Seeing is believing - enjoy watching the Alternative Top Ten Races of 2016
Saturday 31 December 2016
There have been some extraordinary races run on the Flat and over jumps during 2016, featuring a plethora of winners who have traded at 500-1 or bigger in-running on Betfair. Andy Stephens selects ten of the best shown on Racing UK
Racing never loses its ability to surprise. No other sport produces quite so many 'what happened next?' moments and that is why many of us love it so much.
We are deep inside the final furlong of 2016 and, so far this year, there have been more than 100 races where the winner has traded at 500-1 or bigger on Betfair. This includes races in Britain and Ireland, plus some others staged in Australia, America and Dubai.
Some of those have been more remarkable than others. Here are ten to savour - all shown on Racing UK. Enjoy the sport's very own tales of the unexpected.
When: March 11 at Sandown
Winner: Starving Marvin (2-1)
Trainer/Jockey: Rod Millman/Leighton Aspell
There was early drama in the 2m four-runner contest when Air Horse One, the 6-4 favourite, got rid of Noel Fehily at the first. Going down to the last only two remained (Boy Du Pouldu had been pulled up) and those who had backed What’s The Scoop began to form an orderly queue after he negotiated the last and began to saunter clear of the weary Starving Marvin. Then, as if intent on popping over to taunt the bookmakers himself, What’s The Scoop took Barry Geraghty on an unexpected detour. The rest, as they say, is history.
February 7 at Musselburgh
Winner: Five In A Row (15-2)
Trainer/Jockey: Brian Ellison/Danny Cook
“If I saw it a thousand times, I’d never believe it,” exclaimed commentator John Hunt as Five In A Row snatched victory from the very bowels of defeat. The four-runner event, over 2m3f, quickly became a three-horse affair when 150-1 chance Overtheedge exited at the third and only two seemed to matter running down to the final obstacle - Sametegal, the 1-2 favourite, and Ittirad, sent off at 5-2. Plenty would have long thrown in the towel on Five In A Row but Danny Cook fancied a workout and his persistence paid off in remarkable style.
November 20 at Exeter
Winner: Desert Sensation (7-2)
Trainer/Jockey: Dr Richard Newland/Aidan Coleman
Desert Sensation is apparently a horse who does not enjoy being crowded and when he dropped the bridle down the back straight it seemed likely he would finish tailed off in the 2m7f event. Aidan Coleman humoured him but two out the combination were still no better than a distant eighth. “Desert Sensation has surely left it too late,” observed the excellent Richard Hoiles near the finish, but for once he was wrong.
November 1 at Kempton
Winner: Safira Menina (33-1)
Trainer/Jockey: Martin Smith/Mr Ben James
“Safira Menina came from nowhere!” said an excited John Hunt as the 1m4f amateur riders’ contest at Kempton concluded. Of course, she did come from somewhere - a remote ninth turning into the straight to be precise - but it was easy to take his point. Ride The Lightning, the 11-8 favourite, had victory in his grasp but then came a Ben James-inspired thunderbolt.
September 9 at Sandown
Winner: Sacred Act (16-1)
Trainer/Jockey: John Gosden/Robert Havlin
Having his first run for 16 months - and also his first since being gelded - Sacred Act was friendless in the betting and when he walked out of the stalls the game looked instantly up. However, he then travelled sweetly up the rail in the mile event - only to completely run out of room a furlong from home. He didn’t have one door slammed in his face, more like three or four. What happened next would have made Pegasus sit up and take notice.
December 1 at Market Rasen
Winner: Asuncion (14-1)
Trainer/Jockey: Rebecca Menzies/Jamie Hamilton
Having won one of her previous 29 races, and obliged to run from 5lb out of the handicap, Asuncion did not look an obvious winner before this 2m3f race. Indeed, for most of the 5min 8sec of the contest, she was very much a plodding supporting act - only to grab top billing in dramatic fashion near the end. No matter how many times you watch, it seems Refused A Name is going to win under Paddy Brennan. But every time he contrives to lose. Let me see it one more time...
April 10 at Market Rasen
Winner: Ten Trees (13-2)
Trainer/Jockey: Alan Swinbank/Paul Moloney
We’ve all done it. Left the bookmakers in disgust before a race has concluded muttering obscenities under our breath. I bet a few backers of Top Trees did that on this occasion. In rear and being given reminders turning for home, she was a lost cause. At the final flight, she was still 15 lengths off the leaders but then she clicked into turbo - as if suddenly remembering she had left the oven on at home and needed to get back in a hurry.
November 20 at Exeter
Half a furlong Clydesdale Race
Jockey: Noel Fehily
There are about 10,000 races run under Rules in Britain every year, but there is only one annual Clydesdale race and it’s always something to savour. Watching the gentle giants strut their stuff at Exeter is a treasure - reflected by the number of hits Racing UK received when we published the charity event on our social media sites. Eighth place in our alternative top ten is the least it deserves; just don’t back Big Alan (sixth) to turn the tables on Midge any time soon.
July 22 at Ascot
Winner: Red Box (14-1)
Trainer/Jockey: Sir Mark Prescott/Luke Morris
Red Box finished with a flourish to grab second in the mile Listed contest but was awarded the spoils by the stewards after they demoted Namhroodah, the winner, to third for the interference she caused to Irish Rookie, the 7-4 favourite. The race makes this top ten because it shows that sometimes the third best horse in a race can end up being the winner - and also because how unhappy Ryan Moore, the rider of Irish Rookie, was with Jamie Spencer, who partnered Namhroodah, in the immediate aftermath. Spencer copped a mouthful - and a four-day ban.
September 8 at Epsom
Winner: Be Kool (16-1)
Trainer/Jockey: Brian Ellison/Callum Shepherd
Slow away and in rear, Be Kool pulled hard and raced awkwardly in his first-time visor when Callum Shepherd urged him to go forwards. Just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong, but somehow the three-year-old still prevailed under a fabulous ride. “Be Kool has the ability, it’s getting it out of him,” Andy Robertson, the travelling head groom, said afterwards with no hint of exaggeration.
AND ONE MORE FOR LUCK...
December 17 at Haydock
Winner, apparently: Clyne (6-1)
Trainer/Jockey: Evan Williams/Adam Wedge
“I can hear the hoofbeats coming, I can hear the crack of whips, but I can’t see anything,” Stewart Machin, the commentator said. “They are racing up towards the line, probably. “The race is over and I’m afraid I cannot tell you what won, what finished second or whether they all all got round." This was 2016's race where nobody had the foggiest what was going on. What went on before, during or after the the 2m3f contest is always likely to be a mystery. No winning distances were recorded and no winning time was achieved. It was initially unclear which horses had completed, let alone who had won, but it did not prevent in-running carnage. El Terremoto traded at 1.36 on Betfair, Le Rocher 1.77 and Super Sam at 2. None of the trio won, although squinting at the video replay will not confirm it.