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We have one runner on Sunday

Friday, 25 August 2017

"There is only one thing more painful than learning from experience, and that is not learning from experience."

Laurence J. Peter.

Working in pairs at first lot

It’s a glorious, summer morning with no wind, perfect temperature, clean air and a joy to be alive. Everybody is in, including Joey Haynes, and we have had two good lots out so far doing fast work on the Peat Moss turf. All has gone well and it looks like we are going to have plenty of runners from now onwards.

Lost The Moon and Bracken Brae

We have only one runner at the weekend and that is Koin at Yarmouth on Sunday. She had one run there on very soft ground well over a month ago now, and this better ground should suit, but I don’t think she will be troubling the judge just yet. I think we may have two runners at Southwell on Monday if anybody wants an exotic day out.

First lot of workers walking home

York continues today with the Group 1 Nunthourpe Stakes at their highlight. We have seen two outstanding horses so far with Cracksman and Enable, and we should see another one today in the big sprint. There may also be plenty of winners for the future in the next race, the Convivial maiden, which is always a very good field, as it should be for £70,000 added. Our tipping competition got a lot tighter after yesterday’s results and there is very little in it now, with two days to go it is all to play for. May the best man win.


1.55  Red Galileo    2.25  Dartmouth    3.00  Talaayeb    3.35  Lady Aurelia    4.15  Zilara     4.50  Balestra


1.55 Amazing Red    2.25  Thomas Hobson    3.00  So Beloved    3.35  Battaash    4.15  Laugh A Minute    4.50  Battered

Standings at the end of day two

MHT minus £12.50

Richard minus £8.44

Second lot of workers, Astrobreeze, Astrofire, Astroblaze and Koin

Second lot walking back to the yard

There is a very interesting article by Tom Kerr in today’s Post, talking about the BHA’s ambition to boost attendance figures at the racecourses. His well thought out piece addresses, and suggests, what can be done to boost the figures, especially mid-week. He also states that the racecourses are coining it in at the moment with the media rights and it reconfirms mine, and everybody else’s theory, that not enough is going into prize money.

The comparison with premier league football is there for everybody to see. The paying customer seems to be constantly ripped off with ever increasing entrance fees, but there the similarity ends as the players in racing are not paid anything like the footballers are. The money goes to the stadiums, i.e. the courses, rather than the participants who supply the product. The only way to make the courses see sense is by none participation. Tom’s piece is very good, but he misses the main point in that the two tiers approach to attendance is right, but there is a two tier difference between the elite in racing and the others. Until the money starts to properly go to the bottom and middle tiers, there is always a possibility of the pyramid collapsing.

Phil on Friday

The Ebor Handicap, first run in 1843 and due off again tomorrow, remains one of the most prestigious races of its type in the calendar. It is also one of the biggest betting events of the year.

Only top class horses can win it – within my memory, just, come Sea Pigeon, Gladness and Primera. But before my time the race was won by one of the best stayers ever to grace the turf, and certainly one of the best-loved: Brown Jack.

Not only did he win the Ebor but he landed the Chester Cup, the Goodwood Cup, the Ascot Stakes and, most famously of all, the longest flat race in the UK, the Queen Alexandra Stakes – not once but SIX TIMES.

It very nearly didn’t happen. When Brown Jack first came up for sale in Ireland there was no bid for him. He was subsequently sold privately for £110 but later failed to attract even £50 for a half-share, so he was turned out into a field and almost forgotten about. Then by chance a certain Charlie Rogers, a stud farm owner, was passing nearby when his car ran out of petrol. Forced to a stop he saw the horse in the field, liked him, and bought him for £275.

Brown Jack changed hands several more times and eventually ended up in the hands of Sir Harold Wernher, but he almost died twice from ‘a chill and high fever’. Hot beer, eggs and whisky revived the future champion and after winning races over hurdles, including the forerunner of the Champion Hurdle, he reverted to the flat and teamed up with one of the greatest jockeys of them all, Steve Donoghue, who rode him in almost all of his 25 successes on the way to becoming a national treasure.

What a character he was in the meantime. He loved his own box at trainer Ivor Anthony’s yard and when he was moved out for the annual ‘spring clean’ went almost berserk. Three years on the trot he kicked a complete panel out of his temporary accommodation. He became bored with using the same old gallops every day and virtually refused to move on them, so had to be transported for miles every morning for a new view.

He could be lazy, and was often seen with his backside in his manger, resting his legs, as though watching TV if it had been invented then.

Brown Jack and Steve Donoghue formed an extraordinary human-equine relationship and were even said to send each other birthday cards, though who helped Brown Jack sign his has gone unrecorded. After their sixth Queen Alexandra victory together the pair were mobbed by an ecstatic crowd and much of the horse’s tail was cut off for souvenirs. Donoghue swore until his dying day that Brown Jack winked at him as he left the unsaddling enclosure.

It was not until Arkle that a horse captured the public imagination as much as Brown Jack, the Ebor winner of 1931.