We have three runners today at Chelmsford City
Wednesday, 08 February 2017
"Dancing is like dreaming with your feet!"
It’s a wet, damp morning, one of those typical February days which nobody wants but we always get. There is a bit of a breeze as well which doesn’t help and with three runners today, it is quite hectic in the yard. At least Jess, the feeder, is back from her holiday and I have not had to get up a four o’clock, only five. We have been cantering most of the horses close to home on Hamilton Hill and all has gone well. Most of the horses have been clipped over the winter, but one or two have been on the easy list and you never know whether to clip them now, which is getting late, or just let the spring coat come on its own. The only thing is they get very warm and sweaty and take must longer to do up after exercise. I feel my clipping arm starting to twitch. If I had a penny for every horse I had clipped in my lifetime, I wouldn’t be too far behind Bill Gates.
The peacocks have come for a visit
We have three runners today, all at Chelmsford City. Mr Turner is our first runner in the two o’clock, the one mile handicap. This horse has always shown tons of ability at home but never produced a jot on the racecourse. I have given him a good time off and he has been schooled over hurdles, which he jumps very well. We have never been able to sort out his correct trip, but he is well drawn today and this should tell us a lot more. I will be running him over hurdles before long as well. Our next runner is Bracken Brae in the three o’clock, the two mile handicap. She is ultra-consistent, was a bit unlucky last time and should go close once again. Our last runner of the day is Lost The Moon in the 4.40 who won very well last time out. I have given her a good break as she is a great big filly who still has a big frame to fill out. She must be there abouts today if reproducing her form of last time.
The snowdrops are out at the stud
There is a full page article today from the senior stewards of the Jockey Club in the Racing Post. He is responding to all the comments made about the Kempton Park proposal. I think he lays the facts out perfectly well and explains what the Jockey Club is all about. You have got to look forward, you can’t look backwards and I feel our sport needs to modernise in a big way and quickly if we are to continue on the up. I personally could never envisage me advocating training on a track similar to how they do in Australia, America, Singapore, Hong Kong etc., but with the costs escalating over the last 15 years, I think it is the best way forward for everybody. An all-weather track at Newmarket would certainly help the trainers of today and certainly the ones of the future. Middleham and Malton are two northern centres with plenty of horses and they certainly deserve an all-weather track within easy distance of them. Newcastle is still a long way and if your horse doesn’t handle the fibresand of Southwell, which most don’t, you have the long trek to Wolverhampton or Chelmsford as the nearest alternative. The big problem is though, and it always has been since the 60’s, is that the majority of the money doesn’t go into the right areas. The bookmakers have never really played ball as their businesses are more important to them than the industry itself, although they are completely entwined, whether they think it or not. Without the money nothing can move forward, so the Jockey Club’s proposal of selling a track which is only used properly once a year is the best one on the table and must be grasped with both hands. There will be big fights ahead, greenbelt land, tradition, screams from southern based trainers, newts, bats, you name it, they will all come up, but modernise we must and I personally think this is a great start.
It's a damp, cold morning
Tuesday, 07 February 2017
"You may not know where you’re going, but so long as you spread your wings the winds will carry you."
C. JoyBell C.
We have had a fair bit of rain overnight
It’s a damp morning and getting colder. It was only drizzly when I came in at a quarter past four, but it has progressively got worse and as we write this at a quarter to ten, it is pouring down. A good two lots of horses have gone out though and everybody is cheerful and getting on with it. Our tricky one in the stalls went through with flying colours again and everything looks to be moving well and they are certainly eating well. My stint as feeder comes to an end tonight, unless Jess fails to return from her holiday. I have had it happen before and nothing ceases to amaze me nowadays. I have thoroughly enjoyed the early mornings though as the horses all know me and they are always pleased to see me, even though one or two try to take a nip if you are not feeding them quickly enough.
(L) Hold Firm leading Mr Turner and (R) Lost The Moon and Bracken Brae upsides
A couple of articles took my eye this morning in the Racing Post. The first was on four good trainers who have retired early, all for various reasons. It is quite amazing how so many in our profession disappear at frequent intervals. I have mentioned before that we once had a foreman here at Newmarket who stayed with us for 12 years. There were 75 trainers when he started and 75 when he left, but only 18 were the same. This just goes to show how tricky it is to survive in this industry, and these statistics are from many years ago. Thankfully I was one of the 18, but I can tell you it’s even harder nowadays when you have fewer than 60 horses, which the majority of trainers do. Everything is changing and I think the authorities and people in general should understand that change must happen, whether it is to racecourses, stable routines or administration.
Back down the stalls for another practice
The other article is about the French authorities giving lady jockeys a 4lbs allowance. I am not sure whose bright idea this was and in our modern world there are plenty of female jockeys up in arms. It is all about competing on level terms and giving everybody an equal chance. If you are good enough, you will get on, as several of our notable lady pilots have proved. I don’t think there will be a snowball effect is other racing jurisdictions.