JOCKEY SAFETY TOTALLY IRRELEVANT WHEN IT COMES TO RIDERLESS HORSES – AND THE 2013 GOLDEN ROSE FIELD CAN’T HAVE POSSIBLY BEEN “TOP CLASS”

JOCKEY SAFETY TOTALLY IRRELEVANT WHEN IT COMES TO RIDERLESS HORSES – AND THE 2013 GOLDEN ROSE FIELD CAN’T HAVE POSSIBLY BEEN “TOP CLASS”

17/09/13

I shake my head a lot about things that I see happen in the racing industry, across its three codes, but I reckon that the thoroughbred industry dodged a huge bullet when the last race at Rosehill was run last Saturday afternoon. It’s history now that the Chris Waller trained Lunayir dumped jockey Glyn (it’s not “Glen” for Christ’s sake – Glen is spelt this way: “Glen”) Schofield soon after the start and in the process of Schofield hanging on to the reins the horse lost his bridle prior to careering forward into the field. But by the Grace of God a tragedy was averted by more good luck than good management, as the burning question is “how do you catch a horse without a bridle?” I mean if the horse has a bridle the Clerk of the Course is some hope of catching it, but when the horse has no head gear whatsoever that’s a worry. Thankfully Lunayir ran in a pretty straight line up the home straight, but all he had to do was suddenly duck out in the home straight – and a “no race” would have been occurred and a loss of millions of dollars in turnover would have been the end result.

As I’ve written here numerous times before, Australian thoroughbred racing is amazingly backward for having a total lack of warning mechanisms in place when there is a riderless horse in a field. The industry’s collective stance on the issue to address the potentially fatal problem to this point is nil, which is simply not good enough. All these so called “top racing administrators” are cumulatively so brain-dead on important issues like this that it defies belief. They simply cannot see the forest for the trees. Justracing has been writing for a decade how every racetrack needs a siren system in place to be activated by the Chief Steward, or a person appointed by him right from the moment there is a riderless horse in a field. Imagine being Kathy O’Hara on the leader Darci Be Good last Saturday and suddenly there’s this horse Lunayir – with no jockey or bridle on, alongside of her.

I cannot believe that if I go to the local shopping centre and Sadie the cleaning lady has mopped the floor where some little feral, or the little feral’s parents spilt something half an hour earlier – that they were too useless and/or lazy to pick up – that Workplace Health and Safety dictates that a sign like “Caution wet floor” must go up at that spot, yet at a racetrack we couldn’t care less about jockey safety when it comes to a riderless horse in a field. What is the Jockey’s Association doing about addressing the problem? The respective governing body of racing in each State around Australia throws money hell, west and crooked at admittedly some good initiatives like plastic running rails to help jockey and equine safety, but does absolutely nought about an important issue like a riderless horse in a field like Lunayir.

The Chief Stewards from all States of Australia also meet once a year at a conference. It’s amazing how even one of them can’t see a safety issue in a riderless horse in a field and lobby their State’s racing board for funds to implement a siren system. It would actually cost bugger all to implement if the industry was a united purchaser and bought in bulk, as it would obviously need to be wired up to power to run and power is already at every racetrack and then you’d need probably only two or three sirens around the course.

If jockeys are made aware quickly that there is a riderless horse in the field, it’s surely not rocket science – even to our cumulatively “brain-dead racing administrators” to accept that’s the safest option of avoiding a catastrophe. I find it extraordinary that we have siren devices at trackwork sessions to advise of a horse on the loose, but when an actual race is being run we have nothing. In fact it’s all so stupid – it defies belief. Someone in a high place may – with “may” being the operative word, twig when we have a fatality and we can all have another one of those sad “fundraiser” events for another jockey widow or widower. Personally I detest the current pathetic imbalance in fundraisers, so I want someone to get off their collective backsides before the inevitable happens one day and we get to that stage.

In other news from the day last Saturday that won’t get a run anywhere, Regular won in Brisbane and in doing so he recorded his fourth career win. A close look at his CV is interesting and reveals that three of his four wins have been in a photo – and that’s most unusual. He won his first race at Ipswich on 7/5/12 by a half head. His next win was on 16/3/13 at the Gold Coast by a short head. His third career win was seven days later at the Gold Coast by a half-a-length then last Saturday he scrambled in by a head. There’s not too many horses racing around the traps who can say that 75% of their career wins have been by a head or less.

Similarly working on percentages, Rain Affair now boasts a 20% win strike rate at 1400 metres after he gave in like a pricked balloon last Saturday at Rosehill. He’s had five runs at 1400 metres now and he’s won just the one – so maybe it’s not hard for his trainer or owner to deduce he’d be best suited to races at 1300 metres inclusive or less?

Finally what needs to be stated publicly – and it hasn’t been to this point in time by all the usual patronising crew in mainstream media – is to put an end to all this garbage that I consistently read in newspapers and hear on racing radio and television stations that the Golden Rose field last Saturday was “top class”. What a lot of rot that statement is. These are the simple facts and realities about that particular race. One doesn’t need to be a Rhodes Scholar to come up with these simple facts out of that race: 1) some 16 horses lined up for the $1million feature and that it was “a top class field” can hardly be factual when only two of those 16 starters (12.50%) were even last start winners – and they were Fast ‘N’ Rocking, which got lost in the run, clocking in tenth beaten five lengths and War, which went even worse, getting beaten seven lengths when running twelfth. 2) If the Golden Rose field last Saturday was in fact “top class,” then Bull Point has no option but to surely be labelled “a champion racehorse of the future”, as how the hell could Bull Point be tailed off hopelessly at the 600-metre mark and pass every other runner except Zoustar and Dissident in the run to the line, if either the others aren’t “limited”, or he isn’t “a champion racehorse of the future?” I’d say the vast majority of starters in that race are at best “limited” – and I’ll bet you that word “limited” is closer to the truth than them being proven to be “top class” in their subsequent racing career from this day forth. And on reflection even a Maiden galloper got drawn straight into this alleged “top class” field. Incidentally, the only horse that I believe had a genuine excuse in that race was Prince Harada as he hadn’t raced in the Sydney direction previously, so he may improve should he have another Sydney start with the benefit of that run the clockwise way, or he may improve back racing the familiar anti-clockwise way in Melbourne.

Down in Melbourne the day was marred by three big form reversals. Divine Calling went like a mule 14 days earlier over 1200 metres after leading but had no problem stepping up 300 metres to 1500 metres and romping in, running fast overall time. Stewards saw nothing wrong with that form turnaround, so it must be just me. Kuroshio went from running stone motherless last at Rosehill on 17/8/13 to Va Pensiero at 6/1, beaten over nine lengths, to waltz in 28 days later against all-aged sprinters to win Race 5 at 15/1. Stewards saw nothing wrong with that form improvement, so it must just be me. Then to complete the trio of woes The Great Snowman, which was as weak as the skin on a custard in the Lidari race from Caulfield on 31/9/13 over 1400 metres, stepped up to 1600 and never looked in danger. All terrific stuff.

On www.brisbaneracing.com.au today there’s the first of two montages of photos from Doomben last Saturday. On www.sydneyracing.com.au Bernard Kenny looks at the Sydney Spring Carnival with Matt Rudolph, the Executive General Manager of Racing for the Australian Jockey Club, whilst on www.melbourneracing.com.au Matt Nicholls edits a look at racing news around Australia.