Friday, June 11, 2010

Could've been worse

Mixed results from our runners last weekend. As mentioned in the last chapter, Silken Thoughts' run at Doncaster was very pleasing - in fact, pretty much everything about a very happy outing was very pleasing. That wasn't the case two days later at Southwell, however, because things didn't go at all according to plan there.

The Renewal Partnership, the syndicate put together by Jason Hathorn to race Silken Thoughts, includes Iris (pictured here in a post-race de-briefing with Micky Fenton and Jason) and Larry McCarthy, whose colours were most recently carried previously by dear old Brief Goodbye and are now borne (with a different cap) by Silken Thoughts. Brief was ridden to most of his wins by Micky Fenton, who used to ride him ever so well, so it was lovely to see him sporting the same jacket on Silken Thoughts. She ran a very pleasing third on only her second run, and Micky is pictured here riding her into the unsaddling enclosure, led in by Steph. The post-race scenes at Southwell last Sunday, though, were far less happy. I don't often become irate, but I was really annoyed by what happened there and I'm afraid that I vented my spleen on the starter. Keep Silent is basically a very well-behaved horse, but she forced herself out of the front of the stalls, under the closed gates, before the stalls had opened and thus was a non-runner. This debacle was consequent to what I viewed and still view as a very bad decision by the starter to force a horse who was, in my opinion, in no fit state to race and who clearly didn't want to race, to race. (Please excuse that very badly cast sentence - but I hope that you know what I mean). Gay Jarvis, Michael's wife, tells me that, in that 10-runner race, their runner was the first to be loaded and spent ten minutes in the stalls waiting for the race to start. We didn't spend quite so long in there, but even so we still spent a long time waiting for the last horse, who to my untrained eye had looked lame walking around the parade ring and who was doing her utmost to protest that she didn't think that she should have been racing that day. Eventually the poor horse was forced into her stall - at which point Keep Silent, who had been standing as good as gold for ages, seemed to become startled by the hullabaloo and jumped forward as if the race was off - which meant, as the gates were still shut, she jumped forward and down, shooting straight out through the front. Incidents like this can be very dangerous to both horse and rider (as those who remember Lester Piggott's near-fatal accident with Windsor Boy at the Epsom Spring Meeting the week before Fairy Footsteps' 1,000 Guineas will remember) but happily Keep Silent (pictured before the race) was unharmed, while Iva was relatively unscathed, having merely bruising on her leg and a damaged hand (which caused her to miss the ride on Jane Chapple-Hyam's 2009 Royal Ascot winner Judge The Moment at Pontefract the following evenign) from where she had been pulled under the gate by the horse. This to my mind was an incident which should not have happened because I felt that the decision to spend so long forcing this one particular horse - a horse who to my mind should not even have been at the races - into the stalls was a bad one; and without that decision the incident would not have happened, because the field, including Keep Silent, would have been halfway around the track by that time. Anyway, I went, by my relatively tame standards, mad!

It could have been worse, I suppose. Horse and jockey both lived to tell the tale and I wasn't fined (as I suppose I could have been) for abusing the starter - nor for abusing the stipendiary steward whose attempts to pour oil on troubled waters were initially not very successful! I ought to emphasise, by the way, that what riled me so much was not that we were held up for so long waiting for one last horse to be loaded, but that we were held up for so long waiting for that one particular horse to be loaded: had it been any of the others, I wouldn't have felt that we had any grounds for grievance. And, just in case you think that I'm over-reacting in saying that that one horse should not only not have been forced to race, but should not even have been allowed to race, once the race was off she was the first horse off the bridle and was ultimately beaten over 40 lengths - which, as she had won her most recent race and was racing off only a 4lb higher mark, suggests that my amateur pre-race diagnosis that she had something wrong with her probably wasn't far off the mark.


Alan Taylor said...

Horse racings Hair dryer!!

I believe in football when Sir Alex Ferguson admonishes one of his players or the referee he does it with such force that they can feel the heat of his breathe. Hence the nickname.I feel the starter and the steward must have felt the heat when you took them to task.When Sir Alex takes on authority they tend to shy away from confrontation. In your case I can envisage them hiding in the loo or some other darkened room until you left the course, knowing the likelihood that you would print the details of any confrontation.
I trust you are now back to your usual calm self and bantering! and cantering on the gallops.

tidmarshmichael said...

One thing is for sure. UK races will need to jump alot closer to advertised starting time than at present if you wish to compete in the world wide racing circus. We get every day coverage of your meetings now together with South Africa, France and Ireland etc and it is not unusual for the 3.40 to be the 3.45. With more and more meetings sure to be included in the coverage, the need for minimal barrier issues will increase. Any chance of barrier trials to receive a barrier certificate??