Tom Symonds’ racing blog: racing is in a mess

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  • “As flies to wanton boys are jockeys to the BHA; they ban/fine them for their sport!”

    This is quite a neat adaptation of a quotation from Shakespeare’s King Lear of which a friend recently reminded me. The controversial lava from this ever-erupting volcano keeps flowing.

    Racing is lucky to have figureheads that regally stand out from the crowd. We should be celebrating Frankel’s achievements and excited about his future targets. In addition, although Kauto Star and Denman’s past record will do well to be surpassed, Long Run is a damn good candidate to take on the hefty mantle – and perhaps surpass it…?

    Equine achievements aside, AP McCoy is still rewriting history in his constant battle to better his previous season’s tally; a sportsman like no other. These are the kind of chattels that the racing community should be cherishing rather than belittling jockeys, who risk life and limb every day. Furthermore, the racing fraternity lives in hope that sense will prevail soon as to the wider world looking into racing’s microcosm, it seems that the whip review has been chaotically handled.

    Far too many quick, rash and seemingly thoughtless ideas have been suddenly implemented. Training horses can be considered an inexact science but this certainly needed more thought and perhaps trialing. Communication between those who have to carry out the new stipulations and those who implemented them needed to be greater. The point to remember is that jockeys do not race-ride to abuse horses.

    Sadly, the mess that has ensued further fuels the public perception that, due to racing’s shambolic jurisdiction, they feel have to keep involving themselves in a dispute which, unbeknown to them, affects more than the horse itself. To talk of it is to fuel it, so no more!

    What’s happening in Herefordshire?

    Although the weather is unusually warm for the time of year we have now had some rain – so no more moaning about the weather, I promise. We have been able to run a few more due to the rain-softened ground.

    Mirific ran a good race at Exeter and, although he would prefer even softer ground, he jumped and travelled well after a break of two years. He is owned by Michael Buckley, who was unable to attend due to a pressing engagement in America – ending in the Breeders’ Cup! Although he had no other runners on the card he did take a keen interest in the result of the Haldon Gold Cup as his horse, Finian’s Rainbow, will do battle with the likes of Captain Chris, Medermit and Ghizao once again.

    I have to spare a thought for fellow Herefordian Richard Johnson, who went to Exeter (aka mini-Cheltenham) full of hope. He won the first race but had two grounding experiences on the high-profile Menorah and aforementioned Captain Chris. Luckily, all appeared unscathed and all one can do is utter the cliche “that’s racing!”

    From Melbourne to Kentucky

    Another not-too-distant neighbour, bloodstock agent and stud owner David Redvers had what he described as his “best day in racing ever” at 4am (GMT) on Tuesday when Dunaden tenaciously held off the Ed Dunlop-trained Red Cadeaux in the Melbourne Cup. I am sure that firstly, a certain Lady Rebecca could have a rather good argument as to Mr Redvers’ best ever day’s racing and secondly, I am sure that the infamously xenophobic Australians would prefer it if the Europeans kept their own fracas far from Flemington!

    David and his assistant Hannah Wall not only bought me my first horse – Scholastica – but have also guided Sheikh Fahad Al Thani into British racing. This has included some very shrewd equine purchases. With thoughts very much on the future, Sheikh Fahad’s family have also sponsored the new British Champions’ Series, Champions’ Day and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe meeting. It was to this end that two years ago David purchased Dunaden so that Sheikh Fahad could have a runner on Arc weekend.

    I wish them all the very best of luck at Churchill Downs this Saturday with Strong Suit, although he will have to overcome a dreadful draw of 11 of 13. The next excitement is indeed the Breeders’ Cup this weekend, where the seemingly timeless Goldikova bids for an unprecedented fourth win in the Mile. We have come therefore full circle to another chattel to champion because, in my view, there will never be another like her.

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