Sunday, January 09, 2011

Sunday morning shocks

I fell off this morning (Sunday). That's not setting a very good precedent for the year as we're only on 9th January. I think that I'd managed to get through 2008, 2009 and 2010 without coming off, but 2011's potential clean sheet has already been blotted. And the worst thing about it is that I came off one of the quietest horses in the yard, Rhythm Stick (pictured here looking completely unmoved by my traumatic experience, as he waits patiently to come in from the field this winter evening). I don't really know what he did because I was trotting along the side of the Heath, my thumb up my bum and my mind in neutral (figuratively speaking) and the next thing I knew my world turned upside down, I was lying on my back on the ground and he was cantering home. What I do know is that I shouldn't have come off, and if anyone else had fallen off like that I'd have been very scathing. Fortunately for me, though, the Heath was mid-Sunday-morning-empty and there was nobody there to see it - but of course the fact that the horse got home ten minutes before I did means that I couldn't just keep the incident to myself. I wouldn't have done anyway, but: whenever anyone else falls off I tell everyone, so I think it's only fair if I own up every time I do so myself.

I might have been excused falling off had I been reading today's Racing Post at the time. I would have fallen off my horse in surprise had I been on horseback at the time of discovering that in today's paper it is said of Martin Pipe, one of the most courteous men I've ever met, that, "There was very little style or manners about the man." Still, it would be a dull world if we all thought the same - a sentiment which came to my mind after I watched Ballabriggs win at Wincanton yesterday afternoon. I'd come in from outside to watch this race, the last at 4.05 (and aren't we heading towards spring that races can now be run after 4.00pm?), because I hoped to watch Ballabriggs, trained by my friend and former colleague/housemate Donald McCain, win and thus confirm himself a live Grand National hope. However, I didn't want to see him win like that. In a piece of dangerously reckless riding by his jockey which showed no concern whatsoever for the safety of the horses and riders around him, Ballabriggs jumped the last (ie the second last because the last was omitted as a result of the presence of a dead horse) with two horses inside him - and then his jockey decided that when they bypassed the last fence, he would be right on the inside, never mind that he already had two horses inside him who would thus be left with nowhere to go - or who would be forced off the course. This wasn't a case of preventing two horses going up his inside: the two horses were already there. I think that Ballabriggs would have won anyway, so the interference which he caused to the other two horses was pointless - but it was also considerable. As the Racing Post reports: "Ohio Gold ... was virtually level rounding the bypassed last when squeezed up and had no chance after ... Zakatal ... was still in there fighting when squeezed by the other pair. That ended his chance, but there will probably be other days for him". Even though the Racing UK presenters didn't think that too much amiss had taken place, I thought that Ballabriggs was a certainty to be disqualified and placed last. Interference had taken place. The interference was both dangerous and deliberate. Doesn't that mean automatic disqualification, or have the rules changed since I last read them? As it was, there wasn't even a stewards' enquiry (unless there was one and neither Racing UK nor the Racing Post has reported it) so, while the interference and what should have been its sequel seemed crystal-clear to me, it apparently was equally clear to the stewards that nothing had even happened. And the Racing UK presenters had noted that something had happened but didn't seem to think that it mattered. See what I mean? Never mind the dullness, it would certainly be a different world if we all thought the same.


Nathan said...

Nothing surprises me these days John...

Alan Taylor said...

I did not see the race concerned John but by what you have described, interference in its true sense did not occur. Ballabrigs although travelling at an angle would be deemed travelling in a straight line( ie The hypotenuse of a triangle).What the jockey was guilty of was ungentlemanly conduct. If this is covered in the rules then he should have lost the race.Had you trained the winner would you be quite so voiciferous. Sorry to be devils advocate!!!
It could be I am in a bad mood . Having just had a flight home from Spain were the plane was just about to taxi for takeoff when the pilot said he had too much weight for takeoff and promptyly ordered all the luggage of the 200 passengers to be taken off and left in Spain. It makes you think with such health and safety would there be any dambuster spirit to win a war today.