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