Inside today’s main piece you’ll find my thoughts on the weekend’s action at Punchestown. Plus. there’s a couple of horses for the tracker.
Low Sun: It's making the sport look farcical
The sun was out at Punchestown on Sunday and the racing was again blighted by the sight of obstacles being cordoned off. The sun also popped out just before the 3m handicap chase at Exeter and they couldn’t move quick enough to doll off the four fences in the
Its sad situation where you must hope that its cloudy for the big jump races. If it isn’t you can guarantee the action is likely to be spoiled by the omission of hurdles & fences.
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The omission of obstacles first began this side of the Irish Sea, but the trend is just as prevalent in Irish jump racing.
You don’t see it in French National Hunt racing. Granted their obstacles tend to extend across the track so its impossible to miss them out. However, there doesn’t seem to be any complaints from the jockeys regarding low sun.
Maybe the French sun is different to the British & Irish one. On a more serious note. Its depressing that we have just accepted that it’s something we must do in such situations.
Is there any data that shows that horse and rider are at an increased risk racing into a low sun?
What we do know is that the dolling off of obstacles can have a major impact on the nature of race. Its dispiriting for punters. You’ve backed a horse who you think is the best jumper in the race. Only to find that come the time of the race half of the fences have been removed and your selections edge has disappeared. You begin to wonder if there’s any point to jump racing if they aren’t going to jump any obstacles.
Due to the unseasonable going at Punchestown over the weekend meant we didn’t get the quality of racing that I had hoped.
Kilcruit, a bit of a disappointment over hurdles last season made a winning chase debut on Saturday. A bit novicey over the early fences but his jumping improved as the race went on. He won as a 1/5 shot should and will face stiffer tasks as the season progress. Still, this was a nice enough introduction to chasing.
Willie Mullins will have been delighted with State Man’s win in Sunday’s Grade 1 Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown. A well backed 4/9 favourite it was a case of job done by the 5-year-old. Taking it up two out he produced a nice change of gear to go clear of his three rivals. Too early to say he’s the next Hurricane Fly but he’s certainly a serious Champion Hurdle contender
Apart from State Man win in the Morgiana Hurdle there were several other notable performances.
Delta Work had to be brave on seasonal return to prevail in the Banks race that opened the Sunday’s card. Last season’s Cheltenham Cross Country winner and Grand National third is firmly on track for both those races again.
Useful flat performer Nusret made a winning hurdle debut for Joseph O’Brien. He travelled powerfully through the race and ran out a comfortable winner of the juvenile hurdle. A better jump at the last and he would have won by further than 6 lengths. His jumping will be tested in better races, but he looks a nice prospect.
Shewearsitwell bounced back to form to win the Pertemps Qualifier. The step up to 3m really suited the mare and she’s likely to be aimed at the final in March.
I was expecting to have plenty for the tracker after the weekend’s action but wasn’t to be the case.
Ascot Eyecatcher: Revels Hill – Harry Fry
Given Revels Hill needs 3m+. His 3 ½ length 2nd of 13 to Your Darling in Friday’s 2m 5f handicap chase was meritorious. The 7-year-old had ended last season with two wins at Taunton. He looks a young handicap chaser on the up and can be competitive in better staying chases this season.
Today’s second tracker horse ran at Haydock on Saturday.
There could be more to come from Fontaine Collonges after her win in the Betfair Exchange Handicap Chase. She’s a staying chaser going the right way and should stay further than 3m 1f.
The fourth Good Boy Bobby ran better than he had done on his Ascot reappearance. He’s probably been aimed at the Rowland Meyrick Handicap at Wetherby on Boxing Day. It’s a race he won last year, and he will be nicely treated for a repeat bid.
Musical Slave in good form over fences at the end of last season, has no great record fresh and made a decent return in fifth. He should be sharper next time.
Haydock Eyecatcher: No Cruise Yet – Sam England
Those who know me, know that I don’t like putting up horses that won last time as an eyecatcher. However, I’m starting to change my opinion. Sam England looks to have a nice handicap chaser on her hands in No Cruise Yet. Nicely progressive over fences at the end of last season. The 7-year-old made it 5-14 over fences with a taking success in Saturday’s 3m 4f handicap chase. A solid jumper of a fence, albeit he tended to jump a bit to his right here, he had to dig deep on the run in to hold off Poppa Poutine by a head. The first two pulled clear of the rest and the form looks solid.
No Cruise Yet is getting better all the time, is at the right end of the handicap and there are more races to be won with him. The Lincolnshire National at Market Rasen on Boxing Day would seem a good target and further down the line he could well progress to be an Eider Chase contender.
Pretty poor day’s racing and today’s selection isn't anything exciting.
Fiston Du Mou bounced back to winning ways and put in a career best when running out an 8 length winner over C&D (soft) 19-days ago. This marathon trip clearly suited the 7-year-old and although he’s 9lb higher he can go in again.
12:55 – Fiston Du Mou – 9/4 @ Bet365.
Good luck with your Tuesday bets.
Apparently Luke Harvey asked the jockeys ( in general) what the big problem is with the low sun thing, because ‘it never happened in his day’.
The response was, that there were ‘more fallers in his day’.
A. I doubt that there is any evidence of that, but B. there were much bigger fields and alot less racing in those days, so that respone, quite frankly, is pathetic and hog wash.
Then you have the instance of 2 horses being killed in the same race, which of course was tragic. However, 10 officials consequently inspected the ground and stood around like melons talking about it for 45mins.
There had been 5 previous races without incident on the bend that they
inspected and they found no problem with the ground whatsoever.
That would have taken 5 mins.
So, forty mins later they abandon the remaining card?!
And then the, so called people in charge, have decided that they can’t make a decision as to if the sun is too low and that jockeys should decide on that.
What do you think jockeys are going to decide? The less they have to do to earn their fee the better.
Even on the flat, the champion jockey was instrumental in getting more than 1 meeting abandoned last season because apparently, the ground was a bit slippery.
So many jockeys are prima donas these days, no backbone and crying their eyes out about the smallest thing.
Stewards are even worse, no continuity resulting in the most stupid of decisions that they continue to make, but that’s another issue.
So, jockeys can’t see to jump a fence due to the sun?
If they can see well enough to go around the fence, why can’t they see well enough to jump it?
At Cheltenham last week the area where the final hurdle is normally jumped had been dolled off in the latter part of the card..when the runners climbed the hill, the course was clearly and completely covered in shade. Not half shade, or, partially, but completely!
I bet alot, but you are correct in that any interest is being severely impacted by these ludicrous decisions. I want to bet on a jumps race, not a flat race.
Exeter on Sunday had a mile and a half of flat running between the third and 4th hurdle..what is the point?
If you have backed a horse that just about gets the distance of a race, you have already lost because the emphasis suddenly becomes all about stamina.
The whole game has become pathetic and the Ascot debacle is just another nail in the coffin of what is no longer a great sport. I respect Hendo enormously, but to say that the ground was good to firm and that Constitution Hill would have come back lame if he had run…I mean, come on Nicky.
The horse broke the track record at Cheltenham on the same ground and how can you say that he needs it soft when the horse has never been given the chance to run on good ground?
He might be even better on it and with his action, he probably would be.
You also have the issue with horses like Blackbeard and Persian Force being retired at 2yrs. I accept that this is nothing new, but it just goes to prove that these types of horses and even more so with Flightline, are not bought to be part of the lost ‘sport of kings’ but as a commodity.
All doom and gloom isn’t it?
Well, yes, it is.
Until racing in the UK has a complete and radical change in all areas, it will continue to go rapidly downhill.
No punters, no racegoers = no racing.
Some excellent points.
On the subject of Luke Harvey. He has to decide if he want’s to be a journalist or a mate of the trainers.
As for the Ascot ground, it might not have been soft enough for Henderson’s liking, but for him to suggest that the horse would be back in its box for a year is ridiculous. If he’s right that says more about the horse than the ground.
It’s a sad state of affairs.
I agree Rick I went to market rasen on thurs it was called off after the 4th when clearly it should have been much earlier it poured down all night and day I sell the post at a few tracks you wouldn’t believe how bad it’s got attendance wise it’s sad to see I think it will end up like the dogs no one there everyone watching it on telly much cheaper less hassle
Larry spot on. Attendance are falling off a cliff and Saturday’s shambles will only make it worse.
On a slightly similar note – but from a punter’s view – I went to Chepstow some time back and there was a large viewing screen set up near the Grandstand for spectators, because for part of the race down the back straight you can’t see anything direct from the Grandstand because there is a mound in the centre of the course which hides the action! D’Oh.
The only trouble was, the screen was set up in the bright sunlight, which ‘washed out’ the images, so it was a complete waste of time – and so once again, we just have to wonder about who or how they makes these decisions!