Disappointing headlines once again ....

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                 Four Fifty Three wins at                        Chelmsford


We had a nice winner yesterday

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

"Dreams are free, so free your dreams."

Terri Guillemets.


It’s a warm, dry morning with no wind and the ground is drying up fast. I know there is a band of rain forecast later in the week, so we won’t count our chickens too soon. A full turn out of staff, put the flags up, and we have been cantering on Southfields turf where there was a very good dew at first lot. Everything has gone off without a hitch so far.

     02_Dot     07_Dixon
(L-R) Dot Green and Dixon

The ground had dried up a bit at Thirsk, which was certainly not in our favour for Velvet Voice. She came there to win her race, and then didn’t let herself down. It was very similar to her Leicester run, and maybe her ideal is a mile and a quarter on proper soft ground. Stellekaya was disappointing again and we may have to have a rethink with her.

We did have a better night at Chelmsford, with Four Fifty Three putting up a good performance when coming from quite a long way back to win nicely. He is improving and should be up to winning another one in the not too distant future. I blame myself for Gee Sixty Six as he was much too fresh and pulled way too hard, which meant he had nothing left at the business end. He will be getting plenty of racing and must learn to settle. He has everything in his favour, the physique, the ability and the looks, he just needs to get his brain in gear and I think plenty of racing will do that.

     13_Tlova     14_Lost
(L-R) Topalova and Lost The Moon

I see the Newmarket Horseracing Museum is going to make some redundancies as it seeks to tackle financial problems caused by a failure to get sufficient members of the public through its doors. I don’t exactly know who is in charge, but it is actually quite hard to find the museum as it has very poor signage. The shop is very expensive, and doesn’t encourage people to spend, and I just can’t understand why everybody who comes to Cambridge, which is enormous, and with all the organised tours for overseas visitors, the museum is not on their to do list. It may be that the pricing is too much as well, but it is very disappointing that already, people are being made redundant. It is a fantastic museum with unbelievable exhibits, a working yard, where you can get up close and personal with the horses and see them being retrained, plus there are people on hand to give you all their experience and guidance about the industry.

Ginger Lady

I asked Derek Thompson last night for a bit of advice on commentating, because as you know, I have been roped into doing a live commentary at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile on Saturday 23rd September. He gave me some sound advice and I will be practicing hard for the big day. It is all in aid of charity and is now a team event between Newmarket and Lambourn. My just giving page is


We have four runners today

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

"Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward."

Søren Kierkegaard.

Cantering up Hamilton Hill

It’s getting much darker in the morning and it was raining just after half four when I was feeding first thing. The shower didn’t last long though and it looks like it will be a dry day from now on. I was only feeding as Tim, my new assistant, has gone up to Thirsk with today’s two runners. It is a bit of a hectic day with four runners, a hay delivery and a non- runner rider wise once again. Saying that, everybody is pulling together well. A couple of lads from the stud will be coming down to help with the hay. We have been cantering on Southfield’s turf and the polytracks not far from the yard. All has gone to plan and the horses are very fresh and well.

Hold Firm

We have four runners today, two this afternoon at Thirsk, and two tonight at Chelmsford. Stellekaya is our first runner in the 3 o’clock, the mile and a half maiden. She has had one run at Windsor, where she didn’t trouble the judge and I don’t think liked the very firm ground. It is slightly easier ground today and I hope she can get another good education. Joe Fanning takes the ride. Our next runner is Velvet Voice at 5 o’clock. She would have preferred soft in the going description, but Tim has walked the track this morning and says it is definitely very good ground, with no firmness at all. She ran well last time at Lingfield when meeting one that was very well handicapped and I expect her to be competitive in this contest today. Ben Curtis takes the ride.

At Chelmsford, our first runner in the 6.10, the Nursery Handicap, is Four Fifty Three. He has run two sound races, will like the step up to a mile, and should definitely be there about. In the following race at 6.40, the two mile three-year-old handicap, we run Gee Sixty Six. He was third last time at Sandown and should be competitive once again tonight. Let’s hope one of them can get their head in front and give everybody who is working so hard at home a boost.

Walking back after second lot

I see the BHA, under pressure from the Professional Jockeys Association, has brought in a rule for a minimum rating requirement for all Group 1 races on the flat, for three-year-old’s and upwards. A similar rule will come in over jumps to run in Grade 1 chases, hurdles and novice chases. There will be no change for two-year-old’s and novice hurdles. This has all come about from a horse with no chance at all, being entered in the Derby and confirmed at the six day stage. I think this is a very backwards step. The BHA Director of International Racing and Racing Development says the introduction of minimum ratings has these three clear benefits.

Firstly, it will help protect the welfare of the human and equine participants. Secondly, it will ensure the risk of unsatisfactory results and take out the unknown factor and complications that can be caused by running an inferior horse, and thirdly it will help preserve the reputation and public perception of our top races. What a load of buncombe. It is purely elitism gone barmy. It will kill the small owner and trainer having any chance of winning a major race, or even having the dream of having a runner. There are plenty of instances of unraced horses winning the Derby, and some massive outsiders have won and been placed. This year’s jockey had only had a handful of rides before winning the race, and if the female apprentice, who they were all frightened of, had been given her licence, she was fully entitled to ride in the Derby.

The sport at present is going one way. The big yards are getting bigger and the small are getting smaller. There is no encouragement for new owners to come into the sport and the BHA Owners Association, PJA and even our inefficient National Trainers Federation, seem to be on their side. You have always got to have a dream in this sport and if we keep restricting it, that dream will soon die and the same people year in year out will be the only ones competing. It has always been much more on the flat, but it will also be felt under National Hunt rules as well.

I have not seen the exact rule issue yet, but it would be interesting to see what entry fees are to be repaid if the said horse doesn’t reach the 80 rating limit. You have to enter for the Derby so far in advance and pay different forfeits, at varying times. These are very expensive. So, what happens if you enter the horse, keep paying the money, but the horse doesn’t gain the necessary rating? Do you get the money back? I very much doubt it and this will again put off anybody with a dream of entering. The interesting facts of between 2005 and 2016, is that there were only six horses which would not have been eligible to run under this rule, so to my mind why bring it in. It is just another way to annoy the normal horse racing enthusiast? I can’t see the jockeys, or for that matter anybody’s point on this. I hope it gets slaughtered, a bit like the silencing of Big Bens bells. The war couldn’t stop Big Ben chiming, but our ridiculous Health and Safety rules have. I compare this rule with that.

The British people love an underdog, but this rule will completely kill that in a stroke.


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