Did Sea Pigeon run in the Derby?

Did Sea Pigeon run in the Derby? Sea Pigeon is probably best remembered for winning the Champion Hurdle twice, under Jonjo O’Neill in 1980 and John Francom in 1981. Indeed, O’Neill described the son of Sea Bird as ‘the fastest horse I ever rode’, while Francome said, ‘he was easily the best I ever sat on’. Those sentiments were reflected, at least to some extent by Timeform; the best part of four decades after his retirement in 1982, Sea Pigeon remains one of just sixteen hurdlers to be awarded a rating of 175 or more since the early Sixties.

However, it should not be forgotten that Sea Pigeon was arguably the finest dual-purpose racehorse of all time. In the latter part of his career on the Flat, he recorded back-to-back victories in the Chester Cup in 1977 and 1978 and won the Ebor Handicap, under a record 10 stone, in 1979. All told, Sea Pigeon was 37 races – 21 over hurdles and 16 on the Flat – and early in his career, before being gelded, was considered a Classic prospect by his trainer at the time, Jeremy Tree. Sea Pigeon did, indeed, run in the Derby, starting at 50/1 and finishing seventh of the twenty-five runners under Tony Murray.

Royal Ascot 2020: How will COVID-19 affect this year’s event?

Royal Ascot 2020: How will COVID-19 affect this year's event?

Here, Peter Watton from the matched betting site OddsMonkey shares his insight into how this year’s Royal Ascot will be affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

While many of this year’s biggest sporting events have been cancelled or postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Royal Ascot will be going ahead. This is music to the ears of horseracing fans, but the 2020 edition is going to look somewhat different to the event we’re used to.

Royal Ascot is typically a very social affair, where people get dressed up to the nines to spend the day celebrating and placing bets with their friends. This year, with certain lockdown restrictions and social distancing guidelines in place, the organisers are having to take some serious precautions. Here’s what you need to know.

It will be held behind closed doors

Royal Ascot has a history spanning more than 250 years, but this is the first time the event will be held behind closed doors. This means, while people are welcome to watch and bet on the races from the comfort of their own homes, nobody will be invited to spectate in person.

This is to ensure the event runs in accordance with the UK government’s current social distancing guidelines. Royal Ascot attracts thousands of people each year; if it were to go ahead as usual, keeping everyone two metres apart would be impossible. The organisers have therefore ruled that, while it will still go ahead, it isn’t yet safe enough to have spectators in the stands.

There will be no royal presence

Each day of Royal Ascot usually begins with a Royal Procession, which is when the Queen and accompanying members of the royal family arrive in horse-drawn carriages. Our monarch has been attending this annual event since 1946, but she isn’t expected to be there this year.

Queen Elizabeth II hasn’t been to any public engagements since the coronavirus pandemic made its way to the UK, and it’ll likely be a while before it’s safe for her to return to these duties. She’s also yet to confirm whether she’ll be attending Royal Ascot in 2021 but, with so much uncertainty surrounding the easing of social distancing measures, this isn’t surprising.

You’ll have to place your bets online or at a betting shop

There’s something special about placing a bet with a bookie at Royal Ascot, but this option just won’t be available this year. Instead, you’ll have to rely on betting websites and shops.

It seems most betting shops are planning to open from Monday 15 June — just in time to catch the Royal Ascot crowds. Of course, with many of the summer’s sporting events cancelled and shops being shut for a while, you might find that bookies are offering incredible deals to convince you to bet with them over their competitors. It’s well worth doing your research to ensure you’re getting the best odds and offers.

They’re still encouraging fans to wear their best outfits at home

One of the big draws of Royal Ascot is that everyone gets to dress up and have a great time with their friends. While you might not be able to enjoy the social aspect of the event this year, there’s nothing stopping you from making the most of the week by putting on your best clothes to watch the races!

Ascot is actually running a #StyledWithThanks campaign, where they’re asking people to take a photo of themselves all dressed up at home. Anyone who shares a photo on social media, hashtagging #StyledWithThanks and #RoyalAscot, will be entered into a draw to win some incredible prizes. Participants are also being encouraged to donate £5 to the accompanying fundraiser, which will be used to support frontline workers and those affected by COVID-19.

Royal Ascot 2020 is set to look a lot different to other years, but it’s still going to be a world-class event. If you’ve been looking forward to the meeting, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy it from home. Throw your best clothes on, place some bets online, and start getting excited for 2021, when things will hopefully be back to normal.

Who is the reigning champion jockey?

Who is the reigning champion jockey? In Britain, of course, horse racing is staged under two ‘codes’, Flat and National Hunt, and each discipline has its own jockeys’ championship and corresponding champion jockey.

The jump jockeys’ championship, currently sponsored by British infrastructure company Stobart, is decided on the total number of winners ridden in National Hunt races between early May and late April. At the time of writing, in late April, 2019, the newly-crowned champion jockey is Richard Johnson, who took the title, for the fourth year running, with 200 winners, 22 ahead of his nearest rival, Harry Skelton.

The flat jockeys’ championship, also sponsored by Stobart, is decided on the total number of winners ridden in Flat races, on turf or synthetic, ‘all-weather’ surfaces, between early May and mid-October. Consequently, the flat jockeys’ championship for 2019 has yet to begin, but the reigning champion jockey is Brazilian-born Silvestre De Sousa, who took the 2018 title, for the third time in four years, with 148 winners, 27 ahead of his nearest rival, Oisin Murphy.

Are all racecourses essentially the same?

Are all racecourses essentially the same? At a superficial level, it can be argued that all pay-at-the-gate enclosed racecourses are fundamentally the same. They all consist of a long, wide track, surrounded by rails, which define the racing surface, with various starting points and a winning post, which marks the finishing point of each race.

However, Britain is blessed with 60 racecourses catering for horse racing on the flat, over jumps, or both and, while some of them are similar in certain respects, they all have their own unique characteristics. Most flat races, and all jump races, are run on turf, but six British racecourses – Chelmsford, Kempton, Lingfield, Newcastle, Southwell and Wolverhampton – cater for flat racing on synthetic, or ‘all-weather’ surfaces, known as Fibresand, Polytrack and Tapeta.

Even on turf courses, the overall shape and topology of the racing surface, the direction in which the horses run – that is, left-handed, or clockwise, or right-handed, or anti-clockwise – the length of the home straight and other characteristics often determine the type of horse that is most effective on the course. Some racecourses are completely flat, while others have pronounced undulations, uphill and downhill, and/or adverse cambers to throw horses off balance. Similarly, some racecourses have broad, sweeping turns, while others have tighter bends, or are constantly on the turn, favouring the agile, nimble type of horse. Of course, in jump racing, especially steeplechasing, the ‘stiffness’ of the fences – governed by the density of the birch cuttings from which they are made – is something else to consider.

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