2 Results Found For: September 2018

15th September 2018

At this time of year there are plenty issues that I’d love to blether about but I just can’t find the time. Come winter I’ll have plenty of time and nothing to say.

Last saturday Richard Hughes wrote about his frustration with the handicap system and made some very radical proposals for change but it was only after watching Austrian School finishing second again yesterday, for the fifth time in his last six runs, that I felt compelled to writre about the subject. He’s a lucky, and clearly popular, fellow: Richard Hughes.  If I’d suggested that horses should only rise in the handicap  when winning we’d have had all the lottery-mentality gamblers and the media’s punter-pundits saying that I am naive and anti-betting. C’est la vie.

Austrian School last won a race on 10th May off a rating of 85. The handicapper raised him 8lbs for that half-length win and he was beaten into fourth next time out. Between that run and yesterday’s start, we have run him a further six times (five of them handicaps) without winning and the handicapper has seen fit to raise him another 9lbs. A total of 17lbs rise since his last win despite seven subsequent runs.

Yesterday, on his eighth start since winning, we were running him before the last 2lb rise came into effect (i.e. off 100. Last win off 85) and he was beaten a head into second. What will the handicapper do next, I wonder? He certainly will not drop him from his latest mark of 102 and he may well put him up further on the grounds that he has to raise the winner more than 3lbs.

Richard Hughes was right when he said that radical change is needed but I, as you all know, would go a lot further than he is suggesting. The handicap system is long outdated and is now unfit for purpose. It cannot be beyond the wit of man to come up with a better and fairer system that would demystefy, without dumbing down, our sport.

7th September 2018

What have they done to the Cesarewitch? I said immediately, when I saw the proposals to increase the value of the race, first to £500,000 and ultimately to £1,000,000, that this was doing nothing for the promotion of the staying horse, as they claimed, or for the Cesarewitch. I pointed out the obvious, that the race attracted a full field every year, that the lowest rated top weight in the last five years was 103, and that a massive increase in prize-money could not dramatically change the shape of the race or attract horses that would not have run anyway. I pointed out that it was no more than a publicity stunt at the expense of owners who are to be landed with exorbitant entry fees.

I did not know about a further rule change which has now resulted in last year’s winner, Withhold, being ineligible. The new rule says that entrants must have run at least twice since April on the flat at 1m4f or more. Why? What exactly are they trying to achieve?

A spokesman for Newmarket Racecourse said that the amendment was highlighted to trainers in a letter from Michael Prosser two weeks before entries closed and was published in the Racing Calendar. I was not aware of it until I read about it on the Racing Post website today. They also said that the fact that last year’s winner has been ruled out is, ‘no doubt an unintended consequence’. Well, that’s stating the obvious. But what I want to know is, what do they see as the intended, positive, consequences of these changes? What has it done to change the race for the better? And is someone going to stand up, soon, and say ‘we got it wrong, we shouldn’t have done it, and we are going to change it back’? Fat chance!