April Fools round-up: the best racing pranks

SILVINIACO CONTI and Paul Nicholls

Paul Nicholls: has called in some favours for title bid

  PICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)  

JOCKEYS making surprise comebacks, revolutionary new footwear for horses and a daring plan by the champion jumps trainer on how to retain his crown were among the apparently blockbuster stories unveiled to racing fans on April 1.

Racing got into the worldwide act of trying to hoodwink the public, with Paul Nicholls, no stranger to April Fools pranks, floating the idea that his former assistants, Dan Skelton and Harry Fry, were going to help him defeat Willie Mullins in the trainers’ title battle.

Writing on his Betfair blog, Nicholls sensationally revealed his two former proteges would become satellite yards for the remainder of the season.

He said: “At first I wasn’t sure it was fair to ask them for such a huge favour. But the moment I raised the subject they both agreed to alter things so that their stables become satellite yards under my trainer’s licence.

“Now that Dan’s and Harry’s horses will be running under my name I feel more confident that I can defy the odds. Here’s hoping.”

New shoes

There will be changes at Ed Dunlop’s yard as well, with his runners to be shod with shoes, all the way from Uzbekistan.

The shoes are made of the revolutionary material graphene, and according to Dunlop “are proven to give up to an extra five per cent in performance in trials”.

However, a clue to the veracity of the story might be found in the name of the shoes – “Rilap Loof”, apparently.

Happy birthday

Mark Johnston took to his website to reveal a change that seemed to go under the radar, noting that all thoroughbreds in the northern hempishere will celebrate their birthday the Monday after Champions Day, instead of January 1.

Such a move means all championships can end on the same day to complete “a narrative for the sport”, although the Racing Post Trophy is now for three-year-olds, which could cause some headaches.

Comeback kings and queens

As if that was not enough big news for one day, retired jockeys Hayley Turner and Carl Llewellyn have apparently decided to return to the saddle, with the latter getting the leg up on Splash Of Ginge at Aintree next weekend.

Turner, meanwhile, tweeted: “I love it too much! I’ve decided to apply for my Flat/Jump licence. Bring on 2016!”


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