4 Results Found For: January 2015

19th January 2015

When discussing Champagne Ransom’s run in 4.10 at Wolverhampton today on Attheraces, Matt Chapman made reference to a horse of ours rallying to win the St. James Palace Stakes under ‘Kevin Darley’. I assume he was talking about Bijou D’Inde getting back up after being headed by Ashkalani and the rider was, of course, Jason Weaver. Surprisingly, Jason, sitting in the studio, didn’t pick up on this.

15th January 2015

I should have known that there would be no need for helmet lights in Dubai. Even with less than 50% of the floodlights on, it is like daylight at Meydan from 4.30am. I can read the paper, never mind watch my horses.

Now, at 6.30pm, with racing about to start and all the lights on, it really looks magnificent. Here’s to a big run from Sennockian Star.

The BHA has announced that we will have record prize-money of £130 Million in Britain this year. That is good news indeed but needs to be considered in relation to the size of the fixture list. Not long ago I looked at prize-money in certain specific races and compared them with levels for the same race 10 and 20 years previously. I found that, in most cases, we were behind the actual prize-money of 10 years ago (not corrected for inflation) and, in some cases, prize-money had not risen in 20 years. I’ll need to have another look now.

The Racecourse Association also made an announcement and told us that racecourse executive contributions to prize-money would also reach a new high of £58.4M in 2015 and that this is ‘effectively’ double the 2010 level of £30.3M. This is also very welcome news but, unfortunately, really needs to be taken with a large pinch of salt. The RCA, like some of its members, like to compare racecourse contributions with 2010 because the funding system changed after that and media payments replaced much of the levy. Unlike levy, which must be used for prize-money, media payments go to the racecourses and they consider that as their money to do with as they please. In short, the goalposts have been moved half way up the pitch.

What I’d like to know is, have owners’ contributions been reduced at all and where does Britain stand now in a comparison of owners’ running costs against returns. I fear we might not have gained much ground.

I know I should look at the positive side and tell you all that you should have a racehorse and have it trained in Britain (by me) but I just can’t help myself. I have to tell it as it is.

14th January 2015

Just checked in to Meydan hotel and unpacked. It is now 3.20 AM and my first horse pulls out at 4.40 so no point in going to bed. I have no idea why they start in the middle of the night. Of course, it is important to get the horses back in before it gets too hot and there may well be difficulties in keeping visitors separate from resident horses but, from past experience, I’d say it has got nothing to do with that.

I think it is down to the Australian/American influence. They – especially the Australians – seem to like working their horses in the dark. They watch a little light going round in the pitch black and say ‘By Jingoes, that went well. Bruce!’

I’ve never quite understood it myself. At home, Clive Britain does something similar. Maybe there’s a bit of Aussie in him.

9th January 2015

Happy New Year.


This is always a relatively quiet time of year for us but this year is exceptionally quiet. We have plenty horses in – just slightly down on this time last year – but the vast majority of those are two-year-olds and we only have a handful of horses for all-weather racing.

This morning, at our weekly managers’ meeting, when looking for our horses which are fit to run and win, as we do every week, there were only three possible runners in the next seven days and one of those is in Dubai. Compare that with January 2014, when we had 45 runners and 16 winners, and you will see that things are very different.

It should give me time to indulge my other passions of cycling and flying but the weather hasn’t really been conducive to either and my flying is normally associated with going racing. No runners, no need to use the plane.

It has meant that I have had more free time in the evenings and I have been able to get my unread e mails down to just under 50 (it normally sits around 100 and can reach 200 in mid season). I have also watched a little bit of television and caught up with the news.

I have been particularly saddened by the coverage of the crisis in the NHS. In my youth our Health Service was, by far, the envy of the world and there was no country you would rather be taken ill or injured in. Sadly, that is no longer the case. They still do a magnificent job and I have utmost admiration for the staff but they are suffering from desperate under-funding at a time when demand has never been greater.

I assume that demand is principally driven by the ageing population and changes the NHS structure which have driven more people to A&E who might previously have called their GP but there has also been a huge culture change and it is very evident in the racing industry. Working with horses, or any large animals, is a risky business and accidents and injuries are an unfortunate inevitability. But I cannot help but notice that the percentage of falls which result in an ambulance being called has increased exponentially in recent years.

Gone are the days when I would personally assess the extent of injuries and make a decision on whether a rider could be helped into the car and driven to the GP in Leyburn or to hospital. It wasn’t uncommon at all for us to deal with distal limb fractures in this way, if there were no other injuries. I myself was driven to the hospital in Catterick by our then secretary, Polly Saverey, with a complete fracture of my radius and ulna and my arm wrapped in a horse travelling boot.

Now, many relatively minor injuries result in a paramedic (we are very lucky in Middleham to have a paramedic service that is usually nearby), an ambulance, and a trip to hospital. Everyone is frightened of making the wrong decision, falling foul of Health & Safety rules, or facing litigation. It is ‘better to be safe than sorry’, of course, but this culture has gone too far. It is all very well to say that we shouldn’t take any risks and we should leave first-aid treatment to the professionals but, watching those over-stretched A&E departments on the news, I couldn’t help but wonder about those with truly life-threatening injuries or ailments who might have to wait for attention because health professionals are tied up elsewhere dealing with a sprained ankle.