The weather has been testing recently and very cold, but the horses haven’t missed a day. We’re very lucky with our staff and our facilities that have kept the show on the road so we’re looking forward to hopefully getting back racing on Sunday writes HARRY SKELTON.
14-day Warwick ban
It was so frustrating to pick up the ban for going a couple over the permitted level on Galia Des Liteaux in the Classic Chase last Saturday. I’ve had some time to reflect and watch the race back and the severity of the punishment certainly leaves a bad taste in the mouth. I’m not denying the fact that I’ve gone a couple over the limit from the back of the third last, but staying horses often take that bit more encouragement to hit top gear and I was mindful to give her time to respond.
I suppose my frustration is the fact that she was still finishing her race, she still had more to give. That’s not the reason I went over the limit, but in my opinion, it should be about appropriate usage rather than just working with a binary set of numbers. That mare was still giving, she was responding to my every urging all the way to the line. As a jockey, you’re asked to achieve the best possible placing and that’s what I was trying to do for her connections and the punters who had backed her. Ultimately, that’s what produced a good finish and a brilliant horse race.
For me it’s completely about how the whip is used that determines if it’s a welfare issue. If I’d have continued to use my stick and she was stopping up the run in and clearly not finishing, that would have been a completely different matter. Unfortunately, I’ve gone over the limit, but I don’t think we’ve got the rules right for the good of the sport. Instead, we’re trying to please people who probably have a lack of understanding about the stick.
Everyone wants to see competitive sport, but discretion went out the window when the numbers came in back in 2011. In our recent review, jockeys asked for no discretion, but it was the inconsistency that was causing the frustration. There has been no discretion since the numbers came in and we should be talking about the correct use of the stick not the numbers. There are people out there that don’t want us to carry them and don’t want us to use them, but those people will never be satisfied.
The other element of the rule that needs looking at for me is the doubling of the ban in a Class 1 or 2 race. If it had been in a Class 3 race, I would only have received seven days. I find that a difficult rule to understand as surely every race should be judged the same and it should be about the correct use of the whip.
– 1.15pm Download The Racing App Now Lightning Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) (GBB Race) (Class 1)
We’ve got him in the Grade 2 Lightning Novices’ Chase which is a race we’ve had in mind for a while now with some good prize money up for grabs. The step back to two miles is a good move. He’s a big strong horse and finished alone last time at Aintree in some very deep and testing ground. It looks a competitive race but when he puts it all together he’s more than capable and is in good form. If he finds his rhythm, he could run very well.
– 1.50pm Download The Racing App Now Godstone Handicap Chase (GBB Race) (Class 2)
Ciaran Gethings rides him and we’re trying our luck in the 2m handicap chase, but he’s going to have to improve on what he showed on his last run. There’s good prize money on offer here, so he’ll take his chance and hopefully can run well.
– 2.25pm Weatherbys Hamilton Handicap Hurdle (GBB Race) (Class 2)
We think stepping up in trip to three miles for the first time will be a good move for her. From what we’ve seen at home and on the track, it looks like she stays really well, and I think three miles is going to bring out more improvement in her. I’ve always thought of her as a good horse, and it was nice to get her back on track at Cheltenham last time. She ran very well at this meeting a few years ago when beaten by Love Envoi, so she’s got some good form in the book. I think there’s more improvement in her mark and I expect her to go very well.
– 3.00pm Fitzdares Fleur De Lys Chase (GBB Race) (Class 2)
Protektorat is my best chance of the day. This was the obvious race for him to go for – the 2m6f trip and left-handed track are two things that suit him very nicely. He’s in good form, he ran a really nice race last time out at Cheltenham in a handicap and has been in good form at home. It was good to see him put his Betfair Chase run behind him. Hopefully we go to Lingfield with a great chance, despite going up against L’Homme Presse and others in there, and we’ve been looking forward to this race for some time. All being well, he should go very close.
– 4.10pm Winter Million Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (GBB Race) (Class 3)
There is a real lack of chases for him in the calendar and he’s ready to run, so we’re trying him in this 2 ½m novices’ handicap hurdle. He’s back over hurdles and carrying plenty of weight, but he’s a big strong horse who can handle it and, if he’s on his best form, you’d think he’ll be in with a squeak.