Back on track, but races left to run

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Edward Brady

WELL nothing much changed in the Epsom Derby with Aidan O’Brien being the winning trainer. The only surprise was that Serpentine won very easily, leaving the trainer’s more fancied runners well behind.

Emmet McNamara rode a peach of a race, making the running. At the top of the high point of the course, there was a south-westerly win of about 17mph, which meant that the wind was at the runners’ backs all the way down to Tattenham Corner. This helped McNamara to slip away from the field, leaving English King and the others about 10 lengths behind. Then, turning into the straight with a cross-headwind up the straight, nearly all the way to the finish, the others couldn’t get near him. What McNamara really did was make the horse sprint away when it was right to do so. So well done to McNamara for a great ride!

I think most of the other jockeys didn’t want to chase after McNamara as they thought he’d blow up and they’d be able to get to him. I’d wager that they were afraid to go after him early, as they might have looked stupid if they used up too much energy too soon and got caught by someone coming through from the rear. They’ll all be a lot wiser next year!

Post-lockdown racing
The post-lockdown reality of racing behind closed doors in Britain and Ireland is here and the more used to it we get, the worse it will be for racing.

It might have been assumed that British Horse Racing Association and Horse Racing Ireland would have floundered under the circumstances, but they have both done well to get racing up and running. We now need to get people back at the races as soon as possible, when it’s safe to do so, of course, because many of the tracks are struggling financially as the Managing Director of Newton Abbot, Pat Masterton alluded to recently.

It’s been the same in Ireland with HRI Chief, Brian Kavanagh stressing that the big tracks are even more vulnerable the longer this goes on. There is a consultation process between HRI and the individual racecourses to ascertain the tracks’ financial outlook, but, in a way, the tracks are just the tip of the iceberg. Many things are being affected. For example, demand at the breeze up horse sales is down by about 25 per cent.

If the remaining sales for 2020 end up being down a quarter on 2019, then it could be really bad with less horses being sold and going to trainers, which would affect staff as well. So we can only hope that there will be a return to paying customers soon once Galway is out of the way.

GAA training and matches, kids’ summer camps and cinemas are all operating once more, yet racecourses with their big open spaces and manageable areas are left desolate.

Speedy Serpentine
Just an afterthought with regards to Serpentine, prior to the Epsom Derby, on the same card at the Curragh where Santiago won the Irish Derby, Serpentine won his race in a time of 13.1 seconds per furlong. Santiago, meanwhile, won the Irish Derby in 13.2 second per furlong. Santiago was ridden out to the line in his race, whereas Serpentine won by nine lengths. How much faster would the Derby winner have been with a challenger? Serpentine’s Derby winning time and Love’s Oaks winning time were of a similar standard to Enable when she won The Oaks!

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