Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Party in the brewery - sorted

I enjoyed the trip to Bangor on Saturday, even if the few minutes spent watching Near Wild Heaven's race were not among the most enjoyable moments of the day.  It's a lovely place to visit, in a lovely part of the country, which means that part of the journey at least is a joy.  And it was a lovely day.  It was surprisingly warm while the sun was out, which was more than half the time that we were there.  She struggled, but that wasn't a massive disappointment as our expectations were not sky-high.  Even so, I must admit, I hadn't expected her to be beaten nearly as far as she was, but it was only her first time and she's only very immature still.  And she tried her best.

So that's an easy synopsis of our last runner and last trip to the races.  Summing up our next runner and next trip to the races is less easy.  In an ideal world it would be very easy.  Or, rather, it would be very easy to sum up our next trip to the races (Wolverhampton tomorrow) if not our next runner (Magic Ice, who is not easy to predict).  However, our bete noir has struck again: The Eliminator.  We have become so accustomed to having our horses eliminated that it has reached a stage where when I make an entry I rather assume that the horse won't be allowed to run.  However, on this occasion I thought that we had half a chance.

Our most recent previous eliminee, Roy, had missed out by miles, being one of 10 who were not allowed to run in his race.  However, Magic Ice had a better chance than that: there were only 22 horses entered in the race and the safety factor was 13, so there it was impossible that 10 horses could be eliminated from the race.  Nine, of course, was the maximum - except that one of the entrants (Mount Cherion, who appears to have moved from Dianne Sayer to Richard Ford) was not qualified.  So that took the entry down to 21, meaning that no more than eight could be eliminated - and the race was first preference to be divided, which seemed to give everyone a chance.

However, the fly in the ointment was that races are not divided unless there are at least 18 horses declared.  So we'd get in if 13 (or possibly 14) were declared, and we'd get in if 18 or more were declared.  But 15, 16 or 17 declarations would be bad news for us.  You've guessed it: there were 16 declarations, which meant that three horses were eliminated.  And, of course, Magic Ice was one of that trio.  Which is very annoying as she's in great heart at present, and I can't see any races coming up in the next few races which will be even semi-suitable for her and in which she will have any realistic chance of getting a run, bearing in mind that she has just been eliminated from a 0-52 at a time of year when, relatively speaking, there have been quite a lot of low-grade handicaps.

In recent weeks, in a low-grade handicap, you probably have had to be rated within 5lb of the ceiling to get a run.  Of course, if there were more of these races, it would become easier for horses to get in - but in the next couple of months there will be fewer of them, rather than more.  To illustrate my point, these are the older horses' handicaps scheduled to be run in Great Britain in the second quarter of the year at eight to ten furlongs inclusive at levels of 0-55 or below:-

8th April - 8 furlongs - Lingfield AW - 0-55
29th April - 8 furlongs - Wolverhampton AW - 0-55
29th April - 10 furlongs - Lingfield AW - 0-55
28th May - 10 furlongs - Lingfield  AW - 0-55
2nd June - 9.5 furlongs - Wolverhampton - 0-55
10th June -  10 furlongs - Brighton - 0-55
26th June - 8 furlongs - Yarmouth - 0-55
30th June - 10 furlongs - Brighton - 0-55.

See what I mean?  Magic Ice will be entered for all of those races bar the two at Brighton as I would be very confident that she wouldn't show her best form, such as it is, on such an undulating track.  And the Yarmouth race won't take place - although, I suppose, it might take place somewhere, but it won't take place at Yarmouth.  Anyway, that makes five races in which she can be entered in a three-month period (six if one includes the Yarmouth race) and I would happily have a good bet at 1/10 that there will be multiple eliminations from each of them, and that she will be one of the eliminees on every occasion.

Which would be fine if it were no skin of anyone's nose bar the connections', because we can't expect the world to be asked to revolve around us.  But that isn't the case: we're still having to endure the BHA's whingeing about the 'problem' of small fields, so why oh why has a programme been written which excludes a significant proportion of the equine population?  Magic Ice is far from the only horse rated under 55 - there must be hundreds.  And yet the majority of these horses will be lucky to run once in the next three months, never mind several times as their connections (and, apparently, the BHA) would like.

Instead, the brains trust has been devoting its attention to more pressing details, such as how to get rid of six-figure sums, there being such an oversupply of money in racing budgets at present.  The latest wheeze is to tailor the jockeys championship even more to disadvantage jockeys who show commitment to British racing, which apparently is a good method of getting rid of a surplus £100,000 per year, a great idea bearing in mind that there are so few other ways of spending it.  Ah well, you can probably work out my view of this nonsense.  Many people have summed up this farce (and that's putting it kindly) better than I could, including Lee Mottershead in the Racing Post and James Underwood in his publication, so I'll just restrict myself to reproducing one sentence of Alan Sweetman's column in today's Post: "I despair that the sport contains anyone in a position of authority who views this a good idea."  Couldn't have put it better myself.

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