Tier 3 and that’s it for the time being
Mike Deasy on Tier 3 bringing to an end a busy few days at the races, a landmark for the Mirror’s Newsboy, getting behind Hollie and Altior’s late Tingle no-show
With London destined for Tier 3, it’s the end of short spell of being able to go racing. In just over a week, I’ve managed to pack in five day’s racing at three courses, Lingfield, Sandown and Cheltenham (pictured), and have nothing but praise for the way the tracks welcomed and looked after up to 2,000 people allowed to attend.
Just like the pilot day at Doncaster back in September, plus a visit to a London Irish rugby match, there was hardly a moment when one felt in danger in these pandemic times.
In fact, the only real issue was travelling by public transport where reduced services and, inexplicably, reduced numbers of carriages carried a degree of risk, especially when people returning from a couple of the events felt in necessary to remove their masks to drink cans of beer.
For the racecourses, I saw two matters which need some tinkering in relation to maintaining social distancing. The betting shop at Sandown drew quite a crowd in front if its screens. Neither Lingfield or Cheltenham opened their betting shops.
And Cheltenham were guilty of an issue common in pre-pandemic times – the ability to watch racing at away meetings. The coverage on the vast majority of screens was of Cheltenham itself and one other meeting.
If you wanted to watch racing anywhere else, the screens behind the Tote counters were the only option, resulting in people standing side-by-side to view. Few tracks manage to get this right.
Tracks in the south-east outside of the region’s Tier 3 zones, such as Ascot and Kempton, have fewer racegoers to call upon even with a maximum of 2,000 allowed past the turnstiles. It’s a gap they may not be able to close. And Chelmsford, caught in the Essex Tier 3 area, will have to race behind closed doors.
Fortunately, ITV Racing keeps on delivering the goods for lockdown racegoers with extra meetings and races to watch. Racing is lucky to have them on board.
A shout-out for Dave Yates who this weekend chalked-up 20 years as Newsboy on the Daily Mirror.
He joined the paper with a string of winning naps and marked his anniversary by putting up Chatham Street, the 16/1 winner of the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham.
Hats off to the Bedfordfox.
Racing is getting behind Hollie Doyle for Sunday’s Sports Personality of the Year on BBC1, where she is one of the six nominations.
On being shortlisted Hollie said: “It is a huge privilege to be nominated for such an illustrious award.
“It’s hard to get my head around being nominated alongside the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Tyson Fury, but I’m really pleased that horse racing has been recognised alongside these sports.
Racing can be in its own little bubble as such, so hopefully this might help to open the door to a wider audience.”
Whatever the outcome, the BBC will have to give a tad more air time to a sport that they’ve short-changed since they ended their racing coverage.
And if they do justice to her 2020 achievements, five wins on a single night at Windsor, plus a Royal Ascot victory and the Champions Day double, it should hopefully resonate with viewers and demonstrate that she’s on top of her game, is as good as any male jockey and a worthy winner.
So, have you phones on hand from 8pm on Sunday and vote for Hollie.
No show Altior
It is entirely up to owners and trainers whether or not to run their horses and Nicky Henderson was within his rights to pull Altior for Sandown’s Tingle Creek, even if there were those who didn’t share his view that the track’s going was heavy.
But what rankled was the late hour of the horse’s withdrawal. It came after Saturday’s Racing Post had gone to press and many wouldn’t have known about Altior’s absence until the morning of the race. Whatever the reason, and it could well have been a difference of opinion between owner and trainer, the sport’s followers deserved better than the late-evening announcement.
♦ More of a purr than a Cheltenham roar http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-5yN