Monday 9 December
All Bets Off
Tingle Creek day in Sandown is one of the best days racing in the calendar - and to be there with one of the favourites on the undercard was a huge thrill. Classic Ben lined up as the well supported favourite for the London National, the last race on the card. CB seems to love Sandown, and this race had been the plan since his win in The Masters Chase, at the track in February. CB is a much stronger horse this time around, and he looked a million dollars in the paddock. Ciaran said he had never felt him better, and the team at Fences Farm really had got him spot on for the day. Sadly it didn't quite go to plan, CB travelled and jumped like never before over the first 6 fences, and was really enjoying himself, but at the 7th - while travelling beautifully in third, a horse in front of him, just came across him a fraction before the fence, taking his eye, and causing him to hit it with his chest. He just couldn't get his undercarriage out and fell. The first tumble of his career, but it was good to see him and Ciaran soon up. CB continued to jump around all the fences on the first circuit without Ciaran, so we know his confidence was still in tact, and everyone that knows him expected him to soon pull himself up when he got to the exit of the racecourse, and the gate back to the paddock, but typical Ben, he did exactly the opposite and jumped around for another full circuit - even having his own race up the run in, and finishing with his ears pricked in '4th', but sadly without his jockey! Although he is a little stiff and sore - he seems fine, and we have come up with a plan B which will see him back in Sandown for the 2020 Masters Chase. With the very large majority of his owners being there - we decided to take a box for the afternoon, and it worked really well, a convenient base for the afternoon, with terrific viewing, and a fantastic 4 course Lunch, which was appreciated and enjoyed by everyone that was there. The London National itself was marred with the sad loss of Houblon Des Obeaux on the home turn on the first circuit which resulted in the race being voided - sadly the seven jockeys fighting out the finish didn't respond to the yellow flag and have picked up the mandatory 10 day bans. Harsh on a couple that couldn't see it, but from what I can make out form the TV pictures, there were a good few of them that saw the flag and chose to ignore it. Sadly they will have to serve their time - but I do agree, that in these days of modern technology, surely there is a better voiding system - especially when we learn that the race was actually voided when the field was at the entrance to the back straight second time around - imagine if there had been another faller and fatality along the back straight - in a race that was already effectively over - the outrage would have been huge - therefore, surely if we are to keep the flag system - it can only be improved by the deployment of additional flags. Although we were out of the race, we have the feeling of it all being a bit of a blessing in disguise as Ciaran escaped a ban, and the owners didn't 'lose' any prizemoney. The simple deployment of extra yellow flags, and their use half way down the back straight, would have solved this problem - the race would not have been 'on' by then and you would have found that the jockeys would have more time to respond to the instruction, as they would not yet have been in the cut and thrust of battle. If the problem lies with the ability of the jockeys to see a yellow flag then there could be a case made for the use of some electronic signage, as is used in F1 - we see yellow and blue screens on the side of tracks indicating to drivers what they should do - but this would have to be carefully considered, as a horse can be distracted by this which could lead to problems - if this type of thing is used - the siting of them would have to be carefully considered, and they would still need to be used in conjunction with a flag in my opinion. While we are talking technology - it is interesting to learn that racing is the only sport, where helmets are mandatory - that doesn't have any form of communication built into the helmet - maybe? On the other note - as the race was voided as soon as the yellow flag was shown , the announcement to the crowd should have been instant - and the fact that all bets would be refunded should have been made clear to the crowd immediately. I know of one chap who while rifling through the discarded tickets found someones £40 each way ticket. Yesterday it was a day for bubbles and Bikinis - thankfully not the swimwear - it was good to see so many of Blue Bikinis owners over at Fences Farm to see Blue Bikini - nice to enjoy a Bucks Fizz or two and see her in the flesh. She really is a lovely filly, and I know that the team over there are really pleased with her. She looked fabulous - and I can't wait to see her out in the early part of 2020. Lovely to be able to show Figarella Borget as well, as there were a few there that also have a share in her. She looks fabulous, and seems definitely a but bigger and stronger. She is back cantering, and looks really well - although as grumpy as ever! Not much going on this week. Molly Childers will not go to Hereford on the weekend, she will have a little longer to get over her wind op. I am looking forward to seeing Fergal O'Briens new yard for the first time later this week - it looks like a really good set up, and I am sure that our new girl Yauthym will thrive there.