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Mario López Oliva

miércoles, 14 de enero de 2009

Horse racing highlights of 2009

Telegraph.co.uk - London,England,UK

Better care for jockeys, Denman returning to the racecourse, British champion jump training success and Kieron Fallon back in the saddle.
Kieron Fallon will be back in the saddle in 2009
Kieron Fallon will be back in the saddle in 2009 Photo: REUTERS

1. If you intend to have a heart attack, have it on a racecourse. Jockeys have never had medical facilities so good but often that all goes to pot the moment the ambulance leaves the course. Jockeys will be hoping 2009 doesn't start with a bang but the first Professional Jockeys Association Medical Adviser starts work on Jan 1. Dr MacKinnon's job is to ensure an injured jockey sees the top surgeons immediately.

2. The return to a racecourse of the mighty Denman, for his first run since he won the 2008 Gold Cup, has been pencilled in for the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock on January 17. The 'Tank' was found to be suffering from an irregular heart-beat after his summer break. It is likely to be his only start before defending his title.

3. For years the Irish have dominated Cheltenham Festival culminating in two years, 2005 and '06 when they won the three major Championship races; Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase and Gold Cup as well as the National. But the boot's on the other foot now and Paul Nicholls is looking to end the season as Champion jump trainer in Britain and Ireland.

4. Britain's 60th track, Great Leighs, stuttered into life in 2008 but after teething problems is now hailed as our best all-weather course. It was Britain's first new racecourse for 81 years but, like London buses, Ffos Las in South Wales is due to come on stream in 2009. The grand opening is set for August 28.

5. One of the biggest stories of 2009 will be the return to the saddle on September 4 of six times Champion Flat jockey Kieren Fallon. Cleared of corruption at the Old Bailey last December, he is currently on a gap year courtesy of the French who banned him for 18 months for failing a second drugs test. The BHA have given him 100 lines: 'I must not pass on inside information.' Providing he hands that in on time, he'll be cleared to ride again.

6. When Humpty Dumpty had a great fall all the King's horses were unable to put him together again. For a while now the Queen's horses haven't been up to much either but there could be a Royal Classic on the horizon in 2009. Look out for Free Agent (Richard Hannon), Four Winds (Michael Bell), Enticement and Golden Stream (both Sir Michael Stoute). Before that she could have a Cheltenham Gold Cup runner in Barbers Shop.

7. Hayley Turner can expect a first ride in a Classic, a first Group One winner and 100 winners on the Turf in 2009. Once the marketing men get hold of her she has the potential and charm to be the next biggest thing for racing since Frankie Dettori.

8. On Saturday November 7 the Breeders' Cup returns, for the second year running, to Santa Anita where Europe, in particular Britain, enjoyed a fantastic day in 2008. Expect squadrons of Britain raiders. The Pro-Ride surface that replaced the traditional 'dirt' has not met with universal approval with American horsemen despite it being a major boost to racehorse welfare. Will they try to doctor the wicket in 2009? If they did it wouldn't be cricket.

9. Rhys Flint, 17, is one of the first jockeys to have benefited from the recently introduced pony racing in Britain. He progressed to become leading novice rider in point-to-points in 2008 and has now turned professional. Attached to the west country yard of Philip Hobbs, he is making the most of his chances and is one to watch out for 2009.

10. It could be a tough year for all horses, not just racehorses, because they are not cheap to keep. The British thoroughbred breeding industry is as guilty as any other of over-production during the good times and stemming the flow against a slump in demand is going to be a bit like turning round an oil tanker. Racing's key welfare charity, the Retraining of Racehorses, will need to be on its mettle.

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