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The weekend commentary is upon us

Friday, 22 September 2017

"If you feel you are down on your luck, check the level of your effort."

Robert Brault.

Ness Of Brodgar and True Calling

We got the forecast rain last evening, but not quite as much, I think, as the rest of the country, just a good sprinkling, but it certainly left the grass wet when we walked Across the Flat this morning to watch work. At present it is a glorious sunny morning, but we did have some bands of fog early doors. We have had a mixed morning work wise with some horses galloping, some cantering and some having a quiet walk and trot and a pick of grass. With everybody in, the flag is up, and it is a good day.

Rum Ration on the Hamilton Hill

Both runners last night ran sound races and there is plenty of promise for the future. Indian Red won the best turned out and then preceded to run a really good race. He settled really well, was dropped in to last place from the start, which was the plan to get him settled. He made good progress in the straight to finish seventh and I think next time, in a similar type of race, he will be very competitive. Dixon’s first run in a handicap will have done him the world of good. He was very lucky to stand up early on as something nearly put him through the rails and he got shuffled back, but he showed character to come back from that and ran on well to finish fourth. This is the first time he has had to show some grit and I was very pleased with him. If we don’t have any more problems he should be winning shortly.


The Tote report finishes today with Bill Barber of the Racing Post commenting on the ‘brave new dawn’ that the 54 racecourses are attempting to start. You can understand that Chelmsford has not taken part as Fred Done owns that one, but as for Ascot not signing up is beyond belief. Nobody seems to ask the question why and it would be interesting to know the answer. If you read the article it sounds as if there is going to be a plethora of new bets and let’s hope the people that have been designated the task of forming the new company, know what they are doing. It has the potential to be enormous if a worldwide audience can be involved, but it also has the chance of falling very flat. They have had seven years to plan for this, and let’s hope they get it right.


The weekend commentary is nearly upon us now and I must congratulate all the trainers involved who have raised a great sum of money for Racing Welfare. The lines are still open until the end of September, so please keep giving and I will be doing my best not to let anybody down and make it fun for the racegoers. Poor Jamie Osborne got the bad draw with the Cesarewitch Trial, but if anybody can cope, I am sure it is him. 

... and walking back home

Phil’s piece is below and just to say everybody at Frankland Lodge and Dullingham Park wish him a speedy recovery from his visit to hospital. His stories are now becoming a cult on a Friday and I am sure everybody enjoys them as much as I do. Get well soon Phil.

Phil on Friday

Whatever happened to Angel Jacobs? He was the jockey who came to England in 1998 having ridden professionally abroad, with considerable success, yet was granted an amateur’s licence here.  Apart from obvious expertise he was pretty convincing.

His amateur status allowed him to compete against keen but lesser riders, and to claim against the professionals. He rode 21 times in Britain and won five races.

Our own Michael Jenkins was one of those beaten into second place by Angel Jacobs, real name Monserrate, and actually gave the impostor a lift home afterwards, commenting that he was a charming fellow.

It transpired that Angel had previously been banned in the U.S. for failing a drugs test and when his wrong-doings here came to light he was banned for 10 years. Unsurprisingly Jenko soon lost touch, and things went from very bad to even worse for Angel.  Back in the U.S. he was driving over the alcohol limit in 2008 when he was involved in a crash which killed his teenage passenger. He admitted a drink problem and was jailed, in 2012, for a minimum of 10 years. Such a tragedy.

Angel was probably, and hopefully, the last of the ‘shamateurs’ so let’s finish this tale on a more cheerful note.

In earlier times the highly accomplished Jack Anthony and Fred Rees, among others, would ride quite openly as amateurs when they were nothing of the sort, and would readily confess what they were up to. Inevitably the real unpaid sportsmen eventually complained.

A group was summoned before what was then known as the National Hunt Committee to be asked whether they had at any time jeopardised their status by accepting payment, usually in the form of a present for riding a winner.

First on the carpet was Jack Anthony, who was asked by the chairman of the panel, a certain Colonel Phillips, if he had at any time received such a payment.

“Oh, yes sir,” replied Jack.

“Would you care to divulge to name of the person?” asked the chairman.

“I wouldn’t mind, sir”.

“Who was it then?”

“You, sir.”

An eye-witness reported a roar of laughter and Jack was asked to leave.

And all the ‘shamateurs’ had to ride a professionals from that day forward ... !


We have two runners today at Chelmsford

Thursday, 21 September 2017

"Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts."

Edward R. Murrow.

Working in pairs this morning

It’s another very calm and still morning, with the temperature holding up well. It is forecast to rain later and get much colder, but staying reasonably dry over the weekend. We have galloped a few horses on the turf Across The Flat this morning, plus using Southfields Long Mile grass canter. All has gone well and everybody is in who should be. We are very pleased with the new yard person who started this week.

Astrobreeze and Koin

Both colts ran with promise yesterday and will have benefited greatly from the days outing. The experience of travelling, getting saddled, paddock, stalls and the race, will have stimulated them mentally, and physically brought them on. They both behaved very well. Roof Garden won the best turned out, so at least we went home with a winner for the lads and they will both be winning races in the future. There was a good turnout of owners for Saint Anthony, which is always great to see, and I think both races will work out very well with lots of winners coming out of them.

Tonight we have two runners at Chelmsford City and as you can see big fields for the prize money that is on offer. Indian Red is our first runner at 6.15. He hasn’t run for well over four months and will need this outing tonight. I hope they go quick enough, which will help him settle and is what he wants to do. He is a horse who, without doubt, has plenty of ability, but needs to get it into his brains to relax more and this big field should help. Our other runner is Dixon in the 9.15, so I have three hours to kill at Chelmsford. I hope the owners and trainers bar are fully stocked with food and coffee. Dixon has had three runs so far, all in quite good maidens. He has had a few little niggling problems which have stopped him running for a couple of months, but he is ready to start back in harness tonight. I am still not 100% convinced about his trip and I will learn a lot more after this evening’s race.

Astrofire and Astroblaze

I see Bedfred is ending their commercial relationship with the vast majority of racecourses. This means a loss of over £6 million in sponsorship and the shops will shut on the tracks. Let’s hope the new conglomerate of racetracks will have the monetary weight behind them to make up the shortfall. Betfred’s ownership of the Tote is analysed today in the second article in the Racing Post and you can make up your own minds whether it has been a success or not. 

Saint Anthony in the parade ring at Yarmouth yesterday

Pauline (our oldest owner) giving Saint Anthony a polo

There is an article today in the Racing Post whose author seems to criticise the Newmarket training fraternity for keeping their yards shut over the weekend. I don’t know how many open days the author has ever attended, but these days seem to be less and less popular every year. In my opinion he makes one or two interesting points, especially about the fall in owner’s numbers, which is what he should be mainly addressing. This is a big concern to everybody as there are very few trainers with orders for the yearling sales this year. The main elite owners will continue to monopolise these markets and their trainers will be packed to the rafters with new inmates, but the vast majority of trainer’s, country wise, will continue to struggle to attract owners to pay for their inmates. This is a trend that must be addressed and the author should use his brains on how we can address this, rather than criticise trainers who are working to their limits. My idea to make the open days better, is to open one centre every four years on a rotation basis, so Lambourn, Middleham, Epsom and Newmarket will be one every four years. It would make everything so simple and improve numbers, plus it makes common sense as less is always better then more more more.


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