Wednesday 13 February 2019

Goodbye Flu, Hello Festivals! - Cheltenham and 2019 Grand National

With equine flu concerns 'hopefully' now in the rear view mirror, we can start
to look forward to a feast of top class horse racing action in the form of the
much loved Cheltenham Festival and of course the jewel in the crown of British
racing, the Aintree Grand National.

The Cheltenham Festival runs this year from Tuesday 12th to Friday 15th March and
will no doubt once again draw in huge crowds on course as well as millions watching on their TVs at home. Last year the Gold Cup Day alone attracted a sell out crowd of over 70,000 and a total over all Festival record attendance of 262,637. Native River won the Gold Cup itself, after a stunning two year period which saw the thoroughbred also win the Hennessy Gold Cup, Welsh Grand National and Denman Chase. He's currently second favourite to win the 2019 race, so the fairytale hasn't quite ended yet! Other races to look out for include the Queen Mothers Champion Chase, which is held on Ladies Day (Altior will be looking to retain his title) and the Stayers' Hurdle. The main races will all be shown on ITV1 so there is no excuse for not tuning in!

Just three weeks after being spoilt by the Cheltenham Festival, we have the one and only Grand National. If there's one race everyone knows about, regardless of their level of interest in the sport of horse racing it's the National. The main race itself is part of a three day Festival of racing that begins on 4th April, is followed by Ladies day on the 5th, with the main event taking place on the 6th of the month.

The 2019 Grand National is bound to rival the excitement that was the 2018 race, where 10-1 Tiger Roll, ridden by Davy Russell, beat out Pleasant Company in a photo-finish. Astonishingly that was the 171st time the race had been held, which just goes to show how steeped in history the race is. Thankfully all 38 horses finished in good health too.

The 2019 Grand National is again sponsored by Randox Health and sees Tiger Roll out to defend his title. This adds an exciting dynamic to the race as no horse has had back to back wins since Red Rum in the 1970s. It would be the cherry on the cake for the Gordon Elliot trained thoroughbred, as he's already amassed prize money of over £800,000. It's early days in the Grand National betting odds, with Tiger Rolls and his main rivals Elegant Escape, Vintage Clouds, Warriors Tale and Rock the Kasbah all coming in at around the 20-1 mark. The 2019 Grand National certainly has the makings of a race you can't afford to miss, and so the eyes of the nation will no doubt be watching yet more Grand National history unfold. The Grand National starts at 5:15pm, April 6th  on ITV1. Don't miss it!

Saturday 2 February 2019

Leicester vs Manchester United

After putting a massive spanner in the works of the Premier League title race, Leicester City take on another of the traditional North-West giants. Manchester United come to town having finally dropped points under Ole Gunnar Soljskaer. With Leicester not finding any consistency so far this season, though, can we really expect them to do the business against a United side who look utterly liberated compared to their previously high-strung selves?

Leicester City News

Harry Maguire is a lucky boy – he should be missing from this game through either injury or suspension. Lucky not to be sent off at Anfied, his goal into the Kop end will make sure he has few friends on Merseyside.

They’ll likely see him return alongside Wes Morgan, with a debut for young midfielder Youri Tielemans likely to come as well. Ricardo Pereira might play at full-back, though it would be no shock to see him drop out in favor of Danny Simpson, with the Portuguese moving up the pitch a bit.

Manchester United News

Injuries to the likes of Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial means that they might be an immediate doubt for this match, with a groin injury likely to keep out the French midfielder. Other injuries could include the missing Marouane Fellaini and also Chris Smalling.

Jesse Lingard and Ander Herrera could come back into the side, with Alexis Sanchez also likely to be fit once again. The Red Devils finally dropped points, though came back from 2-0 down, so should feel good coming into this one.


United win. Leicester are a bit of a big game team, but they lack any kind of real consistency. It’s hard to see them replicating the same kind of performance that they gave at Anfield so soon after, and United are on the crest of a wave (draw aside) making it hard to go against them too much at present.