Going Into Disrepute
Not for the first time I find myself writing about going reports that have a basis more in the realms of fantasy as opposed to the real world.
The latest course to seemingly make a mockery with their going reports is Haydock Park. The feature race of the afternoon had twelve overnight declarations, only five went to post, whilst in a later race the top three in the betting were defectors.
I will imagine the race sponsors were mightily impressed.
Had there been some tropical monsoon which turned the ground into a quagmire? Nope
Was there some freaky, unpredictable, microclimate in the Newton La Willows area? Nope
Was it the original Good, Good to soft in places going report given by the course, turned out to be a complete work of fiction? Probably
There was no tropical heatwave at Haydock yet between the first and second race the official going changed from the aforementioned good, good to soft in places to good, good to firm in places. Think about it that, is a significant change.
Did the conditions really change that much in half an hour? Unlikely, as if the ground was drying that fast then surely it would have been something like titanium hard by the final race.
Could it be the course gave a more “favourable” going report to attract bigger fields? Who knows?
If that was the case are they that naive to think they would not be rumbled?
What can be gained by giving inaccurate going reports? Haydock are now coming under attack from all quarters and I have to say the criticism.
If I was an owner or trainer who had sent a runner to Haydock, only to have to withdraw it because of the unsuitable ground then I would be knocking on their door demanding reimbursement of my travelling costs.
So how do we resolve this situation?
The first thing we must do is take away provision of the going reports away from the courses themselves. They re not in a position to look at the situation objectively.
Now I am not saying all courses are liberal with their going descriptions but there are many courses where going reports are taking with a huge pinch of salt. Many Clerks Of Courses are refreshingly honest, however too many come under pressure from course management to give, how shall I put it, favourable reports.
The provision of going reports should be taken out of the hands of the individual courses and handed over to a central BHA team. All going reports should be based entirely on going stick reports and the going stick readings should be made in an approved manner, supervised by an independent observer.
I recall being told of one going stick demonstration where attendees were actually told how to use the stick in such a way as to obtain a “favourable” reading, including actually seeking out false patches of ground.