4 Results Found For: July 2014

25th July 2014

The following e mail from Niall Hannity by way of a follow up to my comments on 14th July:

Hi Mark,

With regards to what you wrote on your website. It is two weeks today since I started booking rides for Joe Fanning despite still not on the BHA site to do so. In this time I’ve booked him rides for 13 days racing, as we had one day with only three jumping fixtures. In this period Joe has been declared to ride for 27 different trainers’ (three were non-runners) and forty outside rides, resulting in eight outside winners.
With your horses running so well he has ridden 18 winners out of 75 rides in this time, Ryan Moore is 14-57 and Richard Hughes is 10-47, so Joe has been the busiest jockey in this period but, more importantly, the most successful.
Compared with other big (and small) yards your office staff are very well organised and it’s a very straightforward getting Joe rides.

Kind regards
Niall

The change in Joe’s fortunes really is quite remarkable and I am sure I’m not the only one wondering whether he would have been challenging for the jockeys championship if this change had taken place earlier.

14th July 2014

Two winners out of three runners today at Ayr. Can’t be bad. And a treble for Joe Fanning and his new agent Niall Hannity. The combination have only been working together for a few days and they are flying high. It is great to see Joe with full books of rides as he clearly deserves. I have long thought it to be totally ridiculous that Joe could go to tracks like Hamilton, where he is the leading rider, and have few, if any, rides apart from ours. It has always been blamed on me having entries in most races and liking to make my decisions as late as possible, but Niall is already showing that that was never the case.

I went to Ayr myself today. I flew from home, departing at just after noon and arriving in Prestwick an hour later. The twenty minute taxi ride from the airport still wrangles a bit as it adds 30% to the journey and is so unnecessary as we fly straight over the racecourse and could land so easily if the course were minded to allow it. They have all sorts of excuses for not allowing planes to land but none of them make sense. If only Hamilton or Musselburgh had the same space for an airstrip, I know they would have one in a shot.

Anyway I still arrived at the track in plenty time to partake of their unrivalled hospitality. I had forgotten just how good the lunch is and, if only I hadn’t been flying, I could have helped myself to wine too. It is hardly surprising that the dining room is packed but, strangely, the parade ring is empty by comparison. Surely it can’t be that the food and drink is so good that owners stay indoors rather than go out to see their horses. Clearly that isn’t the case and the sad answer is that many of those partaking of Ayr’s hospitality have no connection with runners at all.

I was approached by a stranger as I entered the course and asked if I could give him two badges and two lunch tickets. He knew that I had three runners and was quite put out when I declined to give him the owners’ badges. But, looking at the number of people in Ayr’s dining room and thinking of the touts at Newmarket last week, I have to conclude that some people are passing their badges to people with no connection to the runners and/or selling them.

On the one hand it is easy to say that the courses get off lightly as, overall, only a small percentage of available owners badges are ever taken up. Today, the Duke of Roxburgh and I used two of the available fourteen (or was in twenty?) badges for my horses. The owners pay dearly for the, sometimes doubtful, pleasure of competing for pitiful returns and a few entrance tickets, or even meals and drinks, should never be grudged to those who are paying to provide the participants. It could be argued that those entrance badges and meal tickets are the owners’ to do with as they please and I do encourage our owners, when they can’t attend themselves, to send their friends or even share their badges with other owners who don’t have a runner but are available to go. It generally works well, helps to promote the benefits of ownership, and most tracks are very accommodating and will even supply extra badges on the few occasions that they are required.

But, surely, to hand badges to strangers or, even worse, sell them to touts is a step too far. It belittles and devalues the privilege of racehorse ownership and might make courses like Ayr question their policy of providing such excellent fare for the owners who support them.

13th July 2014 a little later

When a quiet man speaks people tend to listen (maybe I should learn something from that), so it was good to hear Ryan Moore speak out against the ridiculous clash of four top meetings (Newmarket, York, Ascot and Chester) on Saturday. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that the right people are listening.

If I remember rightly, Newmarket’s argument for moving to Saturday was not only about increased attendances (last year they fell well short of Chester and others on the day) but something to do with selling their pictures to the far east. However, they still derive a very large part of their annual income from UK media payments, the levy board and owners but they, and others, refuse to give due consideration to what is best for the sport overall.

It is all very well to say that these congested days provide opportunities for more jockeys but our best racing should, surely, feature our best jockeys.

13th July 2014

What went on at Chester this weekend? On Friday night, all bar one of the races were run within a second of standard time and two were on the fast side. Four of the seven races were won by the favourite i.e. the form worked out well.

The next day, with no rain in between, only one race got within two seconds of standard and one race was more than nine seconds slow. No favourites won i.e. the form went out the window.

Was the ground watered in between? The going descriptions were almost identical ‘Good to Firm (Good in places)’, with the penetrometer reading suggesting that it was fractionally faster on Saturday (7.7) than on Friday night (7.6).

The times, emphatically, say otherwise but there is no mention of watering. I can’t see any other possible explanation. Can you?