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.

Thursday, 28 February 2013


IMPERIAL COMMANDER is around 20/1 to regain his Cheltenham Gold Cup crown after his heroic performance at the Festival Trials.

Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies was thrilled with the way the 12-year-old battled against the field in the Argento Chase last month.

After leading for a long way throughout the chase, Imperial Commander was just caught by Cape Tribulation and went down to second by half-a-length.

But the 2010 Gold Cup hero will now bid to become the second horse - after Kauto Star in 2009 - to regain his crown and the first 12-year-old since What A Myth in 1969.

Twiston-Davies' horse certainly pulled off a breath-taking win at Cheltenham last month and regained fans in the process.

He hadn't run for 680 days and suffered a set back at the beginning of the season, but still managed to finish in a respectable position.

With the odds of 20/1, and Bobs Worth being the 3/1 favourite, Imperial Commander may seem like the dark the horse in the race.

But I think a small flutter on the Twiston-Davies trained horse would not go amiss. 

He produced the wow factor and did what Kauto Star managed to do: doubted the punters who said he was too old to win again. He is a joy to watch and I personally did not think we would see him again. 

I think Imperial Commander is one to consider and should not be crossed off the list.

He stormed up the hill like a steam train in the Festival Trials and I believe he can do it again, but this time finish one place better.

Thursday, 21 February 2013


RUBY Walsh has once again chosen Hurricane Fly over Zarkandar in the Stan James Champion Hurdle - but it hasn't been a concern for Paul Nicholls.

We all know Ruby is a world-class jockey and his loyalty to the horses never goes unnoticed.

I will always remember his decision between Kauto Star and Denman in the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup – so much speculation surrounded his choice and I even asked him which horse he would pick during a previous meeting at the Gloucestershire racecourse.

His answer: “I would like to know myself!”

Walsh is the stable jockey to both Nicholls and Willie Mullins and he previously rode Hurricane Fly in the last Champion Hurdle.

He finished third, with Zarkandar fifth, but both Nicholls and Mullins believe their entries are different horses this time round.

Daryl Jacob is to take over Zarkandar but Nicholls doesn’t look at it as Ruby deserting the yard.

The trainer has enjoyed an unbeaten run with Zarkandar, who is one of three fighting for the position as second favourite in the race.

The Cheltenham Festival isn’t far away now. I find myself checking news updates everyday and I have always thought it’s the best week’s racing.

Hurricane Fly and Zarkandar will battle it out on the track and I am sure the result will be better than last year for them both.

But do you think Walsh’s decision is the right one? Or should he have chosen Nicholls' Zarkandar?

Friday, 15 February 2013


RACING'S past may soon be re-lived thanks to the creation of a national heritage centre.

Members of the Forest Heath District Council approved the building of Home of Horseracing National Heritage Centre - which will cost £14.3 million - on Thursday.

Subject to the final piece of funding, the creation in Newmarket's High Street has been described as a tourist destination for UK and International visitors.

It is estimated 40,000 to 50,000 visitors could flock to the centre every year, bringing in £1.8m a year to the town.

The centre, which could open in 2015, will include new galleries in the Palace House Stables and Trainer's House as well as a temporary exhibition gallery, a larger library and educational facilities.

Horses will be allowed to be shown for the first time as the site's Rothschild Yard will be restored as a flagship home for the Retraining of Racehorses charity.

It certainly is a great scheme for horse racing. I think it will give the sport a boost and attract people of all ages, which may even inspire a generation.

It isn't every day you hear of these schemes go on for racing, and that it why I have decided to write about it for my blog.

More encouragement needs to be given to projects like this, not just for racing but for all sports. 

Sport is important and I think enthusiasm towards it begins at local clubs, events and centres like this.

So I think it is a job well done and I am pleased the council approved it. 

Not only will Newmarket benefit from the tourist destination, but racing may also increase in popularity and appreciation. 

Wednesday, 6 February 2013


A FATAL fall by Darlan shocked the racing world on Monday.

At the final hurdle of the Champion Hurdle trial in Doncaster, Darlan tumbled over the final hurdle, launching jockey Tony McCoy and himself into the ground.

Sadly, the error proved fatal.

When I heard the news of the accident, I was at work. (I am a reporter for my local paper). I opened Twitter to see what the latest news was in my local area and was shocked to see heart-felt messages fill my timeline about Darlan.

After scrolling through them, I realised how loved the Nicky Henderson trained horse was: the potential which he had was immense and he was definitely admired by a lot of followers.

Darlan, winner of the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, had been the second favourite for the Champion Hurdle and he raced well against Rock On Ruby during the 32Red Hurdle on Monday.

McCoy travelled well behind the leader and looked ready for a gusty finish. But Darlan stepped at the hurdle and fell. The result was inevitable.

McCoy even stepped down for the rest of the day. 

Rock On Ruby pulled off a gritty win, but it was - and still is - overshadowed by Darlan's death.

Harry Fry's horse did well to get ahead of Countrywide Flame, who was the long-time leader throughout the race, and no doubt he will continue to blossom.

Even a few days later, many - including myself - are saddened by the loss of Darlan. But as Nicky Henderson said, "It's some game, isn't it?"