TOP CHELTENHAM RACE TO BE RUN IN MEMORY OF ROBIN COOK
One of jump racing’s most prestigious races has been named in memory of the late Robin Cook.
The £110,000 Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup will be run at Cheltenham on Saturday, December 10 backed by the tote which wanted to secure a high-profile race that would be a fitting way to remember a great friend and passionate follower of racing.
The tote therefore has taken over the sponsorship of the race previously known as the bonusprint.com Gold Cup for one year only following the withdrawal of the previous sponsors.
The handicap chase, run over two miles & five furlongs and won last year by Monkerhostin, will be run this year as the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup (sponsored by totesport).
Peter Jones, chairman of the tote, said today: “Cheltenham is a place for champions and Robin Cook was a champion of jump racing and the tote as well as a steadfast personal friend.
“I can think of no better event to be named in his memory and I hope we have a traditional rousing Cheltenham finish that will evoke memories of Robin’s tenacity and battling spirit.”
Chris Cook, Robin Cook’s elder son, said: “On behalf of Gaynor and my brother Peter, I’d like to thank Peter Jones and the tote for supporting this memorial race.
“I know my Dad would have been thrilled to have a race run in his name, particularly such an important race as this.
“Horse racing was his main interest outside politics for the last 20 years and offered him a priceless escape from the pressure of public life.
“When he was on a racecourse, he was at his most relaxed and happy, and I can’t think of a more appropriate place for his friends to remember him.
“His preference was for jump racing, so there could be no better venue than Cheltenham, where he was a regular visitor from November to March each jumps season.
“A winning bet at Cheltenham always seemed sweeter to him than a win elsewhere. He’d be very proud to have his name in the racecard there.”
Peter McNeile, Commercial Manager at Cheltenham Racecourse, commented: “We are delighted that the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup is taking place at the 2005 Cheltenham December meeting thanks to the generous sponsorship of the tote.
“Robin’s enthusiasm for racing plus his promotion of the sport were much appreciated by all of us at Cheltenham so it is fitting that he is remembered by this great handicap chase which was founded in 1963 and is the feature race of the meeting.”
QUOTES from Robin Cook
(the first one concerns the difficulty of getting away to the midweek Festival)
“Over the years, I have had to produce an implausible Labour marginal in the Cotswolds in which I was campaigning for the day. In the year of Garrison Savannah’s Gold Cup victory, the Guardian blew my cover with a photo of the winner leaping the last fence with myself only too visible in the crowd by the railing.”
“The great strength of going racing at Cheltenham is that you know everyone around you has earned their right to be there by spending the winter standing in the open in rain, sleet, and freezing wind to follow their sport. That is the kind of commitment you only get from a true believer.”
“Racing is a great leveller. I firmly believe it is the perfect hobby for a politician. There is nothing more humbling and more calculated to remind you of the frailty of your judgment than watching your tip straggle in after the rest of the field has unsaddled. I really believe the world would be a safer place if George Bush was obliged to publish a weekly tipping column and face up to the reality of how often he got it wrong.”
Robin Cook was a tipster for the Glasgow Herald newspaper from November 1991 to January 1998. His first column appeared on 16th November 1991, when he tipped Bradbury Star. The horse won six of his next seven races, but on this occasion he got no further than the very first fence. The race was won by jockey Antony Tory, who appeared in the racecard as ‘A Tory’. Robin Cook’s last column appeared on 31st January 1998, when he successfully tipped Speaker Weatherill (4-1) to win the Great Yorkshire Chase.
BACKGROUND TO THE RACE
The Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup (sponsored by totesport) was introduced at Cheltenham in December, 1963, three years after the successful Mackeson Gold Cup (now the Paddy Power Gold Cup) which is held the previous month.
Originally under the sponsorship of Massey Ferguson, the valuable and prestigious handicap chase had a number of sponsors before settling down with the title, the Tripleprint Gold Cup, in 1992. Last year the name change to bonusprint.com Gold Cup though still under the sponsorship of George Ward’s Grunwick Group which earlier this year announced its decision to cease the sponsorship
This year the race is called the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup (sponsored by totesport).
The Irish took the first three runnings, thanks to the efforts of Limeking, Flying Wild and Flyingbolt.
Bob Turnell had two successes as a trainer, the first with The Laird in 1966 when the winning jockey was Jeff King. The Laird went on to be second in the 1968 totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup. Turnell’s second winner, Arctic Bow, was ridden by his son Andy Turnell and they easily beat Soloning by six lengths for owner Jim Joel.
Fulke Walwyn, one of the greatest-ever jump trainers, captured the 1968 running with Tassilo, while the admirable Titus Oates, trained by Gordon Richards and ridden by Ron Barry, defied 11st 13lb in 1969. Richards also trained two more winners, Clever Folly (1989) and Addington Boy (1996).
Leap Frog was another Irish winner in 1971 off 12st 1lb, after earlier in that year running second to L’Escargot in the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Fred Winter gained the first of his three Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup (sponsored by totesport) wins courtesy of the great Pendil in 1973. His other training successes were with Observe in 1982 and Fifty Dollars More the following season.
Pendil won back-to-back King George VI Chases at Kempton Park in 1972 and 1973, and was just caught by The Dikler in the 1973 totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Jenny Pitman had plenty of top chasers during her time as a trainer and she was successful with Bueche Giorod in the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup (sponsored by totesport) in 1980.
Another charismatic retired trainer, David Nicholson, was responsible for sending out Another Coral to victory in the 1992 Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup (sponsored by totesport). The nine-year-old received a marvellous ride from Richard Dunwoody to get the better of Second Schedual by five lengths.
Norman Williamson, who retired from the saddle in 2003 after a highly-successful career, was in the plate on Go Roger Go, the most recent Irish-trained winner of the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup (sponsored by totesport) in a marvellous finish in 2000.
Mick Fitzgerald was victorious in this valuable and exciting handicap chase, partnering the Nicky Henderson-trained Iris Royal to a head success over Risk Accessor in 2003. The same partnership was also successful in 2002 with Fondmort who beat Foly Pleasant by six lengths.
Fondmort became only the seventh horse to win both legs of Cheltenham’s Autumn Double, the Paddy Power Gold Cup and the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup (sponsored by totesport), albeit in different seasons, when he was given another magnificent ride by Fitzgerald to land the first-named contest lin 2003 by eight lengths from Poliantas.
The Philip Hobbs-trained Monkerhostin, third in the Paddy Power Gold Cup the month before, went two better when taking the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup (sponsored by totesport) last year from Thisthatandtother who went on to win the Grade Two Daily Telegraph Chase at The Festival.
THE ROBIN COOK MEMORIAL GOLD CUP (SPONSORED BY TOTESPORT) FACTS & FIGURES
* The Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup (sponsored by totesport) usually takes place over two miles and five furlongs on the New Course at Cheltenham. But in 2003, because of the lack of rain over the summer and during the autumn, the handicap chase was run over two miles and four and a half furlongs on the Old Course at Cheltenham.
* There have been 36 runnings, the first in 1963. Frost intervened in 2001, 1995 and 1976, snow in 1990 and 1981, while the 1967 running was lost due to a foot and mouth epidemic.
* Limeking, trained in Ireland by Danny Morgan, won the inaugural running, defeating Flying Wild by two lengths.
* In all, there have been five Irish-trained winners of the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup (sponsored by totesport). The victories of Limeking (1963), Flying Wild (1964) and Flyingbolt (1965) ensured that the first three runnings all went to Ireland. However, no horse hailing from the Emerald Isle was successful between Leap Frog (1971) and Go Roger Go, victorious in 2000.
* Arkle, the greatest steeplechaser of all time and triumphant in the Cheltenham Gold Cup three times, suffered a rare reversal in the 1964 Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup (sponsored by totesport). Anne Duchess of Westminster’s charge was saddled with the burden of 12st 10lb (which included a 3lb penalty for winning the Hennessy just seven days beforehand) and finished the staying-on third behind the useful Irish mare Flying Wild (receiving 32lb) and Buona Notte (receiving 26lb).
* The highest weight ever carried to victory in the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup (sponsored by totesport) was the 12st 7lb shouldered by Pendil in 1973. Other notable weight-carrying performances were Flyingbolt with 12st 6lb in 1965 and Leap Frog with 12st 1lb in 1971. Pendil is the only horse to have also won the other major race at the December Meeting, the totesport Bula Hurdle, which he did in 1970.
* In addition to holding the weight-carrying record for the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup (sponsored by totesport), Pendil also has the distinction of being the shortest-priced winner, being returned at 8/11.
* Nine favourites or joint-favourites have won the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup (sponsored by totesport) - Flyingbolt (1965, 5/2), Titus Oates (1969, 9/4), Leap Frog (1971, 3/1), Arctic Bow (1972, 9/2), Pendil (1973, 8/11), Fifty Dollars More (1983, 3/1), Oregon Trail (1986, 3/1), Kings Fountain (1991, 7/4) and Addington Boy (1996, 7/4).
* A fancied horse - if not the favourite - usually wins the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup (sponsored by totesport). 29 victors have been returned at single-figure odds. There have not been any huge shocks in the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup (sponsored by totesport), with the longest-priced victor being the 20/1 chance The Snipe (1978).
* Female trainers have saddled the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup (sponsored by totesport) winner three times - Auriol Sinclair with Simian (1970), Jenny Pitman with Bueche Giorod (1980) and, most recently, Sue Nock with Senor El Betrutti (1997).
* Gordon Richards and Fred Winter were the most successful trainers in the history of the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup (sponsored by totesport) with three winners each. Richards sent out Titus Oates (1969), Clever Folly (1989) and Addington Boy (1996), while Winter had Pendil (1973), Observe (1982) and Fifty Dollars More (1983).
* Among current trainers, Martin Pipe and Nicky Henderson are the winning-most with two bonusprint.com triumphs apiece - Pipe scored with Fragrant Dawn (1993) and Northern Starlight (1998), while Henderson has took two successive renewals, courtesy of Fondmort (2002) and Iris Royal (2003).
*Richard Johnson became the third jockey to achieve success twice when Monkerhostin won last year - his first victory came on Legal Right in 1999. Mick Fitzgerald is the other current jockey to have ridden more than one Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup (sponsored by totesport) winner when partnering Iris Royal to success in 2003, having been on board Fondmort the previous term. Brendan Powell, now retired from the saddle but still involved in racing as a trainer, won on Pegwell Bay (1988) and Dublin Flyer (1994).
* Senor El Betrutti (1997) and Pegwell Bay (1988) are the only two horses to have landed Cheltenham’s Autumn Double of the Paddy Power Gold Cup and Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup (sponsored by totesport) in the same season.
* Five other horses have won both very valuable handicap chases but in different years. Fondmort took the 2003 Paddy Power Gold Cup and the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup (sponsored by totesport) the previous season, while Dublin Flyer (PP 1995, RC 1994), Another Coral (PP 1991, RC 1992), Beau Ranger (PP 1987, RC 1984) and Fifty Dollars More (PP 1982, RC 1983) also achieved double glory.
* No horse has won the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup (sponsored by totesport) twice.
ROLL OF HONOUR
YEAR HORSE AGE/WEIGHT TRAINER JOCKEY SP RAN
2004 Monkerhostin 7-10-02 Philip Hobbs Richard Johnson 4/1 13
2003 Iris Royal 7-10-13 Nicky Henderson Mick Fitzgerald 7/1 17
2002 Fondmort 6-10-05 Nicky Henderson Mick Fitzgerald 5/1 9
2000 Go Roger Go 6-11-00 Edward O’Grady (IRE) Norman Williamson 7/1 12
1999 Legal Right 6-10-13 Jonjo O’Neill Richard Johnson 6/1 9
1998 Northern Starlight 7-10-01 Martin Pipe Tony McCoy 15/2 13
1997 Senor El Betrutti 8-11-03 Sue Nock Graham Bradley 9/1 9
1996 Addington Boy 8-11-10 Gordon Richards Tony Dobbin 7/4f 10
1994 Dublin Flyer 8-10-02 Tim Forster Brendan Powell 100/30 11
1993 Fragrant Dawn 9-10-02 Martin Pipe Declan Murphy 14/1 11
1992 Another Coral 9-11-04 David Nicholson Richard Dunwoody 11/2 10
1991 Kings Fountain 8-11-10 Kim Bailey Anthony Tory 7/4f 8
1989 Clever Folly 9-10-04 Gordon Richards Neale Doughty 4/1 6
1988 Pegwell Bay 7-10-13 Tim Forster Brendan Powell 7/2 10
1987 Bishops Yarn 8-10-07 Toby Balding Richard Guest 100/30 5
1986 Oregon Trail 6-10-07 Simon Christian Ronnie Beggan 3/1jf 6
1985 Combs Ditch 9-11-09 David Elsworth Colin Brown 13/2 7
1984 Beau Ranger 6-9-10 John Thorne John Hurst 8/1 10
1983 Fifty Dollars More 8-11-10 Fred Winter Richard Linley 3/1f 13
1982 Observe 6-10-11 Fred Winter John Francome 11/2 15
1980 Bueche Giorod 9-10-00 Jenny Pitman Bryan Smart 14/1 15
1979 Father Delaney 7-10-10 Peter Easterby Alan Brown 12/1 12
1978 The Snipe 8-10-00 John Webber Anthony Webber 20/1 14
1977 Even Melody 8-11-02 Neville Crump Colin Hawkins 8/1 11
1975 Easby Abbey 8-11-10 Peter Easterby Ron Barry 5/1 9
1974 Garnishee 10-10-06 Tom Jones David Mould 12/1 9
1973 Pendil 8-12-07 Fred Winter Richard Pitman 8/11f 8
1972 Arctic Bow 7-10-12 Bob Turnell Andy Turnell 9/2 jf 11
1971 Leap Frog 7-12-01 Tom Dreaper (IRE) Val O’Brien 3/1f 12
1970 Simian 8-11-08 Auriol Sinclair David Moore 4/1 7
1969 Titus Oates 7-11-13 Gordon Richards Ron Barry 9/4f 11
1968 Tassilo 10-10-01 Fulke Walwyn Aly Branford 8/1 14
1966 The Laird 5-10-09 Bob Turnell Jeff King 13/2 8
1965 Flyingbolt 6-12-06 Tom Dreaper (IRE) Pat Taaffe 5/2f 11
1964 Flying Wild 8-10-06 Dan Moore (IRE) Tommy Carberry 100/8 7
1963 Limeking 6-10-12 Danny Morgan (IRE) Toss Taaffe 100/9 14