Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Brighton ahoy!

I've got a relatively quiet week, which is rather pleasant.  I'm reasonably up to date with my accounts (although, of course, I need to start getting myself organised for the change from one financial year to the next) and I don't have much writing to do (which, of course, is a mixed blessing at best).  And in the stable we are relatively unpressured, not least because I think that we shall be having something like a four-week lull between runners.  Kilim (pictured after the race with Franny Norton - and it was very good of him to come and ride her in a Class Six race on a Saturday evening as she was his only ride) ran adequately at Wolverhampton on Saturday night, fifth beaten 3.5 lengths; but really I think that we're banging our heads against a sand wall with her, which means waiting for a race on the grass, which in her case means waiting until the first week of May.  Before then I hope that So Much Water (possibly at Brighton, believe it or not!) and Roy will run some time in April.

It just appears to be the case that pretty much all AW races now are slowly-run.  This means that there's no point in running horses such as Roy (pictured in this paragraph on Sunday; the subsequent photos were all taken today, and one can see Roy's ears in the first of them) or Kilim, ie hard-pulling horses who can't run well unless they can be switched off and persuaded not to put everything into the first half of the race, and who won't switch off unless they are buried away behind horses.  You have a chance of burying the horse away just behind the leaders if you're drawn low, but if you're drawn wide - forget it: you have to take back.

We had tried going forward and slotting in with Kilim two starts previously when she was drawn 10 at Lingfield, but it completely failed: she couldn't slot in, pulled fiercely for two thirds of the race and finished completely tailed off.  (Well, to be exact, I see that she was beaten 28 lengths, which on the Flat is pretty much the same thing).  In her two subsequent runs at Wolverhampton we've taken her back and she's run well (beaten 1.5 lengths into fourth and 3.5 lengths into fifth) but really, on the AW, that's nowadays seemingly just a recipe for continually running well without winning.

The good thing on Saturday was that, covered up, she did relax acceptably well.  (Typically well ridden by Franny).  But even Wolverhampton now is a write-off from our point of view.  I always used to find that it was the one AW track where the races were run at a tempo similar to that of races on the turf (I used to put it down to the fact that, because the straight is so short, the jockeys didn't wait until the straight before quickening up, as they do elsewhere, but would wind it up from the start of the back straight, as they do at the almost-identically-configured Chester) but that's no longer the case.

I would say that over the years I've trained as many winners at Wolverhampton (most of them ridden by Franny, funnily enough) as at all the other AW tracks put together, but I hadn't woken up until Saturday night to the seeming fact that the goalposts have moved.  I was talking at the races to Stuart Williams who has a lot more AW runners than I do (in fact, he has a lot more runners full stop than I do) and he observed that it has been virtually impossible to make up significant ground in nearly all the races at Wolverhampton this winter, that he has had a few runners there whom he has had ridden back in the field, and that they have all run disappointingly.

I saw Adam Kirby interviewed on ATR by Robert Cooper at Lingfield a couple of weeks ago after riding a winner, and he passed on the observation that over the past year the AW has changed a lot to the extent that nearly all AW races now are slowly run.  So that's fine - but it just means that horses who need to be taken back in the field might as well sit the winter out.  That includes Roy, whom I'd love to keep going at Kempton over the winter except that we gave him one run there in the autumn after Brighton had finished for the year, and that reminded us that there really isn't any point.  And it also seems to include Kilim.

And (who knows?) as Brighton works for Roy, perhaps it might work for her too.  So I hope that her next race will be there, on either 2nd or 3rd May.  There are two Brighton meetings in April and I hope that Roy will run at one of those; but nowadays although the turf season still starts at the Lincoln meeting (in April this year, strangely, rather than March) that presages merely a phoney war as the bulk of the racing, particularly for low-grade horses, is still on the AW for the first month or so of the new campaign.

1 comment:

neil kearns said...

just caught up on your blog - dead computer - and a couple of comments
the heat seeking camera was pointless don't know what it was supposed to prove or be about
the lack of pace on the all weather is in complete contrast to most races in the US on artificial surfaces where they seem to go like mad dervishes from the get go and run out of steam (or keep going) towards the end .
after reading your comments i made a point of closely watching the last couple of meetings at Wolverhampton and thought the pace could be described as a gradually building one as opposed to leisurely /then sprint that I associate with Lingfield and Chelmsford
i wonder if track configuration has a lot to do with it ? it seems to me that in a lot of races horses begin their challenges on the actual bend as opposed to in the straight (presumably because the straights are too short)and as such some seem to get unbalanced killing their chances a much as the lack of pace . Southwell and Newcastle have proper straights and the races seem fairly truly run to my eye . i still come back to my point of a couple of months ago why dont more connections try and up the early pace when on proven stayers - i accept they may set races up for others but they would be giving themselves apossibly a better chance of winning
And then on to your most contentious comment handicapping of foreign horses at Cheltenham if as we allegedly do have a rating system in which we and the Irish produce a joint rating list - which we do - then it follows that the ratings of all other horses in the two jurisdictions should be the same in both countries to allow all parties to know exactly where they stand in terms of handicap marks and the selective raising of certain horses is fundementally unfair - regardless of results . For me there are two issues most importantly virtually all British jumpers (hurdlers in particular) are overrated against their irish counterparts by up to as much as eight pounds and secondly the Uk handicapper takes too much notice of conditions race form when assessing all horses - and most falsely run races over jumps occur in the small field events which are far too prevalent in recent years . whatever the cause it needs sorting out and quickly and because the irish did so well this year does not mean the handicapper is close to getting it right