Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Two saddening stories

Our first runner of the year - Surooj (who is in the first three photographs) at Lingfield last Friday - didn't yield success so we'll hope for better tomorrow when Turn Of Phrase (whose ears appear in the fourth and fifth photographs on a very cold morning on Sunday) goes to Kempton.  The trip to Lingfield on a cold day wasn't disastrous: she finished sixth of 14.  The close-up from the Racing Post is worth repeating: "Prominent in chasing group, headway and close up 3f out, went second and every chance over 2f out, soon ridden, lost ground and beaten over 1f out, weakened final furlong".  It was good to see her travel so well for such a long way; disappointing to see her knock up so markedly and quickly.  At the time I thought she just hadn't stayed two miles and needed to drop back to the Flat, but I've actually reassessed that since then.

I took Surooj for a trot on Saturday morning and she was a bit stiff, totally different from when I'd ridden her two days previously.  The chiropractor saw her later that day and found her to be very sore along her back and diagnosed a pulled muscle. So I'm happy just to cast aside any conclusions which I had made from her weakening in the closing stages of the race.  Obviously she won't race for a couple of months or more as she'll need a period of inactivity to recover from the muscle strain and then she'll need a gradual reintroduction to work, but when she does next race, I would imagine that it will be in another bumper at two miles.  Let's hope that we're not still looking for our first winner of 2021 at that time!

I suppose we should just touch on two of the stranger stories of the week, both of which have saddened me.  Firstly we have the bizarre articles highlighting the unspecified problems which Bryony Frost reportedly has had with some of her weighing room colleagues.  I must admit that these revelations (if something so vague can be called a revelation) left me feeling very disappointed.  Very sad, really.  This week we have seen/heard Tim Paine really letting himself, his team and his country down by being nasty to his opponents in the Test Match, and I would have said (and believed) that racing's competitors (jockeys and trainers in particular) would never show that level of nastiness to their/our competitors.  All my life I would have said that, but I'm very sad to find, only this week in these articles, that apparently I'm wrong.

There have been in the past instances of (young) jockeys riding too aggressively and incurring the collective displeasure of their senior colleagues and suffering the opprobrium of the other jockeys (and/or incurring the wrath of the stewards) as a result.  But that's not the case here.  Otherwise, I have always heard and believed that the weighing room is generally a very pleasant place in which the people treat each other considerately, courteously and kindly.  I've seen plenty of evidence to back this up.  I'm just very saddened now to hear that that is not necessarily the case any more.  We know that the world is becoming a nastier place, but surely not in the jockeys' room?

The second story is a sad one too.  Yesterday there was a story on the Racing Post website about Colm O'Donoghue being acquitted of beating up his ex-girlfriend.  I won't run through it all, but it would be instructive to read it if you haven't already done so, including the bit about her sending him a WhatsApp message saying, "Now to ruin ur life."  Whether or not you have read the story, I am sure that you will have noticed over the past year or so that Colm O'Donoghue's career has fallen apart.  These woes for him coincided with it being widely rumoured and generally accepted that he had beaten her up, and it makes me very sad to find that he has seemingly suffered sorely for a perceived offence of which he is, we now know, totally innocent.

The surprising part of the article was Jessica Harrington saying that his losing his job with her was unconnected with the rumours of his supposed cruelty which were circulating at the time.  To an outside observer, it seemed obvious that the loss of the job was a consequence of the rumours, as surely as night follows day.  There was no other obvious reason for it, particularly when one thinks of all the success which the trainer/jockey combination had enjoyed the previous year, most obviously with Alpha Centauri.  It's actually fortunate that the obvious reason for his losing his job turns out not to have been the reason, as that heads off any chance of there being a case for unfair dismissal.

Even leaving that aside, I am sure that we haven't heard the last of this matter.  The words of his solicitor in the Racing Post article are interesting: "Colm has been emphatically found innocent of causing any harm to Ms Macken.  The court also heard that Ms Macken cost Colm his entire career, as he could not get employment because of the things she was saying.  I'm delighted for him.  He didn't deserve this.  Colm is considering his legal options with regard to a civil case."  Whether or not a civil case ensues, one would imagine that the complainant will be charged with bearing false witness, ie perjury, which generally carries a prison sentence.  Most of all, though, I hope that Colm O'Donoghue gets plenty of rides during 2020 and beyond and rides plenty of winners, both big and small.  I obviously wish for a successful year for myself, but I actually think that I wish for a successful year for him even more so.


David J Winter. said...

Wow, you just hit a nerve!!...i was reading the same article about Colm and had the same reaction as you. Indeed, I felt the need to send him a message wishing him a more enlightened and successful future; not of course that it will make much difference but I felt one should be supportive where one can in its limited way. I had wondered where he had been lately but life goes on and what with injury and suspensions coming and going I didn’t check it out. It’s a disturbing and ever increasing aspect to life that basic respect for colleagues and others is/has disappeared almost. The news that has now extended to cricket has proved a watershed for me and left me feeling somewhat disheartened and disillusioned tonight. I also read the vague insinuations about Bryony’s weighing room partners attitude toward her and I struggle to comprehend them at any level. In my turn I wish a good year for my family but wish you an even better one, with Roy leading your platoon into a successful campaign. Keep on, keeping on.

neil kearns said...

Although you are racing focussed John , you raise a wider question here that is appearing on a regular basis conviction at the court of social media . In particular employers attitude towards those 'convicted' therein , it is one thing for a court to convict and sentence and an employer to take action . It is a completely different thing for people to lose employment because of unsubstantiated allegations , it stinks and i hope Colm receives fair and just support now from the racing industry -unfortunately i feel mud may well stick . As for Bryony you have to feel she needs to name names and incidents rather than be so vague if she wishes her insinuations to be taken seriously if not best not to air them at all .

neil kearns said...

Great performance this evening from T O P congratulations to all involved can see a potential winner going forward

John Berry said...

Thank you very much for those observations, David, Neil. Much appreciated. Great minds really were thinking alike there, David!

With best wishes