Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Three in one

Right - here we go.  Three topics to cover, all very different, but we'll cover them all in one chapter. Firstly, I probably ought to expand on my comments regarding the race in which Russian Link ran at Fontwell last week.  Despite what one might have inferred, my beef was not with the jockey who caused the fall, but with the rules/stewards which/who generally categorize all tightening up of other horses as careless/accidental (as was the case in the stewards' report in this instance) and never disqualify/demote, and thus encourage worryingly reckless riding.  Currently the priority is making disqualification/demotion a rarity, and that comes at the expense of the safety of the participants, human and equine.

I'd have been better to have described the riding as 'knowingly reckless' rather than 'deliberately reckless'.  In the stewards' report the riding is described as 'careless', but I don't think that that's right; and I actually think that it does a great disservice to the jockey, who is one of the best young jockeys in the land.  I don't believe that good jockeys are careless.  They don't go around in a dream, not realising how close they are to the other horses, not realising that their own mounts are coming off a true line and are drifting in/out, tightening up their rivals in the process.

Instead, they allow this to happen knowingly, knowing that if they squeeze up their rivals they will increase their own chances of winning; and that they run minimal chance of their mounts being disqualified/demoted, and very little chance of being suspended.  That's what good jockeys do; those whose maxim is 'No, no - after you, Claude' tend not to make the grade.  In this case, the jockey was just unlucky because the horse with whom he interfered fell, which usually doesn't happen.  Even for having caused a fall, though, the jockey (who I should point out was not the one who had been involved in the contretemps with Russian Link turning out of the back straight) was only suspended for five days, and his mount was not disqualified.  If the victim had merely been hampered without falling, which is usually the result of being tightened up, then the jockey would have received no penalty.

Right, that's topic one.  Topic two is that we have a runner tomorrow, Roy in the 5.20 at Kempton.  It's a claimer and if he could run as he ran on his two runs last year, he'd have a good chance.  As it is, though, he goes there with this season's form to his name too, which means that he will, I would imagine, start the fourth favourite in this four-runner race.  He ought to have improved for getting a year older, but so far he has only gone backwards.  Let's hope that all can fall into place at some point, and let's hope that that point comes tomorrow.  But we won't hold our breath - despite the fact that we have one of our lucky jockeys, Jim Crowley, on board.  And we won't be holding our breath either when Energia Eros runs at Wolverhampton on Friday.  He's still rated highly (90) and that is likely to prove too high, despite the fact that he is a nice horse who seems in good heart at present.

The third topic takes us in a very different, very sad direction. Yesterday, the eleventh day of the eleventh month, naturally saw us contemplating the fate of the fallen, as well as of "the wounded, the crippled, the lame .. the armless, the legless, the blind, the insane", as that wonderful song 'And the band played Waltzing Matilda' (sung by many, and in my opinion never better than by Luke Kelly and never worse than by Shane McGowan) put it so well.  However, sadly we also had cause to grieve closer to home: yesterday evening there was a memorial service - conducted by the pastor of the Universal Pentecostal Church in Brixton and attended by racing's vicar, Rev. Simon Bailey - in St. Agnes' Church in the Bury Road for Nelson Fernandes, a long-time employee of Stuart Williams whose ever-smiling face was a fixture in Stuart's string until recently, when he was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour.  Even on a date ever-tinged with sadness, the loss of Nelson, one of the unsung heroes of our sport, was particularly hard to swallow.  I offer my deepest condolences to his loved ones, and to his many colleagues, past and present, who were lucky enough to count him as a friend.

As regards photographs, we have Roy pictured in the stable-yard last week; and then some photographs taken yesterday including one which features the the little grey ears of Roy's little sister So Much Water looking over the Heath on Racecourse Side.

1 comment:

neil kearns said...

Am I missing something are you trying to get the practice outlawed or just punished?
I hope the former but on todays blog i am know thinking the latter
Don't like to denegrate some of the best jocks about but many would describe the squeezing up as tactical race riding and "jockeying "for position etc when the practice is actually bloody dangerous to both horse and rider - your crusade probably the wrong word-to get this practice outlawed is very unlikely to succeed but as with many very worthy causes that doesn't mean that it is wrong
At the end of the day will it take an equine or human death to bring some sense to the stewards room or am I being a total wuss given my very very limited experience of steering a tonne of horse