Thursday, July 27, 2017

It's not all about winning or losing, you know

It's not all about winning or losing, you know.  Roy reminded us of that last night.  He ran the best race he's ever run away from Brighton.  He didn't win.  He wasn't even placed.  But, even so, he did us proud (yet again).  He finished fifth, but only beaten about a length (short head, three quarters of a length, neck, head).  He even looked for a few strides around a furlong from home as if he might be going to win.  It was very pleasing, very exciting.  And very encouraging too.  He showed that he might be able one day to register an 'away' win.  And he showed that we can be more flexible in the way we ride him too.

Roy only eventually found his form as a five-year-old when we began to ride him from the back of the field.  It was the only way he would relax enough not to weaken at the end.  Occasionally since then we have tried riding him more forward, and it never worked.  However, I thought that we'd have another try yesterday.  I was emboldened by how well he had relaxed for Nicola Currie at Newbury the previous time.  So yesterday, drawn low at Sandown in a race in which I thought that it might turn out to be very hard to come from the back and with Nicola riding again, I thought that this would be a suitable occasion to have another go at riding him like a normal horse, ie settling in just behind the leaders.  We did, and it worked.  Nicola rode him beautifully and he both relaxed and ran very well, so we can now be a bit more flexible about both venues and tactics.  Which makes life a lot easier.  And we might start doing so by going to Epsom next week.

It would be a pleasure to take him to Epsom (for, I think, the fourth time) because it's such a special place that it's always a pleasure to race there.  It will have its work cut out, though, to surpass Sandown in that respect, if last night was anything to go by.  Everything was spot on.  The ground, despite difficult recent weather conditions, was in perfect condition, notwithstanding that the going was inevitably slightly softer than good.  Walking the track, you'd think that it was the course's first meeting of the year: you just couldn't see where the horses had raced at the several recent meetings.  Amazing.  That is truly virtuoso turf-husbandry.

The boxes in the stable yard were similary beautifully presented, with easily the deepest beds I've seen on a racecourse this year.  Roy showed his appreciation by 'staling' as soon as he was let down in his box, and he could comfortably have had a roll too had he chosen - and there are very, very few racecourses where one would be happy to see one's horse roll in the stable.  Ex-jockey Dominic Toole is the stable manager at both Sandown and Epsom, and you would never find a stable manager more diligent in making sure that everything is 'just so' for the horses who visit his racecourses.  And the welcome for the horses' connections was similarly impressive.  This was the first time we had been there since the owners' room(s) had been re-arranged.  The changes have worked very well, and the facilities and catering in there were first-class.  It is easy only to speak up when one has a complaint (and I frequently do that) so it's good to give credit where it is due.  I have rarely seen a racecourse getting more things more right than Sandown are doing at present.

On the subject of things either got right or not right at a racecourse, we shall no doubt hear plenty more about today's debacle at Yarmouth.  Mistakes are made, even ones which shouldn't be made, such as today's.  Jesus' suggestion was that he who is without sin should cast the first stone, and I've made so many basic mistakes over the years that that policy rules me out.  However, I will make two observations.  Firstly, despite what I have been reading over the past few hours, the stewards were right not to clear up the mess on the day.  The problem only came to light after the 'weighed in' signal had been given, and the rules (wisely) do not allow for the stewards on the day to open a new enquiry after that point.  The result at the 'weighed in' is the one on which bets are settled, and on which they had already been settled today by the time that the problem came to light.

A few years ago the Ascot stewards incorrectly called an enquiry after the 'weighed in' had been given, and then gave out a fresh result, bookmakers already having paid out on one winner.  They shouldn't have done that, and understandably Geoff Banks took the BHA to court over the matter.  That legal action ensured that the mistake would not be made again, and it duly wasn't made today.  It is not uncommon for subsequent enquiries to be opened, such as when horses are subsequently found not to have been qualified or found to have carried the wrong weight through a rider having claimed the incorrect allowance or penalties having been incorrectly applied, etc.  In these cases, there is a subsequent BHA enquiry and the result is amended accordingly, bets still standing on the original 'weighed in' result.  That is what should and will happen here.

The second thing I will say is that Emma has mentioned to me that she heard someone being interviewed on ATR who was giving the opinion that today was a "dark day for racing".  In one sense that is not incorrect - it clearly wasn't a good day for the sport - but it's actually greatly overstating things to call it that.  We have had all too many dark days for the sport, and we shall have all too many more.  A dark day for the sport is when a stalls handler is killed or a jockey is killed or paralysed, when one of the stable staff is severely injured or worse.  A dark day is when a horse is killed, and that happens all too often.  A conscientious horseman making an inexplicable, colossal and totally uncharacteristic blunder which results in some people who ought to have backed a loser backing a winner and some people who ought to have backed a winner backing a loser - well, that's not good at all, and it's very unfortunate.  But it isn't a matter of life and death.  Nobody died today, and sadly that isn't something which we can say every day.  It's not all about winning or losing, you know.

4 comments:

Mr D Deveto said...

Well put John some people just next to get some rational perspective on life, it was an unfortunate unintentional mistake no one or horses hurt move on and hope the BHA or jockey club are lenient with them, best wishes Greg

David Winter said...

Thank you for applying some rationale here, John and Emma.
As i live in a metrorhorical glass house also, i have decided to lay my stones down too. My one curiosity thou about the Yarmouth incident is that one horse was dark bay/ black and the other a grey. Now, ok, crap happens but you do ponder on how the stable lass and trainer could miss this difference ?
Its a bit like Roy and Kilim.???
Enough said.
Taking up your point about "winning is not everything".
If that is the reason we were put on this earth then we are all in for a disappointment. Especially if you are owning, training or involved with horses in anyway. Its squeezing out the pleasure from just being associated with these rather wonderful animals. They teach us humility, how to have fun and how to co-exists with each other as a herd.
There was, a couple of weeks back, on ATTR , an owner of thirty plus years [ and in his own twilight years ] had a winner. And he had tears in his eyes. So, for thirty years plus he had ploughed a barren furrow and then in two weeks he had had three! He intimated he would go to his maker a happy man. His trainer butted in on the conversation, saying he [ the ownwe] now had a yearling coming along and wanted to make sure he was alive to see it run. What an inspiration and a lesson in life. Travel safely, John.

David Winter said...

Thank you for applying some rationale here, John and Emma.
As i live in a metrorhorical glass house also, i have decided to lay my stones down too. My one curiosity thou about the Yarmouth incident is that one horse was dark bay/ black and the other a grey. Now, ok, crap happens but you do ponder on how the stable lass and trainer could miss this difference ?
Its a bit like Roy and Kilim.???
Enough said.
Taking up your point about "winning is not everything".
If that is the reason we were put on this earth then we are all in for a disappointment. Especially if you are owning, training or involved with horses in anyway. Its squeezing out the pleasure from just being associated with these rather wonderful animals. They teach us humility, how to have fun and how to co-exists with each other as a herd.
There was, a couple of weeks back, on ATTR , an owner of thirty plus years [ and in his own twilight years ] had a winner. And he had tears in his eyes. So, for thirty years plus he had ploughed a barren furrow and then in two weeks he had had three! He intimated he would go to his maker a happy man. His trainer butted in on the conversation, saying he [ the ownwe] now had a yearling coming along and wanted to make sure he was alive to see it run. What an inspiration and a lesson in life. Travel safely, John.

David Winter said...

Further to my earlier comments, i owe an apology to John and his readers. I mentioned that the two horses involved in the broha at Yarmouth were of completely different colour. I made a mistake and in fact both were bay fillies.
I was mislead by an article ridiculing the incident that i took as fact. I think i have just proven that like Mr McBride, we are human and make mistakes. Sorry to all concerned and Mr McBride.