A long cold day at Ayr yesterday after three inspections for frost but I was properly warmed up by Frankie’s Promise winning the closing bumper, I had been a little concerned by the lack of pace in the race but he quickened up nicely and was driven out with hands and heels in fine style by Lucy, it was a milestone winner in that it was Lucy’s 75th which means she has now “ridden out her claim” and will shortly become one of that rarest of species in the form of a fully fledged female professional jump jockey. “Frankie” ate up and was especially fresh and well this morning, he should continue to progress, earlier in the card Makhzoon put in a very solid effort to finish 3rd, only beaten a length and a neck, the other two intended runners were withdrawn on account of the ground.
So, on to Newcastle tomorrow where we run Little Glenshee in the 3.30, 5 run, will be holding heavy ground, Lucy rides, this is a step up in class for her and she is now taking on the boys after three wins in Mares company. She seems fresh and well and tomorrow we will find out if her handicap mark is realistic. We then have The Flaming Matron making her stable and hurdling debut in the 4.05, 15 run and Andrew Thornton rides, she is a fine big honest scopey mare who I suspect will be seen to best effect over further in due course.
A good card at Newcastle tomorrow supporting their big chase of the season, The Eider, putting more money into the fixture is bringing rewards. We are now seeing many of the courses recognize that it is in everyone’s interests to improve prize money, this will create more competitive racing and hence better crowds, more entertainment and more betting turnover – a “virtuous circle” can be created. Sadly Hexham don’t seem to get this, I have just spent a few minutes perusing their spring programme and am disappointed to say the least, they have 9 fixtures, about 60 races only 7 of which are for £5000 or over, the best being £5800, most of the rest are for the bare minimum. At Perth no jumps race will be run this year for less than £5000, the economics can’t be that different…. Hexham will end up with poor racing, small crowds, poor sport, low betting turnover…. the opposite of the virtuous circle, whilst someone is presumably enriching themselves with the data and media income – they shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it, though of course due to lack of alternatives we will cheerfully take our horses there and enjoy racing them but through gritted teeth unless they start to do something about it.