5 Results Found For: March 2019

17th March 2019

Nick Rust is, of course, quite right to say that British racing must keep control of its own sport. He is, however, missing the point that, if British racing was to lose control of the sport, it would be because of, rather than in spite of, the governing body’s current policies on welfare and its efforts to appease those that have no real knowledge of the sport. And, sadly, it would seem that it is not simply a case of the BHA lacking the strength to educate the politicians and the public at large: there is, as I have been saying for quite some time, a desperate lack of horsemanship amongst the executive and on the board of the BHA and they actually believe that their welfare policies will benefit the horses, the breed, and the sport in the long term. I think they are wrong.

A catalogue of recent blunders and poor decisions has shown the BHA to have more in common with, and to be more aligned with the views of, the ignorant majority who have no interest in horseracing than with the people who breed, care for, train and ride the horses which are at the centre of the sport. For me – and I accept that I am part of a minority of those that follow horseracing, never mind those who don’t – the horses and the thoroughbred breed are the raisons d’etre of horseracing. For most of those who govern, manage, and control the sport, horseracing is about entertainment, betting, and selling a social event to the public. Many of them – particularly those that run the racecourses and the betting industry – are very good at what they do but many of us, who actually participate in the sport, or manage those who do, are also good at what we do and we are clearly getting to a point where we have had just about enough of being told how to do it by those who know less.

In today’s Racing Post they have given a dozen or so examples of what they consider to be  ‘the best quotes from a thrilling Cheltenham Festival’. To my mind , they missed the best quote from Cheltenham and one of the best statements I have ever heard made about horseracing and its governance: “If you don’t like racing, go and watch Peppa Pig” – Irish trainer, Ted Walsh.

14th March 2019

Apart from tomorrow, when I attend Hamish Alexander’s Gold Cup day at the Wensleydale Heifer in aid of the Injured Jockey’s Fund, I won’t have watched much of Cheltenham. I did, however, feel compelled to watch a rerun of the National Hunt Chase after I heard what Tony McCoy had to say on the subject of the jockeys – especially the jockey who rode the third – being banned. And I have just gone back and watched it again after hearing Ted Walsh join the debate.

I am totally with A.P. McCoy and Ted Walsh on this one. The BHA are dragging the sport of horseracing down the road to destruction. If the rules of racing are to be driven by the opinions of a large majority of the public who have no knowledge of, or interest in, horses or horseracing, then it is the beginning of the end for British racing.

As I have said many times recently, I do not hold with the principle that public perception of horse welfare is more important than horse welfare itself and I firmly believe that we need a BHA run by people who are willing and able to stand up to the ignorant majority and the, vote-hungry, politicians who put staying in power ahead of all else.

See Bletherings of 12th January below.



2nd March 2019

I suppose I’m an ‘ideas man’. I have ideas. I got it from my father. He was an ‘ideas man’. My uncle Jim used to say that my dad should write a book and call it ‘That’s an Idea’, because he had thousands of ideas and the vast majority never saw the light of day.

If Deirdre and I ever really write the full story of how we started out and got to where we are now, it is sure to be peppered with my many ideas that never came to fruition. She often tells the story of the ‘Icyhose’ machine and how I bought two rather than test one first. Less frequently, we recall the times when I tried to feed the horses lard or to give them a nightcap of a can of Guinness, only to find the mangers full of dead mice in the morning. Thankfully, for every hundred ideas that were nonsense, there was a gem that set us apart.

I was reminded of this when raking through a pile of papers tonight and I came across a poem written by my late sister, Lyn. It dates from the time, about eight years ago, when we had just taken on three greyhound pups as part of a challenge to prove that I could train them. I had no end of good ideas for changing the world of greyhound training and, I promise you, they weren’t all wrong.

Lyn wrote:

Mark, oh Mark, you do make us smile,

We pups, we come from the Emerald Isle.

We don’t like porridge, oh no, we do not,

We don’t like it cold and we don’t like it hot.

Porridge is Scottish and really won’t do.

Give us, please give us, a good Irish stew.

Colcannon and Skirlie and Boxty are fine.

Just stop feeding us horrible slime!

Mourne Mutton and Clapshot are really quite good,

But porridge is nasty and horrible food.

We feel we’re in prison, this cage on a hill,

Add insult to injury, feed us on swill!

‘Porridge’, we’ve seen it, that programme on telly,

But the food it is awful and lies in the belly.

So bring on the eggs, the beef and the lamb,

Or even some fish, with warm milk and ham.

Just please not the porridge, we’ve had quite enough,

Cos it’s yucky, and foul and tasteless old stuff!


I took the hint. I changed their feed and I’d like to think that, by the end of my short flirtation with greyhound training, I wasn’t getting it too far wrong.


1st March 2019 – A bit later

This could all get very interesting. ARC are, according to the Racing Post, edging closer to taking legal action against trainers. I wonder, which trainers? Am I included. If so, please let me know – preferably before declaration time tomorrow.

1st March 2019

I wonder what the bookmakers think about all this fuss over ARC’s prize-money cuts? If I was paying what I believed was a fair price for a product or service and, because my supplier decided to pay less to his workforce, suppliers, or performers, my product or service was disrupted or cancelled altogether, I would be very upset indeed.

The betting industry know what they are paying ARC for racing and they know approximately how much of it  ARC are passing on in prize-money. They must surely feel very aggrieved. Racing isn’t being disrupted because owners and trainers are asking for more, it is being disrupted because we aren’t willing to accept less.


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