The new game machines are set to go in the shops ...

Where's my umbrella?

Friday, 01 December 2017

"Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional, and mental states."

Carol Welch.

"If I pinch this cap, will it keep my head dry"? thinks Bracken Brae

We have had a very wet morning so far with heavy downpours of rain at frequent intervals. When I went to bed last night at 8.30 it was snowing like mad and white all over, but that had almost disappeared this morning and we have had this constant rain. It is forecast to stay like this for at least the next few days with the wind and cold weather coming from the north. I have certainly got plenty of layers plus waterproofs on this morning.

We have had a disappointing turnout staff wise and the flag is definitely not flying this morning. We have plenty of yard people who are doing a great job on their side, very good stable management, with the boxes and horses as clean as can be. It is the riders we always fall down on and there just doesn’t seem to be the work ethic in the youngsters nowadays. At least I have had a few people phone up about jobs yesterday and this morning and we will be trying to recruit a few new ones. Tim, my assistant, was shooting yesterday with a few other trainers, who train in a different areas of the country, and they were all telling him the same story that I am telling you. Even in Australia they have got the same problem with lack of stud and racing staff. It is a worldwide problem which needs some grown up thinking. It isn’t a hard job, it is an exciting, progressive job where, once you are capable, you can see the world, make friends for life and go up the ladder quickly if you are keen and dedicated, but sadly the young of today are taught all the ways of getting out of working, rather than being reliable.

The trust this yearling has with Tim

It will be cold and wet at Newbury today with the start of their two day meeting. Tomorrow’s racing looks very competitive, but the ground will play a big part. Horses will have to handle the soft and holding ground. It is real jumping weather at present and this is when the jump bred horses come to the fore. The more flat bred ones tend to flounder in the ground and always run better if the going is good.

Washing out the water mangers

The foal sales continue apace here at Newmarket with the average and median up once again. This bubble never seems to burst, although every year I say it must do. I just can’t understand people spending huge amounts of money on foals that will mainly be resold. You can understand a few buying them to keep to race, but the pinhookers are brave people, with backing from varying sources and the prices just continue to escalate. The main benefactors of this are the stallion owners who keep their nomination fees at a high figure, but this does nothing to encourage the ordinary owner / breeder nowadays. The whole scene has changed over the last 15-20 years with horses being bought and sold two, three, maybe four times in their lives, before seeing a racetrack. In days gone by the owner / breeder would just deliver them into the racing yard straight from the stud, having never seen a sales ring. Sadly those days have long gone for the majority of horses.

Mucking out

I now see that the BHA has bought in another new policy, which they say is aimed at greater transparency of the whereabouts of horses bred to race in the sport. All newborn foals must be notified to Weatherbys within 30 days of their birth. They say it is free, but I am sure there must be a catch somewhere. We are already required to register foals and obtain a passport before they are a year old, so I am not too sure what this is all about. I will have to make a few enquires.

Steaming the hay

Phil On Friday

Without moving more than 10 paces from the sofa to fetch an occasional cool beer, I’m suffering from the next best thing to jet lag. It’s the Ashes series in Australia you see, and the first five days all started on TV around midnight and ended not much before 8 a.m. It will be tough going for us cricket addicts over the next few weeks.

The lunch and tea breaks, however, offer an opportunity to ponder the long and deep association between cricketers and racing.

Current England internationals Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson and Eoin Morgan turned up this year at Royal Ascot with some team-mates to see a horse in which they had bought a share run in the Chesham Stakes. The former, ferocious West Indian fast bowler Michael Holding acquired a house in Newmarket because he had developed such affection for the place. Ricky Ponting, Australia’s former test captain, was given the nickname Punter which must tell us something. He and ex-cricketer Mark Waugh bought their own horse and ran it as joint owners.

The late Richie Benaud, another Aussie captain and later a highly esteemed commentator, was especially well known for his devotion to racing.

Nick Cook of Northamptonshire, Leicestershire and England, now an umpire of renown, once formed a syndicate of professional cricketers, led them into ownership and put a horse in training with the Guvnor.

The Racing Post is the preferred reading in many a dressing room on rainy English days, and there are plenty of other examples of cricketers developing a fondness for racing. One of the most famous was the legendary Australian all-rounder Keith Miller. He had a brilliant career, was reported to have had a ‘friendship’ with Princess Margaret, and generally lived life at full tilt, maintaining his irrepressible love of racing to the end. When he was very young he had dreamed of becoming a jockey but in his late teens grew 11 inches in a single year.

He became a flight lieutenant in the Royal Australian Air Force and flew wartime night missions over Germany and Occupied France in his Mosquito. His most memorable quote came when he was questioned by Michael Parkinson about the pressures of test cricket. “There is no pressure in cricket,” he said. “Pressure is flying a Mosquito with a Messerschmitt up your a---!” Perspective, that’s called.