With no diary entry since November, I should perhaps review last year first.
When I started training 20 years ago (hard to believe) one of my oldest friends and perhaps my closest advisor, was (rightly) concerned that I was starting with very little fire power. He advised ‘finishing the season well, because that will dictate the following year’. It is advice that served us well in 2019.
We started poorly, with no winner from mid-February until the end of April. Biometric’s win in the Britannia Handicap at Royal Ascot was the highlight of the summer, but then we had a tough July when there was clearly an underlying health problem. However, August, September and October made up for it, with a 5-timer on the 12th October being the highlight of the year.
I am glad to report that our owners have backed us again, in terms of individuals and pedigrees, in this year’s intake of 2yos. Let’s hope that there is a star or two amongst them.
News came through yesterday that Kempton Park have submitted a planning application that ensures racing at Kempton Park continues. Everybody involved in the sport (bar those in Newmarket) was appalled at the original plan (https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jan/10/kempton-park-set-to-be-bulldozed-housing-jockey-club-plans). I vividly remember the reason given by then Jockey Chief executive Simon Bazalgette as to why, at an NTF meeting, I didn’t believe it then and still don’t now.
News that BHA chief executive Nick Rust is to leave his post in December 2020 was greeted with sadness by various sections. I can confirm that those sections do not include the whole NTF council. I look forward to the new appointment, it is essential that whoever it is understands the sport from the Horseman’s perspective.
We all know the racecourses are a powerful lobby, but they must see that racing does not exist because of them. The latest figures showing a drop in racecourse attendance for the fourth year in a row, indicate that perhaps the RCA should be spending more time on that rather than getting involved in future welfare policy. It is clear that the ‘stack it high, sell it cheap’ race programme policy many of them have employed has not worked. Concerts post-racing have proven to be lucrative in the short term, but it has done little to promote the sport itself. I think that there is good reason to believe it has turned off people who came racing to see horses race. Certainly it has promoted the sport in a way that showed no faith in the actual product.