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Friday, 20 July 2018

"Sometimes, perhaps, we are allowed to get lost that we may find the right person to ask directions of."

Robert Brault.

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Indian Red and Astrofire first lot

06_Indian__Fire
and upsides

It was a perfect morning temperature and atmosphere wise at half five, but as the morning has gone on it has got much more oppressive and humid. Thunderstorms are forecast and let’s hope we can get one or two, but Newmarket seems to be in its own microclimate and often these storms go round us. We have had another very good morning with two lots on the Cambridge Road polytrack doing fast work and the rest of the horses have been on the Southfield Round and Hamilton Hill. We have got a lot of horses fit, healthy and ready to run, but with the ground as it is at present, it is not worth taking the risk.

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The second group of workers

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Roof Garden, Velvet Voice and Astroblaze

The result of the corruption inquiry was announced yesterday with the Vet in question, Tim Brennan, being cleared of all corrupt and fraudulent practices. The panel concluded that it had not been proved and that there were other realistic sources for the information. Interestingly the panel also found that as a self-employed vet, Mr Brennan was not subject to the rules of racing, so what penalty they would have pronounced if it had gone the other way I don’t know. This case was always going to end like this in my opinion and once again the BHA has wasted our money for absolutely no good reason. All it has done has made bad headlines and not helped the sport. There are several other inquiries going on a present and we will have to wait and see the outcome of those.

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Owners Max and Malcolm Franklin watching their two-year-olds 

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First lot walking back

The AGM of the Thoroughbred Breeders Association took part yesterday at the Jockey Club rooms and some of the declarations made for very bad reading. 45% of breeders were unprofitable in 2014 and that figures has now risen to 66%. Philip Newton, one of the board members, said that breeders faced extinction if the return on investment does not improve. He said this in not meant to be alarmist but you simply can’t argue against it. He also made the comparison between small and large breeders. An interesting statistic is that an average filly sold at Tattersalls October Book 1 made an estimated profit of £118,000, whilst the ones in Book 3 made a loss of £23,500. There will be plenty grinding of teeth and ideas put forward, but it all boils down to prize money, as I have been saying for the last 40 years. Until the prize money is increased and set at a proper level, this situation won’t change.

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Second lot with Garrison Law and Four Fifty Three

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Melo Pearl, Astrosparkle and Garrel Glen

It is a very sad day for the website as Phil has informed me that this will be his last week of doing ‘Phil on Friday’. He has kept us all enthralled and amused with his articles and I can’t thank him enough for what he has done for me over the years. Everybody wishes him well in the future and let’s hope he can make a few guest appearances when he is up to it.

Phil on Friday

phil

This is the last ‘Phil on Friday’ so please forgive me if a little vanity creeps in. Anyone who has endured my ramblings for the last 18 months or so will know of my greatest fortune - to have been born into a racing-mad family like mine.

True, there have been some eccentrics (not quite the word my wife uses!) Take Great Uncle Robert who, among other freakish habits, would stand out in raging storms, bare-chested and arms akimbo, to absorb what he considered to be the health-giving properties of thunder and lightning before consuming vast quantities of jellied eels on the  racecourse – he hated them but it was an early health fad;  there was Aunt Maisie, a bookmaker for nearly 50 years who retired from the turf aged 83; in contrast my Great Aunt Ethel became a nun in an extremely strict order when she was 21 having resisted huge pressure from the family not to do it, was re-named Sister Winifred of Jesus and lived well into her nineties.

There have been plenty of other examples of Green family eccentricity – such as replacing a broken-down fence without the owner’s knowledge because grandfather could not stand the sight of the old one as he ‘rested’ in a pub window on his way to Warwick races.

I am proud of most of our peculiarities but an exception might be Great Uncle Harry who shod horses for the Royal Family of Italy in the 1920s, sowed a few wild oats, then fled back to England as Mussolini rose to power. He immediately got himself ‘certified’ and was placed in a mental institution where he remained, actually totally sane, for the rest of his life. He told me once he did it to be ‘fed and looked after’ with no responsibilities or worries - and as racing remained his passion he was allowed into town for a bet occasionally. He also escaped any possible repercussions from bloodthirsty Italian fathers!

After admitting to the family ‘black sheep’ I’m bowing out on a note of pride. Grandfather, rather more reserved than Great Uncle Robert, was granted the Freedom of the City of London in recognition of his farriery skills. When horses were still ‘king’ he won the shoeing competition at the Royal Show for several years in succession, with my father assisting him. I don’t know how the honour is regarded now but it was something very, very special then.

I’ve heard direct line descendants of those who receive the Freedom of the City can continue to exercise the prerogatives, some archaic in the extreme, that were granted to their ancestors. I doubt that but, anyway, I’m off to try to drive some sheep across London Bridge …!

Thanks, Guvnor, for giving me space on your web-site for so long.