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No sign of rain

Thursday, 22 March 2012

“Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”

Mark Twain.

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 Topamichi (Lauren) Star Of Missouri (Rhea) Frederick Alfred (Wajid)

It has once again turned into a lovely sunny morning. There was a layering of mist and fog at first light but as the sun came up above the horizon this soon disappeared. The Flint Cottage yard is bathed in sunshine and all the horses are looking in great shape. There is certainly no call for a jacket up on the Heath and with a high of 19 degrees forecast for Friday a shirt sleeve order may be called for sooner than expected.

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Astromagick (Robbie) Battery Power (Butch)

Second lot has just returned after their work-out up Warren Hill polytrack. The horses travelled very well and smoothly and much the same can be reported for first lot with no drama or loose ones. We have a full complement of staff in the yard and good steady canters are the call of the day for third and fourth lots. One of our syndicate members, Ray Smith, was out on the Heath seemingly enjoying the sun and beautiful sights that Newmarket can offer in the morning. While discussing the weather and our lack of rainfall with him, he reminded me of the prediction he gave a few months ago - that there will be no rain until September. If things continue in the same vein as they are currently the Met Office would be grateful for his weather predicting skills. He has not been wrong yet.

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Eanans Bay (Liam) My Guardian Angel (Wajid)

With the season rapidly approaching I would urge anyone who enjoys our sport to take a moment to look at our horses for lease page. We have some cracking horses available in the yard and they would add that extra depth of enjoyment to a day out at the races. The recently named “Silk Scarf” by Windsor Knot and the un-named filly by Kheleyf are fabulous lookers and movers and Red Hermes, also by Windsor Knot, mustn’t be forgotten either. The basic lease is free; all you would pay  are the training fees. It could be you standing in the sunny winner’s enclosure!

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 Toptempo (Hannah) Jennifer J (Rhea)

The Chancellor hit the betting industry pretty hard in his budget yesterday with a 20 per cent tax on gaming machine profits and, critically, the introduction in a couple of years of tax on bets placed by U.K. punters with offshore bookmakers. The estimate is that the Treasury will raise £70 million from on-line betting in the first year, rising to £270 million in the third term. At the moment, of course, the figure is zero.

But how will that help horse racing, still the main provider of income for the bookmakers? The answer, on the face of it, is not at all. In fact, the new duties are likely to have a negative impact on an industry which is the bookmakers' principal source of revenue.

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 Zenarinda (Nikki)

It could hurt us in two ways. If the betting industry's profits are eroded by the new taxation rules, which is inevitable, then the bookmakers' contribution to racing is likely to be reduced. Also, the punters will have to pay in the end to make up any shortfall, as we have seen in the past, so the over-round figure, that is the profit margin built into the odds available on any particular race, will be increased with a subsequent reduction, albeit marginal, in SPs.

All in all, this is not only a blow to the betting firms - the most expensive day in the history of bookmaking, as the Racing Post put it this morning - but it is not likely to do racing itself any good either. It could have just the opposite effect unless BHA Chief Executive Paul Bittar's hopes are fulfilled. He sees the Chancellor's comments as "a positive and necessary step forward towards British racing securing  a fair and commercially-based funding settlement". Don't hold your breath on that one.

What racing wanted was a levy on bookmakers' offshore business to help the industry itself, not a tax which will be no more than a drop in the ocean for the Treasury.

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Work never stops

We have declared Smokey Oakey to run at Lingfield on Saturday and dual champion jockey Paul Hanagan will ride. He has just secured the job as retained jockey for Sheikh Hamdan, of course, and as the Racing Post reports today he is one of the leading contenders for another title. Paul is 6-1 with Ladbrokes to be champion again, which is the same price he was on the first day of last season. 

The jockeys' championship is a very open affair this year and it is not impossible that someone other than Paul, Kieren Fallon, Silvestre de Sousa, Ryan Moore and Richard Hughes will come from out of the blue and beat the lot of them. It will all add some spice to the season.

* The photos used on the site today were taken on Tuesday 20th March.