Those of us cursed with the Lazy Gene, [CLICK HERE for some support of its existence], can instantly summon up a list of 1000 jobs one would never wish to do. Those of a more normal disposition, perhaps with a work-ethic that extends beyond 11:00 am, (the ideal time for a glass of The Old Bual with a little Seed Cake, after a busy morning), will probably have a list of only ten such jobs. Most will not wish to be a sewage worker; many would regard brain surgery as quite messy, fiddly, and damnably bad on both back and legs. However, surely we can all agree that running the BHA must be a job any sane person would avoid.
I saw the present incumbent, Annamarie Phelps, being given a very rough interview on Racing TV and felt sorry for her attempt at ameliorative diplomacy, in the face of the ankle-kicking the industry in its many guises was undertaking. Among her many internalised issues, I detect the distinct whiff of rebellion in the air, and I would be unsurprised if the Super 12 League of Racecourses, or something similar, didn’t raise its ugly head again in the near future.
Time for Annamarie, perhaps to score a few brownie points, and whenever one is faced with a PR crisis or management issue, I always advise my clients to look across the channel and tip the ordure in their direction.
I for one would offer to take the Cox seat for her, (she is, after all, a World Champion rower) if she would tell France Galop to get a grip. Oisin Murphy is innocent and both the BHA and Irish Racing know it. She should establish a new system, the short version of which is: More Testing – Faster Testing – Reduce delays in Testing – Adoption of hair sampling – Total Transparency on the levels accepted and the methodologies used to avoid continuation contamination. There should be a presumption of innocence, and a private Legal Aid system should be in place, so that we never have a Rab Havelin situation again, where a jockey cannot afford to defend themselves and spends eight months out of work for a six-month sentence.
Secondly, we need to have a recognition that while the vast majority of racehorses want to race, some do not, or have some bad luck in their attempt. That being the case, she should do something about the ludicrous “under Starters Orders” rules. I would suggest that a horse must pass the starter to be considered racing and if it doesn’t then it has not started. So horses stuck in the stall, those who refuse to start, those who plant themselves in an NH race and all the other tricks that Dobbin can play, would have no impact on the race in Punter terms. Nor in prize contributions, or refunds.
Then I might make it clear to the RSPCA, the RSPB, PETA, Donkeys for Jesus, etc etc that they have done a marvellous job, but we’ll take it from here thanks. Inspect away, but in brief; this far and no further. Then, having established one’s concerns for Punters, Horses, Jockeys et al, you have to remove every vestige of the four horsemen of the current and ghastly British Blight – Intransigence, Incompetence, Indolence, and Indifference. Their fat, chubby fingers can be seen all over Oisin’s case, and the Gain horse feed scandal and their impact across the entire racing and breeding industries are a constant hindrance to development and more importantly, improvement.
Their impact can be seen in the failure of The Racecourses and The Owners to agree that they – and they alone – have to agree a mutually acceptable and beneficial reward for their product. We have to achieve this pact now, because that noise you can hear a very long way away, is the 2030 express leaving Enamoured Station.
Nobody in racing wants to face a horrible fact of life. In a very generalised sense, the Man on the Clapham Omnibus no longer cares. He did once. They all looked forward to a Public Holiday on Derby Day. Dad loved Red Rum. She thought Dessie was Pegasus. They knew it was naughty but Pinkie wasn’t at Brighton anymore. That nice Joan Collins would go to Ascot with some really posh people we had heard of; not some celebrity toe-scratcher from Chiseldon. We could picnic on the Downs and no one would tell us off. We could, in the main, enjoy ourselves.
Then we somehow made it ordinary. As a result, in January this year, we were told that we had just had our fourth straight year of falling crowd figures. In 2019 we had the lowest average crowds this century and suffered from a ½m drop over the previous five years. The problem was probably compounded by the arrival of The Internet. Suddenly time is set at Amazon O’Clock. You want it now – buy it and have it delivered tomorrow. You want to watch the Tennis in Paris and the F1 in Azberjan in the corner of a screen, you got it. Buy and play a game instantly. Open a betting account and play roulette, easy. We probably made it worse by creating Peer-to-Peer betting and thus the ability to lay horses. In time filling terms, racing is perceived in the same way as test cricket – and it shows.
Of course, the four horsemen are at their best in those circumstances. Intransigence, Incompetence, Indolence, and Indifference all have their noses in the Justify-My-Job trough, where they can blame the weather, World Cup football, a great run in The European footy, the Ryder Cup, the death of Princess Diana, without looking up and in so doing, they ensure no change. Come on Annamarie, take them around the back and shoot them. You’ll be reawakening the sport and saving our tears for other possibly more important matters.
Talking of things to make you weep, here are today’s TV tips.
1:35 YORK Betsafe Cumberland Lodge Stakes (Group 3) Cl1 (3yo+) 1m4f
1:50 NEWMARKET Newmarket Academy Godolphin Beacon Project Cornwallis Stakes (Group 3) Cl1 (2yo) 5f
Favourite for the Middle Park LTO, METHOD suffered from a slipped saddle. That was a G1 – today is a G3 and you’re still getting 2/1, although over the minimum distance.
2:05 YORK Betsafe Double Winnings Handicap Cl2 (4yo+ 0-100) 1m
I have it down to five, CROWNTHORPE – HORTZADAR – FIRMAMENT – ALEMARATALYOUM – ANOTHER TOUCH. The first two probably have the best draw, and FIRMAMENT also has course form and is only 2lbs shy of his last winning mark. However, I’m suggesting ALEMARATALYOUM as the best e/w shot and I might further suggest doing all four in a RFC with the selection.
– with CROWNTHORPE – HORTZADAR – FIRMAMENT – ANOTHER TOUCH in ½pt RFC
2:25 NEWMARKET Godolphin Lifetime Care Oh So Sharp Stakes (Group 3) (Fillies) Cl1 (2yo) 7f
THINKING OF YOU win
2:40 YORK Betsafe Handicap (Heritage Handicap) Cl2 (3yo 0-105) 1m6f
This is wide open and probably best watched. Gun to head…..
PRINCE ALEX e/w
3:00 NEWMARKET Godolphin Stud & Stable Staff Awards Challenge Stakes (Group 2) Cl1 (3yo+) 7f
DAAHYEH ran six times last year with 3w and 3p (all 2nds) for her efforts. this included the G1 BC Juvenile before which she won the Rockfel. She looks value.
3:15 CHEPSTOW Unibet Persian War Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) (GBB Race) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m3½f
Probably McFABULOUS but there is no value. Just for the sport, I might have a little e/w on PETRASTAR who looks as though ability is present.
3:35 NEWMARKET bet365 Fillies’ Mile (Group 1) Cl1 (2yo) 1m
Unbeaten INDIGO GIRL has looked decent taking the May Hill LTO and John Gosden can possibly pop another hat trick on the mantlepiece. She’ll handle the ground as she showed on her debut, and her win LTO was so facile she might turn out to be truly top-class. However, the Irish are here in strength and despite their travails this week it looks like business as usual in Camp O’Brien. Looking at the outriders, I should obviously fancy SHALE, but instead I shall have a little e/w on MOTHER EARTH, who was well beaten by SHALE and PRETTY GORGEOUS LTO, but I think that was race instructions as the pace-maker. Prior to that she was a staying on 3rd on soft ground behind the pair in the group 2 Debutante Stakes. she has ability and the price is wrong. Se if you can get a 4th or even 5th place.
MOTHER EARTH e/w
4:10 NEWMARKET bet365 Old Rowley Cup Handicap (Heritage Handicap) Cl2 (3yo) 1m4f
DOUBLING DICE won at Hamilton LTO on soft and before that at Haydock making all the the running on both occassions.
DOUBLING DICE e/w