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We are due to have a dry weekend

Friday, 27 October 2017

"Some colours exist in dreams that are not present in the waking spectrum."

Terri Guillemets.


Warming up in the trotting ring

It’s a bright, sunny morning with very little wind. I have just heard the forecast and I think it is going to stay dry right through to next week, but certainly getting much colder from Sunday onwards, especially in Scotland and the east. We have had a good morning with only one non-runner, with an excuse thought up out of the blue. One of my expressions ‘do you think I fell off a cabbage leaf’, certainly rings true with that one. I ought to write a book on every excuse I have heard over the years from staff. It would certainly make for entertaining reading.

I worked a couple of horses on the Cambridge Road polytrack first lot, but the majority of the horses have been on the Rubbing House poly, followed by a hack down the woodchip. All has gone well. We are also starting to ride the new yearlings, which is good, as we will be getting an influx very shortly.

True Calling

I see the BHA is at it again with designing silks, completely stupid and a waste of time and effort. Why waste all the money on doing abstract things like this, when they should be concentrating on what will help the industry, not what will grab headlines. There is also only a small proportion of the money which will go to Racing Welfare and Retraining of Racehorses. The problem with the BHA is that they don’t listen to anybody and only hear what they want to hear.

Tom Kerr in his article today is on about capturing the imagination of the millennials, whatever they are. Just more jargon from the modern day. This is after the Champions Day crowd, which reached 30,000. He states that 18-29 year olds, which evidently is what that word means, would rather go to some other sport and bet on it. Apparently Ascot gave away 2,500 free tickets to students, which is included in the numbers. It is a good job they did as the cost of going racing is the most prohibitive item for younger people. I never seem to see the lack of young people at York or Chester though, so they must be getting something right. I think the cost of entry and Champagne has something to do with it and the ambience, which at York and Chester is absolutely brilliant.

I will just mention a few of the comments that the Gemba Group, a consultancy firm that produced this report, have spouted. Young people are motivated by things like star power, global relevance, intimate access and real life, plus moments of consequence. What does all that rubbish mean? It is completely beyond normal people. Until we start telling it as it is, what really happens on the racetrack, what actually happens on an owners and trainers day out, and how all the finances add up, we won’t get anywhere.

On the woodchip

I see the Irish are still being frustrated about the short comings in their drug testing procedures. They must get a grip of this as it reflects very badly on our partners in Ireland, who do so much for the industry over here. They Irish love their racing, love their horses and do so much to bring fun to the sport, but they must be open and clear to what is going on, whether it be in the stud farms, sales and racing. Openness and honesty always give great confidence to everybody involved and sets a great example. In my opinion the Irish are the best breeders of racehorses in the world. That is why it is so important that they get this issue sorted out in a clear and proper manner.

Walking back through the woods

Phil On Friday


Alastair Down’s Tuesday column in the Racing Post is always a first-class read, as the Guvnor commented the other day. His ‘Word Watch’, highlighting terms which are used frequently but, for many of us, are beyond comprehension, is especially entertaining.

As the Guvnor says, there is so much jargon about these days and plenty of folk are completely baffled by it. Mind you, racing is guilty in no small measure and has been for centuries.

Anyone involved in the sport, or who follows it closely, will know the meaning of it all, but what about the innocent, casual observer? I started studying my father’s form books virtually as soon as I could read but it was probably not until I was in my teens that I realised the term ‘ran on’ did not mean a horse had completed an extra circuit of the track before stopping.

Then there is ‘He has plenty of toe’. The uninitiated might think the farrier has not done his job properly. In the same context could ‘Turn of foot’ mean the poor animal is pin-toed? Perplexing, isn’t it?

How about ‘He has been cut’? Surely this can’t mean we have reverted to the somewhat gruesome 17th and 18th century practice (and later) of ‘bleeding’ a horse in a bid to cure it of almost any ailment.

There are plenty of other examples, and one phrase I admit I do not to this day fully understand is ‘He jumped from fence to fence’. We have all heard it but I am still mystified.

Jem Mason, who rode Lottery to win the first Grand National, once proclaimed that ‘the ‘orse can jump from ‘ell to ‘ackney. But from fence to fence …?