Sam Waley-Cohen’s Aintree ban ‘denied common sense’ says his father

In an Oxford Mail interview concentrating mostly on the point-to-point interests of the Waley-Cohens, Robert Waley-Cohen commented on son Sam’s Aintree ‘offence’  Having fallen from Turko in the Fox Hunters’ Chase, Sam was among four jockeys who were handed suspensions for remounting and returning to the unsaddling area without their horses being examined by a racecourse vet.

Robert said, “I thought it defied commonsense,” he says. “At Aintree the distances are huge and I am glad to say in point-to-points riders are allowed to self-certify and remount their horses and ride back to the paddock.”

I commented on this blog and on twitter at the time the ban was announced that it seemed trivial, and, more importantly, inconsistent.

Had the incident involved the same four jockeys and horses but had taken place at a point-to-point, there would have been no offence and no punishment.  The BHA regulates both codes and it is silly inconsistencies like this which help prevent racing from presenting itself to potential customers as a fair and sensibly regulated sport.

If you can’t get the small things right, what chance have you with the Grand Nationals?

At the time of the bans, I had a lengthy debate with the BHA’s head of communications, Paul Struthers, asking him the question ‘Is the welfare of horses in point-to-points less important than those running at Aintree?”

I am still awaiting an answer.

UPDATE: Paul Struthers contacted me on twitter after redaing thsi and here is his verbatim response:

I really don’t recall an extensive conversation on that topic. If we have had one I’m sorry but I just don’t remember it. You certainly asked if I’d respond to some of the post-Aintree blogs but I’ve simply not had time I’m afraid, there’s just been too much on. As for RWCs quote, I very much disagree. And we do not regulate PTP in the same way as racing at all. We very much believe that the same rule should apply but the Point to Point Authority doesn’t currently agree. As for Aintree incident, what is so hard about waiting for a couple of minutes, having caught your horse, for the vet to clear the horse as fit to be hacked back?

You can follow me on twitter here

Joe McNally

NH jockey, the job where you get more get-well cards than birthday cards: latest news on injured jocks

It’s estimated that National Hunt jockeys take a tumble, on average, once every ten rides. Thankfully, most injuries are not serious but Peter Toole’s horrible fall at Aintree last week was the first of four pretty serious ones.

Here’s the latest news on Peter, Richard Hawkins, Wayne Hutchinson and Tom Scudamore.

Peter Toole

Peter remains stable in hospital. The 22-year-old suffered bleeding on the right side of his brain when Classic Fly fell at the first fence during the Maghull Novices’ Chase and is currently in the Walton Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery.

A CT scan taken earlier this week came back negative and he was found to have movement in his legs when briefly woken from an induced coma on Monday night.

Peter is attached to Charlie Mann’s yard in Lambourn and the trainer said on Wednesday afternoon: “There is no more news and as far as I know he is still under.

“There will be no more news until he comes out of that, but he’s stable.”

A statement from the Injured Jockeys’ Fund added: “Peter Toole remains in a critical but stable position at the Walton Centre.

“His parents have been reassured that there has been no deterioration in his condition”

Richard Hawkins

Doctors have decided to wait until Thursday morning to bring round amateur jockey Richard following his fall at Taunton on Tuesday.

Richard lost consciousness when parting company with Tiger Dream in a selling handicap hurdle at Taunton and remains under sedation in nearby Musgrove Park Hospital. Chris Down, trainer of Tiger Dream and Richard’s great uncle, said: “They reduced the sedation this morning and he started to come round, but they thought it would be better to wait until the morning.

“Everything is going as expected at the moment, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed.”

A statement from the Injured Jockeys’ Fund added: “Following his fall at Taunton Richard Hawkins remains in the Musgrove Park

Hospital where he has been re-sedated. No change in his condition is anticipated in the next 24 hours”.

Tom Scudamore

Tom faces three to four months out of the saddle after a scan on his dislocated shoulder revealed that he will need surgery.

Scudamore sustained a heavy fall from The Giant Bolster in the John Smith’s Mildmay Novices Chase, at Aintree last Thursday. The jockey is due to have surgery on his shoulder on Monday following the results of Wednesday’s scans.

David Pipe’s stable jockey said: “I’ve seen the specialist and had some scans and they’ve revealed better than first thought, but I will still need keyhole surgery. I’m told I’ll probably be out for three to four months, so I won’t be back until next season.

Tom, who has ridden a total of 63 winners this season, 10 less than last year’s tally, was upbeat despite the injury.

“Obviously I’m disappointed,” he said. “But I’m in good hands and I will focus on having the right programme and working hard during my rehab.”

And Tom passed on his best wishes to Peter Toole “My injury is nothing compared to his and it just shows you how lucky you are, my thoughts are with Peter and his family.”

Wayne Hutchinson

Wayne was on Wednesday released from the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham where he’d been admitted earlier in the day following a fall on Double Pride in the opener at Southwell.

Wayne’s agent Chris Broad said on Wednesday evening: “We’ve spoken with Wayne’s wife Amy. I’m told he’s been released from hospital with a neck brace. The x-rays came through  clear although he is extremely sore and bruised. I would imagine he’ll be heading home and will get further assessment on Thursday.”

Get well soon gentlemen.


Better news on injured jockey Peter Toole

Trainer Charlie Mann, for whom Peter Toole rides, brings more positive news on Peter’s condition after Peter was woken from a medically-induced coma on Monday night.

Mann said: “He came out of it and moved his legs which was good, and I spoke to the consultant last night and the CT scan was negative which is also positive news. His body is okay, but it now it’s just a question of how bad he is on his right-hand side when he wakes up again.

“Things are better and although Peter has still got a long way to go – he’s not out of the woods yet – the news is as good as can be expected at this present time.”

Injured jockey Peter Toole now out of induced coma “So far, so good” says family

Jockey Peter Toole was woken from an induced coma on Monday night as he continues to recover from serious injury in hospital.

The 22-year-old suffered bleeding on the right side of his brain when 100-1 shot Classic Fly fell at the first fence during the Maghull Novices’ Chase at Aintree on Saturday.

Peter was taken to Fazakerley Hospital, near the course, but was later transferred to the neighbouring Walton Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery.

The young jockey is attached to Charlie Mann’s yard in Lambourn and the trainer said on Tuesday morning: “His CT scan came back negative, which is good news.

“His body is OK and he woke up last night from the induced coma and he was moving his legs.

“They then put him back under in the night and he should be coming out of that again this morning (Tuesday).

“I’ve spoken to his father this morning and it is a case of so far, so good.

“Everything is as good as it can be at this stage. They’ll do some tests on him when he has woken up.”

Profile: Aintree Legends Charity Race for the Bob Champion Cancer Trust

Bob Champion and Aldaniti entered Aintree folklore in 1981 as the pair recorded one of the most unlikely victories in the history of the John Smith’s Grand National. Champion had been given only a 40 percent chance of living after being diagnosed with cancer two years earlier, while Aldaniti experienced such a catalogue of injuries that connections believed he would never race again.

This year, to mark the 30th anniversary of that fairytale success, Aintree Racecourse is hosting a special one-off contest, the Aintree Legends Charity Race, supported by John Smith’s.Proceeds will go to the Bob Champion Cancer Trust, which was founded in 1983 and has so far raised £12 million, which is approximately£400,000 for every fence of the Grand National that Bob and Aldaniti jumped.

The race will be run on the Flat over a mile and five furlongs at the beginning of John Smith’sGrand National day, Saturday, April 9. The jockeys consist of 10 Grand National winning riders as well as two legends of the weighing room.

Graham Thorner enjoyed one of his finest moments in the saddle when partnering Well To Do to victory in the 1972 Grand National.The son of a Somerset farmer, Thorner spent his entire riding career as stable jockey to Oxfordshire trainer Captain Tim Forster and was champion jockey for the 1970/71 season with 74 winners. He went on to train. Thorner was also heavily involved with the 1980 winner Ben Nevis as he advised successful jockey, amateur rider Charlie Fenwick, about how to tackle the Grand National fences. A merchant banker and then a car dealer, Fenwick became only the second American to win the world’s greatest chase and the amateur also took one of the most prestigious chases in the USA, the Maryland Hunt Cup, five times.

Ben de Haan will forever be associated with Corbiere’s success in the 1983 Grand National,whose trainer Jenny Pitman became the first women to send out the winner of the famous race. De Haan took out a training licence after retiring from the saddle in 1993.

Hywel Davies made an extraordinary recovery to partner Last Suspect to win the 1985 Grand National. The jockey was so seriously injured after a fall at Doncaster in February, 1984,that his heart failed seven times on the way to hospital. Davies went on to record 762 wins in a career that spanned 17 years before his retirement in 1994. He is still involved in the sport and acts as a commentator on Welsh language channel S4C, while his son James has continued the family tradition by becoming a successful jockey.

Brendan Powell broke his arm on his first Grand National ride in 1987 but the Irishman returned the following year for a storming success on Rhyme ‘N’ Reason. Powell hung up his boots in 2000 after 648 wins and has since gone on to enjoy further notable success as a trainer, with more than 400 winners to his name over jumps and on the Flat.

Little Polveir provided Jimmy Frost with his finest hour in the saddle as the pair beat West Tip by seven lengths in 1989. The son of a trainer, Frost became the youngest-ever winner of a point-to-point aged just 13 and the “PeterPan of the weighing room” was still riding competitively 30 years later. He took over hisfather’s yard in 2002, while his son Hadden has established himself as a leading jockey.

Marcus Armytage (pictured below) became the latest of 41 amateur jockeys to win the Grand National when scoring in record time on Mr Frisk in 1990. The son of trainer Roddy and brother to trailblazing female rider Gee, Armytage rode 100 winners and the old Etonian is a racing journalist with The Daily Telegraph.

Carl Llewellyn joined the elite club of jockeys who have ridden two Grand National winners when he partnered Earth Summit to victory in1998, adding to success on Party Politics six years earlier. After a career that included just shy of 1,000 winners, Llewellyn spent three years as salaried trainer to Malcolm Denmark before joining up as business partner with trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies, to whom he was stable jockey for many seasons.

Tony Dobbin gave Lord Gyllene a superb ride when making all of the running to triumph in the 1997 Grand National and the Ulsterman became one of racing’s most successful jockeys with nearly 1,200 winners to his name. Since retiring from the saddle in 2008, Dobbin has assisted his trainer wife Rose, who herself rode 100 winners as an amateur.

Jim Culloty picked up the winning ride on Bindaree in the 2002 Grand National after the chaser’s intended jockey Jamie Goldstein broke his leg four days before the race. The son of an accountant from Killarney, Culloty is best remembered as a jockey for his three Cheltenham Gold Cup victories on the brilliant Best Mate. He retired in July, 2005, and took out a licence to train in Ireland shortly afterwards.

Despite gaining the champion jockeys’ title on eight occasions, Peter Scudamore’s best effort in the Grand National came in 1985, when he finished third on the 1983 winner Corbiere. The son of 1959 Grand National-winning jockey Michael, Scudamore broke numerous records in a glittering career, including 1,678 winners as well as 221 successes in a single season. He helped present the BBC’s coverage of the Grand National for several years and now assists his partner, Scottish trainer Lucinda Russell.Scudamore’s son Tom is a top-class jockey,while another son Michael is now training.

A great Irish jump jockey of recent times,Charlie Swan also endured a wretched record in the John Smith’s Grand National, with fifth place on Lastofthebrownies in 1990 being the highlight. Swan monopolised the Irish jockeys’championship between 1988 and 1998,and is particularly remembered in Britain for his partnership with the outstanding hurdler Istabraq. The County Tipperary trainer will be bidding for a unique double, having won a legends’ race at Doncaster’s St Leger Meeting in September.

Bob Champion will be heavily involved on the day alongside last year’s John Smith’s GrandNational-winning trainer Jonjo O’Neill as official ambassadors of the Aintree Legends Race. Leading former jockeys Mick Fitzgerald and Richard Dunwoody, involved with the BBC coverage of the John Smith’s Grand National meeting, will also play a part.

Mark Given, Brands Director at Heineken UK,brand owner of John Smith’s, said: “We are very pleased to support the Bob Champion Cancer Trust and I’m sure the Aintree Legends Race will make an excellent contribution to the JohnSmith’s Grand National day card. The race has already attracted a fascinating line-up of jockeys and the spirit of the event ties in well with the John Smith’s Grand National Legends campaign launched last year. ”

Thanks to the excellent Racenews for the original copy

Ruby on some key Festival races – written account – from Paddy Power preview night

I’m afraid I didn’t catch this webcast till I saw a tweet from Paddy Power and linked in after it started.  But I got a few races by hastily recording the audio (you can listen to Ruby’s Audio Clips by clicking the link under Categories on the lower right of this page).

I’ve reproduced what Ruby said, pretty much word for word.  Listening closely, you realise how carefully he chooses his words despite speaking pretty fast.  He’s very sharp indeed.  There was a fair bit of banter with MC, panel and audience and Ruby was way quicker mentally then any of them.

I have not used quote marks unless someone other than Ruby was speaking – in this case, just the MC.

I’ve laid races out in the order they were discussed on the night. I missed the World Hurdle but, asked for his nap of the meeting, Ruby chose Big Buck’s.


For in running  punters, Allure of Illusion has unbelievable pace and gears and when they pass through the wings of the second last, he’ll be trading odds on – whether he gets up the hill or not I don’t know but you can back him at 10s before the race.

QM Champion Chase

Paul is very sweet on Master Minded (MM) – hard to pick one to beat him.  Golden Silver (GS) beat Big Zeb last time and I think if GS had jumped the last at Leopardstown he’d have beaten him that day too.  The issue with GS is he can put in a short one.  If you could rely on him to be brave and bold and stand at the wings, he’s an unbelievable price but he has a habit of going short and getting himself out of the race by doing that, putting in short, safe jumps.

If he was just a bit braver, he’d have a real shout but he can be cowardly and with the second last now being in the home straight on the old track at Cheltenham, jumping will be essential in the last half mile, and that would be your only worry with GS.

Can’t have Sizing Europe, Captain Cee Bee misses the odd fence,  Woolcombe Folly has handicap form and there’s no comparison between that and grade one form.  He’s skimpy at 7/1. It’s because of the time he ran – time means nothing; it’s what you beat that counts.

Somersby ran MM close last time but the more I look at this the more I think Master Minded will win.

Gold Cup

Imperial Commander (IC) worked well at Kempton and the vibes from the camp are good. Even Paddy Brennan, who’s a pessimist, is quite bullish  – you have to take that on board.

Long Run was brilliant in the King George but for my money he’s ground-dependent more so than track-dependent.  His Paddy Power was on good, Sun Alliance was on good, all his French form is on soft.  He can maintain a serious gallop on soft; he’s ground-dependent.

Denman’s had a wind op. Ran well in the Hennessy and must have some sort of a chance as has Kauto.  I’d love Kauto to win a third Gold Cup as I think he’s the greatest horse of all time.

Kempes bolted in in the Irish Hennessey, he’ll love good ground and should run a good race. Pandorama looks ground-dependent but Noel Meade thinks the sun shines out of his rear end, he really fancies him.  Midnight Chase would be too slow, Tidal Bay’s not good enough, Neptune Collonges is a bit old . . . I hope Kauto can win it – he’s not as fast as he used to be but he’s in good nick and looks value at 13/2, but for me Imperial Commander is the one to beat.

Grand Annual

Nightmare to ride in.  They go faster than the Champion Chase and they’re worse horses . . . I don’t know, maybe Pepe Simo if the ground was quick, but if you’re having a bet in this race you really have a problem.


The Irish are probably a weak bunch and Dermot’s filly (Unaccompanied) is by far the best.  Zarkandar was good at Kempton.  I wouldn’t be too worried  about his attitude; he was very coltish, a mean, sour horse when we got him, and since being gelded he’s a different horse.  He took a bit of time getting over his castration but he’s much more pleasant now. A Media Luz is a bit free.  I really like Sam Winner.  I was quite impressed with him early in the year.  He’s a wonderful jumper, a real stayer, a chaser in the making and at 10/1 I think he’s a great price EW. I wouldn’t put you off backing him.


Mikael.  I don’t know what race he runs in.  He schooled really well round Leopardstown with Quel Esprit, but to get Willie Mullins to make a decision two weeks before the event is not going to happen, but Mikael is working well, looks well.

I honestly think Time For Rupert is beatable.  He was second to Big Buck’s (BB) last year but there was no second.  BB absolutely pissed in, so something had to be second and it was him. Jessies Dream is a fair horse on his day.  Arguable whether he’s have beaten Mikael at Fairyhouse or not.

Aiteenthirtythree is improving but I think the bit of value in the race is Master of the  Hall.  He was very good in the Reynoldstown and at 14/1 EW I think he’s a real good bet. Boston’s Angel lacks a gear. If the real Mikael D’Haguenet turns up, well, . .you never know.


So Young’s been very impressive in his two starts. I schooled Rock on Ruby this morning and he went well though I can’t see how he can turn the form around with Bobs Worth though there’s a rumour Bobs Worth will go for the three-miler. Day of a Lifetime was very impressive in his maiden hurdle. It’s wide open.

You should always go by form and if you do that it’s going to be hard to beat Oscars Well.  He has the form in the book and it’s rock solid.  He beat all the top Irish Novices at Leopardstown last time, and he’s hard to look beyond at 4/1.


Quevega’s in great form and she’s been working very well.  I suppose the danger is Our Girl Salley but I can’t understand why a novice is taking on Quevega off levels when she could turn up in the Neptune or The Supreme getting her mare’s allowance.  Doesn’t make any sense to me.  She won’t be a novice next year but this is the race she’s going for.  Quevega will be hard to beat, she’s in great form, grade one winner, Willie will have her trained to the day.

“Would she be your nap of the meeting, Ruby?”

. . . there was a fair pause then  . . .

I wouldn’t think so.  She’s a great shout but I wouldn’t call her my nap.

Stewart Family Spinal Research H’cap Chase

A horse of  Tony Martin’s caught my eye the other day at Leopardstown, staying on in a 2m 2f hurdle race, a horse called Saddlers Storm.  He was favourite for last year’s Irish National when he unseated at the last.  If he gets in, I’d think he’ll have  a chance.

Champion Hurdle

Menorah should have been giving 4lbs to Silvianaco Conti at Cheltenham instead of getting 4lbs, so he was really 8lbs well in.  Oscar Whisky wants a bit further, Mille Chief wasn’t overly impressive last time. Khyber Kim needs to improve on his best to win.  It’s wide open.  I’d love to see Hurricane Fly win it.  But I don’t know.  If you have a hunch go with it.  It’s going to be the race of the meeting.

If Overturn doesn’t run, there’ll be no pace. I can’t see AP making the running on Binocular, Peddlers Cross was handy in the Fighting Fifth but they didn’t go that fast.  Menorah won’t make it, Hurricane Fly certainly won’t make it . . . Dunguib, they went no gallop in The Supreme and I can’t see him making it.  You need to wager into your bet that there’ll be no pace if Overturn doesn’t run and that means it will be all about speed in which case I’d favour Hurricane Fly, but I don’t have any strong feelings about the race other than it’ll be a great race to watch.

Albert Bartlett

Raptor would have a shout at around 20/1

And that was all I caught.  I hope you get  winner or two out of it and if you’re ever asked for your ideal dinner guests, I’d stick Ruby at the top of the list (probably wouldn’t eat much, either!).