Queally - Champions Day totally overshadowed
14 October 2011
It’s a terrible shame that what is meant to be the biggest day’s racing for a long, long time, has been completely overshadowed by the whip controversy, which came to a head on Thursday when Richard Hughes relinquished his licence.
Introducing the new rules this week is rank bad timing and it’s appalling for the sponsors QIPCO, who have invested so much into Flat racing and the British Champions Series.
All the talk today should have been about the British Champions Day at Ascot, but there hasn’t been a word about it. I feel very sorry for the sponsors.
I obviously also feel sorry for Richard Hughes, who I am pretty friendly with and is one of the most respected guys in the weighing room.
He’s hit his horse six times on the two occasions he’s been done, and he gets a 15-day ban for it. As Martin Dwyer said, it’s like getting 15 years for stealing a loaf of bread.
Only hitting the horse five times in the final furlong is where the rule falls down. If it was seven in total, then I think most jockeys could live with that.
And as Richard told Racing UK yesterday, it’s actually encouraging jockeys to hit the horse twice before the final furlong – when more often than not they don’t need to. As a jockey you want to travel as long as you can on the bridle and without hitting them.
I didn’t have a problem with the BHA revising the rules, but they shouldn’t compartmentalise a race, it should be a maximum of seven hits allowed at any time in a race, and the penalties need to be far less draconian.
There is talk of a strike on Monday, and certainly some action needs to be taken.
Richard said he felt sorry for me if I was in a position where I would have to exceed the seven on Frankel to get him home by a short head. My job is to extract the best out of my horse and any jockey worth his salt has an overwhelming desire to win, but obviously rules have to be obeyed. It’s a very difficult scenario and one that jockeys shouldn’t be thrust into.
Hopefully it won’t come to that on Frankel, when we line up for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. He’s long odds-on and deservedly so. The course and distance will suit him, and he’s been doing everything absolutely right at home.
Of course, no race is a piece of cake, especially a Group 1, and Excelebration and Immortal Verse could give us something to worry about. But providing we have a bit of luck, he has the form in the book to win this and hopefully that’s the case.
I’ve got a good winning chance too on Vita Nova in the Fillies’ and Mares’ race. Crystal Capella, Vita Nova, Verdoos all are dangers, while Jim Bolger’s (Banimpire) has to be respected especially after last week.
But Vita Nova ran a cracking race last time, when a close second to Blue Bunting in the Yorkshire Oaks, and a repeat of that run would give her a big chance.
I’m going for my third straight win in the Champion Stakes, but I’ll be on Midday this time, while Ian (Mongan) takes the ride on Twice Over, who I rode to win the race the last two years.
Both horses are very closely matched and I can’t imagine there will be much between them, which was the case at York. Midday never runs a bad race and she seems in great form at home and has as good a chance as any, as does Twice Over.
I think it’s between Frankie and I for top jockey in the QIPCO British Champions Series, and should I prevail, I’d like to give three charities a mention, who will be beneficiaries.
Direct Aid For Africa (www.dafa.co.uk) would get £15,000, and Save Historic Newmarket (www.historicnewmarket.co.uk) and Jack and Jill Foundation (www.jackandjill.ie), which provides care and support for children with severe neurological development issues, would each get £5,000.
Finally I am off to Canada on Sunday morning to ride Bronze Cannon for Herman Brown in the Canadian International at Woodbine, which is live on Racing UK. He made a good comeback to finish second at Kempton last time, but we have a bit to find on that and an outside draw to overcome, but he likes travelling and hopefully won’t be too far away.
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