Friday, October 11, 2013

Two out of three ain't bad

We were going for a treble on Wednesday, but disappointingly failed to achieve it.  Our two previous runners had both been dope-tested, and Frankie (Douchkirk) did his best to maintain the sequence: unlike the previous two, he ran as if he'd been doped (despite having moved from 8/1 to 6/1 in the betting).  He raced with the hand-brake on throughout, never really picked up his bridle, jumped stickily at every hurdle, and generally ran like a horse who'd been given a tranquilizer before the race.  Needless to say, though, our treble failed to come up.

The good news is that Frankie has come home undamaged so at least we'd be able to say that he lives to fight another day (although I'm not sure that the word 'another' is quite right, bearing in mind that he didn't show much fight on Wednesday).  He had a bad experience on bad ground at Worcester on his previous race, and unfortunately it seems that that's persuaded him to take the justifiable decision that it's wiser to look after himself in a race.  Let's hope that we can change his mind.  His next race will tell us whether that's possible.

Other than the time spent firstly watching and then digesting Frankie's run, the trip to Towcester was enjoyable.  I'd said in advance that I'd never been to Towcester and been unhappy with the ground, and that comment still applies.  It's nice to see ground in good condition, as it was there on Wednesday, even if it does have one scratching one head as one ponders the question of why they can't all manage it.  And the icing on the cake was that Gus found a friend - an encounter which gave him plenty of pleasure and me even more.

On the subject of dope tests, I maybe ought to expand on my comments in a previous chapter that I'm surprised that the Godolphin horse who won at the Craven Meeting while almost certainly having traces of anabolic steroids swilling around his system hasn't been disqualified.  If I had trained the runner-up, I'd have objected on the basis that all the evidence available pointed to the overwhelming likelihood that he had almost certainly run on a prohibited substance; and I'd have expected my objection to succeed.

It's understandable that the connections of the runner-up Space Ship didn't object.  His trainer John Gosden has Sheikh Mohammed (under the guise of Princess Haya of Jordan) as his principal patron, so it's easy to see why he wouldn't want to rock the boat.  And Space Ship is owned by the Rothschilds, who are among the wealthiest people in Europe and who are accustomed to Group One success, which means that they probably wouldn't lose any sleep over a maiden race (particularly as Space Ship won a maiden at Chester on his next start, a victory from which he wouldn't be disqualified even if promoted to being the winner of the preceding Newmarket race, there being a two-week time-limit on the lodging of objections unless deliberate foul play is involved, and there'd clearly not have been any foul play involved if he now, five months after the event, became ineligible for the Chester maiden race).

In the absence of any objection from the runner-up, though, I feel that the stewards ought to lodge an objection.  I can see that there is one reason for their not doing so (ie the fact that the case for disqualification wouldn't technically be rock-solid as the horse was not dope-tested on the day, and that the horse's disqualification might therefore not stand up if challenged in court) but that would only really be something to worry about if there was any chance of the horse's connections challenging the disqualification.  And that, surely, is inconceivable.

It's fair to assume that the horse's trainer Mahmood al Zarooni wouldn't contest the disqualification, bearing in mind that he's seemingly gone to ground.  And surely the horse's owner wouldn't do so: Sheikh Mohammed, as befits the hereditary ruler of a country (which is a very different thing to the hereditary monarch of a country, such as our Queen) has been admirably thick-skinned throughout the whole sorry affair, but surely not even he would be thick-skinned enough to contest this horse's disqualification.  I suppose that the breeder might feel aggrieved and could lodge an appeal - except for the fact that in this instance Sheikh Mohammed was breeder as well as owner.

One might say that any objection is unsporting, and I have a lot of sympathy with that viewpoint.  In general I don't like the idea of lodging an objection.  I generally feel that it shouldn't be up to the victims to protest because one has been brought up on the principal of not contesting the umpire's decision, and that when the umpire's decision is blatantly wrong (as in this case) it should be up to the stewards to lodge an objection, to save the victims of the injustice from the dilemma of whether to suffer undeservedly in silence, or speak up and feel guilty about disputing the verdict.  But in this case I wouldn't feel guilty about lodging an objection: unsporting it might be to win a race by objecting, but it's even more unsporting to win a race by giving one's horse anabolic steroids.  If this horse's connections had been sporting enough to deserve the victory, the horse wouldn't have been thus medicated.  Thus, under the circumstances, from the point of view of sportsmanship, the runner-up getting the race through unsporting conduct on the part of his connections would be less unsatisfactory than the winner keeping the race.

That's the 'news' (and if you think that it's stretching the definition of the word to call that 'news', then you should read a British 'newspaper') so here's the weather.  As of a couple of days ago, summer's over, both the English part and the Indian part, but we did have some lovely weather up to and including Tuesday so, apart from the three photographs taken at Towcester on Wednesday at the start of the chapter, the illustrations, all taken this week are of our final days of good weather.  No doubt we'll see some similar weather in, maybe, May 2014, or even April 2014 if we're lucky.  In the interim, if you see some someone riding out on Newmarket Heath in shorts, it won't be me.

No comments: