CHANGE. It appears British racing is at pains to avoid change. But someone, somewhere eventually will have to see the light. Who that will be I have no idea.
Most people would agree that since the continued development of all-weather racing has come to play, the seasons have become a mess, and of course the Cheltenham Festival was a disaster for British-based horses.
Added to that, the implementation of a significant mares’ programme has changed breeding and owners’ views.
I’d be surprised if most people don’t believe a complete overhaul of the structure of the Flat and jumps seasons is not needed.
Surely, for instance, it makes total sense for the Flat to begin after the Grand National fixture at Aintree. And it also should be a no-brainer that the jumps jockeys get a break in their now yearly campaign.
No one wants to see the Pattern or history in either code destroyed. But the world is changing and so does British racing.
The problem is those in power seem at pains to do as little as possible that could in anyway be called radical.
Basically, people are scared to force change due to so many ‘old school’ groups in a sport that so often fails to move with the times.
I was stunned when after Cheltenham the British Horse Racing Authority said it was just carrying on its work as normal.
In a typically un-inspiring response, the BHA said: “We are aware that, like all of us at the BHA, many parts of the racing industry will be reflecting on what happened (at Cheltenham) last week and what can be done to improve the competitiveness of racing at the top level. However, this is about more than just four days in March.
“The health of British jump racing is always on our radar, and work is well under way across several areas. The Jump Pattern Committee, for example, decided last year that there were elements of the Pattern and Listed race programme that needed looking at, including the need to produce some more competitive races across the season.
“There are also important pieces of work across areas such as handicapping, and safety and welfare, which all feed into the longer-term objective of building a strong, competitive jump racing industry in Britain.”
So that’s all good then. The BHA has everything under control. If it has “always been on our radar” might I suggest that whatever is being done is not working.
I would state two areas – horses are rated too high and there are too many ridiculous Graded races – that have been complained about for years and years and years. Nothing is done.
Then there’s the mares’ allowance. On the suggestion it should be removed in the major events – not all Grade or Group 1 races, but the ‘elite super’ races, the BHA is equally wishy-washy.
The BHA sees no statistical case for getting rid of the allowance. The view is that mares generally need it in order to compete against males and that their owners would be more inclined to keep them in mares-only contests if there were no weight concession.
Omg. The point is we are trying to find out who is the fastest horse. Not just guess at it.
So let’s create a Premier League of Group 1 or Grade 1 races where mares compete on equal terms at the top level.
And then create a level above ‘Black Type’ in the breeding manuals for fillies or mares who beat colts or geldings off levels so breeders can benefit from the achievement.
Are the BHA really saying Enable would not have run in the King George or Arc without an allowance?
Or Honeysuckle would not be the Champion Hurdle heroine because without an allowance she would have gone in the Mares’? Nonsense.
One day people the sport will have to move forward. It’s of course up to you all when that happens.
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