5 Results Found For: March 2015

20th March 2015

I sympathise with French trainer Francois Rohaut, Stan Moore and any other trainer who entered the three-year-old mile race on AW Championship Day only to find that it was reopened and that four horses were then added.

However, Francois Rohaut, is mistaken when he says that the rules had been changed ‘in the middle of things’. This rule, which allows for races to be re-opened at the entry stage if they attract insufficient entries, is relatively new but was in place long before this race closed. Nonetheless, I agree that it is unfair to allow a second chance to enter, after having seen the number of initial entries and the rating of the top horse, with no extra cost over and above that paid by the original entries. The result is that many of us watch entry and declaration tracking and don’t enter races which we know will re-open.

The entry tracking system is generally a good thing and to simply do away with it would not solve the problem of insufficient entries. The answer, surely, is to allow re-opening but with a significant supplementary fee for entering at a later stage. These supplementary fees should go entirely to prize-money (as with the Epsom Derby and many other major early-closing races) to compensate those that entered at the first stage.

17th March 2015

‘Racing professionals were bitterly divided yesterday over a radical shake-up to the British Flat Jockeys’ championship’, say the Racing Post this morning. I wouldn’t go quite so far as to say that. There is nothing ‘bitter’ about it. It looks to me like racing professionals are simply divided into those that have a vested, very personal, interest in only working in British racing during the most lucrative summer months, and those who are more concerned about the best interests of the sport in Britain as a whole. And those of us who are against it are, I would suggest, more saddened than bitter.

As for non-professionals, assuming most of those who vote in Racing Post on-line polls are racing fans rather than professionals, 75% of them are against it too.

The Professional Jockeys Association, on the other hand, supported the move, while admitting that many of their members wouldn’t agree, and their Chief Executive, Paul Struthers, said the shortened season would be less ‘attritional’ (did he invent that word?). And yet, they want the jump jockeys championship to remain on a twelve month basis. Well, that says it all, doesn’t it? Even the hardest working, half starved, flat jockey couldn’t say his job involved more attrition than that of a jump jockey. No, the simple fact is that there is nowhere more lucrative for the jump jockeys to go and so they choose to ply their trade in Britain throughout the year.

And I am further saddened to see that they have applied the same madness to the owners championship. Frankly, the owners championship is all but meaningless as it stands but I have long been calling for something to be done about that. Owners are the only group who might just be in a position to increase their investment in British racing in order to win a championship if we could make it really important to them but rather than try to make it important and use it to encourage owners to race in Britain, our marketers have put all the focus and attention on the jockeys championship and tagged the owners onto it as an afterthought. What’s more, owners can now take their best horses to race in Dubai for the winter and be back in time for all ‘championship’ races. That has to be good for racing in Dubai which, last time I looked, was doing very nicely.

16th March 2015

It is purely coincidence that I wrote about the jockeys championship yesterday. I had no idea whatsoever that changes were going to be announced this morning and, if previous changes to the trainers championship are anything to go by, the same probably applies to most jockeys.
The Racing Post doesn’t say whether or not there is a significant prize to go along with this new championship but, as they mention that there ‘will also be a prize for the most wins in a calendar year’, I think we can take it that there is.

So you can now brace yourself for the departure of our top jockeys, to sunnier, more lucrative, climes in early October. They may, or may not, return for the Craven meeting but you can take it that the majority will only ride in Britain for six months of the year. Another great idea from the folks at Racing For No Change.

Thankfully, they haven’t yet changed the trainers or owners championship to a similar format but you couldn’t even guess what idiotic idea they might come up with next. The trainers championship runs from November to November which, as Andrew Scutts says in the Racing Post, ‘is curious’ but he goes on to say that ‘if it is to be on a full-year basis it might just as well be as it is than change it to January to December’. He, as a journalist working for the Racing Post, should know better. The Racing Post website currently posts four different sets of statistics for trainers: Championship, Calendar Year, AW Championship, and Turf (which, bizarrely, includes a large number of races run on all-weather surfaces) and the only one which makes any real sense is the Calendar Year as two of the others include horses of different ‘generations’ (two-year-olds become three-year-olds on January 1st) and, as I say above, the ‘Turf’ table includes all-weather races. Nonsensical.

15th March 2015

An interesting piece in this morning’s Racing Post points out that we can expect there to be a jockey shortage at the Lincoln meeting with the introduction of a £155,000 card at Chelmsford in addition to Kempton and, most importantly, the Dubai World Cup.

I can’t remember the last time I was at the Lincoln meeting. A long long time ago. I am invariably at the Dubai Word Cup and it, almost invariably, clashes with the Lincoln.

I’m sure that few, if any, people care whether I am there or not and the same will apply to most other trainers but there have been many times when the BHA, GBR (formerly Racing For No Change), and the Racecourse Association have claimed that trainers need to do more to interact with the public and the media at race meetings. There have even been moves to force us to do so although attendance itself has, to date, always been voluntary.

The importance of attracting top jockeys to our top meetings is rarely disputed although there are now many examples of fixture clashes at weekends which demonstrate that some of the Food And Beverage men and women who run racecourses have lost sight of this. Clashes with top international meetings like the Dubai World Cup cannot always be avoided and we just have to face the fact that, when it happens, Britain, with its pitiful prize-money, is always going to be less attractive to those who have the opportunity to ride at a more lucrative meeting. But, surely, it is foolish, to say the least, to encourage them to do so.

We have already succumbed to pressure and agreed to start the British jockeys championship in late March and end it in early November, reducing it to little over seven months of the year, but there have been numerous calls for further reductions to a season of less than six months and suggestions that this championship should carry a reward in the region of £50,000 for riding the most winners in half of the year.

The main argument for a break in the season, and it has some merit, is that we cannot expect our top jockeys to work flat out for twelve months of the year. But the reality is that the top jockeys take the opportunity, when wins don’t count for the championship, to ride abroad in countries where the prize-money is generally much better. I have no doubt that a twelve month championship would result in our top jockeys having a much greater presence on our racecourses throughout the year and would ultimately be beneficial to British racing. I am sure they would still go to the Dubai World Cup, the Breeders Cup, the Arc and for a couple of weeks lying on a beach somewhere, and rightly so.

14th March 2015

All six races at Chelmsford City on Monday were re-opened at the declarations stage due to insufficient declared runners. In the end 36 horses have been declared.

Do we need more all-weather racing? Clearly not.

Is there still a need for an all-weather track in the north? Almost certainly, yes. It has been shown that there is a significant population of horses based in the north which do not race during the winter but would be likely to if the distance to the nearest all-weather course was not so extreme. But, unfortunately, with every new all-weather course, they want to create more and more fixtures and the horse population simply isn’t available to sustain all this racing. It isn’t rocket science.

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