Who was John Porter?

Who was John Porter?  Born in Rugeley, Staffordshire in 1838, John Porter was a hugely successful trainer of the Victorian and Edwardian eras. All told, he saddled 1,063 winners, including 23 Classic winners, and won the Triple Crown on three separate occasions, with Ormonde (1886), Common (1891) and Flying Fox (1899).

Porter began his training career when recruited by Sir Joseph Henry Hawley, a.k.a. the ‘Lucky Baronet’, to replace George Manning as private trainer at Cannon Heath, near Kingsclere, Hampshire in 1863. Four years later, Hawley built a new yard at Kingsclere and when he died in 1875, offered Porter, in his will, the opportunity to buy the estate at half its original price. Unsurprisingly, Porter did so and wasted little time in transforming Kingsclere into a state-of-the-art training establishment.

Porter also co-founded Newbury Racecourse and served as managing director of Newbury Racecourse Company, which was formed in April, 1904, after his proposals for a new venue were finally accepted by the Jockey Club. Porter is commemorated at the Berkshire course by the John Porter Stakes, which was inaugurated in 1928 and, in its current guise, is a Group Three contest for four-year-olds and upwards over 1 mile 4 furlongs, run in April. Ironically, for all his success as a trainer, Porter only ever saddled one winner at Newbury, retiring from the training ranks within a month or two of the course staging its first meeting in September, 1905.

Will David Eustace be Successful in Hong Kong?

Will David Eustace be Successful in Hong Kong?  David Eustace’s decision to leave Australian horse racing to start a training career in Hong Kong was no real surprise to anyone familiar with his family.

Eustace is the nephew of former Hong Kong-based horseman David Oughton, and he has long dreamt about following in his footsteps at some point in his life.

The Englishman has spent the past five years as a co-trainer with Ciaron Maher, during which time the operation rattled home more than 1,600 winners.

That tally included 30 Group 1 successes including the 2022 Melbourne Cup with Gold Trip – a victory which cemented their legacy as big-hitters in Australian horse racing.

The pair were the scourge of online bookmakers last season, recording 347 wins on their way to claiming the Australian trainers’ title.

They have continued their quest to hit international horse racing betting sites this term, further highlighting how devasting their partnership has become.

Their use of data analysis and sports science put them at the forefront of Australian racing and is a methodology Eustace will replicate in Hong Kong.

“I hope to bring a varied style of training with experiences from the United Kingdom, experiences from Australia and with an emphasis on using sports science and data to enhance a horse’s training, longevity and careers in Hong Kong,” Eustace said.

“Communication, whether it be with Jockey Club itself, or with owners, is very important and I intend for it to be absolutely first-class. That’s what I hope to bring to the table along with youth and vibrancy.

“I also understand I am heading to one of the most competitive racing jurisdictions in the world and that’s exciting.”

Eustace’s move to Hong Kong is undoubtedly a gamble, as there is no guarantee he will be as successful without Maher working alongside him.

Annabel Neasham, Lucy Yeomans and Jack Bruce all worked with Maher before heading elsewhere and have found it tough to match his achievements.

However, Maher believes that Eustace has the talent to be a big hit in Hong Kong and has backed him to become one of the top trainers there.

“A man of David’s profile and reputation was always going to be in hot demand,” Maher said. “On a personal level I just want to thank David. He has been alongside me from the early days through thick and thin.

“I know we couldn’t have reached our current position as champion trainers of Australia without him – and his Hong Kong appointment is recognition of that. I am certain he will be very successful there.

“This is not the end of our relationship just a new chapter and both of us are confident that our relationship will continue in some form that will be to the benefit of both operations and their owners.”

The infrastructure in Hong Kong undoubtedly gives Eustace every chance of succeeding, with the world-class facilities likely to play to his strengths.

He will join former Australian handlers David Hayes, David Hall, Mark Newnham and Jamie Richards in Hong Kong, and will be keen to make his mark as quickly as possible.

Eustace is scheduled to head to Hong Kong in January to build relationships with new owners and generate some bloodstock.

He will complete his move in April, before ramping up preparations for the start of the Hong Kong racing season next September.

Given the reputation Eustace has built in Australia, do not be surprised if he is soon delivering plenty of winning returns for punters on the Hong Kong circuit.

Can Willie Mullins Bash the Bookies at the 2024 Cheltenham Festival?

Can Willie Mullins Bash the Bookies at the 2024 Cheltenham Festival?  Willie Mullins is generally a trainer to follow at the Cheltenham Festival, with his tally of 94 winners at the meeting putting him well clear of his nearest rival.

Mullins topped the trainer standings with six winners at this year’s event and has plenty of fancied runners lined-up for the 2024 edition of the meeting.

A measure of the strength of his stable can garnered by looking at the latest ante-post markets, which paint a worrying picture for other trainers in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Of the 20 races which have already been priced up by the betting sites featured on horse-racing.ie, Mullins has the favourite in more than half of them.

With that in mind, we have scoured the lists to assess the chances of some of Mullins’ runners, starting with one who has already been well backed by punters.

Bunting – Triumph Hurdle

Barely a season goes by in racing without at least one of Mullins’ horses being touted a potential future superstar and this year is certainly no different.

Bunting has been backed from 20/1 to 12/1 for the 2024 Triumph Hurdle, despite never running over obstacles during his short career.

The horse won its solitary start at Fontainebleau on the flat over eleven furlongs earlier this year before being purchased by Brighton & Hove Albion owner Tony Bloom.

He is well known for wagering on his horses and his latest acquisition could be extremely tough to beat when the Triumph Hurdle is staged next March.

Redemption Day – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

Several horses from the Mullins stable are towards the head of the betting in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and it would be no surprise is one of them won the race.

However, looking a little further down the list there is another Mullins runner who leaps off the page as a potential value bet at odds of 25/1 in the opening race of the meeting.

Redemption Day was heavily touted for the 2022 Champion Bumper, but failed to live up to expectations on unsuitably heavy ground.

He went on to finish second at the Punchestown Festival before missing last season through injury, but could take high order over hurdles if Mullins can keep him fit.

Allaho – Ryanair Chase

Two-time Ryanair Chase winner Allaho produced a stunning performance to win the Punchestown Gold Cup in April 2022 before suffering a bleed on his spleen.

After missing the whole of last season, the horse recently returned to action in the Clonmel Oil Chase and barely broke sweat on his way to an effortless victory.

Mullins has never made any secret of how highly he rates Allaho and he looks a good bet at odds of 10/3 to win the Ryanair Chase for a third time.

British trainer Paul Nicholls will fancy his chances of winning the race with Stage Star, but his horse could find it difficult to topple Allaho.

Ile Atlantique – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle

After finishing third on his hurdles debut in France, Ile Atlantique was a stylish winner of a bumper for Mullins at Leopardstown in December 2022.

The horse subsequently finished second in two bumpers at Naas and Fairyhouse, although there was no disgrace in either of those defeats.

Ile Atlantique looked to have grown into his frame on his first start over hurdles at Gowran Park this month, roaring home 19 lengths clear of his rivals.

That performances saw the Bloom-owned horse slashed from 33/1 to 14/1 for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle – odds which still look decent value.

Who owned Dawn Run?

Dawn Run etched her name, indelibly, into the annals of Cheltenham Festival history when, in 1986, she became the first and, so far, only horse to complete the Champion Hurdle – Cheltenham Gold Cup double. Trained by the late Paddy Mullins in Co. Kilkenny, Dawn Run was ridden to her two greatest triumphs by Jonjo O’Neill, but only after her regular partner Tony Mullins was ‘jocked off’ by owner Charmian Hill on both occasions.

At the age of 62, Hill, a.k.a. the ‘Galloping Granny’, had ridden Dawn Run on her first three starts, before being deemed too old to continue riding by the Turf Club. Nevertheless, she pulled no punches when it came to riding arrangements for her horse; Paddy Mullins made no secret of the fact that, ferocious as Dawn Run was, she was still easier to handle than her owner.

After missing most of the 1984/85 season through injury, Dawn Run took her career record to 3-3 over fences by winning at Punchestown and Leopardstown in December, 1985, before heading to Cheltenham for the Holsten Distributors Chase in January, 1986. Sent off at 4/9 favourite, Dawn Run made a mistake at the final open ditch and unseated Tony Mullins, leading to speculation that, despite winning 15 races on the mare, he would be replaced for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Sure enough, he was and the rest, as they say, is history.

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