24th April 2021
Course officials at Ripon are, apparently, “very disappointed” with the turnout for their seven race card today. Clerk of the course, James Hutchinson, blames it on the ‘quick conditions’. Good to Firm, Good in places. That’s not ‘quick’. In fact, knowing Ripon, there is a serious danger that it will be over-watered and slow.
I have two of the three runners in the two mile handicap but, I have to say, I wouldn’t be running two and might not have been running any at all if I’d had to take on more rivals. The prize-money is so appalling that it simply doesn’t make sense to risk horses of this calibre for such poor rewards. The £11, 338.80 on offer to the winner today might seem like a lot of money when compared with the price of eggs but it is very little compared to the cost of buying, training and racing a horse and it is a pittance when compared to the value of this calibre of horse if it were to be sold to race abroad.
As with so many other things at present, this sorry state of affairs will be blamed on Covid 19 and that could, arguably, justify the the reduction from the £15,562.50 landed by our own Making Miracles in 2019 when the first six home received prize-money. But how do they justify the fact that, when Richard Fahey and Marwan Koukash won the race in 2014 with Angel Gabrial, they collected £24,900 and, again, six of the thirteen runners were rewarded for their efforts? And, when Trip to Paris won it the following year for Ed Dunlop, he collected £25,876.
I, as much as anyone, believe that racehorses are for racing and I’d rather gallop them round Ripon with a good chance of winning £11,000 than gallop them at Kingsley Park for nothing but it is a large part of my job, when placing horses, to look at the risk to reward ratio and racecourse managers are going to have to wake up to the fact that, if they want to attract good quality horses, they are going to have to pay a lot more attention to the prize-money and stop blaming the weather and other factors beyond their control.