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So many road closures ...

The rubbing houses are not used anymore

Friday, 12 February 2016

"If nothing every changed, there’d be no butterflies."

Anon.

19_Silhouette
Silhouette of the horses walking over the hill

It’s another glorious morning. It started off with a ground frost and a few big clouds, but as the time has progressed, it has now become very sunny and with no wind, it is another perfect winter’s day. My intention at first lot was to have a good long exercise, which included going to Choke Jade for the first time this year. I had not personally been there to inspect the ground, but it was only when I got there this morning to work on the gallop, that I realised I had to abort that part of the exercise as there was very little grass cover on the canter and it was not fit to work on. We then diverted to Southfields turf, which was in pristine condition. I know Choke Jade is not used very often, but it was disappointing to find it in such poor condition and either we need to do something about it, or not open it at all. I think if we get the new Hamilton Hill canter, closing it permanently would be the best idea. We have had a good morning with all the horses, apart from our efforts at first lot, and we have been using New Ground and Southfields.

31_Cantering
Cantering at first lot

As I predicted two years ago, Good Friday is now on the BHA’s expansion list and it looks like we will be having many more meetings on that day, also the bookies think Friday is the best day of the week for gambling. We will soon be racing on Christmas Day as that is the time when everyone has a day off, and according to the BHA can go racing. Not only will it prevent the yards having a quiet day, it will spell the end of open days in Middleham and Lambourn. Why this obsession with more and more racing is beyond me, it just kills the golden egg. If they want to have these days, and it looks like the marketing men will win, make every Monday a blank day. It would help the staffing problem, lose a lot of the very poor fixtures and the prize money could be channelled into all the other meetings, which hopefully would bump it up (see my comments yesterday).

25_Rubbing_House
The last remaining rubbing house

There is a picture above of the last Rubbing House in the country. These constructions were common in the old days at most training establishments and Newmarket had several. In days gone by horses were galloped in big rugs and hoods and were then put into the Rubbing Houses and the sweat was whisked off them and they were rubbed down. I think the trainers thought it got them fit and it got the excess fat off them, mostly it drove the poor creatures to distraction and there were a lot more vicious horses in those days. Nowadays, you very rarely get a viscous horse, one that comes at you with its feet and teeth, because the training has changed immeasurable since those days. Thank goodness it has. Horses are without doubt the kindest and most trusting animals you could wish to work with and you don’t need any research to tell me that they understand when everybody is happy with them. I visited a couple of my old inmates, Astrowolf and Astrovirtue, at the British Racing School this week and all they wanted to do straight away when they saw me was get into my pockets for a polo. They are both thriving at the school and the instructors are delighted with them. They are both kind, sound and willing horses and are now doing a brilliant job helping to train the staff of the future.

32_String
Steam coming off the horses after exercise

35_Woods
Walking back home through the woods

I think there is a disgraceful picture today in the Racing Post on the Bloodstock World on page 17. It’s of a mare being sold with her foal, which had only been born on February 1st. I am not too sure whether this has happened much before, but it is one that shouldn’t be allowed to happen. They should sell the mare and foal without them having to turn up at the sales. I see it is catalogued as in foal to Helmet, so this foal must have arrived early. It was submitted from a well-respected stud as agent, and it would be interesting to know what other people think.