellChild, 16 Royal Crescent, Cheltenham GL50 3DA by midday on Thursday 4th March 2021.


Tiger Woods seriously injured in car crash

GOLF Legend Tiger Woods was injured in a solo car crash near Los Angeles , California, on Tuesday morning, with first responders having to extricate the golf star from his vehicle using the “jaws of life” after his car rolled.

At about 7.12am local time, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department responded to a single-vehicle crash on the border of Rolling Hills Estates and Rancho Palos Verdes, the agency said in a statement posted to Twitter.|

“The vehicle sustained major damage,” the department said. “The driver and sole occupant was identified as PGA golfer Eldrick ‘Tiger’ Woods.”

After firefighters and paramedics removed Woods from the vehicle, he was transported to a local hospital to treat his injuries, the agency said. Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, said the golfer suffered “multiple leg injuries”, according to a statement to Golf Digest.

“He is currently in surgery and we thank you for your privacy and support.”

Sport 24 reported that Woods was travelling at “a speed higher than normal”, and that he was conscious when he was found.

Brooke rides quick winner following serious neck injury

Henry Brooke returned to action after an injury-enforced layoff at Carlisle on Tuesday and, after finishing sixth on his first ride, he scored with the Mark Walford-trained Miss Amelia, who finished clear of Pistol Park in the 2m handicap chase.

The jockey broke three vertebrae in his neck in a schooling fall last November and came close to being paralysed. He was not expected to return until March and praised the team at Jack Berry House rehabilitation centre, as well as the BHA’s chief medical officer Dr Jerry Hill, for facilitating his swift comeback.

Brooke’s latest injury came a little more than four years after he had to be placed into an induced coma after a fall at Hexham left him with a punctured lung, internal bleeding and multiple rib fractures.

The jockey, who was champion conditional in 2011-12, won his first Grade 1 on Cornerstone Lad in the 2019 Fighting Fifth. He is also a dual winner of the Grade 2 Rendlesham Hurdle, having scored on Across The Bay in 2013 and Shades Of Midnight in 2019. (Extracts: Racing Post)

Cohen makes his debut as auctioneer

Alistair Cohen, the talented and popular Johannesburg-based race caller, will be making his auctioneering debut for CTS at the 2021 Cape Premier Yearling Sale, at the De Grendel Wine Estate, on Sunday 14 March 2021.

Alistair replaces Graeme Hawkins, who is unable to be at the sale this year, due to his contractual obligations to Bloodstock South Africa. CTS’s international auctioneer, John O Kelly, is also unable to attend the sale, due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Alistair will therefore be joining veteran auctioneer Andrew Miller on the podium, and is set to take care of five lots for every 20 completed by Andrew.
“This being my first time auctioneering at Cape Town’s most prestigious sale, I am a little apprehensive, but mostly excited, as I have always wanted to progress my auctioneering opportunities. I am pleased that Andrew will be there to assist. Working alongside Andrew will be an honour and a privilege.”
Grant Knowles, Marketing and Bloodstock Director of CTS, commented: “We are delighted to have Alistair on board, and we are hoping it could be the start of a longer association. He is a rare talent in the commentary box, and we believe that he will shine on the podium, too.”

Gosden bags the Saudi loot with Mishriff

John Gosden.

The John Gosden-trained Mishriff (Ire) under the 21-year-old David Egan, came through to win the $20-milion Saudi Cup at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Saturday for Saudi national Prince Faisal.

Charlatan and Knicks Go took it to one another right from the start, with Charlatan leading down the backstretch, Knicks Go putting his head in front around the turn and Charlatan taking over once again at the top of the lane, but Mishriff was never far out of it.

Knicks Go called it a day at the top of the stretch and it was down to Charlatan and Mishriff, with the latter at last collaring the game American at the 100 metre mark and getting there 3/4 of a length the best. Great Scot (GB) got up for third, and Knicks Go was fourth.

Mishriff, whose only previous race on dirt came when second in the 2020 Saudi Derby, was winning for the fifth time in nine career starts.

This was the second running of what is billed as the world’s richest race, offering $10 million to the winner. The first-place prize money from the inaugural running, won by Maximum Security, has not been paid due to the criminal charges against the horse’s trainer, Jason Servis, in the United States that were filed just over a week after his victory in Saudi Arabia. Prince Bandar, head of the Saudi Cup, said in an interview he expects the purse situation to be settled in about six weeks.


Glued to TV for more viewer-friendly rugby!

Antoine Du Pont.


What a terrific rugby weekend we enjoyed last week – exhilarating, spectator-stuff, a true joy to watch, from the Six Nations internationals to the domestic matches in the UK.

It is difficult to take on Ireland, on their home soil, even without crowds in the stand. France went with a purpose and played well to a man to secure a narrow win from the committed Irish, and are now in the driving seat for the Grand Slam.

Planet Rugby called the French scrumhalf Antoine du Pont (photo), “the best player in the world”, following another awesome display, and I’d agree – he’s at least the best Number 9 in the world! The Irish, however hard they tried, will have to go back to the drawing board, with coach Andy Farrell likely to feel some pressure.

To me the top game, however, was the one between Wales and Scotland, one of the best I’ve seen in a long time, as both sides came with the intent to play the game properly, and to win!

Scotland, weakened from the 53rd minute by a red card handed to Zander Fagerson (who had to walk when his shoulder connected with Wyn Jones’ head at the breakdown), battled resolutely against an even more tenacious Welsh outfit, Wales up by a single point when the final whistle blew.

My son, Jimbo, came on as a substitute for the Welsh with 18 minutes to play, he acquitted himself well in what was to be a winning team and, as always, I am very proud of him.

With the score in the frame, I have to note that this was a game of two halves. Scotland, arguably, had matters in their grip with the score at 17-8 when they broke for half-time. They should’ve put the score out of reach before then, but they allowed the dogged men in red jerseys too much breathing space and paid the price.

England made some improvement in their encounter against Italy, but weren’t overly convincing with Italy scoring the first try. England won 41-18, but that doesn’t mean too much considering the Azzuri hasn’t won a game since September 2018.

England are not the well-oiled machine they used to be, and can be. There is some grit in the machinery, something wrong in the Eddie Jones camp. I can’t put my finger on it, and I hope they get their act together sooner than later.

Meanwhile Jack Willis sustained extensive damage to his left leg on his Six Nations debut against Italy after a ‘crocodile roll’ by Sebastian Negri; Wasps head coach Lee Blackett says this wonderful flanker could miss the remainder of the season.

I have plenty of respect for Willis, he’s from the top drawer and I’d like to convey my best wishes to him in this tough time, hoping for a full and speedy recovery.

Rule makers need to look at Negri’s tackle on Willis – it is something that could’ve been prevented with a rule in place.

In my rugby-loving home we already can’t wait for the next round of Six Nations matches, a fortnight away. France is rock solid on top, with Wales the surprise package alongside them. The Welsh play England at home on Saturday week, and what a thriller that promises to be. France will be at home to the Scots and Italy will hope that their home advantage will make a difference against Ireland, whose claims to Six Nations Glory are dashed but their pride remains.

With no relegation threats over the Premiership due to Covid, we saw some interesting results last week. Bath, away from home, beat Sale by 27-22, and in another surprise, Gloucester came mighty close to giving the log-toppers, Bristol, a beating.

I can tell you that, in normal times when the relegation structures apply, there is immense pressure on the players at the top and the bottom of the table. I believe that, with the pressure now off their shoulders, players from all teams are able to deliver their natural talents more readily.

This goes some way to support the notion that an absence of pressure can act as a leveller, and that the divisions between these players aren’t as wide as they seem when the pressure is on and a range of binding tactics often come into play.

Let’s go on to this weekend’s Premiership encounters:

This evening, Bath faces Gloucester in the West County Derby, the former off a good win and the latter full of confidence after taking Bristol to a photo finish. Players to watch are Gloucester winger Louis Reez Zammit, a force for Wales against Scotland last week, coming up against his team mate Taulupe Feletaau, in the back row for Bath.

This should be exciting, I’ll be locked to my screen and I’m siding with Bath to have the edge.

Harlequins were well in control at Leicester last week, winning by 12 points. With momentum on their side, they’ll fancy themselves on Saturday to beat Sale, surprise losers to Bath last week and perhaps a little out of sorts. Harlequins to win.

Exeter play Northampton at home, and one would expect them to win, even though Northampton are playing well and are placed fifth on the Premiership Table. Exeter to win.

A resurgent Leicester faces Wasps, who have been treading water, and this one could go either way but I’ll go for a home victory for Leicester.

On Sunday, London Irish, having won two of their last three, come up against Bristol. LI are likely to give a decent account, but Bristol should be back to a higher level after last week’s scare and will start warm favourites. They should win.

On to the Pro-14, and we have two games today: Glasgow vs Ulster and the Newport Dragons vs Leinster.  On form, I predict Irish wins in both matches – Ulster over Glasgow, Leinster over Dragons.

Saturday sees the Scarlets take on Benetton in Llanelli. The home team will want to end their three-match losing streak. As noted recently, the Italians are showing some improvement under Paul Gustard and this could be a close contest, but I’ll side with Scarlets.

Wales scrumhalf Rhys Webb will captain the Ospreys against Zebre in the 17:15 match, but this game has upset potential. If there is to be a surprise, it could come here, in a close match.

Edinburgh and Munster both won their respective matches against Zebre and Benetton at the end of January, which makes their own encounter Saturday all the more interesting. This could go down to the wire, Munster the marginal fancy.

Finally, a potentially tough contest between Connacht at home in Galway to the Cardiff Blues. There are some internationals set to return and, again, it’s hard to make a confident call on this one, an interesting duel in which returning Welsh winger Owen Lane is the man to watch.

The formidable Pivotal is retired from stud duties

PIVOTAL, the Champion Sprinter and multiple Champion Sire and Broodmare Sire, has been retired from covering duties. The 28-year-old son of Polar Falcon has been a stalwart and flagbearer at Cheveley Park Stud since his retirement to stud in 1997.

Bred and raced by Cheveley Park Stud, he was trained by Sir Mark Prescott. A track record breaker as a 2 year old, he was crowned Champion Sprinter as a 3 year old, with the undoubted highlight coming in the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York, when prevailing by the narrowest of margins to become the first Group 1 winner to be both bred and owned by Cheveley Park Stud. Prior to that he had shown all his battling qualities and tenacity in winning the Group 2 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.

PIVOTAL took up stallion duties at an initial fee of £6,000, and immediately proved popular with commercial breeders. He was a leading British based first season sire, and soon sired his first British Group 1 winner in Kyllachy, who followed in his father’s footsteps in winning the Nunthorpe Stakes, before also retiring to stand at Cheveley Park Stud. PIVOTAL went on to quickly rise through the stallion ranks and was leading British Based Sire by individual winners on no less than eight occasions, and was twice crowned Leading British Based Sire by earnings. To date PIVOTAL has sired 32 individual Group 1 winners, including the Classic winners Sariska, Halfway To Heaven, Falco, Buzzword and Saoire, as well as Dubai World Cup winner African Story, and most recently a Group 1 brace on QIPCO British Champions Day with Addeybb and Glen Shiel winning the Champion Stakes and British Champions Sprint Stakes, respectively .

Already PIVOTAL’s legacy is starting to live on through both his sons and daughters. He was crowned Champion European Broodmare Sire 2017 to 2019, and his daughters produced the Group 1 winners Love, Magical, Golden Horde and One Master last season, as well as multiple Group 1 winners Cracksman and Advertise in recent years. He is also making an impact as a sire of sires, with seven of his sons having sired Group 1 winners to date, most notably Siyouni with last season’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe victor Sottsass and Dewhurst Stakes winner St Marks Basilica.

A true legend in his own lifetime, the ‘Mighty’ PIVOTAL will now enjoy a happy retirement at Cheveley Park Stud, where he will see out the rest of his years.

Managing Director, Chris Richardson, said; “The story associated with the ‘Mighty’ Pivotal is truly extraordinary, considering he was the result of the very first covering his sire, Polar Falcon, was given.  Thankfully, as a yearling, it was decided to retain him to race, rather than offer him for sale, as we did with the other yearling colts by Polar Falcon that year.

“Whilst in the hands of trainer, Sir Mark Prescott, Pivotal truly put Cheveley Park Stud on the map, giving owners David and Patricia Thompson their first Group 1 winner in the stud’s famous red, white and blue colours.  Having covered a relatively small book of mares in his first year, his resulting progeny excelled and inspired at all levels, which they have continued to do throughout his career, both domestically and internationally.  On the world stage, Pivotal has excelled as a sire, a sire of sires and as a broodmare sire, to the highest level and all of us at Cheveley Park Stud have been so blessed to have been part of his life for 28 years.  I think Triple Crown winner, Isinglass, whose stable Pivotal occupies, would have been very proud and we all wish Pivotal a well-deserved and happy retirement.”

Gambling girls are on the rise!

15 February 2021

Boredom, enjoyment, camaraderie listed as reasons for females gambling more often

On this Valentine’s weekend, lady jockey Jamie Kah won her fourth Group 1 race, the Black Caviar Lightning Sprint at Flemington in Australia.

Also Down Under, Serena Williams outlasted her big-hitting younger rival Aryna Sabalenka on Sunday in a three-set thriller to make the Australian Open quarterfinals, keeping her chase for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title on track.

At Juddmonte Farms in the UK, super stallion Kingman (Invincible Spirit) visited Enable (Nathaniel), and things got so heated the star mare succumbed to his charms. The amorous guy managed some leg over, or shall we say legs up, on their first date!

That much success, love, and female spirit in the air, goes with today’s theme of ‘female gamblers’.

It was widely reported in 2020 that gambling among women was growing at more than twice the rate of men.

The media has focused on gambling addiction among females growing in relation to this, of course not a nice word reported, but addiction goes with the territory in all high-risk or high-adrenaline activities.

For millions of existing male gamblers, increased female activity means bigger betting pools and undoubtedly more fun and camaraderie as their lady counterparts come out of the gambling closet.

The gambling boom was kicked off when Tony Blair’s Labour government passed the Gambling Act 2005, dramatically liberalising the laws governing betting.

The industry exploded with turnover as a result, and now takes approximately £15-billion from UK punters alone, every year – equal to more than £200 from every man, woman and child in the UK – with the online sector growing particularly fast.

Some betting bosses have made vast fortunes. The Bet365 boss Denise Coates has received more than half a billion pounds in salary and dividends in the past two years. The Betfred bosses Fred and Peter Done have a combined fortune of more than £1.25bn.

The main reason for the increased number of females entering the gambling arena is said to be the increased number of free slot machine games that became available online from around 2015 onwards.

So we literally have a case of ‘bored housewives’ entertaining themselves with the slots online while hubby is out at the track or the casino, before moving on to the real thing, online, and then a further move out to casinos, racetracks or gambling halls.

Th online slots phenomenon is said to have intensified during Covid-19, with masses of people sitting at home, with not much to do. Now, 70% of female gamblers use apps and websites.

The Guardian, as they sometimes do, produced a few ‘psychological’ factors to explain why some women develop the gambling habit. Their three main factors were:

Excitement: This goes back to the glitz and glamour of social gambling. The rush from winning creates the additional anticipation of something bigger.

Social aspects: Women tend to prefer gambling socially. Whether it’s to feel safer, less pressured, or even so they can catch up with friends while playing, women do not like to sit in silence at the casino.

Wanting To Escape: Women tend to internalise a lot of their stress and disappointment. Slot machines with their bright, fantastical colours and themes are by nature designed to entertain, and create a sense of ‘escape.

We’re not sure why all the above would pertain to women only – social commentators have a knack of over-analysing things – and IRC member and novice punter Josie West from Sheffield had a chuckle when she spoke to us on Sunday, saying: “I’m not sure about those findings. I cannot see myself sitting ‘typically’ on the sofa at home playing free online games and getting addicted.”

She added: “What about simply having fun? I’d never taken a bet in my life until last October when I went to a dog-race meeting with a friend. I really liked it and, back home, I started watching more sports and also horse racing.

“One day on Sky Sports I saw there was a race meeting on from my native South Africa and I watched a few races and loved it. I opened an online betting account and since then I’ve been playing quite often. I won 34 pounds for a single pound bet the other day, I have almost doubled that now, I’ve kept the money in my account and I seldom play more than a pound or two. I don’t feel addicted, I feel like something very exciting has been added to my life, that’s it.”

Josie is the type of girl we need more of among racing enthusiasts, as she said: “I love the thrill of this game, when two horses finish close and I’m on the winner. There’s nothing like it!”

While she does make a habit of reading the race summaries before she takes a bet, Josie says: “There is a chain of thought that says men are better at statistics and numbers, and that may well be so. I’m not going to involve myself in hours of form study and analytics, I just want to have fun!”

Kitty (not her real name), from Ealing agreed, saying: “Women are definitely stronger on the intuitive side. When I was a youngster, I often went to the track with my dad and his buddies and they were always trying to explain form to me. They were comparing races and tracks and track conditions and speed figures, dozens of things, but that just bored me.

“I noticed after a while that I was selecting just as many winners on looks than the form students were picking after many strenuous hours looking at facts and figures. All I do, today, is spot good-looking runners in the paddock. I have enough experience now to know when they are stripped and ready, or when they are overweight and out for a run.

“I don’t bet in every race, sometimes they are all on a par in the paddock and then it becomes tricky. But I’d say in at least three races on an eight-race programme there is an outstanding looker, and most of the time they run like they look!”

Brighton-based Kelly (not her real name) prefers online slots, casino games and especially poker, and said she got the bug after reading about the gambling exploits of actress Jennifer Tilley, one of several celebrity gamblers not ashamed of being seen throwing vast amounts of cash at machines and tables. Others include actors George Clooney, Ashton Kutcher, Paris Hilton and golfer Phil Mickelson.

Tilley could be considered a professional gambler in her own right. She won the World Series of Poker Ladies bracelet in 2005 and took home $158,625 in a Ladies’ No-Limit Texas Hold’em event against 600 other players. This famous celebrity gambler also appeared in the cover of Card Player Magazine.

Jennifer met her husband Phil Laak at a poker tournament, he went on to win it, and they never looked back.

She still plays ladies-only tournaments when possible because of the camaraderie. And she believes the tournaments are just as tough as open events, maybe even more so. “I think women are tougher than men because they are more intuitive.”

Jennifer continues to play World Poker Tour events as well, especially ones like the WPT L.A. Poker Classic. It is one of her favourites, having finished in 12th place in the 2008 WPT LAPC Main Event and doing well in other events at the series over the years, perhaps due to a “home court advantage” because she lives in Los Angeles.

And what advice can today’s Jennifer offer to “Just-Met-Phil Jennifer” of 15 years ago?

Pro Tip: “Skip the ‘learning how to play poker’ part and get straight to the boyfriend part sooner!”

For the record, Birdee Magzine listed the Top five female gamblers of all time as:

Lottie Deno: She lived back in the days of the Wild West, when gambling was mostly reserved for men and female players were rarely welcome to the tables.

Judy Bayley: After the death of her husband, Bayley was forced to manage the Hacienda Casino between Los Angeles and Las Vegas on her own, becoming the first woman in the history of Nevada to become a sole owner of a gambling establishment. She was known as ‘The First Lady Of Gambling’.

Gladys Knight: Born in 1944, Knight built a hugely successful career as a singer and entertainer, winning no fewer than seven Grammy awards. However, what many people don’t know is that Gladys spent an entire decade living the secret life of a gambler, playing mostly baccarat and blackjack.

Claudine Williams: Born in 1921, Claudine Williams was the first women to be inaugurated into Nevada’s Gaming Hall of Fame. Williams made a great contribution to the development of the gambling industry in Las Vegas through her Holiday Casino.

Vanessa Selbst: One of the best-known and most successful female poker players (and poker players in general). Born in 1984, Selbst has accumulated close to $12,000,000 in live tournament earnings and has three World Series of Poker bracelets to her name.

*As a surprise this week, we’ll be thanking our contributor Josie West with a day out at Doncaster Racecourse (with two of her friends), on the IRC. Josie has never been to a live horse race meeting and we’ll be delighted to show her around. Josie we’ll be in touch as soon as racing resumes at Donnie with love crowds possible.



Gambling Commission considers a ‘Big Brother’ for bettors

The UK Gambling Commission’s “consultation into affordability”, which closed last week, received 13 subsmissions.

The controversial issue of affordability checks for gamblers has been highlighted by racing’s leaders, with some estimates that the sport could lose up to £100 million per year in levy and media rights if stricter measures were brought in requiring gamblers to provide evidence, such as bank statements and pay slips, that they could afford to lose as little as £100 a month.|

Submissions presented to the Gambling Commission include the assertion from one influential think tank that punters should be barely able to detect affordability checks and they should be based on data already held by gambling companies, wherever possible.

The Gambling Commission said on Wednesday that the responses were being assessed, but would not offer a timeline for any outcomes of the consultation.

The BHA, Racecourse Association and Horsemen’s Group expressed “deep concerns” about the impact of stringent affordability criteria on those betting online, while the infringement on individual privacy and liberty has also been at the heart of concerns.

In its submission, the Social Market Foundation (SMF) think tank reiterated its calls for a £100 monthly loss threshold for bookmakers to investigate customer spending. The SMF, which has previously been vocal in calling for more restrictions on gambling, and believes UK punters who fail strict affordability checks should be limited to £100 a month, argued in its submission that betting firms already held significant amounts of data on customers which can be used to prevent harm arising for problem gambling, and that using this would not be an intrusion into customer freedom.

The report said: “These checks should be a non-intrusive process, and should be based on the data already held and the customer due diligence processes already carried out by most remote operators on their customers.

“These checks should be as invisible and non-intrusive to the customer as possible. We envisage the £100 affordability threshold to be an ‘invisible hand’ in the remote gambling marketplace.”

Customer data should be shared with a newly created gambling ombudsman, according to the SMF, which would ultimately have oversight of the area. (extracts: Racing Post).

Siya Kolisi’s leaving Stormers a blow to his wife

Rachel Kolisi, wife of Springbok rugby captain Siya Kolisi, is shedding tears about her husband leaving Cape Town’s Stormers Team after 11 years. Perhaps she’s even sadder about leaving Cape Town, possibly for Durban. She wrote on an Instagram post this week:

“I can’t believe I’m even doing this post. My heart is so heavy.
“I have been a Stormer since I discovered my love for the game. From once only being able to afford the R50 standing tickets to watching games in fancy boxes and lounges, to have my children run on the beloved Newlands field after every game, how crazy life can be.
“Every injury, every loss, every victory, every sacrifice, every memory the many tears, and many laughs I will cherish them all. Because we learnt from the bad and hold close the good.
“In all of this, one thing I have been reminded of. Siya’s character is like no one else I’ve ever known. He remained kind and respectful in moments he had every reason not to. He has lead this team in more ways than some will ever know. He has been a mentor, and listener, he has paved a path for the many that will follow. I can’t put into words how proud I am of him.
“This team not only brought us beautiful memories but friends who became family.
“A big piece of our hearts will remain with the faithful.
“Thank you Jesus.”