Thursday, July 13, 2017

Free Electric Band

Very good to read the observations of 'Unknown' at the end of the last chapter, thank you.  Yes, I'm very pleased that any reader of this blog doesn't just have to take my word for what a thoroughly pleasant, friendly, approachable and jovial man Michael Stoute is.  He gets such a bad press so (not, of course, that I would imagine that he loses any sleep at all about the way he is portrayed) that it's good to set the record straight.  The best time to see him, of course, is when he's with his friend Michael Holding (pictured here in a photograph I took a couple of years ago with another of the Heath's great and popular characters, former Essex and England cricket captain Keith Fletcher).  The two Michaels make a great pair on the Heath.  The only trouble, of course, as Michael Stoute says, is that "he only ever wants to talk about racing, while I only ever want to talk about cricket!".

I'll try to keep this chapter brief because I'm tired.  It was a lovely evening at Bath last night, but of course Bath is nearly 170 miles from Newmarket, so that means being in the 7.10 race means getting home some time after 11.30 and then getting back in the house some time after midnight.  This makes for a long day when the day has begun with tacking up the first horse (which in yesterday's case meant Roy, who blotted his copybook by insisting on mingling in with John Gosden's string, with the exercise I ended up doing with him, the only one I was able to do, being very, very different from what I'd intended when I pulled out) at 5.30.  And it makes for a short night when the next day too begins with tacking up (Wasted Sunsets, today) at 5.30.

Hope Is High ran another sound race yesterday.  She's a proper trouper, and has proved to have been a great buy at the 800 gns which Emma paid for her at the February Sale last year.  She finished third, but would almost certainly have finished second (so her jockey Silvestre De Sousa tells me) had the winner kept straight in the final furlong rather than ducking across in front of her to the rail when he had gone past, causing Silvestre to stop riding for a couple of strides, the consequence of which was that Silvestre had to ease her for a stride or two, the consequence of which was that she was nabbed for second in the dying strides.  (Needless to say, the stewards, as we have previously discussed, having seemingly given up on the task of trying to police races, there is no mention of this in the stewards' report of the meeting).  A beaten favourite almost by definition means a disappointment, but she ran well and bravely, as always.

Looking ahead, we have Kryptos running in the last race at Chester on Saturday.  I'm looking forward to that, notwithstanding that it will be another long day.  He's a nice horse, but he's still a relatively inexperienced one who is up against some horses with solid Chester form, so it might be a fairly hard assignment for him off his big weight.  So, as ever, we'll hope for the best but expect nothing.  That'll be another late night, but I'll need to be on the ball the next morning as I'm on the Sunday Forum the next morning (after having ridden out and done all my other stable duties).  As regards the Forum, I was thinking last Sunday, when the Forumites had the inevitable Racing Post-induced whip discussions, that I was glad that my next booking was not for another week.

However, the storm of that topic hopefully having blown itself out, we now instead have two new 'issues' this week.  We have the idea of 'time trials' between races, and we have the vilification of Stan Moore for helping Josephine Gordon to become champion apprentice and to set her on the road, from an unpromising start made before she finally joined his stable, to a long-term career as a successful jockey.  I assume that we'll discuss both on the Forum so there's no need to get drawn into them today, particularly because Josephine, although clearly and understandably not wanting to be drawn into the debate, has published a very good defence of Stan in her 32Red on-line column.

All I will say as regards filling the gaps between races is that if we wish to help enliven the inevitable 30-minute gap between races at a racecourse, we should make sure that racecourses highlight the fact that there is a race every 10 minutes.  It always amazes me how little coverage is given on the course to the races taking place at the other racecourses.  It's hard to get any worthwhile details from the racecard, and it's easy to miss the televised coverage of them even if you are keen to make sure that you see them.  Shouldn't a race every 10 minutes be enough?  It is enough when one is watching the sport on the two satellite TV stations at home.  And it should be, too, on the racecourse, other than that most racecourses currently score a maximum of 1/10 for their promotion of the action elsewhere.

As regards the apprentices' thing, I was surprised that the Racing Post, when discussing its theory that trainers who promote apprentices exploit their proteges, did not point out that on the majority of occasions when an apprentice heads off to the races to have a ride, the trainer's share of the cut of the riding fee plus prize-money minus the contribution which the trainer makes to the apprentice's expenses is less than the wage which the trainer is paying to the apprentice that day for work in the stable which he/she doesn't do because he/she has gone to the races.  I can understand that the paper might want to castigate some trainers for their policy with apprentices, but not that the ones whom it should choose to castigate should be the ones who do promote apprentices, rather than the ones who don't.  There are all too many trainers with large stables of horses who never go the expense and effort to try to get an apprentice off the ground.  That should be the story, not that there are some who do and that once in a while one of them does not lose money by doing so.


neil kearns said...

three things agree totally with your comments re apprentices perhaps a rule where stsble strength over say 30 has to have a registered apprentice at 50 two and then rising by every 25 an extra one this would force up the potential future talent pol and even if they never got rides this would at least kick start the process
point two congrsts on todays winner good ride will win again I think
point three explain the title of this chapter please I know the song was by albert hammond but strugling to match the lyric to the content or wss it playing in the background while uou were musing ?

neil kearns said...

apologies for the spelling above was typing on my tablet and my fingers are too stubby