Thursday, 23 March 2017
"Most people, upon reaching the top, look down and enjoy the view. The smart money is on looking up and finding new mountains to climb."
It’s been a damp start to the morning and with a good breeze, it’s on the cool side, but the forecast is to clear up and be much more spring like over the weekend. It has already been a hectic morning with plenty of cantering on many different canters both turf and all-weather. It has also been busy on the stud with three mares covered this morning by Oasis Dream, Archipenko and Casamento. Thank goodness they were local coverings and all went well.
I see that licencing is going to get tougher for apprentice jockeys and the way they are being trained. A new licencing course of 10 days is what every budding jockey will have to attend now and there are only 24 places for this year. The jockey’s chief executive says ‘these changes are the result of a significant amount of work over the last three years’. I am all for as much education and training as you can give these young people. Everybody knows I have always encouraged apprentices, but in everything you get good ones and bad ones and under this scheme this will still happen.
We don’t get good English jockeys coming through nowadays as in the past apprentices signed on for five years. This does not happen now. All the best jockeys of the past, and even today, have been with one employer for a good length of time, but with the modern day working methods there is no tie to anybody. You can’t live in the past I hear everybody cry, but it worked then and somehow it has got to work now. The other thing we must do, and I have been bashing on about this for at least 30 years, is create a proper apprentice race programme which we haven’t got at all. If this was the case, there would be much more competition within it, and the apprentice title wouldn’t be an afterthought as it is at present.
It’s interesting to see Tony Mullins, the Irish trainer, completely rejecting the Horse Racing Ireland chief executive about the state of Irish jump racing and how it is dominated by major owners, to the determent of everybody else. He is quite right in what he says that Ryan Air hadn’t been allowed to take over Air Lingus, as it would be a complete monopoly on airlines then. He thinks the racing industry should put something similar in place. No rules are being broken at present but he believes the rules should be changed before the industry is killed off. He has a good point here but neither the Irish HRI, nor our own BHA understand what is happening below the top level, or if they do they are putting their heads in the sand and doing nothing about it. But let me tell them, doing nothing about it will end in disaster at some stage.
The situation cannot remain as it is and when you have the likes of Godolphin having a quarter page advert for stable staff, work riders and yard staff in the Racing Post today, everybody else has very little chance of recruiting. Just think, they have got Warren Place to fill next year with 300 horses and that will require staff. This problem is set to run and run.