Why is ‘The Chair’ so-called?

Why is 'The Chair' so-called? One of just five ‘named’ fences on the Grand National Course, ‘The Chair’ is the penultimate fence on the first circuit of the Grand National and, along with the Water Jump, is jumped just once.
Neverthless,’The Chair’ stands 5’3″ high and is preceded by a 6′ wide ditch, making it both the highest and widest obstacle on the Grand National Course. Furthermore, the landing side is 6″ higher than the take-off side, so the fence is a spectacular, if formidable, test for horse and rider; its positioning, in front of the grandstand, is no accident.

Originally known as the ‘Monument Jump’, ‘The Chair’ took its name, quite literally, from the chair which, historically, stood on a concrete plinth alongside the fence. In the early days of steeplechasing, when races were run in heats, the chair was occupied by the so-called ‘distance judge’, whose job it was to gauge the distance between one finisher and the next. Essentially, any horse that had failed to pass the distance judge when the previous finisher crossed the winning line was declared ‘distanced’ or, in other words, beaten 40 lengths or more. Any such horse was considered a non-finisher and, hence, disqualified from participating in subsequent heats. Understandably, for safety reasons, the concrete plinth was replaced by a plastic replica in Nineties, but the original can still be seen in the Red Rum Garden at Aintree.

Which jockey has won the 2,000 Guineas most often?

Which jockey has won the 2,000 Guineas most often? The career of jockey James Robinson, popularly known as ‘Jem’, effectively came to an end when, in 1852, at the age of 59, he was thrown from a fractious two-year-old colt, by the name of Feramorz, at Newmarket and sustained a broken thigh bone in the fall. The bone was not set properly, leaving his left leg several inches shorter than his right and forcing him into retirement.

Nevertheless, Robinson enjoyed a stellar riding career, winning a total of 24 British Classics, including the Derby six times, between 1817 and 1836, and the 2,000 Guineas nine times, between 1825 and 1848. His Derby record lasted until the latter part of the twentieth century, when surpassed by the legendary Lester Piggott – who would eventually ride nine Derby winners in all – aboard Empery in 1976.

Even more remarkably, though, nearly a century-and-a-half after his death, in 1873, Robinson remains the leading jockey in the history of the 2,000 Guineas. For the record, his nine winners of the Newmarket Classic were, in chronological order, Enamel (1825), Cadland (1828), Riddlesworth (1831), Clearwell (1833), Glencoe (1834), Ibrahim (1835), Bay Middleton (1836), Conyngham (1847) and Flatcatcher (1848). Of jockeys still riding, Lanfranco ‘Frankie’ Dettori, 50, has three 2,000 Guineas winners to his name, while Ryan Moore, 37, has two, so Robinson’s record looks safe for a while yet.

Who was George Duller?

Who was George Duller? In later life, George Duller made a name for himself as a motor racing driver, but it was as a National Hunt jockey – and, specifically, as a specialist hurdles jockey – in the early part of the twentieth century that he first found fame. He was, in fact, Champion Jockey in 1918, but with restrictions on horse racing, he managed just 17 winners in the entire calendar year in a severely limited National Hunt programme.

Born in Canning Town, London in 1891, fostered an idiosyncratic, ‘short’ style of riding, which was at odds with other jockeys of the day. Nevertheless, coupled with exceptional judgement of pace, his style allowed him, more often than not, to execute front-running tactics to good effect. Interestingly, while he rarely rode over larger obstacles, Duller was also the first jockey to wear a crash helmet.

As a jockey, Duller is probably best remembered for his association with Trespasser, on whom he won the Imperial Cup at Sandown Park three years running in 1920, 1921 and 1922 and the inaugural running of the County Hurdle at Cheltenham in 1920. Between 1963 and 1974, Duller was commemorated by a race at the Cheltenham Festival, the George Duller Handicap Hurdle, although it was susbequently replaced by the Coral Golden Hurdle Final, or the Pertemps Network Final, as the race is known today.

Aside from Arkle & Flyingbolt, which was the highest rated steeplechaser in history?

Aside from Arkle & Flyingbolt, which was the highest rated steeplechaser in history? Whether or not the Timeform Annual Rating awarded to Arkle (212), or his contemporary stablemate Flyingbolt (210), is accurate remains open to question. Either way, the pair stands head and shoulders – or 20lb, in empirical terms – above any other steeplechaser to grace a racecourse in the last five decades or so.

On the whole, the Timeform Organisation is fastidious about keeping ratings consistent from one generation to the next, precisely so that comparisons can be made without the need for so-called ‘historical recalibration’. The veracity of ratings from the mid-60s aside, it therefore seems reasonable to use Timeform to identify the next highest-rated steeplechaser in history or, at least, in the history of that venerated authority.

The horse in question was Sprinter Sacre (192p), who ran his last race, as a ten-year-old, in April, 2016 but, even at that late stage, was considered likely to improve on his rating by the Timeform scribes. Owned by Caroline Mould and trained by Nicky Henderson, Sprinter Sacre won 14 of his 18 steeplechases, including the Arkle Challenge Trophy in 2012 and the Queen Mother Champion Chase twice, in 2013 and 2016. All told, he won nine times at the highest Grade One level and may, indeed, have been better yet, but for being diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat in late 2013, which ruled him out for the whole of 2014.

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