Racing commentator John Hunt gives you his views on issues in the sport.
The problem with British racing for years now has been the factional interests of any given minority taking precedence over the best interests of the majority. This week, a ham-fisted, poorly executed attempt by a few trainers to embarrass Yarmouth racecourse and their meagre prizes really only served to draw contempt from the majority of people I have spoken to, directed at the very people who I am sure had best interests at heart at the outset.
I'm slightly wary about drawing too many conclusions from the reports in the Racing Post; I’m sure we haven't heard the whole story but things started off with a straightforward attempt to render one of Yarmouth's bank holiday races irrelevant by trainers making no entries for the maiden stakes. Trainer Christine Dunnett did enter one however, resulting in a walk over. That was still a red faced moment for Yarmouth and probably well deserved but the slanging backwards and forwards subsequently between Dunnett, Mark Johnston and John Gosden was unedifying and completely diverted attention from the cause. Why did the trainers not organise themselves unilaterally? Why did the National Trainers Federation not coordinate the action? The answer is simple. It’s because, although they all broadly do the same job (i.e. get up early, feed them, gallop them, etc), they operate on vastly different scales and will never do anything as a completely united force.
Its the same as when I was in the Police Force; the recent row the old bill had with the government over pay would have been solved within half an hour if, to a man/woman, every officer stayed in bed on any given day. But no. A few thousand marched on London, got a couple of minutes on the news and then we all forgot about it completely. What exactly was achieved?
So too will we see prize money changes the minute all trainers agree to declare precisely no runners for the next days racing. Imagine for a second or two. No runners. And by the way, don't just pick on Yarmouth, do it on Grand National day. Or Guineas weekend. Don't worry, they'll reschedule the races but just imagine the outcry. What a story that would be. Fanny around with your boycott of £1,300 maidens and the world will still turn but with a huge yawn on its face. Show some balls and do it to really have an impact and maybe then racing, and indeed the outside world, will take notice.
Before all that nonsense I spent an enjoyable weekend at Plumpton races and witnessed a lovely performance by a horse called Hinton Thunderbolt who looks an exciting prospect. He is a beautiful horse to look at, big and powerful but possessing a fluid, effortless action. He jumped his hurdles economically and came home easily clear, adding to his earlier success at Towcester. I can see him now taking to chasing, apparently fences await next year, and I'm pretty sure he is decent.
Nothing particularly caught my eye at Doncaster as the flat got going again for another year but later in the week I did have my eye taken by two low grade all weather horses that may pay to follow at the basement level. Tribiani is a name to watch out for as he ran well at Southwell on Monday following a trademark slow start. If Paul Blockley can ever sort out his trapping, he can win one of these poor races. Likewise, Tour D' Amour ran pretty well at the same venue, running on solidly with his preferred blinkers on. Another little seven furlong race should come his way.
I was pleased to see Schlem win at Newcastle for Ronnie O'Leary on Wednesday illustrating again what a good record Ronnie has with his runners over here. But who was the rider. A certain Tony Dobbin. Have a guess how many winners he has had this year? Struggling? Here's a little clue. Three years ago he rode 115. Sad to report that Schlem made it just 32 for the season. A fine jockey, but with his main yards short on winners, I wonder how far Tony may be from calling it a day?
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