Thursday, March 16, 2017

Water, water everywhere before the watershed

Ah, the Cheltenham Spring Carnival.  You've probably heard and read more than enough about it, but I think that we ought to highlight the water/heat nonsense.  This isn't actually merely nonsense: it's dangerous nonsense.  Basically, ITV were going on both yesterday and today about the supposed dangers of racing horses in extreme heat, giving the impression that yesterday's high of 16 degrees is bordering on lethal for horses.  They weren't actually doing this out of devilment, but because they wanted to highlight what a supposedly wonderful job Cheltenham are doing to combat this supposedly serious problem.  But basically it's just nonsense.  Dangerous nonsense.

Once temperatures get over 40 degrees one might start to be concerned; and really I'm not that happy a about staging National Hunt racing (longer races, higher weights ...) over 30 degrees.  (Although nobody else seems too worried about that as I'm seemingly the lone voice crying in the wilderness about summer jumping, which everyone else seems to think is marvellous, being an abomination).  But 16 degrees?  Come on!  Edwulf got into difficulties at the end of the National Hunt Chase, but that was on Tuesday when it wasn't particularly warm.  Many Clouds dropped down dead at the end of race at Cheltenham in January, but I don't remember that being a hot day.  Rather a cold day, in fact, if I remember rightly.  For jumps racing in winter, heat just isn't an issue, and shouldn't be treated as such.

Yesterday we kept hearing about what a wonderful job Cheltenham were doing to help the participants combat the heat.  We had the special cool area under the trees (about four spindly little mini-trees standing lonely, with not a leaf on a single branch) which was just complete nonsense.  And we had Nico de Boinville falling off Might Bite when someone presumably employed by the racecourse threw a bucketful of water over the horse.  To illustrate just what a joke this was, when Might Bite (reunited with his jockey) made his way to the winner's enlclosure, another racecourse employee produced a sponsor's sheet for him to wear to keep him warm.  And the trainers of most of the other runners, who weren't obliged to turn their charges into advertising hoardings, seemed to be electing to put sheets on their horses too, to keep them warm.

I could probably have let this one go through to the keeper (and I shouldn't because it is dangerous nonsense, the consequence of which - and I know because this does happen - is that you go to the races in mild weather and have members of the public, who know nothing on the subject other than what some idiot on the TV once told them, berating you and telling you that you should be throwing water on your horses all the time) but we returned to the subject today with ITV's technology giving us a heat-highlighted film of a horse having water thrown on him, which supposedly told us how important that it was to do this.  And this straw broke this particular camel's back.

This told us nothing of the sort, of course.  And the ITV presenters, of course, conveniently forgot to say that the faces of the humans came up the same shade of red as the horses' skins, and yet nobody was saying that the humans were so critically hot that their lives would be at risk unless someone gave them a cold dowsing.  Just complete bulls*it.  But it did come with a compensation, as the first photograph in this chapter illustrates.  Wonderful.  Just wonderful.  I didn't create this, but a (male, obviously) friend managed to capture this image from the TV.  Never mind water, water everywhere - what about the watershed, and the masterstroke of getting delicious soft porn like this on national TV before the 9pm watershed?  All is forgiven.

Otherwise, we have had three days of Cheltenham, and the seven handicaps so far have produced four Irish-trained winners and three English-trained winners.  One of the Irish-trained winners was the horse who, of all the horses in all the handicaps at the meeting, had supposedly been the most unfairly treated, ie Presenting Percy.  So I hope that that will have ensured that the 'It's not fair ... we Irish are being picked on ..." whinge has been put to bed.  What hasn't been put to bed is the declaration time for the Grade One races.

Flat racing has 48-hour declarations (which I prefer) but jumping (for generally valid reasons) still has 24-hour declarations.  However, it is standard for big races over jumps, including normally all Grade One races, to have 48-hour decs.  And not just the Grade Ones: the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter, for instance, has 48-hour decs.  But at Cheltenham?  Some of the Grade One races do; some don't.  There were four Grade One races on the first day.  Two (the Champion Hurdle and the Mares' Hurdle) were 48-hour; two (the Supreme Novices' Hurdle and the Arkle Chase) were 24-hour.  On Friday the Gold Cup is 48-hour and the Triumph Hurdle is 24-hour.  How on earth was this cock-eyed non-system devised.  Some ... not all ... not none.  Some.  Common sense says that they all should be 48-hours, but it would actually be less nonsensical to have none of them 48-hours than merely some of them.  Or am I missing something?

1 comment:

Sandracer said...

I thought they were just showing off thier new heat seeking cameras. All seemed a bit odd to me. You put alot more science behind it. Cheers