A great performance ....


Not everything went quite to plan

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

"We need not destroy the past. It is gone."

John Cage.

Swilken (John) and Topamichi (Joe)

It’s an overcast morning for a start, but the sun has gradually won the argument and the temperature is quickly rising. We have had a mixed morning, with first lot going across the racecourse side to gallop. Unfortunately we had a loose one, which proceeded to set off towards Newmarket at a great rate of knots. Thankfully a heathman and Gill Duffield headed it off and we managed to catch it without any damage done, only to my state of mind, which didn’t get any better. The work went nearly as planned but I am sure everybody will have gleaned some experience from the lot. Second lot were cantering on the town sand on Bury Hill, and that went off reasonably well, apart from one backward one which is starting to get the idea but just needs a bit more experience. Third lot will be cantering on Warren Hill or staying in the indoor ride.

Over on racecourse side

Blue Bounty ran a sound race last night but I think the draw was the deciding factor. We had to use him up a bit early and he hit the front plenty soon enough. I think he wants to get there a bit later, as Joe Fanning indicated, but he is a multiple winner waiting to happen. It gives me quite a bit of hope as some of the youngsters have been working with him and going nicely. We had a good turnout of syndicate members last night, who all looked very smart and I hope they enjoyed the night at a very well run racecourse. The only problem was on the return journey, where there was a crash on the A1 and I had to make a detour through lots of little Nottinghamshire villages.

The string walking home

Once again we had a situation with different rules in Ireland at the weekend, when the Luca Cumani filly had to be re-shod because she was wearing shoes that didn’t adhere to the Irish Racing Turf Club rules. Each racing country has their own rules, which seems crackers, as any other sport you compete in around the world have the same rules. Why we can’t have a universal rule worldwide is beyond me and it is about time we did. The BHA should lead from the front in this matter. At all these conferences they have worldwide this should be number one on the agenda.


There is a good article by Colin Russell in the Racing Post today, on the fixtures list. He comes up with one or two very good points, but basically the fixture list is now boring, as there is very little variety in the race conditions and the majority of races are very similarly framed. It doesn’t take much to come up with some ingenuity, and it would certainly make for much better planning by the trainers if we could have some interesting conditions, rather than the mediocre ones we have now. However, it takes clerk of the courses and the BHA to have some brains and knowledge of racing, rather than what they read in books.


The two ends of the scale

Monday, 21 July 2014

"That which is striking and beautiful is not always good, but that which is good is always beautiful."

Ninon de L’Enclos.

Astrocat (Sinead) leading Prayer Time (Emilie)

It’s a muggy overcast morning although no thunderstorms as yet. It was a funny old day yesterday, as we got torrential rain with thunder and lightening at the stud, but very little in Newmarket. The forecast is for a dryish week with the temperatures continuing to be high. We had a normal Monday morning canter on Bury Side, and all has gone well so far.

Comrade Bond

It is enough to drive you barmy, the clerk of the courses who don’t tell the truth. Comrade Bond was due to run at Newmarket on Friday night on good ground, but after the first race the clerk turned it to good to firm and most of the jockeys reported it was more on the firm side. Comrade hates firm ground so I withdrew him straight away. It was disappointing for the owners who had made the effort to come, but I hope they all understood the reasoning behind the withdrawal. If you jar a horse up it takes a long time to come right again. All we require from the clerk of the course is the absolute truth. However, as I have said before, they love having good in all ground descriptions. Once owners are there, they like to see their horse run as they have already paid all the expenses, but usually it is the wrong decision, for the wrong reason. An honest, genuine clerk of the course is worth their weight in gold.

It will be put to the test today at Beverley. I phoned the clerk at 6.15 this morning, before Blue Bounty was due to leave, as he is running tonight in the 7.15, the 7 ½ f handicap. He assures me it will be good all night and he won’t be changing the ground, after 18 mm of rain on Saturday. It will be interesting to see if he is correct. We have got the worst draw in 13 but the best jockey in Joe Fanning, so we will have to hope he gets lucky tonight. It is certainly a race he is capable of winning, if the ground is not too firm and he can overcome the draw.

Crossing the road

The Racing Post today has news of Roger Curtis the trainer, who has quit the struggle to start a new venture in Tenerife, where he has bought a restaurant. He quotes the similarity with football, whether it is the premiership or the rest and the difference is massive. I wish him well in his new venture. It is always a struggle when you are doing it on your own. Another article, on Tom Dascombe, is the other end of the scale, where you are a salaried trainer, like a football manager, with two rich people as backers. In this regard you have to keep producing the goods, but you are not under the same amount of pressure self-employed trainers are. It is a difficult time for everybody in the industry and things have changed dramatically in the last 10 years or so, in so many ways. If we are to continue giving the service to the racecourses with runners, the prize money is the number one item that has got to improve quickly. To my mind racecourses are now a place to hear music and drink and the horse seems to be an add on to the day.


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