Bans, Commentators and Colours

There may have been many sharp intakes of breath when it was announced that Peterjon Carberry had been handed a 40 day ban by the BHH for dropping his hands and losing first and second place on Monty’s Moon at Uttoxeter at the end of April.

Before I go any further allow me to declare an interest and state I had backed Montys Moon to win the race and it really was my getting out stakes following a bad afternoon. However I would have written the same had I not had an investment on the day.

Many say the ban is too long, I happen to think the ban was spot on.

The apologists will say he is young, he made a mistake and everybody mistakes and, to a point I agree, yes everybody does make mistakes. Most people, however, learn from their mistakes.

In the days when I had people working for me I was very pragmatic when people made mistakes, I may have expressed disappointment if I thought the mistake was a silly, avoidable one but I certainly wouldn’t go into one.

The only time I ever did “go into one” as it were was if somebody repeated the same, avoidable, mistake and that is precisely what Carberry has done.

Least anybody forget the reason Carberry was referred to the BHA in the first place was this was his second offence in 12 months. He had failed to ride out a finish at Sandown last November, an offence for which he picked up a ten day ban.

Clearly he has not learned from that mistake so he clearly needs a stronger punishment to focus the mind, as it were, hopefully the 40 days will fully focus his mind

It also needs to be remembered this was his first ride at Uttoxeter. There are some who offer this up as a mitigating factor, I would argue the opposite. If a jockey is riding a course for the first time surely it is incumbent upon him to walk the course, note the characteristics and know where the finishing line. It is palpably clear Carberry did not do this otherwise he would have seen the course marker which he mistook for the winning post.


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Racing For Change has been something of a curates egg, good in places. Some of their simple changes, like large number cloths, free race days have been a success.

Some of their grander ideas have been very credible in their concept, although at times it could be argued the actual execution could be better. The Champion’s Series and Champions Day are two of the most blindingly obvious  examples.

Both are theoretically good ideas but are at risk of being undermined due to poor execution. The Champions Series is now underway but you would not think so.

There have been some excellent videos made to accompany the series but when shown, without introduction, on racecourse big screens and CCTV they have been ignored.

There is also a brilliant video about Frankel – but where is it being shown. On the racing channels – is that not preaching to the converted? Should that video not be pushed in non-racing TV programs, even paying for it to be shown as a TV advertisement.

I have similar worries about Champions Day . . . as a concept it is great, my only concern is its proximity to the Arc weekend at Longchamp may well dilute, what for me, is already the best weekends racing in Europe throughout the year.

I am also interested and concerned as to how Champions Day will be marketed to attract a wider audience – watch this space.

Amongst the better ideas from RfC there are also some idiotic ideas and two are running currently.

The first is The Filly Factor, setting out with the aim of finding a female racing commentator – the politest way of describing it is patronising and offensive.

It is patronising to women in that it assumes there is some untapped wealth of potential female commentators out there already. I don’t believe there is. There is currently nothing preventing a female to apply to be a commentator, yet Racetech who source the commentators have said they have never even received a test tape from a female.

When I mentioned this matter elsewhere somebody commentated “women will not apply because they feel it is a mans world and they feel intimidated.”

Sorry that is absolute tosh, if a woman really wanted to break into the world of commentary then she would fight to get the role – if they could be put off that easily I would actually question their desire to do the job in the first place.

Certainly the men currently on the rosta have had to fight hard to get there and to reach the exacting standards  required. Last year there were three “trainees” who wanted to be commentators – only one of the three made it and one of the two who didn’t make it is, in my opinion very good.

The competition is also offensive in that it makes light of what a difficult job racing commentary is. To bring it down to the X-Factor level is totally wrong. The existing commentators, with one (possibly two) exceptions are all excellent and near faultless in their work.

To have a competition which turns commentary into a gimmick is wrong.

The only good thing to come out of the competition is it will show just how good the commentators we already have are. If you think I am mistaken have a look at the entries so far.

None are anywhere near the standard which would be acceptable on a racecourse and bear in mind the entrants have had a chance to preview the race and to practice – if they cannot produce a polished performance having seen the race and having had the chance to practice then how can they be expected to produce a polished performance “live”.

Now I am not criticising the ladies who have entered, who can blame them for attempting to bag a 2,500 first prize. The blame should sit fairly and squarely with the organisers who are devaluing a very difficult job.

I began this musing talking about not learning from mistakes and it links in with my next observation.

One of the most stupid ideas in racing in not only the last year but arguably in my lifetime was the introduction of team colours for last year’s Shergar Cup. Not only were the designs too similar even the colours, especially the blue and green, were almost impossible to differentiate in the murk on the round course.

When the colours were introduced was there any discussion with commentators or race readers. You will not a lack of question mar there as it is a rhetorical question – of course there wasn’t.

Tinkering with colours is a no-no. Colours need to be clear, concise and unambiguous and the current system, with its limited range of designs and shapes actually works very well.

Ask any commentator how they cope with big fields and they will tell you it is because they know the colours which have become familiar to them over the years and they can quickly associate them with owners and colours.

So what do our friend at RfC do – they have a competition to let art students design new sets of colours. There is nothing in the rules of the competition which stipulate designs have to be restricted to the standard shapes and designs.

The result some certainly very arty but actually wholly impractical sets of colours – there was even one set which looked like a Donald Duck – can you picture Fallon or McCoy in those colours?

So I have one final suggestion for RfC why not have the winning colours used in just one race – why not the race that is called by the winner of The Filly Factor – somehow the winner of that competition calling home a winning rider dressed as Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse seems most appropriate.



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