Potter Group Back in Action
We are delighted to bring you Racing Ramblings! A weekly column through potters.co.uk which will tackle the current racing stories and hopefully offer some lighthearted fun and insight into our horses along the way. Similarly, if you have a subject you’d like us to cover, or an opinion you want to share, don’t be afraid to give us a shout – we’d love to hear from you!
The great news is that Chepstow’s jump season opener on 9th and 10th of October is just around the corner which means we’re almost into the National Hunt season and we can’t wait to see our white, blue, green and red silks carried to victory up and down the country which will be broadcast live on terrestrial and satellite TV. We have approximately 20 horses under the ownership of Potter Group including the highly progressive Billingsley who has improved to a rating of 136 having won his last three starts over fences; the latest under top weight at Newbury in February. Things are going to be harder for him this season, but his trainer, Alastair Ralph, has been extremely patient and we look forward to seeing how far up the ladder he can go. Alastair also has a handsome unraced son of Scorpion called Jack Sharp who has summered very well and we look forward to starting him off in bumpers.
Two Taffs has switched to Nigel Twiston-Davies from Dan Skelton and this fragile but very talented ten-year-old has settled in nicely at Grange Farm and we hope a change of scenery can help him recapture some of his best form. Stolen Silver was a very smart hurdler last term and we’re extremely excited about seeing what he can achieve this season over fences.
We’re really pleased to have Sam Thomas on our roster of trainers and the man who won the Gold Cup on the mighty Denman currently houses five Potter Group inmates including Before Midnight and Galileo Silver who are both entered up at Newton Abbott and Market Rasen this week so watch this space and follow us on twitter (@PotterGRacing), Instagram (@PotterGroupRacing) and check out our YouTube channel (Potter Group) for updates, news and exclusive video content from all our trainers, as well our website, Potters.co.uk, where you’ll find everything you need to know about all #PotterGroup horses. Nicky Henderson has some very promising youngsters including Mot A Mot, a four-year-old son of Martalline and Patroclus who is a well bred son of Shirocco and comes from the Irish Point to Point circuit – he could be smart, and we’re waiting for some rain to fall so that Excelerator Express can make his Chase debut for Neil Mulholland.
There’s no doubt, exciting times lie ahead!
One Step Forward Two Steps Back
After yesterday's reaction from the British Horseracing Authority following the government’s latest restrictions, it might feel like there’s not much to get excited about in the world of horse racing, and there’s no doubt things could be better, but it’s worth reminding ourselves that it could also be a lot worse, and we are, at least, racing, albeit without a crowd and the biggest certainty of the century is that racing behind closed doors is likely to be the norm for at least the next six months – in theory the whole of the jumps season which would be a complete travesty. This is a massive blow to our industry, in fact it is a humongous hammer blow and it remains to be seen how many racecourses will be forced to close their turnstiles for the final time not to mention the wider implications it could have on owners, trainers, stable and racecourse staff.
On Monday Warwick invited 474 owners and members to enjoy a day at the races, which proved a great success and, at the time, offered owners, punters and bookmakers a small ray of light that things COULD start to improve but that light was very quickly flicked off when the proposed trials at Newmarket this weekend were, once again, suddenly cancelled and racing, not for the first time this year, was left in limbo and the financial losses every track will suffer is going be astronomical. Quite why it is deemed unsafe to not allow a sizeable number of race goers to visit courses which are vast wide open outside spaces is unfortunately a question I’m not qualified to answer but it does raise the eyebrows ever so slightly…
Let’s not forget how much they rely on ‘outside’ revenue to prop up the posts – racecourses don’t just survive with income from media rights and the paying public. Music nights, weddings, conferences, antiques fares or even car boots are major cogs in the horse racing wheel and while you might not be a fan of 20,000 people descending on Newmarket on a Friday night to dance the night away to Spandau Ballet, it is certainly True (see what I did there) that they do a damn good job of putting money in the kitty which in turn helps increase prize money and the upkeep and modernisation of course facilities which we have become accustomed to, sometimes without really thinking where the money to do it comes from.
The days of 60,000 people attending the Cheltenham Festival seem a distant memory, and it’s highly unlikely we’ll see figures like that at ANY racecourse within the next year. You don’t need me to tell you that everything hinges on how the latest rules are adhered to and what effect it will have on the transmission rate of COVID-19.
Since July owners have been able to visit the racecourse to watch their horses run, and while it was a far from ideal start, the whole owner experience is now seemingly becoming an enjoyable one and it’s clear that every racecourse manager is doing his/her best to provide owners with a comfortable, safe and fun environment for their day at the races on what is undoubtedly the hardest balancing act you’ll witness aside from the tight rope scene in the Greatest Showman! However, implementing the same conditions to a larger group, ie members of the paying public, is a different ball game altogether and there’s not a course in the land who cannot wait to see a crowd return and that familiar saying, ‘you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone’ couldn’t be more apt.
The deep roar which bellows from the grandstands as the runners line up for the Supreme Hurdle, the claps and cheers as a winner is greeted into the coveted Cheltenham winners enclosure, the excitement and anticipation of ‘will he or won’t he do a flying dismount?’ after Frankie Dettori bags another big race win and the tears in the eyes after Altior does another demolition job are just a handful of ingredients that make our beloved sport the spine tingling success it is. None of us can predict what the future holds but it is imperative to the survival of our game that those days are not banished to the history books and the unique atmosphere only experienced on a racecourse can be enjoyed once more. We hope and pray that those days will return.