Thursday, November 12, 2015

Where HK leads ...?

Nine days since I last posted, which isn't good.  We've had one runner since then because nine days ago Zarosa (seen here coming in after the race, and then in the stable yard afterwards) ran at Redcar later that day.  Her run was OK but no better than that, and she's now ready to go over hurdles.  I hope that she'll make her hurdles' debut in a couple of weeks' time.  I hadn't been to Redcar for about six years, and one keeps reading that the course is struggling on account of being in one of the poorest areas of Britain.  So it was good to go there and see that the management and staff are still keeping it as one of the best-maintained racecourses in the country.  It is in great shape, and a credit to all involved.

I've just been flat out really, but not too busy to appear on the past two Sunday Forum programmes on ATR.  They have been enjoyable.  The last one was post-Melbourne Cup, and the previous one was post-Breeders' Cup.  There was plenty to talk about on both topics, with the Michelle Payne / Stevie Payne aspect of the Melbourne Cup being terrific.  Maybe the main BC talking point was my suggestion that the BHA ought not to give British trainers the option of running on Lasix or Bute in the USA, that it ought to be a condition of holding a British license that you do not run a horse anywhere in the world on drugs which are not permitted on raceday in the UK.

That would be very good for trainers as it would remove the moral dilemma, which must be an awkward one, about whether or not to take the 'When in Rome ...' approach to racing in the States.  And it would be very good for British racing, because currently the fact that some British trainers race horses on Lasix when running in the States rather undermines British racing's supposed position on the high moral ground on this one, a position which the BHA seem rather keen that we occcupy.  Anyway, what was rather nice was that I was subsequently contacted by James Burn of the Racing Post who reminded me of a precedent, and that HK trainers have to abide by the HK medication rules wherever they race.

When Rich Tapestry ran in California in October 2014, his trainer Michael Chang was told by the HKJC that using Lasix was not an option.  HKJC Head of Racing Bill Nader explained: "The Club's position - that Hong Kong's horses race free of medication - is not not negotiable so Michael Chang and Rich Tapestry's owner have agreed that he will not have Lasix for either of his races at Santa Anita.  It is unfortunate the European-based horses go year after year to the US, and especially the Breeders' Cup, and the majority of them use Lasix on the basis that they will be under a disadvantage if they don't.  It would certainly be better for the sport as a while if those who don't allow Lasix in their home countries took a position, wherever they raced, and refused to use it.  Unfortunately they don't, but in Hong Kong's case, there is no room for compromise."

The happy post-script, of course, is that Rich Tapestry won in California.  Food for thought.

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