Part of the enjoyment of going racing is the atmosphere, being in the crowd, especially as they get excited as the races reaches its climax. I have chosen my words carefully here as the expression “reaching a climax” seemed very pertinent at Fontwell recently. Clearly the woman standing in front of me had backed the running on favourite. Even before the last fence she was getting excited, once the horses nose in front she was jumping and writhing and by the time the horse crossed the line in front ….. well I will leave it to your imagination, just follow the analogy to its logical conclusion. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she had a cigarette after all that.
Granted not all winning displays have so much emotion put into them but it is good to see people being happy when their fancied horse wins. What does annoy me, however, is punters who want their horse to win at any cost, even if it means a horse having to fall. Nothing makes my blood boil more than somebody cheering when a horse falls or shouting for a horse to fall, leaving their fancy in the lead. There is no sight worse than a horse falling and to actually cheer it defies belief. People who cheer such incidents have no place on a racecourse. Perhaps I am the exception but I would rather have my horse lose a race and all the others come back safely than to have my horse win a race as a result of another taking a fall. Indeed, and I do not wish to sound self righteous here, but I have a policy that if a horse I have backed wins a race by virtue of another horse being injured then I will give my winnings to a racing charity.
To those morons who cheer fallen horses, remember these are gracious animals, not machines. They work hard to provide enjoyment for us. Sadly they, on occasion, have to pay a price for what they do, sometimes the ultimate price. At the very least they deserve some dignity and our respect.
When riding in a race, be it a Derby or a low grade seller, Lester Piggot never knew how to give up the fight, he was a battler determined to win every race he competed in. This is a trait shared by many top jockeys, the most obvious example today being Tony McCoy, who rides with the same steely determination be it at Cheltenham or Hexham.
It is good to see that Lester still maintains the same fighting spirit and I wish him well as he recovers from a heart scare in a Swiss clinic.