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Let the battle commence ...

A foggy and fresh start

Thursday, 24 May 2012

“He who will not economise will have to agonise”
Confucius.

24_-_Rayvin_Black_taking_at_interested_in_whats_going_onRayvin Black - taking an interest in what's going on around the yard

It is a very misty start to the morning and it has taken some time to lift. In fact first lot did two canters and I could only half see both, as when they jumped off at the bottom of the hill they were in the fog. It was only past the two furlong pole that they actually came into view. I am sure it will lift before breakfast and we shall have another warm and sunny day. We are a bit short on the ground this morning as we have got eight people away racing so it was only a smallish string, but everybody was cheerful and the horses continue to look pictures.

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The tractor power-harrowing Warren Hill polytrack

We have five runners today, two at Haydock this afternoon, one at Goodwood also this afternoon and two tonight at Salisbury. I am going to make the effort to go to Goodwood and then on to Salisbury. The journey shouldn’t be too bad; I will just be home quite late.

Starting at Haydock, we run Astrogold. She is a great big home-bred filly of Mystic Meg’s out of her good mare Mega. She only had the one run last year at Newmarket in October; the winner of that race was Starscope who went on to be second in the 1000 Guineas this year. She is a filly that will need this experience. I am not sure of the ground either but we will find out much more about her today. I have always liked her and everything out of the mare has been decent. Our next runner is Battery Power in the 5:15 – the mile and a half handicap. This doesn’t look a bad contest and the ground is my big fear. Since the re-draining of the straight at Haydock it can quickly get very firm and I am fearful that this is the case here. Battery Power has won twice on the all weather and ran a cracking race last time at Doncaster when she was second, but on ground that was on the soft side. We will have to hope she will let herself down on this much faster ground and if she does she must go well with any semblance of luck.

Astromagick is our runner at Goodwood in the two-mile handicap at 4:55. She improved throughout last year, stays this trip well and I expect her to be in the shake-up today. It would be fitting if she could win as her dam, Astrocharm, won a Group Three race here in her racing days. I remember it like it was yesterday.  Neil Callan gave her a great ride.

Tonight at Salisbury we have the reappearance of Blimey O’Riley in the mile and six furlong handicap at 7:45. He is still lightly raced but has a great win-to-run ratio of four wins out of ten, and could go close tonight to keeping that run going. He has done plenty of work and hopefully this trip will not be too short for him. Jennifer J runs in the next at 8:20 - the mile and a half handicap for three-year-olds. There are many permutations in this race with a few likely improvers. We have ben running on the all-weather and are now first time in a handicap. She has shown promise on a couple of starts and I think upping her in trip may galvanise some improvement from her. My big reservation about her is the ground. The family have all liked it on the easy side and tonight it certainly will be fast and pretty firm.

24_-_Mystery_Star_Nikki_Dine_Out_Abbi

Mystery Star (Nikki) Dine Out (Abbi)

I see the headlines on the front of the Racing Post are to do with Mark Johnston having a go about the clerks of the course, and the false going reports we are all given. How long have I been going on about this? I could not agree with him more. Not all but many clerks of the course just blatantly lie to you about the ground. These are the ones who are too lazy to walk the courses or have no idea what they are talking about. All the trainers know the ones we mean, and I have been bashing on about having an independent person do the reports. However this all costs money and as usual the trainer and owner are not thought to be worth it. The going stick is another complete waste of time, and is so useless it should be scrapped straight away. There should be no more money wasted on it. All we need are proper clerks of the course, those who know about grass and its maintenance and just give us honest reports. They are frightened to death of putting “firm” in any description because they think it puts people off running their horses. They don’t seem to understand that some horses want it fast and will run. It must be a level playing field for everybody, especially the horses who all want different sorts of ground.

Another one of my bugbears is watering, which should be banned immediately. The courses should be encouraged to grow the grass, keep it a good length and get a good bottom to it. This acts like a cushion and all that watering does is ruin the sward. Courses like Newmarket’s July course, Goodwood and Salisbury have changed considerably since watering has been allowed. We can’t go backwards and don’t want to do, but we must get the courses into better shape. That means employing people with experience, know-how and determination, not the corporate “get anybody in you can in at any cost” clerks we seem to have now.

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Frankel seen this morning - chasing birds?

NAG - By CLU

NAG_-_Chelsea_Flower_Show

NAG pays a visit to the Chelsea Flower Show