Another unpleasant raceday experience
Mike Deasy on Arc moving the furniture around, another unpleasant raceday experience, a less than satisfactory weekend’s racing at Cheltenham, the Post’s awards domination and more
News that the All-weather Championship Day at Lingfield on Good Friday is moving to Newcastle has left a lot of racegoers down south disappointed.
Hopefully racing fans in the north-east will fully embrace the year’s best action on the all-weather.
I haven’t seen any explanation why the day is moving but presume Arena Racing want to boost Gosforth Park’s fortunes, with little collateral damage done to the Surrey venue.
Indeed, Lingfield have announced a three-day meeting in January called the Winter Million, held over the weekend of 21-22 January. The first and third days comprise Jump racing, whilst it’s all-weather fair on the Saturday.
The £1m prizemoney is spread across the three days, with a two-mile £100,000 hurdle on day one; on Saturday there’s the Winter Oaks (for four-year-olds and upwards) worth £100,000; and a £150,000 two-mile-six-furlong conditions chase on the Sunday.
This has led to my Racing Hub fellow writer, Simon McInnes, to raise a couple of questions:
“Was it not sold as £1m for jump racing originally (I may have misread), but £1m spread over three varied days is less exciting?
“Am I being cynical in noting that nine years out 10, the end of January turf racing at Lingfield is abandoned due to the weather?”
I’d day the odds are that Lingfield will not be dolling out the prizemoney every year.
But going back to moving around race meetings, why does Champions Day always have to be held at Ascot?
I think there would be merit in alternating the Flat finale, which is owned by Britain’s racecourses and Ascot is simply the venue, with York.
Perhaps there’s an issue with the going on the Knavesmire, not that Ascot has been problem free, but it would be nice to have the event at a track where there’s a hotbed of racing enthusiasts and racegoers are not fleeced by exorbitant prices.
Another unpleasant raceday experience
Not for the first time, waiting for a shuttle bus after a major day’s racing has been a highly unpleasant experience.
In the summer it was Goodwood where I was assaulted. Now it’s after Saturday’s racing at Cheltenham.
About an hour after the last race, yobs were queue jumping, pushing people, drinking straight from wine bottles and using disgusting language.
Racecourses say they have zero tolerance of such behaviour. They also seem to have zero effect in preventing it.
What’s the weather like up there?
A highlight away from the track in ITV’s Breeders’ Cup coverage was Luke Harvey rushing around Del Mar providing material to fill the gaps between races.
The standout item was when Harvey had champion jockey Oisin Murphy (5ft 7ins) stand next to an American gentleman who towered over him at more than seven feet.
No unnecessary mention of snow was made. On top of the tall gentleman’s stetson I mean.
Cheltenham was a let down
There is always a sense of anticipation when racing takes place at Cheltenham. But there was something unsatisfactory about this year’s November meeting.
Ahead of the meeting, two of the three days were looking thin on runners.
Ironically the one race with only two runners had the most dramatic ending when Rachel Blackmore famously stayed on board the spread-eagled Gin On Lime alongside the fallen My Drogo.
She got the Henry De Bromhead-trained five-year-old to jump the one remaining fence watched by, to say the least, a frustrated Harry Skelton.
Memorable it may be, but a race of its calibre should have been better supported – racing fans continue to tire of not seeing the best horses at the best meetings.
Also, I thought it patronising that the Cheltenham stewards advised that, in a similar situation, Blackmore should give a horse more time to recover. It seemed to me she knew the horse was fine, as proved by post-race examination.
There were some upsets, such as the wins by West Cork and Midnight Shadow in the two big handicaps, albeit they attracted some support, and the sport would be the poorer without them.
But, in terms of Festival clues, last weekend didn’t reveal very much. Maybe that’s not an issue with a meeting taking place so early in the season.
However, the November meeting wasn’t high in delivering horses to follow in the coming months either.
Indeed, the main takeaways are Blackmore’s riding skills and the mixed fortunes of Harry Skelton (pictured returning to the winners enclosure on West Cork), with his departure on the odds-on My Drogo, followed by a double on the Sunday to take his tally to three wins across the three days.
They were a much needed boost after a forgettable Festival earlier in the year.
The lacklustre meeting ended with a less then memorable card for Sunday’s six-race programme, finishing with a bumper.
There are bumpers worth their place in the line-up. This one fell short of that level, particularly as the five preceding contests over obstacles concluded with a three-runner novices’ hurdle where the odds-on favourite beat only one home.
Cheltenham wanted £30 to enter Prestbury Park on the Sabbath – many did not come to worship.
Where have all the racing writers gone?
Eighteen racing journalists are up for the Derby Awards 2021, the annual shindig organised by the Horserace Writers and Photographers Association. Twelve are from the Racing Post.
In one category, for Reporter of the Year, all four nominees are from the Post. It’s something of a tribute to Post editor Tom Kerr for the talent he’s developed at the daily.
There are no representatives from the broadsheets, an indication of how the sport is squeezed by sports editors, and how many correspondents’ services have been dispensed with.
One noticable absentee however is the veteran Brough Scott (pictured) who deserves acknowledgement for his big-race reports in The Sunday Times.
The only other newspaper where a racing writer is nominated is The Sun’s Jack Keene. He’s up for the prestigious Journalist of the Year.
Otherwise, online writers and a freelance, the evergreen Ian Carnaby, make up the remaining contenders across the four available awards for writers.
One person who has made their mark in the past 12 months is Maddy Playle who is up for the Emerging Talent award.
She has a weekly column in the Racing Post Weekender, where she deftly switches from comment and analysis to tipping. Witness her selection of West Cork at 25/1 for Cheltenham’s November meeting.
There’s a much broader representation in the Broadcaster category where commentators are now represented – they should have a category of their own.
Five different broadcast organisations are represented and this year the list is less dominated by ITV.
The awards will be announced at a lunchtime ceremony on Monday 6 December. An unusually high number of hacks will have booked a day’s leave on Tuesday 7 December.
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Racing deserved better than this sloppy journalism http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-7Fa