Onwards and upwards ...

I was delighted that Dame Judi

Monday, 17 May 2010

Smokey Oakey leads the string up Long Hill

''Let us look beyond the ears of our own horses, so that we may see the good in one another's.''

I was delighted that Dame Judi came up with Bryan and Brenda Agar to see their two horses at the weekend. Thank goodness the weather was a bit warmer for them. They were hoping to go to see Smokey Oakey run at York last week but with the ground, as it was, he had to be withdrawn. We will just have to wait for the heavens to open for Smokey to get the conditions he likes. Red Smokey, who they have in patnership will hopefully be running in the next few weeks.

Another dry morning and we are now starting to get on the desperate side for some rain; not necessarily for the training grounds, as we have plenty of all-weather tracks, although it would certainly help the grass grow but it is the racecourses, who need it very badly. The cost of water seems to rise annually and, I am sure, that it is this cost that puts a lot of courses off watering.

Watch Chain

One runner today, which is Blinka Me tonight at Leicester, he runs in the mile and an half race at 8.30pm - well past my bedtime. He has improved this year, being third first time out and then winning at Warwick last time, I think the dangers tonight are Gay Mirage and Bondage but, in these sort of races, there is always one big improver lurking. Saying all that, Blinka Me is in great form and whoever beats him will have to stay well, as it should be a proper test.


I must comment on last week's visit to York for the Dante meeting. It is always great to be able to go up and stay at Garrowby, on the stud, for a few days, as it gives both Angie and I, the time we need to have a really good look at the yearlings and to see how they are progressing. We were delighted, when having visitors on the Thursday morning, that everybody remarked how well the horses and the stud look; it is a great reflection on Alan and Tina, who do a tremendous job for us up there. Let us hope there is another Ted Spread amongst this year's crop.

York, itself, had tremendous racing and the crowds, although slightly down on the first day, picked up as the week went on. The only downside to the public were the great number of withdrawals but this was purely because the ground was so firm. You will have read that William Derby thought it was okay and that the going stick and times confirmed there was no jar in it. You will also have heard on the TV, especially on Racing UK, the presenters lambasting the trainers for not running their horses. They do not have to phone up the owners when their horses have returned jarred up, or with other injuries, to tell them the horse that they have paid training fees for all winter and they were looking forward to seeing during the season, would not run again for quite a while. Although, I know showers were anticipated at York, in my opinion, more water should have been put on the track pre the meeting and constantly topped up as the week went on. The other point is that the grass was cut very short and, once again, I can hear the groundsman saying there has been no growth this spring but he has cut it and rolled it much too short, so no build-up or catchment of dew can help the ground. The big drainage operation they did on the whole course last year has certainly helped in places but let's hope everybody has learnt from this week's experience and we will never get the number of withdrawals again, as it is the best racecourse in the country bar none.

York have spent a lot of money over the winter re-vamping the owners' and trainers' lounge with a new bar area and restaurant. I cannot tell you how good this is, you will all have to go and look yourselves. I would like to thank the York executive for this great improvement, as it gives so much more to the owners' enjoyment of a days racing. The only point, I would say, is that the entry system should be policed a bit better, as there were a lot of non-owners allowed in.