The 355th edition of the Wayward Lad blog.
The devastating news that top jockey Richard Hughes has handed-in his license after receiving a 10-day ban (his 2nd ban of the week on top of a 4-day ban he received on Monday) for infringing the new whip rules, is mind boggling.
This is the same Richard Hughes who has received just 2, 1-day bans for riding infringements in the past 3 years (Frankie Dettori, take note).
I think the penalties for whip infringements are severe, too severe in my opinion. The rules have completely changed the way horses are ridden and (in some ways) are at-odds with the rules of racing which have applied for the past couple of hundred years. I would have though a 3-month probationary period for the rules with only 1-day bans applied for infringements would have allowed everyone to learn and appreciate the way forward. It would also have allowed the rules to be tweaked without receiving criticism for going backwards.
What I do know is that I reckon I have lost money on at least one wager this week on a horse that should have won but who’s jockey did not use their whip on the run-in for fear of infringing the rules. What it means for punters is that we have to value resolution and gameness in horses a lot more – quirky horses will be too risky to follow.
Another unfortunate result of Richard Hughes’ actions is that he’s gone “live” on radio and not done horseracing in general a good deed. He was clearly too emotional about yesterday’s events and he should have taken his complaints directly to the BHA and aired them in that private sphere, not in public. If he’d received short-shrift from the BHA, then he should have gone public, but then he would have possibly been able to provide a more reasoned argument to the general public. Instead, it is now “them & us”, and the general public are thinking jockeys want to be allowed to whip horses at the races – and this only months after the headlines were grabbed by an elephant being hit with a broom by his handler.
I fear that horseracing in the UK will soon go the way of greyhound coursing and fox-hunting.
Onto today’s action, and we have the opening meeting of the jumps season at Cheltenham. But first, I was right yesterday about DE VALIRA who held onto 3rd spot for the place money. This looked a top novice chase, and I would put the 1st-2 finishers into your notebook – LUCKY WILLIAM and WHODOYOUTHINK.
The racing at Cheltenham has cut-up probably due to the going being on the quick side. There are a couple I like the look of, but the odds about them are not great, so I’m not offering them up as selections. They are:-
2:45, THAT’LL DO – could be one of Paul Nicholls better novice chasers, he’s 11/4 with Corals.
3:55, TRAFFIC ARTICLE – Elliot’s chasers cannot be overlooked, he’s 5/1 with Vic Chandler.
5:05 SHADOW DANCER – I was impressed by this one LTO, he’s 6/1 generally.
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