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, 29 May 2012


Henrietta Knight, the trainer who won Cheltenham Gold Cup three-times with wonder horse Best Mate, announced her retirement last week.

Racing has lost a true lady: Knight is a very humble person. I watched her interview with the BBC during a few weeks ago and her modesty shone through.

It therefore comes to no surprise to hear that Knight has been nominated as a pioneer in the world of horse racing training.

The 65-year-old trained Best Mate, an iconic horse that is widely remembered within the sport and will be in generations to come.

Best Mate's biggest achievements, (listed at
  • 2000 Martell Mersey Novice Hurdle (Aintree) Best Mate
  • 2001 Scilly Isles Novice Chase (Sandown) Best Mate
  • 2002 Peterborough Chase (Huntingdon) Best Mate
  • 2002 King George VI Chase (Kempton) Best Mate
  • 2002 Cheltenham Gold Cup Best Mate
  • 2003 Cheltenham Gold Cup Best Mate
  • 2003 Ericsson Chase (Leopardstown) Best Mate
  • 2004 Cheltenham Gold Cup Best Mate
Henrietta and her husband Terry Biddlecombe will be missed on the racing track: their characteristics on the sidelines and in the race-cards will be greatly missed.

Now the trainer's memorable success has been handed over to her neighbour and close friend, Mick Channon.

On her website, Henrietta writes: "[Channon] has agreed to continue to train the majority of the horses which are currently in my care.  He too enjoys the National Hunt scene and is already making his presence felt in that sphere with recent good winners from only a handful of NH runners."

She also said that she felt "incredibly lucky" to have experienced some wonderful moments since she first began training in 1989. 

But for now it's a sad farewell. But like they say, when one door closes, another one will open and I am sure that Channon will do a fantastic job taking hold of the reigns in the saddle seat.


First of all I would like to apologise for my absence over the last few weeks - exams have taken over as you can imagine but I am happy to say that I have finished most of them and my full attention is back on horse racing!

It was announced that a clash between undefeated horses Frankel and Black Caviar in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood 
has been ruled out.

Taken from Flickr: Black Caviar: Photo taken by Angus Richmond on October 8 2011

A statement was issued by Black Caviar's connections claiming that the mare will not be entered in the race on August 1st.

Frankel won the race last year and even though the colt looks certain to win it again, a certain question will stay risen: Who would have won - Frankel or Black Caviar?

Black Caviar is an undefeated Australian racehorse across 21 starts. Trained by Peter Moody, the mare was named WTRR World Champion Sprinter in 2010 and is still considered to be the best sprinter in the world. 

However, Frankel is a horse that shouldn't be forgotten about: the colt is unbeaten in ten starts and similar to his rival, holds the title for best racehorse in the world. 

Trained by Henry Cecil, Frankel's best performance to date is a race that will forever keep people talking. His win at Newmarket in 2011 is still described as one of the greatest displays on a British racecourse. 

If Black Caviar competed in the Sussex Stakes I believe she would have won. Even though Frankel won well last year, I think the mare has more of an edge to make a race count.

After all, she has been unbeaten in 21 races compared to her rival's ten and with Luke Nolen riding her in all her starts I reckon she could have won in the £1 million showdown. 

So - what are your thoughts: who do you think would have won between the pair?

Entries for the Sussex Stakes will be announced on Wednesday May 30.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012


It has been a while since my last horse racing post, so I have decided to focus on jockey's who have inspired me to work in the sport.

Ruby Walsh is a sportsman who has definitely been an inspiration, not only to fellow jockeys but also to pundits and journalists.

He tackles every race with determination and enthusiasm: not only in the high-profile races but also in the ones that may not mean as much with regards to media attention or prize money.

So here's why Mr Walsh has stood out of the crowd and is one of the reasons why horse racing is an attractive sport to admire:


Ruby Walsh dreamt that one day he would become racing’s most successful jockey and achieve high-profile wins within the sport.

At the 2009 Cheltenham Festival Walsh rode a record-breaking seven winners over the four days, yet on the second racing day of the 2010 Festival, the Irish hero rode Sanctuaire to victory in the Fred Winter Juvenile Novices Handicap Hurdle to make him the most successful jockey in the history of the spectacular racing event.

It should therefore come to no surprise seeing Walsh as odds-on favourite to be top jockey at this year’s Cheltenham Festival as the 32-year-old showed immense talent from an early age.

Born Rupert Walsh on May 14 1979, the reigning Irish National Hunt champion jockey is the second child of former champion amateur jockey Ted Walsh.

At a young age, Walsh won the Irish amateur title twice 1996/7 and 1997/98 before turning into the professional that we all know him to be.

The Irish wonder won the John Smith’s Grand National on his first attempt in 2000, aged 20, on Papillon, a horse trained by his father.

Ruby’s dream of being racing’s most successful jockey has become reality. To date he has ridden over nineteen hundred winners since his first win on Alexander Banquet in 1998.

The jockey really does create a buzz for all racing fans: his determination and love for the sport is visible to all and trainer Paul Nicholls must realise how lucky he is to have Ruby ride for his yard.

In March 2011 he rode Hurricane Fly to victory in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, finishing ahead of Peddlers Cross and popular horse Oscar Whisky. This was Ruby’s first triumph in the feature race and now he’s had it all: Walsh’s vision of winning high-profile races is no longer down to wishful thinking. He can live in reality.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012


Since Andy Gray and Richard Keys’ sexist off-air comments about female referee Sian Massey the media has been under constant scrutiny and subject boards such as the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) should be doing more to encourage potential sports writers, particularly women, to gain a sports journalism qualification.
As a journalist who wants to report on horse racing, I find it disheartening to see that the NCTJ do not do enough for potential sports writers like myself who believe football is a male-dominated sport and still has issues surrounding sexism.


Fifty per cent of the overall mark in the NCTJ sports journalism exam is given to reports written about a football match, not one seen in live play, but one that has been televised before giving knowledgeable football writers, particularly men, a greater advantage.

Jacqui Oatley battled criticism when she was first announced as BBC Match of the Day’s first female commentator and she expressed her views on the matter: “I think that if the exam has put people off then that’s wrong, we need to be encouraging females. If you genuinely have women who are really into sport but football’s not really their thing I think it’s wrong if they’re discouraged from taking the course.”
Jacqui said that she didn’t agree with the exam having 50 per cent of the marks on a football report but she understood why the NCTJ structures it that way as it is the dominant sport of the country.

She added that if someone wants to write about other sports rather than football, there should be no reason for the NCTJ to provide footage of different sports to report on.

As an aspiring sports journalist, I have no interest in football and therefore encourage NCTJ to provide more coverage of other sports, so that potential sports journalists who dislike football are given a greater chance of gaining a sports writing qualification. Jacqui agreed with this idea.

I complained to the NCTJ board directly about the high emphasis the syllabus and exam place on football, claiming that it is lazy and unfair.

The NCTJ Chief Examiner for Sports Journalism gave the following feedback to my complaint: “To work in any sports department, you need to have a basic knowledge of football. We work in multimedia newsrooms which require the ultimate flexibility. That is the foundation of any sports journalist.”

When asked if candidates of the exam could be given a choice of sports to report on, such as tennis or hockey, as they get equal coverage and therefore equally appealing to both men and women. The Chief Examiner said: “We have looked at other options; swimming, tennis, speedway, athletics, but for the part A exam [worth 50 per cent], we require a sport which runs for 90 minutes or so, and which lends itself to a two-part report.”

photoPhoto taken by Arkle1 Janet Benoy  on December 2, 2006 using a Canon EOS 350D Digital. (Taken from Flickr)


There are other sports that have the duration of around 90 minutes and even though football may be the dominant sport in this country, it should not dominate the NCTJ sports journalism syllabus and exam.

As Jacqui said, it seems strange that 50 per cent of the marks go on a football related question when that is not what everyone wants to do.

This article will be published in Broadcast Magazine. Many thanks to Jacqui for allowing me to give an interview.

Link to Broadcast magazine:

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