Fresher this morning and plenty of rain yesterday, more than forecast and welcome for Perth’s two day fixture early next week where we have Northern Acres, Makhzoon and Rossini’s Dancer entered. A busy and productive week, needed after the setbacks of last weekend and the horses have been training well, culminating in some really good pieces of work this morning.
And a useful time at Doncaster Sales, bringing home Marlee Massie and Marlee Mourinho, they are both for sale, both half fit, both well handicapped and both very good value for anybody looking for fun horses to run in the North. I also bought Wicklow Gold, a 6yo by Robin des Champs who was beaten a head in his first novice chase back in June having shown good form over hurdles previously. It was pleasing that the Horsemen managed to persuade the BHA to uphold their own rules and at least delay the AW proposals at Newcastle so that a more structured debate can take place which can inolve all of those affected rather than it be a unilateral decision by one racecourse group.
But obviously the referendum is the main issue now and the week started with a useful meeting with Scottish Government representatives on Monday; understandably those working in racing in Scotland would like definitive answers as to how the industry would be managed if Yes is the answer on 18th September. Unfortunately, as with everything else that is not already a devolved power, the SG is not in a position to do this, not because they don’t want to but because the equivalent bodies in London are not allowed to pre-negotiate the position of any of the 200 or so public bodies that will require replicated in Scotland. Requests for meetings and information are met with a polite, “please call back on 19th September if there is anything to talk about”. This applies as much to currency, the MOD, the nuclear deterrent, immigration policies and a host of other critically important issues as it does to Horseracing. The UK Government is not being stubborn in taking that position, they simply recognise that there is absolutely no point in their busy employees devoting huge amounts of valuable time to solving complex problems that are currently 1-4 on not to exist at all and are therefore entirely hypothetical. This is of course as unsatisfactory for those working in racing as it is for those working in many other industries but it is the reality. Personally speaking I find it impossible to see how Scotland could create a viable racing industry of its own, the economies of scale simply don’t exist, I think there is a road whereby Scottish Racing could remain part of British Racing but it is a road fraught with technical issues and will involve delicate diplomacy. It is a very, very risky road and anyone dependent on racing for their living should consider very carefully whether they want to take those risks.It is unsurprising therefore that I have voted No, for the simple reason that no viable alternative has been explained to me and that applies as much to the big issues as it does to racing. This is disappointing, I would have preferred to have been able to weigh up two rationally argued options and decide. It is not for me to use this blog to influence the way people vote however I know that if you derive your employment from racing your future will unquestionably be more secure if the answer to the Referendum is No. However what I can say is that if the answer is Yes I will do my very best to turn threat into opportunity and from the morning of the 19th of September will do anything within my power to ensure that Scotland continues to have a vibrant and prosperous racing industry; at least I know that the meetings held to date and the hard work done in the background by Scottish Racing will mean that the industry stakeholders are genuinely in the right position to take things forward with the Scottish Government who are well aware both of the importance of the industry to Scotland and the technical difficulties involved.