The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly put a damper on horse racing around the world, with many events getting canceled last year and hosting spectators in limited numbers after activities were reopened.
Nevertheless, fans have been treated to some wild entertainment so far in 2021, with numerous thrills and spills on various racecourses worldwide. There’s been quite a lot to cheer for where both jump and flat racing are concerned, as well as plenty of shock winners and awe-inspiring performances.
Of course, bettors are having their fill given the all-around quality which has returned to the courses and, to that end, a Youwager is always great as all of the major betting sites have offered no end of odds on specific outcomes where the racing calendar obtains.
As mentioned above, there has been a lot to watch this year but, surely, there have been some races that have stood out as some of the most exciting. We will recall four of the best moments right here.
Blackmore’s Domination At Cheltenham
It’s been over five months since Rachael Blackmore dominated the Cheltenham Festival but it’s still fresh on the mind. The Irish jockey became the first of her gender to win the Champion Hurdle on the first day of the Festival and would churn out five more wins before the final gallop was had. Blackmore would go home with the Ruby Walsh Trophy as the Festival’s best jockey.
Rachael’s races proved to be a huge positive for the sport on the whole as the coverage was plentiful, which worked out great given that spectators were not allowed due to coronavirus protocols. She’s now regarded as something of a superstar in the United Kingdom and her native Ireland.
“I’m genuinely just so overwhelmed by these last few days,” she said on the back of her exploits. “It’s all about the horses you’re getting on, and I just feel so lucky to be riding for the people I’m riding for. I can’t comprehend that I’m the leading rider – it’s a bit surreal. Getting an award from AP McCoy in the shape of Ruby Walsh is crazy.”
“It’s been incredible what’s she’s done, tactically all week she’s been in the right place on so many horses,” Ruby Walsh added. “The wider world will see her now for what she wants to be, and that’s just a jockey.”
The Grand National’s Grand Return
The Grand National came back this year following its cancelation in the last as a result of the pandemic and, dare we say, the wait was worth it. Although the event was a behind-closed-doors affair, it was still great to witness the return of the iconic and prestigious Aintree spectacle and fans were content to take it all in from their television sets. After all, 2020 marked the first time the race did not take place since World War II and the virtual event simply did not cut it.
The aforementioned Blackmore was also involved in this one and became the first woman to ride a Grand National winner in the wake of Minella Times’ remarkable showing. While there was nothing to prove, the Grand National win cemented Blackmore’s legacy as a jockey and we imagine there’s plenty more to come.
Aidan O’Brien’s 1,000 Guineas Hat-Trick
On to flat racing. Aiden O’Brien’s reputation keeps growing and the trainer remained true to form as he boasted another winner in the 1,000 Guineas. He has made it three wins in a row – Mother Earth brought the victory home on this occasion with a top jockey in Frankie Dettori sat atop.
O’Brien now has seven 1,000 Guineas to his name, with five of them coming in the last six iterations. He looks simply unbeatable as a trainer in the competition and it will be quite the intrigue when he takes to the event next year as everyone will be aiming to take him down.
Adayar’s Derby & King George Performance
Flat racing trainer Charlie Appleby can boast a successful period for himself as well, having snatched a second Derby win courtesy of a remarkable performance from Adayar at Epsom back in June. The racehorse would also go on to win the Derby and the King George VI And Queen Qipco Stakes at Ascot in the same season, a very rare feat.
Galileo was the last horse to achieve such, doing so back in 2001. The legendary Thoroughbred passed away in early 2021 after failing to respond to treatment on an injured foot. That Adayar followed in his footsteps when he did is both timely and pleasing.