Races can be won and lost in the paddock, let alone at the start or a crucial fence. But in terms of public scrutiny, the finish has the greatest significance.
A rider who demonstrates strength with finesse and rhythmical use of the stick is admired.
They must win races — not just look good — but riders who are consistently neat and effective, conveying fitness, balance and rhythm, will be popular with owners and trainers, thus increasing their percentage of likely winning rides.
We look back at three memorable race finishes.
- Red Rum’s first Grand National victory in 1972 is perhaps remembered as much for Crisp’s defeat as the beginning of the winner’s incredible Aintree record. A two-mile champion, Crisp pulled a fence in front of his rivals on the second circuit and was 20 lengths clear at the final fence. But on the long run-in, jockey Dick Pitman failed to keep his weary mount on a straight line and they lost valuable momentum and rhythm, easing Red Rum’s path to glory.
- Honourable Man was favourite for the 1982 Christie’s Foxhunter Chase at Cheltenham, having finished runner-up 12 months earlier to Grittar, a subsequent Grand National winner. However, rider Tony Fowler had injured a shoulder and was unable to give more than token assistance from the final fence, allowing The Drunken Duck to catch him and score by a head. Winning amateur Brod Munro-Wilson had a unique style — one critic likened it to a man conducting an orchestra.
- At Cheltenham’s evening hunter chase meeting in 2009, Tessa Good had her first ride under Rules and took a safety-first policy, saying later: “I was just determined to get round and didn’t want to fall off at the last.” Approaching that fence on The Baillie, Tessa was last of five, trading at 999-1 on Betfair. She was almost 20 lengths behind Brer Bear and Hambaphambili, who were duelling for the lead on the run-in. However, on touching down, Tessa became active, The Baillie took off and won by a length. Hambaphambili, who had been so close to winning 10 strides from the post, finished last of the five. He was ridden by Mark Wall, a rider many consider one of the strongest on the circuit.
To read the full feature about riding a finish plus the rest of the point-to-point special including a full fixtures list see the current issue of H&H (15 November 2012)
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