It’s been a strange time for sports fans. The usual 24/7 coverage of sporting action across several different dedicated channels has been replaced by a relative void of live sport. Instead, we’ve been eagerly tuning in to repeats of classic moments, or rubbing our eyes in disbelief as we settle down to watch darts players taking each other on from their own living room, and virtual horses battle it out in a computerised version of the Grand National.
Indeed, horse racing is one of the many sports that finds itself sitting and waiting for the green light from the government so that action can resume. Millions tuned in to the Virtual Grand National on April 4th to witness Potters Corner win the famous old race as it had never been raced before, but most fans of the sport are desperate for real-life racing to return to their TV screens at last.
Despite the uncertainty hanging in the air at the moment, horse racing will certainly make its triumphant return before too long, and it will feel like no time until we’re perusing the Betfair results once more. With that in mind, we’ve picked out one horse, one jockey and one trainer to keep an eye on when the action gets back underway.
The horse we think ought to be watched closely is the one who triumphed at the Virtual Grand National. Potters Corner is well established as a fine campaigner, and was among the contenders for the real-life Grand National before it was cancelled as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Trained by Christian Williams and owned by All Star Sports Racing and Jonathan Davies, the 10-year-old has enjoyed some good wins in recent times.
Potters Corner is not a young horse, but there are signs that he may well be entering the peak of his powers. Victory in the Welsh Grand National in December was proof that this horse still has plenty left to give, and while victory in the real-life Aintree Grand National may prove to be a step too far, there’s no doubt that there is plenty more success awaiting this horse when racing gets back underway.
In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak and its domination of sporting news stories, not everyone will have clocked the fact that Brian Hughes secured his maiden Champion Jockey title. It’s a fine achievement, and it means that Richard Johnson, who had won the title four years running prior to Hughes’ success, has been knocked off his perch.
Naturally, the fact that the jumps season could not be played to a conclusion takes some of the sheen off Hughes’ achievement, but the jockey has promised he will fight tooth and nail to retain his crown next season. There will be a host of riders hunting him down, and the battle for the coveted accolade will be a fascinating one next term.
With only four winners in the Cheltenham Festival earlier this year, trainer Nicky Henderson will be a man on a mission when horse racing resumes. He was forced to watch on as Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott stole the headlines at Cheltenham, and while the Prestbury Park festival has never been the happiest of hunting grounds for Henderson, he’ll be keen to put that right in the near future.
Of course, he remains among the most successful active trainers, but he’ll be keen to run a few more winners in the showpiece events when racing gets back underway, and prove his champion qualities as a trainer. The good thing about horse racing is that there are always plenty of opportunities to win and earn success, and you can bet that Henderson’s name will consistently be found among the winning trainers when the sport is back in full flow.