Monday, March 09, 2015

The big race

Great excitement.  All roads lead to Wolverhampton tomorrow, to the day's big race which is, of course, the 7.45, the two-mile 46-60 handicap.  There are, of course, other races of interest tomorrow (as I am only too aware, having half of my XII to Follow running on the one Cheltenham card, ie Shaneshill, The Druids Nephew, Faugheen, The New One, Jezki and Annie Power) but it'll be the 7.45 at Wolverhampton which most quickens my pulse.  Particularly if Fen Flyer (whose chestnut ears can be seen in some of these photographs taken today on a frosty but sunny spring morning, with Magic Ice being the bay horse visible) can turn into the straight looking potentially the winner (as happened last time) and even more so if he can still look the winner passing the post (as didn't happen last time).

I'll probably catch Shaneshill's race on TV before I leave, but I'd imagine that I'll be relying on the radio for the commentary for the Champion Hurdle.  And I hope that Radio Five is less disrespectful towards of the action than it was the last time I was heading off for a Wolverhampton evening meeting and there was a major race-meeting taking place in England during the afternoon (ie Champions' Day 2014).  I'm reasonably hopeful that Radio Five (on which both Cornelius Lysaght and John Hunt are generally excellent on the rare occasions when they are allowed more than 10 seconds' airtime) will give us more attention this time, as one would presume that on a Tuesday afternoon we won't be competing against the great god, Premiership Soccer.

Premiership soccer is at least an understandable excuse when Radio Five fails to give racing the build-up which it deserves.  Less understandable is whatever excuse the BHA has for its failing in that respect this week.  We've had (or, rather, some people have had) more Cheltenham previews than one can shake a stick at, but really there's only one Cheltenham preview which matters: the lists of declared runners.  I'd always assumed that all Grade One races had 48-hour declarations, so was rather taken aback to find yesterday that only two of Cheltenham's races tomorrow (four of which carry Grade One status) were subject to 48-hour declarations, the others having the usual National Hunt 24-hour system.  For a meeting subject to this amount of anticipation, that is woeful.

I'm a big fan of 48-hour declarations.  They make a trainer's life much easier, as the main thing one wants to know when one enters a horse is whether he/she will get a run.  It's very unsatisfactory having to wait until the day before the race before one knows if one will be allowed to run.  (For instance, with Magic Ice a likely eliminee this coming Friday, it'll make it much easier to plan our movements if we find out on Wednesday, rather than Thursday, whether she's running).  From a trainer's point of view, 48-hour declarations make life much easier - and, we're told, if the sport is going to be given adequate coverage overseas and in domestic evening papers, they are essential.  If there's one National Hunt meeting above all others which deserves plenty of coverage in any media it can get, it is the National Hunt meeting - so why oh why the majority of races, even including many of the Grade One races, are still subject to 24-hour declarations is beyond comprehension.  Simply to say that these races are not worth trying to sell to an overseas audience (which is effectively what the current system says) is pitifully defeatist.

1 comment:

M Anderson said...

Hi John, knowing of your high opinion of John Egan, did you try to get him for Fen Flyer or did you willingly stick with Joe after the last run?