Astrosparkle runs today in the 4.05 ...


All British racing off until at least Wednesday

Friday, 08 February 2019

"What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals."

Zig Ziglar.

Roof Garden leading the first batch of horses

It’s a blustery day but not cold, in fact the temperature is about eight degrees at present. We have had one or two bursts of rain as well which I think will continue for most of the day. It is forecast to be quite nice tomorrow and let’s hope the wind drops as well. All the riders are in once again and we have been out cantering on a variety of gallops racecourse side. All has gone well.

Velvet Vista

As you will be well aware now the BHA has called off racing until at least next Wednesday, which to me is much too big a knee jerk reaction to what is a normal situation year in year out. However, the animal welfare lobby is very strong in the offices in London and I think this has been the main decision maker. There are several yards in Newmarket who had runners at Wolverhampton where a runner from the infected yard had raced. These stables are now in lockdown and are only allowed out on the heath after 12 o’clock. It just means quite a bit of rearranging for the yards in question and every horse has had to have a swab, which all costs money to somebody. I was inundated yesterday at first light by TV companies - both ITV and BBC wanted interviews and explanations. I also spoke to Matt Chapman at Sky Racing in the afternoon, which was good fun as well. My fame has spread far and wide. I am told I was even on television in Canada last night. The only downside was they described me as a veteran trainer! This whole situation will, in my opinion, be very quickly sorted out.

Isaac Murphy

I hope they take my point though about cleaning the racecourse stables. This has been one of my pet projects for years as I just can’t see how they can possibly muck the boxes out, disinfect them properly and put new bedding in to the time scale they are working to. It is an impossibility as they don’t have the man power and certainly don’t use the right disinfectant. When there was two or three weeks in between meetings this operation could be done properly, but when you have an evening meeting followed by an afternoon meeting at the all-weather tracks, or even a two or three day meeting on the turf, it is impossible for the boxes to be cleaned out properly. It is something that definitely needs looking into and the course inspectors, the racecourse managers and the BHA vets should all be involved in formulating a proper plan. As I have said before, this will cost money which the racecourses are very aggrieved to spend. They would rather make a profit than look after their customers. Very short sighted.


The bookmakers, along with the Racing Post, have come up with a list of places you can lose you money today, even with no racing on in England. We have got the meeting in Dundalk in Northern Ireland, Jebel Ali in Dubai, Fairview in South Africa and Kranji in Singapore, but none of that money gambled on will be coming back into our industry. I am sure this shutdown will give them some other excuse not to play ball in future when negotiations about the levy continue. Good luck in finding the winners.


We all have to be vigilant

Thursday, 07 February 2019

"What a bargain grandchildren are! I give them my loose change, and they give me a million dollars’ worth of pleasure."

Gene Perret.

First lot are walking to the start of the canter

There is no hiding place from the wind this morning out on the heath. There is a good constant blow with very strong gusts at frequent intervals. Thank goodness it’s not raining though and the temperature is above freezing. Plenty of layers are what is required. Everybody is in and we have been keeping very close to home, just doing a good walk and trot, followed by a steady canter. It is safer with the horses in their boxes as there is a lot of debris blowing about everywhere. We are also forecast a dollop of rain and if this wind keeps up it will be most unpleasant for the next few days.

Second lot cantering up Hamilton Hill

Velvet Voice leading Belle Bayeux and Quanah

The big news this morning is that equine flu has meant the cancellation of all race meetings today and I am not sure as to how long this will continue. The BHA has been warning us for a while now that there have been cases on the continent and in Ireland, plus a few isolated ones here in Britain. I have also been telling you for a long time that it was only a matter of time before something like this happened. This outbreak seems to be in vaccinated horses, which is even more worrying, and the BHA has quite rightly tried to cut the transmission from horse to horse down as quickly as possible. There are a few symptoms to look out for but a snotty nose, higher temperature, off their feeds and glands up are the main ones to look for. But, at this time of year and with horses moving about as much as they do, you would occasionally get ones like this which would be overlooked. How do you stop all this? Well, biosecurity and cleanliness is the main way, keeping everything well disinfected and taking all the precautions you can. If a horse shows any sign then get the vet in straight away and keep it in its stable. Let’s hope it is short lived, but it may not be.

We have so much racing nowadays and with racecourses wanting more and more fixtures they don’t have time to clean the stables properly. I am also certain they do not use the right disinfectant either. Even yesterday at Ludlow horse feed was found in a stable from the previous meeting. A horse had already been put in the box before it was discovered. It obviously hadn’t been mucked out, or disinfected, as all this costs money and manpower, which the racecourses say they cannot afford, or it is a cost cutting measure. We have had a lot of examples in recent months of this. We also have a sale nearly every day, horses are running all over the world and transporters bring them in from every point of the globe. All this is very exciting for certain people but it means the risk of an outbreak is enlarged and this is possibly what is happening in this case. There is also a rise of pre-training yards, who are not licenced and are under financial pressure, and that, once again, increases the risk of infection as they move from yard to yard. The BHA seem to be powerless in preventing an outbreak and I just hope that this now concentrates a few more minds, but it will cost a lot more money.

It is certainly very windy this morning

I am pleased to see the Chelmsford turf track has been delayed until at least the autumn of 2020. As you know I have always been a great supporter of Chelmsford as they put on great prize money and everybody tries very hard. But this grass track idea will only suit pony racing and, I think, will cause more injuries as the bends are so tight. I know they have the aim to be the first floodlit turf track but to my mind it is a big mistake.


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