The Cheltenham Festival is just around the corner ....

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We have one runner tomorrow at Lingfield

Friday, 23 February 2018

"It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one."

George Washington.

Topapinion upsides TTMAB

There is a big drop in temperature this morning and my phone starting to bleep very early with messages from the heath foreman saying that they are salting everywhere and rotavating the tracks to keep everybody on the move. The one redeeming factor is there is very little wind which is stopping the cold going right through you. Everybody was in this morning, although we did lose one at first lot after he threw his dollies out of the pram when asked to brush his tail out. Consequently we are one down on the rider front, but never mind as I am sure we will be having people turn up shortly, in fact there are a couple in the pipeline already.

I galloped a few on the Cambridge Road Polytrack at first lot, which went well. I had Joey Haynes in and an amateur rider, Danny Kerr, who is attached to James Tate. They both do a good job for us and everything went very smoothly. All the rest of the lots have been closer to home and have gone off without a hitch so far.

Saint Anthony and Rum Ration

We will be having one runner over the weekend. Astrobreeze has her third run in the 1.30 at Lingfield tomorrow. This looks a well above average contest and we are drawn once again at Gatwick Airport. She is the only filly in the race and the only good thing about this is that it is not too far to go. She will be handicapped after the run, which will give us many more options for when the turf season starts. It won’t be too long before that actually happens as February is nearly over and the season starts towards the end of March, so only really about three weeks. It is amazing how quickly it comes round. We will have The Guineas, The Derby, Royal Ascot before we know it and the yearling sales will have started in August. It is amazing how quickly they all come round.

Ness Of Brodgar

I see there are several articles of interest in the Racing Post today, two or three on the staff crisis and what can or cannot be done to help. We have just had the stable staff awards, very kindly given once again by Godolphin. I am not sure if everybody puts forwards their deserving ones but there always seems to be commendable stories come from the winners. We obviously have a shortage of staff, especially riders who can teach the horses something. It is very sad that we lost the ability to employ the Indians and Pakistani boys, who were a tremendous help to us. When we leave the EU next year it won’t make any difference to us as there are very few Europeans in the industry. We have got to look further afield, or become much better at promoting from our own country. We have always been very poor at promoting ourselves, although you will hear differently from the powers that be. A well organised team with enthusiasm and the right tools could, I am sure, promote our industry / sport to a wide audience of people, but we need somebody with charisma and confidence to know what they are actually talking about to organise this.

The other thing that ought to happen, and I never see it happen, is that instead of bookmakers adverts on the TV between races, there ought to be an advert promoting the industry and the jobs available. This could be produced by the racing channels and put over in a way that would encourage the younger generation.

Gee Sixty Six

Making their way back to the yard

There is a very telling comment from trainer Charles Byrnes, who is a very shrewd and good trainer in Ireland. He says training is a loss making business and if he hadn’t had three winners that he had backed, he wouldn’t have been able to keep his head above water. The Irish training numbers are dropping quickly, as it is more top heavy over there than it is even here. I thoroughly agree with his comments and always worry for the younger generation of trainers starting in the industry. If you have not got a massive amount of money behind you when you start, it is near impossible to get going nowadays, unless you are tremendously lucky. In America and Australia you can start in a much smaller way and train on the tracks, which is much less costly and you can sink or swim from there. The transport costs etc. are greatly reduced and the sooner we get a much more centralised system here in England, and in Ireland for that matter, the better. An all-weather track on the Curragh would help or somewhere nearby and we definitely need one here in Newmarket. It would just give everybody young a chance of starting without the high overheads.

Arthur receiving his champagne from the Guv'nor

Congratulations to Arthur Winn who won the Christmas quiz. He called in the other day to see the horses he has a share in, True Calling and Saint Anthony, which gave us the opportunity to present him with his bottle of champagne for his win. We had plenty of entries this year and it was good fun with lots of interesting question and answers. I thought the dead jockey was the best one!

Phil On Friday


Phil is feeling much better and will be back on song hopefully next week.


The weather was a pleasant surprise this morning

Thursday, 22 February 2018

"God has given you one face, and you make yourself another."

William Shakespeare.

The string cantering on Hamilton Hill

After being told to expect very cold weather today it was a pleasant surprise to find it mild with no wind. It is the calm before the storm though as the weekend looks sure to bring in an extremely cold blast, which should last a fair way through next week. It has been a good morning for us though with everybody in, so the flag is flying, and we have been able to give all the horses a nice exercise. I schooled four up at the Links at second lot on ground that was absolutely perfect. It just goes to show that if you don’t water the ground and it is well drained, you can get a good racing surface. The big problem is that the tracks water all the time and consequently when it rains it just becomes a bog. It has not been very good watching lately on the TV as most of the tracks, both here and in Ireland, have been running of desperate ground and the horses have been finishing incredibly tired. What can they do about it? Much less racing and don’t ever water in the jump season, even in the summer, it is fair then to all horses, whether you like top of the ground or the bog that we have at the moment.

     16_Schooling     17_Schooling
Clearance schooling this morning

There is a double page spread today from the BHA chairman and you won’t be surprised to know that yes, I had forgotten he was the chairman. Steve Harman has let the Chief Executive, Nick Rust, and his team take the full force of what has been happening over the last few years and has kept himself quiet in the background. Why this sudden big article I am not sure, but it may be something to do with the roadshows that are just about to hit the country. His four key ambitions for the industry when he started, i.e. the number of horses in training, betting turnover, attendances and extra income into the sport, have all been touched on. Very few of these have moved forward in the last few years, but at least they have not gone dramatically backward. I will be attending the roadshow at Newmarket next week and it will be interesting to hear what is said from the main table. I am sure the floor will have something to say as well.

Third lot pulling out

It’s all about the Cheltenham Festival at the moment. Trainers are having open days, there are plenty of money making evenings (with so called experts who all have an opinion on who will win or not), the clerk of the course under pressure because of the weather and ground and all owners, trainers and jockeys hoping their charge will stay in one piece and get to the races in the best of shape. There has been some great coverage, but somehow this year we have not got that one big horse or one big clash that everybody is talking about, but saying that it is four days of unmissable racing and there will be stories aplenty coming from it.


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