Richard Hughes has handed in his jockey licence over the new whip rules introduced this week.
I have some sympathy for him. In fact quite a lot. Jockeys are paid to do a job: to get their horse into the best possible finishing position in a race – preferably in the money if not the winner’s enclosure.
Hughes is not against hitting horses less during a race. This is where we slightly part company.
I am against hitting horses in a race, but if you are allowed to carry a whip and everyone else is using them to achieve the stated aim of achieving the best finishing position whaddya gonna do?
Asking someone to count the times they use the whip, and confine yourself to only 5 uses in the last furlong (the one where you ride the finish) is asking people to distract themselves from the task in hand. Pass the final furlong pole, ask or keep your horse up to its effort, bring it wide or find a gap, keep it straight and count, count, count, count, count. Richard Hughes used his whip 6 times – you can use it for a total of 7 in a race, but no more than 5 of those must be in the final furlong – so he’s in breach of the new rules.
He’s one of our most experienced jockeys and I am sure he can count, but expecting people to work one way for years and then just switch to another is asking a lot. Hughsie said on the radio this morning jockeys had been trying to practice it a bit in the run-up to the new rule; clearly it’s not worked.
When I was first into racing I was in a racing club where the horses were raced without shoes and the jockey was not allowed to use the whip. The jockey had to carry one in accordance with the Rules of Racing, but the trainer and owners stipulated it was not to be used. Incredibly, for those people who couldn’t countenance racing without hitting horses, sometimes these horses won races. And I can tell you as a spectacle and as someone who respects and appreciates animals it’s far more attractive and enjoyable to pick up some winnings without your jockey picking up a whip ban.
Just get rid of the damn thing and have done. Good riders will manage without them perfectly well. Lazy horses might be more lazy, but so what? Horses might run straight when they aren’t running away from the whip, so we might see less inteference in finishes and the wider public will have to lose the perception that animals are beaten in the pursuit of entertainment and money.
Asking professional riders to count up to 5 in the final furlong is a multitask too far it seems.
I never did back Canford I don’t think. He was by Tagula, so I was snobbish about his pedigree for the 2000 Guineas. I got over myself in the end and he will be missed from the racetrack.
Seems silly to wish a horse a happy retirement, but I do. Mind you, he’ll be kept busy enough by Coolmore. I wonder if he’ll be a successful sire, I hope so, but I still can’t get Tagula off my mind.
Today’s Lockinge Stakes at Newbury is being considerately run at 3.45 so, providing they get on with it at Wembley and there’s no pesky added time, the race will be run as they blow the whistle for half-time in the FA Cup Final; perfect for people who can be at neither event.
Truth be told, I would love to see Dick Turpin and Canford Cliffs in the flesh – it is on my list of stuff for this year. Whether it is just those two that battle it out with Twice Over today, as the market has it, or if it involves other good horses that have been overlooked in the hype it is definitely a must-see race.
Canford is the favourite, available at 10/11 on as I write, Dick follows at 10/3 and Twice Over is knocking about at around 15/2, from 8 earlier. Despite the clear market message making Canford the clear favourite because he has that hallmark of quality in his turn of foot that devastates fields as he comes late, because jockey Richard Hughes waxes lyrical about him and because of the esteem his trainer obviously holds the horse in, I would not steam into him. The facts are that, in two out of three meetings, Dick has actually come home ahead of Canford and last season the latter had a couple of races before he hit his undeniably brilliant stride. Dick has had a prep run (win) in a Group 2 at Sandown and although I have heard it said he may prefer a bit more cushioning underfoot than there will be at Newbury today, he gives the impression to me that all ground comes alike.
Twice Over? Well I have been once, twice and thrice through the mill with that animal and you never know how he is going to run. I don’t know if he is a moody sort, or what, but I just cannot trust him entirely. I do back him sometimes, but however much he wins I will never get back the faith that slipped away as he failed to pass Raven’s Pass in the Craven a few years ago. Apart from that, one wonders if the mile is his trip.
So, it all adds up to one thing. I have to back the Turpin and some of that will be money that loves how he runs a tough and honest race. Yes his flashier compadre Canford could come more eye-catchingly late on but Dick Turpin’s runs are all heart and that is how I like it.
This is not about the Rolling Stones. My other favourite car song when I was little began:
I am just a poor boy
Though my story’s seldom told
I have squandered my resistance
For a pocket full of mumbles such are promises
All lies and jests
Still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest
That’s pretty much apropos of nothing but there you go.
I bought a newspaper on Thursday. I put it down and forgot it until Friday. Then I couldn’t find it when I thought I ought to look at it, given it cost me a whole pound. Then I did manage to locate it and of course the world had moved on and everyone is going on about the poxy euro bailout package – oh how the Germans must miss their Pfennigs and Marks.
Two day-old papers have their uses though, you can pick through at your leisure without the urgency of the “must read today” copy and savour the type of stories that might catch your eye if you are lining the cat litter tray with newspaper. I used to line a lot of cat litter trays in days gone by.
This kind of thing:- the Austrians have employed Druids to put up monoliths at motorway blackspots to “counter negative energy”. The Druid Team, Monolith Division, where called in when no explanation could be found for a spate of accidents on a road to Salzburg. Arch Druid Ilma Tessmann blamed radiation from a mobile phone mast. It has been so successful that it is being copied across the country and so many stones are needed they have been forced to use magnets and plastic (giant?) slates as an alternative to stones.
There are a few places I can think of that could do with a standing stone or two to sort out didgy energy, Vauxhall being one. I’ve not been to the Curragh racecourse in Ireland, but it certainly looks like the kind of flat plain that could host a monolith. Whether such a thing would effect the result in today’s 2000 Guineas, who knows?
I am not too interested, primarily because of the swarm of Ballydoyle runners involved meaning that one will probably win. Of them I would side with Fencing Master, but I suppose the market leader Steinbeck has the more realistic chance. Xtension should run a solid race without winning? Canford Cliffs is a nice spot near Bournemouth, but I don’t think he is a Guineas winner. I’d say they’ll (Hannons Snr & Jnr) drop him back to 7f after this and rather like my blog theme experiment stick with what works.
In the clearing stands a boxer
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of ev’ry glove that layed him down
Or cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame
“I am leaving, I am leaving”
But the fighter still remains
The Boxer, Simon & Garfunkel
That’s what’s in my head this morning. I have started thinking about the 2000 Guineas next week and can’t help but wonder why Richard Hannon persists in his insistence that Canford Cliffs is his number one Guineas horse. After the Greenham last Saturday he said something along the lines of Canford Cliff would have won the race from his stable mate Dick Turpin if he hadn’t hung left, but horses don’t hang for fun, they are telling us something.
I think Canford Cliffs hung left because he was at the outer edges of his stamina limit. There is no doubt he is a speedy, classy individual, but the horse that finished off the race best was the winner and I am certain that of the duo the only one likely to improve again for the extra furlong of the Guineas is Dick Turpin. That’s not a given either, with the Greenham having been 14 days earlier and needs a whole new mulling over with the horse having been mooted for the Irish Guineas in any case.
Of course it is likely Hannons Senior & Junior (who always strike me as biznissmen not horsemen) are well acquainted with my theory and are mindful of the horse’s future career as a stallion as they continue to talk up Canford Cliffs Guineas chances. I will be very disappointed if the horse I consider to be their real live Guineas contender Dick, gets diverted to Ireland to leave the Rowley Mile clear for Canford because Canford Cliffs just cannot win. I don’t yet know who will though, that’s going to need some more time on the hob…
Sandown hosts the end of the jumps season to day with some nice flat races at the end of their mixed card. I toyed with the idea of going as I am in London later anyway, but other commitments have prevailed.
They are parading some of the season’s stars: Kauto Star, Imperial Commander and Deman were in the original line-up. Last year in the same parade Denman got loose and crashed out of the parade ring for a little canter through the crowd. A loose tank would have been quite a sight but he was quickly caught. I love Sandown very much. I like arriving on the train and walking across the course to get a real feel for the going before racing starts. Sundown @ Sandown is quite possibly perfect.
Anyhow, I’m not there, I’m here and I have looked at the card and I can’t decide on anything. I am a big Paco Boy fan but they say he may not want the ground and they may be right on this! I have looked at the Group 3 at 4.15 and I can’t say I like the look of that much either. Laaheeb looks very smart, but it is probably fair to say Crowded House and Tranquil Tiger might give him a race. Tranquil Tiger looked a bit worked up before running second in the Earl of Sefton last week and I have a suspicion he may prefer to race off a turn which he will get here today. I couldn’t select any one with confidence, although at the prices I will probably side with Henry Cecil’s quirky 6yo.
In the first, the flat v the jumps race, the flat lads will either be carrying lumps of lead or have made free with the pies – Kieren Fallon is riding at 11 stone and I think he’s got a good chance on Twilight Star.
Whatever, the jumps *is/are over: Long Live the Flat!
*either could work grammatically: the jumps’ season is/the jumps are…
I don’t care, I’m off duty.