Home' Breeding and Racing : Issue 114 February - March 2014 Contents 22 FOR DAILY INDUSTRY NEWS UPDATES VISIT WWW.BREEDINGRACING.COM
WHY RACING TRADITION MATTERS (CONT)
time, Winfried Englebrecht-Bresges, wanted
something done about this completely
unsatisfactory situation. Felix Coetzee, a well
known and highly thought of South African
rider, wanted to try the false rail, as it is called
in South Africa and actually I agreed with him.
However, it was French rider Eric Legrix who
suggested what is in place today. It is called
a “worked back rail”. It does the same job
as a cut away, works really well and is more
aesthetically pleasing to the fans.
In considering the relevance of the Hong
Kong action, consider that more money is
wagered on a wet and windy Wednesday night
at Happy Valley than is turned over in Australia
on Melbourne Cup Day!
The big mistake the AJC made – and I was
a party to it – was to not have a consultative
process with the senior riders. Such a dreadful
mistake was not repeated in Hong Kong.
Obviously the purists went ”beserk” about
the cut away, with the suggestion that great
and roomy tracks like Randwick do not see too
many horses blocked for runs. But I guarantee
you, people who follow racing today want to
see horses get a clear run – every time. Horses
must not only have every chance but they must
be seen to have every chance.
These days the whole world is chasing the
big players from the Asian region. Such players
will go where they can get a run for their
money and that is not to a race track where
horses go to the line hard held. Surely it stands
to reason, the more space that is provided for
the field to fan in the straight, the fewer horses
will be denied an opportunity of showing their
On a somewhat humorous note, whether
horses are blocked for a run or not, there’s
generally only one winner, but after every race
there is nonetheless the little ritual between
the owner, trainer and jockey of each losing
This is the “why we were beaten” ceremony
and involves the search for an excuse that
will provide encouragement of an improved
outcome next run. The same excuse will never
do after each lost race. Therefore, new reasons
have to be found. Years ago, the Sporting Life
compiled a list of excuses which have been
offered up. The top 50 are:
› The horse swallowed its tongue.
› The horse stepped in a rabbit hole on the far
side of the track.
› The horse was hit by a flying divot.
› The horse swallowed a flying divot.
› The horse disliked the tight bends.
› The horse was stung by an insect down at
› The horse was distracted by a television van.
› The horse did not like the rain.
› The horse had an abscess in its mouth.
› The horse had a sore foot.
› The horse did not want to go past the on-
› The horse suffered from muscle spasms.
› The horse did not like the high winds.
The horse was lazy/was too keen.
› The horse was bumped during the race.
› The horse was kicked during the race.
› The horse disliked the slow pace/dislikes the
fast pace. The horse jumped too carefully/
› The horse felt crowded in the large field of
› The horse missed the competition in the
very small field of runners.
› The horse did not handle the hard going/did
not handle the soft going.
› The horse hated the left handed track/hated
the right handed track.
› The horse was under worked/was over
› The horse would improve over a shorter
trip/needs a longer trip.
› The horse missed the start and then had too
much to do.
› The horse was struck in the face by a rival
› The horse’s saddle was slipping/was too tight
and was pinching.
› The horse was too in-experienced/too
› The horse bolted on the way to the start/
bolted at the go.
› The horse was hemmed in and could not
find a gap.
› The horse travelled badly during the long
trip to the track.
› The horse suffered from exhaust fumes
inside the float.
› The horse had been upset by a fireworks
display near the stables the night before.
› The horse’s girth strap broke.
› The horse lost a plate.
› The horse had come into season.
› The horse hit the front too soon/needs to be
a front runner.
› The horse was off its feed.
› The horse needed the run.
› The horse should not be hit with the whip/
needs stronger riding.
› The horse needs gelding.
› The horse may have a low blood count.
› The horse’s sire did not reach peak form
until it was much older.
› The jockey thought there was another lap/
there wasn’t another lap.
› The jockey mistakenly thought something
was wrong and pulled the horse up.
› The jockey dropped his whip.
› The jockey mistook the last furlong post for
the winning post and eased up.
› The jockey was kicked during the race.
› The handicapper had been too tough and
the horse was carrying too much weight.
› The stable has a virus.
Last, but not least, an interesting excuse
for a runner not going so well was offered
up once by a green apprentice when asked to
explain his ride. He replied, “Because the Boss
told me in no circumstances was I to finish in
the first six!”
That’s certainly worthy of a smile, however
around Australia there are not a lot of
spacious tracks with good long run-ins.
While I am the first to argue for tradition to
be maintained, sometimes radical change is
needed. The “worked back” rail as used in
Hong Kong – acknowledged for producing
the world’s best racing wagering product –
would be a valuable tool on Australia’s typical
“Every racegoer knows
how upsetting it is to
watch a runner he’s
backed locked away...”
Hong Kong’s Sha Tin
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