We have had a good morning ....

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A very Happy Easter to everybody

Friday, 14 April 2017

"It is the hour to rend thy chains,
The blossom time of souls."
Katherine Lee Bates.

Pulling out of the yard

It’s a similar morning to yesterday, but a lot of clouds have blown in as the day has gone on and the breeze has picked up. I think there is a little bit of rain forecast, but not a lot. It is typical of an Easter weekend, a few showers, cooler in the open and not much better into next week. It has been a good morning so far as we have got a couple more lads turn up who can ride, and we have got the horses out on good exercises on a wide variety of canters. I should have the jockeys in tomorrow and if the watered gallop is open, it will be a toss-up whether to use that, or the Peat Moss.

Second lot on Hamilton Hill

The BHA has issued a directive this year to re-measure all the courses and it is amazing how different they have found them. We have just been sent a supplement in the racing calendar with the new flat racing distances for the majority of courses. It makes for interesting reading. It just goes to show that the timing is completely out when you are running over two miles 68 yards, like they were doing at Lingfield on the turf. It would be a slow time and that is why the all-weather tracks are the only ones to rely on for the exact time of the race. The clerks of the courses move the rails a lot on turf tracks, and this can alter distances as well, even the Derby is going to be one mile four furlongs and 6 yards rather than the one mile four furlongs and 10 yards it was traditionally thought to be. My prediction that we will have 60% of racing on all-weather tracks in 20 years’ time will not be far off the mark.


It’s the big all-weather championship final today at Lingfield, and Newcastle has also put on two very expensive races. I just hope some of the smaller stables can get on the scoreboard and win some of the money, as they are the ones who keep the show on the road all winter. I think it is very unfair that the larger yards can come in at this stage and pick up the money.  I know there are several ‘win and you are in’ races to qualify for this day, but I would have thought a couple of races for yards that haven’t got 20 horses and yards that haven’t got 50 horses would be a good addition. You could have qualifying races for those all year.

Hold Firm

Everybody at Frankland Lodge and Dullingham Park wish all our readers of this website a very Happy Easter. We will be doing everything in our power this year to give you a lot of information, fun and excitement, not only with this blog, but also with the horses. Healthy horses are what we aim to have as they win races, and winners always cheer everybody up.

Four Fifty Three

Phil on Good Friday

It was a spectacular sporting weekend, headed up of course by the Grand National and superb U.S. Masters golf.  So .… call me a grumpy old man if you like but I never cheer and shout at horse races these days, or at any other sporting event for that matter, even those the like of which we have just witnessed. In fact, I haven’t done so for years. The last time, I think, was when I watched on TV as Even Top was beaten in the 2,000 Guineas by about a quarter-of-an-inch. The racket I made caused my then baby son to cry with fright, and I realised all this noise-making was a complete waste of time.

It was different in my youth. With a shilling each way out of my pocket money at stake I could really let rip at the end of a selling hurdle at Towcester.

Now, I can’t see the point. Any amount of yelling won’t influence the outcome of a tight finish, and shouting at the television showing an event from perhaps halfway across the world is bordering on the insane. Thankfully, however, not many share my “watch in silence” attitude or we’d have races run and tournaments played out with no air of excitement whatsoever. I know that. But all this leads me to a particularly annoying phenomenon…

I had some late nights last weekend watching the Masters. We’re well accustomed now to the peculiar American habit of whooping dementedly when anyone plays a half decent shot, but one thing I shall never get used to is the crowd yelling “Get in the hole” as soon as the ball leaves the club-head. And it’s nearly always in the same growling accent with particular emphasis on the ‘h’ in hole’. There’s always plenty of ‘go, go, go’, ‘sit-down’ and ‘keep left’ as well.

What on earth can this achieve? Do they really have any hope of influencing the progress of some inanimate little object flying at great speed a hundred yards or more away?

I have even heard in the past, as a player teed off at a dog-leg par four, some nutter shouting “Get in the hole.” Perhaps he wanted to hear his own voice on the highlights programme later. Anyway, the defiant ball didn’t go in.

And another thing: why do the commentators insist on referring to a ‘great golf shot’? It’s hardly likely to be a great cricket shot at Augusta, is it?  And they will talk about the ‘golf course’ and the ‘golf tournament.’ After a couple of hours viewing I for one can twig which particular sport I’m watching.

There, you really can call me a grumpy old man ... 


The horses are in good form

Thursday, 13 April 2017

"We gain no easier advantage than be relentlessly pursuing our goal while others pursue an advantage."

Robert Brault.

Coming back in after first lot

It’s a bright morning but much colder than yesterday and I was feeding in moonlight once again. There is no rain due, or even forecast, for the next week at least. In fact I was getting texts yesterday from the heath foreman saying that the watered gallop will be open in the very near future. I can’t ever remember that being open as early as this. I hope we can get some rain and they don’t open it as it is hallowed turf and it will soon cut up and get worn if we use it when the spring grass is coming through. We have had a good morning cantering wise with most of the horses using Southfields Round and all the reports I am getting back from the lads, is that they are jumping out of their skins.

Second lot ready to pull out

I see other owners were complaining about the prize money yesterday, calling it desperate when a horse costing £190,000, got first prize money of £2,900. I hope the powers that be are taking notice but we have been going on about this for so long now and nothing seems to get done at all. When you have got Australia, France and Hong Kong producing unbelievable prize money for the owners, we can’t just live on our heritage alone. This article goes hand in glove with another one in the Post today about the all-weather tracks and how Newcastle may or may not have changed the look of the trainer’s table. Newcastle is still a good way up and very expensive to travel to from the big Yorkshire training centres, and it doesn’t surprise me that Mark Johnston and Richard Fahey are two of the main winning trainers there, especially Johnston, who has the owners who don’t seem to race for the prize money and don’t mind paying the huge expenses which are accrued nowadays. I think an all-weather track at Catterick or Wetherby would be a big help to the northern boys and I am sure there will be one there within a few years.

The urn and the archway in the yard

The viewing figures comparing the racing coverage of ITV and Channel 4 have been published. There was a big drop in the totals of both those viewing the racing and of those who watched the morning line. The big problem, to my mind, is that the ITV coverage is on ITV4 for the majority of its broadcasts whereas Channel 4 was on mainstream TV. Neither Channel 4 nor ITV will complain though as they are guaranteed advertising, in fact as much as they want by the bookmakers. They are still raking it in though as most people nowadays bet on their phones with all the profits going offshore and no tax going to our racing. We are still awaiting the European agreement to claim this tax anomaly back, and I know I keep going on about it but they couldn’t organise a … in a brewery.


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