Thursday, August 10, 2017

All men will be sailors then until the sea shall free them

Runners update.  Two runners this week.  Sussex Girl (Parek) at Bath yesterday with Georgia Cox; Roy at Brighton tomorrow with Nicola Currie.  The story of yesterday's trip was the rain.  We had an inch here (yet another inch) yesterday.  I don't know what they had at Bath, but it was probably more than that.  The band of rain was moving across the country, so Bath had its rain earlier, and the one consolation was that it had stopped raining there by the time that racing started (while it rained here right through to nightfall).  If the rain had come before declaration time, I wouldn't have declared - but it was good at declaration time (albeit with rain forecast, but there's rain 3mm and there's rain 60mm, so one doesn't know how much is going to come) so we declared.  And we were declared so we ran.

She actually didn't run too badly, so it would be an over-reaction to say that she didn't handle the ground.  But, even so, I suspect that she will be better on a firm surface.  She hadn't run for three months, had only ever run three times previously, and most of the horses in the race had a bit of form.  So seventh of ten was OK.  The run, and the experience, will have done her good because we're behind schedule with her, and she's ready for racing now and needs racing.  And she was the best down at the start and going into the stalls that I've known her (I generally go down to the start to be with her and lead her in) so all in all that was satisfactory.  Let's hope that it's onwards and upwards.

With Roy (pictured this morning in the third and fourth photographs, keeping himself clean for tomorrow's outing) we're in a different boat.  While we hope that Parek might just be getting her act together and, as they say on TV, taking a step forward, Roy, at the age of seven, has probably gone as far forward as he can.  He is (I hope!) very far from going backwards, but it's hard to say that he's going forward.  He's in extremely good form, and his last two runs (in the past two weeks) have been very good.  But tomorrow it's a three-year-olds-and-upwards handicap, rather than a four-year-olds-and-upwards handicap, so he's an outsider in the betting.  The horses taking a step forward, ie the younger ones, generally hold sway in such races, and tomorrow it looks likely to be the same.  But he'll do his best, as always, and with Roy at Brighton one always has a chance.

Despite what you may have read in yesterday's Racing Post in the preview of the three-day Brighton Festival, Nicola will be on Roy again tomorrow, for the fourth time in a row.  The past three runs have been apprentices' races and, while she's ridden him spot-on every time, he's John Egan's ride any time that John is free.  John was set to be back on tomorrow, but yesterday morning it became apparent that he wouldn't be permitted to go to Brighton on Friday for his three booked rides because Sandown's evening meeting tonight would be his ninth meeting of the week.  The jockey's week runs Saturday to Friday, which is sensible because it means that they can never be caught out by this rule on a Saturday, the most important day of a jockey's week, and that's as many meeting as they are allowed to ride at.

So John will be twiddling his thumbs tomorrow afternoon (well, that's not true because he's a workaholic, so he'll be keeping himself busy somehow or other) and Nicola will be riding Roy. The nine-meetings rule is an unwieldy one.  A meeting is a meeting irrespective of whether it's a mile from home or 300 miles from home; a meeting is a meeting irrespective of whether a jockey has one ride there or six; an evening meeting is a meeting irrespective of whether a jockey drives past it on his way home from the afternoon meeting or whether it's in the opposite direction.

A meeting is a meeting irrespective of whether the jockey drives himself there or is driven and sleeps throughout the journey, or flies.  However, overall the rule has a sound basis, ie making sure that jockeys don't work themselves to exhaustion and either fall asleep behind the wheel or lose concentration in a race because of tiredness.  It's probably just as well that there's no similar restriction on the length of a trainer's working day or working week, otherwise a few of us might have to pack up!  And on that note, I'm off to bed - long and busy day tomorrow (again!).

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