Saturday, 2 August 2008

The Public Perception of Horse Racing

A couple of days ago I commented on the Panarama programme exposing some bad elements in horse racing (including jockeys) and at the time I expressed my own dissatisfaction with the lack of explanations from trainers after some surprise results. I know that horses are not machines and that surprises do occur where even the trainer is amazed but generally these horsey people know exactly what they are doing otherwise they would soon be out of business.

As I said in my original comment I have studied form for thirty years. I can understand that a trainer will try to disguise the ability of his/her horse so that the handicapper will allot the horse a winning mark. I just think that there are limits to the methods of disguise so that when is horse is not running to its merits then the punters are not being given a fair deal. Take today at Glorious Goodwood and the six furlong cavalry charge called the Stewards Cup. Most small punters love this gamble and I suspect that millions are staked on this one race alone. It is the type of race where a case can be made for most of them on their best form but of course in order to stand a chance the horse should have shown some recent glimmer of ability.

The race was won by a horse called Conquest at 40-1! Yes that's right 40-1!! The reason that it was that price is clear because it has run seven times since winning a race on the AllWeather track at Lingfield in March and on every occasion has shown very little. His record reads like this:-

18 Apr Newbury 5f Good/Soft beaten 10 lengths and finished 8th from nine runners.
04 May Newmarket 5f Good/Firm Group 3 race finished last of ten beaten 10 lengths.
15 May York 5f Good/Firm finished 7/11 but not disgraced.
31 May Goodwood 6f Soft 5/8 and beaten 3 lengths. 'Settled in last and little impression'.
21 Jun Ascot 6f Good/Firm 13/27 beaten 5 lengths although led far side group up until 4 furlongs (Hint of ability?).
28 Jun Windsor 6f Good/Firm beaten 6 lengths 'towards the rear never on terms'
11 July CHEPSTOW 6F Soft 11/12 beaten over 20 lengths!!!

Now I don't care how you cut the cake if a horse is smashed at a Grade 4 track like Chepstow then it is never entitled to win the Stewards Cup at Goodwood!

This is the problem with British racing. There are too many results which are never explained. I would have expected that the trainer William Haggas should have been dragged in front of the stewards who should have demanded an explanation for the poor running in his previous seven races.

The trainer was not disguising the ability of his horse because as a 2 year old it won the Gimcrack Stakes at York (on soft going) and that race was a Group Two event. He actually ensured that this horse would get into this valuable handicap on a decent mark by a series of poor performances. In effect it was 'schooling in public' which is against the rules. In my opinion this should be investigated but of course it won't because the trainer and the owners are all part of the horse racing establishment.

William Haggas always comes across as a decent chap and he is obviously a serious trainer BUT in this instance the run up to this highly prestigious victory has to be questioned but I tell you what... it won't be and that is the problem.

HAT TIP - Tanya Stevenson the 'Femail' on Channel Four Racing gave Conquest as an Each Way option!! It is not the first time that she has done this either. She is either a genius, a sceptic or she had some very valuable information (which we all ignored)!

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