Author: Derek Thompson

IT’S AMAZING TO think it’s less than a week since over 250,000 racegoers crammed into Cheltenham to cheer the horses home at the annual four day National Hunt Festival and now everything has gone quiet. The UAE were the first to do it by not allowing spectators at is racetracks. Ireland and France followed suit in Europe and now the UK has followed because of the dangers of Coronavirus. It had to come of course but what is going to happen now and for how long? The 25th running of the Dubai World Cup will be a mighty strange affair with no guests and that’s going to be even worse here because on Tuesday it was announced UK racing was on hold until the end of April at the earliest.

. But the initial big news to break this week is the cancellation of the Grand National, the most famous steeplechase in the world. Run over four miles and 30 fences in Liverpool in the first week in April this iconic race is watched by millions all around the world and this year Tiger Roll would have been attempting to win the race for a record third successive time. Sadly because of the virus there will be no record attempt and this is more sad because it might never happen again. Also the people of Liverpool will be counting the cost of losing what was a ‘big earner’ for the city and bookmakers will be counting the cost as well because the race is the biggest betting race in Europe!

And for jockeys, trainers, owners and breeders it’s a missed opportunity in a massive way from prize money to the kudos of ‘winning the national’! And just imagine if the virus didn’t die out and it continues because in May there’s the 2000 and 1000 Guineas, then in June there’s the Derby and Royal Ascot. The loss of meetings like these would be truly catastrophic. Of course peoples’ lives come first and we all have to do what we can but there’s no doubt the next few months are going to be very strange for us all. It was good to see James Doyle in Newmarket the other day before he flew back to the UAE to prepare for Dubai World night. At the moment he has three good looking rides and he’s looking forward to all three: “Ispolini is a lovely horse who was second in the Dubai Gold Cup last year to Cross Counter.

He hasn’t run for a long time but Charlie is really pleased with him and I am looking forward to riding him in a workout on Saturday. “Mubtasim is another to look forward to in the Al Quoz Sprint. He’s a smart horse who’s been running over 7f and was a good third at Meydan before being caught close home by Dark Power in the sprint in Saudi. He must have an outstanding chance. ‘And I now have just a ride on the Japanese horse Derma Louvre in the Godolphin mile. I don’t know much about him but it will be my first ride for a Japanese trainer.”

First the Grand National cancelled & it then became even worse