Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Horses (possibly) to be run; nettles (possibly) to be grasped

More runners.  We're off to Sandown tomorrow with Cottesloe (pictured here, larking around in the field the day after he had won at Lingfield last month) and then we might head to Nottingham the next day (Thursday) with Grand Liaison.  And then we could have a third runner for the week the following day at Newmarket on Friday night, for which meeting Fen Lady (shown in the second and third paragraphs with Hannah, in the good weather of last week) is entered.  God willing, Cottesloe should be a definite runner.  Grand Liaison (seen recently in paragraphs four and five) was declared this morning on ground described as 'good, good to soft in places' and is an intended runner, but any significant firming of that ground would see her scratched. (On our side, though, is the fact that the weather has been pretty miserable again today, so we're looking more and more likely still to find some cut in the ground there on Thursday.)

Declarations for Fen Lady's race won't be taken until tomorrow morning.  She's fit enough to run and I'm very keen to run her, but she's had a few coughs over the past few days; so the first decision (on Wednesday morning) will be whether to declare her, and the second decision (on Friday) will be whether to run.  She's had it easy so far this week, but she can run as soon as she's back to full health.  I haven't heard her cough today, so I imagine that I will declare her in the morning.  But I'll obviously be keen to be 100% satisfied come Friday that she's 100% healthy - so we'd have a non-runner if I wasn't, as it's in nobody's interest (least of all the horse's) to have a horse running if there's a query over his/her health.  We'll see, but I do want to run her.

On the subject of horses not running, I wonder if we will ever find out why we won't be having another edition of the Dool on the Downs tomorrow, ie why Gleneagles isn't running. I'd imagine that they'll be racing on perfect ground there tomorrow, so it's hard to believe that the ground is the true reason.  The non-appearances of our best horses remains a problem, and I noted an interesting suggestion of a way of tackling this problem the other day - and it is a massive problem, because the horses are the stars, and it's hard to sell the sport to the public if the stars have such short careers that those careers are over by the time that the public has woken up to the fact that the horses exist.

The weight-for-age races this season have been a joke - as the Eclipse and the King George have highlighted - because the best older horses are no longer in training.  Where is Kingman, where is Australia, etc.?  Thank God for the fact that there are a couple of top-class geldings in training who can't be retired to stud (Cirrus Des Aigles and Solow), and for the mares such as Treve and Dolniya.  But things are going to be even worse next year, as it seems that the great god Money has twisted the arms of the owners of the best three-year-old sprinter (Muhaarar), miler (Gleneagles) and stayer (Golden Horn) in training,

Racing will be so much  the poorer for the fact that these horses are all going to be retired prematurely, but nobody can blame their owners: the financial realities show that that the pressure, even on true sportsmen who already have plenty of money, to give top-class horses ludicrously brief racing careers is almost irresistable.  We can all glibly and unthinkingly say that if we owned such horses we would take the sporting option for the good of racing, but it's much easier to say that in theory than when faced with the reality that that idyllic option might cost one several million pounds.

What can be done?  Well, I noted that Simon Rowlands put forward a solution on Twitter recently.  We have established a precedent that a significant amount of maiden races can have restrictions on the qualification for entry, ie the EBF races.  Well, how about the BHA and Horse Racing Ireland putting their heads together to write racing programmes that, say, 90% of maiden races are only open to horses whose sires were aged at least five when the horse was conceived?  It could be done, and at a stroke it would take away the massive pressure on owners of top-class three-year-olds (or, nowadays, two-year-olds!) to retire their horses to stud so swiftly, thus doing a massive disservice to the sport as a whole.

And if a horse is so unsound that he really can't race at ages of three and four?  Well, it probably wouldn't do him any harm to have a holiday for a year or two before he faces up to the rigours of sex three times a day.  It'll be interesting to see whether this idea is ever investigated, as that would be a good indication of whether the authorities really are serious about trying to promote the best interests of the sport as a whole, or whether their number one priority is to take the easy way out.  (And, to change the subject altogether and to end this chapter on a less controversial note, we can in paragraph six see the bit of blue sky which briefly showed its face over the stable today around 7.45 am; and then in this paragraph we can see another of Aaron's recent assignments).


neil kearns said...

john are you suggesting if we all had two years. holiday we could manage sex three times a day .mrs b got any comments on that one sure mrs k will have

neil kearns said...

seems to me that this is nothing new can remember the sangsters syndicating several at three years old and the .magniers et al im sure had a couple of two year olds off to stud if the money will not tempt then I am not sure what will perhaps opening all races including classics to geldings as at least if they won or placed we would have a hero to follow i also wonder if there should be no minimum requirement to run inthe big group races ss I would rather see half a dozen no hopers running for fourth place than a five runner procession they do not seem to have this issue in france why