Sunday 3 July 2011

Ann Duffield: It's Not All About Betting

Orchid Street was our only runner today and didn't quite get the mile, which was always our worry but, we needed to try and, after winning easily at Leicester recently over the slightly extended seven furlongs we hoped for the best but, at the end of the day she is far too high in the handicap to be competitive in her rating band. She has a date next week with the auctioneer at Newmarket and, providing she makes the right price, will find her way to a new home. Haydock's record crowed today of 18.000 was the largest gathering of racegoers at the track for more than 25 years. It is proof of the resurgence in popularity horseracing is currently enjoying. Second only to football, it may well take first place yet and become the number one spectator sport. Imagine how healthy the sport could have be now, had the bookies paid a fair price back into the coffers instead of killing the goose that laid the golden egg. The unhealthy and largely persistent influence that gambling and betting in general, have had on our sport were, once again spoon fed to us earlier this evening, when on Racing UK we saw a badly behaved horse throw his jockey off, gallop through the plastic rails nearby, which collapsed immediately, without causing injury. The horse was reunited with his jockey having been lose only for a short time and checked over by the vet. Commentator Angus McNae was quick to say ( and keep insisting) the horse should not be running as it was "unfair on anyone who had backed it even though the horse was an outsider". I have no idea if the connections wanted the horse to run or not, what I do know, is that we have all had badly behaved horses from time to time, including former trainer Angus McNae, and that a hard days work at the races is often just what they need in order to learn some manners. The rules state that if a horse is lose for a circuit and passes the winning post, it must be withdrawn, that's fair enough, but it was not the case here. What does appear to be the case is that the racing game has lost its way, it seems that it is no longer about the horses at all, nor is it about what might be good or bad for them. It is about betting, and nothing else. Angus, if your Reading this - which I doubt, please remember the tough job you once did, and the reasons behind many of your decisions regarding your horses. My guess is, they were always in favour of what was right for your horses at any given time and, that placing the punter in the street above your horses needs was firmly not on your agenda. Racing is not "all about betting", at least it shouldn't be.