Friday, September 05, 2014

Good (maybe) to have a runner

Great excitement.  Rather to my surprise, we might have a runner on Sunday.  I'd entered Russian Link (shown here in a photograph which Emma took of her last weekend, leading two others up the Al Bahathri under Hannah) at both Stratford tomorrow (Saturday) and Fontwell Sunday, but I'd rather written off her participation because of the good weather.  However, I thought it wise to check the ground at each course, and it seems that Fontwell is still 'good'.  And if it is indeed good, then there's no reason not to run her.  I'm itching to run her, so declared she is.  Of course, it being called 'good' does not necessarily mean that it is, or will be, good (as I was reminded when I took her to Southwell the other Sunday for supposedly 'good' ground which, as things turned out, was in good condition, but was, to my mind, much closer to 'firm' than to 'good') but I'm happy to take Ed Arkell, Fontwell's excellent clerk of the course, at his word.

Two or three years ago, we had a proper and lovely Indian summer.  We went to Fontwell on 1st October, and I recall the radio saying that it was thirty point something degrees somewhere in Kent, and thus the hottest October day ever recorded in England.  We weren't running in a jumps race (we were in the bumper) so I wasn't too worried about the ground, but really I couldn't see how it could be 'good' in that heat.  Much to my surprise, I found it to be perfect ground, and ever since then I've had it in my mind that if Ed Arkell says that it's good, then it's good.  It also stuck in my mind that we went to Cheltenham shortly afterwards, with the Indian summer persisting, and they hadn't done nearly as good a job with the ground as Fontwell had done.  So, as long as it's still listed as 'good' on Sunday morning, we'll head down there.

This puts me in mind of the Saint Helena debacle at Southwell, which we discussed yesterday.  Some people have queried Best's other horse being withdrawn, but I don't see anything odd in that: if I declare on good ground and I have a horse who doesn't like fast ground, I'll come out if it firms up at all, even just going to 'good, good to firm in places'.  You might say that this is being too pernickety, but one has to draw a line somewhere.  One would, clearly, run such a horse on soft but not on firm - so there has to be a line in the sand somewhere in between.  'Good' is clearly the correct point at which to draw that metaphorical line in the sand: you'd always be happy to run any horse on genuine good ground, as that's why it's called 'good': it's the safest ground.  And obviously you'd run if it were any softer - but if the word firm appears, then you've crossed that line, and then that's the time to withdraw.

So there should be no qualms about a horse coming out if the ground deviates away from good in the opposite direction to the one which suits the horse.  But what we should worry about - and again our runner on Sunday brings this to mind - is the replacement of Rhys Flint on Saint Helena.  I say this because we have ended up not having our first choice of jockey on Sunday.  Joe Akehurst was first choice as he's done all the schooling on Russian Link (and you can see him on her in paragraphs two and three, and then see him in this paragraph schooling Energia Eros yesterday) but unfortunately he can't do the weight.  William Kennedy was next in line as he rides for us, but he's committed to going to Ian Williams' open day on Sunday, and felt obliged to turn down the ride.  So David Crosse is riding, which is good as he too is a good and hard-working jockey who has done a lot of schooling for us in recent years (and you can see him in the final two paragraphs on Frankie/Douchkirk on a couple of mornings last winter) and he has so far only had a couple of rides to show for it.

Why I say, though, that this brings Saint Helena to mind is because of the thought of Joe Akehurst wasteing to try to do the weight.  I read in today's Racing Post that Rhys Flint, who was declared for Saint Helena, hadn't ridden in a race for six months through injury, and was down to ride at 10 stone 8lb, which is really light for him - witness, apparently, 10 stone 7lb being the lightest he rode at all last season.  If Rhys hadn't ridden for six months, riding at only one pound above his bare minimum would have been a very daunting task indeed.  He'd have been wasteing hard for days to take the ride - so then for him to be told at 11.20 on the morning of the race that he wasn't required because someone better had become available is just appalling.

It may, of course, be that what we've been told is not true, and that Rhys was never going to ride the horse.  But we have to take them at their word and believe that, up until 11.20 that morning, he was the intended rider.  If so, then that is the worst aspect of the whole case.  That's just an appalling way to treat a jockey.  It's bad enough to jock a rider off in those circumstances, but to do so when he's been struggling so hard to prepare for the ride is beyond feral.  There are times when I look around me and reflect that I just don't understand how some other people's brains are wired up, and this is a classic example of that.  No normal person would do that to anyone, but there you go.  As they say, it would be a dull world if we all thought the same way.


neil kearns said...

You're wrong its a disgusting way to treat any fellow not just a jockey and ap is the decent bloke I have always thought him to be than at least the riding fee will not be finding the way into his bank account (and hopefully a little more)

Brian Jones said...

John, as you are one of the Twitterarmy it is easy to see from Rhys own twitter postings, days earlier, that he wasnt even below 11 stone...

M Anderson said...

Well you must be happy with that introduction to hurdling Mr Berry.
Russian Link ran really well and your eagerness to run was more than justified.
RL will soon be winning on this evidence - congrats on such a good display.

neil kearns said...

Great first effort over sticks can only improve congrats