‘It’s horrible and this will give a lift to the whole family’


The Coral Scottish Grand National saw a touching and poignant victory by Kitty’s Light, but it was not just any victory. The trainer, Christian Williams, had recently found out that his five-year-old daughter had been diagnosed with leukaemia during the Cheltenham Festival week. This news meant that Williams and his family were facing a very difficult time. However, his daughter remained brave and kept spirits up by pretending to ride a wooden rocking horse and mimicking her father’s horse, Kitty’s Light.

In the race, Kitty’s Light was backed down to 4-1 joint-favourite, and the horse lived up to his potential, delivering a smooth success for Williams. Kitty’s Light had previously chased stablemate Win My Wings in the same contest the year before and won the Eider Chase at Newcastle earlier this year.

The Welsh trainer has had a successful run, having won the Midlands National, Welsh National, and Coral Trophy in the last four years, and punters were quick to take advantage of his Midas touch.

“I trained him for the two races this year and that’s brilliant,” Williams said. “He’s a classy horse. He did a piece of work last week that we hadn’t seen for 12 months.

“I was confident coming here. He travelled sweetly. Fences get in his way but if his jumping holds up on good ground he’s a very good horse. His jumping held up early and it was nice to watch.

“We’ve had him since he was a yearling so we know what the horse is capable of. He just bumped into a freak [Win My Wings] last year – I don’t know where the mare’s performance came from, she was unstoppable.”

Williams was emotional and speechless after the victory, admitting that it was a tough time for him and his family. His wife, Charlotte, had put her life on hold to look after their daughter, and the news of the victory brought a sense of joy to the family.

Tudor, who rode Kitty’s Light to victory, commended the Williams’ team and their planning, stating that they rarely miss a plan. He also hoped that his recent appointment as David Pipe’s stable jockey would not prevent him from teaming up again with Kitty’s Light.

“When there is a plan, they very rarely miss. Christian has had a rough time. It’s horrible and this will give a lift to the whole family, so that is brilliant.”

Williams became the first trainer to win back-to-back Scottish Grand Nationals with different horses since 1970-1971, and he expressed his enjoyment of supporting the race and his hope to win it for a third year.

“I thought we’d win the race last year and the plan was to try to come here and replicate that,” said the trainer, whose Cap Du Nord finished tenth. “We enjoy supporting this race and will try to come back and see if we can win it for a third year.”



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On Saturday at Newbury, only three units out of 1,109 were successful in the Tote Placepot, resulting in a huge payout of £30,013 for a £1 stake. Despite no favourites winning, two short-priced favourites were unplaced, leaving just 349 units after the second leg and only 44 units remaining after the third leg, which was won by Isaac Shelby at odds of 15-2.

The BetGoodwin Spring Cup Handicap saw favourites perform to market expectations, but only 3.57 units remained after the 1m maiden when three outsiders filled the top three spots at odds of 12-1, 4-1 and 13-2.

The final dividend was paid out to just 3.06 units, with Tote+ customers receiving £31,514. The total pool size was £91,629.74.

Jamie Hart, spokesperson for Tote, said: “The whole idea of guaranteeing these big placepot pools was to generate the opportunity for placepot punters to win massive payouts. After two five-digit paydays at Cheltenham it’s great to see the pattern continuing into the Flat season with this £30,013 placepot at Newbury.”

At Ayr’s Scottish Grand National fixture, 2,587 units won the Placepot, with a payout of £102.99 for a £1 stake.



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Nicky Henderson expressed his disappointment after coming close to breaking his 44-year Grand National drought with Mister Coffey, who led for much of the race before eventually finishing eighth.

“I have to say for a moment I thought this was going to be it, which makes it all the harder really, but there you go,” said Henderson. “We know what this game is all about and we’ll have to come back and do it again next year. You can’t do much better than that. He deserved to finish in the first four for what he had done. He jumped from fence to fence and, like Nico said, you did sort of think you were going to get there, but not quite.”

Nico de Boinville, who rode Mister Coffey, had mixed emotions about the performance. “He gave me a fantastic spin and I’m absolutely delighted,” he said. “We can be really proud of him and he’s a true National type. Of course, you start to think when you’re crossing the road like that, but hey-ho it wasn’t to be.”

Vanillier, ridden by Sean Flanagan, finished second, two and a quarter lengths behind the winner, Corach Rambler. Flanagan commented on the race, saying, “I jumped a little slow early and I probably got further back than I wanted to be. He’s a really strong stayer and probably didn’t go forward early enough. But he stayed all the way to the line and jumped really well. I was very happy with him.”

Noble Yeats, defending champion and carrying a 19lb higher mark, ran a gallant race to finish in fourth place, just behind Gaillard Du Mesnil, trained by Willie Mullins. Owner Robert Waley-Cohen had no complaints about Noble Yeats’ performance, stating, “He was carrying an enormous amount of weight and I have absolutely no complaints about how he ran. I thought he finished off really strong, but he had 19lb more than last year and second topweight.”



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“I got a fall last week and banged my shoulder which was far from ideal. I was worried all week as I thought this horse could do it today and I’m just thankful I made it back in time as it was the thrill of my life to have ridden him,” said Fox, who rode Corach Rambler to victory in the Grand National.

“My physio Jenny Drysdale has done a great job working on the shoulder all week and it is thanks to her I was back and ready to go today. I got the all-clear to ride this morning really – I had to do some press-ups to make sure I was fit and I was very lucky to have passed the doctor in time,” Fox added.

“It is thanks to Lucinda and Scu for having the faith in me to put me up having not ridden all week. I feel very lucky to be working for such great people.”

Fox has partnered Corach Rambler on all 13 starts and has now ridden the last two British-trained winners of the Aintree showpiece, having steered One For Arthur to victory in the iconic race in 2017.

Russell, the trainer of Corach Rambler, said: “Derek was very close to not making the ride. I had a very surreal conversation with him at the start of the week about what did he want to do. It was hard for him to sit out with Ahoy Senor but he made the right decision, he didn’t want to hurt himself before the National. I’m so pleased he was back, he knows Corach so well and he’s just a fabulous jockey.”



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“Hill Sixteen got absolutely hyper and we washed him off. They haven’t a bloody clue what they’re doing. He just hasn’t taken off at the first fence; he’s got so bloody hyper because of the carry on,” said trainer Sandy Thomson, blaming the delay caused by animal rights protesters for the fatal injury suffered by his horse at the Randox Grand National.

“Dickon White, north west regional director for the Jockey Club said: ‘Hill Sixteen was immediately attended by expert veterinary professionals during the Grand National, but sadly sustained a fatal injury. Our heartfelt condolences are with his connections.'”

Julie Harrington, chief executive of the BHA, expressed condolences for the horses that suffered fatal injuries during the event and highlighted the efforts of British racing to improve safety standards. She also condemned the actions of the protesters disrupting the race, stating, “We respect the right of anyone to hold views about our sport, but we robustly condemn the reckless and potentially harmful actions of a handful of people in disrupting the race at a time when horses were in the parade ring.”

“The Grand National is and always will be an iconic sporting event and the actions of a small number of people today will do nothing to diminish its huge and enduring international appeal,” added Harrington.



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“The people were defending their race. It showcases their city to however many hundreds of million people around the world and they don’t want that spoiled,” said proud Liverpudlian Mick Quinn, former professional footballer turned trainer, praising the response of racegoers at Aintree who helped stop protestors from disrupting the Grand National.

“There was a time the race was on its knees with regards to a sponsor and it looked like petering out. It’s been rejuvenated and revamped and is still the most exciting race in the world,” Quinn continued. “As a spectacle, it takes your breath away and the Liverpool people are very proud of it. The meeting is massive in the calendar – for the people in the city it’s their Royal Ascot.”

Quinn, who was based in Newmarket but stopped training in 2021, recalled being captivated by the exploits of three-time National hero Red Rum in the 1970s. “I was lucky being brought up in the 1970s with that great Liverpool team and Red Rum. I trained on the Flat, but he’s my equine hero and that’s why I’m still so passionate about the race. It was great to grow up when he was in his pomp and peak, and the race is a firm part of my upbringing and had an influence on me getting involved in the sport.”

Despite the risks inherent in any sport, Quinn expressed pride in the race and its history, noting the efforts made to modify the race and fences to make it as safe as possible. “We don’t want any fatalities and I’m still proud of the race, as are many others in Liverpool,” he said.



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Jimmy Fyffe, owner of Hill Sixteen, has defended the sport of horse racing and its record on horse welfare, despite the tragic loss of his star horse at Aintree on Saturday in the Randox Grand National. Hill Sixteen, a ten-year-old horse trained by Sandy Thomson, fell for the first time in his 27-race career at the first fence in the National, which had been delayed by animal rights protesters.

Fyffe, who co-owned Hill Sixteen with Scott Townshend, expressed his support for the care that racehorses receive and stated that his horse’s death would not deter him from the sport. He emphasized that horses in racing are well looked after by trainers and compared the risks to those that horses face in a field.

“You can lose a horse in the field who is running about,” Fyffe said. “The horses get looked after so well by all of the trainers. I’ve been in all the stables where I’ve got horses and they’re looked after like kings, they really are. Sadly it [losing a horse] happened for me and Scott, but I love the game and invest a lot of money in it. The horses have a great life and love running, so I’ve got no qualms with staying in this game.”

Thomson, the trainer of Hill Sixteen, blamed the incident on the delayed start of the race due to animal rights protesters who had entered the course and attempted to secure themselves to fences and railings. He believed that the prolonged wait caused Hill Sixteen to become “hyper” and that it may have played a part in the fatal injury.

Fyffe agreed with Thomson’s assessment, stating, “It didn’t help with the horses walking about for a lengthy amount of time and then going back to the stables and coming back again. That wasn’t good for the horses. I was absolutely gutted to lose Hill Sixteen, especially for the stable staff, Sandy and all his team. It was heartbreaking.”

Hill Sixteen’s loss was not the only setback Fyffe and Townshend experienced at Aintree. On Friday, their horse Cooper’s Cross, trained by Stuart Coltherd, fell four fences from the finish in the Topham, after being hampered while traveling well.

Fyffe, who is also a director and sponsor of the Scottish Premiership football team Dundee United, had a mixed experience at Aintree, as less than an hour after his National heartbreak, he won the concluding Grade 2 bumper with the Nicky Richards-trained horse Florida Dreams. Fyffe expressed his excitement and happiness about the win, stating, “He’s very exciting, and it was good getting a win on home soil first [at Musselburgh], and then we wanted to keep him for this race. I love Aintree, sadly I lost a horse in the National, which is the ups and downs of the sport. I love getting a lot of my horses here, so to win was brilliant.”

Despite the tragic loss of Hill Sixteen, Fyffe’s resolve to continue his involvement in horse racing remains strong. He is appreciative of the care that racehorses receive from trainers and believes that the horses lead a good life and enjoy running. While acknowledging the risks involved, he remains committed to the sport and looks forward to future successes with his horses.



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On Saturday, a group of animal rights activists disrupted the Grand National horse race at Aintree, resulting in the arrest of 23 people and causing a delay in the start of the race by nearly 15 minutes. The protesters, wearing pink t-shirts and plain clothes, attempted to breach the perimeter fence or gates near Becher’s Brook and the Canal Turn. Some used ladders to climb over the fence, which were confiscated by police and security staff, while others tried to climb over unaided.

Merseyside Police reported that “the majority” of the protesters were prevented from entering the racecourse, but nine individuals managed to make it onto the track. Some of them glued themselves to the second fence, while others tried to shackle themselves to the running rail by the Canal Turn. The police, in cooperation with the Jockey Club and other partners, had anticipated the possibility of protests and stated that while peaceful protest and expression of views were respected, criminal behavior and disorder would not be tolerated and would be dealt with robustly.

Prior to the race, a 33-year-old woman from London was arrested in Greater Manchester on suspicion of conspiracy to cause public nuisance in relation to the Grand National. By 6:30 pm on Saturday, a total of 23 people had been arrested before and during the racing event. Aintree confirmed that two horses, Cape Gentleman and Recite A Prayer, were taken for further veterinary inspection after the race, while Hill Sixteen was put down after falling at the first fence, with a video of the incident posted online by the animal rights group.

The actions of the protesters were condemned by prominent figures within the racing community. Grand National-winning jockey Sir Anthony McCoy labeled them “attention seekers,” and Sandy Thomson, whose horse Hill Sixteen suffered a fatal fall during the race, expressed that they “haven’t a bloody clue what they’re doing.” Other jockeys, trainers, and owners also expressed frustration at the disruption caused by the protesters, with concerns raised about the impact on horse welfare and the delay causing horses to walk around the parade area repeatedly.

Animal rights activists had expressed their intention to protest at this year’s Grand National in the lead-up to the event. In addition to protesting outside the racecourse, some activists had outlined plans to bypass security and potentially disrupt the race by creating human barriers. Orla Coghlan, a spokeswoman for the animal rights group Animal Rising, which also blocked the M57 motorway in Liverpool on Saturday, stated that “Today marks not the end, but the beginning, of the summer of Animal Rising. We will be defending animals and nature and creating an unignorable national conversation about our relationship to animals and the natural world.”



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In the 175th running of the Grand National, the world’s most popular horserace, it was Corach Rambler who emerged as the victorious champion. Despite initial delays caused by animal rights protesters, who failed to stop the race but managed to delay its start, the race eventually took place, and Corach Rambler, ridden by jockey Derek Fox and trained by Lucinda Russell, triumphed with brilliance and bravery.

Six years after winning the Grand National with One For Arthur, Russell and Fox once again scored a win for Scotland. However, their joy was tempered by the tragic loss of Hill Sixteen, who lost his life following a fall at the first fence. The race had been delayed due to protesters managing to get on the track, and some even attempted to attach themselves to the fences. Despite these challenges, the race eventually commenced, and Corach Rambler emerged as the victor.

Fox, who had been cleared to ride only at lunchtime due to a shoulder injury, rode Corach Rambler to perfection, allowing the horse to trail behind outsider Mister Coffey before making a decisive move at the final fence to take the lead and win the race comfortably. Corach Rambler, one of only 13 British-trained runners in the race, crossed the finish line two and a quarter lengths ahead of Vanillier, with Gaillard Du Mesnil and last year’s winner Noble Yeats taking third and fourth place.

Fox expressed his admiration for Corach Rambler, “I just let him bowl away,” said Fox. “He’s an electric jumper and so intelligent. He was in front for a long time but he won so easily. He’s a marvellous horse.”

Russell, too, was ecstatic about the victory. “That was just amazing,” declared Russell, immediately expressing a desire to comment on the scenes that took place before the race.

“Those guys that went out on the course to protest think it’s about horse welfare,” she said. “That horse loves the sport. He loves everything he does and he is kept in the best conditions. I’m so delighted he can run in a race like that and perform like that. He has now got greatness – and that’s what he deserves.

“In our hearts, Corach Rambler is just the best horse – and now he is in the public’s hearts as well.”

Russell added: “I know how important it is to win the National. I know how it changed my life with Arthur and what reverence Arthur was held in. For Corach to now achieve that is just fantastic.

“It’s all about the horses. For me, it’s not about betting, although I did back him – and quite a lot, actually, ante-post. It’s not about, though. It’s about Corach.

“That horse has been amazing. I’m delighted for myself, delighted for the team, delighted for Scu because he has done all the work with him, delighted for Derek, who has had a hard time and a problem with his shoulder, and I’m delighted for the fantastic owners.

“But you know what? It’s about Corach. He is just amazing. He took to those fences brilliantly, he understand them and he worked it out. He loved it.”

Scudamore, who had done all the work with the horse, emphasised that the safety and well-being of the horse were paramount, and winning was secondary.

“You shouldn’t get so attached to these beautiful creatures but you do,” said Scudamore. “He’ll be looked after for the rest of his life. The fact he is safe and sound means more than winning.”

Cameron Sword, one of the owners of Corach Rambler, at the age of 21, expressed his elation and praised the horse’s performance.

“I’m over the moon,” he said. “What a horse! I’m lost for words.”

Sword then gave his view on those who had tried to stop the race.

“How can you be protesting against horseracing when your protests were making the horses wait out in the sun for longer,” he said. “It makes no sense. They can do one. This is our sport and I love it.”



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The British Horseracing Authority’s (BHA) plan to declutter Saturday afternoons to promote its premier fixtures is coming under fire for prioritizing betting at the expense of racegoers, according to Bill Farnsworth, the manager of Musselburgh racecourse. The Queen’s Cup meeting, scheduled for Saturday, is at risk of being cancelled next year under the plan to move races away from Saturday afternoons and potentially reposition them at lunchtimes or on weekend evenings.

BHA chief executive Julie Harrington has said that the strategy is intended to “ensure that our best fixtures are positioned in a manner which creates a more readily identifiable top end to the sport, presented in a shop window that engages customers.” However, Farnsworth argues that the strategy is driven by what suits betting, and that racegoers will be adversely affected by the proposed fixture shifts.

Access to data from betting companies is being viewed as a game-changer by the BHA for planning next year’s fixture list to align it with consumer behaviour. However, Farnsworth believes that the BHA is underestimating the cost of losing Saturday fixtures and racegoers, and overestimating the upside in betting.

Farnsworth explained that Musselburgh may not be able to hold on to a Saturday afternoon position for the Queen’s Cup meeting under the new plan. If the race were moved to lunchtime or later in the afternoon, Musselburgh would lose ITV coverage, which is essential to putting on the quality of racing that the course is known for. Farnsworth warned that the race may become unviable and could disappear entirely.

Farnsworth believes that the BHA’s plans are all about driving betting turnover, and that the betting companies will benefit at the expense of racegoers. He argues that the cost of the plan will be that racegoers have fewer opportunities to go racing, which is important for the sport.

Farnsworth noted that he supports change that improves British racing, but believes that the BHA is underestimating the cost of losing Saturday fixtures and racegoers, and overestimating the upside in betting. Farnsworth expressed concern that his concerns are not being taken seriously, and that there seems to be a real desire to change things without considering the impact on racegoers.



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