Friday, November 12, 2010

Good times, good timings

This week has been really pleasing. Two runners have yielded a second and a win: Rhythm Stick (left) second at 10/1 at Kempton on Wednesday and Ethics Girl (below) first at Wolverhampton yesterday (Thursday) at 20/1. Both were very good runs, bringing much satisfaction. Each horse went into the race with a bit to prove, so it was a relief as well as a source of joy that they did indeed quash any doubts. Rhythm Stick had been showing the potential to shape up into a respectable handicapper over middle distances for farther - but showing potential and realising that perceived potential aren't necessarily the same thing, so it was very pleasing that, having struggled badly in maiden company, he had indeed, as hoped, been able to fare much better dropped to handicap company: believing and hoping that a horse will come good certainly doesn't always guarantee that come good he shall. So when one's seemingly justifiable hopes are then proved actually to have been justified, it's really good. Ethics Girl, of course, had already won three races and run several creditable minor placings, so she certainly didn't need to prove that she can win; however, she had run a shocker at Kempton on her most recent start and, although still seeming to be in good form, still needed to prove that that had been an aberration, rather than a sign of decline. As I'd suggested on this blog after Kempton, my feeling was that the Kempton debacle was solely the result of her being knocked out of her stride by a horse breaking down in front her of, but I'm always mindful of the fact that coming up with alternative reasons for bad runs (alternative, of course, to the usually-correct one of the horse simply not being good enough or having something wrong with him) can often be a dangerous habit. Anyway, at Wolverhampton last night, as is shown by this photograph of her flying gamely towards the line in front, she did indeed prove that that Kempton blip had indeed merely been an aberration, which was great.

I know that we're always criticising our rulers, but I must say that whichever BHA employee decided that we should have these twilight meetings in the winter, instead of the previous evening ones, deserves a massive pat on the back. Why we had the previous timings (ie first race maybe 6.50, last race maybe 9.20, which is a conclusion later even than at nearly all the evening meetings in the summer when length of days and clemency of conditions are actually conducive to going to the races at that time of day) is a mystery, bearing in mind that the afternoon racing in the winter finishes shortly after 4.00 (or, in the middle of winter, shortly after 3.30). A gap of nearly three hours without any racing between the end of the afternoon's sport and the start of the evening's action must be a nightmare for betting shop proprietors, and the late nights in winter are hugely unpopular with all involved with the horses. The only thing in favour of the late nights, I suppose, would be the theory that such timings give potential race-goers the chance to go to the races in the evening after the end of the working day - but in practice the attendances are always so poor that, sparsely-attended though Kempton and Wolverhampton were this week with their 4.20 starts, the crowds wouldn't have been any larger had the meetings taken place a couple of hours later. So that's all good. A 4.20 start this week dove-tailed very nicely with the end of the afternoons' racing, and also meant that the meetings kicked off almost in daylight and ended at a civilized time. The photographs in this paragraph give a good idea. The runners in the first race, won by Indian Emperor in the blue colours, yellow sash, are pulling up in reasonable light. The floodlights are on for that race, even if they aren't really needed - but they are definitely needed by the time that our old favourite Matsunosuke goes down to post for the second in the gathering storm. And, it's proper night-time by the time that Adam leads Ethics Girl into the winner's enclosure after the third race, the 5.20. I was, incidentally, delighted to see Matsunosuke win: we've always loved this horse from when his breeder/owner/trainer Scobie Coogan had him, and now he's with another trainer whom I like, Ron Harris. I had a late lunch with Ron in the canteen before racing, so was very pleased to see the old horse win the claimer for him (and not be claimed afterwards) - and if he can win the 20,000-pound sprint handicap at Lingfield tomorrow afternoon, which is very possible, then so much the better.


racingfan said...

Well done for ethics girl and rhythmn stick, The blog is excellent and helps me keep an eye out for the stables runners. Keep up the good work and the good form (if possible!)

John Berry said...

Thank you, racingfan. Quiet week looming: no entries.