Sunday, May 14, 2017

Back on line

I finally got my old/new computer back during the week, so I'm slowly getting less behind with the things which I should have been doing on it.  Including the important stuff (PAYE etc.).  And including this.  I suppose I'm halfway towards the conundrum of my grandfather's axe (ie 'This is my grandfather's axe.  My father had to replace the blade.  I've just replaced the handle.  Is it still my grandfather's axe?').  The computer has had to have a new hard drive installed (onto which most of the data from the old one has been transferred).  No doubt the next problem will be that the the keyboard/screen/casing breaks, so the hard drive would then have to be put in a new body.  Would it then still be the same computer?

Not that that matters, of course.  What does matter?  Well, the result of the last race at Towcester tomorrow.  It won't matter in the great scheme of things, but it will matter to us because Delatite (whose rear can be seen in this paragraph, through Freediver's ears) will be running in it, presumably with some sort of chance of going one better than when he raced over course and distance last month (when he finished second).  We'll see.  That will be our only runner of the week (and we didn't have one last week) but then we should be busier the following week, with Sussex Girl, So Much Water, Roy Rocket and Hope Is High (all of whom bar Roy can be seen in the third photograph - while Indira is the first and fourth pictures, while Hope Is High and Sussex Girl are in the final two photographs, both taken yesterday) all pencilled in to run in a three-day period.  And then, fingers crossed, the week after that Indira might resume, which is an exciting thought.  (For us, anyway).

The racing was interesting at Chester during the week; while there was plenty going on, aside from the action.  Dougie Costello and Harry Bentley losing the rides on Quiet Reflection and Limato respectively attracted a lot of comment.  There has probably already been too much said, but it's probably worth pointing out that (while I'd like to think that if any jockey had been as successful on any horse which I owned as they have been on these horses, then he or she would be automatic first choice for the ride for life) it's no big deal.  The fact that a jockey has been the regular jockey for a horse in the past, however successful the partnership has been, neither means that he/she is obliged to ride that horse in the future, nor that the connections are obliged to have him/her on the horse in the future.

If you have raced horses for long enough, you will on umpteen occasions have found the jockey whom you regard as your horse's jockey declining to take the mount because he/she would rather ride another horse/for another trainer/at another meeting.  That's no drama - it never worries me, anyway, although some people can be miffed about it - because we all know that no jockey can ride two horses at once or be in two places at the same time.  But what it does is remind one is that it would be wrong to be too critical of any owner or trainer who decides that on this occasion he would like to try another jockey on the horse.  There's a good saying that today's favour becomes tomorrow's obligation - and the fact that you've been kind enough to let someone ride your best horse in the past oughtn't to mean that you're obliged to let him/her ride him/her every time in the future.

And, of course, we should remember that booking a different jockey for a future race does not equate to sacking the previous jockey.  When you book a jockey, under normal circumstances you are booking him/her for a particular race.  The jockey certainly won't regard it as a long-term contract to ride the horse indefinitely.  When it does become a problem, though, is when the (verbal) contract for the forthcoming race is broken.  Of course there are times when you book a jockey for a race and the horse does not run (because of lameness, changed underfoot conditions, illness, whatever).  That's inevitable, as is the fact that the jockey sometimes might not be able to ride (because of injury, illness, traffic, whatever).  And there are also times when a jockey takes a ride and then at some point prior to declaration-time either asks to be released from the obligation or tells you that he/she is releasing himself.  That's not great, but c'est la vie.

But what is not acceptable is when the contract is broken after declaration-time.  And what is totally unacceptable is when it is broken on the day of the race.  This should not be allowed (leaving aside when it becomes impossible or unfeasible for the jockey to ride) but the rules inexplicably permit it.  They ought not to do so, but it should not matter that they do because simple principles of good behaviour ought to ensure that it never happens anyway, permitted or not.  But at Chester we saw several instances of jockeys whose mounts had become non-runners on the day switching to other horses.

How can we condone this?  How is it acceptable for people to tell the jockeys who are thus disengaged at the eleventh hour that they aren't needed after all because a better jockey has become available?  And how is it that the world and his wife can become so hot under the collar about a couple of owners deciding to try different jockeys on their horses in forthcoming races for which they had not yet booked a jockey, while seemingly finding nothing amiss in jockeys who have been booked for a ride being disengaged only hours before the race for no better reason than that the connections would like to use someone else? (And, in the process, making a complete mockery of the overnight declaration of jockeys, a practice which is supposed to ensure that, as far as possible, the riders who appear in the morning papers will be the ones who ride the horses)?


David Winter said...

I concur with all you have said regarding the booking and retaining of jockeys. As a former owner I trusted the judgement of my trainer in deciding who the best available was for my horse on any given occasion. My feeling is that if you decide upon a professional [ your trainer] to look after your interests it should be incumbent on you to support that person until a time when you feel that perhaps something else should be tried. After all, if you choose a surgeon and he suggests that an operation is desirable to make you better, you are hardly likely to countermand that. In that instance, you should have a discussion privately with said trainer and try to work a way through. Quite often the reaction or over reaction of a poor performance by your horse is jockey error. Sometimes you just have to understand that , on the day, your horse just wasn't good enough; however hard that is for some to take. I was at Fakenham this week and after a race and standing in the paddock, a spectator, probably talking through his pocket, lambasted very loudly and in the hearing of the a top jockey, [ I wont name him] his supposed incompetence for coming second. I watched the race carefully and the jockey concerned gave the horse every chance, putting it into the race and helping the novice find a stride. On the day, he was second best but ran extremely well and will develop curtesy of a thoughtful ride.
In the case of Bentley, it seems that the owner made a bit of an arse of himself by suggesting that the horse might remember being ridden by Bentley on soft ground ????. If that is true, then it is difficult to defend as a sound thought process. But, as long the change is handled in a sensitive and considerate manner, the owner has the right to make his wishes felt.
Re your dilemma with new/old computer. The story resonates with me as being the problem with "Trigger" in Fools and Horses. He was a road sweeper and said he had had the same broom for twenty years. It was remarked that it had lasted very well considering. He then explained that in that time he had fifteen handles and thirty brushes fitted ???? Eeeek!

neil kearns said...

make the ruke simple if a jockey is declared overnight only injury as designated by the course doctor can allow a change - what you do about late arrivals is another matter- but the simpler you make a rule the harder it is to legitimately cheat on it

it wont happen because vested interests will go on about retained jockeys etc but frankly if the relevant jock was so vital they should have put him up in the first place