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Horse racing is much more than an excuse for gambling. It is a love for the beauty, grace and speed of the horse. It can also be an intellectual battle of examining competing facts and trying to formulate the future from results of the past. In some ways it is an investigation, as performed by an eager detective. And in other ways it can be the thrill of a crossword puzzle, with multiple possible responses, but ultimately only one correct answer. It is a thing of beauty as much as it is a matter of commerce. I have been involved with horse racing in both practical and intellectual ways. From time spent as an apprentice jockey, to later the research of bloodlines in the multimillion dollar world of thoroughbred breeding and sales. And for the past seventeen years I have provided speedrating information to the racing industry and public through my company: Speedratings - Leonard Marlborough.

All About Horses

March 3rd 2015 23:36
Horse racing is a sport with a long history. It is steeped in many traditions, ranging from the proud history of the classic races, through to the training methods used to prepare a horse for the rigours of racing.

However, innovation in racing is not totally unknown, with examples being the introduction of the barrier stalls to replace the starting strand barrier, and the change of riding style for jockeys from the ‘straight-back’ gentleman rider seat to the ‘monkey on a stick’ crouch - the latter made famous by Todd Sloan in 1897. Both of these (very different) changes revolutionised the sport of racing. Tod Sloan was initially ridiculed when he began riding with a very short stirrup and short rein, crouching over the neck of his mount, but his resulting success ensured that soon jockeys everywhere would copy his style.

For some time now I have been interested in the research undertaken by Kerry M Thomas as he transposed his study of the horse in the wild into practical applications for the thoroughbred in the modern racing environment.

Kerry was recently interviewed on the All About Horses radio program (coming out of Athens, Alabama). This interview with host Jim Swanner provides a good understanding of the concept in theory, and in practice. The link below takes you to the podcast.

All About Horses (featuring Kerry Thomas)


The Lowdown on the Autumn Classic

March 1st 2015 04:50
The Lowdown on the Autumn Classic

photography by Neil Murray
words by Leonard Marlborough

The G2 Caulfield Autumn Classic over 1800 metres at Caulfield on Saturday was a race of high drama.

After settling third and trailing the strong tempo set by Zahspeed (last) and Magicool (4th) Nick Hall sits low in the saddle as he slips Firehouse Rock out to a big lead at the top of the Caulfield straight.

Turning for home the 1.90 favourite Alpine Eagle looked to be struggling when pushed wide and under pressure, whereas Firehouse Rock (pictured) looked full of running as a confident Nick Hall crouched low and urged the son of Fastnet Rock to the line.

But halfway down the straight Minnesinger - who had been beside Alpine Eagle near the rear of the field down the side - started to charge up along the inside after taking a shortcut between tiring horses, while Alpine Eagle (still spotting the leader 4 lengths inside the last 200 metres) produced a dynamic finishing sprint to grab victory on the line by a nose over Minnesinger.

Although seemingly in an unassailable position halfway down the straight, Firehouse Rock eventually finished third, 3/4 of a length behind Alpine Eagle.

Only a replay can do justice to the dynamic nature and changing circumstances of this race. The link below provides the full results with the option to watch a replay of the race:

The Caulfield Classic


Bungleinthejungle (TW archive)

February 23rd 2015 20:15


photography by Emma-Louise Kerwin
words by Dan Munn

You never fail to be amazed by the sheer enormity of the Ascot racecourse. As you make your way with substantial effort from the rail station towards the racecourse, each rising step begins to slowly, and somewhat teasingly, reveal another part of the grandstand that Ascot have put great thought into creating.

This is the racecourse that everybody knows; the racecourse that has built up its reputation through years of Royal meetings, and through exceptional racing that bears the very hallmark of international competition. The very best have competed here; some have gained international respect even in defeat; but most have enhanced their reputations through scintillating victory at this great home of racing.

Today is a quieter day: a day which merely sets the scene for what will occur in two weeks time. Whilst the majority of press, photographers, and international racing fans, have ventured to Paris for the spectacle of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, the die-hard racegoers have ventured to Ascot's final fixture before the arrival of Frankel.

A beautiful autumnal day has quickly made me regret the decision to leave my winter coat draped over the hanger on which it remains for the majority of the year. I stand waiting, albeit with a chill upon my neck, by the peaceful and tranquil pre-parade ring in anticipation of the arrival of six exciting two year olds prior to the Group 3 Cornwallis Stakes.

One by one they arrive, and one by one they show their quirky characteristics that set them apart from each other - the characteristics that surely make them loved so dearly at home. As Charlie Hills' Lucky Beggar arrives, he spooks at the tiniest flicker of a flag upon a pole at the entry to the pre-parade ring. Bucking and pulling, he quickly settles as he hears a familiar voice from home edge closer. "Oi. Pack it in, you" says the man, and Lucky Beggar instantaneously obliges.

Last into the pre-parade ring is the irrepressible stature of Bungleinthejungle, a horse who has thrived with every passing race, and the only Group race winner in today's field. A speedy son of Exceed And Excel, Bungleinthejungle heralds from the likeable stable of Mick Channon, a one-time star professional footballer. Upon entering the pre-parade ring, the distant figure of Michael Channon, the junior to the senior, asks his handler to take a small turn past where he is standing so he can inspect Bungleinthejungle before he begins his full laps of the ring.

Bungleinthejungle closest to the rail on his way to another win

As he passes by the general public Bungleinthejungle turns left and looks at each and every individual that stares inquisitively as his stature. Whilst the pre-parade ring is often the place at which gamblers and horsemen eye-up the settled nature of the starters, Bungleinthejungle is clearly of the belief that he doesn't want to be missing out on the fun. Of course, why shouldn't he eye-up his onlookers too? A question that will readily be running through his head - or maybe his thoughts remain firmly focused on the bit upon which he is chewing upon with great vigour and determination?

As the earlier visitors to the pre-parade ring exit for the main arena of the parade ring to be analysed by the stunning life-sized statue of the greatest Ascot champion, Yeats, Bungleinthejungle and his handler begin to follow and draw away from the pre-parade ring. Like others, I follow to catch one final glimpse of the runners before they head down to the start as the announcement over the tannoy* provides racegoers with information that Bungleinthejungle will head to the start early.

With Martin Harely instantaneously placed aboard Bungleinthejungle, he slowly canters to the start ahead of his rivals along the near side rail. Taking things slowly and in his stride, Bungleinthejungle cantered down confidently and in the knowledge that he was quite probably the best horse in this race - the fastest one too - but his racing would have to do the talking.

Bungleinthejungle would return ten minutes later as a dual-Group 3 victor. Having burst out of the gates with a huge zest for racing, he took things up at the head of the affairs and never relinquished his lead. A determined two year old with speed in abundance, Bungleinthejungle is the epitome of why so many people enjoy this incredible sport. A horse with exceptional characteristics, and talent on the side - and another reason why we do what we do.


*tannoy is a colloquial term used in England to denote any public-address system. Not a term I have heard used in Australia.

speaking of sound systems...


Twice the Payne at Pakenham (TW archive)

February 23rd 2015 15:11
Twice the Payne at Pakenham


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Fegentri (International Federation of Gentlemen & Lady Riders) comes to Macau

Another article from the archives of Thoroughbreds Worldwide

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Goodwill Running for Gruenfeld


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The Herd Instinct (TW archive)

February 23rd 2015 05:53
The Herd Instinct


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Casey's War (TW archive)

February 23rd 2015 04:49
Casey's War


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Helmet (from TW archive)

February 23rd 2015 03:45
The experiment that was Thoroughbreds Worldwide is soon to come to an end.

Rather than let all of the photography simply disappear once the site is no longer (March) I will endeavour to bring my favourite articles across to RacingWrite so that they will not be lost forever. - Leonard Marlborough.

[ Click here to read more ]


February 17th 2015 03:53

words by Leonard Marlborough

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