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.

Monday, 24 September 2012


Several recommendations and modifications have already been announced by Aintree racecourse and the BHA ahead of the 2013 Grand National, including a change to the start of the race.

In hope that the mayhem will be reduced or stop all together the start will be moved forward by 90 yards, making the distance of the National event 4 miles 3 1/2 furlongs, having previously been 4m 4f. 

Synchronised, who tragically died after last year’s Grand National, was clearly frantic at the start and many argued that the horse was not fit to run on the day.

Having the start a few yards further down the track is a step in the right direction as taking the horses further away from the grandstand will make them calmer and less troubled by the immense sounds of the crowd, therefore leading to fewer false starts.

Other changes include doubling the distance of the 'no-' zone to 30 yards from the starting tape. Research will also be taken into the design of the fences in an attempt to make its central "core" more forgiving.

Once the race begins next year, the Grand National will not look or be the same again. The reason why a review has been conducted is because of the deaths of Synchronised and According to Pete last year.

Personally, I believe the Grand National should cut the number of entries to 30. Having 40 horses on the course at once running at the speed that they do is the most dangerous aspect of the race. If a horse falls after a fence, unharmed, they are in danger’s way of another horse landing on them and causing a serious and life-threatening injury.

It is too crowded for everyone and I honestly think that that is the main reason to why there have been a number of deaths and injuries over the last few years.

But the number will not be cut and a call by Gavin Grant, the chief executive of the RSPCA for removal of Becher’s Brook has also been resisted.

I can only imagine what will happen from 2014 to the future of the Grand National. But I suppose that it will no longer be in control of the BHA. This year they succumbed to the pressure of having to react to the public and RSPCA’s outcry.

But a horse will die within the next few years of the event. No doubt about it. It is a risk that the trainers, owners and jockeys know about and are willing to take. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t even take part. When another fatal accident happens, everything will blow out of proportion again and the BHA will again feel the need to take action.

Changes to the position of the starter's rostrum and the visibility of the starting tape will also be implemented and a pre-race briefing between the starter and jockeys is also scheduled to take place.

The landing side of fences 4, 5 and 13 will be levelled out, while the wider landing side of Becher's Brook has undergone further levelling to correct the settlement which occurred following works carried out in 2011.

A further £100,000 will be invested in further improving the course's watering abilities, while another catching pen for loose horses will be tried out in the region of fence 4.

I really believe that the changes are an overreaction but I understand why they have happened. We should be thankful that the sport is attracting more people, even if they don’t follow the sport. But the Grand National is famed for its risk and fences, so why change it now? 

Sunday, 2 September 2012


Bittersweet news circulated around the UK this weekend about the announcement of Frankel's last ever career run which will take place at Ascot in October.

As many of you know from various articles I have written in the past, I am a fan of Frankel and watching the colt race has encouraged me to learn more about flat racing as well as the broadcasting that goes into it. 

The unbeaten race horse will compete in the 10-furlong Champion Stakes at Ascot on October 20. Despite enthusiastic suggestions from outside Frankel's yard, the thought of racing in the Prix de L'Arc Triomphe at Longchamp was turned down in favour for Ascot.

I think it is great that Sir Henry Cecil has decided that his unbeaten superstar should stay in this country and bypass Longchamp for his final farewell on the track. It gives a sense of British spirit and greatly promotes UK racing.

The increase in ticket sales on the Flat just shows how marvellous this horse truly is. After dreadful press NH horse racing received due to the deaths of Synchronised and According to Pete in the 2012 Grand National, Frankel, with the help of Black Caviar, has promoted the sport to a new high. 

Frankel's thirteenth unbeaten win in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York was a sight to see: once this colt is off our screens at the end of the year the sport won't quite be the same.

It is a shame that Cecil decided not to enter his superstar in the Arc as I reckon that race would have been the incredible for his career. Frankel would have no doubt battled for his life on the track but Ascot is still a wonderful place to display his racing ability. 

Ascot racecourse will no doubt promote Frankel's last show immensely well. With the usual attendance of around 30,000 I would not be surprised to see an even bigger turnout for the Champion Stakes.

Victory from Frankel would set a European record of nine consecutive wins at Group One level and bookmakers will offer no bigger than 1-10 odds for another Frankel first. 

I hope that a statue of the wonder-horse will be created at Ascot to remember the horse who made global headlines and put the spirit back into British racing.