The turf season is just around the corner ...

Across The Flat was our gallop of choice

Friday, 15 September 2017

"Everyone is kneaded out of the same dough but not baked in the same oven."

Yiddish Proverb.

TTMAB, Saint Anthony and Roof Garden

It’s a bright, very sunny morning. The temperature is slightly lower than normal, but it is what I call a perfect autumn day. We have been galloping Across the Flat on perfect turf ground with two lots of horses and all has gone smoothly, apart from one that did take a bit too keen a hold with one of its pilots. We have no runners this weekend, but there will be several next week, especially at Yarmouth.

Topalova and Indian Red

I am not too sure what Tom Kerr is getting at in his column today about the stable staff deal, as trainers all value their staff highly and want to pay them as much as possible. However, the training profession is such a diverse assortment, with those training at the top for owners who are beyond worth, and those in the middle and lower brackets who have the normal mortals who cannot afford the sky high daily rates charged by the upper echelons. I wish everybody would get it into their heads and understand that it is the never ending expanding fixture list which is causing the problem of holding onto staff and the prize money, which is still pathetically low. The more racing we have, the thinner the prize money is spread, especially in the middle to lower races. The majority of staff understands this, but the demands on the good ones are getting bigger and bigger. Until the fixture list is culled and the prize money doubled, this situation will continue. The Stable Staff Association can ask for everything it wants, but in reality the facts are what I have stated.

Ness Of Brodgar and True Calling

The guest commentator has been announced for the 23rd September. Actor Nathaniel Parker has been unveiled as the mystery guest. I have heard him talk at stallion parades in Newmarket and he has a very good voice, so it will be something for us all to try and emulate. It will be interesting to see who gets it right and wrong. Our fund raising is going well and please do keep donating at the link below

Astrofire and Astroblaze

Phil on Friday

There is a time-honoured saying in Yorkshire: the fittest horse wins the Guineas, the luckiest horse wins the Derby, the best horse wins the St. Leger. Well, that might not be quite true any more but the oldest Classic in the calendar, first run on 1776 and renewed tomorrow, maintains its special place in the annals of the turf.

The history of the race is studded with drama, and when he comes to write the Mark Tompkins life story the success of Bob’s Return in 1993 must loom large in the Guvnor’s memory. He bought the horse for under £15,000 and Bob went on to win some half-a-million in prize-money. He must have been one of the best thoroughbred buys of modern times (except perhaps for Cool Edge which the Guvnor bought for 750 guineas and subsequently won a Group race and more than £100,000).

This story, however, is about an innovation more than 180 years ago that enabled Lord George Cavendish Bentinck and others in the know to land a St. Leger gamble probably worth today’s equivalent of £3 million.

In those days horses were simply walked the whole distance from home to racecourse, no matter how far. There was no other way. Now Lord George trained a useful horse called Elis at Goodwood in Sussex, and had entered him in the Doncaster Classic. Elis won what was then called the Drawing Room Stakes on his home track and two days later ran well in the Goodwood Cup. He must have taken plenty of work for he won the Racing Stakes easily on the same afternoon!

A fortnight later he won at Lewes and looked a live St. Leger prospect, but remained surprisingly easy to back.  No wonder – a week before the race he was still in Sussex, some 15 or 16 days walking distance from Doncaster. The bookmakers’ bush telegraph must have been as effective then as it is now and in the certain knowledge, as they saw it, that Elis could not make it to the start they laid him for considerable sums.

Then Lord George unveiled his secret weapon – the first horsebox. It was drawn by six post horses, changed at regular intervals, and took just three days to reach Doncaster.

Elis duly won the St. Leger and the mighty gamble was landed. It was a testimony to man’s ingenuity – especially when it comes to landing a nice touch!