Friday, May 31, 2013

Playing the game?

More runners coming up.  And the weather's sort-of turned, too.  This morning was again foggy and relatively cold (as you can see here and in the penultimate paragraph through Gift Of Silence's ears on Long Hill at around 7.00 this morning) but at least it wasn't raining - and, right on cue, the sun broke through, as forecast, about midday to leave us with a lovely warm, balmy, hazily-sunny afternoon.  So that's great: we can expect to go to Lingfield tomorrow evening and then to Fakenham the following afternoon without worrying about being rained on.

So, to our runners.  Tommy (Platinum Proof) runs on the AW at Lingfield tomorrow evening, while Ethics Girl runs in a maiden hurdle at Fakenham on Sunday afternoon.  I'd like to think that both will run well.  (They are shown here last Sunday, with Tommy in front and Ethics Girl in second).  Tommy was going to be ridden by Neil Callan, but the running plans of James Tate (for whom Neil has a commitment to ride) changed because of the rain, meaning that James re-routed a horse from Brighton to this race, meaning that Neil was not, after all, free to ride for us.  But Seb Sanders rides instead, so that's OK.

And Ethics Girl, too, should get plenty of help from the man on top: the boom 7lb-claimer Mr Conor Shoemark takes the ride, which makes sense as, being very small, she will surely appreciate every pound by which her burden is reduced.  She's pictured here, during the same exercise last Sunday, having a refresher course over the hurdles (ridden by the Czech jumps jockey  Petr Kriz) - and I hope that she'll jump with similar elan on Sunday.  If she does, she should acquit herself very creditably.

I ought, I suppose, to comment on the debacle of  Frankie's (that's Frankie Dettori, not Douchkirk, I hardly need add) return to the saddle.  It was clear that we were in trouble when the Racing Post announced yesterday (Thursday) afternoon that Frankie had at last been re-licensed, so would be able to ride from Friday onwards.  That, of course, was nonsense: correctly, it should have meant that he would be able to ride from Sunday onwards, on the basis that the deadlines for declaring jockeys for Friday's and Saturday's racing had already passed, with Sunday being the first day whose deadline was yet to come.  But no: yesterday evening it was announced that he'd be replacing Kieren on Beatrice Aurora and Adam Kirby on Fattsota, while late morning today the announcement came that he'd be replacing Neil Callan on Sri Putra three hours thence. (Giving those involved the benefit of the doubt, I should point out that it could be the case that Adam Kirby was indisposed, as I see that Ryan Moore won on one of his intended mounts later in the afternoon).

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.  I'm delighted to see Frankie back and I'm a massive fan, but he shouldn't have come back like this.  That's just not the way to behave, and I don't know who comes out of this with more discredit: the horses' connections for asking for the substitutions, Frankie for being part of them, or the stewards for allowing them.  This is surely against both the rules and the spirit of the sport, which, after all, is still meant to be a sport, conducted in a gentlemanly and correct manner.  And that's not really how I'd describe this sorry episode.  (By the way, as we have room for another photograph, this paragraph is illustrated by the top-class South African sprinter Shea Shea, ridden by Gary Gillespie and looking rather discomfitted after the warmth of South Africa and Dubai by yesterday's cold, wet and grey conditions).

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