Monday, July 31, 2017

Heroes in the seaweed

As we know, when all's said and done, there's usually a lot more said than done.  There's already been too much said about the wrong-horse incident at Yarmouth last week, but surprisingly/unsurprisingly (delete as applicable) that's not going to stop me from revisiting the issue.  However, I am only doing so so that I may move immediately on to another topic.  One of the Twitter feeds which I most enjoy following is that posted by @djebel, aka Matthew, a New South Welsh "semi professional spectator".  His tweets generally make a lot of sense, and this appeared on his timeline after the 3.35 at Ascot last Friday, "This constant interference rather than a 1 off mistaken identity is a bigger blight on UK racing #IMNSHO".  (If the acronym puzzles you, don't worry: I'm not familiar with it either, although I'm guessing that it stands for 'in my not so honest opinion').

This topic keeps coming up in this blog.  We run Hope Is High at Yarmouth tomorrow.  Let's hope that she can enjoy an interference-free run round.  There have already been two occasions this season (at Lingfield and Bath) when she ought to have finished second but didn't because of interference which she suffered because of the failure by the rider of the winner to keep his mount straight.  Neither instance prompted action by the stewards.  (Well, in one case they did at least consider the incident, but took no action, having decided that there hadn't been any interference; in the other, no enquiry even took place).  I'd definitely concur with Matthew that this ongoing problem (laissez-faire stewarding encouraging poor/dangerous riding which unfairly alters the results of races on a seemingly daily basis) is a serious problem for British racing, far more so than a one-off case of mistaken identity.

It is worth looking at the Racing Post close-ups of some of the runners in that Ascot race.  The winner Gawdawlpin: "Raced wide in midfield, progress over 2f out, closed with others but edged right and caused interference to others, led just over 1f out, driven out".  Fifth placed Appeared: "Took keen hold, held up in touch, ridden and progress 2f out, disputing 2nd when carried right and bumped over 1f out, lost momentum and faded".  Seventh placed Fidaawy: "Tracked leaders, ridden and progress over 2f out, disputing second when bumped then squeezed out over 1f out, lost all chance and eased".  Gawdawlpin's rider, incidentally, received a 10-day suspension, but I would be very surprised if anyone who had backed Appeared or Fidaawy, not to mention those horses' connections, felt that justice had been done.

I don't, incidentally, blame Gawdawlpin's jockey, who appeared to my eyes to encourage his mount to drift inwards on top of the challengers inside him, and definitely did not seem to be taking any action to prevent the interference resultant from this manoeuvre from happening.  Repeated exposure to the laissez-faire standards of stewarding which have become the norm in the UK will have taught him one thing: if you want to maximise your chances of winning the race, what you should do is knock your principal opponents out of contention.  That hugely increases your chance of passing the post in front, and comes with virtually no risk of your mount being demoted or disqualified.

And we haven't even touched upon the race at the same course the next day (which I haven't seen) when the winner won by a neck after his jockey broke the whip rules so extremely as to earn an 11-day suspension, while the rider on the runner-up kept within the guidelines.  Again, there was no question of the result being changed.  And, again, it is hard to see how justice was done.  I don't pretend to have the answer to that one.  There is a massive potential integrity-related drawback to making it so that all a jockey needs to do to guarantee that his/her mount won't win is to break the whip rules, so I don't know what the answer is.

But, all told, what with the constant interference which is currently blighting British racing by unfairly altering results on a seemingly daily basis and putting jockeys' and horses' lives at risk, and what with the totally unsatisfactory situation of the whip rules rewarding those who break them at the expense of those who don't, Matthew is right: a one-off case of mistaken identity which isn't going to happen again for another 100 years whether we take steps to try to prevent it or not is far from the biggest blight on British racing at present.

1 comment:

neil kearns said...

In view of the first race at goodwood your comments are very pertinent what was interesting is the horse by far most interfered with was not the second ( became first) but Garcia who was very nearly brought down surely the rules should place the offender behind him not merely behind the "winner" this may prove more of a deterrent to the jockeys

Have to say in far too many years of watching racing I am of the opinion that the current crop of jockeys seem to be amongst the most reckless I have seen

Oh and by the way I backed Dark Red so was not happy about the result but accept it fully