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First Cheltenham, Then The World!

Mar 18 2012

It showed that, whether it’s a jumps carnival, a major staying or sprint race, one of any number of classics or the highest level weight-for-age contest, there’s usually outstanding racing somewhere in the world on most weeks of the calendar.

Last week it was the world’s best hurdlers and steeplechasers at the world’s best jumps carnival. Next week, it’s world class sprinting in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen at Japan’s Chukyo racecourse. In less than two weeks, it will be the world’s richest horse race and some outstanding support events at Dubai.

In April, there’s the time-honoured Grand National from Aintree, the Tenno-Sho from Kyoto, South African Derby and Oaks from Turffontein, the Easter Handicap from Ellerslie and the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup from Sha Tin.

Then it’s into May for the month of classics – with the Kentucky Derby kicking off the US Triple Crown and the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket leading into the Epsom Derby.

If Australia’s interest isn’t already strong by then, it reaches fever pitch in June for what has become our customary assault on the King’s Stand and Golden Jubilee sprints at Royal Ascot – with this year appearing at this early stage to be something of a benefit for the great Black Caviar.

And that’s only half the year down. We still have the Arc De Triomphe, Breeders Cup, Japan Cup and Hong Kong International Day – among many other thoroughbred racing events – to keep us up late watching the world’s best racing.

Meanwhile, it’s worth reflecting on Cheltenham. The great festival never seems to disappoint. This year, the Gold Cup went to upset winner Synchronise at the expense of superstars Long Run and Kauto Star and there were more than a few upsets but on the upside, legendary jumper Big Buck’s proved beyond doubt that he’s is an all-time great by winning his fourth World Hurdle.

We got to see a new sensation in the making when Sprinter Sacre made a one-act affair of the Arkle Chase. The brilliant 6yo got trainer Nicky Henderson off to a flying start to his record-breaking festival by winning the 3200m chase eased down by panels of fencing, bringing his accumulated winning margin for his past 4 starts to 63 lengths.

We were treated to world-class riding from jockey of the festival Barry Geraghty as well as greats AP McCoy and Ruby Walsh. Most significantly, perhaps, the festival shows that while one legend was exiting when the great Kauto Star being pulled up in the Gold Cup, a new breed including Sprinter Sacre, Simonsig, Rock On Ruby and Smad Place should be around for years to come.

Shane McNally


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