TheTurf

The turfrss

Cole Harden ridden by Gavin Sheehan (Photo: Getty)

My Twelve to Follow are seven up

16 May 2015

Back on political duty with CNN in election week, I came across a dead rat in Downing Street. It had to be an omen, but had the rodent been leaving… Read more

turf

Farewell to the iron man, Tony McCoy

2 May 2015

At Sandown Park last Saturday an era ended. Twenty thousand of us turned up to cheer on Tony McCoy as he took his last two mounts and collected his 20th… Read more

AP McCoy’s last chance for a fairy-tale ending

18 April 2015

It all depends how you like your fairy tales. OK, so we would have loved the retiring Tony ‘AP’ McCoy, 20 years a champion, to have won his last Grand… Read more

The winners enclosure at Ascot racecourse. Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Who will fund a prize for the true fighter pilots of the Turf?

4 April 2015

After listening to a violinist’s justification of his playing, Dr Samuel Johnson responded tartly: ‘Difficult do you call it, Sir? I wish it were impossible.’ Racing’s marketing arm, Great British… Read more

Fairytale win: Nico de Boinville rides Coneygree to victory Photo: Getty

Disneyland comes to the Cheltenham Festival

21 March 2015

Irish racing guru Ted Walsh was asked at the start of Gold Cup day if retiring champion jockey Tony McCoy could win his last Cheltenham Festival race. ‘No,’ came the… Read more

Ascot Races

Racing’s biggest issue is the decline in field sizes

7 March 2015

‘I don’t want to seem unromantic,’ said Mrs Oakley as St Valentine’s Day approached, ‘but this year please don’t buy another of those Monet cards you seem to find appropriate… Read more

Mark Bradstock Photo: Getty

Why Mark and Sara Bradstock have only 12 horses is a mystery to me

21 February 2015

Some mysteries will never be solved, like why planes and boats disappear in the Bermuda Triangle, cats always land on their feet and why Mrs Oakley can always find a… Read more

The book's 'author', The Tetrarch. Image: PA

This autobiography written by a horse that is not as offputting as it sounds

7 February 2015

Banks only lend money to those who can prove they don’t need it and it has not been a happy few months for racing with one trainer after another giving… Read more

Ascot Races

The Grand National doesn’t need Jeremy Kyle

24 January 2015

Never mind David Cameron. Are you participating in the Great Debate about an event of national significance that stirs the blood of millions? No, I don’t mean the General Election:… Read more

Chepstow Races

Venetia Williams: an enigmatic woman who trains winners

10 January 2015

Welsh Grand National day at Chepstow could not have had a better climax than the big race. After slogging three miles four furlongs on heavy, clinging ground, three horses came… Read more

Leighton Aspell riding Many Clouds win The Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury Photo: Getty

Christmas reading for racing folk

13 December 2014

‘Hang on a minute—he’s a bit wobbly,’ trainer Oliver Sherwood told photographers imploring him to stand with his winner when Many Clouds won this year’s Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury.… Read more

Ruby Walsh riding Al Ferof Photo: Getty

Horse-racing’s resurrection man

29 November 2014

‘I’m going for Al Ferof,’ said a suit in front of me in the Totepool queue at Ascot on Saturday before the Amlin steeplechase. ‘Don’t waste your money,’ said his… Read more

Fingal Bay comes in at Aintree

Robin Oakley's Twelve to Follow for 2015 (this year's came out ahead)

15 November 2014

November has never been my favourite month, not since the time when as a Rugby-playing student my face was rearranged by an opponent’s boot. At an Oxford hospital’s casualty department… Read more

Chepstow Races

Maybe Mrs Oakley is right: all my tips will come in second

1 November 2014

The novelist Anita Brookner once declared that in real life hares always beat tortoises: ‘Every time. Look around you. And in any case it is my contention that Aesop was… Read more

Frankie Dettori riding Olympic Glory Photo: Getty

My first Arc de Triomph was a triumph

18 October 2014

Aboard our coach from Rouen to Paris for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe our lady guide put it succinctly: ‘The only polite Parisians are the ones who are asleep.’… Read more

Louis Steward riding Bronze Angel win The Betfred Cambridgeshire

These are the ones to watch in the Prix de l’Abbaye and the Derby

4 October 2014

Rightly, the authorities are doing all they can to find and discipline the disgruntled racegoer who threw a beer can at the champion jump jockey Tony McCoy after a recent… Read more

Runners clear an early fence in The Champagne Joseph Perrier Maiden Steeple Chase Race run at Fontwell Racecourse. (Photo by Julian Herbert/Getty Images)

When jockeys earn so little, temptation is not surprising

20 September 2014

While Mrs Oakley was patrolling the aisles in Waitrose one day recently, I slipped off into my local betting shop. There, too, fresh from the pub, was Mr Knowall on… Read more

Glorious Goodwood Photo: Getty

The making of a racing realist

6 September 2014

One of the greatest parliamentary sketch-writers of all time, Norman Shrapnel, made a point of never socialising with the politicians whose performances he chronicled. ‘I was worried it might dilute… Read more

Ascot Races - An Alternative View

Some horses go better for a woman

23 August 2014

Mrs Oakley returned from her latest book club with an uplifting story. The Mother Superior of an Irish convent was 95 and failing. On her deathbed she asked for a… Read more

James Doyle riding Kingman at Goodwood Photo: Getty

Goodwood is Ascot without the vulgarity, Aintree without the spray tans

9 August 2014

If I get to choose where to spend my last day on earth it will probably be at Glorious Goodwood. Goodwood is Ascot without the added vulgarity, Aintree without the… Read more

(Photo: www.deniscoakley.com)

A day with the West Ilsley trainer Denis Coakley

26 July 2014

Through a stormy July weekend our task was to prevent four feisty grandchildren from murdering or mutilating each other before being returned to their parents, so we gave them £3… Read more

Richard Hughes riding Talent greets trainer Ralph Beckett after winning The Investec Oaks at Epsom Photo: Getty

Ralph Beckett's winning way with the fillies

12 July 2014

Fretful horses who waste their energies — and often their racing potential — ceaselessly pacing their stable dormitories are known as ‘box walkers’. Some trainers merit a similar description, dragging… Read more

Royal Ascot 2014 - Day Five

Yes, I'm biased – but this was a great Royal Ascot

28 June 2014

The one sight I was determined not to miss at Royal Ascot was that of the Queen from over the water coming to claim the hearts of English racegoers. The… Read more

Paul Hanagan riding Taghrooda win The Investec Oaks at Epsom Photo: Getty

Cambridge, meet your first professor of racing lore

14 June 2014

Watching the contestants parade at Epsom for this year’s Oaks, I remembered the great D. Wayne Lukas’s pronouncement on selecting fillies: ‘She should have a head like a princess, a… Read more

Andrea Atzeni riding Connecticut (2R) wins The Betfred £10 Million Scoop6

Will racing waste its Scoop6 jackpot?

31 May 2014

Eight people became millionaires last Saturday, collecting £1,342,599 each when the Scoop6 bet, which had been rolled over for 12 weeks without a winner, was finally won. With racing’s narrative… Read more