Abby Rugg

Name: Abby Rugg
Qualification: Gold Standard NCTJ Multi-Media Journalism Diploma. (Including 100 words-per-minute shorthand)
Employment: Worked at BBC Sport and Deltatre for London 2012.
Future Aim: To work in broadcast/production television.
Blog: Started in November 2011. Published on The Sports Investor and Value Horse Tips. Please comment on a post or follow me on Twitter.

Sunday, 30 December 2012


2012 has been the year for Tidal Bay – his victory in the Lexus Chase was world-class and certainly got people talking.

When he wasn’t in the top three over the final fence I didn’t think Ruby Walsh would be able to push him to glory at Leopardstown.

But when he powered ahead of the field in the final stages of the race, the racing world knew he was the one to watch.

Now trainer Paul Nicholls believes Tidal Bay could be the horse to compete in both the World Hurdle and the Grand National.

Kauto Star has shown the racing world that an older racehorse should never be doubted and Tidal Bay, aged 11, certainly isn’t a horse anyone will forget any time soon.

After seeing Walsh with Tidal Bay at Leopardstown, I understand why Nicholls is ambitious towards the horse’s future. Whatever race the trainer gives them, the pair will go for victory.

2013 would be another spectacular year if Tidal Bay pulled off the unique double. But can he finish with his nose in front again? Let’s hope 2013 brings the Ditcheat team more fortune. 

Wednesday, 19 December 2012


FOLLOWING Big Buck's shock departure from the remainder of the season, Quevega is now favourite to win the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.
The four-time Cheltenham Festival winner is leading the pack despite connections often training her for the Grade 2 mares' race.
Bookmakers were thrown into uncertainty when Big Buck's was pulled out of the hurdle after sustaining a tendon injury - but who can benefit from the situation?
Quevega has definitely caused a debate among racing fans. Her win the last year's mares' hurdle was good but if she was to repeat the performance it would certainly not be enough to win the World Hurdle.
Nevertheless she is always up for a challenge and trainer Willie Mullins knows he has a capable mare on his hands that could give him bigger titles.
Tidal Bay is also thrown into the mix and it was interesting to see Paul Nicholls mention him within hours of breaking the news of Big Buck's departure.
He is a consistent horse around the Cheltenham track and it wouldn't surprise me if pulled off a stunning performance in the hurdle.
He has really improved this season: his competitive long-distance hurdle at Wetherby was fantastic and plenty of confidence was also seen in the Hennessy.
But I personally believe Oscar Whisky will shine in the hurdle. After watching him at Cheltenham races last weekend, it is clear the horse oozes confidence around the track.
Nicky Henderson has got a trick up his sleeve - and it is in the form of Oscar Whisky. I know Big Buck's departure has disappointed many, but it has opened a door for those who wouldn't have been in the reckoning.
After all, is that a bad thing?
Despite Oscar Whisky's flop in last year's race, Henderson is still backing his champion and why wouldn't he? The horse has previously charged up Cheltenham hill four times to victory and if he holds his nerve in the World Hurdle I think he can pull off a tremendous win.
The market is fresh and even though Big Buck's will be missed in the World Hurdle, I am excited to see who else will finish on top.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012


HUNT Ball looks ready to make an impact in Cheltenham's Charity Challenge Gold Cup before taking part in the King George VI Chase.

As long as trainer Keiran Burke is happy with the ground conditions on Saturday, the seven-year-old has a 14-1 chance of winning the two miles five furlong race.

Owned by trainer Anthony Knott, Hunt Ball disappointed many when he was pulled up in the Paddy Power Gold Cup due to the ground turning soft.

The horse is 33-1 for his chance in the King George and Burke is determined to enter the race at Kempton on Boxing Day.

I am at Cheltenham racecourse on Saturday and I cannot wait to judge Hunt Ball in the flesh. He is a promising horse and Burke is sure of his ability.

It seems that he is taking extra care around Hunt Ball and I hope it will be proven why this weekend. I hope conditions remain suitable for him as I would hate for him to back out of the race at the last minute.

With odds up to 14-1 I fancy Hunt Ball's chances. Who agrees? Is he preferred in the King George or do you believe in him this weekend?


FINGAL BAY has suffered an injury which has ruled him out for the rest of the season.
The successful novice chaser made a fantastic start to his career but his unfortunate early departure was the result of a minor tendon injury.
The injury was not due to the Philip Hobbs' horse running into a fence at Exeter last Friday.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012


As most of my blog followers know, Midnight Chase is one of my favourite horses and Dougie Costello's ride in the Argento Chase at Cheltenham this year will be a race I will always remember.

Personally, his win over Tidal Bay by two and three-qaurter lengths was perhaps the best victory I have seen at the Gloucester track - please comment or tweet if anyone thinks differently - as Midnight Chase led the field over the first and stayed ahead throughout the race.

But will it be possible to see another success in improving youngster Bold Sir Brian in the same race on January 6 2013?

According to Lucinda Russell, the six-year-old could have his next start in the Argento, as the promising horse (rated 155) made a step up to Listed level on his previous ride at Sandown.

His performance illustrated the potential he holds and the NH trainer is thinking about giving Bold Sir Brian an entry in the Gold Cup next March.

But if he did go ahead in the Argento, would he outshine Midnight Chase's brilliant win? I am not doubting the horse's ability, I feel Costello gave Midnight Chase a ride to remember - he saved enough energy to power the horse up Cheltenham's iconic track - and even Betfred, the sponsorship behind the Gold Cup, cut the champion's odds from 40 to 16-1 for the festival.

I wish Lucinda all the best with Bold Sir Brian and I am sure he will produce a wonderful career for her. But will he give the Cheltenham crowd a race to remember? We shall have to wait and see! 

Wednesday, 28 November 2012


Trainer Paul Nicholls is pulling out big names for Sandown's Tingle Creek Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

With wonder horses Kauto Star and Denman now retired, stablemates of the two racing legends have been passed the baton that will take them to glory.

Sanctuaire, the highest rated novice chaser Nicholls has ever trained and remains unbeaten in all three starts over fences, will feature in the Tingle Creek Chase on Saturday December 8.

But despite his success he faces a tough test in his reappearance on the track with unbeaten second-season chaser Sprinter Sacre.

The Tingle Creek attracts the best two mile steeple chasers in the country and often acts as a springboard for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Kauto Star is also to make a special appearance at Sandown Park next weekend.

But things haven't stopped there for the trainer. Silviniaco Conti is joint-favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.

The six-year-old ridden by top jockey Ruby Walsh is now 5-1jf for racing's biggest event after winning by two-and-a-half-lengths in Haydock's Betfair Chase to make it two wins from a total of two starts this season.

On the day a statue of Kauto Star was unveiled at Haydock, where he won the Betfair Chase four times, it was great to see Silviniaco Conti emerge as a possible superstar.

So Paul Nicholls shows no sign of slowing down and it is wonderful to watch more of his high-rated horses come into racing's spotlight.

Sanctuaire and Silviniaco Conti are just two examples of Nicholls' tremendous work he does for the sport and I have no doubt that the trainer can keep on creating winners in all the years he will remain in racing.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012


** Due to 15mm of rain overnight, racing at Warwick racecourse has been abandoned. 
Updated 09:35 21/11/12

Grand National winner Neptune Collonges will be paraded at Warwick racecourse tomorrow (Wednesday) following his success in the Aintree event.

photoPhoto by Meteorshoweryn taken from Flickr
Fresh from Al Ferof's victory in the Paddy Power Gold Cup Steeplechase at Cheltenham on Saturday, owner John Hales will be at the 2012 champion's side in front of the crowd at the jumps fixture.
The Grand National in April was perhaps one of the most exciting and adrenaline-rushing races this country has ever witnessed.
Paul Nicholls' grey pulled a nostril in front of Sunnyhill Boy at the very last second of the race, leaving thousands of people stunned at his and jockey Daryl Jacob's superb effort.
He was immediately retired after the race.
Not only is the horse a wonder of the track, he is a star in dressage, where he recently won in a competition with a score of 79 per cent, thanks to Hales' daughter, Lisa, who re-trained him.
I hope that a large crowd turns out at Warwick tomorrow because I feel that Nicholls' first ever Grand National winner is a legend in his own right.
Kauto Star and Denman have often over-shadowed Neptune's talent as they all belonged to the same yard but since the grey burst onto the Aintree track this year he has definitely proved that he is in the same league as his superstar stablemates.

Neptune Collonges was purchased by Highflyer Bloodstock who sponsor The Highflyer Four Year Old Chase, the only race for four year olds in the racing calendar.

Neptune Collonges is one of racing's greatest talents and I hope that he will remembered for a long time. 

Thursday, 15 November 2012


Racing's most improved horse, Hunt Ball, has what it takes to go the extra mile of becoming a star of the jump racing season.

While being part of a training operation that has no gallops of its own, the horse's recent achievement is fantastic for owner Anthony Knott.

He has backed the horse to win £1million, an act that shows his confidence in the seven-year-old gelding.

The plan is for the Cheltenham Gold Cup to act as Hunt Ball's spring-board towards the season's two biggest titles, the King George VI Chase and the gold cup itself.

He currently stands as the second favourite for the gold cup and completing all would net a seven figure payout from bookmakers.

It would be a real fairytale for the the 'smaller' person and horse with countryside roots to come away with the major trophies. 

I am really pleased to see how a modest horse and owner has created a big impact on racing. It proves that with hard work and determination a person, no matter how popular or high-profiled, can pull off an achievement similar to Knotts with Hunt Ball.

Watch this racing team climb to the top with a unique story that will bring warmth and more positive headlines to the sport.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012


AMY Ryan, the newly-crowned apprentice champion, believes that it is just a matter of time before a female jockey wins a British flat racing classic.

Beating closest rival Darren Egan by two clear winners, Amy finished her season with a total of 40.

Britain's leading female jockey Hayley Turner, who tied for the apprentice title in 2005, presented Amy with the trophy.
I agree that it is only a matter of time before a female jockey wins a classic. More and more women are coming into horse racing for a career and are constantly moving towards the top of the pack, as Amy has shown.
Barriers have been broken in the sport for female jockeys and I hope that they will continue to be.
It is about faith and patience in racing. A jockey needs a good horse and trainer to help towards big titles and now more female jockeys are getting just that.
Amy's success is a delight to see and I hope that she, along with Hayley, will encourage more girls to take up the sport who may even compete professionally in the future.
Watch this space.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012


King Kauto has been retired.

The outstanding chaser, who won two Cheltenham Gold Cups and five King George VIs at Kempton, will always be remembered as one of racing's great horses.

The 12-year-old, trained by Paul Nicholls and owned by Clive Smith, bows out with dignity and pride after a fantastic career.

For me, I have grown up with Kauto Star and when I first started gaining an interest in the sport he was always there in the headlines. I have always admired him so it is a sad sight to see such a wonder put into retirement.

But I think the correct decision has been made. He should be remembered for what he did, not what could have been.

Kauto Star won 16 Grade Ones throughout his career and made history in 2009 for becoming the first horse to reclaim the Gold Cup.

Many believed retirement beckoned when he was pulled up in the Punchestown Guinness Gold Cup last May, but Kauto Star proved the doubters wrong with a fourth triumph on his comeback in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last November, in which he defeated Long Run, the 2011 Gold Cup hero, by eight lengths.

It seemed that Long Run couldn't beat his older rival when losing again to the King after his greatest performance in his career on Boxing Day at Kempton in 2011. Kauto won his fifth King George with ease and cemented his status of one the greatest.

After a fall in schooling and pulling up in this year's Gold Cup, history will remember our star kindly, which he deserves.

As an inspirational and talented horse, Kauto Star follows stablemate Denman as a legend and one that should never be