Thursday, August 08, 2019

So far, so good(ish)

So far, so good(ish).  Two of the five runners down, two third places achieved.  Both (Sussex Girl at Brighton yesterday afternoon and Konigin at Yarmouth, pictured in the first photograph, last night) ran well.  Ran well without winning, but that's OK.  It's always OK if they run well, whether or not they win - as long as some of the horses who run well win.  It's like when a bowler is bowling well and is consistently beating the bat, good balls beating the bat but not taking the wicket don't matter, as long as he does actually take wickets at some point.  But, as I say, so far, so good(ish).

It's been lovely weather, but stormy weather is meant to move in over night, albeit while remaining very warm.  The forecasts seem to suggest that the worst of the rain will have been and gone (northwards) by around 6.00 in the morning.  I hope that that's right as the morning will be more pleasant if we aren't being rained on; my afternoon at Brighton (with Hidden Pearl) will be more pleasant if it isn't raining; and Ivona's evening at Chelmsford (with Sacred Sprite) will be more pleasant if it isn't raining.

Further good feedback from Neil Kearns at the end of the previous chapter, by the way.  Some good points there.  I'd be totally with you, Neil, about a proportion of Flat races being run without stalls. Definitely a proportion of maiden races, and arguably some for more experienced horses.  We seem to forget that racing seemed to cope without stalls for many, many years prior to their gradual introduction from the July Meeting in 1965 onwards.  Nowadays I think that it is only the Goodwood Stakes, a couple of 14-furlong handicaps at Salisbury and a conditions (possibly listed) race over the same course and distance.  Plus the occasion one when unexpectedly the weather makes it impractical to use the stalls.

Here's something to think about.  If stalls had not been introduced in 1965, would be be allowed to introduce them now?  I don't think that we would.  We're always looking for ways to make racing safer, so I can't see that we would be allowed nowadays to bring in an innovation which isn't necessary (witness the fact that racing functioned for centuries without stalls) and which clearly makes the game significantly more dangerous, both for the horses and their riders.  Every year there some serious accidents in the stalls; but when was there last a serious accident at a tape- or flag-start?  The odd incident of one horse kicking another, but I can't think of a fatality or serious injury for many years.


neil kearns said...

Your final point is very valid , as you totally correctly point out the number of injuries at flag/tape starts are limited whereas with stalls (and here I am applying a fair bit of guesswork)I would guess there is at least a couple of minor injuries each day and a major one every other day to horses and regular injuries minor or major to the stalls crews
I am sure that the stalls with their current design would not be allowed on health and safety grounds for a start I can't see anyway that a man would be allowed /expected to dive out the front of a structure where he could be trampled on by half a tonne plus of racehorse ?
There is rarely any major discussion on the topic on the main racing channels and certainly not on the ITV programmes where the only real comments about the stalls are of the the stalls handlers do a great job type of words , which I am not convinced they do in truth however I fully accept they do the best job possible given the instructions they have to work to.
What bothers me is that racing seems oblivious to what the stalls process looks like to those who are not devotees and with the close ups nowadays of the loading process it may well be that the spotlight will mean some very uncomfortable questions start to be asked

neil kearns said...

Just a quick question does anyone know why when they have twelve jockeys in the Shergar Cup they don't have twelve runners a race ? All races were oversubscribed the last couple of years so I don't get why they have ten runner fields

glenn.pennington said...

Losing the stalls would make lining up interesting, but National Hunt copes so why shouldn't flat?

On the plus side, vastly reduced costs in not requiring stalls with the incumbant moving them around, maintaining and testing,plus reduced risk of horse injury, jockey injury and stall handler injury.

We can never know exactly how many runners stress their chance away whilst either being stood in stalls awaiting others being loaded, or fighting the handlers when reluctant to load, not to metion those who refuse to enter and are withdrawn at the start, wasting owners/trainers time and money.

Employing and moving around large teams of stall handlers must add considerably to race day costs,and delays can disrupt race times and cause bookmakers to lose income when races overlap.

Great topic Neil