Go to Kempton or Wolverhampton and then you will see what racing is really like ...

We go to Wolverhampton with one today

Monday, 27 June 2016

"As long as the world shall last there will be wrongs, and if no man objected and no man rebelled, those wrongs would last forever."

Clarence Darrow.


It just seems to keep on raining at present and the forecast is for more of the same during the whole of this week. It’s warm though and very muggy between the downpours. It is always a problem to know what to put on the horses when they go out to exercise. At first lot when they were tacking up there was no sign of rain, but by the time we had been out five minutes, it had started to rain again. This didn’t last long and they cantered in sunshine. All the horses look in great condition with plenty of shine on their coats and they look to be thriving. My head lad James should be proud of the job he is doing. 

Prayer Time and Mr Turner

Our runners at Yarmouth on Friday were once again a bit mixed, with Time Down Under behaving very well, being a bit keen early on and then getting tired. He will improve considerably for the run and we will see a much better show next time. Smile That Smile didn’t look to stay, but she didn’t help herself by pulling hard in the early part of the race and just plugged on. A return to shorter might help.

We have one runner today, Desert River, who runs in the 2.15 at Wolverhampton. He is taking on a couple of runners that finished behind him last time and who is worse off with at the weights. This looks a competitive contest for the standard, but I am hoping he has improved once again and can be as effective on the tapeta as he is on the polytrack. He should have a sound chance of being there once again. 

Astrosecret leading Velvet Voice and Dot Green

It’s stable staff week this week, which is an initiative being driven by Racing Welfare to encourage staff to stay and come into the industry. There were some comments about it in yesterday’s Racing Post and I think a few things need to be made clear. All stable staff work remarkably hard and are valued by their employers. They pay them as much as they possibly can do within the bands of running their business profitably, but there are many initiatives that should be taken by the powers that be that will help enormously.

The Stable Staff Association CEO stated “why would French staff come to England when they get paid more and only work a 35 hour week?”. There are two reasons why this is so. The prize money in France comes from the Pari Mutuel, their equivalent to the Tote here, and is much higher than ours, plus transport costs are subsidised for the owners. Consequently trainers can pay their staff more and the EU rules dictate the hours. There is no comparison between the two countries.

There are three main reasons why we can’t keep and find staff in England. The main one without a doubt is accommodation. I know it is a countrywide problem in every industry, but it is especially critical in ours. Young staff need a place of their own which is clean, tidy and is not too expensive. If we build two hundred one bedroom flats in Newmarket tomorrow, they would be filled within weeks and the crisis in town gone away. It is the same in all the centres. Epsom, Lambourn, Middleham and Moulton, all need accommodation urgently. There is no point in recruiting staff if there is nowhere for them to live. It is simple, but our leaders don’t listen, even though we keep telling them.

Stable staff also need to get free meals at all racecourses and the accommodation and changing facilities need to be of a much better standard. Some racecourses have made some effort in this area, but the majority need to pull their socks up. Time off has always been a problem as horses are 24/7 and with the expansion of the fixtures list, it has become a logistical nightmare for all trainers. With more and more evening and Sunday racing, the weekend time off seems to get more difficult each year. Nobody has ever taken this into consideration when asking for the expansion and we must have some sort of blank day, maybe on a Monday, but then the married lads won’t have any time with their families. Another problem in England, unlike Australia, America, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Africa is the travelling we all have to do, humans and horses. Most countries train on the track and there is no travelling whatsoever, so racing and training is much easier to organise and cheaper for everybody. But take my word for it, the main problem for stable staff is accommodation. If we can get that sorted out it would help tremendously.