Be Careful What You Wish For

The chatter in the racing world today has been around the offer of Sheikh Fahad to inject 700,000 to the Sussex Stakes prize money if Frankel and Black Caviar both race.

Needless to say the usual suspects have been salivating at the prospect and the hyperbole has already begun – without either set of connections confirming the race as a target.

I’m minded of the old adage “be careful what you wish for” for the offer could be more trouble than it is worth.

First of all there is the 1,000,000 purse should both horses turn up. Meanwhile racing has a funding crisis prize money is in a downward spiral and a new funding mechanism needs to be sorted out.

Yet, against this backdrop, one million pounds of prize money is offered if two horses turn up for one particular race.

I accept the extra money is coming from, for want of a better word, a benefactor but it still does not look right and it, potentially, sends out the wrong message.

If I heard an owner pointing out how poor prize money was I would ask him to reconcile his complaint against the money on offer for this one race.

To me it is akin to a family struggling to make ends meet, with maxed out credit cards, receiving a substantial sum of money from a generous uncle and blowing it on a luxury holiday.      

Now I admit I am a fully paid up capitalist and to me socialism is an anathema. I fully accept an individual is entitled to spend their money how they see fit but in the current economic climate even I wince at such a huge amount of money being spent just so two horses can race, even more so when you consider the other concerns I have.

Let us assume the money is not an issue there are plenty of other concerns.

Now Goodwood is a lovely racecourse, there is no better place to spend a sunny summers afternoon enjoying  flat meeting. However Goodwood is one of those courses that could be considered idiosyncratic with it being set on the chalky South Downs.

Now I’m no expert on Australian racing and I am quite happy to be corrected but I strongly suspect there are no courses in Oz configured in the same was as Goodwood. I strongly suspect Black Caviar has never run on an undulating track.

If Black Caviar were my horse why would I want to run her at Goodwood? For such an important race I would not want her running at a course where she will be at a disadvantage compared to her rival.

If there is to be a UK meeting then it should be at a flatter track like Ascot or York, this would be fairer on both contenders.

Then there is the danger the race will not live up to what will be almost unbearable hyperbole in the build up to the race and we all know the hype can backfire.

Remember the Frankel vs Canford Cliffs hype at last years Glorious Goodwood?   What a damp squib that turned out to be.

All the “showdown” would prove is who was the better horse on the day, nothing more than that.

 You can go 1.01 that the connections of the losing horse will have their excuses ready the moment their charge crosses the line.

Is it also fair that one of the contenders has to travel half way round the world to compete?

If the showdown has to take place would it not be fairer held at a neutral venue where both horses have to travel and to that end staging the race in South Africa would probably be best.

- - - - - 

Richard Hughes has also been a talking point at the moment, following his failed attempt to avoid having his Indian ban reciprocated.

Whether the penalty handed out to Hughes in India is deemed to be to severe is, frankly, irrelevant.

He chose to ride in India, he accepted he would have to ride under their rules and regulations, he then chose to show scant regard for their rules (on more than one occasion). He was not forced to ride in India.

Whether the reciprocity arrangement is formal or informal, there is one and the ban should apply here.

For the BHA to refuse the request from the Indian authorities, it would have looked arrogant and patronising to a "smaller" authority.

Hughes legal team can attempt all the mealy mouthed worming they want but at the end of the day Hughes committed the offence so he pays the price - ergo I have no sympathy for him at all.

If Hughes did not want to be in this position the answer was in his hands in the first place.

Whilst Hughes may be a good rider he does seem to have an ego issue - two bust-ups in India and his petulant (and actually meaningless and empty gestured) dummy spitting when he received a ban under the whip rules here shows a particularly nasty character trait.      


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