Richard Dunwoody’s greatest Grand National memories

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Three times Champion jockey Richard Dunwoody is one of Britain’s most successful jockeys ever. He was at the forefront of English National Hunt racing in the 80’s and the 90’s, winning the Big Three races – the Grand National (twice) aboard West Tip and Miinnehoma, the Champion Hurdle and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

When he hung up his boots at the age of 35 due to injury in 1999, he had won a record 1,699 races. He is best known for his partnership with the legendary Desert Orchid. Richard was awarded an MBE in 1993 for services to his sport.

ImageRichard (left) has always been passionate about photography and in 2011 he signed up to a nine month intensive photojournalism course at the Speos Photographic Institute in Paris.

Since graduation, Richard has taken on a diversity of photographic assignments working around the world for organisations such as the The Brooke Charity and The Adventurists (Mongol Derby). For further information please see www.richarddunwoodyphotography.com

 

Ahead of the 2014 Crabbie’s Grand National, we asked Richard about his favourite Aintree moments:

ImageRed Rum 1977 – He will always be our National treasure. No horse loved Aintree more or performed there with such consistency. ‘Rummy’ carried 12st to victory in 1974, following up his defeat of Crisp the previous year (see below) and after finishing runner-up in 1975 and 1976, and at the age of 12, landed his third National in 1977 under Tommy Stack.

Sir Peter O’Sullevan’s spine-tingling commentary says it all: “He’s coming up to the line to win it like a fresh horse in great style. It’s hats off and a tremendous reception… you’ve never heard one like it at Liverpool… Red Rum wins the National!” 

ImageFoinavon 1967 – No running of the National was more remarkable, as the 100-1 no-hoper, named after a Scottish peak, scaled some very unlikely heights after taking advantage of an infamous pile-up that took place at the 23rd fence.

Riderless Popham Down veered right to left across the fence and caused mayhem, but John Buckingham – having his first ride in the race – steered Foinavon through the carnage and on to an unlikely victory. After John retired in 1971, he became a valet and ‘looked after’ 14 National winning jockeys in 30 years, including me. 

ImageAldaniti 1981 – Just two years after being diagnosed with testicular cancer and being given four months to live, Bob Champion won the nation’s hearts with his victory on Aldaniti (who had recovered from a serious leg injury).

Bob’s recovery was so astonishing, it remains the most inspiring comeback in sporting history, one encapsulated in a book and in the 1984 film Champions, starring John Hurt. They used to play the theme tune before we went out to ride in the National and it always had our adrenaline pumping. I’ll never forget O’Sullevan’s commentary: “Here comes 54-year-old John Thorne putting in a storming finish… it’s Aldaniti from Spartan Missile… Aldaniti is going to win it.”

ImageCrisp 1973 – The most magnificent defeat in the National outside of Devon Loch and Dick Francis, it sparked the interest of a whole new generation of racing fans.

Red Rum and Crisp served up a leap into exhilaration – the huge-hearted Crisp against the horse destined to become an Aintree legend. Crisp had established a long lead until, tiring dramatically under Richard Pitman, he was reeled in two strides from the line by Red Rum and jockey Brian Fletcher. Crisp’s defeat was pure anguish, Red Rum’s victory the stuff of myth.

 

Image Esha Ness 1993 – The National that never was and the most turbulent day in the race’s history. Animal rights activists initially delayed the start, and two false starts reduced the race to a farce, as the tape failed to spring up quickly enough, entangling several riders. The tape got stuck around my neck the second time, but 30 of the 39 riders failed to realise it was a false start and set off around the track, including John White, who ‘won’ the race aboard the Jenny Pitman-trained gelding. With £75m riding on the outcome and 300m viewers across the world, the National was declared void, and starter Keith Brown was grossly and unfairly criticised.

 

Something for the weekend – your wager persuaders – Six Nations (March 8-9)

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England v Wales

The RBS 6Nations Championship is heading towards a climax, and while both sides will naturally want to win, this is as much a pointer to see where each nation is going into the 2015 World Cup.

Wales are almost where they want and expect to be. Warren Gatland’s side have been together for some time. England are quickly emerging as a major force and what some units lack in experience, they make up for in depth and quality.

Many see Wales as contenders for the World Cup semi-final, yet they failed to convince against Italy and were completely out-classed by Ireland. They are rushing back Jonathan Davies and will also be boosted by fellow British and Irish Lion Alun Wyn Jones.

Wales won last year’s tussle 30-3 in Cardiff. At present, they are the best team in Europe – since the last World cup they have won both Six Nations titles that have been played with a record of 11 wins and only two losses. England are still a year away from peaking, which is exactly where this young team expects to be.

We have our doubts about referee Romain Poite, who virtually handed New Zealand a 29-15 victory over South Africa in Auckland last September, but hopefully he won’t get in the way of what should be a Twickenham thriller.

For our money, England (4/7) have a vastly superior pack and will be fuelled by last season’s humiliating defeat which robbed them of the Grand Slam.

Wales’ crushing victory over France owed much to the woeful play of Philippe Saint-Andre’s team, yet the bounce-back from the crushing defeat in Dublin was nonetheless impressive.

We take Wales to win a close one and upset the odds. They are currently 6/4, but can be backed at 9/10 in receipt of 3.5-points.

Ireland v Italy

Italy will be without influential captain Sergio Parisse because of a leg injury and he will be replaced by Trevisio’s Robert Barbieri, with veteran lock Marco Bortolami leading the winless Italians.

Ireland make one change for the side beaten by England: in comes back-row Iain Henderson as a replacement for the injured Peter O’Mahoney.

Italy picked up a first ever Championship win over Ireland 12 months ago but don’t expect them to double up. Ireland are considered 1/33 favourites, with the Italians available at 10/1.

With Brian O’Driscoll winning a world record 140th Test cap and playing his final game for Ireland on home soil, look for his side to send him off in style.

Italy gave Wales all they could handle on opening weekend, but are a far different proposition without Parisse and we take the hosts to cover a large handicap.

Scotland v France

France come into this game on the back of a humiliating 27-6 loss to Wales – which could have been far worse – while Scotland are buoyed by their 21-20 success in Rome.

Yet even after their dreadful loss, France are still in the mix for the 6 Nations title. Coach Philippe Saint-Andre, with his job in doubt, has turned over almost half the side, with three new loose forwards, three new backs and a third-choice hooker.

Scotland make four changes, including bringing in tight-head prop Geoff Cross for his first start in a year. Skipper Kelly Brown is recalled, as is David Denton.

Scotland will play with passion at Murrayfield and it is anyone’s guess which France side turns up. The guess is the experienced French duo of captain Pascal Pape and tighthead Nicolas Mas will get the edge up front and that is one of the reasons why they are considered 3/10 favourites.

Scotland can be backed at 9/10 in receipt of 7.5 points, because they have the capability to win this.

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Something for the weekend – your wager persuaders – Six Nations and Soccer betting

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England v Ireland

This pivotal RBS 6Nations Championship encounter sees unchanged Ireland going for the Triple Crown and a win keeps them on course for the Grand Slam. They have not won at Twickenham since 2010, but that should not put anyone off taking them at 13/8.

If Ireland are to win, they will need a strong kicking game in order to take advantage of England’s inexperience on the wing in Jack Nowell and Jonny May. The key, however, is only so much down to the boot of Conor Murray, Brian O’Driscoll, Rob Kearney and Jonathan Sexton.

England will sorely miss Dan Cole, who has started 45 of England’s last 48 Tests. He has been the fulcrum of England’s scrum. While David Whitehead is a competent tighthead, Stuart Lancaster’s side are sure to miss Cole.  

There is no question that the Irish backs will challenge England at the breakdown. Likewise, England’s line-out, and in particular Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes, will be challenged by Brian O’Driscoll’s men.

Losing narrowly to New Zealand was no flash in the pan; Joe Schmidt’s Ireland are the real deal and England are simply too short at 4/6. Ireland look the value bet to pull off a shock. They can be backed at 19/20 in receipt of a 3.5-point handicap start.

Italy v Scotland

Scott Johnson’s selections and tactics have been questioned in some quarters, with just six points scored in two 6Nations matches. But forget current form for a moment; Scotland are building for the 2015 World Cup and the Australian has been hampered by a lack of squad depth.

Scotland have won five of the last eight meetings with the Azzurri but have not come away from Rome with a victory since 2006 and the battle up front will be key.

Italy’s Alessandro Zanni, Roberto Barbieri Sergio Parisse go head-to-head with Ryan Wilson, Chris Fusaro and Johnnie Beattie at the breakdown. This battle up front will be key to the outcome, which, on paper, will be a tight affair.

Scotland are considered 8/5 outsiders, with Italy at 3/5. The draw is on offer at 21/1. We think Scotland have the capability to win this, but take them with a 6.5-point start at 4/7.

Wales v France

France should feel the full force of a Welsh backlash on Friday night. Pride has been hurt. A tactically superior Ireland left the champions dishevelled but Wales know that a victory will keep their hopes for a third successive title alive. France seek a third victory, following a fortunate win over England and a battering of Italy.

France have not beaten Wales since 2011 but the power of the French front row will fancy their chances against the Welsh front three who struggled against Ireland and Italy.

Ireland laid down the blue-print for beating Wales – kicking the leather out of the ball to nullify the Welsh attack. But Jean-Marc Doussain, who is likely to retain the kicking duties, produced a shaky display against Italy and despite their jaded display against an underrated Ireland, Wales look the bet at 4/6 to see of France (6/4).

Football:

West Ham v Southampton

Although four of the last six meetings have been drawn, Hammers lack potency up front with Andy Carroll suspended, and have won just one of their last eight vs. Saints. With Saints already safe and perhaps lacking in motivation, there is a fair argument for backing the more desperate hosts, who are just four points clear of the relegation zone and facing a tough run-in.

However, the Saints have a decent road record in the Premier League, winning three of their last six away from home (with two draws and only one defeat – a 2-1 reverse at Everton), so the visitors look a decent bet at 7/5 to take all three points at Upton Park.

Walsall v Crawley Town

John Gregory’s side are teetering on the brink of the relegation places in League One, while Walsall are on the verge of the playoff places. So how come the hosts are 1/1 and not odds-on to win this?

Simple. Crawley have not played for over a month, thanks to monsoon-like conditions deeming the Broadfield Stadium pitch unplayable. Crawley have six games in hand on Crewe, who are below them, and have six in hand of Tranmere, who are a point above them. Yet rustiness could prove a factor and the Midlands side can maintain their promotion push with a win.

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Super League XIX Season Preview – 3 big questions

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Exactly how much interest will be carried over from the World Cup?

After the debacle of the 2000 tournament, with half-empty stadia, you could forgive the 2013 World Cup organisers to have more than a degree of scepticism. They need not have worried. Huge crowds flocked to the grounds in a five-week celebration of rugby.

The best team won in front of a 75,000 sell-out at Old Trafford, New Zealand and England provided the game of the tournament in the semi-final at Wembley, and overall it was a tremendous success. Rugby League’s shop window wowed the crowds.

But how many will have bought into the sport after receiving such a much-needed shot in the arm?

Time will tell. Many of the Super League clubs have reported increases in season ticket sales and others have slashed prices in the hope of capiltalising on the momentum of the World Cup. They aim to attract the next generation of fans, who have been entranced by every Hakka and awed by heroes who have been both accessabile and accomodating.

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The RFL needs to grab this opportunity to sell the game – and continue selling it – if top-level Rugby League is to survive and grow.

The loyalty of the fans is unquestionable. The Super League clubs – and the Championship clubs – are run by people who are extremely passionate. They also hold forthright opinions on the sport.

The Super League kicks off on Friday with Huddersfield Giants at Wigan and the Warriors will use this as a good preparation before heading to Australia for the World Club Challenge – the first time a British side has competed there in 20 years. Wigan take on the NRL Grand Final winners Sydney Roosters on February 22 and this has got to be another good advertisement for the growth of interest in Super League.

The Warriors will do well in Australia and it will show that big clubs in the Northern hemisphere have the appetite to go to the other side of the world to play. Gutsy moves such as this could lead to an expanded World Club Challenge tournament.

Is the drop from 14 clubs to 12 clubs the right move?

The Super League will contract at the end of the year. Clubs will want to position themselves for the 2015 season and there is an added edge of relegation, which will add to the competitiveness.

There will be greater competition which will be more intense, but the move makes the Super League commercially viable and sustainable – and that’s what’s probably in the players’ best interests in the long term.

Furthermore, some clubs have a rich history, so it will be good for some of the Championship clubs to have access back to the top flight.

The financial plight of some clubs meant something needed to be done. But the main concern is that some teams may feel the need to go out and sign big-name players and get themselves deeper into debt. This has happened in the past.

Finally, if the move is to work, the RFL need to communicate the playoff format more effectively to the casual fan who has been hooked by the World Cup. Their convoluted plan to split two divisions of 12 teams into three of eight two-thirds of the way through the 2015 season to determine both the Super League title and the make-up of the top flight for the following year should make for an interesting 18 months.

But while some of the top flight clubs may be disgruntled at the financial pie being distributed more fairly, clubs such as Featherstone, who received £25,000 for finishing first in the Championship last season, are reported to be in line for a £650,000 windfall should they win the title in 2014. That distribution of wealth can only be positive for the good of the Super League in the long run.  

Who will win Super League XIX?

Leeds Rhinos, who finished third in 2013, face a tough start to their campaign. Rhinos take on sides who qualified for the play-offs this season in their opening four matches of 2014 – three of them away from home.

Coach Brian McDermott’s men begin at eighth-place Hull KR on Sunday, February 16, before opening their home campaign against Challenge Cup holders Warrington Wolves – this year’s beaten Grand Finalists – five days later. They then have successive away games against Catalan Dragons, who were seventh in 2013 and this year’s league leaders Huddersfield Giants. They are stronger for the arrival of Tom Briscoe (Hull) and Paul Aiton (Wakefield), and should be in the top four come season’s end.

Castleford Tigers begin with an away game for the fifth successive year, at Bradford Bulls on February 16. They also face a tough start, with Catalan Dragons their first visitors the following week, before a trip to Hull KR and home games against Wigan and Hull.

Wigan’s return from their tip to Sydney to face Wakefield on Sunday, March 2. They will do well to overcome the disruption caused by the jaunt Down Under and their prospects of winning the title are perhaps diminished after the departure of Sam Tomkins Lee Mossop and Pat Richards. They might just lack a touch of experience when it matters.

St Helens could well improve a place or two from last year’s fifth-place finish. Nathan Brown has strengthened the squad for the second successive season at Langtree Park, bringing in players such as Richard Baumont (Hull KR), Matty Dawson (Huddersfield) and Kylke Amor (Wakefield). They look to have much better depth than in previous years and in Luke Walsh they have a tactically astute half-back who can make things happen.

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Last year’s league leaders Huddersfield have made some astute additions, too, namely Jodie Broughton (Salford) and London duo Antonio Kaufusi and Chris Bailey. Man of Steel Danny Brough (above) will do well to replicate last season’s heorics and the feeling for the Giants is the crown is borrowed.

Warrington Wolves are the favourites with most firms to land the title and perhaps rightly so. Some will argue that they have lost a wealth of talent since their second successive Grand-Final defeat; players such as Lee Briers and Brett Hodgson (who have both retired), Adrian Morley (Salford), Garreth Carvell (Bradford), Rhys Williams (Central Queensland Capras), Tyrone McCarthy (Northern Pride, Australia) and James Mendeika (Featherstone).

However, coach Tony Smith’s side is boosted by the arrival of Roy Asotasi (South Sydney), Kevin Penny (Swinton), Matthew Russel (Gold Coast) and Anthony England (Featherstone). There is no doubt that Briewrs’ departure will mean Stefan Ratchford now has the opportunity to show his immense versatility.  

Click here for the latest Super League odds

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Six Nations Championship 2014 Opening Weekend Betting Preview

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France v England (Saturday, 5pm)

England’s babies will face a cauldron of fire when they take on France in Paris on Saturday.

Stuart Lancaster’s side have a strong pack with quality competition for places. But with three rookies in the back row and uncertainty in the midfield, it is not a game to take selection risks.

However, the Six Nations Championship looks one of the most open in years and victory would offer England a platform to build on ahead of the 2015 World Cup.

England, who may not have recovered from last season’s title decider against Wales, are 8/5 to beat France, who were wooden spoonists in 2013. Coach Philippe Saint-Andre is clinging to his job and France will miss captain Thierry Dusautoir, but they have plenty of power and will be desperate to put aside such a disappointing 2013 campaign.

The biggest question for England is whether they have the attacking flair missing from their game in the Autumn internationals.

France are considered 3/5 to win in 80 minutes and are 7/10 to be ahead at half-time. They are 1/1 to be leading at the interval and at full-time.

Gloucester’s Jonny May (below) is 12/1 to score the first try, which offers a little value, but France’s Maxine Medard might be a better speculative bet at 11/1.

Wales v Italy (Saturday 1.30pm)

Defending Six Nations champions Wales will have a tough time defending their crown, but Italy are not expected to give them any problems in their Six Nations opener.

Wales are considered 1/25 to beat the Azzurri, who stunned both France and Ireland to record a fourth-place finish last season.

Injury has forced coach Jacques Brunel’s hand, so he will rely on a vastly inexperienced group for what promises to be a long, hard campaign.

Warren Gatland’s men seek a third consecutive crown but injury to Jonathan Davies and prop Adam Jones is going to be a bigger problem than many believe. The lack of playing time for influential cogs such as Sam Warburton, Dan Lydiate and Jamie Roberts should not hamper their chances against Italy, who are 16/1 to pull off the shock.

Ireland v Scotland (Sunday, 3pm)

The return of Cain Healy is a major bonus to Ireland’s cause, although the loss off Sean O’Brien tempers enthusiasm for their Six Nations championship chance, as does away trips to England and France.

Ireland appear to have taken to Joe Schmidt’s methods and should start their campaign with a victory over Scotland, who should take at least one scalp this year. The bookies do not believe it will be that of Ireland, however, making them 5/1 shots to come away with a win. Ireland are 2/11 favourites, but they should be backed to be leading at half-time and full-time at 4/9, and to triumph by double figures (-9.5 points) at 4/6.

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Thompson makes solid start on Tour debut

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MyClubBetting’s Charlotte Thompson says she can take a lot of positives from her first round at the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women’s Open at Clearwater Golf Club in Christchurch.

The 21-year-old from Chelmsford, making her European Tour debut, finished with a solid three-over-par 75, just seven shots behind joint leaders Seonwoo Bae (South Korea) and Stacey Tate (Australia), who each shot four-under-par rounds of 68.

Thompson started brightly, with a birdie at the par-five second and started the front nine with another birdie on hole 10. But a dropped shot on her final hole left her three shots adrift of top British woman and former winner of this tournament Laura Davies, who ended the day on even par.

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Thompson (above) said: “It was not my best day golfing, but three-over wasn’t too bad.

“I learned a lot and can take a lot of positives from today’s round. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and it’s still all to play for.”

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The field for the 200,000-Euros event could not be more competitive, with five former champions returning, including World No.4 Lydia Ko (New Zealand), the 16-year-old who won the title last year to become the youngest winner in Ladies European Tour history. She is just one shot behind Bae and Tate going into day two.

Thompson is scheduled to tee off for her second round at around 11.50am on Saturday (10.50pm GMT Friday).

Follow Charlotte’s progress by clicking here  

Follow Charlotte on Twitter: @Chartgolf

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Thompson seeks fast start at New Zealand Open

Charlotte Thompson

British golfer Charlotte Thompson says she is delighted by the draw she has been handed as she makes her European Tour debut in the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women’s Open at Clearwater Golf Club in Christchurch.

The 21-year-old from Chelmsford tees off in the first trio out on Thursday evening (6.15pm GMT, 7.15am on Friday morning local time), alongside Australian amateur Tyler Kingi and American Anya Alvarez.

Thompson, sponsored by MyClubBetting, is looking forward to the challenge that the 6,526m John Darby and Sir Bob Charles designed par-72 championship course will bring, and is thrilled with the way the course is set-up.

She said: “It’s so lovely over here – the golf course is in fantastic condition and all the members and residents are all so friendly.

“I’m feeling good, feeling up for it and I’m out first, which I love – so that’s a plus.”

Clearwater GC combines elements of links golf inspired by the great Scottish courses with parkland golf, more reminiscent of Florida. It is a difficult course, particularly when the win gets up.

However, the weather conditions should also be favourable for her first round, with a minimum morning temperature of 7°c and light winds, which are expected to pick up in the afternoon.

Thompson added: “I’m just hoping the weather holds and the wind stays down. I am hitting the ball well so looking forward to getting out there. It’s all very exciting. I will do my best as always and I have already had a fantastic experience.”

The field for the Euros 200,000 event could not be more competitive, with five former champions returning to the event: World No.4 Lydia Ko (New Zealand) – the 16-year-old, who won the title last year to become the youngest winner in Ladies European Tour history – Gwladys Nocera (France), Laura Davies (England), and Austalians Kristie Smith and Lindsey Wright.

Follow Charlotte’s progress by clicking here

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