With less than a month of the 2018/19 campaign left to run, we are now into what I describe as the “should we, shouldn’t we?” period of the season.
This is the time when the moisture levels in the ground are rapidly decreasing, if not already non-existent, and when human intervention is often the determinant as to whether a horse runs or not.
I am referring to ground preparation — such as watering and agri-vating — and whether it has been satisfactorily undertaken for the loving owner or nervous trainer to allow their pride and joy to have one last outing of the season.
For me it is probably the worst time of the season. Obviously I am keen to continue the quest for winners right up until the season end in mid-June, particularly as the racing becomes less competitive and easier to win due to firm ground.
However, I am very mindful of how months of hard work can be easily ruined within a few minutes by galloping a horse on a surface their legs or bodies cannot cope with.
Back in one piece
I say legs and bodies because asking a horse to stretch and strain on hard or inconsistent ground can lead to just as many joint, shoulder or muscular issues as it can tendon problems. If a horse picks up an injury in May or June, it can easily count it out for the following season and in turn affect its value and future career.
For this reason, while I’m happy to offer an opinion to my trainers and owners based on my knowledge and experience of their horse, I always leave the final decision to them.
Jockeys are often in the fortunate position of being able to dismount and hand the horse back at the end of the race. Win, lose or draw, my main aim is to hand the horse back in one piece.
Ref: Horse & Hound; 23 May 2019
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