Sunday, April 05, 2015

Easter observations

Easter weekend.  A shame that we have no Yarmouth, as we've very often found a suitable race there for something or other on Easter Monday.  And I can recall having been to Towcester, Warwick, Huntingdon, Carlisle and Plumpton on Easter weekends too.  And I'm sure that I'll have been to some other courses on various Easters which haven't come to mind just now.  But this Easter weekend I've been nowhere, other than the ATR studio in Milton Keynes this morning, which was nice as I had a Sunday Forum stint, and I always enjoy those.  My colleagues today were Matt Chapman and Alan Lee, and they were good company.

We spent quite a lot of the time on the Forum this morning discussing the Good Friday AW Finals Day at Lingfield, which was good because we all agreed that this had been a great success.  I'm pleased that I've had the chance to work this into this chapter, as it illustrates a point which I was trying to make in the previous chapter: throwing the Luddite charge at me when I criticise some of the changes which GBR waste so much money in instituting is unjustified because I am not against change per se, but only against change for the worse.  Changes for the better, such as racing on Good Friday, usually get my vote from the start, and I was in opposition to the ill-founded opposition to Good Friday racing right from the start.  So I'm pleased now that it is (or should be, anyway) plain to everyone that opposing racing on Good Friday - when one bears in mind that we already race on Easter Sunday, which is far more questionable theologically and far more inconvenient  from any stable's point of view - was just plain silly.

What is also silly is the usual complaint, which predictably issued forth again last week, that 'trainers are always complaining about prize money, but when it's there they don't try to win it'.  We had the predictable complaints that the very valuable Good Friday races were not being "supported", but the point is that there is only any point in trying to collect good prize money if it is in a race in which your horse might have some sort of chance.  The Lingfield races were level-weights contests, and by and large you needed to be rated 100+ to be competitive.  It's not true that the races were not supported (there were horses eliminated from three of the seven races on the card) but it is true that some of the races had smaller fields than one might have hoped.

But the reality is that the vast majority of stables had no horses capable of being competitive in any of the races: if we had had, we'd have been running there, don't you worry about that!  If one had a nice horse rated, say, 85 (and even having a horse with that rating is easier said than done for all but a handful of stables) it would have been lovely to have run and hoped.  But, realistically, one would have been, running at levels with horses from whom one would have been receiving a stone and a half in a handicap, one would have been a 33/1 shot and one would have finished seventh of eight - and if that happens, the same people who bitch about people not 'supporting' valuable races do not generally say, "Good on 'em for having a go", but say, "Moonman".  Ah well, but then we already knew that one can't please most of the people most of the time.

Another example of not being able to please people appears to have come from Haydock yesterday.  Haydock is far from my favourite racecourse, and I don't generally enjoy watching racing (particularly jumps racing) from there, so I wouldn't usually expect to jump to its defence.  But as far as I can make out, its clerk is being unfairly criticised for the distances of yesterday's races being incorrectly published in the papers.  He had, it seems, correctly put up the ground on the Weatherbys site and had also stated that the races would be lengthened because of the rails being moved; and the fact that the papers had not carried the latter part of the bulletin is the papers' fault, rather than his.  But, having sprung to his defence, I will now ask a question which doesn't seem to have occured to anyone.  One often sees things like this and generally it is something like 12 yards added to a race's distance because the rail has been put out - so how on earth is it possible to move the rail so far out, especially on a narrow track which usually seems to have no spare ground to play with, that the distance of a race is increased by 176 yards?

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