25th May 2019
It is reported in the Racing Post this morning, and I had already heard elsewhere, that there was annoyance at the late arrival of horses in the parade ring at Sandown on Thursday night. My horses were amongst those late in the parade ring for the Henry ll stakes and I very much sympathise with those who would have liked them to be there earlier but it is totally wrong to suggest that it is deliberate and that we aim for the horses to arrive late. The previous race was a little late off and two of my three jockeys were late to weigh out for the Henry 11. I already had Making Miracles saddled before Charlie arrived with the next two saddles and we had separate teams saddling Dee Ex Bee and Austrian School but, nonetheless, there was apparently a call for our horses to come to the parade ring before we were ready. I didn’t notice but apparently Mekong didn’t come to the parade ring at all for that race. Sir Michael Stoute must have had dispensation if that was the case.
I do accept that the horses should be in the parade ring before the race but I would be most disappointed if the right to saddle in the stables was withdrawn as commentator Richard Hoiles is apparently suggesting. Saddling boxes on many tracks are inadequate and can be a very unpleasant place to be with a fractious horse. Surely, the most important thing for all concerned is to get the horses to the race ready to do their best and not to have them upset before they even get to the parade ring.
The first race at Sandown on Thursday night was over six minutes late – I don’t know why, I didn’t have a runner in it. – and officials were trying to catch up. The second race was over two minutes late but the Henry 11 Stakes started 1 minute and 18 seconds after the appointed time: the closest to scheduled off time of any race on the night. That is largely down to it being the smallest field (two other races had only one more participant) but it shows that the horses were all at the start in good time and that delays from the first race had been made up.