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‘The Cheltenham Competition could make or break you’


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  • Cotswolds-based Nationwide Hunt coach Kim Bailey eyes up the Competition and discusses watering racecourses in January

    Mid-February is a pivotal level within the jumps season. A lot of the Cheltenham trial races are actually run and all eyes naturally flip to the a lot anticipated four-day Cheltenham Competition in mid-March.

    It’s the assembly that makes or in all probability breaks you as a coach, as having a winner there means way over some other winner you may need through the season. It’s the equal of Wimbledon within the tennis world, or Silverstone in motor racing, and trainers dream of strolling into that hallowed winners’ enclosure.

    Just lately, although, a couple of cracks have appeared in Cheltenham’s armour as trainers are actually speaking of lacking the Competition in favour of different massive races. Even Nicky Henderson, by far probably the most profitable coach on the assembly, muted that Cheltenham was not the be all or finish all for his house owners in terms of the place their good horses would possibly run.

    Many really feel that Cheltenham has change into too top-heavy and too pressurised, and that the extra relaxed and enjoyable conferences of Aintree and Punchestown maintain extra enchantment.

    I began by saying that we had been at a pivotal level of the season; the truth is we’re at a pivotal level within the sport. We’re plagued with small, uncompetitive fields which are uncompelling for viewers.

    We are able to blame local weather change for the latest lack of rain, however racecourses aren’t ready for the results. Watering in January and February may change into the norm, and we needs to be ready for it by putting in higher watering methods. I do know that prices fortunes, however the various shouldn’t be price considering.

    Newbury was not allowed to water final weekend because the environmental company forbade it, and they also ran on quick floor, as did Warwick, who not less than tried to water areas of their course.

    However each racecourses suffered from small fields and this weekend’s assembly at Ascot may discover the identical.

    Nearly as good because it appears?

    Everybody appears to Eire for instance of easy methods to run leap racing and their latest Dublin Competition was a convincing success. There was loads of English help, however that was two-legged not 4, as solely three England-based horses ventured over. We should not neglect that the assembly has been plagued with difficulties previously as trainers have been apprehensive about working their good horses on quicker floor and that the watering system simply didn’t appear as much as it.

    This yr, throughout in all probability probably the most tough of all winters, Leopardstown watered to such an extent that each one the main trainers had been pleased to race their finest horses and fabulous racing ensued.

    On the face of it all people went house delighted, however delve deeper and also you’ll discover a graded novice chase with 5 of its six runners skilled by Willie Mullins and the winner by Gordon Elliott. Irish racing is way too top-heavy with all the primary horses unfold between three or 4 stables. Are you able to think about this weekend’s Reynoldstown novice chase at Ascot having 5 Nicky Henderson runners and one from Paul Nicholls? There can be an outcry.

    Fortunately for all its faults British leap racing has many massive yards to unfold these horses round, however be warned which may nicely change as prices and time transfer on.

    Playing with the way forward for the game

    Going again to pivotal moments, we’ve a significant one within the funding of our prize cash, which at present comes by way of a betting levy.

    The Authorities’s new Playing Act appears like altering the way in which we guess, with affordability checks wanted earlier than you’re allowed to gamble. There has already been a 20% drop in betting turnover and it’ll worsen.

    In case you are sitting in entrance of your TV watching Ascot on Saturday and wish to have a £50 guess, it isn’t for anybody to inform you what it’s best to select to do – not the Playing Fee nor the Authorities.

    ● Do you agree with Kim’s views in regards to the form of racing? Tell us at [email protected] together with your identify, nearest city and county for the possibility to have your views printed on the letters web page in a future version of Horse & Hound journal

    • This unique column can even be out there to learn in Horse & Hound journal, on sale Thursday 16 February

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