This weekend sees UK racing’s only race exclusively for greys, the SportingOdds.com Grey Horse Handicap at Newmarket on Saturday afternoon.
This is the second year that the fixture takes place, but its short history has not been without controversy. When the idea was first suggested, there was some opposition – albeit mostly light-hearted – that it was restrictive.
On the British Horseracing Board’s advice, Newmarket stages an absolutely identical race, over the same distance, the day before, with the proviso that entries should not be grey.
Michael Prosser of Newmarket Racecourse explains that “this was merely to counter any potential, even joking, suggestions of restrictive racing practice.”
There are 18 horses entered in the race, with the eye-catching six-year-old Sir Desmond installed as favourite.
“It is a competitive handicap anyway”, explains Prosser. “And then, there is the fact that greys are always close to equine people’s hearts – for instance Desert Orchid, and One Man. They were both great horses, but their popular status was vastly increased by their colour.”
Whats Up Boys
Speaking of greys, the 10-year-old chaser Whats Up Boys, who was based with Phillip Hobbs in Somerset, has been moved to Henrietta Knight’s yard in Oxfordshire. The reason cited is the horse’s need for a “change of scene”.
The gelding came back from a long break due to injury at the beginning of this season, and although he was considered a top prospect in this year’s Grand National, he was brought down at Becher’s first time round, and he has so far failed to return to his best. With Best Mate as a new stablemate however, perhaps the grey will be newly inspired.