The Battle Heats Up In The Jockeys Championship


13 February 2024

Sean Bowen rode his first winner since returning from injury when he scored aboard Pickanumber at Catterick on Monday for trainer Olly Murphy. Bowen was sidelined for six weeks after a fall at Aintree on Boxing Day and has frustratingly seen his lead of 30 in the jump jockeys’ championship completely eroded during his spell off the track. He and Harry Cobden are now level on 122 winners for the season. The championship race finishes on Saturday 27th April and it could go to the wire.

Classic-winning Welsh trainer Ron Boss died on 30 January aged 85.

Born in Barry in 1938, Boss served his apprenticeship with Noel Murless at Newmarket and then returned to the Vale of Glamorgan to work for Posy Lewis at her Llantwit Major yard. Her son Ifor was officially in charge, as women were not allowed to hold a trainers’ licence. Boss rode over jumps during the 1960s and won 18 races, the first of them at Chepstow on Chouchou II.

Once he took out a licence to train he excelled at buying bargain horses. That was the case with his classic winner Olwyn, a 3,000 guineas yearling who failed to score in nine races before landing the Irish Oaks in 1977. She scrambled home by a short head and though she didn’t win again, she had done so when it really mattered and her delighted owners were able to sell her for 77,000 guineas.

Boss’s skill was apparent by now. He’d won at Royal Ascot in 1976 and 1977 with two-year-olds and in 1978 he landed a mighty gamble in the Lincoln with Captain’s Wings. In 1988-89 he achieved another double with his two-year-olds by winning two consecutive Middle Park Stakes. He trained from several different yards in Newmarket until retiring in 1997. He said, “I never used to buy cheap racehorses, but racehorses cheap.”

Among the 94 entries for the Grand National announced last week were two from Wales. Christian Williams’ Kitty’s Light seems to have been around for a long time, but he is still only eight. His unprecedented treble of long-distance chases last spring – Eider Chase, Scottish National and Bet365 Gold Cup – was a remarkable achievement. Stamina obviously won’t be a problem for him and though he’s not a big horse nor the most fluent of jumpers, given good ground he should be able to cope with the less formidable fences at Aintree these days. Connections will be hoping the weights will give him a chance of carrying under eleven stone. He’s run four times down the field in the autumn, three of which were over hurdles.

The other Welsh-trained runner is Peter Bowen’s Mac Tottie, who has won both the Grand Sefton and the Topham over the National fences. He showed he was in good heart on Boxing Day by winning on Aintree’s Mildmay course after a 430 day break. As a result of that Mac Tottie is rated higher than ever before, but he is eleven years old now and stamina is a big question mark, never having won over further than three miles.

Monmouthshire trainer Grace Harris was on the scoresheet at Lingfield on Sunday when Savannah Smiles won the 6f classified stakes under Callum Hutchinson.

The popular grey horse Ramses De Teillee (photographed) trained by David Pipe and owned by John White and Anne Underhill has been retired. He won three times at Chepstow and also came runner-up in the 2018 Coral Welsh Grand National behind Elegant Escape.

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