14th February 2019

It is many years – I have lost count of how many – since I was a Racing Post columnist and was encouraged to toe the ‘party’ line. I can’t even remember how long our tumultuous relationship lasted but, of course, it was doomed to failure from the start – I was never good at toeing anyone’s line but my own. I can’t deny that.

The divorce was not an amicable one and we have often exchanged blows since. I have not seen them as supporters of horse racing and I have felt that the situation has been getting progressively worse as editorial staff and writers have steadily been replaced with a new breed who, in my eyes, have no real understanding of the sport other than from a punter’s perspective.

However, I have now found myself moved to congratulate a Racing Post columnist twice in little over a week for his objective observations on the sport and, in particular, his views on horse health and welfare. Who is this Richard Forristal and where did he come from? As far as I can determine, from the oracles Google and Wikipedia, he was neither born in a stable nor raised on the hunting field but he appears to be an independent thinker with the interests of the sport of horseracing and the participants, the horses and the thoroughbred breed, truly at heart. He is not following the populist line and this, dare I say, is a breath of fresh air in the Racing Post.

His column today on the BHA’s handling of the flu outbreak doesn’t pull any punches and was a joy to read. I particularly admired his willingness to suggest that we have been given an Australian solution to a European problem and to question whether this was appropriate. The same could be said of many issues in British racing in recent years but nobody, until now, has queried this in anything other than hushed tones.

Perhaps some credit should also be given to the Racing Post’s new editor, Tom Kerr. Has he let Richard Forristal of the leash? I have been as critical of him as any Racing Post writer in recent years and branded him as naive for his views on the whip but there is nothing wrong with being naive. It is vastly preferable to being ignorant and unwilling to learn. Maybe he can restore my faith in the Racing Post as a friend rather than an enemy of racing after all. Giving more column inches to Richard Forristal would be a great start.

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