It was three degrees this morning when I came in to feed just after four having been up to midnight assisting with another foaling. I think Angie got into bed about two and I am not sure what time David, the stud groom, finally left. The weather is set to continue on today in a cold but dry vein and then get wet tomorrow and Sunday with even a bit more snow, I think, in the north. We have had a good cantering morning so far using the Rubbing House polytrack and Hamilton Hill. Despite all the wind yesterday the Jockey Club heathmen have done a great job putting everything back to normal. There were plenty of rails down and one big fallen tree in what we call the Black Belt. Storm Doris was not a hurricane, but it did blow a bit.
What a debacle yesterday at Chelmsford with the advance flag lady mistakenly putting her flag up which voided the race. Evidently none of the jockeys saw the flag and kept riding. Kevin Ryan, the winning trainer, quite rightly was furious about the whole incident. It is being referred to the BHA but it will be washed over and nobody will get any compensation for another mistake of a bygone era. Why we can’t have flashing lights and a klaxon at the furlong pole, pushed by the started himself, I just don’t know. It might mean somebody having to work a bit harder, but if we want to look professional it is something we have got to bring in pretty quickly. This was just a complete shambles.
Also they tell me a couple of trainers got fined for withdrawing their horses because of the weather and I think this is another very harsh thing to have happened. The trainers in question thought the wind and stalls noise were dangerous and didn’t want to run in case of injury. I think this is fair enough in this case and I would have thought the fine should have been waived, but I suppose every £140 helps to go to pay the pensions for the BHA executives.
I don’t know what planet the National Trainers Federation is on, but they have suddenly announced a ‘Team Champion’ title to be awarded annually to the stable that have the best team ethos. This is supposed to be about the ‘methods that trainers use to attract and retain staff, plus the safe working practices employed’ according to the article in the Racing Post. I just don’t know what they are talking about here as trainers are the biggest recruiters of stable staff, far better than all the well paid official jobs at the BHA, the National Trainers Federation, the Thoroughbred Breeders Association, the British Racing School and the Northern Racing College who, in my opinion, have very little idea on how to recruit staff. It will be interesting to see how this new prize is judged and by whom, and I can’t wait to see who the first winner will be. The winner is to receive an item of infrastructure or equipment funded by the insurance group Lycetts. The more I think about this the more I can’t understand the concept.
Phil On Friday
Hopefully, the Guvnor will allow me to be somewhat self-indulgent this week and recount a Green family story which I know has amused him in the past. It is also quite accurate.
My tale concerns Great Uncle Robert: a vagabond he most definitely was not, and he behaved quite normally - most of the time. True, he could be accused of being a little eccentric now and again, and he was certainly infected with the Green clan’s love of horse racing and betting.
On the approach of a big race like the Lincoln, say, or the Grand National, he would wrap his head in a cold, wet towel before studying the form of all the runners, the latest trends and anything else available to him in his quest to find the winner. All this could take hours.
He reckoned the cold towel kept his brain from over-heating !!!
Actually, I am told, his judgements were pretty sound and he took a good few pounds off the bookmakers, but I don’t know whether he was clever, ahead of his time, simply eccentric or just plain daft. Probably the latter, but here are a couple more gems concerning the man so you can make up your own mind ….
The family would often hold card-game evenings when several members would gather for an all-night session of nap (or Napoleon, I think it’s properly called) with a few breaks for beer, cheese and pickles and a 6 a.m. start at work the next day. How they did it I do not know. Anyway, before a single card was dealt, Great Uncle Robert would thrust a knife through a ten-bob note and stab it into the table where it would remain throughout. He considered it a deterrent against any possible cheating – after all this was a competitive business and they bet ‘proper’ money, father against daughter and brother against brother!
In another outrageous display of, well, abnormality I suppose you’d call it, he would look forward to any tumultuous, electrical summer storm with the greatest enthusiasm. When the thunder and lightning erupted he would strip off his shirt and stand out in the downpour, arms akimbo, to receive what he believed were some remedial or health-giving properties the tempest would offer him. Miraculously, he was never struck by lightning.
He was certainly a marvellous character, Great Uncle Robert, and an endearing one at that!
The turf flat season starts soon. Fetch a towel ….