Oohs and ahs at Ascot
Not in the normal manner, not in the normal part
There were lots of oohs and ahs after racing at Ascot when the Berkshire track put on its firework spectacular.
In the closing stages of the 2m1f Listed handicap there were lots of oohs and ohs.
Approaching the last fence, it looked a matter of which of the Paul Nichols trained runners, Diego Du Charmil or Capeland, would win.
But as they approached the last, with a loose horse already heading left to bypass the fence, Diego De Charmil veered violently to his left and took Capeland with him.
Both horses headed to the edge of the fence, with Diego De Charmil jumping it by going through the raised part of the hedge, whilst Capeland was squeezed and ended crashing between the fence and the plastic wing.
First issue to be addressed. Did Diego De Charmil jump the fence by traversing the raised part? Answer, once it was confirmed that the raised part forms part of the obstacle, yes.
Despite there not being a definitive definition of what constitutes a fence, any part of the birch, not cordoned off, constitutes the fence. Stipendiary steward Simon Cowley said “What we found was that the winner did jump the fence, not in the normal manner or the normal part, so the winner keeps the race.”
Did Capeland jump the fence? Answer, no. It pushed its way between the fence and the wing. And, by taking the wrong course, it had to be disqualified.
Diego De Charmil did not deviate from the stipulated course, and went on to win. But should it have kept the race?
Now here the answer is not clear-cut, and has divided opinions. For what it’s worth, and without any financial involvement, I think not.
Capeland was taken to his left by the sudden veering of Diego De Charmil. He lost his race through disqualification because he was taken out. For me it’s not rocket science. Diego De Charmil caused interference.
There was another incident that day which was more alarming. A groundsman only just got out of the way of Sodexo Gold Cup leader, Go Conquer, who was baring down on him as he tended the turf with his fork.
He escaped just in time, oblivious to the oncoming runners, possibly because he was wearing a hood and didn’t see the front-runners and didn’t hear the jockeys shouting at him or the radio message that the field had jumped the preceding fence.
Then there were fireworks.
Celebrating the racehorse deserves more than a day
What a belter of an idea – National Racehorse Day. The proposal was put forward by the Moreton-in-Marsh trainer Richard Phillips (pictured) in a guest column in the Racing Post.
Whilst there’s nothing wrong the BHA churning out the stats on how few equine fatalities there as a percentage of runners in races, it’s not going to cut ice with those who feel upset at an animal being injured and take against racing as a result.
Whilst worthy and necessary to expound, numbers and statements about equine welfare are too dry. And, in many respects, it’s preaching to the converted.
But demonstrate care and attention which racehorses receive in real-life situations, at stables and racecourses, and you can help communicate that racing and racing people loves its participants just as much as treasured family pets.
But why stop at a day? National Racehorse Week would have more impact, could get more stables involved with the flexibility of seven days, would span more racedays and racecourses, and has a greater chance of getting media exposure both through dedicated racing coverage and general interest media.
Breeders’ Cup needs to steer clear of Santa Anita
The Breeders’ Cup and the Melbourne Cup were very much in the equine welfare spotlight these past few days.
At Flemington, Rostropovich sustained a fractured pelvis in the race that stops a nation, and is being treated, with the stable saying there should be a positive outcome. Nevertheless, the injury was seized upon by animal activists.
The Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita fared worse. In the Classic, Mongolian Groom suffered a serious injury and was later put down. Whatever is causing the high rate of equine fatalities at the Californian track, one thing is certain – it cannot play host to the Breeders’ Cup until the reason is established and eradicated. But heaven knows how that’s going to be achieved.
Winning trust and not wasting time
There was a very level-headed column by Sky Sports Racing Presenter, Sean Boyce, in the Racing Post, the essence of which was that racing should have faith in the public on forming opinions on equine welfare matters. “We need to trust them to judge us fairly when given the right information and not talk down to them” he wrote.
He also warned that we should not be complacent, pointing out the campaign against FOBTs successfully used emotive language which “resulted in real and sudden change to the high-street betting landscape”.
In the same edition there was an interview with Brigid Simmonds (pictured), the chairman of the betting industry’s new trade body, the Betting and Gaming Council.
She has a background in the licensing trade which, like bookmaking, has seen its high street presence contract. Whereas betting shop closures are the result of the cut in the maximum stake or FOBTs from £100 to £2, pubs have closed in part due to high taxation and lower priced alcohol available from supermarkets.
But, in both cases, some dead and dying wood has been removed.
It led her to say “I have always believed you should have a right as a working man or woman to be able to afford a pie and a pint on a Friday night, just as you should be able to go into a betting shop or bet online or got to a casino, there’s nothing wrong with that.”
It’s probably just me, but I found that patronising. It sounded like something Harold Wilson would say in the 1960s (one for the millennials there).
She also spoke about the betting industry re-establishing its reputation. Talking to the Post’s industry editor, Bill Barber, she said “This is no quick turnover. This is going to take a period of time, it’s like a supertanker turning round – getting changes the industry might like will take time.”
That might be the case but, as Sean Boyce pointed out, the legislation passed to reduce FOBT maximum stakes resulted in “sudden change”.
With a report from a group of cross-party MPs, published the day before, calling for a major reform of the online sector including similar stake restrictions to those imposed on FOBTs, the risk of a supertanker being brought to a sudden halt before it can change direction should be heeded.
You can’t keep a good man down
A few months back these scribblings noted that The Sun had reduced its racing desk headcount, and the man with the Templegate nom de plume, Steve Jones, was let go. It’s good to see that he’s come over from the dark side, and is now writing the Value Scope feature for the Daily Mirror.