22nd January 2016

22-January-2016 17:49
in General
by Admin

Great news that Hereford racecourse will re-open in October. 

The rain is back and this morning we got drown before taking 4 horses for an away day. Katie Kilminster and Lamanver Odyssey + 2 unnamed 4 year old gelding by Flemensfirth and Robin Des Champs. The fillies will soon be making their debuts in bumpers and the geldings in point to points. Geoff and Norma were there to see Katie Kilminster and Donna Christensen drove all the way up from Cornwall to see Lamanver Odyssey work. Donna will clock up a few miles over the next few days as Lamanver Alchemy is due to run at Wetherby on Tuesday. 

I returned home to find Sophie had fallen over on her ankle – she is unable to walk and has an ankle like a rugby ball, I’ve collected Panda from school. Tilly is a regular boarder and tonight is Sholto’s first night boarding. I now have to cook supper - boiled eggs all round!

The perfect oppurtunity to use:

                                                   An owners reflections – from the crystal ball.

It is nearly 2 years since I left General Practice where I did-truly- have a “crystal ball” amongst other “props” on my consulting table. It was used appropriately and to my knowledge never caused offence. I would gaze into it intently and declare “there’s nothing coming through” or “there’s terrible glare today”. Only ever in innocent situations; “how long will I continue to play golf?” “Will I be able to walk The Pennine Way this summer?”

I thought I might try it out again.

Horseracing is in a free spin about the whip rules. I see a legal challenge when a horse is beaten into second place by a short head after a “winning rider” receives a whip ban from the Stewards. It might be from connections of the second-placed horse, it might be from a bookmaker or a professional punter. And it will be backed up by video replays.

On that latter point another vision. Stewards enquiries will be overseen via video link to a “Senior Steward”, all conversation and replays will be transmitted live, various camera angles will be considered and the result will be announced within a statutory time-say 10 minutes- to allow bookies to pay out. At the moment much of this happens on television and we have discussions amongst the studio pundits but we do not hear the deliberations of the stewards that actually drive their final decision. Why not? Is there something we cannot be told? Video replays have transformed cricket to huge advantage, and also add to the fun and intrigue. Same thing with rugby. Football has been reluctant and slow to embrace the technology and I believe that has been to its detriment. Who –in any sport- would ever shirk technology that adds to the principle of fair play and a fair result? Incidentally there was a flat screen in the main shed at The Royal Cornwall Showground last weekend for The North Cornwall point-to-point. The weather was dire and many chose to watch the racing streamed live onto the big screen from the comfort of said shed! Whether the stewards used video replay in their enquiry when Big Fella Thanks was beaten a short head in a match I am not sure. But I predict it will come.

Technology features in my next prediction also. This involves betting patterns and the potential for computers to expose abnormal market behavior associated with unpredicted results; race- fixing being one of the possible explanations. Computers cross-refer and store data better than ever before. Just as we get credit ratings for our borrowing exposure, so jockeys trainers and owners might have a probity rating. This is NOT about yards being out of form, having viruses etc. It is NOT about horses that will not settle or will not race or do not stay or run poorly. It is NOT about jockeys who innocently take the wrong course or ride the wrong tactics. Except it is about all of these if that behavior is associated with large gambles and repeated. What about cash then? Computers cannot track fat brown envelopes. Exactly why many economic chiefs and indeed the Danish government are looking at doing away with cash. Could we see the Tote and bookies generally accepting contactless card payments only? Not this year perhaps. But I predict moves in this direction.

The list of sports blighted by cheating is growing almost by the day. Yesterday it was tennis. Previously cricket, football, cycling, athletics. Horse racing is renowned for it rightly or wrongly. Sadly perception often becomes reality. The first sport to really tackle this and positively go seeking cheats by more cynical scrutiny will gain huge credibility amongst the general public – the very group that Racing claims to be courting.

Enough for now. I’m getting a lot of glare. But The Pennine Way looks good and won’t kill you.