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Racing fixture list shake-up a big step in the right direction for the sport – but Animal Rising have me worried

, Racing fixture list shake-up a big step in the right direction for the sport – but Animal Rising have me worried

IT’S been a big week for racing with a major announcement over changes to the fixture list for next season and beyond.

I, like many other trainers, was very keen on the idea of ‘premierisation’ and I’m glad that the BHA have had the guts to see it through.

Andrew Balding has his say in his weekly column

Something needed to change.

The sport as it stands is far too diluted on a Saturday and it must be impossible for a casual racegoer to follow, let alone someone with only a limited understanding of the sport.

When you open up The Favourite at the weekend and there are seven or eight racecards and a race every few minutes it’s not satisfactory for anyone.

It’s important for our big meetings and races to have room to breathe so they can get the coverage and attention they deserve.

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This Saturday is a classic example. We have Haydock, York and Chester on at the same time, so from the off that has split the northern racing audience in three. The tracks aren’t helping each other.

Having a ‘premier tier’ of racing – where there will be just three meetings at peak times on a Saturday – with increased prize-money is a major boost.

But they can’t stop there, as we have major competition from other sports on a Saturday as well. 

They need to get inventive, and I would love to see some of our big days moved to midweek slots as well.

Just look at some of the huge crowds you get at Ascot and Goodwood when the racing is the only show in town.

Mind you, I’m not totally convinced about this idea to race on Sunday evenings, but if they can prove that there is demand for it and the prize-money is worth it then I don’t mind giving it a try.

As a general rule I don’t like racing on a Sunday – it’s when all the big European meetings are on so that is where the best horses and jockeys are going.

But we need to shake things up, so I will keep an open mind.

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This time next week the butterflies will be working overtime in the stomach as we head to Epsom for the Derby.

It’s a shame that the race is being run at 1.30 because of the clash with the FA Cup Final, but it’s important the race is on the ITV main channel so it is the least-worst option.

Hopefully we can get the race off on-time because Animal Rising seem hell-bent on disrupting the race.

It’s a concern for everyone involved as it’s the biggest weekend of the year and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for the horses.

What they can’t seem to understand is that they are actually creating a welfare issue for the horses when they interrupt racing like they have in the past.

, Racing fixture list shake-up a big step in the right direction for the sport – but Animal Rising have me worried
Animal Rising protesters are threatening the Derby

These are highly-tuned athletes and any disruption to their usual routine will have a negative impact.

The extremists say they want to eliminate all risk on the racecourse, but their selfish actions only increase the level or risk. They want to make their point but this is not the way to do it.

Luckily for us, our Derby runner The Foxes is rock-solid temperament-wise, he is totally laid back and if there are any delays it shouldn’t bother him. 

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But every horse is different and if one or two get stirred up you might have a chain reaction on your hands.

If a horse or jockey gets hurt as a result of their action they will have a hell of a lot to answer for.

Thankfully, our top jockey David Probert avoided serious injury at Windsor earlier in the week.

He was waiting to get the leg-up in the paddock when a horse kicked out and poor David received the full force of the blow.

We were very worried about him, but miraculously the scans were all clear and he should be back riding on Monday.

It’s a reminder of the risks jockeys take on a daily basis – we should never take their bravery for granted.

Our runners are heading here, there and everywhere this weekend, but I’d say our best chance is up at Chester.

ALSAKIB is a very promising young horse who was a fine second on debut at Kempton. 

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He is our best chance of a winner, while I’m hoping SANDRINE can run a big race at Salisbury as she completes her prep for Royal Ascot.




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