Fighting at the races will not be tolerated ...


Racing resume tomorrow

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

"When hospitality becomes an art, it loses its very soul."

Max Beerbohm.

The sun is rising over the heath

It’s very similar to yesterday, cold and bright but no wind. Let’s hope we get a few days of calm weather, which is always better to work in. You go from the sublime to the ridiculous on a daily basis in racing. We have got a full lot of riders in this morning, over and above what I was expecting. I know it won’t last but at least we can get on well today. First two lots have gone to the Cambridge Road and we have started to do a bit of faster work with a few of them. February is a short month and the turf flat season will soon be upon us and I want to be up and running as early as possible.

Pageant Master

Common sense has prevailed at the BHA and all racing will commence again tomorrow. As you know I always thought this was an overreaction and it is pleasing to be backed up by many other professionals in the sport. There is always flu in the system but we are the most vaccinated of any racing country so for the powers that be to have reacted in that way was starting to set a precedent. I think that is a dangerous thing as we don’t want racing to be stopped every time something has a cough or cold. No one would ever put a swab in to be tested, it would just go underground. Common sense is what has been needed and at long last it has come to the surface. I hope they continue in that vein.


The second part of the stable staff survey is in the Racing Post today with the staff commenting on what they want. It looks to me like it is not the wages which is a problem as they are now paid well, it is hours and time off which seems to be the main objection. The reason this problem has been caused is the amount of racing that both the BHA and racecourses want. We have had a massive expansion over the last 10 years of fixtures and the staff have been drawn into the middle of it. It is never ending and if you cannot find the staff to fill in, or do extra work, then the normal staff have to just keep going or leave the industry, which is what they have been doing because of the constant fixture list. Two things would sort this out but it needs forward planning. The first is much more centralised racing, i.e. an all-weather track at Newmarket, one close to Malton and Middleham and one somewhere like Newbury. You could race everyday then at Newmarket and staff wouldn’t have the problem of getting back at 2 o’clock in the morning. This idea is on similar lines to how they do it in America. The other way, which is simple, is just reduce the fixture list by 500 and put all the money into extra prize money. I am sure everybody would be delighted with that whether it is trainer’s, owners or punters and the bookmakers needn’t worry as people would just bet the same amount but take longer to lose it.


The horses are looking in great shape

Monday, 11 February 2019

"Change always comes bearing gifts."

Price Pritchett.

Cantering in front of the stands

Out on Southfields Round

After a wet weekend, and a very busy one, it is a bit quieter this morning. It is a bright coldish start to the day with no wind. The temperatures are set to rise all week and I don’t think it is going to be too bad at all. I am disappointed that we are one rider short, but those that are in are doing a great job and the horses are in unbelievable form. They look marvellous and are showing their wellbeing when out at exercise. In fact it is amazing we have not had any loose ones this morning. I have mainly been using Southfields Round and cantering a mile and a half with everything.

Relaxed and moving well

It is very disappointing, but not surprising, that four positive swabs for equine flu were announced overnight. In any training centre, at any given time, you will have stables with infection, it is just inevitable. You hear the press constantly talk of stables that are in and out of form and it is only because the yard has either got healthy horses or ones with a respiratory problem. We are having a meeting at 11 o’clock with the great and good in Newmarket to decide our next move. I think we are doing everything possible as an industry in town with the biosecurity measures, non-movement of horses and as little movement of staff. I just wonder what the BHA are going to do about the restarting of racing as it will certainly be playing on people’s minds that their income is being greatly reduced at present

The horses are in tremendous form

There is the first of a five part special investigation of the industry workforce in the Racing Post today which is worth reading. It starts to explain the problem we all have. It would be interesting to see how the next four parts progress and what conclusions are reached, or put forward. I will be reading with interest and commenting as and when I feel it necessary, but with the problem we are having at present with leaving the EU and our immigration rules in limbo, it may take a considerable time before a new influx of workers will be coming our way.


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