It might sound stupid, but when you haven’t had a winner for three weeks you begin to believe that your horses are either ill or you’ve just got it all wrong. From our last 25-plus runners most have been placed, but none have won, and this game is all about the winners — not the losers.
So when Two For Gold stuck his neck out to win the Grade Two chase at Warwick on Saturday, 11 January, I hugged his part-owner, Stephen Cannon, like I’d been reunited with a long-lost relation.
This game is wonderful when it is going right, but a bloody nightmare when not. We are in it for winning races and second best is never an option. Owners are supportive when things are going well and they love a winning trainer, but when the chips are down relationships can so easily be strained.
How many times have owners been told that their trainer is out of sorts and suggest a change? Loyalty is something special in this game. Melodramatic I know, but I have been at it long enough to have seen both sides.
I was thrilled to win with Two For Gold — he has now won seven out of his 10 starts. The May We Never Be Found Out Partnership who own him are a tight knit family with a few friends — including ITV Racing presenter Oli Bell — who all enjoy their racing. Sadly, one of their main men, Dermot Clancy, died in an accident last November far too young, so Two For Gold’s win was a poignant one.
The perils of social media
Last week we saw the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) react when Altior was declared a non-runner at Kempton Park by top trainer Nicky Henderson, who was not happy with Altior’s wellbeing. That is something trainers should be good at; recognising that their horses are not at their best.
Social media plays a big part in our lives nowadays and by the time Nicky announced to the racing world — having already informed the BHA that things weren’t right — Altior was a huge drifter in the betting. Was it inside information? Who knows, but it didn’t look good.
The BHA, who regulate the sport, perhaps panicked when they sent a vet to Seven Barrows to look over Altior, in order to pacify racing fans. Maybe that wasn’t the case, but to the public and Nicky it certainly looked that way. Social media is a dangerous tool and one that needs to be used carefully. As a sport, surely we don’t need to be panicking when we read unsatisfactory comments on Twitter.
After one of my horses didn’t win, I had a punter suggesting that I “should retire, constant loser after loser. Decent trainer years ago but rarely gets a winner now”. I take that sort of comment on the chin, as I have the many other, far ruder remarks that come my way via email, Twitter or text. So others in racing should do the same, especially the BHA.
Remember that in life, you cannot please everybody all the time. Let’s hope the BHA are not trying too hard to do just that.
Ref Horse & Hound; 16 January 2020