2024 Belmont Stakes Probable Contender: Get To Know Sierra Leone

As the excitement builds for the 2024 Belmont Stakes, horse racing enthusiasts are keenly observing the emerging contenders. Among them, one name is generating considerable buzz: Sierra Leone.

This remarkable thoroughbred has been showcasing an impressive trajectory in the lead-up to one of the most prestigious races in the sport. With a combination of speed, stamina, and an innate racing intelligence, Sierra Leone appears poised to capture the attention of both seasoned bettors and casual fans alike.

Join us as we delve into this promising contender’s background, training regimen, and what makes Sierra Leone a standout in the field of hopefuls for the 2024 Belmont Stakes.

Early Career And Training

The initial stages of a racehorse’s career and training are crucial for its future success and longevity. The groundwork established during these formative years shapes the horse’s athletic abilities and psychological resilience, preparing it for the competitive racing environment. Effective training programs from a young age are vital for building stamina, speed, and overall physical fitness.

Additionally, early exposure to the racetrack helps horses become accustomed to the sights and sounds they experience during races, minimizing anxiety and enhancing performance.

This early groundwork was essential for his achievements in major races, making him a strong contender for events like the 2024 Belmont Stakes. Gamblers aiming to make savvy 2024 Belmont bets should pay attention to horses like Thunderbolt, whose rigorous early training sets them apart.

Sierra Leone debuted on November 4 in a maiden special weight event over a mile at Aqueduct Racetrack. Starting from post 5, he stumbled at the beginning but was urged three wide on the turn and moved five wide into the upper stretch, ultimately winning comfortably under Manuel Franco by one and one-quarter lengths, with a time of 1:36.94.

In his subsequent race on December 2, Sierra Leone competed in the Grade II Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack, a prep event for the Road to the Kentucky Derby over 1 1/8 miles. After dropping back between horses at the start, he made a strong five-wide rally from last place in a field of 10.

As the horses entered the stretch, Sierra Leone briefly took the lead from Dornoch a furlong out, but Dornoch fought back and narrowly won by a nose, finishing the race in 1:50.30 on a muddy, sealed track.

Racing Highlights

Throughout his early career, Sierra Leone accumulated several notable victories. Below, let’s explore the highlights of his racing career.

2024 Risen Star (G2)

With a sluggish start working against him, Sierra Leone staged an impressive late surge to overtake Track Phantom and clinch victory by a head in the 52nd edition of the $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

2024 Blue Grass Stakes (G1)

Highly regarded Sierra Leone was reluctant to enter the April 6 Blue Grass Stakes (G1) starting gate at Keeneland, causing a brief delay. However, once the race began, the skilled colt showed no hesitation, charging from ninth place to overtake Just a Touch in the final stretch and secure a 1 1/2-length victory in the $995,782 Blue Grass.

Sierra Leone completed the 1 1/8 mile race in a decent time of 1:50.08. The brisk early fractions of 23.15, 46.48, and 1:10.83, determined by Sierra Leone’s running partner Top Conor and followed closely by Just a Touch, set the stage for his final surge.

Pedigree and Lineage

Sierra Leone’s pedigree speaks volumes about his potential and quality. As a progeny of two highly distinguished thoroughbreds, he carries the legacy of his sire, Gun Runner, and his dam, Heavenly Love.

Gun Runner, renowned for his exceptional racing career, was a powerhouse with multiple Grade 1 wins, including the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Classic. His remarkable speed and endurance have made him a sought-after sire.

On the other hand, Heavenly Love adds a layer of finesse to Sierra Leone’s lineage. Known for her impressive track performances, Heavenly Love blends agility and grace into Sierra Leone’s genetic makeup. Her victories, notably in the Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades Stakes, underline her competitive spirit and innate talent.

The combination of Gun Runner’s robust legacy and Heavenly Love’s illustrious record positions Sierra Leone as a horse with both the heritage and the aptitude to excel in the racing world. This extraordinary lineage raises expectations and promises an exciting future for Sierra Leone on the racetrack.

Sierra Leone’s Trainer

Chad Brown, a formidable horse training and racing name, has left an indelible mark on Sierra Leone’s equestrian landscape. Known for his unparalleled expertise and commitment to excellence, Brown has trained some of the most successful racehorses in the industry.

His journey, filled with dedication, hard work, and an innate understanding of horses, has propelled him to the pinnacle of his career.

Brown’s strategic approach to training, combining traditional methods with modern techniques, has consistently produced top-tier performances. His ability to understand and communicate with horses more deeply sets him apart from his peers. This unique skill has brought him numerous accolades and cemented his reputation as a leading trainer in Sierra Leone.

In 2001, Chad earned a degree in animal husbandry from Cornell University. He began his career in racing by working for Racing Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey during his college summers and the year after he graduated.

Conclusion

As the 2024 Belmont Stakes draws nearer, excitement continues to mount around Sierra Leone. He is a strong contender for the title with a solid track record, impressive pedigree, and dedicated training. Fans and bettors will watch closely to see if Sierra Leone can live up to the expectations and make a lasting mark in Belmont Stakes history.

Tickets for The Showcase at Cheltenham Racecourse on sale soon

The next major horse race meeting at Cheltenham Racecourse is The Showcase at the end of October. The two-day event is scheduled for Friday 25th and Saturday 26th October. As ever, The Jockey Club has dubbed it the “return of jumps racing” and the general curtain-raiser for the 2024/25 Cheltenham calendar. Tickets are set to go on sale imminently for adults, with all under-18s allowed free, ticketless entry to The Showcase.

The Showcase is also unique as it provides a peak behind the curtain into the world of racehorse ownership. There’s a host of experiences for racegoers, including Q&A sessions with some of the greats of National Hunt racing. All of which helps to whet the appetite for the 2024/25 jumps season.

National Hunt trainers dedicate their lives to preparing the finest hurdlers and steeplechasers for owners up and down the country. Being a racehorse owner is a hugely fulfilling pastime, especially when the hard work of training pays off on a race day. It’s easier than some may think to become a racehorse owner. It’s even possible to purchase shares in a racehorse gift voucher, which allows recipients to select the horse they are interested in. Whether it’s to celebrate a birthday or a landmark anniversary, there’s no barrier to entering the world of horseracing these days.

What to expect from The Showcase meeting

Both days of racing have already been pencilled in, according to The Jockey Club’s official website. Friday’s race card features seven compelling races, one of which is a Grade 2 feature race, the Sky Bet Novices’ Hurdle. Last time out, the Novices’ Hurdle was landed by Lookaway, trained by Neil King. In addition, the Class 2 Novices’ Steeple Chase and Novices’ Hurdle Race were both landed by thoroughbreds trained by Gavin Cromwell, who enjoyed a stunning start to the 2023/24 jumps season.

On Saturday, the second and final day of The Showcase meeting, the EPIC Jumps Season at the William Hill Handicap Steeple Chase is the feature race. In 2023/24, this race was comfortably won by Henry De Bromhead’s Whacker Clan. Meanwhile two-time Cheltenham Festival winner, Flooring Porter, also made a triumphant return to the circuit to win the William Hill Lengthen Your Odds Novices’ Steeple Chase. There’ll likely be more seasoned festival runners entered into this year’s Showcase meeting.

If you want to be notified when tickets formally go on sale, it’s best to sign up for The Jockey Club newsletter, which alerts all subscribers to early-bird windows and potential ticket discounts in advance.

Any readers thinking of making use of The Showcase as an opportunity to celebrate a special occasion should note that hospitality packages will soon be made available for October. Private boxes are available for most race meetings at Cheltenham, catering for a minimum of ten guests per box. With a four-course meal, as well as an additional afternoon tea and private bar facility, not to mention your own official betting services, it’s as VIP as it gets for racehorse-goers at Cheltenham.

Curragh Racecourse

The Curragh is probably the most significant racecourse in Ireland. Dedicated to Flat horse racing and located in County Kildare. The Irish meaning of the Curragh means ‘place of the running horse’. This right-handed galloping course follows a horseshoe shape with a testing uphill finish. It has a full circuit of 2-miles and a 1-mile chute. Race distances range from 5f – 2-miles 1-furlong.

The Curragh racecourse has a long history dating back to 1727.

As any race fan know, this is the home of some truly amazing race including 5 Classics: Irish 1000 Guineas, Irish 2000 Guineas, Irish Derby, Irish Oaks & Irish St Leger. These Group 1 races have seen exceptional winners. Who could forget these 10 super stars:

Galileo – Irish Derby 2001

Nijinsky – Irish Derby 1970

Shergar – Irish Derby 1981

Salsabil – Irish Derby 1990

Attraction – Irish 1000 Guineas 2004

Ouij Board – Irish Oaks 2004

Camelot – Irish Derby 2012

Kingman – Irish 2000 Guineas 2014

Enable – Irish Oaks 2017

The Minstrel – Irish Derby 1997

Just a selection of personal favourites. Basically, the best horses to set hoof on track anywhere in the world.

The racing season starts in March and concludes in October. There are 23 days racing including 11 Group 1 races.

The first Irish Derby took place in 1866.

The Curragh Racecourse has ample horse training facilities covering 1500 acres. This includes 70 miles of turf gallops. In addition, 12 miles of peat gallops and 8 all-weather courses. There is an old woodchip gallop over 9-furlongs.

While horse racing is synonymous with The Curragh it has other notable landmarks including The Boardwalk and ‘Stairway to Heaven’, Cuilcagh Mountain, Giant’s Grave & Giant’s Cave, Marbel Arch Cave & Japanese Gardens.

The population of County Kildare is about 250,000. The average racecourse attendance for a major fixture such as the Irish Derby is 12,000.

The Curragh is the most famous of all Irish racecourses and well worth a visit. It has a rich history of racing and home of the Irish National Stud which houses some of the leading sires in the world Elusive Pimpernel, Equiano, Invincible Spirit, Lucky Vega, Mac Swiney, Nando Parrado & Pheonix Of Spain.

For more information take a look at The Curragh website or social media including Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin & Twitter.

Cartmel

cartmelCartmel Racecourse is located in Cartmel, Cumbria on the Scottish border and in the beautiful Lake District. As far as courses go it’s on the small side with only nine race days held here each year over the summer months, one of which is a three day Festival held in May. In July the Cumbria Crystal Hurdle Race is held there, worth £40,000+, it’s the biggest money race at Carmel. The racing calendar then winds down in August with the Cartmel Cup and Cavendish Cup steeplechase. The competitive races all take place on a left handed, undulating oval with a finishing straight. It features just six fences and is one mile and one furlong and a four furlong run-in.

 

Despite its size, attendance at the jump track is actually higher on race days than most tracks in the country, topping 20,000 plus at times. The course is rather distinctive in that it features a fairground on one side, and those attending can often be seen having picnics and enjoying the weather. There are plenty of food and drink stalls (try the Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding, local Michelin menus or a pint at the Unsworth’s Yard Brewery!). It’s nestled a short walk away from local village shops, so can form part of a family day out. An idyllic setting. In one form or another racing has taken place in Cartmel since or prior to 1856 and the course is famous for the Gay Future horse switching coup of 1974.

The thrill of a days racing in a picturesque setting appeals to both casual and serious racing fans alike, so it’s so surprise that the Cartmel racecourse itself states front and centre of what  ‘A Truly Unique Location’ the course is. It’s important to point out that, like many racecourses nowadays, the admissions gate is now cashless, though on site bookmakers accept both card and cash. Party tents and the like are available if you’re a group with deep enough pockets. There are plenty of options to get to the course (by car, coach etc) and a detailed map of the course is here.

 

The 2024 raceday fixtures are listed below:

Saturday 25th May

Bank Holiday Monday 27th May

Wednesday 29th May

Friday 28th June

Sunday 30th June

Saturday 20th July

Monday 22nd July

Saturday 24th August

Bank Holiday Monday 26th August

 

Contact details for the course:

 

  • info@cartmel-racecourse.co.uk
  • 01539 536340
  • Cartmel Racecourse
  • Cartmel
  • Grange-over-Sands
  • Cumbria
  • LA11 6QF
  • UK

Newcastle

newcastle racecourseNewcastle Racecourse is located at Gosforth Park in Newcastle upon Tyne, and provides a great opportunity for those in the North East of England to watch thrilling on course racing action. Racing began in the area hundreds of years ago and it wasn’t until the now historic Northumberland Plate moved to Gosworth Park in 1882 that the course was born.

Newcastle Racecourse is dual-purpose venue (tapeta track), hosting both flat and national hunt racing events throughout the racing calendar. This ensures that the high quality races just keep on coming. For just a taste of that in February there’s the 4 miles and 112 furlongs Eider Chase (National Hunt), the aforementioned 2 miles and 56 yards Northumberland Plate (Flat) in June and the 2 miles and half a furlong Fighting Fifth Hurdle in November. The Northumberland Plate  weekend alone brings in tens of millions, telling you just how much benefit it is to both the course and the local economy.

They certainly know how to put on a show at Newcastle racecourse, and with the likes of Ladies Day, music themed race days (Gosforth Park Cup Night ft Madness Live After Racing for instance) and more besides. They even cheekily piggyback on the Grand National on 13th April by having a raceday where they also show the Grand National on giant screens around the course.

It doesn’t end there either. For those with deep pockets – or biggest organisations – there are venue hire options, there’s also annual course membership options that include guests passes and access to “500+ fixtures across Arena Racing Company racecourses” and even golf lessons and the like, for those looking to turn from punter to golf pro. The restaurant and hospitality options are second to none too, with private box options available offering “exceptional panoramic views of the racecourse” for reasonable prices. You can download the brochure here.

All in all Newcastle definitely looks like one of the more interesting race tracks to check out, and if past experiences of the area are anything to go by, I’m sure you can have a great night out after all!

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