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There was a real frost this morning

Friday, 17 November 2017

"Much good work is lost for the lack of a little more."

Edward H. Harriman.

First lot and it is still quite dark

Frost on Hamilton Hill

It’s a bright very frosty morning, but thank goodness there is no wind as if there were, it would be 10 degrees colder with the chill factor. Tim has had a rare day off shooting today so I was in at 4.30 feeding. It felt like old times wandering round the horses as they were pleased to see the man with the feed barrow. We are only one holiday maker light this morning, so we have been working well. The horses have been showing off their wellbeing out at exercise and we have just been doing a normal canter, as we have been doing all week.

A steady canter

There seems to be very little common sense about at present in the racing world. The days ban for a jockey that sprinkled a few bits of polytrack to help the horse get in the stalls was a prime example. He had not hit it with a whip, he had not punched it, he had not shouted at it, he had not tweaked its ear, or pulled its tail, but the politically correct BHA rules, and complete lack of any understanding of horses, meant the jockey had to have a slur against his name, and a day sitting at home.

There was nearly some common sense at Cheltenham when another jockey berated an amateur for causing carnage in a race. In fact it could have been far worse than it actually was. The jockey in question put the amateur straight, but did it in full view of the cameras and the public. If he had done it inside the weighing room, nobody would have been any the wiser. The professional steward on the day took no action, but the BHA, in their wisdom, took it further and the publicity didn’t do anybody any good. Where is the common sense, nowhere to be seen, especially where the very PC BHA is concerned.

     29_Indian     30_Clear
(L) Indian Red and (R) Clearance

I am on my soapbox today and another one of my bugbears, and it has been highlighted today, is why trainers and jockeys are allowed to spout forth, and get paid for it, on bookmaker’s websites. I have never understood this and have always thought it should never have been allowed. Get sponsorship from insurance companies, feed companies, hay suppliers, even bakeries or cheese makers, but bookmakers, who are making fortunes out of our industry and putting very little back, should not be allowed to have any connection, legally, with trainers and jockeys, especially giving them a platform to supply information before anybody else knows. Now they have made a rod for their own back, the powers that be will struggle to get this very financially rewarding contract to stop, but if the BHA want to show the public that the bookies have no influence over the professionals, they must look into this matter urgently. 

True Calling

Phil On Friday


It’s three or four years now since I vacated my desk in Mark Tompkins’ Office, but I reckon I’m still entitled to offer a piece of advice to all those new faces at the yard.

It is this: never bet against the Guvnor.

I have known him for more than 30 years, working with him and for him most of that time, and can recall only one occasion when he lost a straight one-to-one wager. It was to the much-loved late head lad Johnnie East, and concerned the identity of an obscure brute of an animal that had passed briefly through Flint Cottage Stables many years before.

I have struck only one bet against the Guvnor. It was in the days when the restaurant at the top of the Post Office Tower was open and slowly revolved to allow diners a 360-degree view of the London skyline. That dates us doesn’t it?

We were invited up there one evening but the restaurant was, to begin with, stationary. Then word filtered through that it was about to be cranked up and the Guvnor and I speculated on which way it would turn. “Let’s have a bet on it,” he said. “You choose”.

Well, I considered all the angles. Horses race both ways in Britain of course, but all American circuits seem to be left-handed.  Greyhound tracks certainly are. Also, which way does water swirl down the plug-hole in the Northern Hemisphere? I couldn’t remember that, but centrifugal force must come into it somewhere.

In the end, after more pointless brain-racking and purely on the evidence of my happy evenings at Walthamstow, Wimbledon and the old White City, I went for the anti-clockwise option.

You can guess what happened next – off we went, damn well clockwise.

I paid up with a growing sense of inadequacy and made a mental note which I happily pass on: Never, ever, bet against the Guvnor.