The season takes it toll

The season takes it toll

Wednesday, September 26, 2018


I read what Charlie Fellowes had to say about overnight conditions for stable staff at Beverley racecourse and I echo his comments one hundred per cent.

How can any racecourse ask people to stay in some place like that? Those that do so should be ashamed of themselves.
I'm also adamant that no staff should be having to pay for their food at the races - where they have to do so it's a disgrace as well. I see all the gatemen get their lunch - their sandwich, drink and crisps - and they work on the racecourse. Owners get fed, trainers get fed and so do the media as well.
There should be food put on in the canteen for stable staff. Racecourses are raking in money from the live pictures and television coverage, but if we stop bringing horses to the races, they have nothing to show.
Our stable staff sometimes leave the yard as early as 4am and get home at 2am the next day. The least racecourses could do is give them a free meal. Some tracks are now bucking up their ideas - and they should be applauded for doing so - but it should be a general trend.
In future, travelling head girls and boys should go to the nearest Racing Post journalist and name and shame what's going on with overnight accommodation. In my opinion that's the only way to get it sorted. They shouldn't get away with it. I'm pretty sure racecourse managers and clerk of the courses wouldn't be happy sleeping in some of the rooms forced upon key members of racing's workforce.

It's hard to feel an injury close to the finish
We saw both Alpha Centauri and Saxon Warrior retired after finishing second at Leopardstown on Saturday and returning injured. It's always a real shame to see great careers cut short but retirement was definitely the wise thing to do as there is too much to lose for connections.
There were people on Twitter giving abuse to Ryan Moore for not hitting Saxon Warrior but that just shows the ignorance of some people who use social media. You could see the horse was hanging left into the rail. Ryan was trying to keep him straight while holding his head at the same time.
He looked like winning the race as the Ballydoyle team had tactically got it right. Both horses were hanging, but Roaring Lion didn't break down. Roaring Lion has a tendency to hang, and many horses hang left under pressure at Leopardstown, which proves how hard it is for a jockey to know if they are injured.
Canford Cliffs used to hang left every time without fail. However, it didn't mean there was anything wrong with him. It can simply be a trait. Perhaps some horses just quicken better on that leg.
What I'm trying to say is that as a rider it's very hard to tell if a horse has broken down unless the obvious happens. A lot of horses shorten their stride when they start to get tired - it is the first thing they do.
They might start to hang or lean, but they could be hanging away from the horse on the outside, hanging because they have a rough tooth or hanging because they are trying to find an easy way out. It's not always pain despite that being a common factor.
Alpha Centauri looked to be coming to win her race when you could see her prop. I had a horse gallop the other day and she pulled up markedly lame, so lame at first we thought she had sustained a fracture. We jumped off her and walked her back to the yard. By the time we got back she was sound and hasn't taken a lame step since.
Sometimes they can just knock themselves, in the same way that if you knocked your ankle it can be sore for a few strides. That can happen a lot. You have no idea how severe the injury could be, but, at the same time, you certainly don't stop riding in a race unless you do know. Your instinct as a jockey is to keep going. It's not because you're cruel but rather that there are too many invariables.
One thing that annoys me is when a jockey jumps off after a horse breaks it leg. If you're a good jockey you should go to ground with your horse and do your best to hold and comfort the animal. You're there to help them and you're making a living out of them. Doing all you can for them in their hour of need is the very least you can do.

Delighted for Paddy after Skitter success

Skitter Scatter was a hugely popular winner of the Moyglare Stud Stakes and rightly so.
I'm absolutely delighted for Paddy Prendergast. I used to ride for his dad quite a bit when I was an apprentice. His son trains a very tough filly because to win three Group races in a row, including the Group 1 Moyglare, is a brilliant achievement. She has kept her form well and could be a 1,000 Guineas contender next year. Why not?
She seems to be doing all of her winning on slow ground, which is strange for a Scat Daddy, which makes me think there could be plenty of improvement to come when the ground is a bit quicker.
I'm sure they were offered a few quid for her after she won her maiden in April, particularly given who her sire is, and probably again after she won a Group race, so they have done well to keep her. It's so hard to keep these horses in the yard. I'm pleased for them they still have good reason to dream.

Too early to say it's a golden crop
Despite all the hype around the two-year-old generation this year I think it is a little bit early to say it's a golden crop, and definitely too early to say which two-year-old is the best. All I know is that it's pretty hard to win a maiden or novice event, that's for sure!
When you go for these nice novice events now, whether they are at Newbury or a non-Group 1 track, you generally have to take on at least one winner. It's just a lot harder to win those races since almost all the maidens were turned into novices. It's a lovely stepping stone if you have a previous winner, but it's just hard for those that haven't won a race. We need more maidens.
Thinking about those two-year-olds we have seen, I think Too Darn Hot looks a really handy horse that would act around Epsom, so it is no surprise to see him up there in the betting for the Derby.
He has a pedigree to die for and he ticks all the boxes. I can't really find a negative about him. He races really economically, which will help him get a trip, and he seems to have a really good mind.
I also love Quorto. I rode his mother Volume three times, including when she finished third in the Oaks. He is doing everything right as well. I don't know if he is a Guineas winner but he is definitely one to be excited about.

Filigree can go well back at her favourite track
We have a few runners on Saturday - two go at Chelmsford, one at Newbury and three at Wolverhampton in the evening - before a quiet Sunday with no runners.
Gold Filigree, who runs in the 5f handicap at Chelmsford (3.55), is probably the standout. She ran a good race last time when she finished third at Wolverhampton off a career-high mark.
I couldn't believe the eventual winner went off at around 17-2 when we were a lot shorter in the betting. The winner was 12lb better off with my filly from when we beat her by two lengths at Chester in June.
However, Gold Filigree is much better off this time around and she's drawn in stall one. Chelmsford is definitely her best track - she is a specialist here - and being a Dark Angel she needs cut in the ground, which is why she has spent much of the time on the all-weather.
I know the rain has come now, but there was a lot of prize-money on offer for this race and I couldn't say no.
We have a nice two-year-old colt running in the shape of Ballylemon at Newbury. He is a lovely horse and has come on for the run when third in what looked a good maiden at Ascot. He's a lovely galloping horse and he will get a trip next year.
At Wolverhampton I run Big Brave Bob, who was just caught close home last time over this trip at Kempton and we think he was just short of a gallop. If he runs the same race, he will win as he's 5lb better off with the winner, Acrux.
Saedi Shaahd runs in the 6f seller, which says it all as he has been disappointing, while in the last I have Scat King, who was just bogged down last time at Ffos Las on his first start. He is a nice horse but it looks a fairly hot race.