The last day of Royal Ascot....

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We will be sending several runners out this week

Monday, 12 June 2017

"An earthquake achieves what the law promises but does not in practice maintain – the equality of all men."

Ignazio Silone.

Trotting past the stands

It’s an overcast morning with a good breeze, so you need a jacket on when you are out on the heath. We are getting bursts of sunshine as well and it looks like staying this way all week. We have a couple of non-runners this morning staff wise, which drives you to distraction, but the ones that are in, have got on really well. Everything has had a very good exercise, mainly on Southfields Round and the Rubbing House. We will be having several runners this week, in fact nearly every day and although the races are very competitive, let’s hope we can have one or two hitting the winner’s enclosures.

     03_Clear     11_Lost
Clearance and Lost The Moon out at first lot

It was great to see the picture of George Baker on the front of the Racing Post today when he visited Goodwood for the first time since his accident. George is a very genuine and likeable person, and he will be determined to get himself back as quickly as possible. However, with the type of injury he had, it will take time and everything needs to settle back and reset itself. Everybody wishes him well as he is a top class jockey and would undoubtedly be one of the contenders for champion jockey if he could ride at a lower weight.

Rum Ration after second lot

There is an interesting article from Lee Mottershead today talking about the careless and improper riding rules and how they must be enforced properly. I have been commenting on this over the last month in that jockeys seem to be getting off with careless riding penalties rather than improper riding penalties. The BHA must sort this out and not pamper to the jockeys association or to the so called fashionable jockeys. There will be a very bad accident if the jockeys don’t understand what the penalties are.

The other issue is the Qatar question with the many Gulf States putting pressure on them not to support extremists. We have welcomed them with open arms to our industry and they have put a lot of money in to all aspects, whether it is horses, sponsorship or property. I am sure we don’t know the extent of what is going on there, but it will be interesting to watch how this issue develops.


The morning has gone very smoothly

Friday, 09 June 2017

"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children."

American Indian Proverb.

Working Between The Banks

The Guv'nor watching Astrostorm and Dixon gallop past 

It is a breezy morning, but bright and warm. I think showers are forecast later on, and towards the weekend, but I am sure with this wind they will quickly blow through. I have had a great morning so far with the first two lots galloping Between The Banks on racecourse side. This is a very famous peat moss gallop and is my favourite place to work horses. It is only open when the conditions are right and you have to know how to ride it. There were several of my lads who had never been up there before, so I gave them a good talk beforehand as to what to expect and how I wanted them to gallop. Everybody took it on board and we had two lots that went very smoothly. There is no need to go too quick on this gallop as it gradually rises and the horses are doing plenty of work on the collar.

Debrief after first lot

We have no runners at the weekend, but plenty are entered next week. The two-year-olds that have run have certainly come on for their experiences. We are starting to get to the bottom of quite a few backward ones and most of them have tightened up well and are looking fitter than I have had them for a while.

Hold Firm leading the two-year-old colts

There have been plenty of articles this week on the lack and retention of stable staff, which I have commented on. All trainers are very aware nowadays of looking after their staff and paying them as much as they possibly can. There is a small article today on time off for staff, which is always one of the things thrown back at the trainers, but horses are 24/7 and the majority of the prize money is very poor and I can assure everybody out there that 98% of trainers are on a knife edge financially all the time. We would love to employ more staff so that everybody can get more time off, but until we can charge a fee that would allow this, the situation will continue. If the prize money was what it should be for an ordinary race, then the owners would be happy and flocking in there droves, but when you get a race meeting like Yarmouth last week with four races under £2000 to the winner, you can see what I mean. Staff are the backbone of our industry and do a brilliant job, but the only solution to the problem is prize money and the solution to that is a or b. a) is cut the fixtures and put the prize money into the other races or b) put minimum values up to £7000 for the poorest race, it is simple but getting to the situation is the tricky bit.

More two-year-olds at seccond lot

Phil on Friday

From adversity to acclaim in two-and-a-half minutes. That was last week’s Derby story for jockey Padraig Beggy, back from Australia where a few years ago he received a 15-month ban; he had ridden  just four winners in three years, one this season; and had only seven rides in 2017 before Epsom.

There are echoes here of the great Charlie Smirke, reckoned by many to be the best, and the unluckiest, jockey ever to sit on a racehorse. He won the Derby in 1958 on Hard Ridden, only his fifteenth ride of the season, and had previously come back from years in the wilderness to ride three other winners of the great race. But controversy and misfortune were never far away.

His career began brilliantly. By the time he was 19 he was retained as first jockey to the Aga Khan, then the turf’s most powerful owner. But calamity struck with a vengeance two years later. He was left at the start on odds-on favourite Welcome Gift in a little race at now defunct Gatwick and at the subsequent inquiry the stewards considered he had made ‘no effort to start’. They arbitrarily withdrew his licence.

It took five arduous years to get it back, during which time Charlie became, in his own words, down and out. He took a job on Brighton beach, wringing out bathing costumes and painting beach huts for 30 shillings (£1.50) a week, and at one point was so poor he had to pawn his overcoat.

Then news filtered back that Welcome Gift, by this time exported to India, had shown a marked reluctance to leave the gate on many occasions and it was intimated to Charlie that he could re-apply for his licence. The following year he won the Derby on Windsor Lad, then won it again on Mahmoud and later Tulyar, after which he came out with the famous pun ‘What did I tul-yar?’

But disaster followed him everywhere - he was once disqualified from driving ‘for life’; he was divorced, married a singer, and when that liaison failed as well he remarried his first wife; he was constantly in trouble with the stewards. However, following an unfortunate incident at Longchamp when the crowd hurled gravel at him after he was beaten on a fancied runner, he won his fourth St. Leger on the aptly named Never Say Die.

Weight problems added to his woes, but he was to have the last laugh on his many critics when he won his fourth Derby, on Hard Ridden. At the end of that season he finally called it a day. He died in 1983, aged 86.


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