5th April 2015

Today at 10am, when declarations for Tuesday closed, all seven races at Chelmsford were re-opened due to insufficient declarations. Four at Lingfield and one at Pontefract were in the same boat. In the end, the seven race card at Chelmsford has attracted 38 horses, an average of 5.4 runners per race. Seven races at Lingfield have a total of 52 declared runners, 7.4 runners per race. And seven races at Pontefract, on turf, have 75 declared runners, an average of 10.7 declared runners per race. But we still have 48 hours to go in which a multitude of things can go wrong with horses. It is inevitable that the number that turn up will be even less.

I am not one of those that is obsessed with big field sizes or that believes more runners necessarily makes for better, or more competitive, racing. But more runners invariably increases bookmakers’ profit margins and so they are pretty much obsessed with it and racecourses and the BHA have undertaken to try and give them what they want. Yet, strangely, they do not seem to be able to grasp the simple fact that, if they keep increasing the number of available races without doing anything to increase the population of horses available to race, field sizes have to suffer. It is pretty simple arithmetic.

So, do we really need more racing? You can rest assured that, if tracks invest large sums of money to convert their turf tracks to all-weather, they expect to run a lot more races than they do now. Where do they think the horses are going to come from?

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