Sunday, January 27, 2019

Grips on reality

Tenth of 16 last night was less good than I was hoping for, but then that's probably just a reflection on my grip on reality: Solitary Sister went off the 12th favourite at 25/1, so it shouldn't have come as too big a shock that we finished out of the first eight (which is where one needs to finish now to be 'in the money').  I went into the race thinking that we might be clutching at straws if she wasn't thereabouts, but my optimistic nature has, of course, prevailed and I'm already looking forward to her next race (which will probably be on 14th February).  It will be over farther, too.

What else is happening?  More non-news.  I saw a tweet from Frankie Dettori the other day exuding enthusiasm for 'city racing' or 'street racing' or whatever it is called.  Why hasn't this been knocked on the head yet?  It's an idiotic idea.  Like (presumably) Frankie, I would wax lyrical about the excitement of it all if I were being paid to do so; or if, like (presumably) its promoters, I was hoping to make money out of it, I would do the same.  But from any objective standpoint it has to be a total non-starter.  Fair enough, a main street in a city might be wide enough to lay down a deep coating of Polytrack and gallop horses up, but there's more to it than that.

Even just think about it for two minutes, and the pitfalls become obvious.  Just removing the traffic lights, signs, benches and rubbish bins (what we Councillors refer to as 'street furniture') and then replacing them afterwards, would take weeks rather than minutes.  And as for the supposed excitement of the so-called 'spectacle', who would be able to see it?  Where would the spectators stand?  In the shops?  In the offices and private apartments which lie in the floors above the shops?  There wouldn't be room for them to stand beside the track because streets just aren't that wide, and you wouldn't want the spectators to be right next to the rails, for the safety of either the competitors of the public.

And just having the horses milling around at the start, then racing for, say, three quarters of a mile, and then having them milling around somewhere else at the end of the course, which would probably be a couple of furlongs farther on from the winning post.  The more you think about it, the crazier it is.  Cities are busy places, and I just can't see how there's room in central London for all this to happen, safely or otherwise.  I'm not particularly familiar with London, but I suspect that if I were to become more familiar with it, I would become more, rather than less, aware of the potential pitfalls.

Changeing the subject (slightly), what would we do if a horse was reluctant to start?  Well, thanks to yesterday's debacle, we know what we wouldn't do: we wouldn't allow the trainer to wave his arms near him.  For God's sake!  We do have a major and insoluble problem for racing's public image, ie that plenty of horses are reluctant to be loaded into the starting stalls and have to be manhandled forcibly into the gates.  That looks awful but, unless we dispense with starting stalls (which I would be very happy with, but which presumably isn't going to happen) that's always going to happen.  Compared to that, someone waving his arms behind a horse who is reluctant to join the line just isn't - or, rather, shouldn't be - an issue at all.  It does not speak well for the writers of our rules that it has seemingly become so.

1 comment:

neil kearns said...

due to the global nature of racing on our tv boxes there are numerous opportunities to see stalls loading in other countries now I do not know whether it is just me but it seems that this is more of an issue in the UK than elsewhere .
I just wonder as to why this is (or if I am correct in my thoughts) ?
From what I have read in the USA it is common practice for horses to practice stall starts regularly - dont know whether this applies elsewhere , and i am also aware that elsewhere the stalls design is fundamentally different to the UK model giving a less enclosed structure - does this have a bearing
I also wonder whether the practice of forcing the horse into the stalls should be banned ? As the starting stalls are currently a part of the race why do those who will not enter of their own free will just get left out of the race ? There seems something fundamentally unfair about forcing those who behave properly and stand in the stalls to wait for these others to go through their performance . And following on from this why should there be any allowance made for those miscreants by allowing trainers to having them loaded after those behaving properly
Perhaps it is time to lay down far stricter rules on starting stalls entry starting with stall one (or whichever) loads first and they then go in in numerical order (can start in two banks in big fields) no exceptions and to limit the number of attempts at entry may be to a lead in only (or a lead in with a hood if the trainer requested it) and that should be it . If we ended up with a large number of non runners connections would quickly demand a solution from the trainers (dont ask me what John thats why you do the job not me) But the current situation is at times farcical five and six minutes to load for a race is frankly ridiculous and blatantly unfair to those who load quickly