Gee Sixty Six runs tonight in the 7.10 at Kempton ....

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We have one runner today at Wolverhampton

Monday, 08 January 2018

"Experience is what you got by not having it when you need it."


It's a dark morning at first lot

It’s a cold, dry morning and we have had a reasonable frost overnight. Thankfully the wind is not too strong and as the light has come up, it has not got colder. I have been driven barmy by staff once again this morning with three non-runners. This puts us all out of synch and the riding out board, plus the yard organisation, all has to change at a moment’s notice. Unfortunately it is the same in every yard and until the culture and the work ethic of the young people coming into any business changes, it will always be like it. We have got an exciting industry where there is great team spirit, great reward and such a chance to improve and move up the ladder. The world is a young person’s oyster if they can ride and handle horses and it is a well-paid job nowadays, but the enthusiasm seems to be lacking which is all down, in my opinion, to how they are educated and brought up. Right I have got that off my chest. All the horses have had a good canter and look pictures.

Pageant Master

It was a long way to the 9.15 at Kempton on Saturday, especially after doing a day’s work and then driving round the M25. To compound that the A1 was shut on the way home, so another 20 minute diversion. Gee Sixty Six didn’t get the best of rides, as when wanting to challenge, he was hampered at every point. He lives to fight another day though and I won’t be long before I run him once again.

We have one runner today, tonight at Wolverhampton, in what they cheerfully describe as a twilight meeting. To every trainer and jockey, it is a nightmare meeting. It starts at 4.15 and ends at 7.45. This is so they can catch the betting shop punters on their way home from work. Astroblaze runs in the 7.15, the seven furlong handicap. Her best run was here over this distance and I am hoping she can run well tonight. It may be that she needs a little bit further, but her mother won over seven and she shows enough pace at home that I think she should be competitive tonight.

Off to the muck hill

I don’t often agree with everything Lee Mottershead comes up with in his column, but in today’s one he suggests that training fees should be paid through a third party after the Al Sheqab saga. I have always thought this should be done, on a similar basis as in Hong Kong. All training fees are paid through the Hong Kong Jockey Club and no owner can have a horse unless they are financially viable. It could be easily done through Weatherbys, or for that matter through another bank. This could be a good thing as it would give Weatherbys some competition. There seems to be charges for nearly everything nowadays and although the BHA and ROA say they are simplifying matters, it certainly doesn’t seem like it. We have thrown this idea around before at National Trainers Federation meetings, but it has always been knocked back, especially by the bigger trainers for some reason. However, this latest episode might have concentrated their minds and it could be back on the agenda. If it goes ahead it wants to be a proper enforceable rule not one that you can choose to do or not. 


A good work morning inspite of the weather

Friday, 05 January 2018

"In youth we learn; in age we understand."

Marie Ebner-Eschenbach.


Velvet Voice

It's been an extremely wet morning with bands of heavy rain blowing across and we seem to get stuck in every one. Each time we pulled out or started to gallop the heavens opened and we were soaked. It's been a very good morning though with Joey Haynes in and we have been using the Cambridge Road to do fast work at first and second lot, and despite the conditions everything went smoothly.


Ness of Brodgar

Our runners yesterday were chalk and cheese. Indian Red ran a very sound race to finish third at Newcastle. He is now starting to strengthen up into his big frame and looks sure to be winning under both codes shortly. There was no pace on whatsoever at Chelmsford and in fact the race was run 14 seconds slower than average which was a complete joke, and it developed into a mad sprint in the final two furlongs. She came to no harm though and don't lose faith in her ability.

We have one runner this weekend. Gee Sixty Six runs in the 9.15 at Kempton on Saturday night when any normal person should be going to bed. He is drawn well and let's hope the late night is worth it for all the staff as they will not be back home in their beds until one o'clock.



I see the BHA has published the new non runners list and, having taken a close look at it, it's hard to see what the problem is about. We all know that the 48 hours declaration can cause problems and although there may be a few people playing the system occasionally, a quiet word in their ear would go a lot further than trying to name and shame in public.



The Qatar family have not had much luck lately with their financial problems being publised this week and now another member of the family has had some very expensive jewellery stolen from an exhibition in Venice. As they say that's two things, we await the third.

Phil Phil on Friday

Happy New Year! A few days late, I know, but it’s still the season to make that fresh start, wipe the old slate clean, and so, for me, confession time …

I was young, innocent and hard up. There’s no other excuse for my one transgression of the rules of racing – horse or greyhound – and I was only on the very fringes anyway. It happened many years ago at a Midlands dog track now sadly closed.

A friend, older and more worldly-wise than I, ran a few greyhounds with little success until, one wonderful day, Lady Luck smiled a full-beam smile upon him. He (we’ll call him Bob) had decided to breed from an old bitch and her first litter included twins! Now that is very, very rare, almost unknown, but these two were identical, down to the last toenail.

You can guess what’s coming. One of the twins, Roger, was sent to a professional trainer, won top grade races at an ‘official’ track and a couple of opens, and developed into one of the best dogs in the Midlands. The other, kept at home, was confined to local ‘flapping’ tracks but he really wasn’t much good. He was a ‘short runner’, often leading to the last bend then stopping - not literally, but slowing considerably through an acute lack of stamina or, more likely, interest.

So the inevitable happened. Bob removed Roger from his trainer’s kennels and took him to the flapping track to race in his brother’s name. Talcum powder was applied in an effort to dull his coat and he passed the vet with no worries. The dogs were checked under a 40-watt bulb anyway.

Every penny that could be mustered, or as much as the market could stand, was piled on, and as the traps opened out burst Roger in an immense cloud of talc and ferocity. He must have been eight lengths clear approaching the last bend and then a wonderful, memorable moment occurred. A woman who owned the dog running second was right in front of Bob on what passed as a grandstand. She leaned over to her husband and whispered: “We’re all right tonight Fred. This one stops on the last bend.”

Bob couldn’t resist it. He bent forward and disillusioned her: “I don’t think it will tonight, madam.”

Of course he didn’t. Roger won by an embarrassing margin and I have never understood why there was no inquiry into all the time the dog had apparently found. Anyway there wasn’t. Roger and the winnings were piled into the car and all concerned sped off at a great rate.

There! I feel so much better as we start 2018, having owned up ...


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