Wednesday, January 23, 2019


The non-news keeps happening.  I see that Cheltenham wish to meet Paul and Clare Rooney to discuss why they don't wish to have runners there.  This keeps rumbling on.  And it's also a news story, apparently, that Godolphin don't want anyone riding out in their strings who weighs more than 67 kilos dressed.  It seems as if we're meant to get worked up about this, but I can't see the issue.  Plenty of trainers are obsessed about the weight of their riders.  I'm not, but plenty (justifiably) are, and Godolphin have always stipulated an upper weight limit (considerably below the current ten stone or so).  I'm far from a cheer-leader for the big battalions, but if anyone is trying to construct an argument based on Godolphin being anything other than a good employer, then they're building on very flimsy foundations.

'The ground', of course, seems to remain a worry for most people (unless, of course, it is good to soft - no drier, no wetter) for, seemingly, most people.  And 'The Festival' remains everything (witness the consternation when we find one owner who doesn't want to have a runner there).  Against the background of these two supposedly big issues, I'll pass on without comment a sentence which I'm told was said on the TV last weekend: "Rain is crucial: we need rain with the Festival only seven WEEKS away." (The capitalization is, of course, mine).

A couple of smaller news stories have, though, intrigued me.  The Suzi Best shampoo positives.  What was the relevance of Tom Best not wearing gloves when washing his hair?  Obviously gloves would have prevented the drug from getting into his system via his hands, but it would still have got its way in there via his head and anywhere else the shampoo touched.  Or are we saying that he washed his hair and went straight outside and started doing things to the horses, with the shampoo still on his hands?  'Cross-contamination' usually comes from a drug intended for one horse being given to another, or from a drug in the human's system finding its way into the horse's system, usually via the human's urine.  Or a human spilling his cup of coffee (or his bottle of shampoo) into the horse's manger.  This just makes no sense at all.

Another thing that makes no sense is the independent handicap appeals panel.  Chris Humpleby, in his blog, has put this far better than I could do, but this is just so silly.  You're always going to get people moaning about their horses' handicap marks.  We all know that you can't please all the people all the time, but when it comes to handicap marks, the truth is that one can't please all the people any of the time, despite the fact that our handicappers collectively do an incredibly good job.  What we need to do is to discourage people from complaining, not create a mechanism to legitimize their whingeing.

If one thinks that the handicapper has it wrong about your horse, there's always been one way to settle the matter: you run the horse, and we see who is right.  If you're that worried, you can have a (civil and respectful) chat with him, but one doesn't want to do that more than once a decade.  It is, after all, a principle of sport that you don't complain about or appeal against the decision of an umpire unless a blatant injustice has been committed.  An appeal panel - particularly where the deposit is absurdly low and when the deposit is returned even in cases where the panel concludes that the handicapper was as close to being spot on as anyone could ask, ie where the rating is only altered by a pound or two - really is not a step in the right direction.  (The right direction, of course, being one which encourages people to complain less, not more).

1 comment:

David Jones said...

"What we need to do is to discourage people from complaining, not create a mechanism to legitimize their whingeing."

Spot on. And firmly in your camp when you say collectively, the handicappers do a very good job.