In the world of racing 2011 will be remembered as the year of ‘whip-gate’, the incredible revival of Kauto Star over the jumps, and the wonder horse Frankel on the flat.
Frankel was quite simply breath-taking and his record is nine out of nine, and the great news is that Sir Henry Cecil’s horse will stay in training in 2012.
Frankel’s 2000 Guineas victory on Newmarket’s Rowley Mile in late April was one of the most amazing performances I have ever seen on a British racecourse. Tom Queally on board decided to destroy the opposition and by the half way stage was leading by 15 lengths to leave old bookies like me gobsmacked.
After this outstanding victory in the 2,000 Guineas he added the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, and then the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on British Champions Day in October. Although this horse has cost me dear this year I am happy to pay out on class and a history maker. Racing needs its stars and Frankel is right up there.
Talking of stars the next highlight of 2011 has got to be the revival of Kauto Star. After finishing 3rd in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and then pulling up at Punchestown in May, many people were suggesting it was time this dual Gold Cup winner retired.
However this was not on top trainer’s Paul Nicholls agenda and he brought back Kauto Star in November at Haydock to produce a gutsy performance to beat Gold Cup champion Long Run. I have never witnessed scenes like it with the whole of Haydock saluting this true star of racing.
And of course the fairy tale continued when Kauto Star won the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park for a record 5th time. Kauto Star has now won sixteen Grade 1s and its next aim is the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup.
It will be first year I’ve sponsored this race and it will be a very proud moment to be associated with such a prestigious event.
Plus this year’s renewal of the Gold Cup is turning out to be a classic with Kauto Star going for the hat-trick and the young pretender Long Run looking to defend his crown. However it won’t just be a two horse race with the likes of Grands Crus, Synchronised and Weird Al all possibly running.
On a personal level I will remember 2011 for the acquisition of the Tote from the government, and that is what is exciting me ahead of 2012. Betfred will be racing’s biggest sponsors and I have some very exciting plans for the Totepool.
Happy New everyone and good luck punting in 2012.