10th September 2015
I think it is vitally important, for the future of the thoroughbred breed, that we encourage the breeding of quality middle distance horses and I applaud all initiatives that seek to promote middle-distance and staying races.
I do, however, have reservations about the BHA’s plan to stage 10 new, reasonably valuable (£10,000) maiden races, between seven furlongs and a mile and one furlong, for horses sired by a stallion which won at a mile and a quarter or more.
These are the same conditions as Ascot’s Listed Chesham Stakes in June and I cannot believe that this encourages people to breed or buy potential stayers. I try to target the Chesham every year because, to be blunt, the restriction makes the race less competitive than other Royal Ascot two-year-old races and, of course, the fact that it is run in June means that it is usually won by a juvenile which possesses more than average stamina. But these races are to be run at the tail end of the season.
When you consider that sons and daughters of the mighty Shamardal, whose progeny have an average winning distance of 8.1 furlongs, will be eligible for these races, but the progeny of Cape Cross, whose average winning distance is 9.1 furlongs, will not, you can see that the initiative is flawed. Worse still, the progeny of Dansili (9.4), Dubawi (9.5) and Teofilo (10.6) will not be eligible either.
If you want to encourage and promote juveniles with stamina, why not simply give them more opportunities to run in races which truly require stamina, i.e. over more than a mile? What is to be gained by providing an easier, and more valuable, opportunity for a horse to win over seven furlongs just because his sire won over ten furlongs even if that sire is proven not to be an influence for stamina.
Personally, I can’t see the logic and I fear that these races will be weaker and have smaller fields than average simply because less horses are eligible.