4 Results Found For: July 2021

18th July 2021

A good win for Dr. Jim Walker’s Value Theory at Newmarket yesterday on her second start and it hopefully provides some consolation for the owner of Subjectivist that he has some nice two-year-olds to run and give him something to dream about now that his star is out of action. You may have noticed that many of Jim’s horses have names derived from his occupation as an economist. As I understand it, names like Austrian School, Austrian Theory, Natural Value, Subjective Value, Salamanca School, Praxeology, and maybe even Subjectivist come from the world of economics but it struct me that many of these terms and, in particular, ‘value theory’, could also be applied to the way I buy yearlings and maybe this is one of the things that has led to our successful association with Dr. Jim.

It needs to be remembered, when judging the success, or otherwise, of a buyer at the yearling sales, that the yearlings bought are not necessarily the ones the buyer wanted most but are, for some of us, the ones we could afford. That certainly applies to me and it is well publicised that I select yearlings first on pedigree and only look at those that meet our established criteria. Then, of the many hundreds which Charlie and I look at, some will be excluded on conformation, looks, or soundness but the vast majority will be followed to the ring because they could be worth buying at the right price. This is my ‘value theory’ and it has helped us buy many exceptionally good horses for very little money.

However, I still see plenty horses which I would consider good value at hundreds of thousands of pounds and well beyond my price range. I get the occasional one sent to me that falls into that bracket but for the most part I can only dream of training them and the many top class horses that have pedigree and looks but are clearly not good value. Nonetheless, I love the challenge of finding the value at all levels of the sales and get tremendous satisfaction when competing at the top level with horses bought cheaply for our owners.

13th July 2021

I’ve always argued that handicapping is not a science, it isn’t even arithmetic. It is, I would say, simply an opinion expressed as a figure. But, for those of you that do think it is a science and that it obeys the laws of mathematics, or even some of them, explain this to me.

Sir Ron Priestly (Rated 112) meets Pyledriver (Rated 119) at level weights and beats him two and a quarter lengths. After the race, both horses are rated 117.

Pyledriver (now 117) then meets Al Aasy (Rated 119) at level weights and beats him a neck. After the race Pyledriver is raised to 121 and Al Aasy is raised to 120.

Sir Ron Priestly (granted – since having run two disappointing races and having been dropped to 116) then meets Al Aasy (120), giving him 3lbs, and beats him a neck (the same distance that Pyledriver beat him but carrying 3lbs more). After the race Al Aasy is still rated 120 and and Sir Ron Priestly is now rated 118.


5th July 2021

Happy birthday to Brian Palmer, described in the Racing Post today as ‘Mark Johnston’s first owner’. Close but not quite correct. Our first owner was Paul Venner of Baileys horse feeds, for whom we trained Mister Baileys to win the Guineas seven years later. Brian Palmer was the owner of Hinari Video, our first winner, and he, and his wife Val, became partners in our business from 1988 until 2000. Brian and Val are no longer involved in horseracing at all but remain our close friends. They now live at Leyburn just two miles from the yard.

When Brian broached the subject of a business partnership in 1988, he told me, ‘I can’t make you a better horse trainer than you are going to be, but I’ll move you on ten years’. He did exactly that.

4th July – 2021

There is too much racing.

Yesterday there were 35 races scheduled in the UK with a further 15 from Ireland shown on RTV. British races were scheduled to commence as little as five minutes after the previous race and, in reality, when it comes to looking at the actual ‘off’ time, this was cut to as little as two minutes. If you throw in the Irish cards, the minimum interval between two starts drops to one minute.

This can’t be a good move for anyone involved. Some might argue that it provides more opportunities for trainers like me to have runners and more opportunities for jockeys to ride but there are only so many horses to go round and the pool of horses and owners willing to pay for them to be trained and race is diminishing. The result will be a continued decline in quality as racecourses struggle to meet bookmaker demand for field sizes and owners leave the sport or take their horses abroad in search of better returns.

Look no further than BAGS greyhound racing to see where this policy can lead.

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