What are blinkers?

What are blinkers? In horse racing, blinkers are one of the most commonly used types of headgear. Standard blinkers consist of pair of fabric, leather or plastic cups positioned, one either side, on a headpiece. The cups are placed next to the horse’s eyes with the intention of restricting its field of vision to the rear and, in some cases, to the side. Naturally, horses have a 275° field of vision, such that they can be easily distracted or upset by events on either side or behind them. Thus, by restricting the field of vision – to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the design of the blinkers – trainers hope to encourage a horse to focus on looking, and moving, forward and thereby improve its racecourse performance.

So-called ‘French’ blinkers, also known as ‘cheek pieces’, are less restrictive than standard blinkers, but serve a similar purpose. They consist of strips of sheepskin, which are attached to the straps on either side of a horse’s bridle and restrict how much the horse can see behind it. Blinkers and cheek pieces must be declared overnight and horses wearing these types of headgear can be identified by a small letter ‘b’, or ‘c’, next to the their names on a racecard.

How tall, typically, are jockeys?

How tall, typically, are jockeys? Obviously there are exceptions, notably Lester Piggott, at 5’8″, and Richard Hughes and Sir Anthony McCoy, both at 5’10”, but most male jockeys are well below average height. Typically, jockeys riding on the Flat stand between 4’10” and 5’6″ tall; taller jockeys, such as Piggott and Hughes, must make significant sacrifices to maintain their weight below its natural level, sometimes for years on end. Although in Britain the minimum riding weight for National Hunt jockeys is 10st 0lb, as opposed to 8st 0lb for Flat jockeys, eighteen months after his retirement Sir Anthony McCoy freely admitted to having put on two stone in the interim.

Flat jockeys stand 5’2″ tall and weigh in at 8st 1lb, on average, but their physique and strength-to-weight ratio, is more important than their height, or weight, taken in isolation. Jockeys must be extremely fit, with strong shoulders, core and legs, to compete at the highest level. Champion trainer John Gosden once described veteran jockey Lanfranco ‘Frankie’ Dettori as ‘perfectly proportioned’ for a Flat jockey; Dettori, 50, stands 5’3″ tall and, despite his advancing years, still has a minimum riding weight of 8st 8lb.

How many times did Sir Gordon Richards win the Derby?

How many times did Sir Gordon Richards win the Derby? Sir Gordon Richards, who was knighted in 1953 in recognition of his services to horse racing, was arguably the most successful Flat jockey in British racing history. During an extraordinary career, between 1921 and 1954, Richards rode a total of 4,870 winners and became champion jockey on 26 occasions.

In 1947, Richards rode 269 winners, thereby setting a British record that would stand until beaten by the incomparable Sir Anthony McCoy 55 years later. Richards also enjoyed considerable success in British Classic races, winning the St. Leger five times, the 2,000 Guineas three times, the 1,000 Guineas three times and the Oaks twice.

However, for much of his career the most important Classic of all, the Derby, proved elusive. In fact, it was not until the so-called ‘Coronation’ Derby, run just five days after he had been knighted, in 1953, that Richards broke his duck in the Epsom Classic. On that occasion, he rode the 5/1 joint-favourite, Pinza, owned by Sir Victor Sassoon and trained by Norman Bertie. Shikampur, owned by the Aga Khan, led the field into the final quarter of a mile, but was soon tackled by Pinza, who drew away in the closing stages to win by four lengths. Aureole, owned by the Queen, came around the outside of the field to finish second, but was always in vain pursuit.

Which horse was Paul Nicholls’ first Cheltenham Festival winner?

Which horse was Paul Nicholls' first Cheltenham Festival winner? Paul Nicholls has come a long way since he arrived at Manor Farm Stables in Ditcheat, Somerset with just eight horses. With the possible exception of his landlord, Paul Barber, no-one could really have predicted his rise to the top of his profession, where he has remained for over two decades. Nicholls did not become Champion National Hunt Trainer for the first time until 2005/06, but has done so a further eleven times since and remains one of just three men – the other two being Martin Pipe, who retired in 2006, and Nicky Henderson – to have won the trainers’ title since the turn of the century.

As far as the Cheltenham Festival is concerned, Nicholls has saddled 46 winners and until 2021, when he drew a blank, had saddled at least one winner every year since 2002. He has won the Leading Trainer Award at the Cheltenham Festival six times, including on 1999, the year in which he saddled his first winner at the March showpiece. His first winner was, in fact, Flagship Uberalles in the Arkle Challenge Trophy on the opening day, but he also saddled Call Equiname to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase and See More Business to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup later in the week.

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