Booomph! Eventually summer arrives with a bang and nature bursts into life, a finer day I cannot remember and the horses are blooming with the sun on their back and their heads down munching. Apologies for the interruption in service but the website has been “down” for the last 48 hours, up and running again now and hopefully all technical issues behind us.
A fine day’s racing at Perth on Sunday, a huge crowd enjoyed some great finishes but the course didn’t deserve 22 non-runners, 20 of which were on account of the ground. I walked the course and thought it was good safe ground, another trainer who I know is more paranoid than me walked it and then walked the home straight again, he ran his horse. The problem is trainers (and few more so then me) worry so much when they think the ground is firm that a few withdrawals can sort of open the floodgates and we become like a herd of sheep, we ran Marlee Massie but withdrew our second runner Andhaar, we had little choice as our owner was on a long haul flight and couldn’t be contacted and the agreement was not to run if the ground was good to firm – we could hardly stick our necks out and run in the circumstances so we took the right decision. “If in doubt, pull them out” prevailed though the race times confirmed the ground was no faster than good.
Anyway, enough of that, happy enough with Marlee Massie’s run, all being well he should improve stepped up in trip back at Perth next month. Two bits of news this week; the first – Brian Toomey being granted a license to ride again – was a thoroughly life-affirming moment, he very nearly died at Perth two years ago and his courage and determination in fighting his way back against all the odds is simply extraordinary, I cannot wait to see him back in the winners enclosure.
The other thoroughly depressing; whilst there will be a few of racing’s constituents that welcome Newcastle converting a wonderful turf track to all weather the vast majority will see it as profoundly negative and I think that particularly applies to Northern jump trainers. About the only positive I can see is the possibility of the occasional “Jumpers’ Bumpers” card during hard weather (of very limited interest to the vast majority anyway). No doubt jump racing will continue at Newcastle as it does alongside AW at Southwell and Lingfield but it will be similarly marginalised and regressive, the last thing we need from one of our few Northern Grade One tracks. What is most concerning of all though is what it says about the bigger picture of where our sport is going….