At the time of writing the Sports personality of the Year Award is yet to be awarded and we would join most in racing in wishing Hollie Doyle the best of luck .She has had a fantastic year and in the media comes across as being very modest and appreciative of the people who have helped her most in her career so far. She has performed to amazing levels this season and would be a very worthy winner. Given the list of nominations she would certainly be our pick without hesitation. Many people have wondered why Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford has not been shortlisted as for many he is the stand out candidate in 2020. Some may argue this award is about achievement and he is not world champion etc etc but is an award about personality linked obviously to public profile. The fact he has not been nominated has to have been driven by political pressure. In 1975 cricketer David Steele won the public vote due to him showing heart and courage against hostile Australian bowlers like Lillee and Thomson. His top score in the series was 92. On paper nothing spectacular about his record but he showed guts and determination in what many of that generation would highlight as the “British Spirit” and he was a very popular winner in an era where cricket and racing were regularly shown on the BBC. Many may disagree about Rashford but for many he would have been the perfect fit so why the corporate resistance?
One key issue that has occupied our minds in recent times the misuse of the whip debate. It could be argued that in most cases the punishment does not fit the crime and during the past few weeks there have been multiple cases when a horse has won a race by the narrowest of margins and the jockey has used his whip a lot more times than is permissible. The outcome is usually either that this is ignored or the jockey gets a ban for a couple of days. The result stands and the owners get the prize money. With this being the state of play, jockeys will continue to flout this rule as the punishment is something they can accept with relative ease. What we wouldn’t advocate is a football style VAR approach to a race finish as that would take away the thrill and instant joy of seeing a horse win a race in real time, this confirmed with recent correspondence from BHA officials. Disqualifying the horse and demoting it may not be a good solution too as that would affect the enjoyment of punters too much and may affect levels of betting moving forward.
In any other sport, the actual rule breaker is the one punished, so why not just make it simple and give a substantial fine to the jockey on the spot, almost too big to eradicate this, the ruling on this seems to be that of ” a shark with no teeth” and the jockeys know it. If measures such as this (or similar) were introduced it would have an immediate effect on the use of the whip. . Jockeys are like any other humans; they follow the path of least resistance and if the rules were stricter the breaches would be minimal. Rant over!
Like most in 2020, our nice little racing club at NE1 Racing Club has endured a difficult year . Our 3 year old filly Poco Contante did not race as she got upset at the start at Redcar in a maiden race in the summer and was rightly withdrawn although she was not really given too many chances at the time as that was the stance about reluctant loaders at the time. We since discovered she has been unwell, she endured a phantom pregnancy and lost her condition completely. She has had time out and is in a much better place physically and mentally so we hope 2021 will see her show her undoubted ability on track , providing she takes to it again. Our multiple winner Lukoutoldmakezebak had a very frustrating campaign in 2020 actually dropping 12 lb in the handicap during the summer and autumn. In some races we tried tactics that didn’t work for him and in other races he was help up for sprint finish which to be fair he doesn’t have. He needs the race to be run a certain way for him to be successful , like many other horses I would imagine. We took him all the way to Chelmsford where fortunately Dylan Hogan did brilliantly to get him placed as he absolutely loathed the torrential rain that fell during his (and every other!) race. He is having a bit of a rest now and we will wait for the right races to be programmed in the New Year although we know that the are no suitable races at Newcastle his home track until at least April, which is a shame.
We now have a third horse running in our ownership for 2021, a filly called The Queens Ladies . A winner last year she is trained in Middleham by the James Bethell although we understand his son Ed will be leading the operation moving forward which very exciting. It is impossible to think we could be involved with nicer people than the Bethell’s so we look forward to 2012 with much optimism.
Season’s greetings to all who have taken the time to read our musings and heres to a magnificent New Year to you all.
Peter and Anthony
NE1 Racing Club.