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.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012


Chicago Grey is bypassing the Cheltenham Festival and being prepared for the Grand National at Aintree.

After delighting  Gordon Elliott by finishing second behind Rubi Light in the  Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park, the nine-year-old is now in the mix in racing's biggest event on April 14.

The grey will miss Cheltenham where he previously won the four-mile National Hunt Chase.

Chicago Grey, who has been given 10st 13lb in the National, is priced at 25-1.

My Opinion:
It is shame that Chicago Grey is missing this year's Cheltenham Festival as he runs brilliantly around the course.
But he will produce a splendid performance in the Grand National as he will add a thrill to the mix and spice things up.
Chicago Grey is a fantastic horse and should not be ruled out.

Friday, 24 February 2012


The British Horseracing Authority is to set-up an 'incident room' at the Cheltenham Festival next month.

It's specific task will be to monitor what is being broadcast across the media, including television, radio and online.

The aim is to keep stewards and officials situated on the ground up-to-date with public opinion towards the whip and enable them to react appropriately.

The BHA's scheme will also be put into operation at Aintree as the 2011 Grand National re-sparked the controversial whip debate.

Communication between Aintree racecourse and the BHA caused the public opinion storm on the matter which was made worse due to officials remaining unaware of what was being said and were unable to react to it.

My Opinion:

As the Grand National caused a storm within the public, allowing an 'incident room' to be set-up at Cheltenham will help save the sport from further controversial debate.
Cheltenham racecourse is my favourite, and I would hate to see it come under scrutiny like Aintree did.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012


The new whip rules are to undergo fresh changes following a British Horseracing Authority meeting yesterday.

These changes will be made before the Cheltenham Festival so that the high-profile racing event does not become a public relations disaster as well as become overshadowed by whip bans.

From early next month, jockeys who exceed the allowed number of strikes (seven on Flat and eight over jumps) will only trigger the interest of the stewards and they will no longer be given automatic suspensions.

This means that stewards will be able to apply more common sense to the use of the whip in a race as well as more discretion in their policing work.

The penalty regime will also be eased and this will be put into practise on Thursday following the proposals put forward by the BHA's new Chief Executive, Paul Bittar, as they were given the backing from his directors on Tuesday.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012


David Pipe will announce whether or not Grands Crus will race in the Gold Cup a week before the race.

Race fans will have to wait a few more weeks to discover if the grey will be up against the heavy-weights in March.

Pipe said today that the ability of his top novice chaser to jump fences at Gold Cup standard is "probably the only issue" that needs to be resolved before a decision is made on whether Grands Crus will race in the Gold Cup or the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival next month.

However, that all-important decision could be left until five days before the RSA Chase on 14 March, as Pipe and the owners will weigh-up the opposition in the two races.

Pipe's guide on Grands Crus:

  • We would have liked to go to Newbury  with him, that was the plan, but unfortunately that was the only race they didn't put on.
  • He's got enough experience: he's had three runs as I wanted to get some runs into him early because you never know what will happen with the weather.
  • He's made one mistake in those three runs.
  • He's jumped very well, he's jumped around Cheltenham, and Newbury and Kempton, flat tracks, galloping tracks, and he's obviously a very exciting horse.
  • I think it probably shows you how good he is that he finished so close to Big Buck's in the World Hurdle last year. I thought it was a fantastic race, Tom Scudamore gave him a cracking ride and we nearly pulled it off but Big Buck's had something to say.
My Opinion:

I think Pipe should think seriously about entering Grands Crus in the Gold Cup - if he did it would be an even more exciting race to watch. To put another top-class horse in the race would add greater thrill to the mix. The chaser would be in for a high chance too.

Monday, 20 February 2012


PAUL BITTAR is to propose new changes to the British Horseracing Authority's (BHA) controversial rules on the use of the whip.

Bittar is the new Chief Executive of the BHA and is to discuss fresh amendments to the rules in a meeting on Tuesday (tomorrow).

This meeting is an attempt to avoid damaging publicity over the controversial issue during next month's Cheltenham Festival.

Large events such as the Festival have already caused damage to the sport - last year's Grand National winner Jason Maguire re-sparked the debate over the rules and caused a media frenzy over the matter.

Bittar's suggestions are likely to aim on a reduction to the current unfair penalties for minor offences rather than any significant changes to the rules themselves.

However, there may also be scope for stewards to apply more judgement when deciding whether a jockey is in breach.

If agreed to, any changes to the rules will have little time to "bed in" before the Festival, but when set against the potential of high-profile whip bans at the Festival, Bittar has decided that this is a risk worth taking.

Finally, Paul Bittar has come to our rescue! It's about time that amendments should be made. Like I have said before, the new rules weren't at all fair for jockeys. They're ridiculous and giving horseracing a bad image. Bittar is right by suggesting to change the rules before the Festival, but is it a case of too little too late?
My answer, no. Since the rules were changed in October, Bittar has reacted well to the situation. He's realised just how harsh these rules are and how they're producing an unhealthy view into the sport.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012


"Even-stevens" is the phrase that easily sums up the thoughts of many punters towards this year's Cheltenham Gold Cup but it seems that Champion trainer Paul Nicholls thinks the same.

Nicholls believes the race will be too close to call when Kauto Star and Long Run battle against each other in the Betfred Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Friday March 16.

Twelve-year-old Kauto Star has been brought back to his highest form this season, which he proved in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day by beating Long Run.

Yet Nicholls has not underestimated the task that faces both horse and himself next month. He told the Racing UK podcast: "If Kauto was four years younger, then he would be favourite, but I suppose people think Long Run will be better suited to Cheltenham and he is the champion after all.

"Without a doubt, Kauto is better than last season, and it is difficult to know whether Long Run has improved since last year, so it should bring them closer together.

"Last year, he wasn't quite finishing, but if we can get him a bit fitter, he should finish better up the hill.

"He's cantered pretty much every day since the King George; we haven't been too hard on him but now's the time to up a gear."

So, is Nicholls really saying that it is "even-stevens" between Kauto Star and Long Run? Don't forget, Ruby Walsh said something similar at the King George VI and look what happened - he won by a clear mile!

I think that the yard play down Kauto's ability for the punters. Kauto Star is a superb horse and one that is still improving. So maybe, just maybe he could produce another spectacular performance and prove those against him wrong again.

Monday, 6 February 2012


GRANDS Crus may complete his preparations for the Cheltenham Festival in the Betfair Don't Settle For Less Novices' Chase at Newbury on Saturday.
The grey remains the favourite for the RSA Chase at the Festival next month while connections have not ruled out a possible Gold Cup victory.
David Pipe's horse has started his jumping career superbly and has completed a hat-trick with a fantastic performance at Kempton on Boxing Day 2011.
However, Paul Nicholls' entries may miss Saturday's three-mile race: Join Together and Silviniaco Conti were given the option to race.
Nicholls has said that he wouldn't want the horses to have a hard race against Grands Crus but he also has the Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot as a back-up option.
Other horses in Saturday's race include Loose Performer, Mossley, Our Mick and Penny Max.