Friday, December 13, 2013

Reasons to be Cheerful Part ?!

It was all going too well, wasn't it?  Three of our week's four runners had run, with two finishing second and one, although unplaced, not being disgraced.  I can hardly bring myself to say this, but secretly I considered the fourth runner, Russian Link at Southwell this afternoon, to be the best chance of the quartet.  So what happened?  She finished seventh of nine, beaten 94.5 lengths.  She was off the bridle with a circuit still to run, and dropping back through the field rapidly by the time that they'd gone halfway in this two-miler. The horse who finished one place and 21 lengths in front of her was an 11-year-old who nine days previously had been well beaten at Lingfield on his first run on the Flat since 2004.  Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

Ah well, at least Gus enjoyed the outing.  Chris Dwyer, one of Britain's very best trainers as well as one of the nicest, will have enjoyed the day too as he and Shelley had a winner again, as they'd had at Kempton last night.  They've had a magnificent season, which is great to see.  And it was very good that their winner today was one of two winners ridden at Southwell this afternoon by Hayley Turner, a very welcome change of fortune at the end of the year in which she has had at to endure too much undeserved ill fortune.  She's probably also enduring speculation at present about whether she's the lesbian to whom Lee Mottershead referred in the Racing Post this week.  One could say that it's 14/1 to be Hayley as there are only 15 female jockeys currently licensed in Britain (plus loads of female apprentices).

There are a few that I could say that we can probably rule out straightaway - and it's probably not Hayley either, simply because she's spent so much time on Twitter this week telling us that she's the one that it's likely not to be her, bearing in mind her habitual mischievous humour.  So that doesn't really help to solve that mystery - but Hayley might be able to help us with another one, being that she's a proper Nottinghamshire lass and is generally an authority of anything happening in that part of the country.  What I'm going on about is the Brahma of the Day: that, over and above the racing, there seemed to be a secondary event at Southwell today, the 2013 Staff Conference of the Targeted Support & Youth Justice Services of Nottinghamshire County Council.  Slightly surprising, but that's not the real mystery: the real mystery is the headline on the notice: "Reasons to be cheerful?!"  Any suggestions?

Any suggestions too about the story on page 13 of today's Racing Post which says that the HKJC stewards have decided that no riding offence was committed in the HK Sprint, in which Jwala lost her life and Steve Drowne came close to losing his?  This certainly isn't the conclusion which I'd have reached.  I can only conclude that one of the following four options is correct: (1) My race-reading skills are extremely poor.  (2) The race-reading skills of the HKJC stewards are extremely poor.  (3) The HKJC stewards have been bribed.  (4) The verdict is a Whytewash, designed to ensure that Hong Kong racing does not have to suffer the negative publicity of a jockey being sued for having, by deliberate dangerous riding, caused the death of a very valuable horse and serious injuries to a jockey.

Even if neither the horse's owner nor the jockey were minded to sue, it's not out of the question that their insurers might have wanted to do so had blame been what I would have called correctly apportioned.  It seemed at the time as if a similar rationale was the thinking behind the British stewards' verdict of 'general bunching' being the cause of the pile-up which led to the death of Steve Wood at Lingfield in the early '90s, rather than the dangerous riding of the apprentice who appeared to have caused the incident; and I'd suspect that the HKJC stewards have opted for a similarly expedient verdict.  It's hard to believe that they believe their verdict, but it's understandable that they've given it.  Doesn't alter the fact that it's wrong, but; and, overall, I feel that they've possibly done more discredit to Hong Kong racing than would have been done had they not opted for this attempt at damage-limitation.  It sickens me to see jockeys riding with such disrespect for the safety of the other competitors, and it doesn't reflect well on the HKJC that its stewards appear not to worry about it.

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