Onwards and upwards ...

Everything is going well

Monday, 07 January 2019

"Fate laughs at probabilities."

Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton.

Warming up on Hamilton Hill

Roof Garden cantering

It’s a dry start to the day with one of those mornings you are not too sure about the temperature. It wasn’t too bad at a quarter to five but suddenly got much colder as the light came up at half past seven and with a slight breeze, you certainly needed a few layers on to keep warm. I think it is set to stay this way for most of the week. With a good lot of riders in we have been getting on really well with the horses. The ones that I have given a nice break to are now back in and starting full exercise. The two-year-olds couldn’t be going any better, so it is so far so good.


We had plenty of visitors in over the holiday period and this last weekend. Mike Bowring, my oldest owner, came up for the night to see his bloodstock on the stud and horse in training. It was a great pleasure to see Mike and to anybody who knows him, he is still in great form and his memory of past races is second to none. The enjoyment that he, his mother and we had with them has made for many memories. We also had one of our youngest ever visitors at the weekend with one month old Faith calling in with her mum and dad to see their new horse and to get used to the Newmarket surroundings. It is a great age to start getting involved and I am sure we will be seeing her on the racetrack when the colt makes his debut.  

Last week we had a couple of South African visitors who were amazed at the way we do it here in England and the facilities we have on the heath. They could not believe all the variety of canters and gallops at our disposal, which is very unlike their training centres back home. I always like to show off our brilliant heath as it is a completely unique place in the world and as I have always said, we as trainers are just custodians for the next generation. It was also great to see Richard, Wendy and Rebecca who came to see the many horses Richard has in training and his mares on the stud. We are now making plans for who the mares will visit this year and will be viewing a variety of stallions this coming week.

Pulling out at third lot

I believe there was a section on the weekends racing on TV discussing the staff situation. I see both Nicky Henderson and Dan Skelton are talking about the problem saying it is now becoming more of a crisis. If you have been following me for the last few years you will know that I have always said it was going to be a crisis. I can foresee major problems ahead but nobody at the BHA understands this properly as they only work a four and a half day week and don’t have to look after animals 24/7.

There was a very good article in the Racing Post about New Zealand racing which has just had an investigation into the problems that are affecting the racing there. The conclusion was that it all boiled down to one thing, and it is always the same thing in every country that is not thriving and that one thing is prize money. Until the BHA and the government can sort this out our racing and those countries, like New Zealand with low prize money, will only go one way. Whether it is too late or not is irrelevant, if we want our racing to survive and flourish we have to do something drastic and quickly - reduce the number of fixtures and maybe close a few racecourses, especially in New Zealand. Also racing will have to be more centralised which will reduce costs, i.e. an all-weather track at Newmarket, somewhere like Wetherby and maybe Newbury as well. They could run all-weather racing all night long then, but prize money would have to be a minimum of £10,000 a race. It would attract more owners who would then have a chance of getting a higher return for their investment. This all looks very simple and it is in principle, but in reality the bookmakers have such a grip and such a lobby in the government that it would take an enormous effort to put this sport back in its proper place.