Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Coping with the wet

Well, Sedgefield is a long way to go to run fourth, but Sunday's outing had plenty of positives nevertheless.  We knew that the ground would be very heavy and that, as a horse who handles a bit of cut but who had recorded his only win on good to firm, Frankie might struggle.  But it's very heavy everywhere - so it was a case of either run and hope against hope, or not run for ages.  So he had a run - and he ran bravely and enthusiastically, jumped the best he's ever jumped in a race, but just got bogged down in the quagmire in the final quarter of the race, and weakened out of contention to finish a well-beaten fourth.  No harm done.

You can see Frankie and William in the first paragraph passing the stands in second place behind the eventual winner first time round, but they were, of course, much farther adrift next time.  You'll see that the ground is pretty chopped up, but funnily enough I thought that it was less tiring there, although wetter, than at Fakenham in the week.  And even though there was so much standing water in the fields all the way up through Yorkshire and into County Durham, there wasn't much standing water on the track at Sedgefield; and what little there was was in the dip by the last hurdle (and you can see my canine GoingStick inspecting it) and the groundstaff had put up rails to form a sort of chicane so that the horses could gallop around it, rather than through it.  All in all, in a very wet period, Sedgefield did well to get the racing on, and it was definitely the right decision to race as the horse coped with conditions safely.

So that was good (if not particularly successful) as no harm was done, Frankie re-affirmed his enthuasiasm, and it allowed Gus and I to visit a pleasant, friendly, well-run racecourse.  What was also good was that Hannah Nunn started back here on Monday.  Hannah enjoyed a good season in 2012, riding quite a few winners including scoring for this stable on Kadouchski and Grand Liaison (at Haydock, pictured) and at the end of the year it seemed a good idea for her to spread her wings and move to a bigger stable.  This happened, but in retrospect it was not a good move.  But time moves on, a vacancy arose here, and she started back on Monday.  And it's lovely to have her back.

Looking at the wider (racing) world, I see that the BHA are considering making it compulsory to report when a horse has an operation on his or her wind.  This seems a very good idea: it will cost virtually nothing to implement, it will cause no inconvenience to horsemen, and it will stop punters feeling cheated when (as happened a couple of times on Saturday, apparently) they find out shortly after a seemingly-unlikely horse has won that he had recently had a wind operation.  So it's all good.  I'll find it very interesting to check out what good these operations do, and you'd like to think that breeders will be interested to know which potential stallions and broodmares are deemed capable of galloping unaltered and which are deemed in need of surgery.  I do, though, rather suspect that any punters who believe that they'll be unearthing a winner-finding crock of gold will be very disappointed when they discover (probably to their cost) that for every recently-operated-on winner, there are a lot of recently-operated-on losers.

It will obviously be important to make it clear whether a horse has had a cosmetic operation on his soft palate (which does not imply that he/she has a wind problem) or on his larynx (which suggests that he/she has "gone in the wind", which tends to be a more or less insoluble condition).  And, if the operation is on his/her larynx, whether it is a tie-back or a hobday.  But the BHA can probably narrow the categories down to three - and the most useful thing for punters will be to know if a horse has had an operation on his larynx, which will almost certainly suggest that backing him is a waste of money (unless the trainer has had the operation done to a horse whose larynx works perfectly, just to put punters off the scent) (or unless the horse is racing over a short distance on fast ground, in which case he/she has a reasonable chance of showing his best form despite his/her infirmity).  Anyway, it would be a useful PR exercise which should be enacted forthwith - even if in the short term many punters might find that it provides them with as much disinformation as information.

As you can see, the weather remains pretty shitty, of course.

No comments: