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We have one runner today at Fakenham

Monday, 04 March 2019

"In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved."

Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Cantering on the turf

It must be 10 degrees cooler this morning with a good wind. We have had very little rain though which is disappointing as is it badly needed for the turf gallops and with this wind it will dry it out even more. We have had a busy morning so far with a runner going off racing just after eight, plus those cantering are using a variety of places to do their work. All has gone well so far and the yard is ticking over smoothly.


We have one runner today at Fakenham where Velvet Voice runs in the 2.10, the maiden hurdle. She pulled up last time on very sticky ground at Lingfield and I would hope this much better ground will suit her. She jumps well and if she settles for the first circuit, she should start to creep into it and let’s hope she can run with credit today. She is one we always thought could win races but, apart from a good second at Lingfield on the flat, she has not shown the ability we see at home on the track. I hope today is the day. Alain Cawley takes the ride. He is having his first ride for us and is attached to Micky Hammonds yard in Middleham.

The view across the town

The dispute with the Arc tracks has continued over the weekend and a big article today in the Racing Post by Lee Mottershead puts his position forward. I don’t agree with a lot of what Lee says but he is an independent journalist whose final conclusion says ‘if negotiations are conducted, a sensible way forward can surely be found’. He is correct in what he is saying but, for so long the racecourses and bookmakers have been creaming all the money off and out of our sport with the owners and trainers and everybody else just managing to survive on the very poor prize money. The main point is that when The Office of Fair Trading decided that the racecourses own the media rights, that was the game changer. There was no firm figure as to how that should be shared out and the racecourses have used it as a cash cow for their own benefit. Until we get a clear and open look at actually how much media rights these racecourses get, which I don’t think they will ever give us, this dispute will linger. There has been absolutely no pressure on anybody not to take part, and apart from a few stragglers of the profession, that there always is, everybody has been of the same mindset. Even the jockeys are on side as well, bar one or two similar to the above. The whole way racing is run from the BHA downwards need a shake up and most of the people who run the sport have very little idea how it actually works. They are getting very well paid so don’t want to be seen to upset the apple cart, which is disappointing.


Still only two foals on the ground

Friday, 01 March 2019

"To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring."

George Santayana.

Cantering on Racecourse Side

It’s a cooler morning with no rain as yet but forecast for later on in the day, and over the weekend. I had an early start, half past four, to feed the horses as my assistant was in hospital overnight and I suspect he will be in there for a few more days. I love feeding the horses at that time as they are always pleased to see you and you find out how they are eating. Each one has its own characteristics of where they like to put their feed bowl in the stable. We have a good lot of riders in and have been cantering on the polytracks on Racecourse Side. All has gone well.

Isaac Murphy

The prize money saga continues apace with plenty going on behind the scenes. The BHA, who are totally out of touch with what the trainers, jockeys and owners are saying, seem to be completely out of their depth once again and look to me to be in cahoots with the racecourses and bookmakers. The prize money has been stretched so thin that financially the majority of trainers are struggling. Everybody can see this coming other than the BHA who has been giving the racecourses new fixtures at a great rate of knots. I have stood up at many a meeting and said the fixture list needs to be cut urgently but, at times have been told in no uncertain terms that that was not the BHA policy and that it wouldn’t happen. In my opinion, the only way to get the industry straight is to have a strong man at the top in charge of all the horsemen. In France there would have been a demonstration and strike and it would have been sorted out in under a week, but we have got such a fragmented industry with so many people making money other than the suppliers of the goods, the owners and trainers. The powers that be at the BHA get paid unbelievably well but need to sort this matter out and listen to the professionals as a matter of urgency. We have got everybody from the top to the bottom supporting the Arc boycott, other than the few reprobates who are still entering their horses.

Velvet Vision

We still only have two foals on the ground at Dullingham Park but several now are either overdue, or very near their time. I am sure the next week will see a couple of new arrivals. We are starting to get them covered as well and the feedback I am getting from most of the studs is that the stallions are not very full this year. It may be that a lot of people are cutting down, or moving out of the business. It will be interesting to see how this evolves over the next few years. Our industry depends on everybody, whether it is a breeder with 100 mares, or the single fun ones. They all need encouragement and a chance to succeed, but the stallion masters, in my opinion, have overpriced their horses in the good times and not reduced them enough when things get tight.

Moonlight Graham

Its pancake day next Tuesday which means Lent starts the next day. So, for all of you that are thinking of giving something up for approximately 40 days, get thinking. I am not sure this year what I will do, it could be cheese or maybe Yorkshire mixture which I buy every Sunday morning at the sweet shop when paying for the papers. For any of you that have not experienced Yorkshire mixture it is a variety of sweets all jumbled up into one jar. A lot of misshapen and end of line varieties. Well worth buying an ounce or two though. Good teeth are needed!


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