Disappointing headlines once again ....

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Prize money has not improved the past 7 years

Friday, 18 August 2017

"Who sees all beings in his own Self, and his own Self in all beings, loses all fear."

Isa Upanishad.

Bracken Brae leading Lost The Moon

It’s an overcast, slightly breezy morning, with a few showers forecast for later on. I am not sure that the forecasters actually know what is going to happen next week, as there is a named storm somewhere in the Atlantic. We have been galloping two-year-olds and older horses Across The Flat this morning and it always makes me laugh when asking four different work rider what the state of the ground was. It ranged from good to soft, with soft patches, to good to firm. Thinking about it, it is just the same when jockeys ride on a racecourse. If you are waiting for your saddle in the weighing room as jockeys are coming back from the previous race, you can ask three or four different ones and they all give you a different answer. I have been lambasting clerks of the courses lately about their going descriptions, so you can see the problem everybody has. It is just an opinion. The flag is not flying this morning once again as one of the yard people have failed to turn up, but apart from that, things have all gone smoothly.

Topalova leading Clearance

It was a disappointing night at Yarmouth with both horses having every chance but failing to quicken up when asked. I think we will find a good home for Astrosecret. I will be discussing Dot Green’s next move with her owner. She especially has a lot of ability but doesn’t seem to want to use it, a bit like a very talented child who does the complete opposite of what you ask them to do. Who would be a parent or a school master? We have no runners over the weekend, but we will have runners Monday and Tuesday of next week, all being well.

Second lot, Saint Anthony and Roof Garden

There are very disappointing headlines again on the front of the Racing Post, where an unknown jockey has been found guilty of a blatant non trier. A tremendous amount of time and effort has gone into this enquiry, since June 2014, and once again the BHA has been very poor in its handling of the case. There was no case against the trainer and another professional, but the jockey and his associates were found guilty. Why we have to have all these headlines is beyond me. We need to have people who can sort these matters out, whether they are big or small, before we have to have the headline foisted on the general public. 

Coming up in a bunch

Once again it has been left to the trainers themselves to attack the decision of the BHA’s new non-runner initiative. The Owners Association Chief Executive has come out strongly and trainers themselves have stood up and been counted. This is another very silly thing that the BHA has got involved with. Why they don’t just concentrate on getting the fixture list and programme book sorted out I don’t know. And another question for them, I can never understand why we have to have 48 hour decs on the flat, when it is 24 hours over jumps. What is the difference?

Astroshadow on Hamilton Hill

I am not sure if Tom Kerr is living in the same place as everybody else, as in his weekly column he seems to think that racing is in a far healthier place because of Frankel. The race he won in 2010 was worth £7,000 and the race tonight, which he won seven years ago, is again worth £7,000. A real terms drop of 20%. He says the finances have been sorted out and the new levy is in place. Well something had to be done and it didn’t matter who was in place, or which government, the bookmakers were running rings around everybody and the new technology was taking off. The authorities are catching up now, but I am positive they are still a long way behind.

Interestingly enough, the maiden that Frankel won by half a length was against Nathaniel. Frankel commands a fee of £125,000 and has bred some very good horses. Nathaniel’s fee is under a fifth of that and he has sired the very top class Enable, who has won Group 1’s. We should be shouting about Nathaniel, rather than Frankel.

MHT’s commentary debut – Saturday 23rd September

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Phil on Friday

It‘s getting on for a couple of weeks ago now, but one Tuesday afternoon near the beginning of August looked decidedly cheerless. The Fourth Test against South Africa had finished early, Premiership football was still days away, Wimbledon, if you are interested in that sort of thing, was over, the Tour de France was just a memory.

True, some decent golf was on the horizon, and the World Athletics Championships were close as well. Goodwood was fast approaching. But that gloomy Tuesday was still a bleak mid-week prospect for all of us couch potatoes.

Then suddenly, from the racing pages, sprang a bright ray of hope, and it came from the unlikely source of lowly Chelmsford. There were four meetings that day – Chelmsford, Catterick, Nottingham and Leicester. Returning to my old hobby horse, I was sad enough to tot up what successful owners at these four tracks would receive on their next Weatherbys account.

Winners’ prize-money at Chelmsford easily outstripped that at Catterick and Nottingham COMBINED!  And you had to add in more than half the winners’ prizes at six-race Leicester to get anywhere near it.

This was just ordinary mid-week racing. Chelmsford was not offering Listed or Group races – nothing all that special in fact. But as the Guvnor has said before, the track knows how to put on decent quality racing and deserves everyone’s support.

Congratulations Chelmsford – not so lowly after all!

Now we have another Test Match under way, and football is back full time. With Chelmsford continuing to put on very good racing, afternoon TV looks so much brighter again, even for grumpy old men. We needn’t switch over to Jeremy Kyle after all…!


We have two runners today

Thursday, 17 August 2017

"Never does nature say one thing and wisdom another."

Juvenal, Satires.


After a dry night, it started raining in the early hours and we have now had a couple of hours of steady rain. It looks like clearing up now and being dry all day. The temperature has held up well and again very little wind. We have had a good couple of lots so far cantering on Southfields turf and all has gone well. The flag is on the pole once again as everybody is in and very cheerful, despite the early morning dampness.

Off to the washdown box

We have two runners tonight at Yarmouth. Astrosecret runs in the 5.30, the mile and three and a half furlong handicap. I have put a pair of cheekpieces on just to see if that might help, but she is fine after her tumble at Bangor and we will be hopeful of a sensible run. Our other runner is Dot Green at 6.30. She missed the break last time at Beverley, and ran a better race than everybody thought. This track should suit and we will be hoping that she can make the frame at least this evening.

     03_Sean_2     19_Harry

The three yardmen, Sean, Harry and Ahmed working hard

The BHA has announced sweeping new measures on what they see as the problem on non-runners. Once again it is a complete knee jerk reaction and hits owners, trainers and especially the horses. They have no idea, or don’t seem to have any care for the main reason we are all in the sport, the horses.

When they pleaded with us to go to 48 hour declarations, which we were told would bring in an enormous amount of overseas money from the betting side, we all reluctantly agreed, but knew there would be a problem and the non-runner rule was brought in. We have never been told, or shown, where the actual money comes from, if there is any. However, they do tell us that the international revenues generated have risen from £6 million to £16 million, but we have seen no analysis on where this money goes, or if the non-runners have an impact on this.

There is obviously a few trainers who work the system, but not in the quantity that the BHA think. All they need to do is have a quiet word with the trainer they suspect, and it would be sorted. We are now going to be held up to public scrutiny, with published tables showing every trainer’s non-runners. The jockeys are going to be paid their full fees, whatever time the horse has been withdrawn, the trainer’s fines increased, and the owners will suffer accordingly.

There is no problem with the veterinary certificate, in fact, I would make it five clear days if a vet cert was used to withdraw a horse, but all the other nine items are completely without foundation.

I have a question for the BHA. Are the clerks of the courses, who constantly lie to us about the ground, going to be fined and have their licences suspended for 12 months if they continue to tell us the wrong information? I don’t think so. We are trying to encourage owners to come into the game. We are trying to look after the horses, with their welfare our number one priority. It is so expensive to travel horses these days, and trainers are constantly trying to keep their owners bills as low as possible. The BHA, to me, seems to have got completely the wrong end of the stick. Our trainer’s federation has been very poor in its response once again. The owners have come out with a much stronger condemnation with their leader saying they are unacceptable proposals. The jockeys, as you can imagine, agree with it as they will be getting money for doing nothing and the bookmakers are obviously thoroughly on side as it costs them very little to make millions on our sport. The only people it hits is the trainer, the owner, and once again the horse. When will we ever get anybody who will stand up and be counted at the Trainers Federation, and when will they employ anybody who understands this game properly at the BHA.

p.s another point if the majority of courses were all weather, like America, it would sort the problem out in one fell swoop. 

Hold Firm

MHT’s commentary debut – Saturday 23rd September

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