Matt Chapman voices his opinion on the racing on Good Friday and reckons less is more with racing sometimes
MORE is more in the world of horse racing. But in most other walks of life less is more.
Yesterday there were three meetings on Good Friday. It’s easy to understand why. Big crowds mean big money for racecourses. It’s simple.
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But it’s actually crazy.
At Lingfield it was All-Weather Championships Finals Day. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a big deal. It’s certainly got a grand title.
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Monsieur Joe is getting on a bit but there’s no doubt he’s the best horse in the conditions sprint at Musselburgh. Big chance. Yeeehaaa!
In fact, it must be a big deal as we wait for this day all winter and for those of us who work on TV we flag it up over and over again.
So tell me this.
Why was Frankie Dettori – arguably Britain’s most famous rider – at Newcastle? And it wasn’t just the dashing Italian. Sheikh Fahad’s Qatar man Oisin Murphy also chose the North, as did Godolphin’s Dubai boy William Buick, Britain’s Champion jockey Jim Crowley and leading female rider Josephine Gordon.
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Many, of course, believe the All-Weather Finals day will eventually be moved to Newcastle, which makes total sense, as there’s no doubt the track could pull in a much bigger audience than Lingfield, albeit the latter track deserves huge praise for the show it puts on.
But that misses the point. This is All-Weather Championships Finals Day. All eyes should be on the Finals. Not spread over other all-weather tracks.
Don’t give up on beaten horses
A week on from the world’s greatest steeplechase, and what a win for Scottish dream One for Arthur who will be paraded at Musselburgh today in the front of the ITV4 cameras.
Many congratulations to Lucinda Russell and Peter Scudamore, who bring to the game the kind of skill and naughtiness seen back in the day from Henrietta Knight and Terry Biddlecombe.
I called Scu a couple of times before the National and twice after, and on each and every one he sounded like he was up to stuff he shouldn’t be.
Scudamore never got the credit he deserved as a jockey – he was a fabulously strong and tactically astute champion – but has now assisted three National heroes in Earth Summit, Bindaree and now Arthur.
He may never have won the National as a jockey, but he’s cracked it as a handler. First class bloke.
Of the beaten horses Blaklion ran like an animal with another big pot in him at some stage, while Kim Bailey will have to try and keep The Last Samuri calmer if he has a third crack in twelve months time. After the false start and parade the Samuri had no warrior left in him for the race itself.
The Last Samuri was definitely off his A game, while Definitly Red was just plain unlucky. Don’t give up on him in the future.
Imagine if on Wimbledon Mens Finals Day there was a huge match at the O2, or on FA Cup Finals day Manchester United played Chelsea at the same time. No one in their right mind would let it happen. Yet racing does.
It’s quite clear to me that yesterday there should have been only one all-weather meeting.
Now if people wanted to put on some jumps racing elsewhere then that seems a perfectly reasonable idea.
Or, simply change the names of yesterday’s main event.
Instead of All-Weather Finals Day, have All-Weather Showcase Day. But diluting the product is not the way to go.
The Punchestown Festival looks as though it will be a belter, with the return of Annie Power – the 2016 Champion Hurdle heroine – easily one of the most exciting aspects.
Many thought she had effectively been retired, so the concept she may help Willie Mullins retain his trainer’s championship crown is a thrilling one. Welcome back Annie.
The big clash at the meeting could come when Gold Cup victors Sizing John and Coneygree clash. Connections of the latter will be delighted Nico de Boinville will be reunited with the 2015 star, although they must wish Robbie Power wasn’t on Sizing John.
Power can do little wrong at present. He’s had a season he will never forget.
The main issue is that Good Friday was like any other day of racing in the year, with just a bit more cash chucked at it. It needs to be made special. Something to crave. To be honest, it needs to be as it started up.
Racing is a unique sport. Sometimes less is more.