Monday, August 31, 2015

Bank Holiday (and baby) blues

It is a cliche that the weather on Bank Holidays in Britain is atrocious.  In this case the cliche understates things.  Today's weather here is truly dreadful.  The rain this morning was torrential, and it has continued to rain all day.  I'm glad that Yarmouth was yesterday rather than today.  Had the meeting been today (a) it would have been miserable to be there, (b) the crowd would have been tiny rather than huge, and (c) the new turf would have suffered a hammering from which it would have taken many months to recover.  I went to Chepstow on August Bank Holiday Monday last year with Zarosa (who finished second under Shelley Birkett, as we can see in the first two paragraphs - and we can then see Shelley on her on another dismal day at Newcastle last October, and then in much more pleasant conditions when they were second at Carlisle earlier last summer) and the weather was dire.  Today it has been worse.

It hasn't been worse at Newcastle, which is understandable as we had Grand Liaison entered up there.  I didn't declare her because of the fast ground, and the fact that three of the eight declarations ended up as non-runners suggests that the 'good, good to firm in places' was understating things.  Still, her absence didn't prevent the race being won by a horse trained by someone born in Hawick: Wor Lass completed her six-timer, a wonderful achievement by Hawick-born Iain Jardine, who trains her between Hawick and the Carter Bar.  As well as being a remarkable feat of training by Iain, this six-timer also represents a remarkable feat of leniency by the handicapper: the first of those six wins came off a rating of 50, and she was only racing off 65 today.

So that's today - and I might end up by adding to my observations on why female jockeys find it hard to establish themselves in the higher echelons of the sport.  What one might term as a significant ownership demographic (not that that phrase comes from a lexicon which I generally favour) is one factor which pundits analysing the subject generally ignore, while another major factor which is never mentioned is the matter of parenthood.  To get established in the top tiers of the jockeys' ranks generally takes years of interrupted toil.  For male jockeys the question of parenthood is not an issue as they can become fathers without interrupting their careers.  For example, Frankie Dettori and Ryan Moore both have large broods of children, but the fathering of them did not create any noticeable hiatus in their riding careers.

For a female jockey, however, becoming the parent of even one child, never mind several, would be to create a hiatus in her career which would be likely to prove insuperable.  A jockey needs to be very well established to be able to take, say, a year off and then find it feasible to pick up where he/she had left off.  So the next time you hear a pundit agonising about the supposed mystery of why female jockeys in the UK find it hard to graduate to the higher tiers of the profession, turn the TV off if he/she does not focus on the points which I have made.  And on past form, these points will be ignored (presumably because raising them is somehow deemed to be 'politically incorrect', which of course doesn't bother me as I have no desire to rise higher up the political ladder than the inconsequential parochial rungs which I have already scaled).

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