A personal reflection of the 2013/14 National Hunt season
As Sandown brings to an end the 2013/14 National Hunt season here are some personal reflections –
First visits to Hexham, Kelso and Stratford in addition to once again experiencing Cheltenham Gold Cup Day and Aintree’s Grand National festival Ladies day.
succesful decent punts on O’Faolains Boy, Shutthefrontdoor and Taquin De Souil and Dynaste, to make up for all the unsuccessful ones!
Being part (from a punting point of view) of the rise and rise of Warren Greatrex and Gavin Sheehan. A combination for the future surely.
Noel Fehily’s overdue but deserved rise to prominence along with the continued progress of young guns Sam Twiston Davies and Aidan Coleman and of course Gavin Sheehan. Whilst the never say die Richard Johnson continues to pursue the seemingly uncatchable AP McCoy with great professionalism and no little skill and bravery.
Whilst Paul Nicholls won his personal duel with Nicky Henderson it was in many ways a more evenly spread season in terms of the training honours. A rejuvenated Philip Hobbs and and the increasingly powerful Jonjo O’Neill stable saw to that whilst Donald McCain continued to rule in the North and Venitia William continued to dominate the big Saturday handicaps.
Finally having some success backing Jonjo O’Neill’s horses when previously my bets were the kiss of death for them.
Being part of the racing Twitter community whose follows, replies, retweets and wisdom I value and the cherished replies from Jonjo O’Neill, Sam Twiston Davies and Brendan Powell amongst others.
Heart warming moments such as Sire De Grugy victory for the little man, Aidan Coleman consoling Sam Twiston Davies after Big Bucks defeat, AP McCoy’s 4000 winner at Towcester.
Heart wrenching moments with the loss of such horses as Master of The Sea, Coverholder and Our Conor and sadly many more.
Another visit to Middleham Open Day on a glorious Good Friday morning. I find the day inspirational and a reminder that there is a lot more to racing than betting. Chatting to Micky Hammond and seeing legends, Mister McGoldrick, Matmata De Tendron and Almaty Express.
Willie Mullins impressive winners of the novice hurdles at Cheltenham (Vautour and Faugheen) are just two of the reasons why next season should be as exciting as ever. Whilst O’Faolians Boy, Taquin De Souil and Holywell threaten to shake up the established stars in the Gold Cup, Indeed the 2014 Gold Cup was arguably the most baffling race of them all, transforming alrmingly on the run in. Was the ground so much slower on the inside? And then there is Cue Card who was surely on reflection feeling his back problem when stopping so quickly in the King George, rather than proving he didnt stay.
Much as I like the horse and his connections The New One may prove to be one of those unlucky horses who needs 2m 2f to show his real best. And what of Sprinter Sacre? Will he be back to his best. Indeed will he be back at all? Whilst surely Godmejudge and Shutthefrontdoor will be leading Grand National contenders in 2015.
Not long to wait until we start to piece the jigsaw together all over again. Bring it on.