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“A difference of opinion is what makes horse racing and missionaries."

Perhaps I might become a Stable Lad?

Capt. Kneesup

Capt. Kneesup


I have no idea what the argument is with Rishi, because I don’t take The Racing Post anymore. (That doesn’t make me a bad person, I just started to find the absence of competition made their copy somewhat compliant). However, I gather Rishi said something along the lines of why aren’t more Lads from a BAME background, progressing on to become trainers. For this he received a lot of abuse, which was both silly and wrong.

However, when we are all being talked at and lectured daily, and our freedoms severely curtailed by the truly incompetent, and relentlessly told how at fault we all are, Rishi’s observations might be considered by some as ill-timed. Perhaps as you close your business for good and go bust, or try to find a job stacking shelves aged 60 having been a circus juggler for 40 years, or worry about how to get a job on TV, if one is the wrong shape, colour, sex and class, then the problems of racing might not become the focus of all your attention.

Perhaps some historical perspective might help.

I might have started, (perhaps he did), by asking why there aren’t more Asian owners. I once suggested to a trainer, who spoke three Indian dialects and who was looking for new Owners, to create and advertise a new Asian Racing Club in the various Asian newspapers, to see how it went. He was told before the idea went too far it would never get off the ground – by some extremely important Indian businessmen. I might surmise that the sport was regarded as tainted in some way. Perhaps “Brighton Rock” was a favourite film in Delhi. I have no idea, but perhaps somebody could advise The ROA of this potentially fertile ground. Perhaps they could even write a report for less than a £1m.

Then of course, and only were I being devilish, I might suggest in the most general of terms, that the reason we possibly have so many Spanish, Italian and BAME Lads, is that we couldn’t find enough English Lads willing to work outdoors, cleaning shit, for zip and a bit, 247. Perhaps its just that young Bob prefers a Play Station existence with Lara Croft and weighs 15 stone aged 16. Perhaps his Dad told him of the Stable Lads strike in 1975. Perhaps he’s confused with whether they are called Stable Grooms, Yard Personnel, or Stable Lads. My memory also suggests says that racing once discussed changing the status quo, but the powers that be couldn’t globally agree that 9 st might be too light a Median riding weight and that we should perhaps move to 10 st. The actuality is that without changing the weights, and with Sunday racing, reduced prize monies (they get a whack of that don’t forget), we have a shortfall of at least 500 short, young, lightweights, who are that shape because they come from a very tough, centuries-old gene pool.

It matters not whether this is a desperate situation in equine management terms or not. Because despite a falling level of interest in the sport across Europe; a back-leg defence against animal cruelty; a relentless condemnation of betting, (the one mechanic however flawed that funds the sport); we have a leading broadcast journalist who, keen to help the health of the sport that provides him with an extremely comfortable living and a public platform, has poured some petrol onto, what I truly believe, is a non-existent bonfire.

Meanwhile 99% of us remain unable to visit our local for a Pint without having a Substantial meal. While tempted to flog all the way over to the Tier One Isle of Wight for a Pint and no Crabs, (By way of a change: Ed) I would prefer to stay here. But How? The solution surely is that all pubs should offer free Porridge, which is substantial, wholesome, Vegan and Vegetarian and sound as a bell on so many Woke fronts that no Government could dare raise its hand. Left Overs could go straight into my next Slow Roast Pork Belly. I might leave mine on the side, having lost my appetite, and drink solidly until such time as I thought I might become a Stable Lad.

Or Rishi Persad.

Talking of excitingly stupid ideas, here are some for tomorrow, the beginning of whatever The Hennessy meeting is now called:

1:50 Newbury Ladbrokes Committed To Safer Gambling Novices’ Chase (G2) (AKA The Berkshire) (4yo+) 2m4f

There are only three runners for this 2½m G2 (why?) and if you can get Evens about FIDDLERONTHEROOF I’d take it. He is a G1 hurdle winner, was beaten on his Ffos Las chasing debut, but went on to win at Exeter LTO by a nose. I’m not sure Colin Tizzard’s charge is the most fluent of jumpers, but you cannot deny his heart – he does not stop trying. My only concern is the drying ground.


2:25 Newbury Get Your Ladbrokes £1 Free Bet Today Handicap Chase Cl2 (4yo+) 2m4f

By way of exciting race titles, the opportunity to open an account with Ladbrokes for a free £1 bet, and then be told every five seconds that I should bet responsibly, is about as appealing as conducting my own eye surgery with a plastic tea spoon.

CLONDAW CASTLE was second in The Old Roan Chase at Aintree LTO and I thought that Tom George had improved CC yet further. He was 4th in The Arkle and The Maghull in 2019, both over 2m and 20f is absolutely where he should be. The Handicapper has been ultra lenient in my opinion with a very manageable 2lbs rise. WHATSWRONGWITHYOU was awful last year, and Nicky doesn’t keep rubbish in his yard long, which means he he still has some faith in him. I suspect this might be a bit of conditioning for the Soft ground he needs. Keep an eye on him and if he hoses into 3rd, don’t say I didn’t mention him.


3:00 Newbury Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle (G2) (4yo+) 3m

When I’m going through the form, I very rarely look at the prices, but I made an exception for this race, because we have not one but two Cheltenham Stayers’ Hurdle winners in this and LISNAGAR OSCAR is simply the wrong price – which is why I’m writing this now, so you can grab the price tonight. Think back if you will to those giddy days, when you could get a Guinness without guilt and not have to drink remotely, staring into a Zoom glass darkly. It’s Thursday of the Festival, and you’re knackered. You’ve been on the toot since last Friday and you are haemorrhaging money quicker than this Government buying a pack of 50 disposable hand-wipes. You have a lunge on Paisley Park at 4/6f who forgets just how far the Stayers Hurdle and takes off like a scalded cat. The inevitable happens and simultaneously we all manage to forget that the fifth in the 2019 Albert Bartlett, and a third, again at 50/1 behind Paisley Park and Summerville Boy in the Cleeve in January. We forgot him until this brutal test saw his tough, fluent jumping shine out and he never looked likely to lose once Matty Smith’s Ronald Pump hit the last. He showed some sparkle at Wetherby last month and he’s 14/1 for 4 places with Sky Bet and only 16/1 with two bookies. If I only had to pick the winner, I think I’d still be thinking that PAISLEY PARK might be yesterday’s hero. However, I’m looking elsewhere and my eyes have settled on McFABULOUS and I had him marked down for this and then ultimately The Stayers, after the manner of his win in The Persian War Hurdle LTO.


3:35 Newbury Play Ladbrokes 1-2-Free On Football Handicap Hurdle Cl2 (4yo+ 0-145) 3m

NEVILLE’S CROSS clattered the third in his Cheltenham Pertemps Qualifier LTO and then jumped poorly and got into traffic. He was attempting a hat trick and my suspicion was that the clattering took his mind off the rest of the race. The runner-up from that race has won since and there have been some other decent performances since. However the favourite HILL SIXTEEN is priced thus because he is 10lb well-in from his new mark of 133. He moved from Sue Smith to NTD who popped him at Ffos Las where he won by 46l – in heavy ground. That might be the tiniest chink in his armour – but on all known form, he looks pretty well unbeatable.


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