2016: Some Memories

5th January 2017

Working at an establishment with ex jockeys, work riders and racing fans we wondered what caught their imagination in 2016.

Although more a connoisseur of the Flat, Alan Grundy nominated Sprinter Sacre's comeback win in the Queen Mother Champion Chase as the most stirring and emotional win of the year and an awesome training performance.

A devotee of the National Hunt season, Jon Snaith has been excited by the start of Thistlecrack’s chasing career, which reached a new level after his emphatic display in his King George win on Boxing Day.

Curator Graham Snelling’s special moments were both from the jumping season.  Firstly, he recalled Rule the World winning the Grand National and the emotional reaction after the race by his trainer Mouse Morris just months after the death of his 30-year-old son

“The other,” said Graham,”was the re-opening of Hereford racecourse, which seemed to have closed its doors for the last time in December 2012. It is a significant boost to National Hunt racing as a whole and jumps stables in the West Country and Wales in particular, where there is a high number of trainers so it’s great news for the local economy”.

Peter Jensen’s favourite racehorse of the year was Minding. “The filly,trained by Aidan O'Brien and ridden by Ryan Moore, was imperious, when she won both the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and The Oaks at Epsom in 2016. Her turn of foot, after finding trouble in The Oaks was particularly impressive and, in my opinion, she was the outstanding racehorse of 2016

Ami Cosgrave nominated the thrill of watching Lady Aureila scorching up the straight at Royal Ascot to win the Queen Mary Stakes by an incredible 7 lengths under Frankie Dettori. In addition Ami’s other favourite personal moment concerned her husband Pat. “It might not be 100% to do with racing – but watching him win the Newmarket Open Weekend ‘jockeys versus trainers’ show jumping was probably my most nerve wracking memory

Frank Conlon in the Practical Gallery was pleased to see a girl champion apprentice in Josephine Gordon, who he worked with at the British Racing School about 3 years ago.

“I was also delighted to see my former boss Sir Michael Stoute win the Breeders’ Cup Fillies and Mare race with Queen’s Trust”

Whilst Joe Grimwade, RoR Yard and Public Engagement Manager said,

“The 2016 St James’s Palace Stakes was my highlight of the year. A small but quality field with 3 classic winners putting their records on the line and, ultimately, two top jockeys pitted against each other to secure the top slot. Galileo Gold, winner of the 2,000 Guineas. at Newmarket was renewing rivalry with Awtaad (who had beaten him into second place in the Irish 2,000 Guineas), with both trying to show their superiority over The Gurkha (winner of the Poule d’Essai des Poulains) as well as Emotionless (winner of the previous year’s Champagne Stakes) amongst others. In the end it was a combination of a brilliant ride by Frankie Dettori, a young Newmarket trainer at the top of his game in Hugo Palmer and a fantastic horse in Galileo Gold, who took the prize”.

Rob McKeown one of our volunteer’s had been excited about the 2016 sprinting season. “My most memorable racing moment of 2016 is of Quiet Reflection and Dougie Costello winning the Group 1 Sprint Cup at Haydock on 3 September.

I was at Ascot when she won the Commonwealth Cup but the Haydock performance against older horses was even better and it showcased her amazing talent. She cruised into the lead on the bridle and then powered away in the final furlong”.

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The Derby provided the highlight for Tony Lake, our regular Palace House blogger. He said, “It’s a race steeped in history and anticipated for months in advance. It rarely fails to deliver but this year’s renewal was special. After the ‘will he / won’t he’ run drama   early in the morning, Harzand ran out an authoritative winner in the afternoon.  Furthermore, in providing the Aga Khan with his fifth Derby, the colt was giving master trainer Dermot Weld, and Pat Smullen, his jockey, their first victories in the most famous Flat race in the world.”

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Views from our Visitor Services’s team came from Stephen Wallis and Jenny Barley. Stephen’s best memories were his first trips to Epsom and York racecourses.  “At the first I witnessed the buzz and the excitement of Derby Day whilst at the latter I enjoyed a day at the Knavesmire in glorious sunshine where I saw Postponed win the Juddmonte International in impressive style”.

Meanwhile Jenny Barley a keen racing follower gave a comprehensive account of her highlights  “Bargain of the year is Mrs Danvers (Hellvellyn - Rebecca De Winter) - a 2yo filly that nobody wanted to buy. Bought back at a Tattersalls Sale for a £1000 by her breeders Michael Burton and Connnie Hopper, they invited trainers all over the country to lease her.  Only one trainer replied Jonathon Portman. She won her first race, then a second followed by third, fourth and finally she won Group 3 Cornwallis Stakes at Newmarket and ended with a season total of £250,000 in prize money.

“Underdog performance of the year must go to Harbour Law trained by Laura Mongan at Epsom. Harbour Law 3yo colt by Lawman won the final classic of the season the St Leger beating Ventura Storm and Aidan O'Brien's Housesofparliament.  Given a brilliant ride by George Baker the colt looked beaten with less than a 1/2 furlong to go but George Baker brought the colt to the outside fair flew to the line”.

Finally, Commercial Director Liz Wilkinson served up an array of exciting moments; Sprinter Sacre regaining the Queen Mother Champion Chase, Thistlecrack emerging as a serious horse for the future, Henry Candy’s  Group 1 sprint double with Twilight Son and Limato and the strike rate of Frankel’s two year olds.

On a more sombre note Liz reminded us of the many losses within the world of racing, including Pat Eddery and Walter Swinburn.

She also reflected on the terrible injury suffered by Freddy Tylicki’s at Kempton in October.

Everyone at the National Heritage Centre wishes Freddy all the best for 2017, and hopes that his rehabilitation continues to go well.